Buccaneers Opponent Film Study: 2017 Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Adam Humphries #11 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scores a touchdown during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Adam Humphries #11 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scores a touchdown during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Miami will be coming into their game against the Buccaneers with the NFL’s 31st ranked offense. They’re averaging less than 300-yards per game, and have a -4 turnover ratio so far this season.

Looking at the way Adam Gase likes to have his team attack, it’s similar to the attacks of many NFL teams.

Start with short efficient passes and solid runs to help tire out opposing defenses and force them to play up. The hope is to get behind the defense or catch them over pursuing, so they can take advantage for big gains and scores.

Something Gase has his offense doing better than a lot of teams in the NFL, is working their way back to the quarterback.

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Not just in designed routes. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is a shining example of a receiver who runs his routes to completion, but also knows how to move out of coverage in order to give his quarterback a chance when the clock is running out on him.

Jay Cutler is not a mobile quarterback. He can move, but he’s not a runner. So, having a weapon like Landry who works to set-up his passer is valuable, and hard to stop.

In Week 9 against Oakland, there were two very early examples of this.

In this play, it’s first down and the Dolphins are looking to push the ball a bit early. Now, it’s hard to know without being in the huddle of course, but this looks to be a late developing play. Normally, you want your quarterback throwing in rhythm, and Cutler is at the top of his drop with nobody to throw to.

In fact, not a single Dolphins receiver looks prepared to be tracking a pass at this point in the play. The Raiders have solid coverage with two defenders on Devante Parker up top, and one in tight coverage on Landry on the opposite side of the field.

In the next shot, we see Cutler has stepped up from the top of his drop, and Landry is now breaking back towards the line of scrimmage. This seems to be by design as Landry made no other moves before breaking back towards his quarterback, but this isn’t the point of why we’re looking at this.

This is a designed route which has the receiver running back to his quarterback is one thing. Getting a receiver who not only runs back, but runs all the way back is another. Now, this works for two reasons.

The first is Landry pushes the defender all the way to the top of his route before cutting back. This forced the defender to commit to what could have potentially been a deep route, especially out of respect for the Miami receiver’s speed.

Second, look at where the defender is in the first image and the second. Now compare his position to Landry’s. Simply put, the cornerback here was not expecting his receiver to run that far back towards his own line of scrimmage to make a catch because most NFL receivers don’t do it.

So, on first down, Landry pushes his defender about six yards past the first down marker, breaks back towards Cutler to make a catch eight yards from the line of scrimmage. Then, because of the distance between he and his defender, and the agility of the receiver, he gains another three yards after the catch for an eleven-yard gain and a first down.

This play looked to be a bit more by design than anything, but this is a mentality with at least this one Dolphins receiver.

On this play, Cutler is again at the top of his drop and doesn’t have a throw he likes. To be honest, Landry is about to cut inside on his defender and if Cutler puts the ball where his receiver is about to be, this is a first down completion nine times out of ten. Anyway, Cutler doesn’t.

Instead, the quarterback ends up scrambling away from pressure looking for someone to throw to.

Again, he finds Landry who has once again used his quick change of direction ability to leave his defender in the dust and free himself up for a throw.

He doesn’t move back to his quarterback here, but instead moves laterally to put himself in open space. Cutler sees him because he’s looking for him. He’s looking for him because this is something Landry will do on just about every play. I’d say every play, but I don’t have the time or inclination to go back and watch every Jarvis Landry route there is.

Like the last time, Cutler hits Landry for the first down conversion, and the Dolphins are moving the ball.

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So, what’s the solution. Well, it’s get to the quarterback. Unfortunately, this is something the Buccaneers haven’t done a whole lot of in the past nine games.

However, they did do it against the Jets, and could do it here. Cutler is a bit more mobile than I think Josh McCown is, but he’s no Tyrod Taylor.

At the end of the day though, this play is going to happen. The Bucs secondary won’t stop them all. However, there is the possibility of jumping one of these throws as it’s obvious Cutler looks for Landry when he’s scrambling.

As a defender identifies this action taking place, they can feasibly put themselves into position to make a jump on one of these passes if the opportunity arises. As a safety playing behind this play, you have to know where Landry is, because if the cornerback goes for the interception and misses, you now have to play help defense and keep the speedy athlete from breaking it all the way for a score.

Oakland settled for not giving up the big play and generally played Landry fairly conservatively. They also got the win, but it was what their offense was able to do against the Dolphins defense which set up the victory in spite of these types of plays.