Game Preview – Miami

Posted: December 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 40 Comments »

The Dolphins are red hot, having won 4 of 5.  The only loss was at Dallas, and that was a 20-19 defeat on a short week.  This is a much improved team.

That said, let’s look at the games:

W 31-3 at KC

W 20-9 vs WAS

W 35-9 vs BUF

L 20-19 at DAL

W 34-14 vs OAK

The Dolphins caught the Bills, Skins, and Raiders all at the right time.  Those teams were struggling going into those meetings.  Give credit to Miami for taking care of business, but I’m not sure what to make of the team.  They haven’t really faced a good team in the hot streak.  Dallas has a good record, but they’ve played down to the competition in the last 3 games.  Dallas is as big a mystery as anyone.

We’re not a good team so Miami might just handle us the way they have other people.  Our offense will be the biggest test for them since the Giants game on 10/30.  The Dolphins are playing terrific defense, but they haven’t been challenged recently.

They have held teams to 4 of 32 on 3rd downs in recent weeks.  They haven’t allowed more than 2 TDs in a game since the season opener.  Miami is 15th in yards allowed, but 5th in scoring defense.  This is going to be a major challenge for the Eagles.

The good news is that Mike Vick is back at QB.  The Vince Young era was glorious for the Sunday night win over the Giants, but that’s it.  Getting Vick back should be a huge help.

I also like the fact we’re coming off a long week.  The Seattle loss was 8 days ago.  Andy and the coaches had extra time to study Miami and put together a gameplan for this week.  Normally Andy is really good with extra time.  Let’s hope that trend continues.

I’m interested to see how we attack them.  CB Vontae Davis is very good.  I don’t think going deep is the way to go.  We might use a lot of deep routes to simply spread out the defense.

Miami runs a 3-4.  I think we’ll look back to the gameplan we used vs WAS, DAL.  That would mean running Shady McCoy.  That would also mean throwing creatively to the TEs.  I’d love to see both of those things.

We are probably going to have Jeremy Maclin back in the lineup.  If so, that’s a big help.  Teams could take away DeSean and dare us to throw to Riley Cooper.  That’s not the case when Mac and DJax are out there together.

The key for them up front is OLB Cameron Wake (he was Derek Wake at Penn State).  He’s not posting huge sack numbers, but is having a good overall season.  Peters can handle him, but Todd will need some help.  Jason Kelce will have his hands full with NT Paul Soliai, a big, powerful guy.

While the Dolphins have a very stingy run defense, they haven’t faced an attack quite like ours.  I think Shady can have some success against them, especially with the draw play.  The Dolphins are built more to stuff inside runners than guys like Shady.

As for our defense against their offense…who knows.  The key is controlling the LOS.  We’ve done that in some games, but been eaten alive in others.  Miami is built to run the ball.  They don’t need to do it efficiently.  They win when they have 30 or more carries.  That can get them 116 yards or 200 yards.  They want to run the ball and limit mistakes.

QB Matt Moore has thrown 129 passes in the recent 5-game stretch.  That’s 26 passes per game.  His high total is 32 and that did come in the loss at Dallas.  Put the game in his hands and you’re likely to win.  Let Miami run and they’ve got a great chance to beat you.  Moore does have 8 TDs and just 1 INT in those 5 games.  They are running to control the game, but getting points from the passing game.  This is classic old school football.

This is a game to limit use of the Wide-9 and mix in a lot of 8-man fronts.  Single up on the WRs and make them beat you.  The only WR who’s a threat is Brandon Marshall.  He’s a big guy that Nnamdi was born to cover.  We’ll see how that matchup goes.

Miami has gotten more versatility in the lineup this year.  Rookie Charles Clay is a TE/FB hybrid.  He is a good receiver.  Davonne Bess is a very good slot receiver.  And there is Reggie Bush.  He’s still a dynamic player.  Bush has also developed a lot as a RB this year.  He’s already got a career high 667 rushing yards and will set career marks in just about everything by the time the season is over.

