The Miami Dolphins will host the Denver Broncos in a matchup between two disappointing squads. These two teams have lost a combined 12 games straight after starting the season with playoff aspirations.
Head coaches Adam Game and Vance Joseph will use this game, and the remainder of the season, as an evaluation period to decipher which players fit into their respective teams plans moving forward and which will be replaced in the offseason.
If you’re looking for awe-inspiring quarterback play, look elsewhere.
After clearing the concussion protocol, Jay Cutler will lead the 30th ranked Dolphins offense against Trevor Siemian. Siemian lost his job earlier in the year to the overpaid and under-talented Brock Osweiler. Osweiler leads the 26th ranked Denver offense.
Both teams will likely look to establish the running game early to provide balance to their offenses. The goal is to ease the burden on the quarterbacks, as they have underperformed. The Broncos will likely continue to deploy the running-back-by-committee approach they’ve used to marginal success.
Their committee features C.J. Anderson, Trevor Booker and Jamal Charles each getting touches out of the backfield. However, with Bill Musgrave assuming the role of offensive coordinator after the recent firing of Mike McCoy, the Broncos backfield rotation could see some changes this week.
While the Broncos backfield reps could be subject to change, there’s no doubt about whose getting the touches for Miami.
Kenyan Drake will get his first crack at the lead back role after Damien Williams went down with an injury last week. Williams will be sidelined for the next few weeks. While Drake possesses the skills to flourish in the role, he will need to limit his mistakes. With that said, if he doesn’t start securing the ball he will be on a shorter leash with Gase.
Drake will likely struggle against the Broncos 4th ranked run defense. However, he may have better luck out of the backfield in the passing game. Drake has shown his versatility in the past few outings. Look for him to get a fair number of touches in the air and on the ground.
Lack of talent at the receiver position isn’t a problem for either squad. Broncos wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are one of the leagues top combos. They should be able to take advantage of Miami’s young corners if Siemian can deliver the ball to them accurately. On the other side Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker have diverse and complimentary skillsets and should be able to find openings in a Broncos pass D that will be without Aqib Talib.
What to Watch For
After the Jay Ajayi trade, many Dolphins fans expected to see Drake take over the lead back role. However, Gase gave the edge to the more consistent and fundamental Williams, who played well before the injury.
Williams injury could turn into a blessing in disguise as the coaching staff will now be able to see how Drake responds to an increased workload. If Drake impresses the next few games he could win the starting role going into next season.
Similarly, Trevor Siemian will have what will likely be his last opportunity to impress the front office and secure a spot on the team going forward. Denver isn’t too far removed from a Superbowl victory and still possess one of the most talented defenses in the league.
If Siemian’s play resembles more of what he showed in the first four weeks he could potentially secure the starting gig for the future. If not, the Broncos will go after one of the many big name quarterbacks set to be available in the offseason.