The Dolphins’ 20-7 win showcased a lot of positives, as the team forced three turnovers, scored a defensive touchdown and saw quarterback Tua Tagovailoa play an efficient game under center.
Mike McDaniel has a perfect record as a head coach in the NFL, and he’s going to look to keep that going in a tough Week 2 matchup on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens also picked up a win in Week 1, easily defeating the New York Jets 24-9 behind three passing touchdowns from star quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Miami is certainly a step-up in class in Week 2 for the Ravens, but Baltimore is still the favorite at home in this game. Even though the Patriots were a tough opponent in Week 1, the Dolphins are going to have to play even better against a Baltimore offense that is extremely dynamic with Jackson under center.
What can the Dolphins do to pull off the upset in this matchup?
Here are three keys for the Dolphins if they want to take down Jackson, John Harbaugh and the Ravens on Sunday:
1. Prevent big plays in passing game
While the Ravens didn’t have any problems with the Jets in Week 1, New York’s defense did a good job of not letting the game get out of hand, allowing just 24 points.
However, the Jets were burned several times on big passing plays, and three of them led to touchdowns for Baltimore.
Jackson, who threw for just 213 yards in the win, had touchdown passes of 25, 17 and 55 yards in Week 1. The 55-yard score was an absolute bomb to second-year receiver Rashod Bateman.
Lamar Jackson 55-yard DART to Rashod Bateman 🎯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 11, 2022
Outside of the three scoring plays, Jackson completed just 14 other passes for 116 yards. That’s where Miami’s defense has a bit of an advantage. The Dolphins have an elite secondary with Jevon Holland and Xavien Howard leading the way, and they should be able to limit the Ravens’ explosive plays in the passing game.
Miami picked off Mac Jones in Week 1 on a deep ball in the first quarter, and the team will need to have the same sense of urgency against Jackson’s downfield passes in Week 2.
Intercepted by @HollywoodVon! #FinsUp
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2022
While the Ravens are usually one of the better running teams in the NFL, the Dolphins can make them a one-dimensional offense by taking away as many downfield passes as possible.
2. Lean on run game to take pressure off of Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa was solid in Week 1, completing 23 of his 33 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown, but the Dolphins didn’t do much to help him in the running game.
Chase Edmonds struggled against the Patriots’ front seven, carrying the ball 12 times for just 25 yards. Raheem Mostert wasn’t much better with his five carries, picking up just 16 yards on the ground.
However, the Ravens’ defense might be a little more exploitable on the ground in Week 2. Despite having Joe Flacco under center in Week 1, the Jets were still able to establish the run against Baltimore, rushing for 83 yards on 17 carries as a team (4.9 yards per carry).
Michael Carter thrived for New York in the backfield, rushing 10 times for 60 yards, which should give the Dolphins some hope that their running game will get back on track in Week 2.
Tagovailoa is an extremely accurate passer, but his longest pass of the day in Week 1 was 42 yards, and most of that yardage came after a catch from Jaylen Waddle.
JAYLEN WADDLE 🐬 pic.twitter.com/fJ59MGngjb
— Dolphin Nation (@Dolphin_Nation) September 11, 2022
There’s no doubt that the Dolphins will try to move the ball downfield with Tagovailoa at points this season, but having a consistent running game will only help open things up.
If the Dolphins want to control time of possession and really open up their playbook, getting Edmonds and Mostert going on the ground is a must.
3. Take care of the ball
This usually goes without saying, but winning the turnover battle is going to be a huge key for Miami in this matchup.
The Dolphins not only scored a defensive touchdown in Week 1, but they also forced three turnovers, really swaying the game in their favor.
The Ravens forced two turnovers of their own against the Jets, and it’s quite possible that the team that wins the turnover battle comes out on top in Week 2.
With Jackson’s dynamic rushing ability and kicker Justin Tucker’s huge leg, the last thing the Dolphins want to do is shorten the field for the Ravens and give them easy points.
After a turnover-free Week 1, McDaniel and the Dolphins are certainly going to stress the importance of taking care of the ball ahead of an even tougher matchup.