By Jeremiah Thermidor
Aside from Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden, the rookie quarterbacks starting this season have performed well beyond expectations. The Dolphins already faced off against one of those young star quarterbacks when they fell to Andrew Luck and the Colts in Week 9. This weekend, they’ll have their hands full again as Russell Wilson and the hungry Seahawks visit Sun Life Stadium.
Wilson, who was picked up by Seattle in the draft last April, has his team in playoff contention. The Seahawks are now in second place in the NFC West having won two straight games, knocking off the Vikings and routing the Jets this month. They’re well-rested coming off a bye week which is a definite advantage for them heading into Sunday’s matchup.
One of the concerns Miami has about facing Wilson is how effective he’s been making plays with his legs. Wilson, who was voted rookie of the Week after trouncing the Jets 28-7 on November 11, has averaged 18.9 rushing yards per game.
“He’s elusive. He’s a good football player, very good,” said Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin when asked about the 23-year-old on Tuesday. “He’s done a nice job so far for their team and he’s got a very good arm.”
While Wilson will give the Dolphins some problems this weekend, the team is more concerned about running back Marshawn Lynch who has rushed for more than 100 yards the last four games and has done so a total of six times this year. Lynch has already picked up more than 1,000 yards on the ground this season and is by far Seattle’s best offensive weapon. Having to deal with Lynch is even more of a problem for the Dolphins, considering they’ve struggled to hinder premier running backs lately, allowing Chris Johnson to rush for 126 yards and C.J. Spiller to pick up 91 during their three-game losing streak.
Miami’s running game, meanwhile, has been a bit stagnant. “I’ve been in situations in seasons where you kind of hit a wall a little bit and you’ve got to fight your way through it,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said referring to the run game. “But this wall has been extended a little bit too long for my liking.”
Miami starting running back Reggie Bush hasn’t had many carries the last few games, rushing for just 41 yards against the Colts, 21 versus Tennessee and only 20 in the loss to Buffalo. The Dolphins certainly have to re-establish their running game if they hope to start winning again. Backup tailback Daniel Thomas has had more snaps than Bush during the last four contests picking up 133 yards on 38 carries. Sherman believes the problem is the unit as a whole is not getting enough snaps in the games, which is also why it’s difficult to allow rookie tailback Lamar Miller to play as much as he’d desire.
As has been the case many times this season, the Dolphins are hoping to get better production from their corners that will be defending Seattle’s best receivers in Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. The guy who the Dolphins hope will step in up in the secondary the most is starting cornerback Nolan Carroll who picked up a number of pass interference penalties versus the Bills last Thursday.
“I’ve seen it happen before. Nolan’s not the first DB that could have a stretch of plays similar to what happened the other night,” said Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. “You’ve got to keep on trusting the technique you’re working with.”
The Miami Dolphins (4-6) will play host to the Seattle Seahawks (6-4) on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.