Six Points: Dolphins vs. Titans
The Dan Campbell era gets underway for the Dolphins, as two teams badly in need of a win meet Sunday in Nashville.
The Dolphins (1-3), who fired head coach Joe Philbin Oct. 5 after a loss to the Jets in London, will try to get Campbell a win in his first game as interim head coach.
Like the Dolphins, the Titans (1-3) haven’t won since Week 1. Tennessee enters the game have squandered fourth-quarter leads in back-to-back games.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Dolphins and the Titans.
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1. Get DeVante Parker involved
In four starts, Greg Jennings has just seven catches for 54 yards. He has yet to make a significant impact for the Dolphins, and it may be time for a change. Rookie DeVante Parker may not be completely caught up with the offense, but he has the physical ability to make game-changing plays on offense. Dan Campbell has to get Parker more involved if the Dolphins hope to scare the Titans in the passing game.
2. Win the battle up front on defense
The Dolphins are dead-last in the league in rushing yards allowed per game at 160.5. Additionally, they’ve recorded exactly one sack, five fewer than any other team. Both categories begin with the defensive line winning up front, which is something the Dolphins haven’t done all season. Ndamukong Suh and company need to clog running lanes and pressure rookie Marcus Mariota to force him into turning the ball over.
3. Establish the run
The Titans are No. 1 in the league in passing yards allowed per game, giving up just 166.5 through the air each week. On the other hand, they’re in the bottom-10 in rushing yards allowed, which is where the Dolphins have to attack on offense. Lamar Miller hasn’t gotten on track this year, but he’s fresh off the bye week and should be more than capable of carrying a heavy workload against a weak Titans run defense.
1. Play a complete game
Tennessee has taken leads into the fourth quarter of its last two games and ended up losing both. The Dolphins have struggled mightily so far, but figure to be playing with a significant amount of emotion in their first game under Campbell. Miami won’t be a pushover and it will likely take a complete effort by the Titans to emerge with the victory. Demonstrating the ability to close out an opponent will also help set the tone for the rest of the season.
2. Key on Jarvis Landry
The Dolphins thus far have demonstrated neither the inclination nor the ability to run the ball. That mindset may change somewhat under Campbell, but the team has shown a clear preference for passing the ball. Landry is Miami’s most dangerous receiver and one of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s favorite targets. Tennessee leads the NFL in passing defense and if Landry is limited, the Dolphins’ offensive production will likely be hampered as well.
3. Get after Ryan Tannehill
Miami has a number of weaknesses, but the offensive line is near the top of the list. The Dolphins are susceptible to pressure, particularly up the middle, where the guard play has been especially week. Tannehill hasn’t had much time to throw this season and the results have been ugly for Miami. Expect the Titans follow the same fomula and have success with it.