Monday, October 31, 2016

The Next 5 Games determine the season



The Miami Dolphins are officially off their bye week as they host the New York Jets this Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.  At 1-4, the season seemed to be once again slipping before November hit.  But, after an amazing 2 week turnaround, the Dolphins find themselves in a interesting situation:

Their next 5 opponents have a combined record of 13-24. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying the Dolphins will go 5-0 in these games.  There are some tough opponents mixed in.  What I am saying, is that if the Dolphins can manage 3 wins out of these 5, they find themselves at 6-6 with 4 games remaining.  That's a scenario I am expecting.  If for some reason the Dolphins continue to ride the hot hand of Ajayi, the defense continues to play dominant football and Tannehill stays clean with the "unicorn starting offensive line", they can win 4 or 5 games. 7-5 or 8-4, we can start talking the P word. 

If Adam Gase has truly changed this culture and the Dolphins finally turned the corner, the Dolphins can win the games they are supposed to win. This 5 game stretch could lead to something greater.  Something this fan base has been wanting to get back to.  Winning football games when it matters, January.  Since 2008, the Miami Dolphins were in the playoff mix 2 times late in the season, only to see everything fall flat.  This isn't the Joe Philbin Dolphins anymore, something is different.  Something has changed with this team.  Where this change leads the team is yet to be determined, but the next 5 weeks will definitely say a lot.

@ternisse13

Saturday, October 29, 2016

GAMBLING CORNER: Week 8

Another week of winners last week going 4-2 overall bringing my yearly record to nearly 10 games over .500. Went 2-1 in both college and the pro picks last week and if Geno Smith doesn't blow out his knee last week I probably go 3-0 in the pro picks (I keed, I keed.)  Anyway I see a lot of opportunities to make money this week, let's get right to the picks.


COLLEGE GAMES                                                        (HOME team in CAPS)

Nebraska +9 over WISCONSIN
Nebraska has been good to me this year whenever I bet on them. I think this is a real close game, a field goal game either way. Wisconsin is really good but so is Nebraska. Take the 7.5 points and sit back and watch a great game and collect your cash. This game will be tight.

Washington -10 over UTAH
The number is a little higher than I would like but I think Washington is the far better team and they are on a march to the playoff. I think Utah will play tough but Washington is the better team and will pull away in the end.

Michigan -21 over MICHIGAN ST
Jim Harbaugh is nuts....like legit nuts. He was up 37-0 last week and ran a fake punt. Harbaugh has no fear of running it up on anyone. And with the way Michigan lost to Mich St last year, payback will be on his mind.


YEAR TO DATE RECORD: 14-7



NFL GAMES

DALLAS -5 over Philadelphia
I'm sorry I'm not sold on Carson Wentz. I know early in the year he beat Cleveland and Chicago but so what? They both suck. Dallas is a well oiled machine right now and will blow out Philly.

DENVER -6 over San Diego
SD is a weird team, they play every opponent close; which makes me think after a big road win last week they are due for a stinker and a blow out loss. Even without CJ Anderson Denver should be good enough on offense to cover the six.

New England -6.5 over BUFFALO
The Bills suck! We all saw that last week when they played Miami. Combine that with the fact Brady just doesn't lose to Buffalo. Pats win easy.

YEAR TO DATE RECORD: 12-12

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Online Petition for the Dolphins to Bring Back the Throwback Uniforms Full Time

There is an online petition created for the Miami Dolphins to ditch their new uniforms and to go back to the Old School Throwback uniforms like they wore last week vs Buffalo.

I will admit I do not hate the new uniforms as much as some fans do, but would I rather have the old school uniforms, oh hell yeah! The old school looks is just so much better. Per NFL Rule the team can't change the look officially until after the 2017 season, but it's time to get the ball rolling.

To sign the Petition CLICK HERE

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

DolphinsTalk.com Podcast for October 25th

Tom is back with a new episode of the DolphinsTalk.com Podcast flying solo as Randy is under th weather. This week Tom breaks down the Dolphins big win over Buffalo and the sudden emergence of Jay Ajayi. Tom also talks about various other topics around the Dolphins as they head into the Bye week.

