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Dolphins Film Review: Oakland Raiders

Nov 5, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (47) watches from the sideline in the game against the Oakland Raiders during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

From The Film Room:

The Dolphins 4-4 mark is a more appropriate measure of the team’s play this year. At 4-2, playoffs seemed like a real possibility, but the team has come back to earth the last couple of weeks.

In true Miami fashion, the Dolphins continue to struggle to put together complete games. The offense appears to have found an identity as a short, rhythm passing team with balance from the backfield both in the running game, and through the air.

Offense:

– A shift in the running philosophy had a positive impact on the offense as a whole. Miami’s first run went for negative one yard, but that would be it for the night. With more power runs (pulling guards, backside “WHAM” blocks) and inside zone looks, Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams gave the Dolphins its best production from the RBs all year.

Drake’s explosiveness and sudden change of direction give him the ability to hit big plays, but also keep the chains in manageable down and distance on between-the-tackles runs. He, along with Damien Williams, were extremely productive in the passing game (12 receptions on 12 combined targets.)

Flares, search routes, jerk routes and isolation on the linebacker made life a lot easier on Jay Cutler (who completed his first 10 passes of the game). In these GIFs below, you’ll see examples of the Dolphins getting the backs involved in the passing game – something Miami previously struggled immensely to do.

– The offensive line put forth its best effort of the season. Ja’Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil shut Khalil Mack out (although he did pick up a sack against backup Sam Young).

Jesse Davis has flashed some intriguing traits as a potential answer at the left guard position. He’s shown the ability to execute combo blocks and climb to the next level, to hit reach blocks to perfection, and anchor in pass protection. He does have his warts, but there are signs of life.

Conversely, Mike Pouncey looks completely out of his element at this point. He is consistently whipped by bigger nose tackles, and he struggles in the area he used to excel in – out in space.

Jay Cutler and the passing game had their best output of 2017. The play design on a number of plays really opened things up for Julius Thomas, and the aforementioned tailbacks. Cutler managed the pocket well, for the most part, and threw with accuracy throughout the game.

Kenny Stills has been a massive disappointment as he continues to struggle detaching from press coverage. Devante Parker brought about a welcomed addition to the passing game, and he figures to get more work next week in Carolina.

Defense:

Kiko Alonso was abused frequently in this contest. He was caught in no-man’s-land in zone coverage, destroyed in man coverage, and was caught in the wash on Marshawn Lynch’s 24-yard touchdown run.

Rey Maualuga continues to pay dividends as a B-gap-to-B-gap run defender. He even flashed his mettle in the passing game on the game’s opening drive.

Reshad Jones was in perfect position on Johnny Holton’s 48-yard touchdown reception, but simply failed to make a play on the ball. He continues to impress down around the line of scrimmage.

It’ll be interesting to see how Matt Burke incorporates T.J. McDonald back into the fold. Introducing more dime packages with McDonald and Jones rotating at a money linebacker position might be the way to go. Anything to get undrafted free agent Maurice Smith more reps, while taking Alonso off the field on some passing downs, would be a good idea.

– The Dolphins pass rush was stymied throughout this game. The Raiders running game had a good plan to push and pin the interior of the defensive line — it led to some big runs.

All things told, Miami had an opportunity to win this game, but all hope was lost with the number of penalties and mistakes. Heading to Carolina for a crucial Monday night game could get the Dolphins to 5-4 with a home game against the hapless Buccaneers on deck.

These next two weeks will likely determine the Dolphins fate this season – they need to win both.

For the complete catalog of the GIF cut-ups, go to the Twitter timeline of @WingfieldNFL.

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Travis is a lifelong Dolphins fan that bases his writing on film study and analytical statistics. His passion for football is rivaled only by his passion for journalism. Specializing in all things Miami Dolphins and quarterback play, Travis also owns and operates Thirdand10.com, a QB grading site.

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