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Can the Broncos give Tua Tagovailoa his first bad day with the Dolphins?

I spoke with The Phinsider’s Kevin Nogle to find out.

Los Angeles Chargers v Miami Dolphins
Can the Broncos push Tagovailoa into rookie mistakes?
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

If the Broncos’ 2020 season has taught me anything, it’s that it goes on. Injuries, Covid, adjusted bye weeks. Nothing stops the NFL schedule from proceeding in some way. It’s time to treat the Raiders debacle like the ancient history it is and look ahead. Fortunately, the Phinsider’s Kevin Nogle didn’t mind sharing insight on this week’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

1st and 10

Tua Tagovailoa’s looked promising so far, how can Fangio and the Broncos’ defense throw him off his game?

Nogle: Tagovailoa has definitely shown the flashes you want to see from a rookie quarterback in his first three starts. There have been some amazing plays where he has avoided a sack or picked up a bad snap and made a perfect throw to DeVante Parker, or run and gotten down to avoid the hit, things you definitely need to see. That said, he is still a rookie playing in only his fifth game, his fourth start. He said this week he can tell the game is starting to slow down for him, but starting to slow down is not has slowed, so get after him. Show blitz from one place, then come from another. Disguise the defense. I would say force the Dolphins into passing by stopping the run, but Miami has not been a great running team this year, so just attack him and get him uncomfortable. He has shown the ability to make some great decisions, but if he does not have the time to read and he is just trying to react to a changing defense, it could force him to make rookie mistakes.

2nd and 15

Miami used a bunch of 13 personnel (3TE) against the Chargers. They had success both running and passing. It didn’t show up much previously, so I was wondering if you have any theories or ideas as to why that is?

Nogle: I think a big part of that was wide receiver Preston Williams landing on injured reserve. They like to use six offensive linemen, using a tackle-eligible option, and they like to have multiple tight ends on the field, but you are right it has not been as much three tight ends as it was last week. With Williams on IR, it opened up the second receiver position, which was filled by wide receiver Jakeem Grant and tight end Mike Gesicki. I think you will probably see Gesicki used in the passing game as a wideout more, leaving Durham Smythe - who was a “blocking” tight end when drafted but has turned into a solid possession type of receiver - and Adam Shaheen as the true tight ends.

3rd and 10

I’ve been really impressed by the Miami defense. They give opponents a lot to prepare for and the amoeba looks on passing downs could wreck whoever starts at quarterback for Denver. Are there any players in particular Broncos’ Country ought to become familiar with ahead of Sunday?

Nogle: Byron Jones and Xavien Howard are a dynamic duo at cornerback, but they are probably players who whom you are at least a little familiar.

Emmanuel Ogbah has become a force in the pass rush. He is getting home and getting sacks, he is constantly disrupting the line of scrimmage, and he is batting down passes. He seemed like a solid depth addition when Miami signed him back in March, but he is showing he is a Pro Bowl-caliber edge rusher. Andrew Van Ginkel is having a great run right now as well. He was a player who flashed at times last year as a rookie, after missing the first half of the season on injured reserve, and he has picked it up this year. He is someone from the linebacker position who can blitz, he can cover, and he has been having a great year.

Two more of note are safety Eric Rowe, who has transitioned from cornerback to safety and is a force at the position, and defensive lineman Zach Sieler, who just seems to come up with good plays whenever he is on the field. Rowe is just doing everything right now and he is doing it well. I really am surprised at how good he has looked this year.

Overall, though, you are right that the amoeba look and the scheme the Dolphins are running right now is the biggest factor in the success the Dolphins are having. Brian Flores and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer have developed an amazing scheme, and they change it every single week. We have seen nine players up on the line of scrimmage, with Jones and Howard on man coverage, with everyone from Rowe and safety Bobby McCain bailing out to defensive lineman Christian Wilkins dropping into coverage and recording an interception. It is confusing, it is constantly changing, and it is giving opposing offenses fits:

4th and 8

The defense did have some trouble stopping the pass a couple weeks ago, do you think there is there anything the Arizona Cardinals did that’s replicable? What’s the best way to attack?

Nogle: Steal Christian Kirk from the Cardinals? He recorded five receptions for 123 yards with a touchdown, while the rest of the team had 160 yards combined. Although to be fair, 56 yards from Kirk came on one play. It was a great play, though, with Kirk recognizing the zero-coverage blitz from Miami and running a perfect post-route. If you can get Miami into that look, and beat them with the post route, it will work because the Dolphins are not afraid to leave their cornerbacks on man-to-man islands. The other trick - and this was even worse from a Dolphins fan point of view when it happened against the Bills back in Week 2 - is to use Miami’s aggressive cornerbacks against them. Run crossing routes all day and you will have success as the cornerback trails the pattern.

Shurmur loves Mesh concepts.

Extra Point

What’s your prediction for the game?

Nogle: I hate the idea of Miami having to go play in the altitude. As someone who has lived in Colorado Springs, I know that the lack of oxygen up there is no joke. Miami, however, is on a hot streak, and I am not sure that, if he plays, Drew Lock will be healthy enough to play at 100 percent, and if he does not, that Brett Rypien will be ready for Miami’s defense. The injuries Denver has had this year are incredible, which also swings this to Miami’s favor. If you look at the averages, Miami scores 27.9 points per game this year, while allowing 20.2 points, while the Broncos score 20.7 points and allow 28.2 points. I will just go with the averages and say 28-21 Miami.


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