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Keys to the game: Dolphins vs. Chargers

I'm picking the Dolphins to beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Yes, I know. What am I thinking?

The Dolphins are in full freefall. There's a scandal. They're not responding on the field. They have injuries. A bad offensive line is worse. There are chemistry issues. And the home field advantage?

The fact of the matter is the Dolphins might get the smallest crowd of the season for this game. There might be fewer than 52,000 fans showing up for this one -- and a lot of those in attendance will be there to show their displeasure.

But I think the Chargers are flawed on offense (poor red zone offense) and defense (poor secondary and pas rush) and they did travel across country Friday evening to play the game. So I believe the Dolphins can pull one off.

Here are the keys to the game:

When the Dolphins pass the football: Remember when Mike Wallace said he was worried about not being in synch with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Remember he said it wasn’t yet time to panic but if the situation persisted past the eighth game of the season, then it was time to panic? It’s time to panic. Wallace and Tannehill are not getting it done together because the QB has been inconsistent with his deep passing. Sometimes the ball is underthrown. Sometimes, like last week, it’s thrown out of bounds. Tannehill has had no such problems throwing to Rishard Matthews, who last week was Miami’s leading receiver. The chemistry between Matthews and Tannehill has been curious because the receiver hardly got any snaps until a couple of weeks ago when Brandon Gibson was injured. This is great for Matthews, who is playing above expectations. But the Dolphins paid $60 million for Mike Wallace. And for several reasons they are not getting a good return on their investment. As to the Chargers DBs … Methinks they’d love to have Antonio Cromartie back as the Chargers are 28th in the league against the pass. ADVANTAGE: Miami (only because Chargers are so bad).

When the Dolphins run the football: The Dolphins were on a nice little roll, with consecutive 150-yard rushing performances against New England and Cincinnati and then they hit a wall against Tampa Bay. They gained two yards against the Bucs. Six feet. It was the worst performance running the ball by an offense since 2007. The Dolphins have an opportunity for redemption because the Chargers allow an average of 4.8 yards per rush. That’s No. 29 in the NFL. It stands to reason the Dolphins might be able to do some damage if only they do not abandon the run. Unfortunately for Miami, there have been multiple games this year when the team was solidly in the game and still offensive coordinator Mike Sherman went pass-happy to his team’s detriment. So anything is possible. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the Chargers run the football: Former Dolphins first round pick Ronnie Brown returns to Sun Life as the Chargers change-of-pace back. He is playing behind Ryan Matthews who so far this season is staying away from the injuries that have derailed him much of his career. The Chargers run the ball as a set-up to the pass. They are not a great running team as their No. 19 rush yards per game average proves. The Dolphins were once a prideful rush defense. In 2011 under a different coaching staff, they were No. 3 in rush defense. Last year they were No. 13 in rush defense and this year they’re at No. 20. The Dolphins have given up more than 130 rushing yards in six of their nine games this season. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the Chargers pass the football: Phillip Rivers is enjoying a renaissance this season. He’s averaging 328 pass yards per game on road this season, which is the second-best mark behind Peyton Manning’s 359.3. Rivers has completed 20-plus passes while completing at least 80 percent of passes in three games, tying for most such games in season in NFL history. Rivers has also feasted on Miami defenses in the past. Has passed for 300-plus yards in the past two games against Miami. He doesn’t have the same receivers as in the past but tight end Antonio Gates is healthy and having a fine season. The Dolphins are again licking wounds in the secondary, as cornerback Dimitri Patterson’s status for the game is questionable. ADVANTAGE: San Diego.

Special teams: The two teams trade edges in this category. The Chargers have a better field goal percentage and are better returning punts. The Dolphins are better on kickoff returns. The major difference is in the punting itself. Brandon Fields is among the league’s best and his work has the Dolphins rated No. 7 in the NFL in net punting. The Chargers are rated No. 17. In a game where field position could be a major factor, this area could be key. ADVANTAGE: Miami.

Coaching: Joe Philbin beat out Mike McCoy for the Dolphins head coach job in January 2012. Philbin has since failed to win more than he’s lost, is winless after byes, and his team often starts slow. McCoy is in his first season and is being credited for the resurrection of Phillip Rivers. Unfortunately the defense has regressed and the results so far aren’t any better than what Norv Turner had. This is clearly a match up of giants. ADVANTAGE: Even.

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FIRST!

