The Miami Dolphins spent a lot of money to improve their defense and, going into Thursday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team hasn’t seen any kind of return on their investment. The team is 0-2 to start the season, losing their opener to New England, and again last week to Buffalo.

Miami Jacksonville
Miami’s defense has struggled this year, and will have to have a better performance Thursday against Jacksonville. (Image: Getty)
  • High-profile Miami defensive players disappointing in two games
  • Jacksonville running back James Robinson could have a big game against the Dolphins
  • Miami’s Ryan Fitzpatrick will face off against Jacksonville QB Gardner Minshew, and is one big key to the game

                                                                                                                                                                                                

Miami’s poor start to the season isn’t terribly surprising, however, as the Dolphins were underdogs by seven and 5.5 points respectively in those games. How poorly the defense played was a bit of a shock to Miami’s head coach Brian Flores, however, who told reporters on Monday the team needs to work on the fundamentals.

“There are opportunities for us to make plays and we haven’t made them, Flores said. “Interceptions, missed edges. There’s never just one thing. I think we’ve had some opportunities that we need to take advantage of. We try to stress every play because you never know which one’s going to shift the momentum … When the opportunities present themselves, you have to take advantage.”

High-Profile Free Agents not Producing

In the offseason, Miami signed several expensive free-agent defensive players in an effort to bulk up on that side of the ball. So far, however, they haven’t delivered. Former Dallas Cowboy cornerback Bryon Allen signed with the Dolphins, joining Xavien Howard as the two highest-paid players at that position. So far this season, Miami’s pass defense ranks 26th out of 32 teams, and has managed only two sacks in two games.

The run defense is even worse. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was brought in from New England to join fellow signees, defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah. The Dolphins currently rank 29th in run defense, allowing an average of five yards per rush.

Will James Robinson Run Circles Around Miami?

Because of Miami’s struggles preventing the run, Jacksonville’s James Robinson could have a big night. The rookie running back is eighth in the league in rushing, averaging 5.1 yards per rush in the two games.

Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone told reporters that Robinson is part of an offense that has been clicking.

“Right now, we’ve got guys playing at a high level,” Marrone said. “We can run it. We can throw it. There are a lot of different things we can do down there. We feel good about the players who are doing it.”

Quarterback Battle Key to Victory

Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew has been much better than Miami’s Ryan Fitzpatrick through two games, and that should continue on Thursday. After an awful home opener, Fitzpatrick was much improved in the loss against Buffalo last Sunday.

“You’ve got to be ready,” Marrone said. “You never know what’s going to happen. I’ve got a ton of respect for him (Fitzpatrick). He can get hot and really do well.”


QBs: Tale of the Tape Through Two Games

Both Fitzpatrick and Minshew have out-sized personalities that have helped make them fan favorites, but that’s where their similarities end, at least on paper.

Passing Yards TDs Ints QB Rating
Ryan Fitzpatrick 519 2 3 77.8
Gardner Minshew 512 6 2 15.7

While Fitzpatrick has been slow to start, Minshew has amassed a quarterback rating of 115.7 so far this season, good for fourth-best in the NFL. With Miami’s swiss cheese-like pass defense, Minshew may be able to further pad his numbers this week.

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