Dolphins vs. Jaguars: Full Miami Game Preview

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaContributor IISeptember 17, 2015

Dolphins vs. Jaguars: Full Miami Game Preview

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    Evan Vucci/Associated Press

    One game down, 15 to go, and the Miami Dolphins are 1-0 heading into a Week 2 contest against the 0-1 Jacksonville Jaguars

    That's just where they want to be, and just where they were expected to be. 

    Their journey to 1-0 did not come in the most aesthetically pleasing fashion, as their offense struggled throughout the first half and the defensive line struggled to rush the passer and stop the run. 

    I was pretty hard on them after the game, and remain steady in my analysis about last week's play. 

    It's a new week though, and a new chance to make a good impression. 

    Washington was considered a lock, and according to Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, Jacksonville should be a bigger lock.

    I don't quite see it that way, and with a matchup looming against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, my sentiments are echoed by Admiral Ackbar

    Teams do win trap games in the NFL, at least the good teams do. Here's a preview of Miami's Week 2 trap game against the Jaguars. 

    Location: Everbank Field, Jacksonville, FL

    Time: 4:05 p.m. ET

    TV: CBS

Week 1 Results and Recap

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    "Embarrassing" is the only word I can use to describe the Miami Dolphins' performance on Sunday. 

    That was my lede following Miami's 17-10 victory over Washington, a game that the Dolphins will have to look back on as a learning experience. 

    It did show Miami can win when they don't play their best. This has been a problem for the team whether they play against good or bad teams. 

    It also further exposed the linebackers as a problem, while at the same time the defensive line looked nothing like what was expected thanks to Washington's use of cut-blocks and a running game that seemed simple: stay away from Ndamukong Suh. 

    Due to the defensive line's problems stopping the run, Miami only had two series in the first quarter, and failed to get into any kind of rhythm until the last two minutes of the second quarter. 

    It didn't look much better in the third quarter, where the offense only scored three points despite having two great drives. Considering that one of those great drives sealed the game up, that's a victory, but there were still too many three-and-outs for my liking. 

    On defense while the defensive line and linebackers struggled, the secondary had a tremendous day. If you can, watch the All-22 footage on NFL.com through NFL GamePass, you'll see Jamar Taylor playing excellent even if he didn't make as big of an impact as his fellow corners Brent Grimes and Brice McCain. 

    Speaking of McCain, his interception also helped to seal the game up, and is already one of the most incredible plays of the young season. 

    The defensive MVP was Reshad Jones, while the offensive and special teams MVP was Jarvis Landry. Somehow I see this becoming a trend. 

    As for Miami's special teams: they were great on Sunday, much improved from the last three seasons where mistakes were constantly made in every facet of special teams play. The only mistake was LaMichael James' fumble, but don't worry about him doing that for the Dolphins again, as he was released on Monday (per Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel). 

     

    Standings

     

    TeamWLTWinning Percentage
    New York Jets1001.000
    Buffalo Bills1001.000
    New England Patriots1001.000
    Miami Dolphins1001.000

    Standings provided by NFL.com

News and Notes

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Rookie Raheem Mostert Named Miami's New Kickoff Return Man

    With the release of LaMichael James, the Dolphins now had a hole at kickoff return. 

    While they could've put Jarvis Landry back on kickoffs (like they did with punts last week), they instead looked north to find their solution. 

    The Dolphins signed rookie Raheem Mostert off of the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad on Monday (per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com), and Hal Habib reports that Mostert is Miami's new kickoff return man

    Mostert, undrafted out of Purdue, was impressive for the Eagles during the preseason, leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage and adding to that 162 return yards. 

    While at Purdue, Mostert averaged 26 yards per return, scoring one touchdown. He was also a track star at Purdue winning gold in the 60 meter and 200 meter races at the 2014 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships. 

     

    Jarvis Landry Named AFC Special Teams Player of The Week

    Miami's punt return man Jarvis Landry received accolades for his play on Sunday, winning the AFC Special Teams Player of The Week, per Alain Poupart of MiamiDolphins.com

    It was the second time Landry won the award, and is a result of his 69-yard punt return touchdown that turned out to be the winning score. 

