Tale Of The Tape: San Diego Chargers At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackPhilip Rivers has changed his game quite a bit this season. Instead of winging it all over the field, Rivers has concentrated mainly on short and medium-range passes. As a result, Rivers has completed 71.6 percent of his passes this season and he has an impressive 18-7 TD-interception ratio. Rivers has great confidence in his ability and he is one of the most accurate passers in the league.The Dolphins need some real leadership after the Richie Incognito debacle, and leadership should come from the quarterback. It has not been determined whether Tannehill has that kind of persona to lead the Dolphins out of this chasm. Tannehill has been a streaky quarterback with some ability, but he has yet to show that he can play consistently.
- OffenseRyan Mathews is not one of the game’s marquee running backs, but he does play hard and he will lower his shoulder and deliver a hard hit of his own. The Chargers get just enough from their running game to keep opposing defenses honest. Keenan Allen is proving to be a very reliable target for Rivers and he has shown he can make the tough catch in traffic. Antonio Gates is a big threat on third-down plays.Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have both had their moments running the football this season, but neither one has clearly been able to establish himself as the No. 1 guy. Brian Hartline has been a fine possession receiver while former Steeler Mike Wallace can get deep. The Dolphins’ offensive line is messy without Incognito and the tormented Jonathan Martin.
- DefenseThe Chargers rank 29th in overall defense. While they have given up a lot of yardage, the biggest problem has been giving up big drives that have cost them in the fourth quarter. The Chargers often get pushed around because they simply don’t have enough strength. Free safety Eric Weddle leads the team by a wide margin with 70 tackles.The Dolphins have played inconsistently on defense and rank 22nd overall. They can play good defense for the majority of the game and then give up big plays that ruin their effort at key moments. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is one of the few Dolphins who have played consistently and he will stop anyone who he can get his hands on.
- Special TeamsThe Chargers have done a solid job in their punt and kickoff coverage and every time Mike McCoy sends Eddie Royal out to return a punt, he knows his team has a decent chance to make a big return. Nick Novak has proven to be a dependable FG kicker, making 17-of-20 attempts.The Dolphins have done a fine job in their punt and kickoff coverage, but Marcus Thigpen is an ordinary return man who is not a threat to bust a big play. Placekicker Caleb Sturgis tends to get nervous in pressure situations and has made 13-of-18 FG attempts.
The Chargers have suffered some painful defeats this year and have dropped two games in a row after their bye week. While traveling across the country is tough, they can’t allow this game to get away from them. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor