Featured

Dolphins vs Bears Breakdown - Week 7

The Miami Dolphins enter their game against the Chicago Bears at a critical juncture of their season. At 2-3 with a winnable Jacksonville game upcoming, a road win would set them up to at least continue to compete for the division title. A loss wo...

Dolphins vs Packers Breakdown - Week 6

The Miami Dolphins go into their Week 6 matchup vs Green Bay with a tall task ahead of them. The Green Bay Packers are not unbeatable; like any team, they have their weaknesses. However, they are dangerous, high-powered squad that demands top-notc...

Dolphins vs Bills Breakdown - Week 2

Dolphins vs Bills - Week 2 - Matchup Breakdown The Miami Dolphins opened up the 2014 season in fashion with a statement win. It wasn’t only that they beat the Patriots 33-20, it was in the thorough manner that they did so. On the offensive sid...

Dolphins Host Patriots, Week 1 Match Up Preview

It felt like forever, but the NFL season is finally back; and right out of the gate the Miami Dolphins face the long standing champions of the AFC East, the New England Patriots. The last time these two teams faced off in Miami, the Dolphins seale...

Preseason Week 3 Breakdown: Dolphins vs Cowboys

The Dolphins’ Week 3 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys ended in a shootout between backup quarterbacks Matt Moore and Dustin Vaughan, but since it is the preseason, the 25-20 victory was of little importance. The third week of the preseason is th...

  • Dolphins vs Bears Breakdown - Week 7

    Sunday, 19 October 2014 14:24

    Published in Analytics

  • Dolphins vs Packers Breakdown - Week 6

    Saturday, 11 October 2014 13:40

    Published in Analytics

  • Dolphins vs Bills Breakdown - Week 2

    Friday, 12 September 2014 23:45

    Published in Analytics

  • Dolphins Host Patriots, Week 1 Match Up Preview

    Friday, 05 September 2014 19:52

    Published in Analytics

  • Preseason Week 3 Breakdown: Dolphins vs Cowboys

    Sunday, 24 August 2014 18:41

    Published in Film Room


Saturday, 11 October 2014 13:40

Dolphins vs Packers Breakdown - Week 6 Featured

Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Miami Dolphins go into their Week 6 matchup vs Green Bay with a tall task ahead of them. The Green Bay Packers are not unbeatable; like any team, they have their weaknesses. However, they are dangerous, high-powered squad that demands top-notch effort and execution out of any opponent trying to compete. In thinking about what the Dolphins can do in game-planning against the Packers, it is instructive to see what the statistics suggest.*

Overall Offensive Performance

The word that best describes Green Bay’s offense so far this season is efficient. While the Packers have scored 26.8 points/game, 7th best in the league, they rank 28th in yardage with 309.2 yards/game. Their offense has been extremely pass heavy with 219.6 yards/game through the air (71% of their offense) and only 89.6 yards/game on the ground (29% of their offense). On a per play basis, their pass game also appears more efficient as they have averaged 7.7 yards/pass attempt (11th best in the league), while gaining only 4 yards per rush attempt (18th best). Their scoring reflects this pass-centric approach as they have 12 passing touchdowns and 4 rushing touchdowns this year so far.

Looking at Football Outsiders’ DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average – read about it here - http://www.footballoutsiders.com/info/methods), which adjusts performance for the quality of an opponent, has the GB offense as the 5th best overall this season thus far. Their passing offense DVOA is ranked as 5th best, while the rushing offense is ranked as 11th best. Interestingly, the variance associated with their offense – which in its most simple manner can be understood as how consistent the offensive performance has been – shows GB’s offense to be the 4th least consistent this year. Similarly, PFF has the Green Bay offense graded as the 9th best overall with the pass offense graded as the 3rd best and rush offense graded as 19th best.

 

Offense in Wins vs Losses

Green Bay is 3-2 this year with wins vs the NY Jets (week 2), Chicago Bears (week 4), and Minnesota Vikings (week 5). Their losses came against Seattle (week 1) and Detroit (week 3). Looking at their offensive stats in their wins vs losses is telling.

 

*- as an aside, the utility of statistical vs game film breakdown is an ongoing topic of debate in the football analytics world. One manner of thinking about the two approaches is that they can be complimentary and revealing of different aspects of a team or individual performance. Statistics, generally speaking, are outcomes that are the results of processes. The processes behind the statistics, the driving forces underlying the outcomes, can at least be partially elucidated through film breakdown and advanced metrics.

