Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins: Scouting the Enemy


Oct 6, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) reacts after sacking Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (not pictured) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After looking over the Miami Dolphins, I can come to only one conclusion: The Ravens need to worry more about themselves than the Dolphins.

Let’s start with the Dolphins’ offense.

Ryan Tannehill has been solid for the most part, but he hasn’t been asked to do much either. A vast majority of his throws are either close to or behind the line of scrimmage, hence Tannehill’s mediocre 6.6 yards per attempt. Jarvis Landry, who leads the team in receptions, averages just 9.1 yards per reception, further illustrating how conservative the Dolphins are in terms of passing the football.

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The key for the Ravens in slowing down Tannehill is keeping him in the pocket (Tannehill is an excellent runner), pressuring him and keying on the short passing game. The Dolphins will probably complete a high percentage of passes, but if the Ravens play aggressively in the secondary, those passes shouldn’t go for many yards.

Keep an eye on Mike Wallace though, a speedster who could make the Ravens pay regardless of what coverage they run. With Wallace on the field, the Ravens need to keep at least one safety deep at all times.

In the ground game, Lamar Miller leads the Dolphins with 729 yards on a 4.9 yard per carry clip. He is in the midst of a career year and should be a focus for the Ravens. Behind Miller is Daniel Thomas, a power back who provides a nice change of pace. The Ravens should be able to slow down this group, but stopping them completely could be a challenge.

Fortunately for the Ravens, the Dolphins have a thoroughly mediocre offensive line. The only above average player this season has been Branden Albert, and he is done for the year. Elvis Dumervil should have a field day going against right tackle Dallas Thomas. According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas has given up 30 total pressures this season.

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens will probably have a tough time. Combine Joe Flacco‘s traditional road struggles with the Dolphins’ second-ranked pass defense, and the Ravens passing game might turn into a non-factor.

Where the Dolphins excel the most is in the pass rush. Cameron Wake is among the best edge rushers in the NFL, while Olivier Vernon holds his own on the right side. Vernon will be a guy to watch, as he will be matched up against Eugene Monroe, who has struggled this season. Vernon has 5.5 sacks this year, while Wake has 9.5.

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Second-year linebacker Jelani Jenkins (a Rockville native) leads the linebackers. Jenkins has a team-high 95 tackles and has also contributed 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Jenkins is a quality athlete with good coverage skills. Koa Misi and Phillip Wheeler round out a pretty strong group. The linebackers and lineman do struggle defending the zone scheme, though, often surrendering cutback lanes. Justin Forsett could have a big game.

Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones headline a quality secondary. Despite playing just eight games this season, Jones is third in the team in tackles with 52. Grimes, meanwhile, has picked off five passes and defended 12 this season. Impressive numbers from the diminutive but skilled corner.

Louis Delmas has also been a plus. He’s rejuvenated his career playing strong safety for the Dolphins, ranking second on the team with 58 tackles.

Beyond that, there are questions. Injuries have forced the Dolphins to shuffle around some guys. R.J. Stanford played a major role last week against the Jets, as did Jimmy Wilson. Cortland Finnegan, who has been decent this season, is a question mark as to whether or not he will play. Jamar Taylor, meanwhile, has been ruled out.

The Ravens would be wise to throw away from Grimes, who can effectively shadow a team’s best receiver.

All in all, the battle of the trenches favors the Ravens, while the passing game on both sides of the ball favors Miami. If the Ravens’ secondary exceeds expectations and Joe Flacco doesn’t give in to his usual road struggles, the Ravens should win, as they are the more talented team. Those are big ifs, though.