    Landry was Miami's offensive MVP on Sunday, grading out at 1.4 via Pro Football Focus and catching eight passes for 53 yards as well as a 14-yard run. 

     

    Reshad Jones' Status Against Jacksonville "Tricky"

    The Dolphins lost a few players to injury on Sunday, with the biggest one in terms of importance on the field being the hamstring injury suffered by Reshad Jones. 

    Jones was taken out of the game for the last two series of the afternoon, but while he was on the field was the leader of the defense and per Pro Football Focus graded out at 1.9 while leading the team in tackles with 12. 

    That injury continues to linger, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports, "it is more likely than not the Dolphins starting strong safety will miss Sunday's game at Jacksonville, barring a significant improvement in his hamstring." 

    Salguero, citing a source, would go on to say: 

    Even if Jones improves, the decision to play will be "tricky" because there is a possibility of re-aggravating the hamstring or possibly even making it worse by coming back before it is mostly healed.

    Jones missing Sunday's game against the Jaguars would be a blow to Miami's defense, as they are reliant on him against the run while his communications skills have helped a secondary that seemed suspect going into the season look phenomenal against Washington. 

    Despite that, if Jones were to miss a game, it's better he misses Sunday's as a precaution as opposed to the Week 3 contest against Buffalo. 

    Playing it safe would work for Miami, who would likely start Michael Thomas in Jones' place if Jones is unable to go.

Injury Report

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    Evan Vucci/Associated Press
    PlayerPositionInjuryWed. StatusThu. StatusGame Status
    Reshad JonesSHamstringDid Not Practice Limited Questionable
    Derrick ShelbyDEEyeDid Not Practice Did Not Practice Questionable
    Dion SimsTEConcussionDid Not Practice Did Not Practice Out
    Olivier VernonDEAnkleLimited  Limited Probable
    Cameron WakeDEHamstringLimited Limited Questionable

    Injury update proved by MiamiDolphins.com

    As reported in the last slide, Reshad Jones' status for Sunday is iffy as he's dealing with a hamstring injury suffered against Washington in Week 1. Jones has yet to practice this week. 

    Neither has Derrick Shelby or Dion Sims. Shelby was knocked out of last week's game due to an eye injury suffered after being poked by a Washington player. 

    Olivier Vernon's ankle injury was also the result of an act done by an opposing player. Vernon claims the injury occurred when he was leg whipped, per Chris Perkins of the Sun-Sentinel

    The injury report will be updated as more information becomes available.

Key Matchups

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    DE Jared Odrick vs. LT Branden Albert

    During Jared Odrick's last two seasons with the Dolphins, he was an interior lineman who specialized in getting to the quarterback. 

    In Jacksonville, Odrick has been kicked back outside, although it is a 4-3 defense (Odrick works better as a 3-4 lineman), he still inspires fear. 

    Branden Albert will be in charge of Odrick on Sunday, as Odrick is on Jacksonville's right side. Albert, still not at 100 percent, will have to contain a player who did disappoint in his first game as a Jaguar by not getting to the quarterback and grading out at minus-4.1

    Despite that, the Jaguars' pass rush is an aggressive one that should bombard quarterback Ryan Tannehill throughout the afternoon. 

     

    LG Brandon Linder vs. DT Ndamukong Suh

    When asked how he played on Sunday, Ndamukong Suh had one word to describe it. 

    "Poor," said the veteran defensive tackle, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald

    Suh is partially right, as he was not the impactful player Miami signed on Sunday, but he also brought up that, "it’s over with. I’m moving forward to Jacksonville."

    Against Jacksonville his assignment is second-year player Brandon Linder out of The U. Linder played well on Sunday against Carolina, grading out at 1.3, per Pro Football Focus. His grade in run blocking was 2.2 as the Jaguars were able to run the ball for 96 yards on 21 attempts for an average of 4.6 yards per carry. 

