If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re well aware of the move that sent Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles in return for a 4th RD draft pick in 2018. Rather than dwell on the “why” this move was made, let’s look at what we can do going forward without Ajayi. Let’s face it, just looking at our team with what we do know, our starting QB is playing with a few cracked ribs, our backup QB was shell shocked last week in one of the most demoralizing losses in Dolphins history. Anthony Steen, who was the starting LG is now on IR, along with our starting safety Nate Allen. Ted Larsen will be practicing, and there’s a chance he can play Sunday night, but it’s unlikely, which would mean Jesse Davis would start at LG. Our starting RB, whoever it is, either Kenyan Drake or Damien Williams. Damien Williams is now our leading rusher with 32 yards (12 carries), and Drake is right behind him with 25 yards (10 carries). None of this means neither back is capable, just that their opportunities have been quite limited this season.
There may be some good news for Sunday night, Devante Parker may be able to return to the lineup to provide Jay Cutler with a much needed receiving threat. Without Parker, the offense has been stagnant, or against the Ravens, non-existent. Going forward now without Ajayi, Adam Gase is going to be scrutinized as to what this offense can do since he jettisoned arguably his best offensive player. It’s difficult to know exactly how we proceed from here on in, but if I had to guess, we’re not going to be relying on 1 RB to carry the team, but use a combination of the two backs, Drake and Williams, somewhat similarly to the way the Atlanta Falcons used Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman last season. Not saying we’ll be as good as they were, but I think we may see a system similar to that. We have enough receiver talent to threaten opposing defenses, especially with Parker on the field, with Stills and Landry. Of course, we need to pass protect well enough to keep Cutler upright and give him enough time to make strong throws from the pocket. Maybe “the message” will inspire some better play from this group, and things turn for the better.
The defense has been solid, and though the Ravens scored 40 points, our inept offense enabled the Ravens all night, giving them excellent field position almost every possession. Michael Thomas takes over for Nate Allen at S, and while he’s not T.J. McDonald, I think he brings more to the defense than Allen does. The Raiders have had a rough season so far, Derek Carr was injured for a couple of games, but I’m sure they’re looking at this game as a chance to rebound, and I’m sure they’re thrilled they don’t have to face Ajayi. I know it seems silly, but I think we have a bit of an advantage with the element of surprise. How can the Raiders know what we plan to do on offense when we’re probably still trying to figure that ourselves?
The Raiders come in 19th in the league in scoring offense averaging 21.1 points per game, while the Dolphins, as we know are a LEAGUE WORST at 13.1 points per game. On defense, the Dolphins are 15th allowing 21.7 points per game, while the Raiders defense is 23rd, allowing 23.8 points per game. The big question here, is which teams show up in Miami at Hard Rock, and that goes for both teams. The Raiders have shown they can put points on the board, beating the jets 45-20, and winning a last second thriller against the Kansas City Chiefs 31-30. Regarding the Dolphins, will the team that was inspired by Adam Gase’s message last year that went on to win 9 of 11 games show up, or will the same Dolphins that have somehow miraculously won 4 games while scoring only 13 points per game show up?
The rest of this season, Head Coach Adam Gase will be under the microscope. Again, I’m not speculating on what happened with Ajayi, but we undoubtedly traded one of our best offensive players away for a draft pick, and have seemingly left the cupboard somewhat bare at RB. I say that not to demean the talent we currently have, but we just haven’t seen a whole lot of Kenyan Drake. Damien Williams we have seen in passing situations, and at least last season, he really thrived as a receiver out of the backfield, and did a pretty good job pass blocking as well. Kenyan Drake is the bigger question mark. Can he handle a load of say 15 carries per game? Keep in mind he was always behind Derrick Henry at Alabama, so he wasn’t the feature back there, and here in MIA, he has a total of 46 carries in 1 1/2 seasons. We’ve heard about his abilities as a receiver, but we just haven’t seen it. One thing Gase was correct about, and of course, this is on him as much as it’s on the players, we were the WORST offense in the NFL, so we couldn’t be worse than the worst. Is it possible we go even further backwards? I don’t think so. Sometimes, players need a fire lit underneath them, and Gase probably thinks sending Ajayi packing will be the tinderbox that does it this season. Hell, I miss Ajayi already man, he was a lot of fun to watch, and it was fun to root for the J-Train, but as Jerry Seinfeld put it so well, we cheer for the laundry so #26 and #32 better step up and make Gase look good, as well as the rest of the team, or we’ll all be questioning our Head Coach, and folks, that’s not something I look forward to in the least.
GO DOLPHINS! Zero in!