The Detroit Lions return home this week for the first time in almost an entire month. Unfortunately, the Ford Field crowd is not likely to be as amped as they left it due to Detroit’s sluggish 1-5 start to the season.
This week, they’ll face off against a Miami Dolphins team that is feeling much more optimistic about their future. With first-year head coach Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins are already holding onto a winning record—and a current Wild Card spot in the AFC standings.
How do the Lions match up against this exciting Dolphins team? Let’s take a look in our Week 8 scouting report.
Key additions: QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Chase Edmonds, RB Raheem Mostert, WR Tyreek Hill, WR Cedrick Wilson, LT Terron Armstead, C Connor Williams, DE Melvin Ingram, DE Trey Flowers
Key losses: WR DeVante Parker, OT Jesse Davis, CB Justin Coleman
2022 NFL draft picks:
Round 3: LB Channing Tindall
Round 4: WR Erik Ezukanma
Round 7: LB Cameron Goode
Round 7: QB Skylar Thompson
- Mike McDaniel as head coach
- Frank Smith as offensive coordinator
After finishing 22nd in scoring offense and 24th in offensive DVOA, the Dolphins clearly had a plan this offseason: load up on offense. They started by hiring 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as their head coach—a long-time pupil of offensive genius Kyle Shanahan and his father Mike. Then, they loaded up on weapons for young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Using the “F them picks” strategy, the Dolphins acquired Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs and immediately signed him to a monster deal. They also upgraded their backfield from Myles Gaskin and Duke Johnson to Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert.
The defense, however, remained relatively unchanged. Not only did the Dolphins not add any big names in the offseason, and they actually retained their defensive coordinator despite the coaching change. Last year, the Dolphins defense was average at best.
2022 season thus far (4-3)
Week 1: Beat Patriots, 20-7
Week 2: Beat Ravens, 42-38
Week 3: Beat Bills, 21-19
Week 4: Lost to Bengals, 15-27
Week 5: Lost to Jets, 17-40
Week 6: Lost to Vikings, 16-24
Week 7: Beat Steelers, 16-10
- 19th in points scored (21.0 PPG), 23rd in points allowed (23.6 PPG)
- 12th in overall DVOA
- 6th in offensive DVOA (3rd in pass DVOA, 17th in run DVOA)
- 20th in defensive DVOA (25th in pass DVOA, 7th in run DVOA)
Despite only putting up more than 21 points once this season, the Dolphins offense has shown some serious signs of strength. They were obviously negatively impacted by Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion, which caused him to miss 2.5 games (half of Week 4, all of Week 5 and 6), but even so, Miami’s passing game has been lethal all season. They rank third in yards per pass attempt (8.1), eighth in expected points added per dropback (0.113), and seventh in passer rating (93.4). That said, interceptions have been a problem, as the Dolphins have seven on the season (t-sixth most). While Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson are responsible for seven of those, Tagovailoa has the second-highest rate of turnover worthy plays in the NFL.
Defensively, the Dolphins have struggled against the pass (7.6 Y/A allowed, 27th); 98.9 passer rating, 26th), but are decent at stopping the run. While they’ve allowed eight rushing touchdowns (t-24th), they rank ninth in yards per carry allowed (4.2) and first in short-yardage run defense, according to Football Outsiders.
- IR/PUP/NFI: RT Austin Jackson (IR), CB Nik Needham (IR), CB Byron Jones (PUP), DE Trey Flowers (IR), S Brandon Jones (IR)
- Other injuries: DE Emmanuel Ogbah (back), DB Keion Crossen (knee), CB Kader Kohou (oblique)
The Dolphins secondary has been absolutely decimated by injuries this year. All-Pro corner Byron Jones has been sidelined since offseason Achilles surgery, His replacement, Nik Needham, tore his Achilles about a week ago. And his replacements, Keion Crossen and Kader Kohou, missed last week with injuries—though they may get one or both back this week. That said, 2020 first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene, who had only started three games in his first two years, stepped in last week and notched his first career interception.
At safety, the Dolphins placed starter Brandon Jones on IR this week, and former Lions Trey Flowers was placed on IR last week.
Of note, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah missed last week with a back injury, but his agent said he should play against Detroit.
Biggest strength: Receivers
Tyreek Hill leads the NFL in receiving yards (773) and has over 100 yards more than the next closest receiver (Stefon Diggs, 656). Jaylen Waddle is fourth in the NFL with 621. Granted, Miami’s third-leading receiver only has 197 yards (tight end Mike Gesicki).
Still, two top-tier receivers are going to be hard to cover, especially when the Lions really only have one cornerback who has been consistently playing well right now. It’s hard to know if the Lions will use Jeff Okudah to mirror someone like Hill, but it could be tough, as Miami moves him around to just about every position.
Biggest weakness: Pass coverage
It shouldn’t come as much surprise that given the ridiculous amount of injuries in the secondary, the Dolphins pass defense has struggled in the first two months of the season. Beyond that, their pass rush has been relatively ineffective. Despite ranking ninth in PFF’s pass rush grade and seventh in ESPN’s pass rush win rate, they have the fourth lowest pressure percentage (15.5%) and just 14 sacks (t-19th).
Specifically of note, the Dolphins rank 23rd in pass defense DVOA against tight ends and 28th against running backs. They have allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to running backs (49.4 yards per game). This would be a good week for D’Andre Swift to return.
Vegas line for Sunday: Dolphins by 3.5