At the end of each respective season, these teams had the best cumulative regular season record since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

1970 - Minnesota
1971 - Minnesota
1972 - Miami
1973 - Miami
1974 - Miami
1975 - Miami
1976 - Minnesota
1977 - Raiders
1978 - Miami
1979 - Dallas
1980 - Dallas
1981 - Dallas
1982 - Dallas
1983 - Dallas
1984 - Miami
1985 - Miami
1986 - Miami
1987 - Miami
1988 - Miami
1989 - Miami
1990 - Miami
1991 - Miami
1992 - Miami
1993 - Miami
1994 - Miami
1995 - Miami
1996 - Miami
1997 - Miami
1998 - Miami
1999 - Miami
2000 - Miami
2001 - Miami
2002 - Miami
2003 - Miami
2004 - Miami
2005 - Miami
2006 - Miami
2007 - Miami
2008 - Miami
2009 - Miami, Pittsburgh (tied)
2010 - Pittsburgh
2011 - Pittsburgh
2012 - Pittsburgh

At the end of each respective season, these teams had the best cumulative regular season record since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

1970 - Minnesota
1971 - Minnesota
1972 - Miami
1973 - Miami
1974 - Miami
1975 - Miami
1976 - Minnesota
1977 - Raiders
1978 - Miami
1979 - Dallas
1980 - Dallas
1981 - Dallas
1982 - Dallas
1983 - Dallas
1984 - Miami
1985 - Miami
1986 - Miami
1987 - Miami
1988 - Miami
1989 - Miami
1990 - Miami

..curious to the slot??? There is a reason the slot receivers are thriving....Wallace as disappointing as he has been catching the ball. He still draws attention from safeties. The slot guys have quicker routes and easier reads for our quarterback. IMO..He is comfortable with his pre snap reads when facing certain coverages. So when Tanny reads safety help over the top..He knows he has an easier throw to the slot....IMO..

No Evidence

MY PREDICTION BEFORE THE SEASON WAS WE HAD TO WIN THESE GAMES TO MAKE POSTSEASON:
Indy
SD
Pitt

We win this game we're still alive.

We can take SD. Actually, Fins can take anyone if we outcoach the other team. But we know that doesn't happen often.

Hey Cogs, if it were me, you would be starting Sunday. Thanks for nothing Martin

Key to the game.....bully their quarterback.

From the last blog:

dusty,

The Fins went 1-15 in 2007 and had the 1st pick in the draft in 2008 which they use to select Jake Long. A new regime was hired. Bill Parcells VP of operations. Jeff Ireland General Manager and Tony Sparano head coach.

They went 11-5 and won the AFC East that year aided by inheriting a better roster than they thought and the free agent additions of Chad Pennington, Jason Ferguson, and Randy Starks.

We know what has happened from that point to date and it hasn't been good.

Btw there is not one player from the 2008 draft or an undrafted free agent from that year still on the team. Not one.

It's definitely not an endorsement for Jeff Ireland but it's also not an endorsement for losing the rest of the season to get a high draft pick for a new FO to fix things.

Who cares about the crap Dolphins anymore?

Armando,

When Tannehill throws to Wallace he is usually on the run, more of a moving target. Tannehill even when he has time does not throw an accurate deep ball to a moving target. look at some of the film when T-hill goes to Wallace. Even on a shorter slant T-hill will throw behind Wallace with the velocity that makes the catch more difficult. Tannehill is not a franchise QB. He may develop in a few years but he adds to the Dolphins offensive line problems with his lack of mobility in the pocket, slow release and lack of reads.

J Martin will rejoin the team next season.

TannePuke is a poor excuse for a pro QB and a huge dissapointment for a 1st rd pick. Just another in the long line of Irescum busts.

"A lot of the fans there will show their displeasure".

Cmon Armando, really? You really think that the TRUE fans going to the games and REALLY supporting this team and spending their time and money are going there to just "show displeasure"? Guess again you beat writer nobody. All that you have reported this week you should be ashamed of yourself. You are spreading nothing but negative things just to follow what national media is doing. Cant wait until this investigation is over and all you idiot reporters (Armando) are left looking like the unprofessional clowns that you are.

You Armando are the ring leader of the toads.

Bottom line, this team isn't going to be any good until the front office identifies a QB that can carry the day. Until then, we are all just wasting our breaths. Tannehill does have some positive qualities, but I'm not sure he's the one.

TRUE fans care about their team getting better, and are insulted by the ridiculous band of stooges fielded under the name MIAMI DOLPHINS right now.

I love it,

Hey everybody, we are reporting all this stuff and its really bad and people are going to lose their jobs and stuff.

Wow, did it really happen?

