The Philadelphia Eagles 2015 regular season football schedule continues this week with a game against the Miami Dolphins. The Eagles have a chance to rise above .500 with a win at home. In preparation for this weekend, I reached out to our friends over at The Phinsider. Kevin Nogle kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming matchup. Let's take a look at the answers.
1) I'm not sure what to make of this team. Miami looked pretty bad early in the year before firing Joe Philbin. Then Dan Campbell took over and the Dolphins beat the crap out of the Titans and Texans. Since then, the Dolphins lost to the Patriots and Bills. What do you expect out of the Dolphins this week?
At this point? Them to come out of the tunnel. After that, who knows. I still think Dan Campbell can get this team motivated to play, but there are clearly issues that did not appear to be there before the season started. The loss of Cameron Wake to an Achilles tear took the heart-and-soul out of the defense, and a team leader out of the locker room. How big of a loss was Wake? When the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh, one of his first calls was to Wake to tell him how excited he (Suh) was to come play on Wake's defense. The defense really has to figure out how to replace Wake, otherwise they will continue to allow big gains, both on the ground and through the air.
2) The Dolphins hired former Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor away from Philadelphia last season to be Miami's offensive coordinator. To what extent are you satisfied with his performance?
It's really kind of hard to tell with Lazor. He came from Philadelphia, having seen how well they ran the ball. During his time as a college offensive coordinator, he ran the ball. But, to start this season, the Dolphins were throwing the ball 73-percent of the time. It was like Miami did not have a running back available. When the Dolphins fired Joe Philbin, it became apparent that Philbin was the issue, wanting to be a nearly pure passing team. Since going back to a more balanced offense, the Dolphins are doing better on offense, and Lamar Miller is looking like the running back we expected to see this season. Lazor gets to cute sometimes, trying to throw some razzle-dazzle into the playbook, especially with weird pre-snap shifts, but those plays also can work - like the Jarvis Landry 9-yard pass to Ryan Tannehill last week. I think Lazor is growing into his job, especially now that he is being allowed to call the game how he wants, and it is getting better - not perfect, but better.
3) Can you name one matchup that really favors the Eagles and one that really favors the Dolphins?
The Eagles will probably find success with their outside linebackers, specifically Connor Barwin, getting pressure through right tackle Jason Fox. Ja'Wuan James probably will not be playing because of a toe injury sustained two weeks ago, so Fox will have to again start and, while he initially looked okay last week, he eventually started falling apart, both allowing pressure and giving up penalties. How Fox holds up will absolutely be something to watch throughout the game.
I think the Dolphins will probably find some success with the duo of Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi in the running game. The one I am interested to see is how Nolan Carroll holds up with Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, and Kenny Stills coming at him. I know he has actually played pretty well for the Eagles this year, but Dolphins fans know what Carroll was when he was in Miami, so we will all be watching to see how he plays now.
4) Philadelphia reportedly [tried to trade] for Dion Jordan (for the billionth time) before he got suspended (for the billionth time). When are the Dolphins finally going to give up on Jordan so that Chip Kelly can pick him up?
It will be interesting to see what the Dolphins do with him this offseason. I think it is probably 50-50 on him coming back or being released. It probably will all come down to his attitude and if he can keep himself out of trouble. The Dolphins really like the potential - but that is all there is to Jordan right now because he cannot get on the field. Jordan's big moment could have come this year as he probably would have been the primary option - or at least a major option in a rotation - to replace Wake. If Jordan can come in this offseason, whenever he is reinstated by the league, and can show that he has learned from this year, and that he is ready to dedicate himself to football, there is probably a chance the Dolphins give him another year - or at least training camp and the preseason - to decide what to do with him.
5) Who wins this game and why? Score prediction?
I think it depends on which Dolphins team shows up, the Philbins or the Campbells. If Dan Campbell gets Miami back to playing aggressive football, they can win this game. If they are the lackluster team we have seen way too often this year, then it will be ugly for fans on our side of this game. I probably lean toward the Eagles because it is in Philadelphia and because I do not trust the Dolphins right now. Let's say 24-20?