By Sam McPherson
The 2017 Miami Dolphins are an unknown entity in Week 2 of the NFL regular season, due to the changed date of the team’s opening game. Hurricane Irma won’t stop the Dolphins from traveling to Los Angeles, however, for a Week 2 game with the Chargers in sunny Southern California.
The Miami organization now faces the unpleasant task of playing 16 straight games without a bye week, so the Dolphins will be at a disadvantage right from the start of the season. However, the players are professionals, and Miami will find a way to manage the misfortune. But remember this change later in the season when the injuries are piling up for the team.
Chargers Season Record: 0-1
Los Angeles lost, 24-21, on the road in Denver Monday night, as a second-half comeback came up just short. For the Chargers now, that’s 17 losses by seven points or less since the team last finished a season above .500 back in 2014. It seems they are always playing close games … without being able to close the deal at the end.
Monday night was no different for L.A. After falling behind 24-7 at halftime, the Chargers scored two touchdowns in the middle of the fourth quarter to get to the three-point deficit, but they couldn’t get over the hump at the end—as usual.
Chargers On Offense
It starts with quarterback Philip Rivers for Los Angeles, a perennial Pro Bowl player. Now 35 years old, time is running out for Rivers to secure the elusive status his statistics have suggested he is capable of achieving. He tossed three TD passes against the Broncos, but Rivers couldn’t get the offense moving in big chunks
He has a full and healthy complement of weapons right now, which makes the Chargers offense dangerous. Running back Melvin Gordon is a dual threat out of the backfield, and wide receivers Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams are also dangerous players when they get the ball in the open field. Throw in tight end Antonio Gates, still playing at age 37, and it’s obvious why L.A.’s offense scares opponents.
Chargers On Defense
L.A. gave up 321 yards to the relatively pedestrian Denver offense on Monday night, but holding the Broncos to 24 points was a solid effort. Linebacker Jatavis Brown made 14 tackles in the game, so the Dolphins will have to account for him on every play they run offensively on Sunday.
The Chargers also notched four sacks against Denver, including 1.5 sacks by defensive end Joey Bosa. He had six tackles overall, so if the Dolphins want to throw the ball effectively, they will have to scheme some double teams to keep Bosa out of the backfield.
Chargers Players To Watch
Allen is the key cog in the L.A. offense, and when the Chargers lost him in Week 1 last year, it changed their whole season. In fact, since his stellar rookie season back in 2013, Allen has had a hard time staying on the field, playing in just nine games combined in 2015-16. However, if Rivers and Allen are locked in, it’s going to be hard to stop L.A.’s offense.
Bosa is a disruptive force on the defensive line, as we might expect from a player that was drafted third overall in the 2016 draft. He posted 10.5 sacks as a rookie, and is clearly picking up right where he left off last season. He did get juked on Monday night by Denver QB Trevor Semien on a scramble, but don’t expect that to happen to Bosa too often.
It’s hard to gauge this as Miami didn’t play in Week 1, but on paper, the Chargers have a lot of talent for the Dolphins to match up against on the road. Miami’s rust may show, too, without the first-game jitters already dispersed. However, L.A. loves to lose its close games and despite the lack of practice time, Dolphins coach Adam Gase likely has his team as prepared as possible. Expect another Chargers ‘down to the wire’ game, with the winner likely being the team that makes the fewest mistakes.