Despite dropping to 4-5 after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Miami Dolphins are anything but eliminated from this year’s playoff picture. However, the room for error will get increasingly smaller week-by-week, especially when facing off with another team vying for a playoff spot in the 4-5 San Diego Chargers.
Led by quarterback Philip Rivers, San Diego’s offense has been prolific thus far in 2013 and stands as a big reason why they’ve been able to have success, including giving Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos all they could handle last weekend.
In other words, the key to beating the Chargers is slowing down that dynamic offense, and Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin is well aware.
“They do a good job both from a personnel standpoint and a formation standpoint,” Philbin said in an interview with the Finsiders, “they’re multiple in a lot of ways and obviously they have an experienced, veteran quarterback who’s throwing the ball very accurately. I believe he’s over 70 percent completion. Part of it’s a very good scheme, part of it is his intelligence and his decision making, and then the third part is the accuracy when he throws the ball.”
Rivers has completed 71.6 percent of his passes on the year for a total of 2,691 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. And seven of those touchdowns have been mailed to Eddie Royal, who’s hauled in a total of 28 receptions on the year.
Yes, that means a quarter of Royal’s catches this year have resulted in six points for the Chargers. Philbin and the Dolphins have noticed.
“Yeah, let’s keep him out of the end zone,” Philbin said. “I mean, one out of every four catches are touchdowns and obviously he’s going to be a guy that has to be a focal point for us as a defense when we put our game plans together to combat that because obviously, we would refer to him as a go-to guy. And those playmakers, you have to make sure, whether it’s by formation that they’re using him or specific route combinations that they feature him in, he’ll be a guy that we have a lot of focus on.”
Another guy the Dolphins will keep their eye on is that of Danny Woodhead, who Miami is all too familiar with after his time spent with Tom Brady up in New England.
“The thing you like about him as a player is he’s got that versatility,” Philbin said of Woodhead. “He’s just a good football player overall. He can do a lot of different things, he’s got versatility, he’s smart, he has good lateral quickness and movement, so he’s instinctive as a route runner and then they have that dual flexibility where you just can’t say, ‘Ok, Danny Woodhead is in the game, he’s going to be a receiver,’ or ‘Danny Woodhead is in the game, he’s going to be running the ball’. They do both.”
Getting to the only point that matters, the Dolphins will need to eliminate some of the glaring mistakes they’ve made in recent weeks in order to come out on top this Sunday. If they do manage to clean things up, they don’t just stay alive, but their chances at making the postseason arguably increase, even if by just a tad.
“If you look at the AFC as it stands today, there’s a number of teams—I believe the Jets are 5-4 and then there’s a big grouping at 4-5, there’s about four or five of us, that are all in the same spot,” Philbin said. “We’ve told the team that mid-November and December is when teams really start separating themselves from one another and they do that by performing better.
“This is going to be our 10th football game of the season, so some of the mistakes that we saw last week against Tampa Bay and we made earlier in the year, we’ve got to cut down on those. No team goes out and plays perfect, but we’ve got to go out and cut down on those mistakes, improve our execution and then, as always, my guess is this is going to be a close game and we’re going to have to play very, very well in the fourth quarter.”
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.