Written by Luis Sung at 7:15 PM EST | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Very few individuals have actually taken a look at the schedule and said that the Dolphins actually have a chance to defeat the legendary Peyton Manning on the road, but as of late, the future Hall of Fame quarterback has had a few issues with protecting the football thrown in with his usual game breaking performances.
Over the course of the past three games he's played, he's thrown two interceptions in each of those games. Could the reason for this be that what some people are saying is true? That Peyton's arm is finally reaching its breaking point and he can no longer get enough velocity to be his usual nearly-invincible self? It's a possibility, but the Dolphins coaches aren't really buying it.
“Sometimes you watch the film and you’re not exactly sure of what the reads are for the opponent or if maybe a receiver is supposed to break a route in or out, or depths." said head coach Joe Philbin. "So there could be a whole host of things. He’s still, I think his quarterback rating is what 107 or something like that. I’m not even sure, it’s pretty high, I know that.”
Coach Philbin wasn't too far off in fact, Peyton's actual passer rating for this season is actually 107.1, a very impressive number for most quarterbacks, but for Peyton it's almost routine. With that in mind, the team isn't looking at Peyton as a weakened target, but rather as the same elite QB he's always been.
"It’s not just the guy out there making bad decisions or bad throws. Certainly, what they do a great job of is they have only had 10 takeaways the entire season, nine picks and one fumble." said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. "On top of that, they’ve only been sacked 11 times. That’s the least amount in the NFL. They are doing a lot of good things. You can be sure of that. On top of that, they are number one in the league in red zone offense scoring touchdowns at 77.5 percent. They know what they are doing. They have a great system and they have a great quarterback.”
Looking at those numbers, it would seem the odds are stacked against the Dolphins in almost every facet of the game. Having a quarterback like Peyton Manning throwing the ball certainly doesn't help matters, but there are some numbers that show the Dolphins aren't going to be pushovers either.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins are the number one rated defense with a +51.6 when it comes to rushing the passer, and it was the insane amount of pressure against the St. Louis Rams that caused Peyton to have issues making plays when compared to his usual level of play. The Dolphins are also tied for fifth in the NFL in takeaways with a total of 19, a spot they share with their AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots.
With the emergence of these Miami Dolphins, the game against the Denver Broncos suddenly doesn't seem nearly as impossible as it used to. But with that said, the coaches aren't taking anything for granted, nor are they underestimating the skill of their opponents. Most assuredly, they will go into Denver having done everything in their power to prepare for what should be their greatest challenge yet.
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