The St. Louis Rams are finally hitting the road after a couple of tough wins at home against divisional opponents. They will be traveling to Miami, where the hometown Dolphins are coming off of a 4 point upset over the Cincinnati Bengals. This is a key game for both franchises, as the Rams strive to keep their heads above the .500 mark and the Dolphins fight to stay relevant in a wide open AFC East. Each team has their fair share of holes on offense and defense, but which team has the advantage? Here is a quick breakdown of each position, starting with the quarterback and running backs…
In terms of of basic passing statistics, Bradford and Tannehill actually match up pretty evenly. Tannehill is 97 of 169 passing (57.4%) for 1269 yards (7.5 average), while Bradford 84 of 146 passing (57.5%) for 1022 yards (7.0 average). The clear and noticeable different between the two comes from the offensive production outside of pure yardage. Tannehill, even with all of the yards, has only connected for two touchdowns this season. As a matter of fact, Tannehill has yet to have a passing touchdown in two consecutive games in his young career. More striking, is that Tannehill has throw at least one interception in each of the Dolphins losses, with a total of 6 on the season. Bradford has throw for a modest 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, but has played well enough throughout the season to push the Rams to 3-2. Both the Rams and the Dolphins could easily be 4-1 on the season, the difference has been the quarterback play.
Advantage: St. Louis Rams, 1-0
The Miami Dolphins are easily one of the most dominant teams in the ground in the NFL, ranking in at 8th overall in rushing yards and 2nd in rushing touchdowns. Their top three running backs average 4.46 yards per carry, and every player with a rushing attempt has a rushing touchdown. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the rushing game. The Dolphins have played against three of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL, between the NY Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, and Oakland Raiders. All three of those teams are in the Top 10 in rushing touchdowns allowed (2, T-3, and T-10, respectively) and all are in the Top 15 in rushing yards per attempt allowed (4, 11, and 14).
It just so happens, that 7 out of their 9 touchdowns came against those three teams (with the other two coming from Tannehill and Lane against the Cardinals). If you compare the numbers of Miami’s top three running backs between games of lower tier rushing defenses and upper tier defense, there are some striking difference in play: Reggie Bush 281-136 (25.6 yards per game difference), Lamar Miller 113-13 (43.5 yards per game difference), Daniel Thomas 98-15 (41.5 yards per game difference). There combined number equate to an astonishing 328 less yards against the Texans and Cardinals than against the Bengals, Jets, and Raiders.
Lucky for the Miami Dolphins, the Rams are right on par with the latter category of rush defenders, ranking 13th in rushing yards allowed and tied for 6th in rushing touchdowns allowed.
Jackson has been nursing a groin injury, but still has only put up 3.5 yards per carry, which is somewhat inflated by his numbers from the Washington Redskins game. Daryl Richardson has been a monster, when allowed in the game, but will likely continue to see less than 10 rushes per game as long as Jackson is semi-healthy. Bottom line, the two have combined for only 3 rushing attempts over 20+ yards, a 3.9 yard per carry average, and have yet to score a touchdown.
Advantage: Miami Dolphins, 1-1
Check back early this afternoon for the next breakdown, where Ramblin’ Fan will cover the offensive line and wide receivers for the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins.