« John Jerry to start Sunday versus Pittsburgh | Main | Live blog: Dolphins at Pittsburgh »

Keys to the game: Miami Dolphins at Steelers

This week's game at the Steelers and next week's hosting of the New England Patriots will likely be the last time the Dolphins are underdogs this season. In other words, they should beat the Jets and Bills but the next two games will be the difference between a .500 record or something better.

At least that's what the odds will say.

What do the matchups say?

Consider Sunday's match versus Pittsburgh:

When the Dolphins pass the football: Ryan Tannehill is on something of a roll (predicted by Salguero) with back-to-back 300-yard games. Tannehill must realize this game is an emotional one for receiver Mike Wallace, who played four seasons in Pittsburgh, so he must find his deep threat early in the game in order to establish him and keep him focused. Wallace doesn’t play well when he’s not involved early. The Steelers will likely shadow Wallace with cornerback Ike Taylor, their best coverage man. The Steelers this week have said they will try to take away tight end Charles Clay from the Miami offense and that makes sense because Clay has become a comfortable outlet for Tannehill when he’s pressured. Clay has come up with career best in catches (53) receiving yards (581) and TDs (4). The Steelers have not been able to manufacture a lot of pass pressure this season as Lamar Woodley has been injured much of the season. ADVANTAGE: Dolphins.

When the Dolphins run the football: Last week was a confidence builder for the Dolphins because they ran the ball effectively and often against the New York Jets, who are the NFL’s best run defense statistically. Well, why not dial up the same formula this week against a mediocre (ranked 18th in the NFL) Pittsburgh run defense? Lamar Miller seems comfortable with getting more carries in the absence of Daniel Thomas. And while Marcus Thigpen and Mike Gillislee didn’t exactly impress as change-of-pace backs last week, they also held onto the ball, which is important in wintry climes. Right guard John Jerry’s status came into focus on Friday when he was listed as probable for the game. He will start at right guard. Rookie Sam Brenner will continue to serve as the backup at both left and right guard. ADVANTAGE: Dolphins.

When the Steelers run the football: Le’Veon Bell totaled 136 yards from scrimmage last week against Baltimore (73 rushing, 63 receiving) and the Steelers want to build off that performance by continuing to feed the rookie. The lack of chemistry due to injuries and lineup changes along the offense front has hampered Pittsburgh’s run game this season. Indeed, it’s been a long time since the Steelers were a classic running team. The Dolphins continue to look up at much of the league in the run defense rankings. They’re 25th in the NFL in the category, but they are coming off a solid performance in which the Jets managed only 99 rushing yards. Of course, the Jets averaged 4.5 yards per carry but they had to abandon the run because the Dolphins had such a wide lead. Running the football and stopping the run is not what either of these two teams do best. ADVANTAGE: Even.

When the Steelers pass the football: Ben Roethlisberger is elite. He can carry a team for a period of time and that’s exactly what he did in the month of November when his great play lifted the Steelers to a 3-1 record for the month. Roethlisberger extends plays with his size, scrambling and movement in the pocket and that means defensive backs must hold their coverage longer. When the Steelers throw, Antonio Brown is the deep threat and the team’s best weapon with 85 catches for 1,103 yards. But in the red zone, Roethlisberger looks for tight end Heath Miller and slot receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who has a career-best eight TD receptions this year. The Steelers offensive line is a mess with injuries at tackle, suggesting the Dolphins can get pressure on Roethlisberger. ADVANTAGE: Pittsburgh.

Special teams: One can safely assume Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin won’t be on the white part of the sideline this week after being fined $100,000 for being on the field and the white against Baltimore last week. Word of advice to Dolphins returner Marcus Thigpen if Tomlin strays again: Run into him. It would likely lead to the awarding of a touchdown. The Steelers seem slow on their punt and kick coverage teams. ADVANTAGE: Even.

Coaching: Despite his faux pas last week at Baltimore, Tomlin is a quality coach and a proven motivator. His defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, is doing good work at hiding the weaknesses in his aging, slow defense. The problem in Pittsburgh is the uncertain chemistry between Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The Miami coaching staff got the better of the Jets last week simply by avoiding mistakes such as abandoning the run (Mike Sherman did not) and daring the Jets to do something on offense they cannot do, which is throw the football. So the staff is on something of a streak. Sort of. From a motivational standpoint, however, Tomlin has few equals. ADVANTAGE: Pittsburgh.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

ill go turnovers win it ralph pitt very tough at home. i dont see our offense getting in endzone at all

Posted by: dusty bottoms | December 08, 2013 at 08:30 AM

Turnovers win almost every game. Pitt may be tough at home, but our d is going to be too much for them. Starks, Soliai, Wake, Odrick, Jordon, Jones.

