The Baltimore Ravens play the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, and we sat down with FanSided Miami Dolphins blog Phin Phanatic for some questions on the game.
The Baltimore Ravens play the Miami Dolphins on Thursday in their Week 8 matchup. We sat down with FanSided Miami Dolphins blog Phin Phanatic to ask some questions ahead of the game. Here’s what they said:
The Baltimore Wire: First off, it sounds like Jay Cutler might not play on Thursday, do you think that’s going to be the case and if so, how do you think that’s going to affect the Dolphins’ chances of winning this game?
Phin Phanatic: Jay Cutler will not play on Thursday night but if the Ravens happen to read your blog then yes, as a matter of fact he is. Prepare for him. Cutler has “multiple fractured ribs” according to head coach Adam Gase and he said Cutler is day to day but he will likely be out at least this week but it’s hard to imagine him back until maybe two weeks from now.
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TBW: It seems like the Dolphins’ offensive strategy has generally been run-oriented, as Jay Ajayi is currently 6th in the league in rushing attempts, whereas Jay Cutler is 27th in the league in passing attempts.
The Baltimore Ravens are at the bottom of the league in rushing yards given up per game, though Brandon Williams will be back. Do you think that the Dolphins will go with a run-first scheme this game, and do you think that Ajayi will be able to succeed against the Ravens’ front seven despite the fact that he’s averaging just 3.5 YPA (second-worst in the league)?
PP: It’s hard to say. The Dolphins love what Jay Ajayi brings to the table and what I can say is if Ajayi finds success early, even minimal success, the Ravens will be in trouble in the second half because Ajayi gets much better as the game wears on.
Miami likes to use him but the passing game needs to be working to keep defenses from stacking the box. So it’s really a 50/50 game plan that typically doesn’t work out the way it is designed.
TBW: While the Baltimore Ravens have a poor run defense, they have a top-10 passing defense. Whether it’s Cutler or Matt Moore behind center this week, what do you think will be the best way for either of them to attack this Ravens secondary?
PP: There are a few ways. For starters, no one seems to be able to cover Jarvis Landry and that can be a problem for many very good defensive secondaries. Landry can open a defense and that would allow the tight-end to get more involved as well.
With Matt Moore likely the starter, look for Moore to take shots downfield as well. This will remove the stack at the line and could open up running lanes for Ajayi who is also getting better at catching passes out of the backfield.
TBW: Speaking of Cuter, he might not even play, but I’m honestly curious about your thoughts on this. When I think of Jay Cutler, I think of Jay “Shootin’ from the hip” Cutler, the man who looks at triple coverage and says “eh, I got this.”
But this year, that hasn’t been the case. He’s in the bottom half of the league in average depth of target at just eight yards, whereas last year he was top-10 with an average depth of target at 10 yards. What’s different?
PP: There is a lot of discussion on this but clearly he is not used to his receivers yet. That will change. He came in late to camp and didn’t play much in pre-season so the connection with the other players on the field isn’t there yet.
Cutler doesn’t seem to keen on throwing up the typical “Jay Cutler don’t care” passes but he also has been hindered by an offensive line that simply doesn’t give him time to work. Cutler on average has around two seconds before he is being pressured so that is a huge deal as well.
TBW: Finally, what do you believe is going to be the deciding factor in whether the Dolphins win this game? What are the major keys to them beating the Baltimore Ravens?
PP: This game will come down to trench warfare. If the Dolphins can manipulate the line of scrimmage offensively then the Miami running game will take over. If they can’t the Dolphins are going to have a lot of problems moving the football. Defensively the Dolphins front seven which is very good should be able to create adequate pressure to keep the game close.
In reality, the Ravens haven’t lost at home to the Dolphins since the 1990s and they have basically controlled these meetings the last four or five years so for whatever reason the Dolphins haven’t played well against the Ravens.