Um, no. But we are just reporting it though.
Oh if I have not mentioned it yet, J Martin is a Pupupupupusssss ssyy

True fans stick with their team. Frustration or not

These Keys are important but for a less talented team to overachieve they have to win in what I am going to call the understatus.Turnovers,points off turnovers and Red Zone TD scoring percentage.
In the Dolphins case I write less talented but its not a talent issue with the 2013 Dolphins its more an issue of inconsistency,not being on the same page with the coaching schemes for the players that are on the team,and the coaches have not instilled the willingness to do whatever to win the game.They are more apt to find a way to lose than vice-versa.IMO this has been the character of the team since the blowout in NO.
The Dolphins after 9 games are equal in takeaway margin,they have the same number as they have given up and are a minus 16 in points off of takeaways which has lead to at least one loss.BTW if you were to try to guess which team in the NFL has overachieved and have a record that implies they are the best team in football right now you might have guessed that the KC Chiefs are at the top of the entire NFL in takeaways and points off of takeaways,lets see how they do this week against a proven winner Denver.
Do you believe this team beat the Colts at Indy yes they did but they were a perfect 3 for 3 in the Red Zone for that game in scoring TDs and Indy was 2 for 4 in the RZ and they were even in takeaways with Indy scoring 3 and Miami 0 off of the takeaways,but the Dolphins scored 3 TDs to Indys 2 and that 7 point difference trumped the minus 3 off of takeaways and surprise they won by 4 points exactly the difference between the RZ points and points off of takeaways.

Hey Nat Moore@ 11:41,

You must be on crack. Martin will NEVER play in the NFL ever again.

if we win and jets lose we are in the 6 seed!!!!!!

I HAVE FORGO THE TB GAME. WE NEED TO WIN OUR AFC GAME AND IT STARTS SUNDAY..

I AM ALSO THRILLED WE HAVE NO MORE NIGHT GAMES.

THE FOLLOWING WILL BE BOOED SOUNDLY TOMORROW

Mike Wallace
Ryan Tannehill
Danelle Ellerbee
Nolan Carroll
Dion Jordan

THE DOLPHINS ARE A LAUGHINGSTOCK

They are my favorite team

THE DOLPHINS ARE MY FAVORITE TEAM

They are a laughingstock.

THE CRACKHEAD MAYOR OF TORONTO ROB FORD

Is now a contributor on this post

MIT,
Do you know where Rob Ford's crackspot is?
Should be good quality.

Salguero, you are a Cantinflas. You know Cantinflas? I am sure you do and you know what I am. One time here and one time there. You play both sides of the fence all the time. It is about time you decide on what side of the fence you want to be. Because enough is enough.

I predicted a 6-10 season since the season started. That was counting beating the Bucs, Bills and Steelers. It could be 7-9 if they split with the Jets but I believe the Jets are playing better than the Fins so far.

It would be a major surprise if they have a winning season.

Who will be fired or traded if the team ends 6-10 or 7-9?

Start Matt Moore for 8 games. Why not? He gets paid more than Tannehill and can throw deep ball accurately.

It's the QB MORONS eh

Some fans won't bother to consider this scenario until it actually happens but what if:

T-hill gets knocked out for the season and Moore leads the team to the playoffs.

And Moore doesn't take half the sacks T-hill is getting.

What do you do with T-hill in 2014?

Matt Moore - 2 yrs/$ 8 million. Guaranteed $4 millon. Why?

To back up Tannehill who has lower career QB rating, takes more sacks because lacks pocket awareness, throws deep ball horribly and slant inaccurately etc...

12:10 = biggest moron ever eh?

Every year I write this, every year its true. Here we go again. It does not matter who plays the QB position until you have a O-line. We should take the numbers off our O-line jerseys and replace them with the words "revolving door".

If you expected a Super Bowl this year the season is over. If you expected playoffs this year the best you could hope for s a 1st round loss. The talk can now go to how many O-linemen the Phins will draft this year.

The 1st 3 games were fun though!

Tbum = Rex Ryan clip board holder in 2014 eh?

Dolphins lose because Mando just picked them. The Mando jinx is in! The chemistry problem is not so much a chemistry problem. Wallace has too many drops and cannot run good routes, except for deep routes. Tannehill can't throw a deep ball. So its not chemistry, its the weaknesses of the players being exposed. Tannehill has spent his whole college and pro career in the same system, which is throw short passes. He never learned how to stretch the field or throw deep with anticipation. Short passes you can wait last minute and gun it in there. Deep passes need a lot of anticipation and Tannehill does not have it.

Mando dolphins have lost a lot of games this year in the 4th quarter, they do not know how to close out a game, nor do they know how to come from behind and win a game. So while you do all of your analysis, just look at which team does better in the 4th quarter and you will come up with your winner.

