Coming off yet another disappointing campaign where they fell short of contending for the playoffs, the Miami Dolphins are looking to bounce back after yet another disappointing campaign. However, Miami is coming off an offseason of much change as they have put in place a new coaching staff while journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is slated to be the starter heading the season opener on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens are looking to build off their momentum from last year that saw them undergo changes under center second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson set to enter his first full campaign as the clear-cut starter that the Ravens hope to build around for the next decade. The Ravens saw their 2019 season come to a disappointing close in the playoffs, but much turnover with the roster along with Jackson having his first campaign under his belt, the team is looking to take the next step forward.
All of this sets up what should be an intriguing Week 1 matchup between these two teams looking to get off to a strong start to the 2019 season.
Ravens success will be dictated Jackson’s development
Heading into the 2019 season, the Ravens have undergone much change to their roster that has seen several notable names no longer on the team such as outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and safety Eric Weddle. However, the focus has been almost entirely been on the development of second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will be under center for his first full season as the starter. There have been questions about Jackson’s ability as a passer as he has already shown a tremendous ability to impact the game with his legs in his rookie campaign. This is something that head coach John Harbaugh has voiced that will remain a significant chunk of the offensive game plan in 2019. It had become clear that the Ravens were operating in a more restrictive manner with Jackson in his rookie campaign as he had his struggles throwing the ball down the field. Although it is a small sample size, he only completed 37.5 percent of his throws (9-of-24) that went at least 15 yards down the field, which was ranked him 24th in the league in 2018. This is an area that Baltimore hoping for an improvement in order for the former Heisman Trophy winner to take the next step in his development as a quarterback.
Meanwhile, the team Ravens did bring in much-needed help in the backfield by signing Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram to strengthen their running game. Ingram has shown the ability to make a major impact as a dual-threat option as he will step in as their primary option out of the backfield This should be a major factor in Sunday’s contest as the Dolphins struggled tremendously against the run last season ranking last 31st in that regard giving up 145.3 yards per game while being tied for 27th with 17 rushing touchdowns allowed and 26th with 4.7 yards give up per attempt. Given that this has been the case, it should be a big factor in the Ravens’ game plan from the get-go to set the tempo on the road that should feature plenty of designed runs from Jackson to keep the Dolphins’ defense on their toes. This alone could be the deciding aspect as Baltimore’s effectiveness in moving the ball on the ground will determine how the season opener will unfold, which has the appeal of being heavily in their favor given that significant edge.
Dolphins eyeing strong start despite roster turnover
In the weeks heading into the 2019 season, there has been much attention being paid to the Dolphins’ roster. Much of which has come in the way of them seemingly moving some of their key contributors from the last few years that have seemed to indicate that Miami may be in full rebuild mode. The front office has made the choice to move rising star left tackle Laremy Tunsil and veteran wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans along with shipping linebacker Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints. This has left the team with less stability than what was anticipated heading into this year’s campaign. Along with that, the Dolphins have also elected to roll with veteran journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter over second-year quarterback Josh Rosen, who was believed to be their future under center. However, Fitzpatrick has grabbed ahold of the starting job ahead of Week 1 that has drawn some questions about the direction of the franchise.
J’Marcus Webb recently signed with tyeh Dolphins and hopes to help out a troubled OL.
“You work out and it is early in the morning, tension is high, but I just worked out and they told me that ‘We will get back to you and see what happens this week,’ ” Webb said. “I keep it optimistic and I came in this morning and just got right to work.”
Rosen may be able to grab the starting gig at some point in the season, but it has at least made it clear that its Fitzpatrick’s job to lose. The Dolphins did see the departure of Frank Gore over the offseason, but fourth-year running back Kenyan Drake finally appears to be poised to be the workhorse back in Miami after working through split-carry roles in the last couple of years. Drake has shown the ability to be a big-play factor both in the running game and as a receiving threat. He didn’t put up flashy numbers last year, but he recorded 535 rushing yards and 477 receiving yards on 53 catches with nine total touchdowns. The Dolphins will likely look to feature him heavily in order to utilize his unique skill set to help move the ball down the field in order to keep pace with the Ravens. However, Miami could have a tough around as Baltimore held one of the league’s top defenses last year ranking first overall including being fifth against the pass, fourth against the run and second-best with just 17.9 points per game allowed. If the Dolphins hope to have a chance to come out on top in the season opener, they will need their offense to put up a strong performance.
- Dolphins are 0-5 ATS in their last five games when playing at home against Baltimore.
- Ravens are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 games on grass.
- Ravens are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.