The Miami Dolphins (0-3) return home for their third game in the first four weeks to face the Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Just one week from its bye week, Miami has already made the switch at quarterback to second-year man Josh Rosen. Rosen is in line to make his second start for the team, although he has appeared in some fashion in every game for the Dolphins this season.
Rosen will need his wide receivers to have better days for Miami to succeed Sunday. In the past three games multiple wideouts have dropped TD passes in each game, resulting in the Dolphins having just one TD this year, that came during week one in their blowout loss to Baltimore.
Offensive line mindset
“I’m here to help this team out. I’m here to help this team win in any way, shape or form. I think if everybody goes back and looks over the last three weeks, we’ve gotten better as an offensive line,” center/guard Evan Boehm said. “We have to protect Josh (Rosen). We have to protect Ryan (Fitzpatrick) if he’s out there. We have to open up the holes for ‘K.D.’ (Kenyan Drake) and ‘K.B.’ (Kalen Ballage) when they’re in there, and we’ve got to understand that it’s five guys doing one job. That’s pretty much the hardest thing on the field because you’ve got wide receivers running their own routes and yeah, they play off of each other, but you have five dudes playing under one.”
Rivers and company come to town
Miami looks to be outmatched again in this game, as it welcomes star QB Philip Rivers to town. In three games this season, Rivers has nearly 1,000 total yards (944) and has a weapon of a running back in Austin Ekeler. Although reports came out this week that starting RB Melvin Gordon returned to the team on Thursday amid a contract dispute, head coach Anthony Lynn said Gordon will not be active on Sunday.
This has to piss off Ekeler. Ekeler is the fourth-best RB in the NFL through three weeks with 38 carries for 160 yards and two TDs, and 19 receptions for 208 yards and two TDs. Miami also has the worst rush defense in the NFL, allowing 208 rushing yards per game. The Dolphins’ six rushing scores on the season is also the most in the NFL.
LA injuries could shift game
The Chargers are coming into Miami however with a lot of key injuries. In Friday’s injury report for the team, LA already ruled out many of its offensive weapons. We already new starting tight end Hunter Henry would miss the game as he is out 4-6 weeks after suffering a knee injury in week one. However, backup TE Virgil Green’s groin injury is also making him a no-go for Sunday.
Additionally, No. 2 WR Mike Williams’ back injury is bad enough for him to be ruled out, along with backup RB Justin Jackson’s calf injury has him seated as well. Kicker Mike Badgely also won’t make his first start of the year, once again being ruled out with a groin injury.
The Chargers will go with TE Sean Culkin in this game as their starter who has one career catch and is used primarily as a blocking TE. LA may try to use him in its offensive scheme with all its injuries, but if history repeats itself, that’s unlikely.
Miami faced with more defensive injuries
It helps the Chargers that Dolphins’ cornerback Jomal Wiltz has also been ruled out for a groin injury. Wiltz didn’t practice all week. Both starting safeties for Miami, Reshad Jones and Bobby McCain are also listed as officially questionable as well. LA will catch a huge break if either one of them don’t end up playing.
For a Dolphins team already struggling on both sides of the football, they need Jones and McCain in some fashion for Sunday. They’re already getting a gift in the amount of injuries piling up for a LA team making the cross-country road trip for a 1 p.m. start.
Miami has its best chance of the season to make the most improvements so far. Its defense needs to make more stops than it has this season, and it showed light of that last week on the road in Dallas. If the Dolphins’ offense can make half the catches it has dropped in previous weeks, this game, given its player conditions, has a chance to be a lot closer than its 15-point spread.
“We need to do a lot more executing before we can worry about encouraging because encouragement is not going to help this team win games. We have to go out there and play football – play meaningful football – and right now we’re focused on the Chargers to do that. We’re ready for this weekend,” Drake said.