Miami at Jacksonville: Five Things to Know
This is one of those weeks where fans and the media are going to learn a lot about the Jacksonville Jaguars maturity as a team.
After winning their first game of the season over Cleveland last week and then learning their undisputable leader Paul Poluszny goes down with a pectoral injury that puts him out for the year and that defensive end Andre Branch is also out for the next two months, this is a time to see how far this team can reach with key losses.
State rival Miami comes to town after playing the Green Bay Packers tough two weeks ago despite a loss and then took care of the Chicago Bears on the road. The Dolphins appear to be moving forward toward a potential playoff berth, but there are still parts of the team’s game that needs work.
The lesson in all of this is 3-3 and 1-6 are not that far behind. Do the Dolphins come in and dominate a defense that has been much improved over the last three weeks? Can the Jaguars make it two games in a row, despite the injuries and a potential let down at EverBank Field?
Here are five things you need to know about this contest.
A shaky situation got shakier Thursday.
Because of that, the Jaguars’ secondary could be more inexperienced Sunday than first thought.
With veteran Alan Ball already unlikely to play against the Miami Dolphins Sunday, cornerback Dwayne Gratz was limited in practice Thursday after experiencing tightness in a hip flexor during the two-hour practice session.
“He just felt some tightness,” Bradley said of Gratz Thursday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Miami.
“It was one of those where he felt a little bit, so we just pulled him out.”
With Ball doubtful, Gratz and Demetrius McCray ideally would start at corner Sunday with McCray moving to Ball’s right corner spot and Gratz returning to left corner, where he started the first four games of the season.
WALLACE WANTS TO REACH ENDZONE
With five touchdowns in the first six games, Wallace already has matched his total for all of 2013. He is well on his way to becoming the first Dolphins player to reach double digits in receiving touchdowns since 2005 when wide receiver Chris Chambers finished with 11 on his way to the Pro Bowl.
Going back to last season, Wallace has touchdowns in six of the Dolphins’ last seven regular season games, the best stretch for a Miami receiver since Mark Clayton did it all the way back in 1984.
Wallace, who is on pace to beat his career high of 10 touchdowns in 2010 as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, says the key to his early success is simple.
PROBLEMS WITH THE DOLPHINS
Statistically, the Dolphins create a similar task to the Browns.
The Browns entered EverBank Field last Sunday ranked third in the NFL in rushing, and the Jaguars held them to 69 yards on 30 carries in a 24-6 victory.
The Dolphins enter Sunday fourth in the NFL in rushing, but whereas the Browns ran almost exclusively a zone-oriented attack to help set up play-action passes by quarterback Brian Hoyer, the Dolphins run read-option with Tannehill in the running game.
Bill Lazor is in his first season as Dolphins offensive coordinator after spending the 2013 season as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said while there are elements in the Dolphins’ offense similar to the all-up-tempo-all-the-time offense run in Philadelphia by Head Coach Chip Kelly, it’s far from a carbon copy.
TOBY GERHART TO PLAY
After Denard Robinson tore off 127 yards on the ground last week, it was announced that Toby Gerhart returned to practice this week.
With Toby Gerhart feeling "pretty good," according to Bradley, and appearing ready for a Sunday return against the Miami Dolphins after missing the last two games with a foot injury, the Jags have a decision to make in their backfield.
"I think we'll continue to mix and match a little bit," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said, per The Florida Times-Union. "I don't know exactly how that will all play out yet."
Gerhart has struggled mightily in his season. He has 123 yards total on 48 carries in five games this season and has found little running room.
JAGUARS WIN – AGAIN
Call it a streak, but there is something about this team that makes me think another win at home is just what the doctor ordered. I firmly believe this is a team that should have won against Pittsburgh and Tennessee. That is three wins in a row with the one last week. WE BELIEVE IN VICTORY.
JAGUARS 31 DOLPHINS 27