Tag Archives: Lamar Miller

Eagles-Dolphins Scouting Report

The Eagles (4-4) face the Dolphins (3-5) in the Eagles first one o’clock game since October 11th.  The Eagles are still fighting to stay competitive in the NFC East, where they, the Giants, and the Redskins are currently holding onto hope as they race to the finish line.  The Dolphins, on the other hand, are buried at the bottom of their division behind the Patriots (8-0) and Jets (5-3), and, with a 0-4 record in their division, they currently have the worst divisional record in the NFL.

The Dolphins immediate success after Dan Cambell became the interim head coach in Week 6 turned out to be a mirage because the games they won in convincing fashion were against the Tennessee Titans (2-6) and Houston Texans (3-5).  However, The Dolphins’ success and overall power ranking in the NFL came to a screeching crash when they met their two division rivals, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, the past two games and lost by a combined score of 24-69.

Run/Pass Ratio:  Although the Eagles had an even distribution of running and passing last week, their overall tendency this season is to pass the ball 58 percent of the time against 42 percent running.  The Dolphins pass the ball the third-most overall this season: 64 percent pass against 36 percent run.  However, that tendency has to take into account that the Dolphins did not run frequently until Dan Cambell became head coach for them four games ago.

Pass Defense:   Miami allows a 22nd ranked 97.1 opposing passer rating, with opposing quarterbacks throwing 16 touchdowns against 6 interceptions.  The Eagles allow a 6th ranked 82.2 passer rating, with opposing quarterbacks throwing 13 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.  The Eagles give up an average of 6.9 yards per attempt, ranking ninth in the league, while Miami has given up a 25th-ranked 7.8 yards.  The Dolphins, however, have given up less yards and touchdowns overall to wide receivers.  In addition, both teams rank low in receiving yards given to running backs: (Eagles, 222 yards, 30th) and (Dolphins, 263, 27th).

Advantage:  Eagles

Dolphins Quarterback:  Dolphin’s offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was the Eagles quarterback coach in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach, has had trouble developing Ryan Tannehill this season after he posted substantial numbers last year in Lazor’s first season as Miami’s offensive coordinator.  The Dolphins point production has dropped from 24.3 (11th last season) to 21.4 (21st).  Tannehill’s passer rating is down from 92.8 last season to 88.7. He has 13 touchdowns and 9 interceptions this season after just 12 interceptions last season.  He has not thrown a touchdown in the past two weeks after throwing six combined against Houston and Tennessee, highlighting the fact that he is definitely not matchup-proof and can be shut down by the better defenses in the league.

Eagles Quarterback:  Sam Bradford looked more comfortable in overtime than he has looked in high-pressure situations at anytime this season.  The deer-in-the-headlights look was gone, and he seemed confident.  He had trouble once again getting started, though.  His completion percentage (69.4%) was the second-highest of the season, but he also had just 36 attempts.  His one touchdown Sunday gives him two touchdowns over the past three weeks; however, he did not throw an interception for the first time since Week 4.  He is still tied for the fourth-most interceptions in the NFL – with 10 – behind Matthew Stafford (11), Andrew Luck (12), and Peyton Manning (13).  Although Tannehill, with 9 interceptions, is not far behind.  Bradford’s production in the first half of games, 821 yards, is in stark contrast to the second half of games: 1,236 yards. Therefore, I’ll halt in saying that he has turned the corner until he finally shows up at the beginning of a game.