    Miami's defense allowed Washington to run for 161 yards, however it was for a lower average (4.4 yards per carry) and on more attempts. The Jaguars also run a different scheme than Washington, using a more straight-ahead power run blocking scheme compared to Washington's zone blocking scheme. 

    This should mean better success against the run, which puts the ball into Blake Bortles' hands. That's where Miami's defense should really shine. Suh especially against Linder, who graded out at minus-0.6 in pass blocking situations while allowing three quarterback hurries. 

     

    WR Allen Hurns vs. CB Brice McCain

    Jacksonville's passing game was anemic against Carolina, as Bortles only passed for 183 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while being sacked five times. 

    His top receiver was former Hurricane Allen Hurns, who brought down five catches for 60 yards. Hurns will go up against each of Miami's corners, but will see Brice McCain the most. McCain came down with the play of the week in Week 1, but beyond that play he was solid. 

    McCain graded out at 1.4 against the pass, per Pro Football Focus, and allowed a quarterback rating of 76.0 when the ball was thrown his way. Through one game he looks like the type of corner Miami has needed to play alongside Brent Grimes.

Matchup X-Factors

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Miami Dolpins X-Factor of The Week: Walt Aikens

    With Louis Delmas out for the season and Reshad Jones likely missing Sunday's game, Walt Aikens' role has become an important one. 

    This week he'll be tasked with being the defensive player in charge of reading Jacksonville's offense and communicating assignments to the rest of the secondary. He'll be playing alongside a player with barely more experience than him in Michael Thomas. 

    Aikens was the least-impactful player in the secondary for the Dolphins and at times looked lost. He graded out at minus-1.1, per Pro Football Focus.

    He will have to improve on that performance on Sunday, where he'll be tasked with covering either tight end Marcedes Lewis or Julius Thomas if Thomas returns from injury (he was listed as limited as of Wednesday by the Jaguars, per their injury report). 

     

    Jacksonville Jaguars X-Factor of The Week: Denard Robinson

    Last spring, Denard Robinson told Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union (h/t Kevin Patra of NFL.com) that he should be Jacksonville's No. 1 running back, saying: “I think I should be a No. 1 guy. That’s how I have to look at it. But I have to show them that. Words don’t mean anything. It’s all about showing them.”

    The Jaguars then drafted T.J. Yeldon out of Alabama, who would wind up as Jacksonville's leading rusher on Sunday with 51 yards and a touchdown. Robinson himself had only 19 yards rushing with 26 receiving yards on two catches. 

    Last season, Robinson led the Jaguars in rushing with 582 yards on 135 attempts while also gaining 124 yards receiving on 23 catches in 13 games. One of those games was against the Dolphins, were he ran for 108 yards on 18 attempts while catching one pass for 10 yards. 

    He was a massive headache for Miami's linebackers, and that shouldn't change on Sunday. Miami can stop a running back like Yeldon and can hold down Jacksonville's scheme overall, but if they don't stop Robinson at the line of scrimmage, it's not going to be a good day for them when he's on the field.

Prediction: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 16

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    I'm not expecting a lot out of the Dolphins offense. 

    This doesn't have a lot to do with their poor showing against Washington, but more the fact that some of the bells and whistles will be saved for Week 3 against Buffalo. 

    A conservative game plan leads to not too many points, and while Miami's offense will score 17, the defense should bring in seven of their own thanks to Blake Bortles. 

    Expect this to be a defensive battle, with the Jaguars scoring thanks to Denard Robinson. If he's on your fantasy team, start him, as it's easy to see him repeat the same performance against the Dolphins that he had in their contest last season. 

    In the end, the better team will come away victorious, and much like last week, the Dolphins will appear to have a home-field advantage while on the road thanks to a good number of Dolphins fans that reside in north and central Florida as well as some fans making the trip north from Miami. 

    Final Prediction: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 16. 

    Statistics provided by NFL.com, Sports-Reference.com or Pro Football Focus unless otherwise specified.