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5 Qs with the Phinsider

One of the league’s best offenses is set to face one of the league’s worst teams. Hooray.

Carolina Panthers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Every week we talk to a writer and fan covering the Carolina Panthers’ opponent for that week. This week, as you may have heard, the Panthers will be sharing the field with the Miami Dolphins. You know, the Dolphins with one of the leading offenses in the league and have only lost to the Buffalo Bills. Those guys.

The writer I spoke to was Kevin Nogle over at The Phinsider, SB Nation’s home for all things Miami and/or dolphin related. Kevin comes to us as a fan traumatized by years of mediocrity from his favorite professional football franchise. While we may not be able to empathize with that state, we can at least be kind to him.

Read on for an inside look at their under-the-radar defense and an impressive amount of equivocating about how good this team actually is. It’s not that their is a lack of evidence supporting the quality of Miami’s squad so much as fans are having a crisis in their ability to have faith. If nothing else, maybe this Q&A will help Panthers fans several generations from now as they try to process a return to relevance for the Carolinas.

Without further BS, here is this week’s interview:

The Dolphins placed De’Von Achane on injured reserve this week. Since NFL teams by rule cannot have more than one talented, successful skill position player at a time and since Panthers fans have heard his name before, this is presumably a devastating loss from which the Dolphins will never recover. What are Dolphins fans expecting to see from the offense in Achane’s absence?

I feel like they may have to find a way to get some of their lesser known players involved. They have this potential breakout star at wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, who has had some success early in the season and probably can become a bigger part of the offense with Achane out. They also have another receiver, Jaylen Waddle, who may be able to step up some. At running back, Raheem Mostert will have to find a way to add in some production as well. Losing Achane does decimate the offense’s ability to produce, but if these three guys can find a way to step up, the Dolphins might be able to make it through.

On a more serious note, it will be interesting to see this week how the Dolphins add in wide receiver Chase Claypool. He has been with the team a week now, so he is not going to be fully up to speed with the playbook, but he should be able to get onto the field for some action. Miami’s offense is built with so much speed that they can strike from anywhere, but they have not been great once they get down to a short field. Someone like Claypool, with his size, gives the team another option in the endzone to muscle his way to the ball or highpoint a pass. I would expect him to be active this week and find a few snaps and run a few routes.

Also, to Dolphins fans, this seems strange, but the Dolphins players all say they have a hard time on film and at practice differentiating between Achane and Salvon Ahmed. To the fans, Ahmed is a nice player to have, but the team seems to think he can be just as effective as Achane. Ahmed had a strong training camp and preseason this year and appeared ready to step into a major role in the offense. If that is true, Miami’s offensive weaponry is just stupid deep.

Draftkings Sportsbook has the Dolphins as two touchdown (-13.5) favorites over the Panthers, even after the Achane news. What do you think they know about these teams that I, as a Panthers fan, am refusing to acknowledge?

As a battered Dolphins fan for years, I am always worried when I see big numbers on the spread. It feels strange, but this year seems to be confirming that the Dolphins are a pretty good team. I also do not like to be that guy who comes to talk to another fan base and tells them everything is sunshine and rainbows through my aqua colored glasses. I try to be level-headed and provide a realistic take on the Dolphins and the upcoming game. This week, however, I really do feel like this line is accurate, and probably would be a little bigger by now if Achane had not landed on IR. Any given Sunday could be real here, especially if the Dolphins are caught looking ahead toward the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7. but I think the unknown players we discussed earlier may be enough to take this one for Miami.

The Dolphins offense got all the press after eking out a win over the fearsome Denver Broncos earlier this season. What’s the deal with their defense? Are there any players who Panthers fans should be aware of or who are looking to break out? For reference, the Panthers have weaknesses along their offensive line, at every skill position, and at quarterback that could potentially be exploited.

Hmmm...Dolphins options to exploit weaknesses at quarterback, the offensive line, and the skill positions. Not a lot of options there. Miami’s pass rush has stepped up the last couple of weeks, recording 14 quarterback hits and seven sacks last week against the New York Giants, and they did that without Jalean Phillips, who should be the team’s leading pass rusher. Xavien Howard has not been as dominating at cornerback as he was in the past, but he is still a very talented cornerback and can make quarterbacks pay. The other side of the field was supposed to be Jalen Ramsey’s, but a preseason injury has him on IR. In his place, second-year Kader Kohou and veteran Eli Apple have been splitting playing time, with Apple likely to be the main outside corner while Kohou moves inside as the nickel a little more permanently now. Miami could activate Nik Needham from the physically unable to perform list, but it feels like they will be very conservative with ramping up his playing time. At safety, Jevon Holland is a beast who is the top rated safety in the league, according to PFF. He is not a name everyone knows, but he should be a Pro Bowl selection and he can be used in multiple ways all around the defense. Brandon Jones is starting to see his playing time increased after an ACL injury last year, while DeShon Elliott has been solid addition to the defense this year.

If you want to attack Miami’s defense, run the ball straight at them. They have not yet proven they can stop the run routinely, so force them to prove it. The problem with that is, teams have been falling behind early as Miami uses their speed to score quickly, which forces the opposition to have to throw more. It masks some of the struggles for the defense. If Carolina can establish a running attack, it could slow down Miami, keeping the offense off the field and wearing down the Dolphins’ defensive front seven.

The Panthers defense, on the other hand, is a sleeping giant, After all of their injuries, in fact, I believe medical professionals would prefer the use of the word ‘comatose.’ Are the Dolphins known for taking advantage of back up players in an opponent’s secondary?

Is just saying “yes” an appropriate answer here?

Miami’s use of pre-snap motion is going to cause confusion for the defense, while letting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa read what the defense is trying to do even before the snap. The receivers are going to line up in strange places, motion to somewhere else, then attack through slants and crossing routes until the defense steps up to stop it. Then, Hill and Waddle are using their speed to go deep. A comatose defense may find some difficulty in keeping up.

Give it to us straight, in which quarter do you expect Tua Tagovailoa to get benched?

Miami pulled Tagovailoa and most of the starters at the beginning of the fourth quarter against the Broncos. The score at that point was 56-13 before they ended that game 70-20. I would not expect the Dolphins - or any team in the league - to get to 70 points again, but if this does get out of hand, yes, I could see Mike White heading into the game in the fourth quarter. But I will go back to the cliche and say, any given Sunday.