Focused on the Broncos
Playing at altitude and in a game that will be the coldest temperature so far this year for the Dolphins poses certain challenges, but it's the guys in the blue and orange that Head Coach Brian Flores is most concerned with.
"We did a little bit of extra conditioning, that's something we have to deal with being on the road," Flores said Friday. "Every stadium, every environment is a little bit different. We'll go to Denver and deal with altitude and a little bit colder weather, but the players on the Broncos pose more of a threat than the altitude or the weather. They have a good skill group, good defensive players, good coaches. They're tops in the league in some of the most critical categories – red zone, third down, sacks."
The Broncos have the sixth-best third down defense in the NFL allowing just 38.1 percent conversions on the money down. Opposing teams are scoring touchdowns on exactly half of their red zone trips against the Denver defense, second-best in the NFL. Their 22 sacks are tied for the 12th-most in the NFL. Denver is led in that latter category by outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, a talented pass rusher who was selected fifth overall back in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Though he never faced him in college, Dolphins rookie left tackle Austin Jackson is ready for a heavyweight bout.
"He's a bigger type of athlete, but he also has some size and speed on him as well," Jackson said. "So I would say biggest thing for him would be just to get down the middle of him. Try to center myself up with him so I can be in a good position to react to any move – to any initial or counter move because he will throw a counter move after his initial rush."
The Broncos present problems on the offensive side as well. Running backs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay have compiled 852 yards from scrimmage with six touchdowns combined this season. Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker detailed the obstacles of keeping an eye on substitutions and knowing the tendencies of the offense with each player they bring into the game.
"They definitely have two unique backs and what I mean by that is you have to do your homework of who is in the game because you have to anticipate of what they are trying to do with that back," Baker said. "For us, that's been our goal with pretty much anybody we face. You have to know who is in the game, you've got to know who you're going against, what they do well, what they struggle with and play accordingly."
"Those two backs are good, everyone knows that," Flores said. They're tough to tackle whether it's zone scheme, gap scheme, inside or outside.
On the outside, Denver also features a handful of wide receivers and tight ends with a big-play arsenal. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy leads the team with 552 receiving yards and is eighth in the NFL at 16.2 yards per reception. Second-year tight end Noah Fant is 10th among tight ends with 367 receiving yards.
"This is a good football team," Flore said. "They're well coached, they're hungry for a win. This is going to be a tough test. We're going to have to play well in all three phases. We have to show up every week."
Undrafted Rookies Earning More Playing Time
One year after Preston Williams led Miami in receptions and receiving yards at the time of his 2019 injury, the Dolphins have another pair of undrafted rookies in 2020 earning more playing time with production and hard work.
Running back Salvon Ahmed's 85 rushing yards in last week's win was the second-highest single-game total this season for a Dolphins' ball-carrier. Friday, Ahmed talked about continuing the grind and avoiding complacency.
"That's one of the things about this team. This is a hard league to play in and you've got to bring it each and every day," Ahmed said. "That's what our team is built on, hard work. Our coaches hold us to that standard every day."
Dolphins Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville commended Ahmed's work ethic earlier this week.
"He's highly motivated, he's asking questions, he wants to be good, he wants to work, he wants to learn and he does that," Studesville said. "When he gets on the field, I think you see him. He can run. He's got some speed, he's got quickness, good eyes, good feet. I think he catches the ball really well, but he's continuing to develop."
On the other side of the ball, fellow undrafted rookie Benito Jones is getting more playing time in the middle part of the season. Jones was first called up for the Jets game in Week 6, debuting with eight snaps. Last week, Jones made the first tackle of his career in the win over the Chargers. Friday, he assessed his growth and the message he's getting from the coaching staff.
"From the first game to now, I feel more comfortable," Jones said. "The coaches have told me I look like a different player from the first game to now. I'm getting the feel for the speed and adjusting."
These Dolphins have been hungry from the jump. A young team that plays hard for each other, Jones noticed that upon his arrival after signing as an undrafted free agent.
"From the first day I got here and just getting to know everybody, Coach Flo and the whole defensive staff, one of the biggest M.O.'s is trying to play hard for each other," Jones said. "We're a family."
R.I.P. Super Bowl VII MVP Jake Scott
The family element of this football team extends far beyond the current team. Thursday, the Miami Dolphins said goodbye to one of the franchise's all-time great players in safety Jake Scott. Scott, the MVP of the only Super Bowl champion to complete a perfect season in NFL history, is being celebrated all day on MiamiDolphins.com.
Flores began his Friday press conference with a message for the late Jake Scott.
"Our thoughts and prayers to Jake Scott and his family," Flores said. "He was an integral part to some great teams – the greatest team – our thoughts are with him and his family."
Friday Injury Report
Dolphins: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy and offensive guard Solomon Kindley are QUESTIONABLE.
Broncos: Inside linebacker Joe Jones is OUT.
Quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, offensive guard Graham Glasgow, defensive end DeShaun Williams, offensive tackle Jake Rodgers, and cornerback Bryce Callahan are all QUESTIONABLE.
For the rest of the Dolphins-Broncos Week 11 injury report, click here.