The Giants will return to action following their bye and conclude their three-game homestand when they face the Miami Dolphins Sunday in MetLife Stadium. A 27-24 victory over Buffalo on Oct. 16 left the Giants with a 4-2 record. Miami is 0-6 after losing a late lead and falling last week at home to Denver in overtime, 18-15. The Dolphins have lost their last nine games dating back to last season. The Giants lead the series, 4-2, and won the most recent meeting, 13-10, on Oct. 28, 2007 in London.
The Dolphins have several assistant coaches who are familiar to Giants fans. Assistant wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard was the Giants' first-round draft choice in 1997 and played eight seasons for the team. Tight ends coach Dan Campbell played that position for the Giants from 1999-2002. Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo was an assistant to Giants line coach Pat Flaherty from 2004-08. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan held that position for the Giants from 1993-96. Dolphins' linebackers coach Bill Sheridan coached the Giants linebackers from 2005-08 and was the team's defensive coordinator in 2009.
Head coach Tony Sparano was Tom Coughlin's tight ends coach in Jacksonville in 2002.
The Dolphins are ranked 19th in the NFL in yardage with an average of 331.0 a game. They are 18th in rushing yards (112.2) and 21st in passing (218.8). But Miami is 30th in the league in scoring with an average of 15.0 points a game and has scored only seven touchdowns in six games. The Dolphins have struggled in some key statistical categories. They are 32nd and last in third down conversion percentage (23.7, succeeding on just 18 of 76 opportunities) and they have scored touchdowns on only seven of 21 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line, a 33.3 success rate that leaves them 30th in the NFL. Miami's minus-seven turnover differential is also 30th. The Dolphins like to use a no-huddle offense and are unpredictable when they will switch to it.
Chad Henne is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury suffered at San Diego on Oct. 2, so the Dolphins' quarterback is fifth-year pro Matt Moore. The Giants are familiar with Moore, who started against them in the Giants Stadium finale in 2009 and the first game in MetLife Stadium last year as a member of the Carolina Panthers. Moore has the ability to extend plays with his legs and to hit receivers in stride on short and medium-range passes. He spreads the ball around; nine different receivers caught his passes against the Jets in a Monday night game on Oct. 17. One-time first-round draft choice J.P. Losman, who has not thrown a regular season pass since 2008, was signed this week as the backup to replace former Giant Sage Rosenfels, who was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Illness List.
Running back Reggie Bush has started every game and been Miami's most consistent playmaker. A dual running and receiving threat, Bush takes his game to another level when he's out in space. He has good vision and quickness and outstanding body control. Rookie second-round draft choice Daniel Thomas' is the Dolphins' leading rusher with 302 yards. He is a powerful one-cut runner who attacks the line of scrimmage, hits the hole hard and steps through would-be tacklers. Thomas is battling a hamstring injury. Steve Slaton, who was signed as an insurance policy on Sept. 28 after being released by Houston, is a downhill runner with a good short burst. Lex Hilliard is more fullback than running back. He is a goal line specialist who has the only rushing touchdown by a Dolphins back this season. At 240 pounds, he can get low and push the pile and wall off defenders as a blocker. But Hilliard is also fast enough to pick up yardage after a reception.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is the Dolphins' most potent offensive weapon and leads the team with 34 catches for 483 yards and a touchdown. But Marshall dropped a potential touchdown pass in five consecutive games. He is a threat because of his size (6-4), strength and powerful stride. Marshall builds up speed and can catch the ball at the high point of his jump. Brian Hartline is tall and linear and has a large catching radius. He can track the deep ball and adjust to passes thrown to his back shoulder. Davone Bess is the slot receiver, but he is second on the team with 24 catches. He is most productive running underneath crossing routes. Bess reaches his top speed quickly and he is competitive in traffic. Rookie Clyde Gates is a vertical route runner who is explosive off the line.
Tight end Anthony Fasano starred at Verona High School, about 20 minutes from MetLife Stadium. He rarely leaves the field and is averaging 15.2 yards on his 10 receptions. Fasano is a big, sure-handed target with big-play potential down the seam. Rookie Charles Clay is listed as Miami's fullback and last week against Denver he was in the backfield 98 percent of the time. But he has started three games as a second tight end and has gained 63 yards on only three catches. Clay has good coverage awareness, knows when he's the hot receiver and looks quickly to the quarterback. He's also a good blocker in the run game. Jeron Mastrud works as the second tight end and is No. 3 when both Fasano and Clay are also in the game. He is a competitive blocker who is quick off the line of scrimmage.