Advantage:  Eagles

Dolphins Wide Receivers:  In the offseason, the Dolphins signed wide receivers DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, along with tight end Jordan Cameron, in an effort to improve their passing offense.  However, it hasn’t worked out quite as planned.  Stills had a good year last season, with 63 receptions for 931 yards with New Orleans, but he is a boom-or-bust type of wide receiver this year – with more busts than boom.  For example, he had a good 46-yard reception Sunday, but his overall production this season (16 receptions, 279 yards) is below what should be expected of a No. 1 receiver this late in the season.  Cameron has had trouble reproducing the output he had in his 2013 breakout season with the Browns (80 receptions, 917 yards), when he ranked among the top tight ends in the league.  DaVante Parker has disappeared from the stat sheets since Week 3, and he is questionable to play against the Eagles due to a foot injury.  Jarvis Landry, who had the most targets against the Bills last week (12) and goes up against an Eagles interior that was just torched by Cole Beasley, may be the most important wide receiver to watch as he has been the most productive wide receiver recently.  Rishard Matthews was a big producer at the beginning of the season and has been producing close to Landry’s output, so he is worth keeping an eye on, too.  Greg Jennings is largely an afterthought.  The Dolphins do not really have a consistent No. 1 wide receiver, and any one of them could produce.

Eagles Wide Receivers:   Bradford targeted Jordan Matthews on 36.4 percent of his routes against the Cowboys, and Matthews had an impressive game, finishing with nine receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown.  The question now, however, is whether he can reproduce that performance again this season.  The last time he had over 100 yards receiving was in Week 1, when he produced 102 yards, and he has not finished a game with more than 59 yards since Week 2.  However, when he had his best game of the season in 2014 – 138 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina – he followed that with 107 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay the next week.  Miles Austin, who had the most receiving yards in the two games prior to Week 9, had just one reception for 27 yards.  Zach Ertz continues to be a good option for Sam Bradford as he saw six targets and caught five for 44 yards.  Josh Huff, however, barely produced (2 receptions, 10 yards), and it’s fair to wonder if he will have a breakout game again this season.  Nelson Agholor did not play against the Cowboys, and whether or not he will play will be important to monitor.  The Eagles don’t have a consistent No. 1 wide receiver, so the production could come from anywhere.  The most important aspect to watch from this position is whether Matthews can have another big game.

Advantage:  Even

Rush Defense:  The Dolphins allowed over 100 yards to both Bills’ running backs last week: Karlos Williams (110 yards) and ex-Eagle LeSean McCoy (112).  Only the Cleveland Browns have allowed more rushing yards per game than Miami (142.1).  The Eagles have allowed an opposing running back to run for more than 100 yards for the second consecutive week, and losing Jordan Hicks for the season, along with the lingering injuries of DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso, and Mychal Kendricks, does not help the situation.

Advantage:  Eagles

Dolphins Running Backs:  Lamar Miller is the clear-cut No.1 running back in Miami, and, since Dan Cambell took over as head coach, Miami has been using him frequently.  Before Cambell took over, Miller had 37 rushes in four weeks, and he never had more than 13 attempts in a game or 53 yards.  In the four weeks after Cambell took over, though, he has 52 rushes combined and two games with over 100 yards rushing.  Against the Titans and Texans, he had two of the best games of his career, but he cooled down considerably the next two weeks, when he faced the Patriots and Bills and ended with a combined 21 rushes for 59 yards.  Where the Eagles have to be careful, though – if they are not going to allow they’re third consecutive 100-yard rusher – is Miller’s ability to move the ball as a receiver.  Last week, the majority of his production came off receptions (7 receptions, 97 yards), and he had only 44 yards rushing.  Miller has seen 18 targets – 12 of which came in the past two weeks when he had trouble rushing – through the four weeks after Campbell became coach, so the Eagles will need to be very cautious about this Sunday.

Eagles Running Backs:  The Eagles averaged 70 yards running in their first four games, but, now, they are averaging 173.3 yards over their last four games and have at least 150 yards in each contest.  That result has come with an ever-changing offensive line.  It’s clearly time to stop talking about who is the lead back between DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews because they are both major and generally equal contributors on the offense.  The only difference is that Ryan Matthews has more yards and touchdowns with a lot less attempts.  Over the past two games, Matthews has 17 rushes for 164 yards and two touchdowns, while Murray has 36 rushes for 148 yards and one touchdown.  However Murray has 8 receptions for 83 yards the past two games, with 6 catches for 78 yards against Dallas.  The Eagles most likely will not change their approach to utilizing the two running backs against Miami.  The only question, though, is where Darren Sproles fits in the mix – if at all.  Sproles has disappeared from the offense since a stand-out Week 1 performance.

