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Scouting Report: Breaking down the Dolphins


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will begin the final quarter of their 2015 regular season when they visit the Miami Dolphins for a Monday night matchup in Sun Life Stadium.

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Both teams are 5-7. The teams have met just seven times, with the Giants owning a 5-2 advantage in the series. This will be the Giants' first visit to Miami since Dec. 8, 1996, a 17-7 victory. When they last faced the Dolphins as visitors, on Oct. 28, 2007, the game was played in London. The Giants and Dolphins last squared off on Oct. 30, 2011, when the Giants earned a 20-13 victory in MetLife Stadium.

Since the start of the season, the Dolphins have changed their head coach and two coordinators. Former Giants tight end Dan Campbell was named Miami's interim head coach after Week 4. Under his direction, the Dolphins are 4-4. Two weeks ago, Bill Lazor was "relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator," according to the Dolphins. Quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor has replaced him as the play-caller, though he hasn't received the title of coordinator. Taylor has simplified and streamlined Miami's offensive system.



The Dolphins are ranked 29th in the NFL in offense with an average of 326.2 yards game. They are 23rd in rushing yardage (95.5 a game) and 22nd in passing (230.7). Miami is 31st in third down conversion percentage (28.0) and 27th in scoring (20 points per game).

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will start his 61st consecutive game this week. He has had more input into the game plan under Taylor. Because of his foot speed, Tannehill is productive on sprint-outs and run option plays. He has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 3,077 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His backup is Matt Moore.

Running backs Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi are averaging a combined 5.0 yards per carry. Miller is an explosive playmaking runner and receiver with nifty inside moves and speed on the outside. He is also competitive in pass protection. Ajayi is a rookie who missed the first seven games with a broken rib. He is a bruising one-cut runner who spins and breaks tackles. Damien Williams is a versatile player with straightline speed and wiggle. He is also a natural route runner with good hands. Earl Mitchell is a starting defensive tackle who moonlights as a fullback. He is big and aggressive, with decent blocking skills.

Miami's top playmaker and leading receiver is Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr.'s close friend and former LSU teammate. One of the NFL's better slot receivers, Landry has 78 catches – 35 more than anyone else on the team –for 821 yards and four touchdowns. Split end Rishard Matthews has speed and shows strength in his routes. But he has fractured ribs, so last week first-round draft choice DeVante Parker started and is expected to do so again vs. the Giants. Parker has deceptive speed and strong hands. In the last two games, he had seven receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Kenny Stills is athletic and smooth, has quick feet and can beat defensive backs on deep routes. Veteran Greg Jennings is smart and crafty and runs precise routes.

Tight end Jordan Cameron is 6-5 and has the speed and athletic ability to move the chains. Dion Sims is a tight end/H-back hybrid who is an athletic target. Jake Stoneburner uses his strong hands and good footwork to shield defenders. On Tuesday, the Dolphins re-signed tight end Brandon Williams.

Most of the offensive linemen rely on athleticism, quickness and sound technique. Left tackle Branden Albert, a 2013 Pro Bowler, is a nimble big man with good length, quickness and movement skills. On the right side, Jason Fox has replaced Ja'Wuan James, who has missed the last five games with a toe injury. Fox is a big-bodied, position-type blocker with good play strength. Left guard Dallas Thomas has the tools and versatility to play four line positions. Billy Turner is the line's physical steamroller at right guard. The first-year pro is a talented player who is learning on the job. Center Mike Pouncey, a two-time Pro Bowler, is a smart, athletic player who can control defensive linemen in both the run and pass. The backups include Jamil Douglas, Jeff Linkenbach, Jacques McClendon and Ulrick John.



Kevin Coyle was fired as defensive coordinator on Oct. 8 and replaced by secondary coach Lou Anarumo, who has invigorated the unit. In four games under Coyle, Miami had one sack. Since Anarumo took over, the Dolphins have 25 sacks in seven games, despite the loss of former Pro Bowler end Cameron Wake to a torn Achilles tendon in Week 8. Wake still leads the team with 7.0 sacks.

Overall, the defense is 27th in the NFL, allowing 390.3 yards a game. Miami is 30th vs. the run (giving up 134.8 yards per game) and 22nd against the pass (255.6). The Dolphins are 24th in scoring defense, yielding 25 points a game.

Miami's two best defensive players of late have been left tackle Ndamukong Suh and end Olivier Vernon. Suh, a four-time Pro Bowler when he was with Detroit, is a legitimate playmaker who is violent against the run, dangerous on the pass rush, physical and explosive. The right tackle is Earl Mitchell, an athletic player who can quickly charge gaps and rush the quarterback. But he has a calf injury and is likely to be replaced for the second straight week by Jordan Phillips, who has blocked or deflected four passes in the last three games (tying him with Suh for the NFL lead among defensive linemen). Vernon, who plays right end, is a powerful player with outstanding strength, heavy hands, and the skills to quickly shed blockers. He has good upfield movement on the pass rush and is second on the team with 6.4 sacks. End Derrick Shelby is an attacker in the run game who can also collapse the pocket with his power pass rush. Behind him is Quinton Coples, who has a quick shoulder dip and has the strength to set the edge. Terrence Fede is a second-year backup who plays with natural power on contact, and is a good scheme reader.

Middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard attacks the action, and has good lateral quickness and ball location skills. He leads the linebackers with 75 tackles (51 solo). On the strong side, Koa Misi has the strength to take on big linemen, and is effective when he blitzes. Jelani Jenkins is a run-and-chase player who plays with a burst and is the Dolphins' best cover linebacker. Rookie Neville Hewitt can play all three spots, sees the play and goes after it. He blitzes well and has decent timing to the quarterback. Zach Vigil is a two-down backup linebacker with competiveness and toughness. Former Giant Spencer Paysinger is solid in man-to-man coverage and is a core special teams player.

Miami's best cornerback is Brent Grimes, who is smart, aware and instinctive. He keeps wide receivers in front of him and is adept at stripping the ball before the wideout can secure it. The other starter is rookie Bobby McCain, how has straightline cover ability and good recognition. Reshad Jones is the Dolphins' most consistent player, the runaway team leader with 107 tackles (82 solo), and top interceptor with four. He is quick to clog lanes defending the run, or chasing down backs to the outside, and he has the speed to cover tight ends. Michael Thomas is better closer to the line of scrimmage, where he is effective in run support. Nickel corner Brice McCain has quick recognition in coverage. Safety Shamiel Gary plays rotational snaps in the base and nickel defenses. The other backups are Walt Aikens, Jamar Taylor and Tony Lippett.



Kicker Andrew Franks has an explosive leg and drives the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs. He has made eight of 10 field goal attempts, and one of the misses was a 63-yard try. Punter Matt Darr has the ability to flip the field, and has a 47.6-yard gross average and a 39.8-yard net average. Landry has a 9.3-yard average on 27 punt returns, including a 69-yard touchdown. Damien Williams averages 21.4 yards as the leading kickoff returner. Aikens has a team-high eight special teams tackles. Vigil blocked a punt vs. Philadelphia, and Miami is 12th in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing an average return of 22.5 yards.

Playmakers on Dolphins first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike

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