Make sure you Like, Subscribe and come back next week as we do a weekly Miami Dolphins podcast. Please contact us at @rjclifestyle @ternisse13 and @dolphinstalk and use the hashtag #dolphinstalk


Soundcloud:https://soundcloud.com/dolphinstalk-com-podcast/episode-21-vs-the-buffalo-bills

Itunes:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dolphinstalk.com/id1107491463?mt=2
 
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/randy-constance/dolphinstalkcom-podcast?refid=stpr

Tunein: http://tunein.com/radio/Dolphinstalkcom-p867006/

Fins sign Safety Baccari Rambo

With the loss of Reshad Jones and with his replacement Michael Thomas giving up a big play for a touchdown due to a mistake this past Sunday the Dolphins hit the waiver wire to add safety help. Today the team signed Bacarri Rambo off waivers. Last year Rambo played for the Bills.

Rambo will immediately help out on special teams and will push Michael Thomas and Walt Aikens for playing time at safety. Coming out of college Rambo failed 2 drug tests prior to the NFL Draft which caused him to fall in the draft. He was expected to be drafted in rounds 2 or 3 but fell to the 6th round. In his four year NFL career Rambo has 3 INT's and 2 forced fumbles.

Arian Foster Retires

Dolphins RB Arian Foster has retired from professional football effective immediately. Foster is saying his body can't keep up anymore and he is stepping away from the game. Foster is telling people he can't handle another rehab even if its for a minor injury as the main reason for his retirement. It makes you wonder if Foster was re-injured during Sunday's game vs Buffalo and has decided to walk away rather than go through a rehab and rush to get back on the field.

With the emergence of Jay Ajayi this move doesn't hurt the Dolphins short term or long-term. Short term this is the Jay Ajayi show right now. He has back to back 200 yard games and is looking like a top notch NFL running back these days. With Damien Williams coming on as well and playing well as a back-up and 3rd down back role Foster was essentially a 3rd string running back on this team. Kenyan Drake who has played poorly on special teams and poorly at RB will now see some increased snaps at RB as the Fins 3rd down running back.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Film Study Week 7

The 4-2 Buffalo Bills came into Miami Gardens, Florida to face the 2-4 Miami Dolphins. The following is my reaction to the game after watching the game live Sunday and then re-watching it in its entirety Monday morning. If you are not interested in revisiting the game then please feel free to scroll through to just the individual film studies. If you want more analysis or want to talk about anything Miami Dolphins, follow me on twitter @TomLikeFootball. For now, this is my weekly review for DolphinsTalk.com

The narrative throughout the week
Buffalo was the safe pick in this game. They had won their last four games since going 0-2 and firing their Offensive Co-ordinator. The Bills promoted their Running Backs Coach, Anthony Lynn and Buffalo fired off a 4-win streak thanks to the performances of LeSean McCoy and a dominant Linebacking corps. On the Miami side it was a game that was difficult to preview. Following Miami’s 30-15 win over Pittsburgh last week, many observers discredited the game as simply a one-off. Commentators highlighted that Ben Roethlisberger was banged up, and that Jay Ajayi went for 204 yards, something that would never happen again… Steelers Head Coach Tomlin’s awful record against under .400 teams was another excuse that cropped up throughout the week.

Hardly anybody was talking about what the Dolphins did well and following the news earlier in the week that the teams second best player on Defense, Strong Safety, Reshad Jones was out for the season; many felt that it was more of a foregone conclusion. The return of Richie Incognito following the ‘bullying scandal’ in Miami as well as the return of Charles Clay, Reggie Bush, Dan Carpenter, Justin Hunter and Mike Gillislee were other talking points.

It was clear that heading into the game that the key for Miami was to STOP THE RUN. Buffalo entered the game boasting the NFLs best rushing attack averaging 166.3 yards per game. Miami entered the game with the Leagues 31st run Defense as they surrendered 147.0 yards per game on average through six weeks. If Miami was even to think about making the playoffs then it needed to start winning games in the division. To do this the Dolphins would need to stop the run on Defense and get production out of running back Jay Ajayi to lighten the load for Quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins, Week 7
The Dolphins for the second time this season and for the second week in a row had their desired starting five Offensive Linemen. On Defense the team brought in Michael Thomas at Free Safety to replace the injured Reshad Jones as Isa-Abdul Quddus moved over to the strong side. The Dolphins also went with the starting defensive line that I advocated last week of Wake, Suh, Phillips and Branch. The Dolphins got in a rhythm offensively early, something we have not seen much of this season from Miami. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed a big 3rd & 13 conversion to Kenny Stills as he found the receiver in a soft spot of zone coverage. It was a pretty pass from Tannehill, however, it all starts upfront as he had plenty of time to operate. Tannehill exploited zone-coverage again on a 3rd & 6 as he completed a pass to Stills. The Dolphins eventually settled for a Field Goal on their opening drive as they put together a mammoth 15 play, 64 yard, 7 minute 24 seconds opening drive.

