There are obvious keys to the Miami Dolphins’ game on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. The Dolphins will have to win or at least equalize the battle in the trenches. The offensive line has had trouble against elite defensive lines like Buffalo in the past and Detroit matches up well against Miami in that facet of the game. However, there are creative ways to combat these weaknesses and it comes down to Bill Lazor’s play calling.
I haven’t posted in a while. Maybe it’s because I’m busy and this is just a hobby, maybe it’s because the Dolphins have been such a let down for the last X number of years, or maybe it’s a combination. However, after witnessing the dismantling of the San Diego Chargers last week in person, I’m feeling a bit more motivated about this team. I feel compelled to post. It scares me because I’m starting to reach that point of belief again as I’m sure a lot of you are as well, yet we all know how that hope has come crashing down year after year for us.
This Dolphins team is different though. In years past, a winning record didn’t always reflect how good the product was on the field, and it eventually evened out by season’s end. However, this year the Miami Dolphins have an elite
defense. Not just good or great, but elite.
Miami has had top-5 or even top-10 defenses in the past when Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas were in their prime, but the offense could never put points on the board. That’s where this year seems different than past years (‘seems’ being the operative word). Ryan Tannehill has posted a ~104 rating in the 5 games since the overblown media fiasco after Joe Philbin wouldn’t commit to a starting QB (as he commits to no one being the starter each week). The offensive line gave up 0 sacks and Tannehill was hardly under pressure against the Chargers. The running game has improved (partly thanks to Tannehill), and the wide receivers aren’t dropping [as many] balls like early in the season.
This brings me to my point. Whether the Dolphins win on Sunday will come down to how the offense performs, and as Armando keeps preaching on his blog, football is won and lost in the trenches
. So Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor’s job is to not let the Dolphins offensive line lose the battle up front.
The major theme of the game plan should be Lazor’s play calling and not being greedy with the big play. Tannehill needs to get rid of the ball in less than 3 seconds every play. No deep drops or long play action calls with routes that take forever to develop. Lazor must turn the Lions strength against them and not give them a chance to pressure the quarterback.
He’s been able to do that over the last 5 games by featuring the read-option. It’s a simple play, but it keeps the linebackers on their heals and is predicated on the defensive end over-committing to either the running back or quarterback which essentially takes him out of the play. It has surprised me how this has worked for five straight games though. There is a multitude of film to game plan against the Dolphins read-option, so why has no one stopped it yet?
If Bill Lazor is smart and doing his job properly, he’s probably thinking along the same lines. He can’t possibly think that Tannehill will continue thrashing defenses with 30-yard runs while Lamar Miller shoots up the middle for 8 yards on the next play. It’s not sustainable. NFL defenses are too smart, and the Detroit defense is smarter than the average NFL defense.
So the key to the offensive game plan is whatever Lazor’s plan B is to the read-option.
There is no doubt in my mind that play will not be effective against the Lions. There is too much tape on it now, and as I said, the Lions are too smart and fast of a defense. What will they give up to stop it and how can it be exploited? Will it require creeping a safety into the box so Tannehill can’t get around the edge if he keeps the ball on his read? Or maybe they’ll send a cornerback blitz every once in a while to guard the edges. Whatever they do, Lazor is going to have to find the weakness they give up.
If the Dolphins offense is able to counteract the Lions plan to stop the read-option, they have a chance to win this game.