I forgot Vernon

Dusty 4,000yds is a measuring stone for NFL qb's today in the fact that it separates the STOKERS from the mediocres. In case you do not know what a stoker is:

Definition of STOKER


: one employed to tend a furnace and supply it with fuel; specifically : one that tends a marine steam boiler.

Sort of the same duty a qb has to his team.

Anyway, even if you want to challenge the true validity of the 4,000yd passing club. One thing for sure you have to agree upon, is it does separate stoker from mediocre NFL qb's.

Mediocre NFL qb's do not throw for 4,000yds in a single season under any scenario. We've had nothing but mediocre qb's since Marino, so, challenge yourselves to name even one of them passing for 4,000yds in a single season.

So, it must mean something, eh?

Choker, = Dan Marino i any big game Eh?
Choker, = 1-10 in rd. Playoffs Eh?

Posted by: Another Moron | December 08, 2013 at 12:04 AM - Homers = MORONS Eh?

We can call Dan Marino whatever we like, but truth be told, we also have to call Marino:



FIRE ROSS is absolutely correct- 4,000 yds passing is not special in this era of the NFL! When the offense passes 75% of the time, at least 4,000 yds should be EXPECTED. Anything less proves the qb is awful. Tannehill should be throwing for more TD's...and would be if he didn't miss so many deep passes and Wallace didn't drop so many.




Wussup F@ggot!

Miami's 26th ranked offense will put up huge numbers today...in the turnover dept., that is.

Chad Henne in all his Glory has never thrown for more than 3500yds in any season. That Twink Matt Moore has never thrown for over 2500yds in a season.

4000yds in a season is Good. Yes, it Isn't extraordinary or Once in a Lifetime Season. But it shows that Tannehill has the Potential to be Special. I bet R.Wilson or RG3 aren't going to throw for 4000yds in a season for a while. A la Tom Brady when he first started his career.

Tannehill is Top 10 in Passing Yards with Zero O-Line help. His LT quit because he was being Bullied by his LG. The New RT has taken about half a season to settle in, and he is closer to 50 than to 20. He will be gone after this season. Jerry is Jerry. Who really thought Jerry would fail a concussion test? Not a lot to remember. Even Pounce our best Linemen has been going thru Injuries and Personal Issues.

Plus, we all know if Tannehill and Wallace started Clicking Earlier, Tannehill would already have 4000yds passing.

I'm Moore interested in him having 20-25 TDs this Season. That shows improvement in Key Areas. And If Tannehill can finish the Season Completing over 65% of His Passes.

If Tannehill and the Coaches feel it is OK for him to run more(5-6 Att a game) the rest of the season Tannehill can have over 4500yds of total Offense this season by himself.

Slice it how you want to slice it that is impressive.

Charles Clay was suppose to be our FB/2nd TE. But because of injury was thrust into the starting role. He has responded better than any TE picked at the top of the Draft this season. He is even having a better season than A.Fasano.

Sims and Egnew can develop into good TEs, They are still young and raw. But they have the size(6'5" 260+) and speed(4.6-4.7) to wreck havoc on the field.

I understand Ireland spending another 5th rd pick on a TE next season just to challenge the bottom man in the competition and that way C.Clay can move to his Natural Position FB/H-Back. But Unless the TE is a surefire HOFer no need to draft him high.

This Offense is more classic WCO, 3WR 1TE 1RB. Than it is a Power Run Offense 2WR 1TE 1FB 1RB.

We would go 4 WRs if we could. But we are missing 1 WR and a better O-Line for that.


Hi Dashi!

If Tannehill and the Coaches feel it is OK for him to run more(5-6 Att a game) the rest of the season Tannehill can have over 4500yds of total Offense this season by himself. Then why aren't the barbies 9-3 Eh?
Stats are for losers Eh?

I am so sorry that I gave birth to that piece of crap.

Mark my words, today will be the day that the Dolphins roster really shines, and puts to rest any doubts about Jeff Ireland's personnel strategies.

It's the QB STUPID Eh?

FSU will beat Auburn pretty decisively. Auburn is lucky to be in this game. FSU 38-24.

