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Game Preview: Giants face high-powered Dolphins


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jason Pinnock's initial reaction crystallized quickly when he heard the Miami Dolphins had beaten Denver, 70-20, two weeks ago.

Simply put: no defensive player wants to endure an onslaught like that. And the Giants' defenders certainly don't anticipate allowing an obscene number of points when they face the Dolphins in Hard Rock Stadium. But having posted that number on the scoreboard once this season indicates how lethal the Dolphins' attack is, and how considerable a challenge the Giants' defense faces.

"It was a pretty incredible game that they had," Giants coach Brian Daboll said. "Explosive plays, scored a lot of points. That's what their team's capable of."

Cornerback Adoree' Jackson takes the view that Miami's outlandish point total vs. Denver – the NFL's highest in almost 57 years – can be good news for the Giants' defense.

"It just let me know they threw the ball a lot, so there's a lot of plays to be made," Jackson said. "That's how I look at it. It's a lot of opportunities to make plays with that many points going up on the board." But, he admits, 70 points "is unheard of."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 5 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins' have compiled a slate of impressive statistics. Their 2,044 total yards of offense are the most-ever through a team's first four games of a season. They lead the NFL with per-game averages in points (37.5), total yards (511.0), rushing yards (176,8), passing yards (334.3) and first downs (25.5). Miami tops the league with 20 rushes of 10 or more yards and 18 passes of at least 20 yards.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has thrown for an NFL-high 1,306 yards, is tied for the league lead with nine touchdown passes and his 114.4 passer rating is second to another quarterback the Giants have faced, San Francisco's Brock Purdy (115.1).

Rookie running back De'Von Achane tops the league by averaging 11.4 yards-per-carry, has 309 rushing yards and has scored seven touchdowns – despite missing the season opener with a shoulder injury.

Tyreek Hill is fourth in the NFL with 470 receiving yards (on 28 catches) and has scored four touchdowns. Jaylen Waddle missed the touchdown-fest against Denver but has 12 receptions for 210 yards.

How do the Dolphins do it? Coach Mike McDaniel has an innovative offensive scheme and is a creative play-caller, which puts his playmakers in position to excel.

But what really drives Miami's attack is speed. According to the league's Next Gen Stats, the Dolphins have the six fastest ballcarrier speeds in the NFL this season, topped by Hill at 22.07 miles per hour. Hill appears in the top six three times, Achane twice and running back Raheem Mostert once.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale called Miami's offense, "unbelievable." He compared it to the early 2000s St. Louis Rams' Greatest Show on Turf, which featured Pro Football Hall of Famers Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce.

"I told our staff because we're all old enough to remember The Greatest Show on Turf, this is like that, 2023 supersonic," Martindale said. "I mean, they are fast. Faster than that. That's the whole thing that in preparing a team going into this environment, that's not even turf there. It's grass and they're still faster.

"Guys got to get used to the speed of the game and the speed of those guys. I don't know what the best way to describe it is. It's like, if you were driving on Daytona NASCAR and jump and try to race against a Formula 1 guy. Those guys, they're fast. It's not just Tyreek (Hill) anymore. Waddle the rookie running back (Achane), he runs 4.3 with his pads on. It's going to be a challenge."

Martindale explained exactly why that's true.

"When you get horizontal, when I say horizontal lanes, you want your safety to play deeper," he said. "Just two or three yards deeper, because these guys are so fast and they go vertical, you want to be able to top their routes. And that creates space in between the safety and the linebackers' drops. So, then you tell your linebackers to drop deeper. Now your checkdowns, there's more space, so they've got you at three different levels. You want to take away the touchdown, you want to take away the big chunks which, off play action sometimes those chunk plays end up breaking routes. They're tough to cover."

"Any time you're facing the track team, it's gonna be tough," safety Xavier McKinney said. "You gotta take great angles, you gotta be great tacklers and you gotta have all 11 to the ball. So that's what we got to do."

Tagovailoa is the centerpiece of the lethal operation. He is completing 71.3% of his passes and averages 9.6 yards an attempt.

"He's special, man, that guy is special," said McKinney, who was Tagovailoa's teammate at the University of Alabama. "I've seen it ever since being in college with him, practicing with him, he's just getting smarter. He's just getting better every day, he's just getting better, and you can tell he's an elite quarterback. He is one of the elite quarterbacks that we have in this league, and he's a tough challenge when having to face him.

"He's a hell of a leader and just a person. But the leader on and off the field, he's one of those guys you want on your side. He's gonna fight for you and you're gonna fight for him as well. I think that's another reason why Miami's doing what they're doing. When you got a guy like that, it makes stuff a lot easier."

Daboll coached Tagovailoa as Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2017.

"I have a lot of respect for Tua and how he plays that position, some of the stuff he went through early on in his career," Daboll said. "He's got great anticipation, he's accurate, he's a leader, and I am not surprised at all with the success he has had. He's bounced back from some tough things injury-wise, but he's a heck of a quarterback."

Tagovailoa also has a wrinkle opponents must prepare for – he is the NFL's only lefthanded starting quarterback.

"The ball comes out differently," McKinney said. "It's a different angle, so you got to get used to that. Obviously, I went against him before, so I kind of understand it, but I haven't played against him in a while, so I am sure I have to get used to it the first couple snaps of the game. But it's definitely different.

"They got so many weapons everywhere. It's Tua, but then you got Tyreek Hill, you got Waddle. You got a lot of fast guys, you got a lot of guys that are high speed guys, guys you just throw them a two-yard pass and make them turn it into a 50-yard run. It's a lot of challenges that we're gonna face, but it'll be fun."

*This is the Giants' first interconference game of the season. They were 5-0 against the AFC in 2022, defeating all four AFC South teams, plus Baltimore.

*The Giants lead the series with the Dolphins, 7-3, including 4-1 in Miami. The defeat occurred two years ago, a 20-9 loss in Hard Rock Stadium on Dec. 5, 2021.

View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins


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