Handling Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas actually is a good matchup for our defense.  We’ve struggled more with physical runners who could break tackles.  Bush isn’t a pounder.  Thomas is big, but is inconsistent when it comes to running hard.  There are time when Warren Sapp’s nickname for Brandon Jacobs applies…the tip-toe burglar.  Thomas is 230, but sometimes runs like he’s Lorenzo Booker.

I wonder if Juqua Parker could be in for a good game.  He used to do well vs RT Marc Colombo when he was a Cowboy.  It’d be great to see JP have a big game.  He’s been pretty quiet this year and is probably riding off into the sunset.

We made one interesting change.  Casey Matthews is replacing Jamar Chaney in the Nickel.  Chaney struggled in coverage last week.  He just looked lost at times.  Chaney had the same issue last year.  I assumed that was due to him being a rookie.  Same problems a year later – not good.  Chaney has the athleticism and skills to cover.  He just gets confused about who to cover or where he needs to be.  That’s a concern.

Matthews is a favorite punching bag for some fans, but the guy got better each week that he played and he did show some coverage potential.  Yeah, he got burned for the long TD vs the Giants, but that was a rookie mistake, not a lack of talent.  I’m interested to see Casey back on the field.  I want to find out if he’s gotten better or not.  You don’t write off a rookie based on 3 games.  Let’s see where he is.

Miami is 0-4 in close games.  They win when they’re able to control the game and the opposing team really struggles.  I have no idea what the Eagles will do.  Which Mike Vick will show up?  Which defense will show up?  Did Casey Matthews have enough meals with his family to now dominate the game of football?  We need answers.

Let’s hope Sunday is at least interesting.

* * * * *

While we’re still technically alive for the playoffs, I know many people are already thinking about the draft.  I’m going to be doing more regular posting at .  I’ve got lots of players to study and writing to do.

I’ll try to let you know which players to focus on when the bowl games start soon.

40 Comments on “Game Preview – Miami”

  1. 1 Anonymous said at 12:29 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    I sure hope during this long layover Juan really worked on the “Fundamentals” and “Gap Control”

    It has worked so well in the past!!! $50 we win this game, the jets and Cowboys then lay an egg against the skins…..I would love to see playoffs, but this team has shown me nothing to think they could win against the Dolphins let along 4 straight.

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 12:39 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Nothing will surprise me with this Eagles team. Could go 4-0 or 0-4. I’ve never been so confused by the Eagles in all my time as a fan. Strange team.

  3. 3 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 12:58 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    I hope we win a few games to get some faith into the players. But I actually don’t want us to win out and (realistically) miss the play-off with an 8-8 record. Then we would miss out on any impact defensive player I have my eyes set on (Claiborne, Coples, Kuechly)
    I’ve been an Eagles fan since 2005, so this losing season is new to me (I’ve already forgotten about my ‘rookie’ season. It’s strange for me to watch games because I REALLY want us to win games, but at the same time want the highest pick in the draft… It’s tough not to be a contender!! How does Cleveland, Buffalo, Redskins-fans deal with this year in and year out?!?!?

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 1:21 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Can I ask why you like Coples?

  5. 5 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 3:03 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    He would be a great pass-rusher at the DT position. As long as we have the wide-9 we are dependent on our DTs to collapse the pocket.
    Every game this season where our DTs have been good to great, we’ve won!
    Coples is tall, has long arms, quick burst and agile. He’s been double-teamed a lot this season, so his stats aren’t great, but I think he would be an asset to us!

  6. 6 Anonymous said at 4:38 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Fair enough. I just feel that while it is an important position that there aren’t many elite DT’s in the league. For me unless its a once in a generation talent (suh,/sapp) DT’s shouldn’t go any earlier than the very late first round. How many former first round DTs are average? Alot.

    Also I think the best usage of Coples skill set would to be a five tech in a one gap 34 similar to what Wade Phillips likes to run.