You also haven't looked at coaching, because the dolphins coaches consistently get out coached, they cannot make adjustments, and Sherman's play calling is horrific. Sherman has know idea how to utilize a tight end. He is hung up on this hybrid thing, which brings in very few results. He has a personal thing against Egnew, even though Egnew has the best hands, the best speed, and is now a pretty good blocker. Egnew can run good seam routes, which other tightends on other teams have great success with. Instead Sherman has his tightends run short out routes. C'mon man!

Assuming that the Dolphins are blown out by the Chargers, can we all agree that it is not result of, or the fault of, Jeff Ireland's personnel decisions?

WE NEED TO MOVE SOME OF THE BLAME ONTO CHAD HENNE

Tanne cannot shoulder all of the responsibility alone.

just keep losing, its that simple. bright future awaits

dusting, winning breads winning. not a high draft pick. the lions were in the cellar for decades. how did that work out?

examples both ways easily. kc was 2-14 got that last place schedule and sit at 9-0 now

dusty kc is an exception. the lions were the norm. buffalo too. jax too. early picks for years and years, it's no magic bullet.

you are not thinking straight.

Joe,

I have been advocating Matt Moore on this blog for some time now. Some of the self appointed GM's on the site are blind to the realities that you mentioned..

examples both ways all the time. higher draft pick and last place schedule helps, fact

matt moore?? wtf what would ever be the point of playing a backup qb with no future here

Pfft. LOL...Matt Moore has been awful in the preseason and every other time he's had a chance. BUT...I will say I was disturbed during the Bucs game and he was on the sideline laughing with another player. Dude needs to get fired up and play pissed. Half of me wants to see them tell him he needs to play better or go to the bench BUT the other half says...with Sherman how can you accurately guage. I don't see a way out with Sherman for any player on this offense.

promichael / ape tamer / joe,

We can't pass block, we can't run the football. We can't cover TE's or whatever WR that Carroll is covering. All the sudden we can't stop the run, we can't get off the field on 3rd down. Play calling sucks. In game adjustments suck.

Special teams isn't setting the world on fire either but yet you are able to pinpoint all our problems on the QB????

BUDTKI'S keys to the game...
you know what i took away from the bengals game? an almost dominant running game aided by inserting an extra blocker(will yeahtman), i know will is hurt so can dion sims have the same effect?
you know what i took away from from the tampa game? LAMAR MILLER picking up the blitz like his life depended on it, i was also impressed with the passing game out of the shotgun, moving the ball seemingly at will(rishard mathews) and finally a QB sneak on 3rd and 1. that being said, the KEY to this offense from here on out should be to alternate between those two formations at an alarming rate that would create substitution problems for the chargers, and if we happen to come acrosee 3rd and 1, use the tannehill QB sneak(brady does it all the time) and just to make the offense that more unpredictable throw in some spread or pistol but only on early downs. and the most important KEY being that just like that final drive against the bucs where tannehill got sacked 3 times in a row, tannehill has to be ready to tuck it and run!

yes rick we know this entire team sucks

Tell em Rick...

Wouldn't be a bad idea to get Tannehill some real competition but you worry about those things after the season. T-hill has nothing going his way but let's bench the guy after 1.5 yrs. You guys just aren't committed to development and that is dangerous. He's all we have that is consistent and decent on offense but let's just get rid of him. You guys are laughable.

The coaches need to feel some real heat for the performance on the field on all sides of the ball.

Posted by: CadilacDeVille | November 16, 2013 at 11:44 AM

You are truly one dumb son of a beyotch.
Your posts are replete with redundancy and pure unmitigated hate.
AND...for the eighth time, learn how to spell you idiot.
You might as well post as EdselDeville.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | November 16, 2013 at 02:03 PM

Good post.

Bottomc line Dolphinsfans there's no superstar talent here period, blow this crs p up get a new rigime and start over again. Oh and by the way Mr.Ross, you'll get your big name coach/gm you've been dreaming of once you get rid of that crud Jeff Ireland !!

mace good to see someone is learning

How can anybody in good conscience get up for this Game if what Most of Us really want is to get rid of this putrid Organization? Help me, please, if you can.

I don't think we can put it all on the coaches. I think the real problem with Martin is the coaches were forced to put so much pressure on him to play a position he evidently couldn't handle that it contributed to him snapping.

Ireland gambled and lost on Jake Long and then was too stubborn to make the Albert deal. We were then forced to put all our eggs in one basket with Martin.

Of course all the shabby line play wasn't all on Martin. Clabo flat sucks. Jerry continues to be average at best and IMO Pouncey has regressed somewhat. Cogs is what he is, a mauler with very little mobility and the brains of a pit bull with a mental disorder.

I mean, a 7 hours interview, Martin must have spilled a lot of beans. Not for nothing has the NFLPA hired a lawyer to represent any Dolphins Player that might need it.

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