Three Keys

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Three Keys | John Congemi Previews Dolphins at Colts

1) Limit the Colts' ground game

The Dolphins defense did a very nice job not allowing Jets running back Le’Veon Bell to break out and take over the game last week. Their ability to slow down the ground game applied more pressure to quarterback Sam Darnold making the offense one dimensional. This allowed for more blitzing and pressure in the pocket and the Miami defense came away with multiple sacks and pressures. The same principles should apply this week facing the Colts. The task at hand is to slow down running back Marlon Mack, who ranks ninth in the league in rushing with 679 yards. He’s averaging 85 yards a game, and has five runs of over 20 yards on the season. The key for Miami’s front seven is to keep Mack well under that number, and not allow yards after first contact. This just might put added pressure on an injured Jacoby Brissett, who has played well as the starting quarterback, but isn’t 100 percent with an MCL sprain. Brissett might not be as mobile and if the Dolphins can force Indy into obvious passing situations, hurrying and harassing the Indy quarterback might lead to chances for a few takeaways!

2) Ballage needs to step up

Sunday just might be the breakout day for second-year running back Kalen Ballage. There’s no one else left in the Dolphins offensive backfield with any regular season experience and it’s time to find out if Ballage can create some excitement over four quarters being the main man on the ground. He’s a big running back that can run away from defenders in the open field, but Ballage must show over the next four weeks with Mark Walton sidelined that he can get yards when there isn’t a whole lot of space available. Also, he will need to show some improvement catching the ball out of the backfield on screen and check down throws, where he was deficient earlier in the year. I’m sure we will see some of the rookies in Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird spell Ballage for a few series, but I’m expecting Kalen to get the bulk of this opportunities and hoping that he make the most of it.

3) Penalties and takeaways

These are two statistics you would like to win or at least be even in when your playing on the road. Lucas Oil Stadium is a very loud venue for opposing offenses and it will be critical for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to handle the crowd noise and limit the pre-snap penalties that puts the offense behind the chains. This is not a game where you want to be starting drives deep in your own territory with a first and fifteen. The key is to stay disciplined in all three phases of the game and don’t let the hidden yards start to pile up against you. Also, if the Dolphins can stay clean in the turnover margin, and find a way to cut the field in half with a turnover or two, this just might get this game into the fourth quarter with a chance to win in back to back weeks.

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