The Defense looked good early, with the Defensive Line being a particular bright spot during the first opening drive (something that would happen throughout the games entirety). Cameron Wake looked dominant early and exploited his matchup against Right Tackle Jordan Mills. Wake should have registered a sack early but Taylor escaped. On the following play Wake exploited the clock running down and shot out of a cannon round the corner as he sacked Taylor on a 3rd & 11. It was an obvious passing situation due to the down and distance so the Ends could pin their ears back and not worry about having to defend the run. Due to Taylor allowing the clock to wind down, it also meant that Wake did not have to wait for the ball to be snapped but could simply go on the next noise/ snap he heard from Taylor. Below is exactly what the Miami Dolphins thought they were getting when they handed Ndamukong Suh all that money before the 2015 season. Ndamukong Suh eats up the double team inside which allows Miami’s ends to go to work on the outside as they have one-on-one match ups.

1-2

Wake beat Mills the play before and the Bills failed to adjust as they kept McCoy in the backfield but on the right hand side to chip block Andre Branch on his way out of the backfield instead of Wake. The Dolphins pass rush got home quickly and Wake exploited his one-on-one by using a speed rush as he converted speed into power and managed to rip by Mills on his way to the Quarterback.

1-3

1-4

The Bills were forced to kick a Field Goal and the game was level at 3-3. Buffalo then blocked a punt as Williams allowed a rusher inside to make a play. The play before, the Dolphins were called for holding and the Bills were gifted tremendous field position. The Bills first touchdown was a speed option as Tyrod Taylor ran right while Reggie Bush darted left. It was difficult for Miami to contain after Wake bit on the initial run by Bush as both Taylor and McCoy were rolling out right with either Taylor taking the football in or pitching the ball to McCoy to score. 10-3 Buffalo, special teams hurt Miami.

Coming out of Boise State nobody doubted Jay Ajayi’s talent. What many scouts were concerned with and what caused him to fall to Miami in the 5th round, two drafts ago was injury concerns. Ajayi has the speed, burst and tackle-breaking ability that combined with his vision can make him a game-changing back and he has the size to be a bell-cow. Ajayi wants to cut back as early as possible and excels more in man-blocking runs rather than zone-reads. The following play was a 14-yard run that displays Ajayi’s one cut ability. I will not got through how it was drawn up as what is most important here is how quickly Ajayi diagnoses what is happening and adjusts by sticking his foot in the ground and making a cut up field. Below is the pre-snap look but what is most important is the second image.

2-1

Bills DE Jerel Worthy manages to penetrate into Miami’s backfield which is picked up by Pouncey, however, it threatens to disrupt the play. As you can see from the way the blockers are set up the play is meant to develop following the brown line. Yet, instead Ajayi is quick to react and sees that his RG Jermon Bushrod already in the second level and sees the hole emerging between his Center and Right Guard (red rectangle) as the Bills bit down hard on the left side all game long. Ajayi follows the yellow brick road and rattles off a 17-yard rush.

2-2

2-4

2-5

10-6 Buffalo Bills at Half Time.

The Miami Dolphins played well first half, however, they were behind due to poor Special Teams play and poor execution in the red zone. Miami was held to two field goals while the Bills capitalised on a blocked punt and went into half time with a four-point lead. McCoy entered the game on a pitch count and the Dolphins held him to just 10 yards off 6 carries in the first half. The Dolphins dominated time of possession 19:07 to 10:53 and outgained the Bills 194 to 110 yards.

The Dolphins should have gone up early in the 3rd Quarter after the Defense stopped the Bills on a 3rd & 1 and forced them to punt. Tannehill underthrew a wide-open Kenny Stills who was 2-3 steps ahead of coverage and the Dolphins missed a big-play opportunity. In this same drive Tannehill should have been picked off as he misread coverage and was fortunate that the DB could not bring it in. On the following Bills possession Suh disrupted the play as he came charging through the middle and Tyrod Taylor was forced to role out right yet was unable to make the first down marker on 3rd & 2 as Jason Jones managed to close down in time. One key adjustment that Rex Ryan and Buffalo made coming out of half time was that they started to dial up pressure on first down to stop the Dolphins having second and manageable as Jay Ajayi gashed the Bills in the first half. The 67-yard Buffalo touchdown pass was the result of Cornerback Byron Maxwell being caught napping in zone coverage as he kept his eyes on the QB for too long and the Dolphins Safety could not get over in time to help once Goodwin had blown past Maxwell.

