The Miami Dolphins should make the playoffs in 2018

Introduction

There is a prevailing notion among NFL oddsmakers that the Miami Dolphins are going to miss the playoffs in 2018. In fact, according to oddsshark.com, the team is projected to win 6.5 games this season. However, one can argue that the organization’s rededication to the running game should propel them into the playoffs.

  Miami Dolphins (Week 1-5 of 2016)

The Miami Dolphins started the 2016 campaign with a record of 1-4 because they were trying to make Ryan Tannehill the focal point of the offense. This is because the organization wanted to prove that Tannehill’s contract extension signed in 2015 wasn’t a mistake. Therefore Ryan was allowed to pass the ball 31.2 times a game over the first five weeks.

Ryan Tannehill spent the majority of the team’s offensive possessions in shotgun formation last season. In fact, according to pro-football-reference Tannehill made 78.6 % of his throws from shotgun formation. Once the football was snapped, he dropped back 1-3 steps in the pocket and threw it quickly to a comeback, crossing, curl or out route. The strategy would increase the likelihood of a quick drive occurring as it opened the door for a quick touchdown, 3 and out or turnover.

As a consequence of this, the defense was forced to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest. Which led to the unit giving up more yards and points late in games because they were not able to regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. Over the first five games, the defense spent 35 minutes and 56 seconds on the field.

Miami Dolphins ( After Week 5 of 2016)

After the 5th game, the organization began to reduce Ryan Tannehill’s role in the offense and decided to implement more of the running game. Ryan went on to average 2.1 fewer passes per game for the rest of the season. Conversely, the running back group saw a significant increase in their carries as they went from 18.2 to 25.1 per game.

A prime example of this was during the first two downs of a series, Ryan Tannehill would hand the ball off to Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins wanted to accomplish two goals with the strategy to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down.

If the strategy was successful, the Dolphins called a play action pass where Ryan would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards downfield. However, on occasion, Ryan would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily which allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route.

The midseason change in philosophy significantly reduced the amount of time the defensive unit spent on the field as they went from 35 minutes and 56 seconds to 31 minutes and 33 seconds. After the change, the organization compiled a record of 9-2 which allowed them to finish 10-6 and capture a wild card spot.

Miami Dolphins ( 2017)

Unfortunately, the Miami Dolphins didn’t carry the philosophy into the 2017 season as they reverted to early 2016 form. Jay Cutler was allowed to pass the ball 32.8 times a game in 13 games. This played a significant role in the defense having to be on the field for 30 minutes and 36 seconds and the team compiling a 6-10 record.

Miami Dolphins ( 2018)

Fortunately, the Miami Dolphins organization has hinted that he wants the running game to be a focal point of the offense again. Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is excited about Kenyan Drake’s skill set stating that:

” if you had three Kenyan Drakes, you’d be really excited because he’s a guy that can play all three downs.”

Edson Barboza’s Fighting Style Should Prevent Him From Beating Khabib Nurmagomedov

Throughout his MMA career, Edson Barboza has shown a willingness to surrender octagon or cage space in an attempt to force the opponent to be the aggressor and close the distance. This strategy gives him a chance to pick up tendencies and defensive flaws he could exploit during the fight. For instance, during the fight against Paul Felder, Barboza noticed that Felder carried his hands at chest height. Furthermore, he would only move the hands up to block head strikes which means that his midsection was always exposed. As a result, every time Felder would get within striking range, Edson would target the area by throwing a left kick to the body, right spinning back kicks to the body or an occasional left hook to the midsection. The strategy forced Paul to stop his forward progress for a couple of seconds, which allowed Edson to circle out in either direction.

However, one can argue that Edson Barboza’s fighting style will be the catalyst for a potential defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov. This is because Barboza has a habit of mostly using his kicks to exploit his opponents weaknesses. For instance, during the fight against Gilbert Melendez, Barboza realized that Melendez was putting most of his body weight on his front leg. Barboza knew that if he targeted the leg, it would be hard for him to move or stand which meant that he could not shoot for a proper takedown. As a result, he repeatedly threw the right low kick to that leg which forced Melendez to be a sitting duck.

Therefore, Edson Barboza will put himself at risk for a potential takedown against Khabib because of a kick getting caught. If this happens, Khabib will grab the leg and start pushing him towards the fence. Once this process is complete, he will regrip the legs to attempt a takedown to get the fight to the ground. If he is successful, he will proceed to establish wrist control and try to land some ground and pound.