DAVIE – The Dolphins 4-7 are on a five-game skid and they’ll need to overcome the Denver Broncos, who boast the NFL’s 3rd ranked defense in order to bring it to an end. Miami’s offense is ranked 30th in the NFL and there are no signs of improvement, other than running backs are now capable of catching out of the backfield following Jay Ajayi’s departure.
Here are five things to watch when the Dolphins attempt to end their five-game losing streak on Sunday:
1.) Double-digit carries for Kenyan Drake
With Damien Williams out with a shoulder injury, Kenyan Drake will be asked to carry the bulk of the load in the run game. If he is able to take care of the football, he should receive at least 10 carries throughout the game. If the Dolphins run more gap scheme plays with Drake lined up at running back, he could break the century mark on the ground for the first time in his career.
2.) Big day for Kenny Stills
Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib is out this week while he serves a one-game suspension following his dust-up with Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree last week. Stills will likely draw Broncos rookie cornerback Brendan Langley who has very good speed but can be beaten on double moves. Stills has made a living on the slant and go and he could have a big day against the Broncos.
3.) Can Cutler last?
The Dolphins’ offensive line has struggled in 2017 and they will be facing the Broncos’ vaunted defensive front. The Broncos are ranked 3rd in the NFL in total defense and Cutler has already been injured twice this season. The Dolphins will need to help their offensive tackles keep Cutler upright by chipping the edges with running backs and keeping tight ends in to block. If Cutler is unable to finish the contest, David Fales will see his first action of the season with Matt Moore out this week with a foot injury.
4.) How much range do Dolphins’ safeties have?
The Dolphins coaching staff has a great deal of faith in Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald. Both are big physical safeties, who can come down in the box, but the Dolphins also believe both have the speed and recognition to be center-fielding safety. When asked to patrol the deep middle of the field, it will be interesting to see if Jones and McDonald are capable of getting off of the hash and making a play on the football.
5.) Cordrea Tankersley’s help
One of the greatest challenges for a young cornerback is consistently knowing where his help is. Tankersley is learning not only where he’s supposed to be on a given play but he is also learning his teammates responsibilities. On occasion he has passed receivers off to empty spots on the field where he thought there would be help, but he is learning and it is happening less frequently. Tankersley is a talented, young player and he’s going to make mistakes, but it is essential to his development that he continues to minimize mental mistakes for the remainder of the 2017 season.