The Dolphins are heading into Sunday’s contest at 5-5 in the midst of a very tight AFC wild card race. The Colts, another team sitting squarely at 5-5, are hoping to make a playoff run of their own. The winner of this matchup should have an inside track to the postseason making this game a nearly “must-win” for both sides. For the Dolphins to have a shot, the team must find a way to defend a very strong tight end group coming out of Indianapolis.
Each week of the 2018 season, I’m highlighting one player on the opposing team that Dolphins fans should be watching out for. This week, that player is Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle.
Experience: 6th season
Height/Weight: 6’6”, 262 lbs
College: Western Kentucky
Doyle has started just five games this season due to a hip injury, but in those five games, he’s been a key cog in Indy’s aerial attack. In his three games since returning from injury, Doyle has 13 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. His partner in crime, tight end Eric Ebron, has 106 yards and three touchdowns of his own over that same span.
The key takeaway from those numbers is that the Colts rely heavily on their tight end position for production. In fact, Doyle and Ebron make up one of the best tight end duo’s in the NFL, as they both possess athletic playmaking talent and field-stretching ability.
The Dolphins have had much difficulty defending the tight end position in recent years, and while the team has improved slightly in that regard this season, there are still large strides to be made. Over the course of 10 games, the Dolphins have allowed quarterbacks to complete 79% of passes to tight ends. Beyond that, the Dolphins have allowed every pass thrown to a tight end to be completed over the past five contests.
While Miami has yet to allow any opposing tight end to rack up more than 62 yards in a single game, the red zone is where the trouble has been most apparent. Against the Houston Texans, the Dolphins yielded two scores to Jordan Thomas, while Miami gave up two more to Detroit Lions tight end Michael Roberts.
Thomas and Roberts aren’t world beaters by any stretch of the imagination, meaning that defending Doyle and Ebron will be a much tougher task. To keep that dynamic duo at bay, the Dolphins must rely on the likes of Minkah Fitzpatrick, Reshad Jones, and Jerome Baker in coverage. While the rookie defensive back has been stout defending the pass this season, Jones and Baker have had their struggles.
Doyle (6’6”) and Ebron (6’4”) also possess a distinct size advantage over Miami’s defensive trio (all 6’1”). Jamming Doyle and Ebron off of the line and preventing them from getting behind the defense will be key to holding them to short gains throughout the game.