GAME OVERVIEW ::
By Mike Johnson >>
- This game features two teams who were near the top of the league in pass rate in 2022 and also have reasons why they may actually become more aggressive this year.
- The Dolphins offense projects to be much more concentrated than the Chargers.
- Using last year’s statistics, both defenses were most susceptible in the area that the other team is built the best to attack – Miamis running game and the Chargers passing game are in good spots here.
- These teams had a lower-scoring matchup last season, but this still profiles as the premier Week 1 matchup in terms of shootout potential.
HOW Miami WILL TRY TO WIN ::
Despite all the rumors around running backs coming to Miami this summer, the team stuck with what they had and are already down a man as Jeff Wilson headed to the IR for the first four games of the season. This team was absolutely electric when Tua Tagavailoa played last season and he is fully healthy and ready to go for this Week 1 matchup. A cross-country road trip should be no problem for the Dolphins with plenty of rest time heading into the game. Head coach Mike McDaniel will be ready to go for this one and should enter the game with a mindset that they will need to put up a good amount of points to have a chance to win. McDaniel has an aggressive mindset for every game, but the fact that he knows his opponent can be explosive all but guarantees an aggressive game plan for Miami from the opening kickoff.
The Dolphins usage should be relatively concentrated. Jeff Wilson is out and rookie RB Devon Achane is still raw and doesn’t profile as a heavy usage guy, leaving Raheem Mostert in a featured role to start the year. Considering Moster’s likelihood of a featured role and the high target shares of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, it’s relatively easy to project that trio to combine for 70-80% of the Dolphins offense in Week 1. Mike McDaniel came from San Francisco and his offense is built in many ways upon the running game, which opens up everything else. The Chargers defense has been near the bottom of the league against the run the last couple of years and is basically built in an analytical way knowing that passing is the way of the league now, so they are OK with giving up some ground production. The issue for them is going to be giving up chunk plays to a well-designed scheme like the Dolphins bring to town. Again, the Dolphins scheme mirrors what Kyle Shanahan does with the 49ers – stretching the defense both vertically and horizontally and forcing them to defend the entire field. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are moveable chess pieces that will be featured all over the field, especially with Miami a little thin at running back.
For all intents and purposes, we know what Miami is going to do – they are going to heavily feature three players and use misdirection and play action concepts to create confusion in the defense. They are going to be aggressive early in the game as their head coach is very sharp and looks to maximize points instead of just trying to hold serve. They are going to try to use the aggressiveness of a Chargers defense that blitzed over 30% of their plays last season against them. They are going to do all of these things in a variety of creative ways and, given that this is the first week of the season, will probably have some new wrinkles we haven’t seen yet. Given the injury issues of Tua Tagovailoa along with the pass rush and blitz tendencies of the Chargers, we should expect the passing game to focus on getting the ball out quickly especially early in the game.