It is “up in the air” whether Jay Fielder or Brian Griese will be starting at QB this week for Miami against the Redskins. To confuse the Redskins, this decision probably won’t be made until game day. Because the Dolphins’ offense hasn’t been a touchdown scoring machine as of late (having gone 9 consecutive quarters and an over-time without scoring a touchdown) with Griese at the helm, look for Fielder to start this game. Because he may not be 100% healthy, however, look for Fielder to rely on Ricky Williams to help keep the pressure off of him by establishing a solid running attack against the Redskins.
The question is: Can Ricky Williams & Co. establish a sufficient running attack against Jeremiah Trotter & Co.?
So far this year, Ricky Williams has not been the power back he once was. His numbers as of late have certainly not been impressive and, overall, he’s been averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on 246 carries for 802 yards. Fortunately for the Dolphins, however, Ricky Williams has been one of the team’s most productive receivers with 34 receptions (2nd on the team) for 217 yards and 1 touchdown.
Williams had only 13 carries in each game against Tennessee and Indianapolis totaling just 73 yards rushing in both games. Last week, against Baltimore, Williams’ number of carries increased to 36 and he rushed for 105 yards. This week, against a porous Redskins front 7, look for Williams to get the ball again and again for 30+ carries. Once again, Williams should easily reach the century mark in rushing yards.
Isn’t there anyone to stop him?
Since coming to the Redskins, Jeremiah Trotter has not played like the player he was in Philadelphia. Whether it is the “system” or not, he simply hasn’t been the dominating player he once was. Although he is among the team leaders in total tackles (59, 49 solo), Trotter’s play has been “hit and miss”. Once in a while, he’ll step up and stuff a run. After that, however, he’ll blow an assignment to allow for a long run by the opposing team.
Because the Redskins defense has been giving up a lot of yards on the ground, look for the Dolphins to exploit the Redskins defense by pounding it on the ground often. Unless Trotter & Co. improve their play, this can get really ugly.
The Redskin's offensive line has surrendered 32 sacks so far this season, or on average about 3 sacks/game. Don't look for that to change this week. Patrick Ramsey better find a witchdoctor for some fast healing of his broken foot. If not he'll have a hurried, battered and bruised, short day's work and Hasselback will be in for a rude orientation to life as a newby NFL quarterback.
Sunday night the Redskin's stagnant offense will play Miami and face two of the leagues premier defense ends. On the left side will be Adewale Ogunleye, who currently ranks fourth in the league in sacks with 10, only one sack behind the league leaders. On the right side facing Samuels will be Jason "all world" Taylor (6'6", 260). Taylor is in his seventh season out of Akron after being drafted by Miami in the 3rd round of the 1997 draft (73rd overall).
In 10 games this season, Taylor has 40 tackles, 27 hurries, 4.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 4 passes defended. He has started and played in 60 straight games and is a two-time pro-bowler.
A couple of quotes from the charismatic, Taylor:
On his impressions of Patrick Ramsey's toughness:
"He's a tough son-of-a-gun. I watched the Dallas game and they were tattooing him. But he kept on getting up. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a tough guy. He picks himself up and keeps coming at you."
On whether as a defensive lineman he relishes playing against a team struggling to protect its quarterback:
"We go in every week knowing we have an opportunity to pressure the quarterback. This is another opportunity against a team we know has a lot of talent. They're struggling a little bit trying to get things together. That's a dangerous thing to mess with. It's like messing with a wounded animal. When they're desperate, upset or disappointed, you have to be careful."
Chris Samuels and the entire Redskin offensive line have taken a lot of the blame for some misconceived blocking schemes over the season. A lot of the battering Ramsey has taken has been a result of his lack of pocket-presence and his inability to get rid of the ball when the pocket has collapsed or the coverage is just too good and the line has given him ample time to make the throw. For this reason
The first thing to say is that lets hope it is Pat Ramsey versus the Dolphins secondary. This week the Redskins revealed that Ramsey has been playing all season with a sore foot which is making it difficult for him to plant and rotate his hips when he throws. We already new he was tough - this news may be the clincher in making him the toughest QB in the league, perhaps too tough for his own long term good.
On the season Ramsey has done about as much as you can ask a second year QB playing without much pass protection or the benefit of a running game. He has thrown at least 1 TD in his last 6 starts and 9 out of 10 games this season. He has 2159 yards on the season but only completes 53% of his passes - a number he will want to start increasing this Sunday if we are to come away from Pro Player Stadium with a win.
He will be throwing against a good Dolphins defense which is particularly strong against the run. The secondary is built around corner Pat Surtain who leads the 'Fins with 6 interceptions and is one of the better cover corners in the NFL. However Surtain has been injured and is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury for Sunday. Even if he suits up he should be limited.
On the other corner Sam Madison is solid but not stellar. After that it gets interesting with the gambling Terrell Buckley who makes big plays but also is often burnt. Buckley is outmatched physically as well against our bigger receivers.
The safeties are again good pros but not all world - Sammy Knight at SS is a good run stuffer but not the best in coverage and Brock Marion is a good pro who will make plays in the passing game.
If Ramsey plays and is reasonably healthy, and if we can pass protect, and if we can get some kind of running game, then Ramsey and his receivers match up well against this secondary. That's a lot of ifs though.
Advantage Dolphins (based on Ramsey being injured).
Be sure to check back Saturday at noon for the full game day preview.