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4-2

4-3

With 3:55 remaining in the third quarter, Ryan Tannehill was still under 100 yards passing and the Dolphins relied on their emerging young Bell-Cow RB Jay Ajayi. Ajayi displayed good vision and once he makes hit cut showed that he can get dirty yardage inside through his use of good footwork and raw power. I really liked the play call from Adam Gase near the red zone where he called a zone read which saw Tannehill scamper off a 14-yard run and put Miami 6 yards outside the Bills end zone. It was a creative play call that the Dolphins needed to edge closer to Buffalo’s goal line. Jay Ajayi then rushed for a four-yard TD and the decision to go for 2 points was a gutsy call, which had great execution as Jarvis Landry ran untouched out of the backfield and into the flats to make it a 17-14 game.

Tyrod Taylor was elusive all game long and the Dolphins should have had 5+ sacks if not for Taylors ability to make tacklers miss. The Dolphins did, however, get to Taylor on a 3rd down, which resulted in an Ndamukong Suh sack thanks to some creative play calling from Defensive Co-oridnator Vance Joseph. Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins are lined up either side of the Center showing a Double A gap blitz. You can see inside the brown circle that the Bills RG (Incognito) is relaying the protection adjustment, as the RT will now guard Suh who is lined up at DE while the RG will block the DT and the C will cover Alonso, with the LG picking up the other blitzing Linebacker. What happens is that Alonso drops back into coverage, while Jenkins blitzes and the Dolphins also bring their slot-corner Bobby McCain on a corner blitz. This confuses the Bills and leaves Suh in a one-on-one match up which he is able to exploit (as he is not double teamed like every other play). The end result is an Ndamukong Suh sack thanks to some creative play calling.

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The Bills then punt and manage to pin Miami back on their own 1 yard line. In the image below we can clearly see just how much respect Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills have for the left side of Miami’s offensive line as they load the box to that side.

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The Dolphins get a 1-yard run out of Ajayi to give them a tiny bit more breathing room. The next play that is called is well designed and even better executed. The Dolphins are manning up in blocking assignments and RG Jermon Bushrod will double the Tackle with Pouncey to create a hole for Ajayi before moving into the next level and engaging with the Bills ILB.

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This play works tremendously and we can see Bushrod clearing out the Linebacker in the second level and Ajayi’s cut once he sees Bushrod push the ILB just enough to one side to create a crease for him to burst through.

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6-4

What happens next is simply Ajayi making tacklers miss as he uses his power to overwhelm two tacklers and even throws in a stiff arm for good measure.

6-5

Ajayi is off to the races and manages to rattle off a huge 53 yard run from the Dolphins own 2 yard-line. Miami is able to flip the field against eight in the box thanks to great blocking and the vision of its Running Back whose style favours one-cut running.

The Dolphins were extremely well prepared and coached throughout this game as Buffalo threw a wildcat at Miami resulting in a 10-yard loss as Suh and Mario Williams blew up the play. Mario Williams then drilled Tyrod Taylor on a 3rd & 15. The following drive for Miami resulted in a touchdown thanks to some extremely tough running from Damien Williams for the score. The most impressive play of this drive came on 3rd & 7 as Tannehill rolled out right and connected with Jarvis Landry for a 18 yard pick up as the receiver adjusted and worked with his QB over to the right side of the field. Miami kicks a PAT, 21-17.

The Defense was finally playing with the lead and able to pin back their ears and go to work in the pass rush. Wake, Branch and Suh were all disruptive and Isa Abdul-Quddus had a great pass break up on 3rd & 6 causing Buffalo to punt. The next series Miami scored a touchdown off a 56-yard Tannehill hook up with Kenny Stills, however, this play was more about the surrounding cast than Tannehill himself. Firstly Jay Ajayi did an excellent job in pass protection as he picked up a free blitzer which gave Tannehill the time needed to connect with Stills down the field.

ajayi-pass-protect

Secondly, the ball was underthrown and Stills’ adjustment was excellent as he came back and located the football then adjusted to catch the underthrown ball before taking it to the house. Finally, Head Coaches Adam Gase’s decision to dial up a deep ball to Kenny Stills (who was Tannehill’s hot route) on a 3rd & 6 with just 2:35 to go as Miami is looking to burn the clock and has a Back who is averaging 8 yards a carry was a great play call.
The following drive, Miami performed well on Defense as Taylor was constantly harassed and had barely any time to throw. Yet the Bills were able to score a TD and convert the 2 points to make it 27-24 with a nervous onside kick thanks to some stupid decisions by certain defenders. Byron Maxwell got called for taunting before Kiko Alonso then Jason Jones pushed players out of bounds (only Jones’ got flagged). This game was chippy, yet it should have been a comfortable win for Miami who almost got itself into a dangerous position due to silly penalties. Miami held on and won 28-25 over a bitter divisional rival. Lets go ‘Fins!

