Welcome to the first opponent scouting report and predictions article, as we look at the match-up between the Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins in week 1 of the 2018 NFL season. It’s the season opener, as fans around the world get back into football.
Week 1: At Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill: The Dolphins are an enigma, because QB Ryan Tannehill is returning from a partially torn ACL. When healthy, Tannehill represents a match-up problem because of his mobility, but it remains to be seen if he can threaten the defense with his legs. Tannehill does have a penchant for turnovers, as his interception rate was 3.1% for his last campaign, which was the same as Brock Osweiler that season with Houston. However, Tannehill had shown some improvement in Gase’s system in the prior year, leading to a 14th ranking in offensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.
Tannehill: 67.1% completion, 4.9 TD%, 3.1 INT%, 230 Y/G, 7.7 Y/A, 93.5 Rating, 4.2 Y/R (Rushing)
Mariota: 61.2% completion, 5.8 TD%, 2.0 INT%, 228 Y/G, 7.6 Y/A, 95.6 Rating, 5.8 Y/R (Rushing)
Those are the numbers for both of their 2016 seasons, and it’s not as vastly different as people would assume.
Ryan Tannehill is a converted receiver, so he has plenty of athleticism to cause trouble for defenses, but coming back from a major injury could really limit his mobility.
Offense: The Dolphins finished 27th in Offensive DVOA, and they make have downgraded at multiple positions.
Frank Gore: Gore is a great running back with some impressive stats, but he is on the downside of an illustrious career. He hasn’t cracked the 4 Yards Per Rush threshold in three years, so he’s on the downside of his career. This reminds me of the Matt Forte signing by the Jets a couple of years ago, since it’s clearly an established guy that tries to rekindle the magic with a new team. He was more of a threat out of the backfield in terms of receptions earlier in the career, but he’s still garners a good amount of targets. He had the same amount of targets last year as Tevin Coleman, so I expect at least 3-4 targets in this game, because the Dolphins will want to test the linebackers crew.
Kenyan Drake: The young RB will be familiar for numerous fantasy football players because he’s a possible sleeper in terms of breakout. He’s very talented, especially with speed, but he’s also injury prone. His upside in fantasy is held back by injury potential, but for a single game preview, the risk doesn’t factor in as much. Drake finished 5th in Yards/Attempt for rushes last year which placed him ahead of Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliot’s average, so it’s clear that the potential is extremely high. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield, and stats are fairly similar to Devonta Freeman. Since he’s coming into his prime, I expect Drake to be the biggest X factor in this game, as he’s the biggest offensive weapon for the Dolphins.
The running back situation for the Dolphins is intriguing because Drake has exceptional potential, if he can stay healthy.
Mike Gesicki: He’s an athletic freak that may have been underutilized in college, much similar to OJ Howard. However, he hasn’t performed at all in the pre-season and has major question marks with blocking. He may line up outside more often than not, as the Dolphins probably don’t want to risk their QB with shaky blocking from the rookie to start the year. He’s a major threat in the red zone as a receiver, although it’s not sure how many snaps he will play in this game.
AJ Derby: He might be the starter mostly because Julius Thomas was released and Gesicki might be too much of a liability in pass blocking. He’s a converted QB and linebacker, so he’s not well versed at the position, but does hold some potential. However, he doesn’t posse nearly as much of a threat as Gesicki in the passing game, but he is a better blocker.
The tight end situation for the Dolphins is one of the worst in the league, if not the worst. The future potential is better with Gesicki, but just for Game 1 of the 2018 season, it’s quite possibly the worst.
DeVante Parker: He was injured in practice and will most likely miss the game against the Titans. He’s likely to be the No. 1 receiver for the team, but he’s had an injury plagued career.
Kenny Stills: Since Parker is most likely out for this game, Stills becomes the No. 1 option. He’s also nursing an injury right now, so there is a small chance that he misses the game. Stills is best known as a deep threat player, but he will be the No. 1 target this Sunday. In 2016, when Tannehill was healthy, Stills came in 3rd overall for yards per catch, with a healthy 17.3, which was about 1.4 yards better than TY Hilton. I expect Kevin Byard to shade towards Stills’ side all through the afternoon.
Albert Wilson: He’s hard to decipher in terms of ability because NextGenStats seem to love his ability. In terms of average separation last year, Wilson placed No. 1 overall in creating separation, ahead of his former teammate Tyreek Hill. He also had a better catch percentage than Larry Fitzgerald as well, but it’s hard to find the reasons why. The Chiefs last year had Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Alex Smith as a running option, which made it easier for Wilson to see one on one match ups. He’s extremely fast, and an one-on-one match up nightmare. I expect Adoree’ Jackson to mirror Wilson to match physical abilities, with Butler playing on Kenny Stills.
Danny Amendola: The Patriots lost Amendola to a division rival, but I expect a massive downgrade in stats because of the QB downgrade from Tom Brady to Ryan Tannehill. He probably replaces the Jarvis Landry role in the offense, but he’s not nearly as much of a threat.
Jakeem Grant: He’s fairly famous from “Undrafted” but he’s a speedster with very good deep threat ability, although he’s only a gadget player as of now. He’s has very good potential as a returner, but he’s not much of a concern in terms of the passing game.
