I decided to start this weekly feature to provide some more in-depth information on the opposing team the Seattle Seahawks are playing each week.
So up first is Omar Kelly, beat reporter covering the Miami Dolphins for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Kelly was gracious enough to take the time to answer five questions on the Dolphins.
Kelly is prolific on twitter, so check him out here if you’re not following him already.
You can also check out Kelly’s blog at the Sun-Sentinel here.
1.) From a distance, Tannehill seems to have played well earlier this season, but has struggled of late. Has he regressed? And does Miami’s brass still believe Tannehill is a franchise quarterback?
Kelly: Tannehill has regressed a bit because Miami’s running game has regressed, and teams have caught onto his approach, audibles and route adjustments. It’s the natural learning curve rookies go through. He’s shown plenty of ability when blitzing but teams have stopped their aggressive approach against the rookie, putting eight in the box, jamming his receivers, and forcing him to throw into tight windows. So far he hasn’t overcome his latest challenge.
2.) Reggie Bush stated he wanted to lead the league in rushing, but currently he’s tied for 21st in the NFL with 575 yards and four touchdowns. Bush also has fumbled three times, losing two of those. What are some of the reasons for Miami’s struggles running the ball?
Kelly: The offensive line has had issues opening up holes with the zone blocking scheme lately. I believe teams have caught onto Miami’s favorite runs, and their approach. It doesn’t help that there’s no receiver to stretch the field, so teams are routinely dropping eight men in the box. But Bush isn’t taking advantage of the running lanes he’s getting. He has too many runs of no gain or negative yards. Bush produces big runs, but the Dolphins are learning they can’t afford to wait on them. The Dolphins are also making him share the workload more with Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller.
3. The Seahawks are very familiar with offensive lineman Richie Incognito and linebacker Karlos Dansby from their days playing in the NFC West. Incognito was second in this year’s Sporting News players’ poll voting on who’s the dirtiest player in the league. Is Incognito getting soft in his old age, or as Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane says, should the Seahawks be prepared to get their guard up like Floyd Mayweather? And can Dansby continue to play with a torn biceps and dislocated finger?
Kelly: Considering how much defensive players are complaining about Incognito I think it is unfair to say he’s getting soft. Richie plays the game right up to the line, on the edge of dirty. Unfortunately for him the reputation carries weight. But it is clear he’s the one player nobody wants to, or should mess with. I ask players a series of questions in a first and 10 series and one of the questions is “which player would you want with you in a bar fight.” Wouldn’t you know Incognito is a heavy favorite. As for Dansby, he’s playing with a torn bicep and it has forced him to play smarter and less physical. There might be a smidgen of drop off, but not much.
4. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said during HBO’s “Hard Knocks” that his team had a fourth, fifth and sixth receiver, but they did not have No. 1, 2 or 3 receivers. But Brian Hartline is among the league leaders in receiving yards (790), and Davone Bess is one of the better slot receivers in the league.
Kelly: Ireland was referring to the fringe receivers fighting for the final two or three spots on the roster, not Hartline and Bess. And he’s right, the Dolphins don’t have much depth. And they certainly don’t have any receivers who can stretch the field, or serve as big red zone targets. But Hartline and Bess have done an admirable job carrying the passing game. If Hartline had scored more than one touchdown we’d be talking about a possible Pro Bowl season. For now, the pair will have to do, but there’s a possibility Rishard Matthews and Marlon Moore could step their game up in the final weeks of the season.
5. The Dolphins have one of the better run defenses in the league, allowing just 96.8 rushing yards a contest. Who are some of the unheralded players on Miami’s defense that maybe do not get the recognition they deserve nationally?
Kelly: As forceful as the Dolphins have been against the run this season, the unit has actually dropped the ball the past five games, allowing 4.6 yards per carry. Injuries have a lot to do with the recent drop off, but my standards and their standards are higher.
Anything worse than 3.6 yards per carry would be a disaster for this unit, which has annually suffocated rushing attacks. Paul Soliai and Randy Starks are arguably one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the NFL, and Cameron Wake is a force in pass rushing and run stopping. He’s a monster. Miami’s biggest issue is finding more pass rushing from the opposite side. Right now the Dolphins aren’t getting enough from Jared Odrick and Olivier Vernon, and it is a challenge to get after quarterbacks without the blitz.