The Miami Dolphins return to Hard Rock Stadium in Week 4 following their first win of the season on Thursday Night Football against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Their compensation for a job well done? A visit from the undefeated Seattle Seahawks and early NFL MVP candidate, Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are coming off back-to-back, late-game victories against both the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. The Miami Dolphins and their defense will have their hands full with the potent Seattle Seahawks offense.
Below, I will offer Miami three potential solutions to avoid that possible back-and-forth type of contest and grind out their second win of the season. There is a model out there to stop this Seattle team, and the Dolphins will need to find that quickly to remain competitive. This young defense could be up to the task after seemingly turning the corner against the Jaguars in Week 3. As a potential NFC Super Bowl representative, the Seahawks may pose the biggest challenge for the Dolphins in the 2020-2021 NFL season, and coach Flores will have them ready to do battle on Sunday.
Force Seattle to become one-dimensional on offense
During the first three weeks of the NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks have “let Russ cook” in an offense humming along as one of the best in the league in 2020. While Wilson has thrown for a league-high 14 touchdowns so far this season, his running ability is what allows this offense to maintain the dangerous creativity and flexibility they covet. The Seahawks love to use Wilson’s athletic ability to set up long throws downfield on roll-outs and play-action. And with guys like second-year pro D.K. Metcalf and star receiver Tyler Lockett, defenses have their hands full with the passing game.
Thus far, the Miami Dolphins’ defense has faced three similar mobile threats in Cam Newton, Josh Allen, and to a lesser degree, Gardner Minshew. The Dolphins were gashed in the running game during their Week 1 contest against Newton and the Patriots, but have bounced back since. Allen only managed 19 yards on the ground, while Minshew ran for 22 yards on Thursday. Therefore, the Dolphins have done a better job of containment and keeping opposing quarterbacks inside the pocket.
The downside among these statistics is the numbers allowed in the passing game for Miami. Allen was able to sit back and shred Miami for over 400 yards, while Minshew managed 275 passing yards. The pass defense is an obvious concern as the Dolphins head into the matchup with the Seahawks in Week 4. However, if the Dolphins can continue to bring the pressure off the edge as they did on Thursday (four sacks and 10 quarterback hits), they will force the Seattle Seahawks offense to become one-dimensional. With an ailing Chris Carson (knee sprain), this could play right into Miami’s hands come Sunday afternoon.
Play contain and hit Russell Wilson early and often
As I previously mentioned, containment will be a huge part of Miami’s game plan against the Seattle Seahawks offense in Week 4. Thankfully for the Dolphins, they have one of the more athletic, young linebackers in football with Jerome Baker. Ideally, the team can use a mix of Baker and the versatile rookie defensive back Brandon Jones to spy Wilson all afternoon. If they can keep him inside the pocket, hit Wilson, and not let him scramble for first downs, the Dolphins will win this game. The Dolphins did an excellent job with their pressure last week, and new free-agent addition Kyle Van Noy was a big part of that.
Van Noy finished the Jacksonville game with three tackles, including one for a loss, a sack, and two QB hits. He was a pivotal cog in a unit that kept Minshew from escaping the pocket and creating those memorable plays he is accustomed to in games. The Dolphins will follow a similar path as they look to stop Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense in Week 4. Van Noy and Shaq Lawson will need to play disciplined outside to stop this Seattle rushing attack, spearheaded by the quarterback. Although Wilson has only rushed for 90 yards this season, his 6.4 yards per carry average is the second-highest of his career.
He has a different look this season, as Wilson hopes to guide Seattle to another Super Bowl run. His runs and throws are decisive, and it will be a challenge and a learning opportunity for the young players on this Miami Dolphins’ defense. The last time these two teams met, Wilson led the Seahawks to a fourth quarterback comeback with a touchdown to Doug Baldwin to win the game. In that contest, the Dolphins intercepted Wilson and held him to only 19 yards rushing with 12 total points. The team will need to look no further than their 2016 matchup for a chance at an upset in 2020.
Use Tua Tagovailoa in practice to emulate a Russell Wilson-style attack on offense
One exercise that teams use from time to time is to imitate an opposing quarterback with a player of their own that contains a similar skill-set. In this case, rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa earned many comparisons to Wilson as a 2020 NFL Draft prospect and would be the perfect player for this exercise. As a professional prospect, Tagovailoa showcased excellent mobility along with great accuracy and quick decision-making. These are qualities that Wilson has used to create an outstanding NFL career with the Seahawks.
While this is not technically an in-game strategy for the Miami Dolphins’ defense, I believe the team could benefit significantly from the tactic leading up to Sunday. Before the 2020 NFL Draft, Wilson himself expressed his admiration for Tagovailoa and his belief that the young draft pick will be a “star” in the NFL. After watching his doppelganger counterpart on Sunday, the Dolphins will hope to one day enter Tua into the MVP sweepstakes themselves as their franchise quarterback for years to come. But first, the team will hope to even their record to 2-2 with a victory in Week 4.