Closing Thoughts
Miami’s Defense really showed up today. It kept the team in it as the Dolphins failed to finish off drives in the first half and were slow at stretches in the third and fourth quarter. Jay Ajayi became the fourth player in NFL history with back-to-back 200+ yard games. He joins the illustrious company of O. J. Simpson (1973 & ’76), Earl Campbell (1980) and Ricky Williams (2002) with his accomplishment. Ajayi was a bell-cow and kept the offense ticking all game. A huge amount of credit has to go to offensive line for its job upfront in keeping Tannehill clean nearly all day and in helping create holes for Ajayi to exploit. The Dolphins lost the special teams battle, however, their Defensive Line managed to excel and meant that ultimately it did not cost Miami. A telling stat is that Tyrod Taylor dropped back 38 times and was under pressure for 19 of those. The Bills also gained 1.4 inches before contact in the run game, which tells you just how disruptive this front seven was. A great win for the Miami Dolphins and it appears the bye comes at the wrong time as this team has been hot over the past two stretches. The Miami Dolphins are looking like a physical, aggressive and tough team that is looking to beat up on people and dominate both lines of scrimmage. 

preview

Sunday, October 23, 2016

VIDEO: Post Game Video from Dolphins Win over Buffalo

Saturday, October 22, 2016

GAMBLING CORNER: Week 7

Sorry for getting this up late this week as I had some family functions to attend too. The college picks have been strong for the year and we have made a lot of money with them. Let's continue to make money this week.



COLLEGE GAMES                           (HOME Team in CAPS)

ALABAMA -16.5 over Texas A&M
I hate Nick Saban but Bama is for real and Texas A&M to me is a bit overrated this year. Bama at home laying a little over 2 touchdowns is easy pickings.

Wisconsin -3.5 over IOWA
Wisconsin has had a killer schedule this year and they have survived only losing games to the very good teams on their schedule. Iowa is still.....well Iowa. Lay the 3.5 points and take Wisconsin here.

MINNESOTA -18 over Rutgers
I can't stress enough how bad Rutgers is as a football team and program right now. They played a game, yes a full 4 quarter conference game and only has 22 total yards of offense. Minnesota is sneaky good and will lay the smack down on Rutgers. Give me Minnesota


YEAR TO DATE RECORD: 12-6



NFL GAMES

CINCINNATTI -10.5 over Cleveland
The Browns haven't won a game all year but they hang tight and "almost" win every week. That ends this week. I think the Bengals who are having a disappointing season will snap out of it and beat up their state rival pretty good here.

Tampa Bay +1 over SAN FRANCISCO
I think this game will be a shoot out and give me Tampa as they have the better skill position players and San Fran is dreadful.

Baltimore +2 over the NY JETS
Geno Smith......Geno Smith on a short week. Enough said, give me the Ravens.

YEAR TO DATE RECORD: 10-11

Monday, October 17, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Reshad Jones Possibly Out for Remainder of the Season

Multiple outlets are reporting that Reshad Jones tore his rotator cuff in yesterday's win over the Steelers and will most likely miss the rest of the season. More tests are being done on Jones at this time but the outlook doesn't look good.

If Jones is out the rest of the way the Dolphins would be down their two best players in the secondary with Xavien Howard and Jones. Howard is expected back by early to mid-November. Expect Michael Thomas or Walt Aikens to step in and replace Jones in the starting lineup. Aikens was late for a team meeting this past week and Adam Gase decided not to make him active for yesterday's game. The Dolphins also have safety AJ Hendy on the practice squad as well and one would expect he would get a call up to the main roster. Hendy played well in training camp and in preseason games but it was mainly against 2nd and 3rd stringers. I would also expect the Dolphins to look to add a safety via free agency as well for depth purposes should Jones be out for the rest of the way.

As we get more details on the Reshad Jones injury we will give you an update.


