The Miami Dolphins will visit the Baltimore Ravens tonight in a Thursday Night Football kickoff to Week 8. As we try to do for every game, we get a closer look at the Dolphins’ opponent through the people who know them best. For this week, I turned to Baltimore Beatdown and managing editor Kyle Barber.
You can check out my questions about the Ravens and his answers below. Make sure you head over to their site to get my responses to his Dolphins questions later today.
1. The Ravens are last in the league in rush defense. What is happening there and how can the Dolphins exploit it?
A few weeks ago, Brandon Williams injured his foot and was absent against big name rushing squads. Le'Veon Bell, Jordan Howard/Tarik Cohen, absolutely mauled the Ravens front seven. But even after his return last week to the Vikings, this team lost their mettle. Nobody looks to get enough push, and gaps are being found for gains on the ground. The Dolphins can exploit this by simply taking it to the Ravens. The defense is constantly bailing out the offense to no reward, and the exhaustion and frustration look to be setting in. By the third quarter, the offense still hasn't creating a drive or two to help rest the big guys. That's all she wrote.
2. The Dolphins are last in the league in total offense, but just one spot ahead of them is Baltimore. Baltimore is dead last in passing offense, but 12th in rushing offense. What is causing this huge discrepancy? Why is Joe Flacco struggling so much?
I wrote an article about this on Sunday, if The Phinsider readers want a taste of how bad this season, and previous seasons, have become for the Ravens. It's titled, "No more 'next man up' nonsense", and it shows how the Ravens don't have an offense to begin with, let alone after suffering 14 injuries to the offense. The easiest explanation, though, is noting three receivers, three tailbacks, three tight ends and four guards are all injured or no longer playing. Joe Flacco's weapons are a fourth rounder, seventh rounder, and Griff Whalen who was cut after training camp and brought back two days before their game against Minnesota. Ozzie Newsome surrounded this team with defensive talent, and they haven't produced outside the first two weeks. Now the team has nothing on offense, and the defense looks burnt out.
3. A few days ago, there was an article on Baltimore Beatdown asking if John Harbaugh has lost the locker room. Has he? Is his job in danger this year?
I personally wouldn't go as far as to say that, but something is definitely off. They built this team into a defensive powerhouse, but it's clearly not occurring on the field. The word 'potential' is thrown around far too often, when it needs to become 'production'. Is he in danger this year? I think so, but then again, he can't be 100% at fault when this team has an egregious amount of injuries. Before the season, their roster was top 10, now it's bottom of the barrel.
4. The Ravens defense does not seem as ferocious as it has in recent years, but Terrell Suggs is still on that defense and able to cause problems. He currently has 4.5 sacks on the year. How has he looked and should Dolphins fans be worried about Laremy Tunsil trying to stop Suggs?
Sizzle has been one of the best players on defense, and consistently producing pressure. He has created multiple turnovers due to his pressures, sacks, and pass swats. I don't believe Laremy is going to enjoy this game against an at-home Suggs in primetime. He's leaner, but looks just as powerful as ever.
5. The injury report for this week was deep for both teams - probably not a surprise given it is such a short week. One name that is of interest is wide receiver Mike Wallace, both because he can be dangerous and because he is a former Dolphins player. How has he looked this year, and, with an official listing of questionable, how is he progressing from the concussion he sustained on Sunday?
Mike sustained a concussion on Sunday, and I am just as uncertain of his status as anybody. I hope he plays, as this offense will look awful without him. This season, he started off rather slow, but once attention detracted from him onto Jeremy Maclin, he became more of a threat. Unfortunately both he and Maclin are both injured and nobody knows their status as of now.