Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: Rams at Dolphins


After being spurned by Jeff Fisher in the offseason, the Miami Dolphins hired Joe Philbin as head coach and later drafted Ryan Tannehill to be their quarterback. While the Philbin-Tannehill tandem has sparked some measure of renewed hope in South Beach after five games, Fisher has led his own resurgence in St. Louis. Sunday, Fisher's Rams (3-2) travel to face the Dolphins (2-3) in a battle between young quarterbacks and strong defenses.


Establish the run. With premier cornerbacks and defensive ends, the Rams' defense is geared to stop the pass. Miami's offense must set the tone early on the ground, and attack the relatively soft defensive tackles, linebackers and safeties that make up the core of the St. Louis defense. And they will need to do it with a banged-up Reggie Bush and without second-string back Daniel Thomas.

Stop St. Louis' tailbacks. The Dolphins' defense, by limiting opposing rushers to a paltry 2.7 yards per carry, has often made it's opponents one dimensional. The Rams are a little bit different, in that they don't have the perimeter weapons to be able to afford to abandon the run. Look for St. Louis to be persistent on the ground with running backs Steven Jackson, Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, and the Dolphins' front to respond. (Photo: Kris Robinson, Flickr)

Attack Sam Bradford. When Bradford drops back to pass, he will be protected by Barry Richardson at right tackle and Wayne Hunter at left tackle. Most AFC East fans know Hunter to be, to put it gently, very ineffective. Historically, Richardson has shown the ability to be just as bad. Strong coverage on the outside should allow Cameron Wake and the Dolphins' pass rushers to pressure Bradford and force mistakes.

Turnovers. In Miami's two victories, Tannehill has committed zero turnovers. In three losses, he has given the ball away seven times. The formula for Miami's success is fairly simple: take care of the ball and allow the defense and running game to control the pace of the game. Tannehill has made much progress in this area but will need to continue the turnover-free play to win in Week 6.
A week in Dolphins posts on

Fisher: Dolphins' run defense is No. 1 for a reason

Sherman: Tannehill 'keeps getting better and better'

Efficient Tannehill effective complement Dolphins' 'D'

Dolphins' defense closes in fourth quarter for win

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