After breaking down the Miami game against Washington from last week, here are my thoughts on the match-up of Miami’s offense vs. the Dallas defense. I’ll cover the reverse combination in my next post.
Miami running game
The Dolphins running game was a power running game aimed at the gut of the defense against Washington. The loss of Jason Ferguson will be like a beacon for them and they’ll try to exploit. The problem is their running game last week was anemic. Ronnie Brown and Jesse Chatman couldn’t establish enough of a threat to make the Redskins defense commit to stopping the run. Consequently, the Redskins covered the deep ball, let the Dolphins throw underneath and contained them for most of the game. The offensive line was mediocre and they are using a rookie center, so that may help Jay Ratliff in the middle. They’ll still probably try to go at Jay, but Wade Phillips has already said the ILB’s will be ready to help.
I think the Cowboys will be able to control the Dolphins running game. Last week, Dallas certainly gave up more yards to the Giants on the ground than they would have liked, but some of that came against passing sets as the Cowboys went to a lot of nickel and dime defense in the second half. Ronnie Brown wasn’t impressive and did more damage in the passing game than he did in running the ball. Jesse Chatman is the change of pace guy and he is pretty shifty. He was also more dangerous catching passes; Dallas will need to keep an eye on him, especially on passes underneath.
The Dolphins ran the end around twice in the game, once to Ted Ginn, Jr. They will probably try a few more plays like that on a Dallas defense that is geared to be aggressive and has had problems over-running plays in the preseason and against the Giants.
Miami passing game
Trent Green is a good QB if he is surrounded by a really good line and has weapons to utilize. Right now, the Miami offense doesn’t fit that bill. In the passing game Green has receivers Chris Chambers and Marty Booker. Chambers looks like he has all the talent in the world, but has never been a dominant receiver. Booker is a guy that has had some stretches where he looked good, but not often enough. Last week, Green’s favorite receiver was the RB; Brown and Chatman accounted for half of the Dolphins’ pass completions. The Dolphins spent a great deal of time dumping passes off to the RB in the middle of the field and letting them work. It was probably their only consistent offensive play all game.
Green can throw the underneath ball well enough and is fairly accurate towards the sideline under 10-yards, but when he threw deep, he is OK down the middle but not accurate down the sidelines. Dallas should force the WR’s towards the sideline whenever they get deep and force Green to make that throw. They might get a pick or two in that situation.
The Redskins were able to establish some pressure on Green and accumulated a couple of sacks and a lot more hurries. Green is not particularly good when forced to move in the pocket and isn’t mobile enough to scramble. His offensive line had some problems protecting him, especially early in the game on the left side. Miami countered this by resorting to check-down targets all game long. They occasionally will move Green in the pocket by doing a mini roll-out to the right.
The Dolphins running game didn’t look good enough to make Dallas alter their defensive schemes. They will probably test Jay Ratliff and also try to use our aggressive defensive schemes against us. Ronnie Brown could be a problem if the line could get him any room to run. But that’s the problem, their line didn’t get it done in the first game.
In the passing game, Dallas needs to be good tacklers because Green will dump a lot of short passes to his backs. They were depending on YAC last week to get first downs. The Dolphins struggled to get the ball deep and only tried on a few occasions. If Dallas can get pressure, and against this line I think they can, then the Dolphins vertical passing threat gets close to nil. The Dolphins know that attacking deep was what worked for the Giants against our defense, and will try to exploit that more often this game. I don’t know if they have the personnel to make that work. They should probably work Ted Ginn, Jr. more into their offense to provide a speed threat to stretch the field, and to get him the ball in other ways. This might add an explosive element to what looked to be a stagnant offense last week.