Advantage:  Even

Score prediction:  Eagles 27, Dolphins 20

Questions/Comments?  @sean__cumming

NFL Around The League: 10 Things Learned In Week 7

1.  The Dolphins are a whole new team with their new head coach, Dan Cambell, and it’s a change for the better.  The Dolphins took an amazing 41-0 lead into the halftime against the Houston Texans, who did not gain a yard on offense until they were trailing 35-0.  Ryan Tannehill had only one incompletion, going 18-for-19 for 282 yards and four touchdowns, and Lamar Miller had 236 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.  Next week, though, they play the Patriots, so that is when we will really know how good this team is now.

2.  The Colts are not going to contend for the AFC championship this year.  Their 21-27 loss only looks close because of a late-game, garbage-time rally.  Luck played well at the end of the game, throwing two touchdown passes of 86 and 46 yards to T.Y. Hilton and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief.  But, still, it wasn’t enough to dig themselves out of a huge deficit for the win.  Amazingly, though, the Colts are still leading the AFC South despite a two-game losing streak.  Even if the Colts win the AFC South, however, they’re likely not going anywhere.  They look so out-of-sync.

3.  Odell Beckham Jr. has been struggling the past two weeks (hamstring issues?).  However, the Giants got a surprise performance from running back Orleans Darkwa.  With around 12 minutes left in the second quarter, Darkwa had a breakout drive of 4 carries for 41 yards rushing that ended with a 15-yard touchdown.  After the half, coach Tom Coughlin reportedly said that Darkwa’s run was the only thing that made him smile through the first two quarters.  Darkwa led the team in rushing with 8 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.

4.  The Minnesota Vikings (4-2) seem to have found one of the best bargains in the draft this year with fifth-round draft pick Stephon Diggs.  In the Vikings 28-19 win over the Lions, he had 6 receptions for 108 yards and the first touchdown of his career.  Over the past three weeks, he has 19 receptions for 324 yards.  Next week, he plays a generous Chicago secondary, so he should be in line for another big day.  He is a rookie to watch closely.

5.  The AFC South is the worst division in the league.  As explained above, the Colts (3-4) are struggling.  But, the Texans (2-5) are still not out of the race after their embarrassing loss to Miami, even though they lost Arian Foster for the season to an Achilles injury.  The Titans (1-5) are only one game behind the Texans after their 10-7 loss to the Falcons.  The Jaguars (2-5), who finally won in London after losing the previous two years, had an emotional win and may be the best team in the division right now.  However, I think it’s safe to say that the next Superbowl champion isn’t coming from the AFC South.

6.  Devonta Freeman could be the best running back currently and at the end of the season.  Freeman got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, but, since week 3, he has been almost unstoppable, rushing for 578 yards in that duration with 9 rushing touchdowns total in the season.  In addition, he is a dual-threat receiver with 34 receptions for 310 yards and a receiving touchdown this season.  He has an NFL-leading 621 total yards rushing, and Doug Martin, who ranks second in yards, has 541 yards.  That’s 80 yards less!  His NFL-leading nine rushing touchdowns are four more than Mark Ingram, who ranks second with five.  He is clearly one of the best players in the league right now.

7.  Tom Brady is like a fine wine: he just keeps getting better with time.  After a slow start in the first three quarters against the Jets, he played clutch football when it was needed most.  In the final quarter, Brady went 13-for-16 for 135 yards and two touchdowns.  On the last touchdown drive, he dared the Jets defenders to blitz him because he knew exactly where it was coming from, and a wide-open Rob Gronkowski walked untouched into the end zone.  He finished the day 34-for-54 for 355 yards despite 11 dropped balls by his wide receivers – six by Bradon LaFell.  However, what’s most surprising, though, is that he led the Patriots in rushing yards against the Jets, too.

