Written by Matthew Cannata at 8:00 AM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
It’s no secret that the Detroit Lions offense is one of the most dangerous ones in the NFL and with Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush set to return to the lineup on Sunday after battling their various injuries, it’s only going to get more dangerous. The Miami Dolphins have been busy preparing for them this week and they gave us some insight as to what they’re looking at to help them get ready.
“I think Coach (Jim) Caldwell and his staff are doing a great job there,” Joe Philbin said. “Obviously, they’ve won games in different ways. Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and Golden Tate – they’ve got outstanding perimeter players. Their quarterback (Matthew Stafford) can make every throw in the book. Obviously, they lead the league in fewest points allowed on defense, so it’s a good football team and they’re doing a good job.”
One of the biggest challenges, both hypothetically and literally, will be trying to defend Calvin Johnson. However, due to the past success of the secondary against taller and bigger receivers, Philbin is confident that his guys can get the job done when their number is called.
“We’ve played some excellent receivers the last couple of weeks and some guys (that are big). (Malcolm) Floyd’s a big guy, (Brandon) Marshall and (Alshon) Jeffery are big guys, Jordy Nelson’s a big guy. It’s not like we haven’t lined up against them. Obviously, Calvin Johnson’s an exceptional athlete. He’s got all of the tools and skills. I think you’re going to have to be able to, as I’ve said before, when you play somebody like that, I think you have to have a couple of different answers. I don’t know that you can just do one thing against him. You have to understand that he may get a couple of catches. The big thing is you want to eliminate those ones over the top and you want to tackle him, which is not always easy because he’s big and he’s fast. It’s easier said than done sometimes. I think we’ve got to have kind of a balanced approach to controlling him so to speak.”
Jelani Jenkins said that limiting Stafford will be a big part of their game-plan and also, making sure that they wrap up their opponent and bring them to the ground when first making contact.
“He [Stafford] can get out of bad situations with legs. He has a lot of great receivers around him where he can just give them the ball at any time. He’s a smart quarterback as well. All of that being said, he’s going to be very difficult. Now when tackling, it’s a little bit of everything. You face guys like that, you definitely want to have 11 guys with eyes on the ball, ready to swarm. If he makes somebody miss, there should be another person right there to cap it off. You’re right, angles, know where your help is, know if you’re going to be inside leverage because you have some help coming from the outside. It’s just kind of knowing the defense and not leaving your feet, keeping your feet moving, and trying to keep your head up and see the target.”
One players who will be tasked with leading the defense and putting pressure on Stafford is Cameron Wake, who has been nothing but a stud once again in 2014.
“He’s had a real positive impact on the team in a lot of ways,” Philbin said. “Obviously, everybody wants to look, he has six sacks or something like that or roughly. That’s a statistic that is kind of easy to track, but what a lot of people don’t see is the way he comes to work every day, the way he practices every day, the way he plays the run as an undersized defensive end. He’s just a great example of being a professional. That’s the one thing I think he’s given, not only to our defense but to our team.”
The Dolphins will need to decide who they are going to focus on this Sunday and will need to rely on others in individual coverage to do their job when called upon. It will definitely be an interesting game but it’s good to see that the team isn’t backing down from the challenge.