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News » Miami Dolphins Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-30

Miami Dolphins Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-30

Miami Dolphins Strategy and Personnel 2008-10-30
The combination of Chad Pennington's accuracy and the loss of CB Champ Bailey should lead to more passing downfield this week in the similar manner Ted Ginn Jr. took advantage of the knee injury of Bills CB Terrence McGee last week. Pennington will now go after Karl Paymah or Jack Williams. Also, the loss of LB Boss Bailey should weaken an already sieve-like run defense and give the Dolphins a much-needed boost in the running attack after two straight weeks of hum-drum efforts. It's time for Ricky and Ronnie to boast huge numbers against a d-line that's giving up more than 5.0 yards a pop.

Defensively, Jason Allen's insertion at cornerback, especially when they're in the nickel and Will Allen shifts, could be exploited by Jay Cutler and blossoming star WR Brandon Marshall - the tall, strong, athletic type of receiver that has torched the Dolphins this season. However, Marshall is fighting a groin pull, and WR Brandon Stokley is still bothered by a concussion. Jason Allen is taller and sturdier than Will Allen or Andre' Goodman so expect him to be matched against Marshall. Joey Porter should help the secondary by putting pressure on Cutler, however, he's only been sacked four times and his bodyguard LT Ryan Clady hasn't given up a sack this season. It's imperative that NT Jason Ferguson plays better than he did last week with his oblique injury as Miami's run defense has been steadily deteriorating. That said, Michael Pittman and untested rookie Ryan Torain is a step down from Willis McGahee and Marshawn Lynch, the last two backs who hurt Miami. But Denver still averaged 118.3 rushing yards a game.


--FB Casey Cramer, who has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, practiced fully for the first time in more than two weeks Wednesday. His replacement, Lousaka Polite had a big first down run in Sunday's win over Buffalo.

--WR Brandon London will get more and more looks in the base offense. At 6-4 and an excellent special teams player, Tony Sparano loves this kid. He notched his first NFL catch last week and should get more looks Sunday against Denver's porous defense.

--CB Jason Allen will continue to get more time in the base, especially in the nickel when Will Allen moves to the nickel. Allen has the height that opposing receivers have been exploiting against Will Allen and Andre' Goodman, so he'll be needed against 6-4 WR Brandon Marshall.

--S Tyrone Culver, who was signed after Miami placed oft-injured CB Michael Lehan on IR, is getting plenty of action on special teams and also in the dime package. Sparano likes his smarts.

--RG Evan Mathis is sharing snaps on the first team with Ike Ndukwe and the running game seems to improve when he's in there. As his conditioning improves, he could replace Ndukwe all together.

--WR Ernest Wilford has been a non-factor with one catch all season. He has been inactive in four of the seven games and despite praise from Sparano regarding his professionalism, it's likely he and/or WR Derek Hagan will again remain sidelined. Hagan was pretending to be Marshall on the scout team Wednesday.

GAME PLAN: Coach Tony Sparano is anxious to re-establish his running game after two straight weeks of sub-par performances. The Wildcat should be unleashed to get Ronnie Brown going against the league's 30th-ranked run defense. The game plan against Buffalo was to throw the ball frequently and particularly on first down to stay out of third-and-7 or longer, a situation Miami is just one of 31 this season. With Champ Bailey out and the Broncos giving up 240 passing yards a game, expect Pennington to add to his above-average 100 passer rating and again throw on first down to stay out of dangerous down and distance situations.

Defensively, expect a safety blitz from Yeremiah Bell because the Broncos have protected QB Jay Cutler like a mother hen, allowing just four sacks. Even a resurgent Joey Porter (10.5 sacks) will have trouble getting past the Ryan blockade of Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris. With a little help from his safety friends, taller CB Jason Allen will try his hand at slowing down emerging star WR Brandon Marshall, who is slowed by a groin pull. Marshall and rookie Eddie Royal are the most prolific WR tandem in the NFL with 88 combined catches for 690 yards and five TDs.

Dolphins punter Brandon Fields needs to kick it away from Eddie Royal, who is third in the NFL with an average of 13.6 yards per punt return. Don't expect Ted Ginn Jr. to get much action as Denver kicker Matt Prater is tied for second in the NFL with 12 touchbacks. Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter has two.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown vs. Broncos MLB Nate Webster isn't strictly one-on-one especially when Brown comes out of the Wildcat formation. Brown is averaging 4.1 yards a game but has gained just 120 yards in his last three games. He had 238 in his previous two, but he still has seven rushing touchdowns, tied for second most in the NFL. Webster, who has 67 tackles, including two sacks and a forced fumble, hits with force, but the former UM standout isn't very instinctive, and can often be taken out of plays. The Broncos defense has consistently struggled stopping the run, allowing 154.6 rushing yards per game, and 5.4 yards per carry. With those types of numbers, Brown, who is averaging 4.1 yards per attempt, and the Wildcat offense should run wild in Denver.

Dolphins CB Jason Allen vs. Broncos WR Brandon Marshall is a mismatch on paper, however, Marshall's nagging groin injury and a confident Allen coming off arguably the best all-around game of his career could equalize the duel. Cornerbacks with Allen's 6-1, 200-pound size and strength needed to cover big physical receivers like Marshall, who is 6 foot 4, 230 pounds, are hard to come by. The Dolphins have been grooming Allen, a converted safety, to play closer to the line of scrimmage for that exact purpose. Marshall and his 49 receptions for 598 yards and three touchdowns, will require Allen's best, and some help from the safeties. Allen's inexperience could be exploited and Miami has been torched by receivers Marshall's size all season such as Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Jerricho Cotchery and Derrick Mason.

INJURY IMPACT: CB Will Allen is trying to hide his sore right knee but after hobbling in pain while defending a pass last week won't be tough for opposing DCs to try to exploit him. Still, Allen came up with his first pick of the season. NT Jason Ferguson may have to play with pain for awhile because oblique or rib muscles don't heal very quickly, so expect the Broncos zone blockers to go right at Ferguson to test him. The Dolphins will go at Champ Bailey's replacement, Jack Williams.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

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Quentin Moses Name: Quentin Moses
Position: DE
Age: 24
Experience: 2 years
College: Georgia
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