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Advantage Dolphins: Chase, protect the QB

This is what's going on at this hour:

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Nathan Jones is nursing a hamstring injury which is the reason he did not practice today. As I reported in the previous post, Jones, Joey Porter (knee), and Jason Taylor (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday.

The irony is that Porter and Taylor have to be vital parts of Miami's chances of winning against Jacksonville on Sunday. The Jaguars, you see, have struggled mightily in two areas this year: They don't protect the quarterback very well and they don't rush the passer very well.

Porter and Taylor and Miami's primary pass-rush threats along with Randy Starks and Cameron Wake. I asked Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio about his team's work protecting the passer and getting after opposing QBs.

"Not very good," he said. "I think that's the one thing that's held us back a little bit from being a better football team. We have to protect our guy better. He's getting hit too much. And I know the Dolphins do a good job of getting after the quarterback.that's a concern for us this week."

The Dolphins defense has 35 sacks this season. That's second in the NFL in sacks per pass play.

The Jacksonville offensive line has yielded 34 sacks this season and that's 28th worst in the NFL.

Advantage Miami!

The Dolphins have a similar advantage in protecting Chad Henne. Miami has yielded 25 sacks of its QBs and that is a middle-of-the-road 16th in the NFL. But middle of the road is pretty good when one consideres the Jags have a bunch of JAGs (just a guy) chasing the QB on defense.

Jacksonville has 12 sacks so far this year. That means they are dead last in sacks per pass play on defense.

Advantage Miami! 

"The other thing we have not been strong at is getting after the quarterbback," Del Rio admitted. "That's something we have to get better at going down the stretch to have a chance against these good football teams like the Dolphins."

Interestingly, an issue that was hot on this blog about  20 months ago came up again today because, well, because I brought it up. Seriously loyal readers will remember I reported way back then that Jacksonville had a strong interest in acquiring Jason Taylor to improve their pass rush. It was a big issue even then.

The Jaguars denied the reports at the time. Taylor was eventually traded to the Redskins. Well, today, Del Rio admitted the Jaguars indeed had an interest.

"There were discussions at the time but nothing ever materialized," he said.

One final thing: Center Jake Grove returned to practice today on a limited basis. He is recovering from a high ankle sprain and tibia injury. Tony Sparano said the team will monitor his status Thursday -- to see how he handles the work and whether he suffers any setback --  and that will help him determine whether Grove will be available against Jacksonville.

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