UPDATE: It was announced today that Reshad Jones will miss the remainder of the season

The Miami Dolphins upset the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15: Film Study

The 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers rolled into Miami Gardens, Florida to face the 1-4 Miami Dolphins. The following is my reaction to the game after watching the game live Sunday and then re-watching the game in its entirety Monday morning. Follow @TomLikeFootball on Twitter.

The narrative throughout the week
The Dolphins were coming off an incredibly embarrassing 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, which I wrote about. Head Coach Adam Gase continued his tough approach as he cut Offensive Linemen Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas. All three were reasonably high draft picks by previous regimes. If you read my piece last week you will understand why Coach Gase cut Turner and Thomas. Side-note: running back Isaiah Pead was also cut this week.

Some other headlines heading into week 6 were the injuries to RB Arian Foster and SS Reshad Jones; both were game-time decisions. The Miami Dolphins filled plenty of press columns this week as many within the media debated whether Miami was the worst or at a minimum, a bottom three team in the NFL. Many also questioned the play of Ryan Tannehill, however, Head Coach Adam Gase said it was impossible to evaluate Tannehill until the Dolphins did a better job in pass protection. One final side note was that Defensive Co-Ordinator Vance Joseph came out questioning Mario Williams and his effort level through the first five weeks. Déjà vu from his time in Buffalo last season?

On the Pittsburgh side, the Steelers looked set to lose a few key starters to injury. The Steelers would be without DE, Cameron Heyward; LB, Ryan Shazier as well as starting RT Marcus Gilbert and WR Markus Wheaton. Yet, most of the talk was concerning Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his impressive play through weeks 4 and 5.

Stats heading into the game
Entering the game, Roethlisberger had 680 yards, 9 TDs, 0 INTs in his last two appearances as he looked to square off against a Miami Dolphins Defense that has struggled massively through the first five weeks. Roethlisberger had 15 passing touchdowns after five weeks, a franchise record to start the season. The Miami Dolphins were 31st in the NFL averaging only 72.4 rushing yards per game. Alongside this the Dolphins had given up a league high 150.8 rushing yards a game after five weeks. Le’Veon Bell for the Steelers averaged 105.0 yards over his first two weeks returning from suspension. The Miami Dolphins were also ranked tied-30th in sacks allowed and 30th in Quarterback hits surrendered. The Stats overwhelmingly favoured Pittsburgh and with the Dolphins Defense fielding the most snaps and minutes of any Defense around the League; it is clear that for the Dolphins to stand any chance they needed to get off the field on Defense and sustain drives on Offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins, Week 6
For Miami the goals were simple heading into Week 6. To stand any chance of beating the Pittsburgh Steelers they needed to:
  • Protect the franchise – Keep Ryan Tannehill clean
  • Establish the run game
  • Get the Defense off the field
  • Keep it third and manageable
  • Dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball

I always believe that the very first play of the game (on Offense or Defense) is indicative of what is to follow. The Steelers first play was a 4 yard run and afterwards we saw Miami Safety Reshad Jones clashing with Steelers WR Cobi Hamilton. The Dolphins were fired up for this game and after the cuts/ purges Gase made this week, players knew they were playing for not only their starting positions, but their jobs (a few we can make an exception for and yes Jones is one of them). But the point still stands. Miami was physical and looked to dominate the line of scrimmage defensively as the Dolphins had two run stuffs for less than two yards before a 3rd & 6 where Cam Wake (who started at DE and needs to start the remainder of the season) and Ndamukong Suh showcased their incredible first steps and penetration as they caused terror in the backfield and caused Big Ben to spike the ball.

Jay Ajayi motioned out of the backfield on the first offensive play as the Dolphins went with an empty back set (like they did two weeks earlier against Cincinnati), however, the play ended with a penalty against RT Ja’Wuan James as he moved an opponent off the pile and drew a flag. Landry picked up a first down on 2nd & 20 by turning a 5 yard reception into a 20 yard gain before extra-curricula’s occurred along the Dolphins side-line resulting in Pittsburgh drawing a flag. Steelers Safety Mike Mitchell was in trouble all game as he got into it with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Kenyan Drake. The Dolphins played with energy and were physical during the opening possession; something Coach Gase had been preaching all week.

(Steve Mitchell/ USA TODAY Sports)
(Steve Mitchell/ USA TODAY Sports)

Jay Ajayi rattled off a nice 12-yard pick up as he stiff-armed a Pittsburgh defender to move the chains. The very next play should have been a touchdown, however, DeVante Parker was unable to pull in the football as Tannehill took a shot down field after great pass protection following play action. The next play was a great precursor of what was to come in this game as Jay Ajayi picked up 11 yards off a perfectly executed run play.