  7. 7 Anonymous said at 7:53 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    A fan since 2005, huh? Kudos. I bet we didn’t pick up many new fans that year.

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 4:55 PM on December 10th, 2011:

    Agreed. I am befuddled and bamboozled by this team. I can see them getting stomped by a hot, up-and-coming Dolphins team. But, remembering this is the same roster I thought could win up to 12 games, I can see them making a run. These are times that try men’s souls.

  9. 9 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 12:52 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Great pre-view Tommy… It makes it easier to have your focuspoints ready for gametime!

    I made that short mock-draft in the earlier post. I just answer here, so it doesn’t get lost in traffic.

    I don’t think Chas Henry has been so good, that you don’t want any competition going into camp. Anger is the best P in the draft, and I would like to at least add some competition!

    How realistic is it to tag and trade Jackson to St. Louis, or a team like them (poor record, in need of a star WR)?

    And is it possible to get a good young starter in return for the tackling machine Asante?

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 1:52 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    (RE-POSTED from “Flipper”)

    Asante Samuel is a 30+ year-old CB who plays only one side. He doesn’t play man to man well (if at all). He doesn’t play bump and run in first 5 yards. He likes to free lance. He doesn’t tackle well or seek contact. He seems to have lost a step. And he’s owed well over $5MM next year.

    I’m not sure I see why would another team give up a premium player or a premium draft choice for Samuel — given age, salary, etc.

    Maybe the Eagles get a 4th rounder in exchange for Asante and some cash.

    But a 3-down impact defensive player in his prime? Or a 2nd round pick?

    That seems out of reach now (as opposed to August 2011).

  11. 11 Anonymous said at 4:35 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Asante has value. Playmaking CBs are coveted in the NFL. The Eagles got good offers for him last summer, but held on since we were making a Super Bowl run. Oops.

    His value has diminished, but CBs are too rare a commodity. He’ll net at least one good pick. I think the Eagles can get at least a 3rd for him, but would expect more than that.

    Asante’s 2011 season was definitely affected by the signing of NA, the trade for DRC, and the drafting of Curtis Marsh. All 3 guys are 6’1 or bigger and can press. Asante doesn’t fit either category. He knows he’s on the way out. He’s played like it. That doesn’t take away his great ball skills. The team that deals for him will get a guy who gambles, but also makes plays. Definite value in that.

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 8:54 PM on December 10th, 2011:

    I think they’ll have to cut Asante, if they got good offers for him and didn’t trade him they were outright stupid, once they signed Aso, it didn’t make sense to keep Asante.

    The problem, besides his age (turns 32 in January 2012), is that he doesn’t fit any normal defense. As long as he was a great playmaker, you could tolerate his inability to tackle in zone, but he always struggled in man, can’t press and lacks deep speed.

    This year, he’s lost a step, he’d be functional in zone for a couple years because of his great anticipation, but he’s not the dominating playmaker he was most of his career – 2 int, 8 PD in 12 games is well below his norm. He’s giving more cushion this year, which tells you he has less confidence that he can recover if beat, QBs are still careful about throwing in front of him, but they’re starting to throw those short passes and WR screens, and making him come up and tackle. And of course, teams are targeting him on running plays because they know they can get 3 blockers on 2 players (as he retreats).

    Problem for a team trading for him is you’re getting an aging player with a big contract, I can see someone signing him for 2 years, $10M if he’s cut, but not trading a draft pick and picking up his $9M or so salary.

  13. 13 Anonymous said at 4:30 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    I didn’t comment on the DeSean trade because that is a huge mystery to me. I have no idea what to think. What is his value to other teams? Who will pay him big bucks? Teams would certainly love to have him, but will they give high picks and a big contract? I’m really not sure. I do think STL needs someone like him to spark that offense.

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 1:10 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Lorenzo Booker . . . there’s a name that brings back nightmares.

