After notching their first win of the season, Brian Flores’ Dolphins welcomed a Russell Wilson led Seattle Seahawks club to Hard Rock Stadium for arguably their hardest matchup of the season.
Despite a 23-31 loss, Flores’ defense put a hold to Wilson’s MVP caliber stretch. Let’s see how Miami found ways to put pressure on him and the rest of the Seahawks offense.
Plus, what the Dolphins will have to improve on heading into Week 5 versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Red-zone defense critical to competitive game.
Seattle came into Sunday’s game with an outstanding 10 of 10 on red-zone opportunities, the best in the NFL. As for Miami, they were a disappointing 8 of 9 on red-zone defense, the worst in the league.
That statistic was downplayed, as the Dolphins were fairly impressive in limiting Wilson and the Seahawks on expected scores. The first sequence came in the second quarter, as an Emmanuel Ogbah sack forced a turnover on downs following a 13-play, 64-yard drive.
That also included a second half interception by Xavien Howard, who jumped for the ball to prevent the score from getting out of hand.
Although the Seahawks did get on the board inside the 20-yard-line more than once, even just one stop exemplifies improvements to the defense as they progress into the rougher part of their schedule.
Tyler Lockett’s quiet afternoon keeps Wilson from shining bright.
Tyler Lockett was the X-factor in Seattle’s Week 3 victory against the Dallas Cowboys, garnering nine catches for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lockett became the first Seahawk to record 3 touchdowns in one game since Doug Baldwin in 2016.
Overall, he totaled a season-high 13 targets.
Miami completely controlled him throughout Sunday’s game, as he finished with just 2 receptions for 39 yards. In fact, that first catch came in the fourth quarter, keeping him almost invisible for majority of the contest.
Lockett was targeted just four times, a disappointing performance, to say the least.
Putting pressure on Wilson.
Though the outcome may have not been what the Dolphins and their fans have hoped, it’s worthy to showcase the all-around effort out to display.
That started with limiting Russell Wilson, the bread and butter to Seattle’s success. Miami’s Shaq Lawson and Emanuel Ogbah were able to sack Wilson twice for a total loss of 17 yards. At the same time, safety Bobby McCain got a hit on Wilson in the red zone to force an incompletion.
Miami was thrown on the field in bad spots following the two interceptions of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. On the first interception, the defense did not help in allowing Seattle to drive down the field 57-yards and cap off the drive with a easy rushing touchdown for running back Chris Carson.
Later in the first half, Miami kicked a field goal to bring the score to 10-9 with under 30 seconds left in the second quarter. Surprisingly, that too much time on the clock for Wilson and the Seahawks offense. Rookie cornerback Noah Igbinoghene bit on Wilson escaping the pocket allowing, David Moore to get a 57-yard reception that set up Seattle for another touchdown before the half to have a 17-9 lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick threw an interception that set up Seattle for an easy 33-yard drive that only took two plays capped off with another Carson run in the end zone.
Secondary needs to step up.
The defense is still forming to what they want their final product to be. But after playing a quarter of their season so far, the revamped secondary is not performing to expectations. Obviously, having their big free agent signing in Byron Jones still out with his groin injury for the second game in a row doesn’t help. Yet, young players like Jamal Perry and Igbinoghene have to perform better in order to help this defense produce turnovers and force the opposing offense to stall. Given they are young players they still need to develop a little faster to help compliment Xavien Howard in the secondary.
To keep it within the secondary, safety Eric Rowe needs to have better position when covering tight ends, especially on third downs. He allowed Greg Olsen to have two drive saving catches, costing the Dolphins an opportunity to get their offense on the field.
Need to produce more turnovers.
Miami was only able to turn over the ball on defense twice in Sunday’s match-up. When Seattle decided to go for it in the red-zone on 4th and 3, it allowed Miami to create some momentum to get a field goal and bring the game within one point.
Coming out in the second half, the defense was not able to hold up and let the Seahawks drive down the field. That was when Howard was able to get his second interception of the season. This interception was much needed for Miami’s chances of competing against the Super Bowl contenders. Without it, Seattle may have been able to practically seal the game right then and there.
Howard will flourish much more as the season develops but will need Jones back in the line up for this secondary to really give opposing offenses doubts in the passing game.
More to build on.
Miami gave their best effort to slow down Wilson and the rest of their offense. It was nowhere near great, however, as it was was a mediocre performance at best. Playing against one of the better offenses in the league is no easy task. This loss does not completely fall on the defense, as the offense’s lack of production in finishing drives with more than just field goals really hurt the Dolphins’ chances of winning.
Allowing 441 total yards of offense is not great by any means, but when you’re facing a quarterback like Wilson, who will capitalize on almost every mistake he sees the defense make, including two in which Igbonghene made, it’s nearly impossible.
The Dolphins may be 1-3 so far on the season but they’ve continued competing in each and every game. It may look bad as of now, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. Having each loss within 1-2 score games, it’s a promising look for the Dolphins to have success in the future.