It’s Monday and tonight’s Monday Night Football match-up consists of the Miami Dolphins going up against their in-state rival, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the Dolphins have had their struggles this season, they are still fighting for a playoff chance and a win tonight would tie them with the Jets for second place in the AFC East. When it comes to the Buccaneers, their playoff hopes are over with 0-8 record but they are still fighting for this first victory of the season.
There is no doubt that both teams have a chance to come out victorious in this game but only if they follow certain offensive and defensive steps.
Dolphins Keys to Victory
Offensively, the Dolphins offensive line must step up and play well in this game if they have any chance of winning. The Buccaneers defense may have their struggles this season but you can believe that they will make a point to blitz and the Dolphins offensive line must be able to give quarterback Ryan Tannehill time in the pocket.
When it comes to Tannehill, he must play mistake free football in this game. Tannehill must be smart and take what the defense gives him. He can’t afford to force passes and he must have a plan of attack when throwing anywhere near corner-back Darrelle Revis. Dolphin receivers will also have to do their part, wide receiver Mike Wallace will probably be up against Revis, so Tannehill will need each part of the receiving core to step up and Tannehill will have to spread the ball around. Specifically, I think Tannehill would be smart to look for tight end Charles Clay and wide receiver Brian Hartline in this game and see if they are able to make some big plays.
The next key for this offense, is running the ball. Anytime the Dolphins have success offensively it’s because they run the ball and they need to do so again. Running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have performed well together this season and they help to keep the offense balance which is what the Dolphins need in this game. Running the ball also helps with moving the chains consistently and opens up passing opportunities. More importantly it will help with third down efficiency which has been a concern so far this season for the Dolphins.
Overall their main goal offensively should be to play mistake free football and be patient on offense. If the offensive line does their part, I believe Tannehill and his supporting cast will do theirs.
Defensively, the Dolphins must contain the running game. While running back Doug Martin is done for the season they still have a solid running back in Mike James who is capable of having a good game. The Dolphins can bet that the Buccaneers will test the Dolphins defensively and throw different formations with James. The main thing this Dolphin front seven must do is limit any big runs by James, the way to do that is to wrap up and finish tackles which they have had a problem doing.
Overall, they need to make the Buccaneers one-dimensional and force rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to beat them. The Dolphins should do their best to pressure Glennon but overall the secondary needs to be prepared to make plays. I would even suggest that the Dolphins force Glennon to beat them without wide receiver Vincent Jackson who he tends to lean on seeing that he is No.1 receiver on their roster. If the Dolphins defense is able to bend but not break they may have a chance.
Buccaneers Keys to Victory
Offensively, the Buccaneers need to establish the run game early and often with running back Mike James. Running the ball has always been a bright spot for this team despite their losing record and they need to stick with running the ball. Plus this Dolphin defense is known to have inconsistency issues with stopping the run. Dolphins also have issues wrapping up and finishing tackles, so James should look to gain extra yards in this game. I would also encourage the Buccaneers to test the Dolphins defense and use different formations in the process. Overall running the ball well help to open up things in the passing game which the Buccaneers will need to win this game.
When it comes to the passing game, quarterback Mike Glennon must also play mistake free football and take what the defense gives him. He has shown some good moments this season, the ability to stay composed and extended plays and find open receivers which is good and he will need to do that in this game as well. Glennon will also need to be able to execute on big plays which continues to be a question mark on his resume. Obviously wide receiver Vincent Jackson is his main target but he also needs to be prepared to make plays through other weapons such as tight end Tim Wright and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood. If he is able to follow those steps, they may be able to come out with a win.
Defensively, it all starts with creating pressure on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Dolphins offensive line has been inconsistent all season long, allowing Tannehill to be sacked 35 times so far this season. While he has struggled at times this season, don’t be fooled, Tannehill is hard to take down and he knows how to extend plays, so the Buccaneers will to need to wrap and finish tackles when pressuring him. Tannehill is known to make bad decisions when he is pressured and the Buccaneers need to be prepared to make plays on his mistakes.
The Buccaneers secondary also needs to be prepared to contain the big play. Dolphins have other weapons besides Wallace and Tannehill will look to use them, so Dolphins secondary must step up and contain those big plays. If they do so along with the other defensive steps they may have a chance to win this game.
In conclusion, this has a potential to be a good game, both teams are fighting for something important, whether it be a playoff opportunity or their first win. We just have to see who wants the win more and who goes out and executes.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com