Even without running back Jay Ajayi (traded), the Miami Dolphins still have enough offensive bite to make the Oakland Raiders rue their East Coast excursion.
Admittedly, without Ajayi (who accounted for 532 yards of offense), it was tougher to pinpoint an offensive threat. But this is the topsy-turvy NFL and even the hapless have the opportunity to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes. And based solely off head coaches Jack Del Rio (Raiders) and Adam Gase (Dolphins) laying into their respective rosters, Sunday Night’s tilt should be a doozy.
In fact, listening to Gase talk about the team, you can close your eyes and read the following quote and see Del Rio saying the same exact thing — verbatim.
“I like where we’re at right now,” Gase told the Miami Herald, “We didn’t inquire about anyone else. We’ll see how it goes from here on out but as for right now, I like the group I got.”
Here are a trio of Dolphins the Raiders need to account for, lest they get beached in Miami:
Quarterback Jay Cutler: Announced as the starter by Gase, Cutler (rib injury) has thrown for 995 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions, completing nearly 63 percent of his passes this season.
Cutler has a history with the Raiders dating back to his days as a Denver Broncos draft pick. According to Pro Football Reference (PFR), in five career games against Oakland, Cutler is 3-2. He holds a passer rating of 77.2 with 1,268 yards, five TDs and six picks. He’s been sacked just six times on 169 career pass attempts against the Raiders.
Cutler’s most recent outing was a 22-20 win when he was a Chicago Bear in Oct. 2015. He threw two TDs, one pick and was sacked a trio of times. He completed 65 percent of his passes (28-of-43) and racked up 281 yards.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills: Jarvis Landry leads the team in receptions and yards (50 for 398). Stills leads the team in touchdown catches (four) and plays of 20-plus yards (five). He’s averaging a robust 12.5 yards-per-catch average and against a Raiders defense struggling with passes over the top, Stills could be in for a fine day. Especially with Cutler relatively safe in his career against the Oakland pass rush.
Interestingly enough, Stills doesn’t have a history of playing against the Raiders at any point in his five-year career.
Defensive end Cameron Wake: Even at age 35, this veteran leaves devastation in his Wake. He leads the team with six sacks and has a total of 21 tackles this season. Even in his mid-30’s, Wake displays an uncanny blend of power and athleticism usually reserved for younger pass rushers.
While his impact against the Raiders in his career may seem light (one sack and four tackles, according to PFR), he does hold something more meaningful: In four career games that he’s played against the Raiders, Wake’s Dolphins haven’t lost (4-0).