The Tennessee Titans travel to South Beach to take on Nashville resident QB Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins in Week 5.
As disheartening as the Tennessee Titans loss to the Houston Texans last week was, it was only one game. The Titans look to get back on track in Week 5, and the Miami Dolphins may present the perfect opportunity to do so. The Fins are 1-2 and have only scored six total points the past two weeks. For a Titans defense that was embarrassed last weekend, this matchup might be just what the doctor ordered to get their confidence back.
The Dolphins had a promising outlook going into this season, but that all fell apart when QB Ryan Tannehill was lost to a torn ACL. The Dolphins brought in Jay Cutler as a replacement, and the results have been mixed. He was solid in their first game against the Los Angeles Chargers, but has struggled since. Head coach Adam Gase (Cutler’s former OC in Chicago) has tried to prevent the backbreaking turnovers Cutler has become known for, but the offense has become anemic as a result. Jay is currently 29th in the league with 5.85 yards per attempt, and the Dolphins are last in the league in both yards per game (249) and points per game (8.3).
To me, I’d rather risk those Cutler turnovers and try to utilize WRs DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry, who make for a solid receiving duo. That will also open things up for RB Jay Ajayi, who has been missing in action the past two weeks. Facing a possible 1-3 hole and a reeling defense, is this the game where Gase throws his conservatism in the trash and opens things up?
The lack of success for this Miami team belies how efficient the defense has been. They are currently eighth in the league as far as points per game (albeit only having played three games so far). They may be 22nd in yards allowed per game, but the offense’s lack of success keeps them on the field for too long. Star DL Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh will continue the trend of tough assignments for the Titans’ offensive line. And the Dolphins are actually fourth in the league as far as rushing yards allowed per game. With the Titans surely wanting to run the ball, this is shaping up to be a battle in the trenches.
As good as the Dolphins have been against the run, their secondary hasn’t held up their end of the bargain. In fact, their secondary is about on par with the Titans: the Dolphins are allowing 272.3 yards passing per game (27th in the league), while the Titans are giving up 274.8 (28th). If Marcus Mariota sits out, it will be a missed opportunity to take advantage of this struggling secondary. Facing a strong run defense and a lackluster pass defense, it will be interesting to see how the run-oriented Titans game plan for tomorrow. Will they stick to the run or try to exploit the secondary?
The Rushing Attack for Both Teams
As I mentioned above, the Dolphins’ strong run defense versus the Titans’ rushing attack will be a matchup to keep an eye on. If Mariota is out and Matt Cassel starts, expect the Titans to rely on the run more than ever. But if Cassel plays, the Dolphins will surely stack the box and make Cassel beat them. And since I have little confidence in Cassel being able to do so, I feel like the success the Titans have against a stacked box could determine the result of the game.
On the Dolphins side, they too will be looking to get their run game going. They have a talented running back in Ajayi, but he has been held to under 50 yards in each of his last two games after rushing for 122 in their first game. Teams have shown they don’t respect Cutler and the passing attack, and they have stacked the box in order to limit Ajayi. But the Titans have been unable to run much of their base defense lately thanks to their struggles against the pass, and they might not be able to afford to stack the box. I fully expect the Dolphins to try and attack the Titans’ secondary, so if Ajayi gets going as well, this could be another tough day for the Tennessee defense.