Over the next three weeks the Miami Dolphins will play three teams battling the injury bug. First on the list is the Seattle Seahawks, who are making the trip from the west coast. Not only are the Seahawks 3-0, but Russell Wilson is looking like one of the best players in the NFL with 14 touchdowns in just three games.
While the Dolphins will have their hands full, Thursday’s promising performance against the Jaguars, along with 10 days off, could be just what the team needed to start a winning streak.
Here are three keys for Miami to pull off the upset on Sunday.
- Let it rip early and often
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed his first 11 attempts against the Jaguars as the Dolphins leaped out to an early 21-0 lead. While a repeat performance is certainly wishful thinking, Fitzpatrick needs another magical performance on Sunday.
The Seattle secondary, which is struggling with injuries, allows 430 passing yards per game — most in the NFL. On top of that, they’re allowing 8.5 yards per attempt, the third-worst mark in the league.
It is important to keep in mind that a lot of these numbers have to do with the fact that Seattle is usually up big on opponents and they’re trying to play catchup, but a few touchdowns early and keeping the game close will only improve Miami’s chances down the stretch in the South Florida heat.
2. Trust your players
The Dolphins did almost everything right against the Jaguars, but there is still some room for improvement. After a five-yard run on third down early in the third quarter, the Dolphins accepted a five-yard penalty and punted the ball away instead of going for it on fourth-and-one.
The season is still early and the lack of a preseason may be part of the reason the Dolphins chose to play it safe, but they need to take advantage of every opportunity for a touchdown on Sunday. The team also turtled in the red zone, especially late in the game.
After three-straight runs up the middle, the Dolphins settled for a field goal. Of course, the game was already in the books, but that isn’t a habit developed by a winning football team. Again, it is early in the season and coach Flores might have wanted to just play it safe. However, it is important for this young team to build confidence.
Going for a touchdown late in the game makes sense because... well, scoring touchdowns is exciting. A second Mike Gesicki touchdown on the night, or DeVante Parker securing his first on the season would just help this young team continue to build confidence.
Practicing winning habits is important for when it matters. Of course, a touchdown late against the Jaguars might not have meant much on Thursday, but that confidence, especially when needing to make those plays in late December, is irreplaceable.
3. Get to Wilson without blitzing
I’ve already mentioned it and I’ll continue to say it, Russell Wilson is incredibly good at football. The Dolphins got to Gardner Minshew on Thursday, but controlled the line of scrimmage with some creative blitzes.
Blitzing Wilson could quickly become an issue as he is one of the best at escaping the pocket and finding the open man. With Byron Jones doubtful, Miami’s secondary is going to need all the help it can get.
If Miami can pressure Wilson with only four, they may be on to something. However, Miami’s front-four has only 1.5 sacks to their credit this season. Emmanuel Ogbah has one and Zach Sieler has registered half a sack.
Miami’s success comes from the blitz as Kyle Van Noy has two sacks, Andrew Van Ginkel has 1.5, Jerome Baker and Kamu Grugier-Hill each have one. It is crucial for the front-four to get in Wilson’s face in order to pick up a win come Sunday.