    A 4th round pick was traded for him. Who in the front office came up with that idea, I wonder.

    Cameron (f/k/a Derek) Wake is listed on the ‘phins D-chart as WOLB.

    On passing downs, whenever Celek is not next to Herremanns, I’d expect to see Wake over there. Advantage Dolphins.


    You’ve no doubt answered this before my time, but (a) how did Wake get passed over coming out of PSU, and (b) were the Eagles at all interested in him while tearing it up in Canada?

    He seems like a more angular but more impactful version (to date) of Brandon Graham.


    TOMMY —

    Who would you like to see as Penn State’s new coach, among those coaches who reasonable could turn up in Happy Valley?

  15. 15 Anonymous said at 2:01 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Wake had an injury history and was an underachiever coming out of PSU. Great showing at the Combine, but he looked like a workout warrior. Took him a while in Canada to hone his game. Glad he’s done that and made something of himself. You saw potential at PSU, but not enough results.

    I think BUF was the team other than Miami that was really hot for him. Don’t recall the Eagles being in the mix.

    * * * * *

    PSU? I’d love Tom Bradley to get the gig.

    If an outsider, I’d love Pat Fitzgerald from NW. Good coach, great person. Young, energetic, creative. Tough. Seemed to have a good relationship with JoePa. I think Pat would embrace the tradition of PSU.

  16. 16 Anonymous said at 4:27 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    If I recall Wake spent a year in sales or some crap office job before deciding to go to Canada so good for him to finally live up to his potential.

    I actually hope Marty follows his son and gets the gig at Penn State.

  17. 17 Anonymous said at 7:57 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    As disappointing as Booker was as an Eagle, he is still in the league and getting on the field as a return man in MIN. That is probably a longer career than the average 4th rounder.

  18. 18 Anonymous said at 1:13 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    how much of our attack vs dallas was based solely on their awful LB crew? it seemed that we gameplanned specifically to attack their weakness.

    it sounds like miami’s LBs can run a lot better than dallas’s. i’m not sure that the same gameplan would get the same results here.

  19. 19 Anonymous said at 1:57 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Dallas started off with Sean Lee in the game. He got hurt vs us, but we’d already moved the ball on them. Had success vs WAS doing similar things. The Giants were the team with crappy LBs that we were able to burn in the passing game.

    Miami does have good LBs. Running on them won’t be easy. I do think our draw makes for a tough matchup.

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 1:16 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Would Wash ever consider throwing an extra DT out there over the C? I know that basically makes us a 5-2, but if ever there was a team to try it against…

  21. 21 Anonymous said at 1:54 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Would you settle for the MLB lining up in the A-gap? That could happen. We’ve mixed in some looks like that in certain run situations.

  22. 22 Anonymous said at 9:21 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Maybe if we draft a thumper like Hightower, but there isn’t anybody on the current roster I’d prefer lining up there over Patt.

  23. 23 Gary said at 1:33 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    ” The only WR who’s a threat is Brandon Marshall. He’s a big guy that Nnamdi was born to cover. We’ll see how that matchup goes.”

    I would love to see that matchup. But unfortunately, Nnamdi will probably be off wandering in a zone most of the time while Marshall runs free.

  24. 24 Anonymous said at 1:34 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    being covered mainly by brandon hughes.

  25. 25 Anonymous said at 1:55 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Shouldn’t the Dolphins have Marshall lined up opposite Asante all day because Marshall — if he’s anything (besides a bit crazy) — is very physical. Which is not Samuel’s forte.

  26. 26 Mac said at 2:02 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    There is no way JC would let that happen.

    He will cover Marshall with either Jarrett or Jordan.

  27. 27 Anonymous said at 4:33 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Our only hope is that Landri goes rogue and mans him up instead.

  28. 28 Anonymous said at 2:58 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Tommy: I really miss the old scouts notebook website, it seemed to be a little more user friendly. I also enjoyed reading all your notes from previous years drafts whenever the Eagles signed someone I’d never heard of I would go read your notes about that player from a previous draft.