Miami has a tough, physical offensive line that features four first-round draft choices (the exception is left guard Richie Incognito). Left tackle Jake Long was the first overall selection of the 2008 NFL Draft. He is an athletic all-around tackle who has never missed a game in his four seasons (though he did miss the entire preseason this summer). Incognito, who didn't practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury, can play any of the three inside spots. He is a strong and punishing blocker who plays through the whistle. Rookie center Mike Pouncey is smart and aware in both run and pass. He takes good angles and has impressed while undergoing on-the-job training. Right guard Vernon Carey is a powerful point of attack blocker with the strength to overwhelm linebackers on contact. Right tackle Marc Colombo, who Miami signed after he was released by Dallas, plays with a cranky disposition. He is battling a sore knee. Colombo is a violent blocker in the run game with the versatility to pull and locate defenders on sweeps. Nate Garner is used as an extra tight end/lineman in several packages.
The Dolphins play a 3-4 defense and are allowing 377.0 yards per game, which places them 23rd in the NFL. They are 20th against the run (119.5) and 21st vs. the pass (257.5). Miami is 22nd in scoring defense, giving up 24.3 points a game. The defense has forced only four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions), the league's second-lowest total after Pittsburgh (three). None of Miami's starting defensive backs has an interception. Because the unit is not getting enough pressure from its front four, Nolan is calling for frequent blitzes.
Six or seven defensive linemen get significant snaps every game. Kendall Langford starts at left end, but also plays as a tackle in some sub defenses. He is a good power pass rusher who can also anchor against the run. Nose tackle Paul Soliai is a massive 355-pound run stuffer who exits on passing downs. He is strong and powerful on his feet and has heavy hands, but he's also quick at the snap. Right end Randy Starks also moves inside on occasion. He is a powerful rusher with a strong upper body and a knack for splitting a double team. Tony McDaniel has played all along the front on both three and four-man lines. He is a high-motor player who quickly locates the ball and constricts rushing lanes. Jared Odrick uses a variety of moves as an inside pass rusher and is tough against the run. Igor Olshansky was signed on Sept. 21 and has since played about 15 snaps a game. He is a solid two-down player with some pass rush skills. Phillip Merling has been inactive three times, but is an instinctive, active defender.
Outside linebacker Cameron Wake was a 2010 Pro Bowler and is Miami's current sack leader with 5.0. He is a disruptive pass rusher who has both the speed to pressure from the outside and the strength to tackle in close quarters. Strong inside backer Karlos Dansby is the Dolphins' second-leading tackler with 35 (29 solo). He is a tough, physical player who is a factor against both the run and pass. The weak inside linebacker is Kevin Burnett, who is smart and athletic and a challenge for tight ends in coverage. Koa Misi was a college defensive end who made the transition to linebacker as a rookie last year. He is a productive two-down player who is replaced in sub defenses, most often by Jason Taylor, the NFL's leading active sacker with 134.5, which is the eighth-most in history. Now in his 15th season, Taylor averages 33 snaps a game and has 2.0 sacks. He has lateral quickness down the line of scrimmage and consistently creates a mess when the offense tries to pass. Taylor is a wild card who lines up in several places and both stands up and gets down in a three-point stance.
Strong safety Yeremiah Bell has led Miami in tackles each of the last three seasons and is on top again with 52 (39 solo). He is active and aware in zone defenses and has good man-to-man coverage skills. Bell quickly recognizes routes and has a burst to close on the ball. Free safety Reshad Jones has impressive straight line speed and is strong in coverage. Tyrone Culver started last week for Jones, who had a knee injury suffered the previous week against the Jets. He is a competitive, alert player who has one of the Dolphins' two interceptions.
Miami's top corner is Vontae Davis, who has a sore hamstring. He usually lines up against the opposition's best receiver and is a willing defender against the run. Sean Smith has the strength to cover tight ends and to reroute receivers off the line of scrimmage. He can also turn and run and track deep passes. The nickel corner is former Giant Will Allen, who was released and then re-signed on Sept. 14. He is a smart, savvy veteran who quickly locates the ball. Rookie Jimmy Wilson, a seventh-round draft choice, stepped in for Davis late in the Denver game and contributes in the dime package. When Miami goes to a nickel, Taylor, Olshansky and Allen enter the game and Langford, Soliai and Misi usually exit.
Kicker Dan Carpenter, who booted a 60-yard field goal last season, has made 14 of 17 attempts this year, including a 51-yarder. Punter Brandon Fields is seventh in the NFL in both gross (49.2 yards) and net average (41.3). Gates is averaging 22.1 yards on 19 kickoff returns and Bess is sixth in the AFC with an 11.6-yard punt return average. Long snapper John Denney was a Pro Bowler last year.
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