Tue, 24 Nov 2020

First Look: Rams travel to Dolphins in Week 8 before Week 9 bye

Los Angeles Rams
29 Oct 2020, 17:24 GMT+10

Stu Jackson

The Rams (5-2) travel to face the Miami Dolphins (3-3) this Sunday in Week 8, looking to build on their big win over the Bears on Monday Night Football and carry momentum into their Week 9 bye. Kickoff from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, is scheduled for 10 a.m. pacific time on FOX.

In advance of the contest, here is your first look at Rams-Dolphins on Nov. 1, including notable Dolphins additions, some of Miami's top statistical performers in Week 6 and key storylines:

Notable Dolphins additions

Drafted University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft. Though rookie classmates selected in the first round like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert made their debuts quickly, Tagovailoa had to patiently wait while the Dolphins cautiously monitored his recovery from a season-ending hip injury last November. He finally got his first NFL snaps with 2 minutes remaining in the Dolphins' Week 6 game against the Jets and was named the starter over veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick the next day. Signed former Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones to a five-year deal in March. In 2019, Pro Football Focus evaluated him as the 11th-highest graded player at his position (minimum 600 snaps). He also had the top tackling grade of any cornerback last season and owned the 12th-best coverage grade. He missed two games due to a groin injury sustained against the Bills in Week 2 and has five combined tackles and one pass breakup so far this season.

Top performers in Week 6 (Dolphins had a Week 7 bye)

Fitzpatrick completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 191 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the Dolphins' 24-0 win over the Jets. Tagovailoa was 2 for 2 for nine yards in limited action.

RB Myles Gaskin led Miami's backfield with a game-high 19 carries for 91 yards, adding four receptions for 35 yards.

TE Adam Shaheen had a team-high 51 yards on three receptions, plus one touchdown. WR Preston Williams (two catches for 18 yards) and tight end Durham Smythe (one catch for four yards) caught Fitzpatrick's other touchdown passes.

S Eric Rowe led the Dolphins defense with nine combined tackles, and CB Xavien Howard chipped in an interception.

On special teams, kicker Jason Sanders made his lone field goal attempt (24 yards) and all three of his extra point attempts.

Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams

After getting his feet wet against the Jets, it's now full-time Tua Time in Miami. And while one would think going against a rookie making his first career start - and with limited NFL film - would make it difficult for an opposing defense to prepare for him, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley noted it will still be Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's offense and "that it's not like they're just going to create a new offense in a week for (Tagovailoa). He fits the style of play that they want."

Additionally, even though Tagovailoa has limited NFL film, Staley still feels he has a good grasp of his talent because of draft preparation. Yes, Staley studies defensive players, but those evaluations naturally make him and other coaches aware of players who excel on the other side of the ball as well.

"When we're evaluating all these defensive players in the draft, the SEC is a good of a conference as there is in college football, I think you become aware of some of the offensive players in the draft," Staley said, pointing to Rams rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson as an example. "You're watching all these SEC secondary players and then your eyes kind of gravitate towards who is a really good player on offense."

Still, there will undoubtedly be differences in what Tagovailoa is comfortable with versus what veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick - Miami's starter in its first six games - was comfortable with in Gailey's system. The Rams will have to be prepared for how that influences the Dolphins offense and adjust accordingly.

Sign up for Miami News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!