  29. 29 Anonymous said at 3:35 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    I’m just happy that I can watch this one

  30. 30 Anonymous said at 4:20 PM on December 9th, 2011:


    Do you think we see more of Lloyd these next few weeks? I know you’ve discussed his liabilities before, but it would be interesting to see him in game action.

  31. 31 Anonymous said at 4:37 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    I don’t know. I think he’s too slow, but if anyone gets hurt, he could get a chance. Also, team still has playoff hopes (super slim I know). Must stick with best guys for now. Mix in rookies/projects when eliminated.

  32. 32 Anonymous said at 4:22 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Actually a 5-2 with Rolle and Matthews would be an interesting twist on the wide 9, both DEs lined wide and the middle DT attacking an A gap would make it tough to get OGs out on the LBs.

    If I’m Miami, I line up Marshall against Asante, then throw those screens and short passes with him giving up a cushion, then have Marshall grunt real loud and Asante will fall down so he doesn’t have to try an tackle him. Guaranteed 10 yards a play.

  33. 33 Anonymous said at 7:29 PM on December 9th, 2011:


    Is it at all possible that Reid hired JC because there weren’t any other upper tier DC’s that were available? Maybe he viewed JC as the same quality as the other candidates and figured he’d keep this in house and give him an opportunity. When McDermott was fired, who were the “hot” names and how have they done this year in comparison to JC?

  34. 34 James Wann said at 8:27 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    I think that in the end, Reid figured that there wasn’t anyone that had better potential as DC than Juan. Considering that only Ray Horton got a job as DC of all the available candidates connected with the Eagles at the time Juan was promoted, this would seem to be the case. What about names that were dropped from the list of possible candidates beforehand (due to them taking another job or apparent disinterest in returning to coaching)? This is speculation on my part, but I suspect that people like Jim Mora, Jr. and Dennis Allen didn’t want to be wedded to the wide nine. Jeff Fisher would rather wait another year and aim for a head coaching job.

    If this is true, then the following might factor into Reid’s thinking. Considering that it was hard enough to find a viable DC candidate who is willing to utilize the wide nine, plus the fact that Mudd’s hiring meant that Castillo could become the LB coach, Reid must’ve figured that it would be nearly impossible to find someone who’ll grow into a strong DC and is willing to start with two assistants already chosen for him. Chances are, such a person is talented enough such that he is confident that he can find an opportunity where he can pick his own assistants.

    So, that really leaves Castillo once Mudd came on board. Of course, Reid would have to be convinced that Castillo would make a great DC someday in order to promote him. But I do think that he saw Juan as the only realistic candidate who has such potential.

    Sam once asked why Reid didn’t simply hire Jauron. I think that back then, Reid figured that he could do better. However, I suspect that he learned otherwise once people started turning him down. I think that if he were to do it over again, knowing what would happen during the offseason (and not necessarily knowing what would happen during the regular season), he would hire Jauron.

  35. 35 Anonymous said at 11:12 PM on December 9th, 2011:

    Great post. I think we’re seeing eye to eye here. It’s funny because it’s been somewhat cliche to say “Andy Reid is smarter than everyone.” Well, if there’s any truth to this, then maybe he is. I’d feel a lot different about the hire if there was some stud DC that we missed out on. The only ones that would have been of value aspire to be HC and I can see why they wouldn’t want the job. Maybe he thought he’d catch lightning in a bottle with JC. I think it will be somewhat telling if he gets outright fired, or if he keeps him on as some sort of defensive assistant.

  36. 36 Miguel de Maria said at 12:45 PM on December 10th, 2011:

    “Andy thinks he’s smarter than everyone else.”

    We should hope he is–if he is not, then we should have no more reason to be a good team than the Cardinals or anyone else with no particular advantages.