Miami is in a simple single-set back formation, however, the key to this play is LT Branden Albert and TE Dion Sims (The two yellow arrows below the long red line) sealing the edge. If they manage to seal the edge then the double block by Center Mike Pouncey and LG Laremy Tunsil should create a running lane (red box) for Jay Ajayi to exploit resulting in positive yardage.

2-formation

For this play to be extremely successful the Dolphins need to seal the edge, double block to create the hole and then LG Laremy Tunsil needs to kick out and block the Steelers lone Linebacker in the second level. As you can see below the Dolphins seal the edge, Tunsil kicks out and manages to let Ajayi get into the second level untouched before WR Kenny Stills does a great job blocking down field to allow Ajayi to pick up the first down.

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The Dolphins eventually kick a Field Goal on their first offensive possession, and do a nice job of establishing the run. The Dolphins then make the bold decision to kick an onside kick, which is recovered by Pittsburgh, yet Miami gets to retake kick off as the officials were not in place prior to the kick.

The Dolphins first sack of the day is waved off due to 2 flags on the Defense (one on CB Bryon Maxwell and the other on Defensive Linemen Jason Jones). However, this play was a huge positive for Miami in terms of their pass rush managing to get home. DEs Cam Wake and Andrew Branch went to work on the outside while DT Ndamukong Suh collapsed the pocket in the middle. It is 3rd & 10, an obvious passing down, Miami is in 2 man, however, they have two linebackers lined up either side of the Center showing a double A gap blitz (The Vikings run this a lot). This causes confusion, as Pittsburgh is required to adjust and assign blockers in case Miami does indeed bring 6 blitzers. The Dolphins are, however, in 2 Man and the LBs lined up either side of the Center are in man coverage. The confusion this causes is further exacerbated as Jason Jones rushes inside, while Suh initiates contact and then stunts to the outside (as demonstrated by the yellow arrows).

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The Dolphins are in press coverage on the outside and are also in the nickel (McCain is playing in the slot) which should allow Miami more time to get home as it takes longer for Steelers receivers to gain separation. The yellow line clearly illustrates Suh’s stunt while we can see that Wake is having success at the bottom of the screen as he has already rounded the Steelers Tight End who is left in the backfield to chip block him.

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Below Suh is highlighted as he has managed to peel off the Guards block, while the pocket is collapsing around Roethlisberger as he desperately tries to find a receiver down field. The fact that the ball was snapped as the clock was winding down allowed the Dolphins D-Line to get off at the next sound and therefore get a quick first step on the Steelers O-Line.

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The next play was a 60 yard end around which resulted in a Pittsburgh Touchdown as Miami missed tackles and Steelers Darrius Heyward-Bey was simply too physical. The Steelers capped this off with a successful two point conversion. The Dolphins trailed 8-3 and could have got off the field if not for a costly penalty.

The Dolphins went three and out the following possession before again having a huge sack on 3rd & 10. Miami are again in 2 Man with press coverage, yet this time End Andre Branch is standing up rather than in his normal stance. It is an obviously passing down with the clock winding down allowing Miami’s D-Line to pin back it’s ears and tear up field on the next snap.

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As the play develops it becomes apparent that LB Kiko Alonso who is playing man coverage on the RB is being picked up by the Steelers LT as they believe he is blitzing, while they have left a TE to lone block Cameron Wake. A very big mistake.

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Wake managed to gain leverage and veer the Steelers TE as he cannons towards Big Ben, before meeting fellow DE Andrew Branch at the Quarterback.

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A quick look at Cameron’s Wake ability to convert speed to power and his use of handwork demonstrates why he is such a force in this league. Wake gets out of his sprinter stance early and uses his long arms to get underneath Pittsburgh’s assigned blocker. Look at how Wake manages to get his right arm underneath Jesse James’ armpit allowing him to pull James away from him while he then swipes the right arm underneath before using left to again pull James away from the spot Wake is looking to occupy as he looks to accelerate around the corner.

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In the picture below you can see Wake now has his left arm on James. His lower body control is phenomenal as he continually drives his feet round the corner as he uses his hands to rip away the blocker while driving round the corner and towards the Quarterback.

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Cameron Wake may be 34 years old, but he has been doing this at a high level for a long time.
Cameron Wake may be 34 years old, but he has been doing this at a high level for a long time.

