Atlanta Falcons 4 keys to victory: Falcons @ Dolphins
Part of the Dolphins’ failures in London was the lack of pass defense. I mean, both in terms of covering the Jaguars wide men, and full stop. Injuries to Xavien Howard and Byron Jones mean the Dolphins were down two of the better corners in the league, and that’s no easy situation to be in. It certainly sounds like both players are trending towards being involved on Sunday, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for those of us hoping for a statement performance from Calvin Ridley. The return of Russell Gage, and the continued emergence of Kyle Pitts, however, should be the focus.
Realistically, this is where the Dolphins have been beaten all season long. The lack of viable pass defenders over the middle cost them the win on Sunday in London. In fact, they’ve consistently bled yardage to slot receivers and tight ends all season long. Thanks to that extra week of recovery, the Falcons have an extra body capable of snagging the ball in tough situations over the middle, which ought to take away attention from Pitts or Hayden Hurst. If Arthur Smith gets really creative, even Ridley can get in on the action against some less than stellar linebackers.
Hypothetically, of course, consistent chunk plays over the middle of the field, as well as the run game we mentioned earlier, should see Miami commit not insignificant resources to trying to counter that area. In that scenario, space should open up over the top and down the sidelines for deep shots. At that stage, you’ve the Dolphins scrambling to cover all angles, and a dynamic offense taking advantage of every look. The best way to get that defense on its heels is to target that soft middle. The rest will open up.