    This applies to offense, defense, hiring, drafting, organization–if the Eagles are not smarter, then why would we expect to have a better team. Philly is not New York or LA that, in general, has a built-in advantage in sports.

  37. 37 Anonymous said at 12:58 PM on December 10th, 2011:


    How do I sign in from my disqus account on the ipad2?!

    When I try to sign the following error appears: ‘missing parameters’.

    Help please!!

  38. 38 Anonymous said at 12:58 PM on December 10th, 2011:


    How do I sign in from my disqus account on the ipad2?!

    When I try to sign the following error appears: ‘missing parameters’.

    Help please!!

  39. 39 Anonymous said at 4:04 PM on December 10th, 2011:

    The argument that the LBs and safeties are young and were hindered by the lockout has merit (however, thta doesn’t explain why they didn’t at least bring in some guys like Whitner and Durant, instead of Page and no one at LB).

    When you look at the LBs and safeties in this draft, the only safeties playing well are Moore and Gilchrist, both early in the 2nd rd. Jarrett was a reach, but no one taken after him has done much of merit. Same at LB where half the guys taken before Matthews haven’t seen real game time. Ayers, Foster, McCarthy, a couple others have played, but no one has excelled.

    So it seems that both S and LB are positions where the lack of practice has hurt young players throughout the league. Which means that a lot of rookie and second year players may break out next season with a full off season – and I’d have my scouts scouring practice squads for players who could benefit from that full year that might be worth adding to the roster. Nelson is not that kind of prospect, he’s a ST candidate at best.

    Frankly, Jordan, Fokou have no future in Philly, Clayton is marginal at best.
    On the other hand, people should be patient with Matthews, he was put into a really tough situation as a rookie, and there is no reason to think his performance in the first 3 games truly reflects his abilities – not that I’m anointing him the future starter at MLB, but it took Tulloch 3 years to work his way into a starting job.

  40. 40 Anonymous said at 12:34 AM on December 11th, 2011:

    As an Eagle fan living outside Miami, the Dolphins main offensive goal is to get Reggie Bush out into space, in particular the right offensive flat. Watch for Jevone Bess, out of the right offensive slot, running the slant, or a skinny post, with Brandon Marshall clearing the zone by going deep on a stop and go.

    They also like to bring the tight end; Anthony Fasono, all the way across the same formation, then send him down the opposite sideline. They also take deep shots down the field on the opposite side from Brandon, with Brian Hartline. He runs a good stop and go route. With Brandon inside leverage is a must. If he gets inside you on a fly route, he is pretty money. You have to use the sideline as a 12th defender against Brandon or you’re in for a long afternoon.

    On defense the Dolphins love the zone blitz, particularly on the left side of the offensive line ( Jason Peters), dropping the DE (usually Jared Odrick) back into the lane and bringing a blitzing LB, usually Jason Taylor on a slight delay. Cameron Wake almost exclusively rushes the right tackle shooting the gap between the tackle and the guard, but he is quick enough to come all the way around the tackle and closes real well. The Fins also have a couple of real solid corners, with good ball skills, in Smith and Davis. The leader on the backside however, is Yeremiah Bell. He’s a hitter and enforcer back there and sets the tempo. The SS is Reshad Jones another young player who I belive Tommy was high on coming out of the draft. He is playing solid football for thr fins..

    They have a decent offensive line, anchored with a great left tackle in Jake Long. Their center is Mike Pouncey, their #1 draft choice who has been pretty decent but will mess up a couple of snaps a game. The QB is Matt Moore. You can forget the M. Moore who struggled in Carolina. He has been coached up well and is playing real well, since taking over the starting position about 7-8 games ago. However. you beat him just like you beat Tavaris Jackson or J. Skelton, by NOT letting him get into a rhythm. Unfortunately, Juan does not comprehend the use of the blitz to keep middling NFL QB’s from establishing a rhythm. To me this is Juan’s most glaring fault as a DC. He has no blitz. He neither understands it use, nor has any idea how or when to use it.