The next offensive possession sees Tannehill deal a 53-yard strike downfield to TE MarQueis Gray. Tannehill is hit on the play, however, manages to roll out left and keep his eyes down field before connecting with his TE on the deep ball. The next play Miami scores a Touchdown, however, this is chalked off following a silly penalty as two Dolphins TEs fail to cover James at RT resulting in an illegal formation penalty. Miami has to settle for a FG.
The very next play was a huge turning point in the game as not only does Reshad Jones make a ridiculous interception catch to set up Miami on Pittsburgh’s 13; but Ben Roethlisberger is also injured on the play. Miami again settles for a Field Goal on this possession as they take the lead in the turnover battle and the game. 9-8 Miami.
The Dolphins are able to stop a Landry Jones led Pittsburgh and managed to score a touchdown as a 38-yard hook up with Jarvis Landry moves Miami close to Pittsburgh’s End Zone. Damien Williams lined up at FB and managed to run the ball in before LB Lawrence Timmons brought up his lunch in the End Zone. I’m sure you have all seen the vine.

16-8 Miami at the Half.

The Miami Dolphins were impressive out of the half as Ajayi again rattled off a big run following Sims and Stills setting the edge with RG Jermon Bushrod coming round as lead blocker (This will be last film study of this article). The Dolphins are in a man block run where TE Sims and WR Stills will set the edge, before RG Bushrod will kick out left and run behind the line of scrimmage before acting as a lead blocker down field.

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As you can see from the image below, Stills and Sims set the edge while Bushrod makes his way round the line of scrimmage to act as lead blocker.

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The Dolphins hold their blocks and Ajayi is down the outside untouched as he looks to rattle off another big run.

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The Dolphins ended this drive with a blocked Field Goal; yet, Miami quickly got the ball back as Isa Abdul-Quddus picked of Roethlisberger for his second interception of the afternoon. This next drive Ajayi again has a nice 32 yard pick up on an Outside Zone run. The Dolphins got to Pittsburgh’s 1-yard line before Tannehill audibled and changed the play at the line of scrimmage, resulting in a 1 yard Jay Ajayi touchdown run. At the end of the Third Quarter, Miami led 23-8 and had 221 passing yards to Pittsburgh’s 53. The Dolphins then missed a 50-yard Field Goal wide left, before Byron Maxwell broke up 2nd and 3rd down pass attempts aimed towards Antonio Brown.

The Dolphins Offense was impressive in the fourth quarter and one play I particularly liked came on 3rd & 1. Tannehill was rolling out on a reverse bootleg and clearly had the yard with his legs, yet kept his eyes down field and showed great patience and timing as he connected with his TE on a 19 yard pick up. Coach Gase displayed good situational and intelligent coaching as he elected to punt on Pittsburgh’s 36 yard-line on a 4th & 8 rather than try a 54-yard Field Goal. This pinned the Steelers on their own 3-yard line with only 4:20 left in the game. The Steelers scored a TD on this drive, however, it massively burned the clock down before Jarvis Landry recovered the onside kick. 1st & 10 on Miami’s 38, they need just one first down the seal the game. The Dolphins managed to set the edge and with a great kick out block, Jay Ajayi goes 62 yards for the knock out punch touchdown as Miami upsets the massively favoured Pittsburgh Steelers.

Closing Thoughts
Jay Ajayi has a historic day as he has the 3rd highest single game rushing total in franchise history (204 yards; behind Ricky Williams’ 216 and 228). The Dolphins were physical, aggressive, angry and played tough football which saw them dominate both lines of scrimmage. The Dolphins managed to generate a decent pass rush with just their four defensive linemen and I believe Andre Branch and Cam Wake should be starting ahead of Mario Williams. Byron Maxwell had his best game as a Dolphins as he surrendered only four catches for 29 yards the eight times he was targeted. Jay Ajayi was a bell cow in the backfield which opened up lanes in the passing game for Ryan Tannehill to exploit. Head Coach Adam Gase and his coaching staff did a good job game planning as Tannehill was kept clean while Ajayi’s touches allowed him to get into a rhythm offensively. A great and much needed win for Miami as they are now 2-4 on the season and look ahead to a week 7 division game at home against the red hot Buffalo Bills.

Matt Freed/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(Matt Freed/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Game-Ball on Offense: Jay Ajayi, RB
Game-Ball on Defense: Byron Maxwell, CB

-Tom Like