PFF ranked the Dolphins offensive line as 29th overall last year, although they did trade for Daniel Kilgore, which is about one letter away from being a great football name. He’s not a great player, but he’s roughly around average, which should be an upgrade for the Dolphins. The big signing for the offseason was adding Josh Sitton from the Bears, and it should really help them in the running game. He’s a very good guard, and should open up running lanes. Overall, the line should be better than last year, albeit it’s hard to go down from being one of the worst lines.
Miami was ranked as the 28th ranked defense, according to Football Outsiders, and they lost Ndamukong Suh, as Titans fans are familiar with.
Cameron Wake: He’s still one of the best pass rushers in the league, as he racked up 10.5 sacks last year. However, the loss of Suh on the inside and getting a year older (age 36), should cause a decline in his stats.
Akeem Spence: He’s going to be one of the candidates to replace Suh, and he’s just not as talented, so this is a downgrade. I expect the running game for the Titans to be strong, especially for Derrick Henry.
Robert Quinn: He was a star with the Rams once, totaling 19 sacks in 2013, and then has fallen backwards. The Dolphins traded a 4th round pick for Quinn, as he hasn’t come close to matching the production he once showed. A Quinn/Wake pass rush could be problematic for Mariota, but the Titans have the offensive line to match up.
Jerome Baker: He’s a rookie out of Ohio State that has shown great speed and decent coverage ability. The scouting reports on him tend to nick him for losing one on one match ups in terms of run stopping, but he has excellent range to go from sideline to sideline.
Raekwon McMillian: A teammate of Baker at Ohio State, the young linebacker is also coming back from an ACL injury, which cost him the entire 2017 season. He’s not as adept as Baker in coverage, but much better as a run defender. The injury costing him the rookie season should be concerning as he gets adjusted to the NFL. Since he didn’t play at all last year, this can be considered his rookie season in terms of game experience.
Kiko Alonso: He’s coming of a decent year, but has lost some of the promise he showed as a rookie with the Bills. There are reports that he played hurt last year, and that he’s finally healthy, but if I had a dime for every “best shape of my life” stories……….I’d be able to afford a home in Belle Meade.
Bobby McCain: He’s a good cornerback for the Dolphins, rated as the 30th overall CB in the league last year according to PFF. He’s also the highest paid nickel corner-back in the league, as he just signed a 4 year extension worth about $27 million. He’s excellent at covering slot receivers, so I expect him to be shadowing Taywan Taylor in this match up.
Xavien Howard: The young corner-back graded out as below average last year according to PFF, but he’s vastly underrated. He seemed to make a turnaround last year through the midway point of the season, and has the ability to shutdown receivers in one on one match ups.
Reshad Jones: The free safety graded out as below average by PFF, and tends to give up large chunk plays.
TJ McDonald: The strong safety for the Dolphins, who’s had a tumultuous career with off the field issues. He has potential, but hasn’t graded out well with PFF saying he’s a below average safety.
Minkah Fitzpatrick: It’s quite likely the rookie is the most talented player on the roster, and he’s transitioning from corner-back to safety. The transition is a bit reminiscent of Devin McCourty becoming a safety in the NFL, but Fitzpatrick can be a dynamic player at the position. He’s not starting in this game, but he could make an impact with his coverage ability.
21-28, with 265 Yards, 2 TDs, 3 rushes for 21 yards
Why? The Dolphins are still one of the worst offensive teams out there, and I expect the offense to try and push the pace coming out of the gate. The new offensive system fits Mariota the best, since his college days, and allows him to take more shots down the field. The safeties for the Dolphins aren’t great, so I expect at least one deep pass completion in this game.
19 rushes, 103 Yards, 1 TD
Why? The loss of Suh leaves a big hole in the middle for the Dolphins, and their run stopping linebacker is coming back from ACL surgery. Henry could cause a ton of problems for the defense in this zone blocking scheme.
7 receptions, 95 yards, 1 TD
As I mentioned in the Delanie Walker extension article, the tight end is a vital spot for the RPO offense. With Howard matched up on Davis, and McCain on Taylor, I expect Walker to be the beneficiary. The offense will run a few RPO concepts, which will bring the linebackers up, and allow Walker to get down the field.
The defense will most likely employ a bend but don’t break approach, as they may have trouble with running back Drake. I don’t expect the receivers to be as much of a problem, but the running back could allow the Dolphins to be in field goal range at times. I expect 1 touchdown and three field goals.
Final Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27 – Miami Dolphins 16
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Primarily, I work as a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty in Franklin, Tennessee. I’ve lived in Nashville for almost a decade now, and my love for the city only grows deeper, like a 440 pothole. I follow the Titans closely, so I enjoy writing about the team and breaking down film. However, my main job consists of being a real estate agent, therefore if you need any kind of help with the sale/purchase of a home, I’d be happy to help you through the process. If you just want to talk about real estate, feel free to email me as well. I write a real estate blog as well, which I’ll leave a link to at the bottom of this section (as well as a few other places on the website) so please check it out.
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