1. The first three of Ryan Tannehill's games and the last three look like night and day. Which Tannehill shows up in Jacksonville on Sunday, and which member of our secondary or linebacking corps do you think he'll go after?
Your guess is as good as mine. I would like to think that Tannehill's starting to get better as he and the offense settle into the new system being implemented by new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, so we are starting to see more of what is to come. That, however, is not a guarantee, and we will just have to see what happens over the next few games.
As for how Tannehill and the offense attacks on Sunday, it will be interesting to see exactly how they come out. Last week, the offense was completely unpredictable for the first time in a long time, they used play action all over the place, and they were not afraid to let Tannehill run, or to bootleg him and let him throw on the move. It's exactly how the offense needs to work.
The team also got tight end Charles Clay involved early, the first time that has happened this year. Clay has been battling injuries all season, and last week was the first time he looked healthy. If Miami can get him involved, the combination of Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Jarvis Landry, and Clay can give Tannehill plenty of options on any play. This offense is designed to only take whatever the defense gives, and Tannehill is starting to match his play to that. It may not be one particular player the Dolphins attack (I'm looking at you Dwayne Gratz), but rather the individual matchup and how the defense reacts on each individual play.
On a side note, I really liked Johnathan Cyprien coming out of FIU last year, and I really think he is going to be a special player for the Jaguars.
2. Is Tannehill the long-term answer at quarterback in Miami?
Uhhhhhh...ummmmm....maybe? I think he has a good chance to be it, despite some fans already comparing him to Chad Henne and wanting him benched. Tannehill's biggest problem is inconsistency. If he can settle down each week and just play football, he would probably be a lot better each week.
I think Tannehill tends to think too much. I absolutely think that's the big problem with his deep ball - he wants to place it perfectly and thinks about it rather than just reaching back and letting it fly.
As I said before. I would like to think Tannehill is settling in to the new offense - his first new offensive system since high school after being coached by Mike Sherman in college and then having Sherman as his offensive coordinator for his first two seasons with Miami. If he is, and if he continues to grow in this offense, then, yes, he could be the long-term answer for Miami.
3. Lamar Miller got a good chunk of his yards up the middle last week against the Bears. The Jaguars interior defensive line has been playing lights out in recent weeks. Who wins this matchup?
I think that's where Tannehill comes into play here. Last week, the team let Tannehill run like a player who has the athleticism to line up at wide receiver while serving as a college backup quarterback. He has runs of 40 yards and 30 yards the past few weeks, and he can but those at any time, especially on a read option keeper.
As for Miller himself, he has the speed to work to the outside, and is not just a between the tackles runner. Miami has the fourth ranked rushing offense this season (by rushing yards per game), which seems strange because it was absolutely nothing like we expected as Dolphins fans this year. If the middle of the defense is clogged, the team will look for other ways to get it done on the ground, and, so far this year, they have seemed to be able to do it.
4. If you were Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, how would you gameplan? Which Dolphins defenders provide a favorable matchup?
Miami has the number one defense in terms of total yards allowed this year, though they have had their bye week already so there is a little wiggle room in that stat. They are fourth when it comes to yards per game, fourth in passing yards per game allowed, and tenth in rushing yards per game allowed. The defense is stout, no matter how you try to attack.
That said, it's not a defense without weaknesses. Look toward the linebackers, and you will find matchups that benefit the Jaguars. Miami has spent most of this year dealing with various injuries to their linebacker corps, though they are finally starting to get healthy (minus starting strongside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe who went on IR back at the beginning of the year). Koa Misi has missed most of the year at middle linebacker, though the last two weeks, he has looked good. Jelani Jenkins, who replaced Ellerbe, has been a surprise this year, with everyone realizing he had potential but were not expecting him to be ready to go this early in his career. Reserve linebacker Chris McCain, an undrafted free agent, has been impressive whenever he rotates into games, and can cover or be a pass rusher, but will make rookie mistakes as well.
Philip Wheeler is clearly the weakest point in the linebacker corps, so any time you can attack him, or get him in coverage, you probably win.
The wildcard in this is Dion Jordan, who returned from suspension this week and, if he is still in shape, could be on the field Sunday. How and where the Dolphins decide to use him - defensive end or linebacker - is unknown at this point, and could give Miami even more flexibility in some of their packages.
5. What's your score prediction? Who wins this game and why?
I'm going to give it to Miami, basically because the Jaguars are a young team, with a rookie quarterback. I think they are absolutely making strides in the right direction, and they were impressive in their win last week against another team I think it moving in the right direction. I like the Browns this year, and for Jacksonville to perform like that does make you realize that Jacksonville at 1-6 is a team that is probably better than their record. Still, I think Miami is a better team right now, so I will go Dolphins 27-14.