This is the time of the week that I trade a few questions with the SportBlogs Nation blogger for the opposing team. This week's opponent, the Miami Dolphins, may have actually suffered even more than my Ravens. However, which is worse: going 0-16 when you were not expected to be very good, or expecting so much better from the Ravens and having the bottom drop out once the season began? Tough one, but I think I'll still take the Ravens, all season, as well as in Sunday's game! Visit Matty's site over at The Phinsider to see his questions and my responses. Here we go with my questions (in bold) and his answers:
Q- The Ravens probably offer the best opportunity for the Dolphins to escape history and finally win a game. What is the outlook of the fans of this happening Sunday?
A- To be honest, most Dolphin fans are really coming to grips with the realization that this team is probably going to go 0-16. So really, rather than talking about this game (or any game for that matter), most fans are talking about who gets blamed. These fans seem more concerned with verbally killing Cam Cameron instead of really getting into the Xs and Os of this Sunday's game. And then you got the whole QB situation that the Dolphins are in the middle of which is the other major headline. Sadly, I think that there are more fans going to this Sunday's game to "boo" Cleo Lemon rather than cheer their team to a win. It's a sad situation for this once proud franchise.
Q- If you were the Ravens head coach, other than resigning, what would you do to beat the Dolphins?
A- I would do two things to ensure a victory over the Dolphins. First of all, I'd run the ball with Willis McGahee and Musa Smith all game long. Seriously, I run the ball about 40 times at the least. You do that, and you are guaranteed over 150 yards of rushing offense. That's how bad Miami's run defense is. They aren't ranked dead last for nothing. So offensively, you run, run, and run some more. On defense, I'd focus on blitzing Cleo Lemon on almost every play. These Dolphin receivers haven't shown the ability to make any big plays and Lemon has shown that he's terrible when under pressure. Consider this: according to SI.com, Lemon is 13/31 for 108 yards and 3 interceptions when he is under pressure. Those figures have to make your Ravens' defense simply drool at the mouth for Sunday's game.
Q- Who has been the bright spot for Miami this season?
A- Well the brightspot for the Dolphins was Ronnie Brown until week 7 when he tore his ACL. He was having the kind of season that all Dolphin fans thought he had the ability to have and was well on his way to Hawaii. I still have nightmares of that play and watching Brown go down trying to make a tackle thanks to a Cleo Lemon interception.
Besides Brown, there really hasn't been a bright spot for the Dolphins in 2007. You could say Jason Taylor, as he set the record earlier this year for most career touchdowns by a defensive lineman. But even Taylor is having a down year. Will Allen has been a pleasant surprise, as opposing teams are completing less than 50% of the passes thrown his way. So you could say he's a bright spot. But, really, there isn't exactly a true bright spot for this team, making this season all that more unbearable.
Q- Who do you see as the future QB of Miami - Lemon, Beck, or a yet to be drafted QB?
A- I still think it's John Beck. He's got all the physical tools you want in a quarterback. He's got good arm strength and accuracy. He has poise in the pocket and a quick release. He just needs to get a better grasp of the offense...and needs some talent around him. But I think that if he's given the time to grow, and I think he will have that opportunity, then he's really going to open some eyes up next year. And I'll tell you one thing about this kid: he's mentally tough and has a great attitude. I've already been told my various sources that John has a chip on his shoulder and can't wait to get back on the field to prove that he's better than what Dolphin fans have seen so far. That's the kind of attitude that has to get Dolphin fans excited!
Q- Pick the winner and score.
A- Well I think that this game will probably be a low-scoring affair. I do think the Ravens will run the ball a lot against this horrific run defense that the Dolphins have. For the Dolphins, I think they'll have to move the ball through the air because I don't see how either an injury-slowed Jesse Chatman or a healthy Samkon Gado will be able to really move the ball on the ground. Now, with Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle likely both out on Sunday, I think the potential is there for a few big plays by Ted Ginn. And that, to me, is the only way the Dolphins win this game. Ted Ginn must make some plays down the field...if Cleo Lemon can get the ball to him accurately. My prediction: Ravens win 19-13.