The unbeaten Seahawks head to Miami this weekend to face a Dolphins team coming off its first win of the season. To learn more about Seattle's Week 4 opponent, we reached out to Miami Dolphins analyst John Congemi, who answered five questions about the Dolphins:
What has Seattle's own Myles Gaskin brought to the offense? His emergence this year has been a bit of a surprise, yes?
Congemi: Myles Gaskin has been a pleasant surprise for the Dolphins rushing attack. Everyone in South Florida penciled in veteran runners Jordan Howard and Matt Breida to get most of the early carries this season, but Gaskin has been the player Miami has leaned on through the first three games. His short space quickness, vision and ability to catch the football out of the backfield allows Gaskin to play in any situation. He leads the team in both rushing yards and receptions, and it doesn't appear that he's ready to disappear anytime soon from the offensive game plan. I'm sure Myles has circled this week's game because of his ties to Washington, and will want to perform at an extremely high level. Miami's offense should continue to count on Gaskin to be a three-down running back, but I wouldn't be surprised if they start to spread the wealth. My guess would be for Breida to see more opportunities as the season progresses because of his explosive speed and need to create chunk yardage runs.
The numbers would indicate that the Dolphins defense is starting to improve from last season, what kind of changes have led to that, and how well equipped are they to face Russell Wilson and Seattle's passing game?
Congemi: I would start by saying there's been a huge upgrade in talent from last year's starting defense to this year's group. Players like linebacker Kyle Van Noy, cornerback Byron Jones, and defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah allow this unit to be more versatile by design. It's a much quicker defense and their body types allow defensive coordinator Josh Boyer to move players around to give opposing offenses difficult looks to attack. As for facing Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing attack, no one has been able to slow them down. It will be important for the Dolphins to create a small area around Wilson when pressuring the pocket. They must get into the throwing lanes to make it difficult for the ball to come out on time. Even if that happens, not allowing Wilson to step up and through the pressure will be a tough assignment. Just ask the Cowboys defense! When Wilson gets outside the pocket, usually bad things happen to opposing defenses 50 to 60 yards down field. One matchup to watch is if Miami corner Byron Jones can come back from a groin injury this week. If not, rookie defensive back Noah Igbinoghene will make his second start of the season.
Given his draft status, a lot of Seahawks fans probably figured they'd be seeing Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback in this game. Is this a case of Ryan Fitzpatrick just being the best guy for the job? The Dolphins being cautious to not bring the rookie along too quick? A little bit of both?
Congemi: Right now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best quarterback on the Miami Dolphins roster and that's why he's the starting quarterback. Fitz gives this offense the best chance to be successful and, other than Week 1, he's played at an extremely high level. He's completing over 71 percent, and last Thursday night against Jacksonville, he started the game completing his first 12 passes. His knowledge of the Chan Gailey offense gave him an early advantage coming into a shortened off-season, and with zero pre-season games being played, he was the logical choice as the starter. Now, having said all of that, Tua has been impressive throughout training camp and I do believe he'll get some playing time this season. Fitzpatrick's play has made it easier for now to sit a healthy, talented first round quarterback. He's learning and gaining so much knowledge right now from watching and asking Fitzpatrick questions during the game, and that should help him immediately if his number is called.
Obviously rebuilding a franchise with a new coach takes time, what have been some of the more encouraging signs so far in Year 2 under Brian Flores?
Congemi: The first quality that I look for on a young football team with a young head coach is what kind of energy do they play with each and every week. Through three weeks, Brian Flores has this group playing on the edge, with enthusiasm and discipline. He demands it every day at practice and leads by example. If you can't play with those qualities on a consistent basis, you won't see your name on this roster. Flores has added the correct amount of new faces with some veteran experience to gel with a young nucleus of talent. I believe the future is bright for this franchise, and Flores has shown that he isn't frightened to make the changes needed to try and find success.
What are a couple of matchups that you see as being key to this game?
Congemi: I believe Miami must limit the chances for Russell Wilson and the explosive Seattle offense. For that to happen, the Dolphins must possess the ball early and often, moving the chains and keeping Wilson and company on the sidelines. When the Seahawks do take the field on offense, the Dolphins defense can't allow the easy, over the top, explosive plays. It's hot and humid this time of year and the three play, 75-yard drive is a killer for the home team on defense. The motto this week for the Miami defense is make the Seahawks earn everything that they get. For Fitzpatrick and the Miami offense, it would be best for them to continue to spread the ball around. Eleven different players have at least one reception, and it's very difficult for a defense to prepare for multiple options. Running back Myles Gaskin leads the team in receptions with 15, but four players have double-digit catches. Wide outs DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and tight end Mike Gesicki present the most challenges to the Seahawks defense, but the speedy Jakeem Grant and dependable slot Isaiah Ford could play a factor.
The Seattle Seahawks have faced the Miami Dolphins 15 times dating back to 1977, going 4-8 in the regular season and 1-2 in the postseason. They'll look to add another win this Sunday, October 4 at 10 a.m. PT at Hard Rock Stadium.