8.  The Cowboys are going to be in serious trouble if Tony Romo does not return soon.  Since Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks injured Romo in Week 2, the Cowboys have been traveling a downward dive.  Brandon Weeden was not the answer as a backup, and Matt Cassel had a rough day against the Giants, throwing three interceptions.  Luckily, the Giants coundn’t capitalize on the giveaways, but the Cowboys will not be so lucky when they face more opportunistic teams.  Cassel had a great touchdown pass to tie the game at 20 with seven minutes, 14 seconds left in the third quarter and a good drive on the Cowboys’ last possession, but he could not create a clutch conversion on fourth down at the end of the game.

9.  Todd Gurley is making a strong case for Rookie of the Year.  He is at least looking like the best rookie running back at the current moment.  The Rams had trouble moving the ball through the air against the Browns, but Gurley compensated for their struggling passing game.  Nick Foles finished the game with 163 yards, but guess how many all-purpose yards Gurley had on Sunday: 163 yards (128 rushing yards, 35 receiving).  Guess who also led the team in receptions, with four: that’s right, Todd Gurley.  The Rams clearly made the right choice with their first pick this year.

10.  The NFC East is the least predictable division in the league.  The Redskins (3-4) rallied back from a 24-point deficit largely due to Kirk Cousins, who threw three second-half touchdown passes, for a 31-30 win over the Buccaneers.  The Giants (4-3) defeated the Cowboys, 27-20, after Dwayne Harris returned a 100-yard touchdown on a kick return, and Cole Beasley fumbled the ball on a return attempt of his own.  The Eagles (3-4) lost their matchup to the Carolina Panthers due to inopportune penalties, dropped balls, and an offense that is sorely lacking cohesion at the moment.  However, the NFC East can still be won by any of the four teams mentioned.

Key Injuries:

1.  Arian Foster: Arian Foster suffered an Achilles injury in the final minutes of the Texans 44-26 loss to the Miami Dolphins.  He is ruled out for the season.

2.  Josh McCown:  McCown suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of the Browns’ 24-6 loss. That meant Johnny Manziel came in at the end of the game.

3. Matthew Stafford:  After getting sacked seven times in Detroit’s 28-19 loss to the Vikings, Stafford required x-rays on his hand.  However, Stafford reportedly said that it should not be an issue going forward.

Questions/Comments?  Follow me at: @sean__cumming

Fantasy Football: Top 5 Most Interesting Players of Week 7

1.  Lamar Miller (RB: Dolphins):  With Miami’s new head coach, Dan Cambell, installing what can be assumed to be a run-heavy scheme, Miller now appears to be on the fantasy radar for an upgrade in production.  Miami ran on 26-percent of plays in the first four games but 50-percent in Week 6 against the Titans, and, Miller, the unquestionable beneficiary, received 20-plus touches for the first time all season (19 rushes, 2 receptions).  Previously, he had not rushed more than 13 times in a game, in Week 1, and, in Weeks 2-4, he had 24 rushes for 78 yards combined.  However, on 19 carries last week, he totaled 113 yards (5.9 yards-per-carry) and a touchdown, and owners are hoping that trend continues.  He has no comparable competition for touches from Damien Williams or Jonas Grey, so he should be the workhorse back for his team, and, this week, they play the Houston Texans, who have allowed an average of 109 yards-per-game and 6 touchdowns on the ground.  Whether or not Cambell sticks with a run-heavy scheme again will be interesting to see going forward, but teams desperately needing a solid RB2 going forward will be holding their breath, both anticipating and hoping that Cambell stays committed to the run and Miller is the beneficiary.  Will Miller continue to produce like a top running back?

