Here's a rundown of a few of the things we'll be watching for heading into Sunday's match up between the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars:
A Battle of Struggling Passers: Sunday's
match up between the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars features two quarterbacks
currently facing major challenges when it comes to making a positive impact for
their respective teams under center. Miami
features rookie passer Ryan Tannehill, who currently ranks last in the NFL for
touchdowns throws (eight) with at least 280 passing attempts and 21st
overall in the league for Total QBR. Jacksonville,
meanwhile, is currently led on offense by former Dolphins quarterback, Chad
Henne, who in seven games playing in place of injured starter Blaine Gabbert this
year has thrown for 1,217 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Both have struggled greatly over their last
two games, with Tannehill completing 30-of-62 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown
in defeats at the hands of New England and San Francisco, while Henne has
combined for 40-of-83 passing for 387 yards, one touchdown and three
interceptions in losses to Buffalo and the New York Jets.
A Long Day at Right Tackle for the Dolphins: Right tackle Nate Garner will start for the
second-straight week in place of the injured Jake Long on Sunday, and will likely face
off against Jacksonville left defensive end Jason Babin, a two-time Pro Bowl
selection claimed off waivers by the Jaguars Nov. 28 after Babin was released by the
Philadelphia Eagles. Expect Miami to
move tight end Anthony Fasano and running back Daniel Thomas into position to assist Garner, who otherwise could face a long day battling Babin one-on-one.
Using Bush as a Multi-Dimensional Weapon: Reggie Bush, who has caught just 29 passes for
227 yards this season, suddenly saw a great deal more action coming out of the
backfield last week in Miami's 27-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, catching
as many passes in that single contest ??? seven ??? has he'd caught in his previous
six starts. Could offensive coordinator
Mike Sherman finally be acquiescing to calls to use Bush more as the
multi-dimensional weapon on offense he is?
Injuries Affecting Wide Receiver / Linebacker: With receiver Davone Bess and linebacker
Koa Misi both ruled out of Sunday's contest against Jacksonville, look for the
first official starts of the season from wideout Marlon Moore and linebacker Jason Trusnik. Moore, a third-year player out of Fresno
State, has so far this year pulled in four catches for 7 yards and a touchdown,
while Trusnik, a six-year veteran from Ohio Northern, has combined for
17 total tackles and a sack in 2012.
Miami Outscored: Miami has
been outscored by an average of 10 points in the span of their last six games.
Jacksonville ??? One of the League's Worst Offenses: Tied for the worst record in the NFL at
2-11, Jacksonville hosts an offense ranked 31st in total offense,
averaging 282.9 yards per game.
Jacksonville ??? One of the League's Worst Defenses: Not only is Jacksonville struggling on
the offensive side of the ball, but also on defense, where it ranks 31st
in the league in total defense and surrendering 394.5 yards per game. Over their last two road games, the Jaguars too
have given up a combined 77 points.
A Spark Emerges at Wideout for the Jaguars: Little doubt that the continued absence
of starting tailback Maurice Jones-Drew hurts Jacksonville's chances of
remaining competitive Sunday at Miami, but watch for the impact had by emerging
star at wideout for the Jaguars, Cecil Shorts, who over his last four starts has
pulled in 20 receptions for 368 yards and four scores.
Who Will Get the Job Done at Tailback for the Jaguars? Backup to Jones-Drew at tailback, Rashad
Jennings, has accumulated just 89 yards rushing and a touchdown on 38 carries
(an average of 2.34 yards) over his last four starts, leaving Jacksonville's
coaches to turn to seven-year veteran Montell Owens for a spark on the
ground. Owens delivered impressively in
last week's loss to the New York Jets, rushing for 91 yards and a touchdown on
14 touches, and could see a significant amount of playing time Sunday against a
Dolphins' defense currently surrendering 102.1 yards a game.