On Tuesday Morning in Tampa, the Dolphins and the Buccaneers will begin their week of work together. And, both are hoping to improve in certain areas prior to their second preseason game together Friday night.
The obvious and most scrutinized part of the Dolphins preseason will be back on display, as veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (above) and second-year newly-acquired QB Josh Rosen continue to vie for the starting spot.
Ironically, Fitzpatrick will be doing work this week against his former team of the last two years, the Bucs. He was the part-time starter in each of the last two seasons, including his electrifying first two games of 2018 where he threw for over 400 yards in each as the Buccaneers beat the Saints and the Eagles.
Fitzpatrick became the first Buc player in history to be named Offensive Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks.
Fitzpatrick has been installed, for now, as the starter and getting most of the reps with the first-team. Meanwhile, Rosen who played significantly in the first half of the preseason opener with the Falcons last Thursday, may very well get a look with some of the first team reps over the course of the next couple of days against the Tampa Bay D.
Coach Brian Flores has made it no secret they would like for Rosen to step his game up and he could potentially end up starting the second or third preseason game, if he does. After all, these are great “dress rehearsal” opportunities to see what he can do under live fire against an opponent when it doesn’t count for the schedule.
As for the Buccaneers, they are still trying to get their young secondary together and at times they still struggled to cover the Steelers reserves in the Friday night preseason game in Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay has numerous first or second-year players in their secondary like Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart, Jordan Whitehead, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Mike Edwards to do battle against what is a very talented Dolphins receiving corps.
Miamilayers like Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson and undrafted free agent, Preston Williams, who shined Thursday against Atlanta, will definitely challenge the Bucs young guys in the backfield. New Bucs defensive coordinator and former Jets coach, Todd Bowles, will be scrutinizing in the midweek workouts and then in the first half of the game Friday night.
Finally, both teams are trying to figure out their running back rotation.
Although, Tampa Bay seems to have solidified Peyton Barber as the starter, returnign from a year ago. He will be backed up by Ronald Jones and beteran Andre Ellington. The Buccaneers will definitely give Jones many more opportunities upcoming in the Friday game.
Meanwhile, Miami has last year’s part-time starter Kenyan Drake, but also second-year backss Kalen Ballage and Mark Walton will be used in the first half. Those backup running backs and their reps in these joint practices, as well as Friday night’s game, may dictate who gets some first team work in preseason week three.
Dare we say win streak in Miami?
Through two months, the Miami Dolphins seemingly had the worst start to any NFL season ever. A humiliating 0-7 first two months, they had everyone pointing to next April.
But wait … they’ve now won two in a row. And, not just covering the spread in the best sportsbooks, but outright victories? First, it was against Sam Darnold and the New York Jets, and then, last Sunday against a Luck-less, Brissett-less Indianapolis Colts. So, it appears that No. 1 overall draft pick is a thing of the past.
It’s hard to fathom that the Fins were intentionally flopping for the first six or seven games. It takes the coaching staff and management mismanaging games to a sever degree to make it work, because the players are competitive. And, now, Miami is beginning to see that competitiveness the last three weeks.
Starting with the Pittsburgh Monday night game and especially Sunday, you can see the effort with players giving their all and managing to get a couple of wins.
The victory against the Jets was a disaster for the “tank.” It was the one win the Dolphins absolutely should not have gotten if they wanted the No. 1 pick … and now we see headlines like, ‘The Dolphins are Failing at Failing.”
And that brings us to Sunday and game against a division foe. The Bills, fighting for a wild card berth. are up next at Hard Rock Stadium and, don’t laugh, Miami is looking straight at a win streak Sunday.
So, Let’s look more at the matchup:
Miami’s offense is still the No. 31 ranked in the league … but over the last four games, their horrendous 13.22 points overall per game has increased to 19.25. This is dangerously close to the Buffalo Bills average score per game of 19.33. The Bills actually only put up 18.75 on the road. And, the Fins put up 26 in their last home game, and 16 in the one before that, bringing their recent home average to 21 per game (instead of the 12 points per game on the season).
If the Dolphins want to get to three in a row, they are going to have to get their penalty yards down. They rank No. 1 in the league for penalties. Despite the two wins, the Fins ranks at the bottom of pretty much every season-long NFL stat that exists … which is why the Bills opened as touchdown favorites. However, the public seems to think the Dolphins have a bit more “Fitzmagic” in them and the line has already been bet down to +6.
The Bills continue to play strong, defensive-minded football. But on the offensive side of the ball, they just can’t seem to put together four full quarters of clean, fundamental football. Josh Allen continues his herky-jerky play and is too inconsistent to put points up on a regular basis. This means that if the Dolphins can put up some points, they have a legit shot at winning – at least covering the point spread.
The guess is the Bills defense is too good for the Fins to have another 26-point home game. And, the Bills offense is too bad for them to score more than 20 Miami. This game has UNDER written all over it in big, bold, black marker. The Total is set pretty low because of this, but you can find the number now at 41 points.
If the Bills win, it will be because they completely shut down the Dolphins offense, So, we could see a 20 to 6 type affair. Then, again, Miami has momentum, they’re at home and a streak is within sight.
Dolphins kicker Sanders is AFC Special Teams Player of Week
Two clutch field goals in Sunday’s upset win at Indianapolis have earned another Dolphins player another league award. Kicker Jason Sanders earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors, as the the NFL announced it’s weekly winners on Wednesday morning:
Special Teams Players of the Week (Week 10):
— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2019
Sanders successfully converted all four of his kicks, including three field goals in the Fins 16 – 12 victory over the Colts. The final two were from 48 yards each in the final six minutes of the game to give and then extend the Dolphins the lead.
Sanders also made a 47 yard field goal in the first quarter and that means that he’s the first Miami kicker to have kicked three or more field goals of 47+ yards in the same game since 1999.
Sanders is in his second season having won the Dolphins kicking job as a rookie free agent in 2018. This season he is 9-13 on field goal attempts with a long make of 54 yards and also, a perfect 12-12 on extra points.
Sanders’48 yarder with just under six minutes to go Sunday put Miami up 13-12.
Next, Colts backup QB Brian Hoyer threw critical interception (his third of the day) to Dolphins DB Nik Needham, and that enabled Sanders to eventually boot the second 48 yard field goal to push the margin to four with 3:31 to go. It obviously forced the Colts to have to score a touchdown to win the game.
In the waning moments, Hoyer drove Indy inside the Miai 20-yard line, but on fourth down at the 16 and less than a minute to go, TE Eric Ebron was stopped short of the first by 2 yards after a completion.
So, Miami took over on downs and ran out the clock out. It was the Fins second straight win after a horrendous 0-7 start to the year.
Sanders is the first Dolphins kicker to get the AFC award, since Cody Parkey kicked four field goals in the week two 2017 win at the L.A. Chargers.
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