 

 

 

Total yards

Passing yards

Passing TDs

Rushing yards

Rushing TDs

TO difference

Time of Possession

Seattle - L

269

189

1

80

1

0

53.6%

NYJets - W

390

310

3

80

0

0

50.7%

Detroit - L

223

147

1

76

0

2

36.3%

Chicago - W

358

302

4

56

1

2

39.4%

Minnesota - W

318

164

3

154

2

2

46.4%

               

Wins (avg)

355.33

258.67

3.33

96.67

1

1.33

45.5%

Losses (avg)

246

168

1

78

0.5

1

45.0%

 

 

Looking at these offensive numbers, several clear trends stick out. In GB’s first four games, they threw for over 300 yards in their two wins, while throwing for only 189 and 147 yards in their two losses. Similarly, the passing game accounted for a total of seven touchdowns in victories, while only scoring one passing touchdown in their two losses. Up until their week 5 complete domination win over Minnesota, 42-10, they failed to rush for more than 80 yards in any game. Eddie Lacy, the 2013 rookie of the year, who totaled 1,178 yards last season, has been mostly shut down this season, although perhaps the Vikings game was a sign that GB’s run game was turning the corner.

 

QB Play

 

rodgersvikingsthrow.jpg

The GB offense and the team overall has, for the most part, gone as their pass game has gone; luckily for them, they have one of the game’s best in Aaron Rodgers leading that charge. Rodgers, currently graded as the best overall QB by PFF, is completing 77.1% of his passes (6h best) and has averaged 7.9 yards/attempt (8th best), while throwing 12 touchdowns so far (tied for 2nd best). Interestingly, Rodgers has been able to put up these impressive numbers while being sacked 12 times this season (6th most). Looking at Rodgers splits in GB’s wins vs losses reveals some interesting suggestions. In wins against the Jets (week 2), Bears (week 4), and Vikings (week 5) – Rodgers threw for a combined 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, while his NFL passer rating in those 3 games was an impressive 109.8, 151.2, and 138.7. In losses at Seattle (week 1) and at Detroit (week 3), Rodgers combined for 2 touchdowns and 1 interception with a passer rating of 81.5 and 88.8.

 

Ian’s Take: Against Seattle, Rodgers was unwilling to even challenge Richard Sherman, and that allowed safety Earl Thomas to provide help coverage on deep routes. Green Bay’s strategy was doomed from the start, since taking away an entire half of the field is too limiting. With four or more defenders covering three receivers, the Seattle defensive line caused havoc on Rodgers.

As we saw in the Detroit game, the Packers’ offense can lose it’s rhythm quickly when the front four defenders pressure Rodgers and contain his scrambles. The secondary merely must be good in coverage to challenge completions. Too often, the Packers will execute their scheme and Rodgers will hit a wide open receiver for a big gain.

 

Rodgers play has been impressive no matter which way it is sliced and diced. His under-pressure statistics reveal a player who, like all QBs, has a decline in accuracy, but not one who is too significantly rattled by it. His accuracy under pressure is still a respectable 65.4% (9th best) and his completion % remains decent at 54.8% (5th best).

Listening to Miami players and coaches this week, several of them noted Rodgers ability to keep plays alive while extending them for gains under duress. Using PFF’s “time in pocket” stats shows this effectiveness. His average time to throw at 2.74 seconds ranks as 16th longest in the league. His completion percentage when throwing in 2.5 seconds or less ranks is 76.1% (2nd best) with an associated 119.2 NFL QB rating (best in the league). Meanwhile, while his completion percentage when throwing the ball in 2.6 seconds or more falls to 50.9%, his NFL QB rating remains at 107.3 (4th best).

 

WR Play

To be concise, Rodgers isn’t doing it alone. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are crisp, consistent route runners, with the ability to gain major yardage after the catch. Cobb already has 273 yards on 24 receptions for 6 touchdowns this year. Rodgers QB rating is 133.9 when throwing to Cobb, which ranks as the highest WR rating in the league so far. Meanwhile, Jordy Nelson has 525 yards on 34 receptions with 4 touchdowns. His WR rating of 116.3 ranks as 7th best in the league. Cobb presents an interesting challenge for Miami, who has an ailing Finnegan this week, as he does the majority of his damage from the slot where he’s run 91.9% of his routes (2nd highest percentage in the league). A last PFF stat shows just how efficient Nelson has been this year. PFF’s “yards per route run” (YPRR) divides the yardage a receiver gains by the number of routes where a receiver runs an actual pattern, which gives an excellent indicator of WR production. Nelson’s 3.24 YPRR ranks as the best in the league so far.

cobb.jpg

Trench Play

As a unit, GB’s offensive line has provided respectable pass protection this year. Their 31 total pressures allowed ranks as 5th best in the league. That said, due to injury to veteran Bryan Bulaga, usual reserve Derek Sherrod has been called into action at RT with mediocre results. Sherrod ranks as the 7th worst graded PFF tackle this year including 10th worst specifically in pass blocking. Sherrod struggled mightily week 1 vs Seattle’s Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. He was again called into action in weeks 2 and 5 (where he filled in at LT) and fared slightly better, but still struggled in his run blocking.

