The Miami Dolphins are coming off their most disappointing game of the young season and will try to get back into the win column against the struggling New York Giants at Hard Rock Stadium this Sunday afternoon. The Giants were a playoff team last season, but have looked like a shell of their former selves over the last month. A lot of that has to do with the play of their offensive line and quarterback, but in fairness, they’re also missing some key contributors.
The status of some key Giants players could dictate how this game goes for the G-men. Saquon Barkley is the biggest name that the Giants were missing for their week four contest, but he could make his return this Sunday against Miami (he was a limited participant on Tuesday and Wednesday). Their star left tackle Andrew Thomas is in a similar boat but has not participated in practice yet this week. Let’s break down some key areas for this contest and see where Miami has the advantage.
If not now for the defensive line, then when?
This is a front seven that is loaded with talent and high draft picks. There were games last season where they took over and dominated opposing offensive lines. We haven’t seen that so far in 2023, but there’s reason to believe that they’ll have a big night against the New York Giants. We probably won’t know if Jaelan Phillips will be available till Sunday, but there is no reason why Bradley Chubb, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Emmanuel Ogbah can’t have a big impact this week.
The Giants are having a really difficult time keeping Daniel Jones clean. Injuries to their offensive line (especially left tackle Andrew Thomas) have created less than favorable matchups for the Giants, but even the starters they do have are underperforming. The Seahawks don’t have a dominant defensive line but managed to rack up eleven sacks in their last game. A lot of that comes down to the game script and the Giants being forced to play from behind. If they fall behind a couple of scores, they don’t have the guys to hold up in pass protection.
The Seahawks had success mixing in these DB blitzes as well. The Dolphins should be throwing every stunt, blitz, and pass rush game they have in their arsenal at this Giants offense. pic.twitter.com/dh6xqcbdVD— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 5, 2023
While the offensive line is to blame for much of that, Daniel Jones isn’t helping the situation. Jones is a sneaky athletic quarterback and tends to hold onto the football for a longer period of time. This is something that you see with more mobile quarterbacks as they tend to look for opportunities to make plays with their legs. That play style invites more pressure and Jones hasn’t been able to get away with it this season. In the same way that Tua usually helps his offensive line by getting the ball out quickly, Jones hurts his by holding it.
He is also just not seeing the field well right now. When you see safeties and corners coming unblocked off the edge and getting home, that falls squarely on the quarterback to throw hot (usually behind the blitzing DB). He looks indecisive and uncomfortable in the pocket right now. If the Dolphins can get a couple of scores early, they should be able to take advantage of this matchup as the game wears on.
Another tough week for the offensive line.
The offensive line (especially the interior) had a rough day at the office against the Buffalo Bills. While the Giants don’t have the same caliber of defense that the Bills have, there’s reason to believe the Dolphins will face even better interior defenders this Sunday.
The strength of this Giants' defense is clearly their defensive line. It's led by Dexter Lawrence, but Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Azeez Ojulari are capable of high-end reps.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 5, 2023
Getting back Connor Williams would be huge this week. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/UylmPFtKRH
Dexter Lawrence is one of the best interior defensive linemen in all of football. He’s joined by a solid supporting cast that includes Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari and Thibodeaux have underachieved this season but came on strong last week against the Seahawks. The Dolphins won’t have Terron Armstead this week, but Kendall Lamm and Austin Jackson can handle these edge defenders. The big matchup will be Lawrence and Williams against Miami’s interior. If Connor Williams can’t go, Liam Eichenberg will have his hands full in this one.
Another offensive explosion for Miami?
While the narrative is going to be that the Bills shut down Miami’s offense, that is a little misleading. The Dolphins had more stalled drives and turnovers than usual, but they pilled up over 390 yards on offense and led four scoring drives (one touchdown was called back). The Buffalo Bills had allowed two offensive touchdowns in their first three weeks of the season prior to that game. As it stands right now, we have no reason to be worried about the offense. Tua wasn’t his usual 2023 flawless self, but he still played well against a tough Bills defense.
The offense should have an easier task with this Giants defense. While Don “Wink” Martindale is one of the more respected defensive coordinators in the NFL, his style has gone out of vogue in recent years. Wink wants to bring pressure early and often. They’ll play a ton of man-coverage behind that and really rely on their guys getting home. For Miami, this should be a great matchup as they get rid of the ball early and have some of the most difficult receivers to cover in space.
You have to be weary of good football teams that start the year discombobulated. The Giants have not looked like a good football team, but Brian Daboll is a good football coach and they could be getting back some key players this week. You never know when they’ll get things figured out and start firing on all cylinders... but it won’t be this week on the road against the Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins are going to be too much for this reeling Giants team and we’ll finally see this front seven put their stamp on a game. Dolphins win 38-17.