It is Week 15 of the NFL season, and the Miami Dolphins are down to playing for pride, having been eliminated last week from Playoff contention. Will they come out and show that pride against the San Diego Chargers, another team who has underachieved this season? What do they have to do to come away with the win?
Run the ball
Head coaches have been fired. Offensive coordinators have been fired. And, yet, the Dolphins still do not run the ball with any consistency. Four years ago, everyone was dying to get rid of Tony Sparano because all the Dolphins did was run the ball. Now, all the team does is pass. There is no balance. Last week, Lamar Miller again opened the game with some big runs and appeared to be ready for a big workload. He disappeared in the second half, with coaches saying he was injured, but Miller saying he was fine. Whatever the case, the Dolphins have to figure out how to run the ball throughout an entire game, if they want to win. The stat still holds that the Dolphins are 0-8 in games in which Miller carries the ball 12 or fewer times, while 5-0 in games in which he gets 13 or more carries.
Stop the Chargers run game
Miami has a habit this season of making bad running teams look good. That could happen again this week if they cannot figure out how to tackle and stop running backs from picking up huge chunks of yards. Melvin Gordon has had a poor showing in his rookie year, but would like nothing more than to put up his first career 100 yard game, and score his first NFL touchdown, in what could be the NFL's final game in San Diego. He definitely will have the opportunity against a porous run defense.
Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates
Gates is obviously the favorite target for Philip Rivers, who is third in the league in passing yards thus far, despite a 3-10 record for the Chargers. Gates has been targeted 8.6 times per game in the eight contests he has played, picking up 497 yards and four touchdowns. The Dolphins have not covered tight ends over the last decade, and Rivers to Gates could crush them again. Miami will have to focus attention on Gates and generate a pass rush that can get to RIvers if the Dolphins hope to win this week.