Written by Steven Wilson | Twitter: @stevenjwilson11
Despite playing just 16 regular season games per year, the NFL week can be taxing. With only six days, or sometimes even less, to prepare for your next opponent, offensive and defensive coordinators everywhere use up every second to get an edge.
Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor is no different. Even after a late night in Denver following Miami’s heart-wrenching loss to the Broncos, he set out to study the team’s next opponent, looking for weaknesses to attack. He knows this week’s matchup with the New York Jets will be crucial if the Dolphins want to stay in the playoff hunt.
“I’m trying to catch up after getting in late last night,” Lazor admitted recently. “Obviously, they’ve been a good team against the run. I think we’ve been at our best when we’ve been able to be balanced, run and pass. So we’re going to have to find a way to run the football against them. We’re working on that now as coaches.”
Lamar Miller has been solid this season with nearly 700 yards rushing and five scores, but despite a big night against Buffalo, he’s underperformed recently. In the last four weeks, No. 26 has averaged just 51 yards per contest. Miller will not only be key in the run game though. His pass blocking skills will be needed to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill and allow him to pick apart the Jets defense.
“It looks like they’ve got some guys with some sack production up front,” continued Lazor. “Facing this scheme in the past, I know that we’ll face some difficult, complex blitzes from their coach. I’ve seen it before, so that always creates a challenge. I watched the games from last year when I first came here because that was a big part of what happened at the end of the season. I have a sense what kind of battles those were, how fierce maybe the rivalry was. I’m sure our guys will be ready for a battle.”
Early in the week, it’s hard to get a sense for a team. Coaches have only seen one or two games, maybe. For defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, he’s trying to catch up − just like Lazor.
“I’ve watched a little bit,” he said. “I don’t have a great feel today. We will as we work through today and tomorrow and start to formulate our plan, I know that with the addition of (Percy) Harvin, they’re trying to utilize him in a lot of different ways as a runner and as a receiver.”
The Jets offense hasn’t lived up to its standard this season, but it still has its explosive playmakers like Harvin at receiver and running back Chris Johnson. That’s not to mention the running threat of Michael Vick and Geno Smith at quarterback.
“They have some quality players on offense,” continued Coyle. “When you look at their offensive team, they have some talented skill players and some good offensive linemen. We’re anxious to really dig in to how we’re going to defend them and put together the best plan possible.”