The 1-0 Miami Dolphins travel to Baltimore to take on the 1-0 Baltimore Ravens. The tide seems to have turned from years past as we annually had a nightmarish time with the Ravens and to put it frankly, we got our asses handed to us. I’ve put up the numbers of ineptitude and futility many times before, and I’ll do it again as a reminder of what was. Excluding last year’s 22-10 victory over the Ravens, the last six meetings between the Ravens and Dolphins totaled Ravens 178 – Dolphins 44. The disparity there is probably hard to find with any other 2 teams in a league where parity is the design model.
Last week’s game against the Patriots was a great start to the season. Personally, I couldn’t ask for more, but many fans just have ridiculous expectations for our offense, and of course, shade for Tua. If you watched the game, our O-line was a carousel, with both tackles coming out of the game due to injury (LT Armstead and RT Jackson). OT Greg Little and OG Robert Jones were both thrust into action, and G Robert Hunt moved to RT. If you’re a normal fan, you were hoping the starting 5 would be able to be somewhat of a cohesive unit, so beating a quality team and division foe by 13 points after losing both offensive tackles is more than enough for me. I don’t need Tua to throw for 350 yards and 4 TD’s, I just want the team to win!
I had my concerns about our defense, I had figured that Bill Belichick would find a way to exploit the weak link opposite CB Xavien Howard. I remember a game where CB Noah Igbinoghene was torched every time he was on the field, even when he had decent coverage. My thought was Iggy would start opposite X, but clearly the coaches have no confidence in him so Needham who plays the slot so well was asked to play the boundary. CB’s Keion Crossen and rookie sensation Kader Kohou played a fair amount of snaps and specifically Kader Kohou showed up very nicely in his first pro action. Kohou managed to fit in 3 tackles, 1 of them for a loss and 1 forced fumble, a huge game changing forced fumble. I thought the defense overall looked good, but there was a lot of bending going on, but thankfully, not a lot of breaking. The Patriots managed only 271 yards and one TD, 78 yards rushing and 193 passing.
What does concern me, although I suppose if I’m going to stay even keel accepting the fact that our O-line wasn’t whole and we had a few players out of position, I still have some concerns with our running game. Yes, we have a FB, but we averaged only 2,8 yards per rush, and let’s face it, there’s not a RB in our stable that moves the pile. This is a get me out in space and catch the ball and run type of RB stable from top to bottom. None of these guys are running over and through defenders, they need to run by them. The NFL is kind of set up that way with the rule changes, and teams like the Titans with Derrick Henry are the outliers, while many teams have tandem RB’s or even more commonly running by committee, meaning multiple backs. This has become a passing league, and the Dolphins are set up to do just that. Despite not being a “rushing offense”, we won the TOP battle last week 32:30 – 27:30. That’s pretty good.
The Ravens didn’t have much of a fight on their hands against the Joe Flacco led Jets. The Jets actually moved the ball pretty well against the Ravens D, but continuously shot themselves in the foot. They only turned the ball over twice, but they stalled out on too many drives. They severely outgained the Ravens, 380 – 274, and oddly enough, the Jets shared the same exact TOP advantage over the Ravens as we did against the Patriots, 32:30 – 27:30. When Mike McDaniels went for that 4th down, you can see just how important it was, and of course how important it was to actually convert it as we scored a TD. You need to score in the NFL. Yardage and TOP don’t always tell the entire story as ultimately it’s the scoreboard that tells the most important story.
I think we’re a better team than the Ravens. They do get a big boost in RB J.K. Dobbins is healthy this week and will probably be the primary ballcarrier along with RB Kenyan Drake. The Ravens have an excellent O-line, led by everyone at FMU’s favorite center Tyler Linderbaum. LT Ronnie Stanley is much like our own Terron Armstead, a solid experienced vet, along with LG Ben Powers, RG Kevin Zeitler and RT Morgan Moses. WR Rashod Bateman definitely has a connection with QB Lamar Jackson, and WR Devin Duvernay had a nice game against the Jets. We know one of these guys is getting shut down, so we’ll see how week number w/o Byron Jones goes for the guys opposite X on defense. Belichick was unable to exploit the situation, I hope the same will go for John Harbaugh, another excellent NFL coach. Good to see Jaylen Waddle back in the lineup and healthy,and man does having Tyreek Hill make a huge difference. He’s so dangerous, you have to figure Harbaugh won’t allow Hill as much single coverage as Belichick did, Waddle and other will have plenty of opportunities to make some plays.