When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PT, Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
Record: 4-6 after their 19-14 loss to the Bills in Buffalo last Thursday
Where they rank: No. 28 on offense (21st rushing, 24th passing); No. 21 on defense (9th rushing, 27th passing)
TV: Fox (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jaime Maggio
Star power: Marcus Thigpen. Reggie Bush would like it to be him, and the coaches and management would like it to be Ryan Tannehill. But we’ll go with a player who has done something this season that no one in the history of the franchise has accomplished – return a kickoff (96 yards) and a punt (72 yards) for touchdowns in the same season. That’s Thigpen. But this guy is no one-return wonder. He not only ranks fourth in the league in punt (13.6 yards) and kickoff (29.4) return average, he’s the only player in the NFL to rank among the Top 5 in both categories. The Seahawks’ No. 10-ranked special teams can’t allow him to break another. Asked during his Monday news conference what Thigpen does well to break those long returns, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said, “Well, he’s elusive No. 1, and I think he has very good speed, as you saw (Thursday night on his 96-yard kickoff return against the Bills). I mean those are two things as you look at the play that jump out at you. There was a good crease in there, there was good blocking. Now he goes and attacks, in this case it was the kicker; he makes the guy miss and then he has the speed to run away from people. That’s a good combination right there.”
Unsung hero: Cameron Wake. He came out of the CFL in 2009 – from the B.C. Lions, no less. After a slow start (5.5 sacks that first season), Wake recorded 14 and 8.5 sacks the past two seasons and has 9.5 in 10 games this season, which ranks fifth in the league. His 37.5 sacks are a franchise record for a player in his first four seasons. This should come as no surprise, as Wake registered 39 sacks in his two seasons in B.C., when he was named CFL Defensive Player of the Year each season.
On the spot: Tannehill. After breaking strongly from the gate, the Dolphins’ rookie QB has thrown five of his 11 interceptions in the past two games – three in a 37-3 loss to the Titans two weeks ago and two more in the loss to the Bills – and the offense has scored only one touchdown. His when-he’s-up-he’s-up/when-he’s-down-he’s-down season has included four games with a passer rating of 90-plus, but also five games where it’s been below 51. “I feel like I’m getting better, I feel like I’m learning a lot,” Tannehill told the Palm Beach Post last week. “Obviously you can’t turn the ball over, and that’s a big problem right now. I realize that throwing five picks in the last two games is a big problem and one that needs to be addressed.” An even bigger problem: each of his three interceptions against the Titans led to field goals, while his fourth-quarter picks against the Bills came on back-to-back series and at the Buffalo 35- and 42-yard lines.
Burning question: Which Chris Clemons will come up bigger? That’s right; each team has a player named Chris Clemons. The Seahawks’ Chris Clemons has seven sacks and 16 QB hits from his “Leo” end spot on the NFL’s No. 3-ranked defense. The Dolphins’ Chris Clemons is a fourth-year safety who shares the team lead with two interceptions and ranks third with 45 tackles.
Numbers to know: 51, Brandon Fields’ average (51.0), which leads the league, on that many punts (51). … 91, the passing yards Tannehill needs to break Dan Marino’s franchise record for a rookie QB that was set in 1983. … 3, as in the Dolphins have lost three in a row after winning three in a row. … minus-9, the Dolphins’ turnover differential.
Familiar faces: Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman held the same position with the Seahawks in 1999. Strength and conditioning coach Darren Krein was with the Seahawks in 1997-98 and again from 2001-09.
The last word: “(They’re) big guys, physical guys. They do a good job. I don’t think it’s clear that they play press man (coverage) every play, but they certainly aren’t afraid to get in a receiver’s (face), move up close to the line of scrimmage and get hands on guys. They’re big guys, they’re physical, but they do have a good package that’s a multiple package. They’ll play a variety of different coverages, so we’ll certainly have our hands full with those guys.” – Philbin when asked about the Seahawks’ cornerbacks, 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner and 6-3 Richard Sherman
Tags: Brandon Browner, Chris Clemons, Darren Krein, Mike Sherman, Richard Sherman
Posted in Team | Comments Off on Up next: Miami Dolphins