Week 11 Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackThe Bucs have hopes that Jameis Winston will be able to return from shoulder issues before the end of the season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starting quarterback against the Dolphins. Fitzpatrick does not have the physical tools that Winston does, and he can’t fire the ball around the field the way head coach Dirk Koetter would like, but he is capable of leading the offense against Miami.The Dolphins are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league as they barely showed up in their Week 10 Monday night loss to the Carolina Panthers. Jay Cutler looked like he was interested in avoiding injuries in that 45-21 defeat and he needs to perform a lot better if the Dolphins are going to avoid a four-game losing streak.
- OffenseThe Bucs should have an explosive passing attack with Fitzpatrick throwing the ball to Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and rookie TE O.J. Howard. Evans is a huge man who can make clutch catches, Jackson is a home-run hitter and Howard has special ability. RB Doug Martin is averaging 3.3 yards per carry and he needs to be much better in the second half of the season.The Dolphins made a strange move in trading RB Jay Ajayi to the Eagles at the deadline, and they may not be able to recover from that move. Wide receivers Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker are not big names, but all three can be playmakers. Tight end Julius Thomas is a solid addition with the skills to excel in the red zone.
- DefenseThe Bucs have to improve on defense in the second half of the season as they rank 27th in yards allowed. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith has one of the best defensive tackles in the league in super-quick Gerald McCoy. He excels at getting through cracks and harassing the quarterback. Veteran Lavonte David leads the team with 51 tackles, and he also has four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.The Dolphins’ inconsistency on defense is probably the biggest reason behind their current losing streak. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh should be able to dominate because of his size, strength and talent, but he is a mediocre performer. Defensive end Cameron Wake has 6.0 sacks and is the team’s best pass rusher. Kiko Alonso is one of the top linebackers in the league with 59 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Bucs don’t appear to be much of a threat when it comes to the return game as Bernard Reedy is just slightly above average. The kicking game has been a big issue for the last two seasons, but Patrick Murray has made 7-of-8 FG attempts since the team signed him off the scrap heap.The Dolphins do a fine job of covering kickoffs and punts, and the presence of Jakeem Grant gives them a potentially explosive return game. Cody Parkey is an adequate placekicker, having made 9-of-10 FG attempts this season, while Matt Haack has a net average of 40.6 yards per punt.
This game was supposed to be the season opener but was postponed as a result of Hurricane Irma. Neither team is playing well at this point, but the Dolphins hope to turn things around on their home field.