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The Miami Dolphins face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a Sunday in a road game at the Raymond James Stadium.

They go into the game as severe underdogs. This is due to their 1-3 start and the fact they are playing the reigning Super Bowl contenders in Tampa Bay.

They may have a good record in Florida against Tom Brady, but he was playing in Miami for the New England Patriots. This is a different proposition, with Brady now playing for a Florida team and with arguably better receivers.

They are 3-1 after their win over New England on Sunday in a game that was easily one of the most anticipated regular-season matchups in many years.

Meanwhile, Miami comes in after their third loss in a row which came in a disappointing fashion against the Indianapolis Colts, who went into the game 0-3.  So, is there any way the Dolphins can win this game?

Capitalizing On The Injury Problems And Lack Of Secondary In Tampa Bay

Injury Update On Bucs CB Murphy-Bunting

In short, Miami’s chances of winning are slim to none, but their one chance of beating Tampa Bay is their current Injury Report.

Their secondary continues to be an issue. This was a secondary already lacking in-depth, which had had their problems furthered with injuries to cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean. Davis did not participate in training, whereas Dean had limited participation. Safety Antoine Winfield is on the Tampa Bay IR and also did not participate.

Linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul had limited participation. Wide receivers Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown also made it onto the report, but both had full participation. They should feature. Their biggest miss could be tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is expected not to feature after missing the Pats win and parts of the Rams loss.

Richard Sherman has been signed by Tampa Bay in the past fortnight. It was a surprise that they didn’t reunite Brady with cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He was released by the Pats and subsequently picked up by the 3-1 Carolina Panthers. This is where the Dolphins need to capitalize, but their offense has been far from productive this season.

Miami’s Problems On Offense

Dolphins' grades for ugly loss to Colts; plus stock up, stock down - Flipboard

Even with Tua Tagovailoa, who has not played since going out of the Bills loss in Week Two with a rib injury, the Dolphins would still be heavy underdogs this game. However, they would put up much more of a fight. Backup Jacoby Brissett looked better in the Week Three overtime loss against the Las Vegas Raiders. He was poor against the Colts.

Only the Chicago Bears have recorded fewer total yards or total yards per game than the Dolphins. Miami is 30th in total passing yards (695), 28th in total rushing yards (313), and 31st in total points (62). They are not helped by a terrible offensive line.

Miami has particularly struggled in blocking the run game but has also allowed the fourth-most sacks in pass protection. They are 29th in pass block win rate with a rate of 48%. In terms of run blocking, let’s look at the offensive line’s power success. This is the percentage of runs on third or fourth down with two or less yards to go that see the team achieve a first down or touchdown. Miami’s success rate is 33%. This is the second-worst percentage in the league so far this season. Only three teams have had a worse percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. Their stuffed percentage currently stands at 23%.

Can Miami’s Offense Show Up Against Tampa Bay?

If Miami is to win, they need to capitalize on the poor secondary by using the speed of both Jaylen Waddle (if he doesn’t fumble the ball) and Will Fuller.

Fuller has only recorded four receptions so far this season. This is due to a mixture of league suspension and personal issues. He was on the receiving end of Miami’s successful two-point conversion against the Raiders. You could see that Miami tried to use his speed in overtime against Vegas. He was non-existent against Indianapolis. Waddle has had his issues keeping the ball but has 200 yards and one touchdown from 25 receptions during the first four games of his NFL career. You can see the potential is there. He needs to utilize this more. Perhaps both these players can show their worth to this offense against a banged-up secondary?

Can This Dolphins Defense Again Be A Factor?

Dolphins CB Byron Jones on Xavien Howard holdout: 'It's none of my business'

The Dolphins have placed their two best cornerbacks on the Injury Report. Both Xavien Howard and Byron Jones have had limited participation this week. Perhaps this is 2020 first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene’s time to shine? He has so far been a limited figure on this side. Even if Howard and Jones miss the game, it is likely that Justin Coleman will come in. Miami could even deploy Brandon Jones or rookie Jevon Holland in the position.

Miami’s defense is still having some success. They recorded their 26th straight game featuring a takeaway in the Colts’ loss. However, this is as good as it gets. Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are tied for fourth in passes deflected (5). Elandon Roberts is one of only nine players to score a defensive touchdown so far this season. Despite this, the numbers have significantly dropped for this Miami defensive unit.

In the 2020 season, the Dolphins finished 20th in total yards and yards per game allowed (5,886 and 367.9). They finished 23rd in passing yards allowed (4,024), 16th in rushing yards allowed (1,862), and 6th in points allowed (338). So far in 2021, they are 24th in total yards allowed (1,553) and 25th in total yards allowed per game (388.3). They are 17th in passing yards allowed (1,006) and 26th in rushing yards allowed (547). Their biggest drop-off sees them 23rd in points allowed (106).


Miami’s defense still has moments where they can win games, such as Howard’s forced fumble and recovery against the Patriots in their only win to date this campaign. They face an offense that is one of the best in the league, despite Gronk’s absence. They will trouble Tampa Bay in the first half, but the strength of this Buccaneers team will be too much for the Dolphins.

Dolphins 17-37 Buccaneers.