2. Stefon Diggs (WR: Vikings):  Minnesota desperately needs to find an answer at the wide-receiver position because they need someone to take attention away from Adrian Peterson.  Last year, everyone anointed Cordarelle Patterson as the wide receiver to own in Minnesota before the season started, but, after one breakout game, he fizzled out into fantasy obscurity.  Now, however, Stefon Diggs is looking like the receiver to own in Minnesota after two straight weeks of solid production.  Against a top-rated Denver defense that usually holds opposing wide receivers to minimal yardage, the rookie fifth-round pick had 6 receptions on 10 targets for 87 yards then followed that up with 7 receptions on 9 targets for 129 yards against the Chiefs in which he got his first start and logged 82-percent of snaps.  13 catches and 216 yards over two weeks is hard to ignore on a Minnesota team that desperately needs a No. 1 receiver.  This week, he plays a Detroit defense that has given up the 7th most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.  For people who may be scrambling to fill a roster spot for a last-minute injured player, such as Keenan Allen, Diggs could be the guy to replace him.  Are you digging Diggs as the next rookie breakout fantasy star?

3. DeMarco Murray (RB: Eagles):  DeMarco Murray has become the unquestioned leader in the Eagles backfield the past two weeks as he has 42 rushes to Ryan Matthews’ 17 in that duration.  Over the past three weeks, Murray has the seventh-most rushing attempts (50) amongst running backs and the tenth most yards (228).  He has a touchdown in each of his last two games.  Against the Giants last week, he earned his first 100-yard rushing game as an Eagle, and, this week, he goes up against a Panther’s defense that ranks 12th in run defense and 15th in rushing average.  However, the Carolina Panthers should improve now that All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly returned last week.  When Kuechly returned last week, the Panthers held Marshawn Lynch to 54 yards on 17 carries.  Murray will be tested this week against Carolina, but he should be started as his volume of carries alone should give him the opportunity to finish as a top-10 running back.  Will Chip Kelly continue to use Murray as much?  And, will Murray continue to respond with rising production?

4. Jeremy Maclin (WR: Chiefs):  Jeremy Maclin has been cleared to play Sunday after passing the concussion protocol on Friday, and he is expected to play against the Steelers.  The real question now is if he will be able to bring life to the ailing Chiefs offense.  When Jamaal Charles tore his ACL before the Chiefs played the Vikings last week, it seemed that Maclin would be the beneficiary of more points in Charles’ absence.  However, he he had his worst performance of the season, finishing the game with three receptions off four targets for 48 yards.  This brings up the question of whether Maclin can still put up WR2 points with no one else but Travis Kelce to take attention away from him.  This week, he goes up against a Steelers defense that gives up the 11th most points to wide receivers and just gave up an incredible 196 yards to Arizona receiver John Brown.  Maclin has only one touchdown this season, but his 531 yards rank 7th amongst wide receivers; his 56 targets rank 13th, and his 39 receptions rank 8th in the league.  Will he be able to keep putting up yards in the absence of Jamaal Charles?

5. Cam Newton (QB: Panthers): Cam Newton is the ultimate dual-threat quarterback this season, and his rushing attempts are coming voluminously.  Newton, almost half-way to his total rushes last season through six games in 2015, has 50 rushing attempts to 103 last season.  He has averaged at least four yards-per carry over the past three weeks and has a rushing touchdown in three of his last four games.  However, the major debate on Newton so far this season is whether his team’s 5-0 success is the product of a dominating team or an opportunistic schedule since the teams he’s beaten – Jaguars, Texans, Saints, Buccaneers, and Seahawks – have a combined record of 9-20.  When Carolina met the Eagles last year in Week 10, he was held to six yards rushing and sacked 9 times.  Moreover, his passing stats this season are mediocre: 55.4-percent completion percentage, 215.6 yards-per-game, and a 83.2 passer rating. The Eagles are ranked highly against the run, so will Newton perform well if he is forced to win the game through the air?