The Miami Dolphins' season couldn't get much worse—unless, of course, they find a way to be defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars and former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday.
Few people besides Alanis Morissette could put into words how ironic that would be.
Given the fact that Henne just recently torched the Houston Texans, it's entirely possible that he could be experiencing more than a little Schadenfreude at the expense of his former employer this Sunday.
How do the Dolphins ensure that doesn't happen?
Most of the staff that was with the Dolphins in the Chad Henne era (if you could really even call it that) is now gone, so they'll have to do their homework. Unlike the quantum physics assignment the Dolphins had of shutting down Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, this homework should be closer to multiple choice addition and subtraction.
Throughout his career, Chad Henne has not handled the blitz well.
He has rated out as a worse quarterback against the blitz than he has against a standard four-man rush in every year of his career except for 2010, when he performed astonishingly well when defenses sent extra defenders at him.
This year, although the sample size is smaller than it was in those years, it appears to be more of the same.
That should be music to Kevin Coyle's ears; the Dolphins have sent extra rushers after the quarterback on 38.7 percent of snaps in 2012.
That being said, the Bills and Jets enjoyed success by doing different things with their fronts. The Bills only blitzed Henne on seven of his 47 dropbacks (14.9 percent) while the Jets blitzed him a whopping 21 out of 47 times (44.7 percent), according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Those percentages are almost on par with each team's season averages, so no surprises or curveballs there.
It's hard to quantify offensive line play, but it should be noted that the Jaguars are one of the league's worst offensive lines in many metrics:
- 21st in Advanced NFL Stats' expected points added.
- 23rd in FootballOutsiders.com's adjusted line yards (rushing)
- 29th in ProFootballFocus.com's pass-blocking efficiency
The Dolphins have often had trouble getting pressure with four guys this season, but could be in luck against a weaker opponent.
That being said, considering Coyle's tendencies toward the blitz and Henne's struggles against the blitz, the future looks imminent: The Dolphins will blitz Henne a lot.
The Jaguars are not an explosive offense.
Wide receiver Justin Blackmon has only been targeted 20 or more yards downfield 15 times out of 94 total targets (16 percent). Wide receiver Cecil Shorts has only been targeted 17 times deep out of 81 (21 percent).
Part of that may be due to the lack of deep accuracy from their quarterbacks, but none of that changes the fact that the Dolphins can prepare for a lot of short and intermediate passes to the Jaguars' two best receivers.
Henne started red-hot, but cooled off quick; much of the Jaguars' success comes from big plays, which they got a lot more of in Henne's first two games as the "starter" than in his most recent two games.
Henne went 5-for-10 (50 percent) on deep passes in his first two games at quarterback for the Jaguars, scoring 37 points against the Texans and 24 against the Titans. He went 2-for-12 (16.7 percent) on deep passes in his next two games and the Jaguars scored 10 points in the first three quarters of both games against the Bills and the Jets.
Bleacher Report AFC South lead writer Nate Dunlevy went as far as to call drive sustenance the team's most glaring statistical problem in need of resolution for 2013:
The Jaguars are 31st in the NFL in yards per drive and 30th in punts per drive. ...No one thinks of the Jaguars as a quick strike offense, but when they have scored this year, it's often been because of long plays.
The Jaguars have six touchdowns of over 40 yards on the season, four by Shorts. That's 20 percent of the Jaguars' points that have come off of big-play scores. In comparison, the New England Patriots have just four such scores on more than double the total points on the season. The Jaguars have an explosive element. What they need is the ability to move the chains.
Whatever the Dolphins do, they must not give up the long ball. That can be hard against a schedule-oriented offense—especially since they'll lull an opponent to sleep with the proverbial jab after jab—but the Jaguars have proven utterly incapable of sustaining drives this year.
They nearly turned that tide against the Jets, with a heavy dose of the running game (eight rush attempts, six pass attempts) carrying an early drive that marched the Jaguars from the 33-yard line into the red zone at the 11-yard line.
Jets safety LaRon Landry was a little too casual in his assignment and bit hard on the play action. He didn't realize it wasn't a running play until it was nearly too late and bailed hard for the back of the end zone, where Justin Blackmon was just about to break across the back of the end zone...
...before Jets linebacker Garrett McIntyre laid a big hit on Henne as he threw, forcing the ball to pop up in the air and then into the waiting arms of linebacker Bart Scott.
This was nearly a costly mental lapse for the Jets, but because Henne is Henne and makes some bad throws under pressure, he gave up an early opportunity at a lead in a greedy attempt to take the shot despite the frontside pressure being far too close.
That being said, the Dolphins have been exposed deep this year, so if there's going to be an opportunity for the Jaguars to move the ball vertically, this could be it. The Dolphins need to make sure that doesn't happen.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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