The Miami Dolphins squeaked out a win against the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday. The scoreboard (27-13) doesn't represent how evenly matched these two teams were for much of the day.
The Jaguars outgained the Dolphins on the ground and in the air, held the ball 5 minutes longer than the Dolphins, gained more first downs than the Dolphins and sacked the quarterback more than the Dolphins.
What caused the 14-point difference? Turnovers. The Dolphins returned two interceptions for touchdowns Sunday and that provided the cushion the Dolphins needed to claim victory.
The teams that the Dolphins are going to face in the up-coming stretch of schedule, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos, will eat Miami alive if the team plays like they did against the Jaguars.
Peyton Manning would not turn the ball over on the Dolphins side of the field twice. Philip Rivers would take advantage of the large quantity of yards allowed by Miami's defense and turns those yards into points.
The only thing translatable from the Jaguars game, on defense, is forcing turnovers and tightening up the defense once the opponent crosses the 50.
The Dolphins offense must be more efficient. Showing up for a single half in a game is not a feasible strategy to victory. Not only that, but it will nearly ensure the Dolphins will be faced with a halftime deficit when facing high-powered offenses in coming weeks.
Shootouts are in the forecast, and Miami's offense has to muster more than 3 points in the first half (as they have failed to do against the Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs).
The Dolphins offense must start faster and be more efficient. Being more productive on first and second down, so they can avoid third-and-long, will do wonders to increasing the efficiency of this offense.
The Dolphins offense cannot start 3 and out three straight times in one of the up-coming games as they did against the Jaguars, because by that time the opposition could have put up an insurmountable lead.
Miami must be prepared to win shootouts versus high powered offenses. The Dolphins also have a physical battle against the Bills looming.
Repeating the performance that was shown last Sunday against the Jaguars will lead to losses in this up-coming grueling stretch of schedule. Mistakes must be limited. Consistency in execution, intensity and coaching will be needed in this crucial section of the season.