 

Defense

GB’s defense has given up an average of 21.2 points/game (tied for 10th best) and a respectable 371.8 yards/game (11th best). However, looking a bit closer at their pass and run defense reveals a significant weakness against the run. While only giving up 208.8 yards/game in the air (7th best), their 163 yards/game against the run ranks them at worst in the league. Furthermore, the defense has given up 6 rushing TDs (5th worst) and their 4.6 yards/rush given up ranks as 8th worst in the league.

Football Outsiders DVOA statistic, which again corrects for the quality of the opponent, has GB ranked as the 12 best defense in the league, with a 3rd best pass defense and 23rd best rush defense.

 

Ian’s Take: Green Bay is limited defensively with their old linebackers. Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews aren’t able to hold up in coverage effectively, and are targets in the run game as well. The defensive line for the Packers is an area Miami must feast on, as only Mike Daniels is a quality player. Dominating the front line should then make it easier to advance to the second level with blocks.

albert.jpg

 

Defense in Wins vs Losses

 

Opponent

Total yards

Passing yards

Passing TDs

Rushing yards

Rushing TDs

Sacks

Ints

Seattle - L

398

191

2

207

2

1

0

NYJets - W

313

166

1

147

2

2

1

Detroit - L

353

238

0

115

1

2

2

Chicago - W

496

261

2

235

0

1

2

Minnesota - W

299

188

0

111

1

6

2

               

Wins (avg)

369.3

205.0

1.0

164.3

1.0

3.0

1.7

Losses (avg)

375.5

214.5

1.0

161.0

1.5

1.5

1.0

 

 

Interestingly, while GB’s offensive statistics clearly vary significantly between the games they won and the games they lost, the defensive statistics split by wins and losses look nearly identical. Astoundingly, the GB defense is giving up over 160 yards rushing in games whether they’ve won or lost.

 

 

Take-Aways for the Miami Dolphins

The Green Bay Packers are a very respectable opponent. On offense, the statistics reveal a team that, while not piling on offensive yardage, is extremely efficient at scoring points predominantly through their passing attack. There is no easy answer for Aaron Rodgers and the damage he does with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. In week 1, Seattle repeatedly harassed Rodgers with an effective pass rush, while its secondary allowed only one touchdown on 189 yards passing. In week 3, Detroit was again able to limit the GB passing offense as the Packers gained only 147 yards through the air. Moreover, the Lions were able to dominate the time of possession, which is another way of keeping GB from doing their usual damage.

rodgerssack.jpg

Miami’s defensive line has the potential to be an elite NFL unit this season. The combination of effective run-stuffing players in the middle and top-tier pass pressure throughout the line makes this a group that can change the dynamic of nearly any game. Rodgers, while still a productive passer under pressure, does have his accuracy fall substantially when effectively rushed. On the back end, Miami’s secondary will be thoroughly challenged by Nelson and Cobb. They will have to be disciplined in their assignments and avoid giving up too many chunk yardage plays in order to prevent GB’s pass attack from wreaking their usual havoc. It will be interesting to see how a back-from-suspension Reshad Jones performs at safety and how the Dolphins approach the slot cornerback position where Cortland Finnegan appears to be banged up. The Green Bay run game has been fairly anemic so far this season, although their dominant game against Minnesota last week is suggestive that maybe their run game is starting to hit its stride once again. Optimally the Dolphins will be able to shut down the GB run game while making the Packers offense as one-dimensional as possible.

millerstiffarm.jpg

On offense, the Dolphins should be able to run the ball with success. A commitment to the run makes sense as, not only does GB have one of the worst run defenses in the league, winning the time of possession game also keeps the ball out of their offense’s hands. Mike Pouncey, whether he plays at C or is moved over to the guard (as has been suggested), offers an upgrade at either position in run blocking as well. The bigger question is whether Joe Philbin and Bill Lazor will maintain a commitment to the run if the Dolphins fall behind early.

 

Prediction

Green Bay 31 – Miami 21. 

 

Thank you to Ian Wharton - @nflfilmstudy for also providing his insights. 

Read 430548 times Last modified on Saturday, 11 October 2014 14:13
Pablo Knowles

Pablo is a FinDepth co-founder. Having grown up in South Florida, he's been a Miami Dolphins fan since childhood. His main avenue of football analysis is through a statistical approach. He also enjoys quality music and a good laugh. Pablo can be found at @PabloKnows on twitter and can be reached via email at PabloKnows54@gmail.com. 

 

55571 comments

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.