Lets go Phins.

Agree. Stats are for losers. The only stat thats means anything are the W's.

Has Ireland been fired yet?

Love how the pretend fans hate stats that favor the Phins. Sorry if you can't deal with reality... lol

Truthurts, I enjoy these posts, almost as much as I enjoy watching The Phins lose and then reading whiny comments from their delusional fans. The next two weeks will be lolz. This has been one of my more enjoyable seasons of following football. 3-0 becoming 3-6 lol, soon 3-8 lmao...yet some of you are talking "PLAY OFFS."

Tell you what, I'll consider tuning out of The USFL Phins to follow a real team with tradition, The Seahawks, only if you snap out of your delusion and stop using possessive terms to describe events you have nothing whatsoever to do with.

Phins lose today and I will be roflmao.

Here are some "facts" for you, Tannehope hasn't engineered a 4th quarter TD in half an NFL season. Tannehill's completion percentage beyond 20 yards is abysmal.

Has Ireland been fired yet?

Posted by: Zonk | December 08, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Dumbass post of the day.

on a positive note
brenner and garner > incognito
clay > fasono or eifert (many draft experts here who would have selected him)
our recievers > new englands recievers
tanne > henne (barely)
nolan carrol > milliner (another one our draft experts wanted)
anyone > j martin (the big queerdo)
mckinney > better than any of the LTs drafted this year
dion jordan > better than most first rounders(worth the 3rd pick ,youll see)
clabo > columbo (hey at least hes not columbo)
fins >houston,atlanta (think your dissappointed with the fins,try bieng a fan of one of those two supposed contenders)

We coulda had Matt Ryan.

Posted by: jaws | December 08, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Not True:

brenner and garner > incognito
clay > fasono or eifert (many draft experts here who would have selected him)
mckinney > better than any of the LTs drafted this year

nice herald you delete that harmless ireland post but not the midget hookers? bad fish wrapper,bad

I have heard that the ladies go nuts for obese guys who spend hours every day obsessing about football on message boards.

They re supposed to be a real "catch" that they can brag about to all their jealous friends.

and your reasoning bummer??


Armando does not respect the 1st Amendment or the soldiers that died for it. He says he does on Memorial Day, but his actions say otherwise.

I hope the new GM knows how to draft. Our offense has very little talent.

The only reason Cogs hasn't been cut is because they don't want him going to a competitor, which would happen. Nobody wants those other two guys.

Clay is too small to be a true TE. He can't block like Fasano. Eifert is bigger, taller, and better hands.

Mckinney is in the twilight of his career. The best GM in football just dumped him for nothing.

Keys to the game??
Score more points..

Patterson is active as reported by Mando. That should help a lot.

....Dashi..Good post. You are right about the personnel. We love the 11 grouping. Personally I hate it for this team, and wish we would run more 12 personnel(2 te's even if the te is lined up as a fullback) Since I know the 11 personnel is this teams bread and butter. Today If we can have 60 percent pass to run..I would be Ok..

Where I disagree is the 4 wide formation. I think the Steelers are too good for against quarterbacks that have never seen this defense to get to tricky. We go 4 wide and it will cause a lot of trouble IMO. It is going to ut a lot of pressure on RT to get the ball out, to the right guy. The Steelers are so good at disguising their defense, IMO this is a formation they want the Phins to use..

I'm sure we will see it. Try to keep track of the positive plays when we are in 00 personel. (NO TE, no RB)..

ok ill give you the clay one sort of but clay is faster and can catch just as well,ill give you the blocking skill but if eifert was supposed to be all world how come he cant beat out gresham in cincy for the #1 role.and disagree about cogs ,him and martin couldnt block their way out of a wet paper bag both like a turnstile,hello 47 sacks,most ever in nfl history.lets not forget he was a big part of that.and i was talking now about the mckinney thing,yes those other guys may be better eventually but in the now prob not,but respect to you my friend.very rare to have good football convos here.usually name calling and child like antics

...Also. Classic WCO use a tight end..See SF, see Dallas of the 80's 90's..The Packers with Farve..all of those teams used a fullback. Classic WCO is not spread the field with multiple receiver sets..This is an adaptation of a newer WCO..Hardly a classic Walsh, or Norv Turner version.

..@ 11:57...A classic WCO uses a fullback..I wrote TE???

sad but very true al.but mando is a jet fan so anything goes i guess

« 1 2 3 4

The comments to this entry are closed.