1) Explosive Plays Dismantled Dolphins
Heading into Sunday’s game against Baltimore, the biggest concern focused on quarterback Lamar Jackson’s ability to escape the pocket and challenge you with his running ability. As it turned out, Lamar did very little running and focused on beating the Dolphins defense with his right arm. Jackson led the Ravens offense to 59 points, throwing a career high five touchdowns and 324 yards through the air. He connected on touchdown passes for 47, 83 and 33 yards and really was never touched or harassed all day long. When he wasn’t finding rookie Marquise Brown, who finished the day with four receptions for 147 yards, he exploited the Dolphins using his tight ends. The combination of Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle combined for 14 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown. The combination of a weak pass rush and inability for the Miami secondary to win in man to man coverage led to multiple explosive plays down the field.
2) Line play falls short
Miami’s offensive line was a concern coming into the regular season and continues to be a major issue after the first regular season game. There was little running room to be found between the tackles for running backs Kenyan Drake or Kalen Ballage. The offense never established the line of scrimmage and they could not provide a clean pocket for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The veteran quarterback needed to use his mobility to escape the consistent pressure applied by the Ravens front seven. To his credit, Fitzpatrick was able to escape and find completions in the passing game. On defense, Miami never got close to effecting the timing of the Ravens air attack. Jackson sometimes stood alone in the pocket for four or five seconds with plenty of room to scan the field. This kept the Miami secondary in coverage, sometimes allowing the Baltimore receivers to freelance and find space in the secondary.
3) Not special on teams
If the Dolphins are going to be competitive this season, they must win consistently on special teams. On Sunday, two critical mistakes were made that added to the lopsided victory for the Baltimore Ravens. The first mistake happened early in the second quarter with the score already 28-3 Ravens. Punt returner Jakeem Grant muffed a return opportunity that was recovered by Ravens cornerback Justin Bethel. The play flipped the field for quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the Baltimore Ravens needed only three plays from the 10-yard line to score six and extend their lead. Also in the second quarter, the Ravens used a fake punt that was executed to perfection. Anthony Levine ran off of the right side of the formation for 60 yards, and the Dolphins didn’t bring him down until he reached the 10 yard line. The call caught the Miami special teams unit by surprise and that play directly led to points when running back Mark Ingram scored from three yards out.