The Miami Dolphins (7-3) host the Houston Texas, (1-8-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium; Here are five things to look out for in the game:
Tua and Dolphins offense
Let’s see if the Dolphins offense can continue to find different ways to win, a skill that will come in handy down the line. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been among the best in the NFL over the past three weeks with a passer rating of at least 135.0 in every game while tallying nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Meanwhile, running back Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for 119 yards in the 39-17 win over Cleveland on Nov. 13, the pass protection unit didn’t allow a sack in the two last games and eight players caught an assist against . the brown ones.
In other words, the offense shows amazing diversity, especially considering wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for just nine receptions, 110 yards and one touchdown against Cleveland. Recently, the running game has been effective, the passing game has been effective, and the same goes for pass protection, run blocking, execution and calling the play. Of course, the The Dolphins played the so-called “soft” part of the schedule, but consider this in-season practice for the hard part of the schedule, which comes after the Houston game.
Dolphins pass protection against Texans DL Jerry Hughes
Dolphins fans know Texans defensive lineman Jerry Hughes from his days with Buffalo (2013-21). Hughes is tied for 10th in the league with 8.0 sacks. He moves side to side, so Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead and right tackle Brandon Shell will be busy. The Dolphins will also have to be aware of the Texans’ stunts up front.
Armstead has done a great job this season against elite pass throwers, but we’ll see if Shell, who’s done well, can get things going for a pass protection unit that’s only allowed two sacks over the course. of the last three games (both against Detroit) and none in the last two games. Recent history has shown that if the Dolphins can keep Tagovailoa upright and out of harm’s way, good things will happen in the passing game.
Chubb, Phillips and Ingram rush to pass the Dolphins
Houston, starting from quarterback Kyle Allen instead of Davis Mills, allowed 28 sacks, tied for 10th in the league. The Dolphins’ 20 sacks are tied for 26th in the NFL, but they’re still experimenting with ways to effectively utilize their trio of leading passers Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram. We’ve seen the line used in various ways over the past two games since the Dolphins acquired Chubb in a trade deal with Denver.
But especially look for Chubb on the right edge, where he played 75% of his snaps with the Dolphins. Look for Phillips on the left side, where he’s played 66% of his snaps since acquiring Chubb. Ingram has played 57% of his snaps on the right side since acquiring Chubb. If he’s comfortable indoors, maybe that’s where most of his snaps come from when he’s on the court with Chubb and Phillips. But the Dolphins must find ways to generate a passing rush as they head into the final seven games of the regular season.
Dolphins run defense against Texans RB Dameon Pierce
The Dolphins are 16th in rush defense with 116.9 yards per game. Texans rookie running back Dameon Pierce is seventh in the NFL with 780 rushing yards, three touchdowns and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. But he’s coming off a season-high 10 yards on eight carries in a 23-10 loss to Washington. Pierce is fourth in the league in rushing attempts (175) so he’ll have his chances.
But Pierce has just 354 yards before contact, which ranks him 19th in the league. Among other things in the top seven in rushing yards, only Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs, who is No. 3 in rushing yards, is close to Pierce in yards before contact at 293, who ranks 12th. On the other hand, Pierce’s 426 yards after contact rank fifth in the league. Oh, and Pierce is second in the league in broken tackles at 22, just behind Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (23) and ahead of Cleveland’s Nick Chubb (21). Houston’s best chance for offensive success rests with Pierce.
Stay focused on the Texans, don’t look ahead
The Texans probably aren’t good enough for this to be considered a trap game. Houston is on a five-game losing streak, the longest current slide in the league, while the Dolphins are on a four-game winning streak, tied with Kansas City and Baltimore for the longest in the NFL.
Houston fans would probably like their team to lose so they can get closer to the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, but Texas players will try to win so the Dolphins can’t take this team lightly. Yes, Houston is a bad team and, yes, Houston hasn’t scored more than 24 points in a game this season. But perhaps it’s worth noting that his only win was on the road, a 13-6 decision in Jacksonville. Not worth noting? OK, well, I apologize. I tried to provide a little plot.