Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins play it too safe in loss to Seattle

The Miami Dolphins failed to convert their opportunities against Seattle and their tendency to play it safe under Brian Flores has led to a 1-3 start to the 2020 NFL season.

The Miami Dolphins and head coach Brian Flores took the field in Week 4 as four-point underdogs to Russell Wilson and the surging Seattle Seahawks. The team found themselves in a slug-fest to start the game, and they fought valiantly to stay competitive. In the end, they were unsuccessful when it came to staying on par with the Seattle offense. Wilson’s experience and play-making ability proved to be too much for the Dolphins, sending them to 1-3 on the young season.

Flores chose to play it safe this past Sunday and Miami was unable to convert numerous opportunities into touchdowns. That strategy came back to bite them in a 23-31 loss to Seattle. Below, I will take a look at the close loss for Miami as well as another great game from receiver DeVante Parker. Miami hopes this performance could carry over into their Week 5 matchup with the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.

Sanders proved to be an asset while the team continues to play it safe

In a game that featured five made field goals from kicker Jason Sanders, the Dolphins were able to move the ball effectively. The biggest issue was their inability to score touchdowns and finish drives in the end zone. While their kicking game under Sanders has flourished early on, that success is also a scathing indictment on the team’s struggles in the red zone this season.

Sanders has been one of the early stars on this Dolphins team in 2020, converting 9-for-9 on field goals and 6-for-6 on extra points. Coach Brian Flores routinely turned to Sanders against the Seahawks, and he came through for Miami. The Dolphins will need to find more ways to finish drives with touchdowns if they want to improve in the win column. And that starts next week with the 49ers.

Parker leaves early, returns to lead the team in receiving game

The Dolphins’ 2019 breakout star DeVante Parker continues to be a bright spot for this offense once again in 2020. After leading the team in catches and targets against Jacksonville, Parker was able to pace the Dolphins again with 10 catches for 110 yards on 12 total targets. His performance was made even more impressive by the fact he left the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Parker consistently gains significant separation on slants and crosses and possesses the ability to break tackles and gain yards after the catch.

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He will need to continue his aggressive play against another NFC West foe in the 49ers and their daunting defensive unit in Week 5. While San Francisco has lost star Nick Bosa and another piece along the defensive line in Solomon Thomas for the season, they still present a big challenge for this Miami offense. If Parker can find openings and challenge the 49ers’ defensive backfield, the Dolphins will have a chance to come out with a hard-earned victory.

Defense and offensive line continue to improve

Brian Flores is known for his defensive prowess as well as a versatile scheme learned under his former mentor, Bill Belichick. The team has improved each game on the defensive side, but continue to give up big plays with the inability to close out games. Miami played well in the first half against Wilson until a late, 21-second touchdown drive put Seattle up 17-9 going into the break.

Xavien Howard recorded another interception, while newcomer Emmanuel Ogbah made plays all over and ended with five tackles, two quarterback hits, and a sack. Miami was able to make Wilson one-dimensional, as they held him to five yards on the ground. I mentioned that as a key for this defense in stopping Wilson, but it proved futile in the loss.

Aside from the kicking game, one of the more intriguing stories of this young season has been the play of the offensive line. With four new additions to the starting lineup, this unit appears to be much improved. Ryan Fitzpatrick is receiving more time to throw, and new starting running back Myles Gaskin has thrived through four games. As the unit continues to grow, the offense as a whole will experience more success getting into the end zone and putting up more points overall. The team hopes that success begins in Santa Clara next week against Fred Warner, Arik Armstead, and a stingy San Francisco defense.

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