The Chicago Bears defense should force the Dolphins wide receivers to beat them off of the line of scrimmage
Over the Miami Dolphins last two losses, two big things of note have stood out. One is that their offensive line is banged up. This is not helping anything, especially with Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears coming into town.
The other thing to note is that the New England Patriot took away their screen game, and everything fell apart from there.
When you look at the Miami Dolphins wide receivers, they are the most physically imposing bunch. With DeVante Parker out of the mix and on the trade block, their biggest receiver who actively contributes is Kenny Stills at 6′, 194 pounds.
Stills is a deep threat, but the other three live in the underneath game. Remember, the Bears had eyes on Albert Wilson to play the Taylor Gabriel role this year. Grant is used in a similar variety to Cohen with screens and sweeps, and Amendola is your typical underneath slot receiver.
What worked for the Dolphins over the first three weeks of the season was their ability to use Amendola, Wilson, and Grant, along with Kenyan Drake in the short passing game.
This substituted for a tough run game. It keeps the defense stretched out and got quick skill players the ball in one-on-one situations. However, like the running game, it got defenses to creep in, which led to Tannehill taking the top off.
However, when the Dolphins went to New England, the Patriots said enough is enough, With a physically imposing cornerback such as Stephon Gilmore, the team pressed heavily on these small wide receivers to swallow them up.
They dared Ryan Tannehill to beat them deep down the field early into the game, rather than after he has been warmed up with a lot of high percentage throws. Tannehill missed deep, and got into a funk he could not get out of.
When looking at the Dolphins this season, the key is to get him throwing the football deep early into the game.
Tannehill has thrown 33 of his 129 attempts behind the line of scrimmage. He has completed 87% of those passes. He has thrown 41 of his attempts within five yards of the line. He has completed 71%. That is 57% of his total pass attempts going less than five yards down the field and compiling 69% of his completions.
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Beyond five yards, he is 26-55, a 44% mark. He is 7-25 throwing 20 yards down the field and 19-30 in the, a respectable 63% in the 5-20 range.
The caveat is that four of his seven deep completions have gone for touchdowns. While pressing their receivers, and forcing Tannehill into his sore spots early into the game could pay off, it also could result in big plays on the other end.
Still, there is not a free safety playing better than Eddie Jackson right now. To force Tannehill to throw deep early into the game is a better method than to wait for your defense to creep in when he gets a few throws in.
Vic Fangio typically plays bend but don’t break on the back end of his defense. It is not a bad strategy, but may not be the situational call in this game. The Chicago Bears should press and impose their wide receivers at the line of scrimmage early into the game.