Five things to watch for when the Dolphins play the Ravens in week 2

Mike McDaniel leading a rainy practice in preparation for the Ravens. (Photo courtesy of the Miami Dolphins)

The Miami Dolphins look to remain undefeated after this Sunday’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. Head coach Mike McDaniel and his team will travel to M&T Bank Stadium where they will face former league MVP and South Florida native Lamar Jackson. The two teams are coming off convincing wins in week 1.

The game will be played Sunday at 1 p.m. and broadcast on CBS4 in South Florida.

Here are five things to look out for.:

1. How will the Dolphins’ defense look against Lamar Jackson?

The Dolphins’ defense had an impressive start to the season with a dominant showing in week 1 against the New England Patriots. After holding Mac Jones and the Pats’ offense to only seven points in their first showing, it will be interesting to see how they fare against a far more dynamic quarterback in Jackson. While the Ravens are not known for having well-known playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, Jackson has shown the ability to make things work. 

The former Louisville star is almost better known for his running prowess rather than his throwing at this point of his career. The dual-threat capability of the Ravens’ star has made him one of the most dangerous young talents the league has seen in some time, even winning him an MVP at the ripe age of 22 years old. That made him the youngest quarterback to ever do so. 

The Dolphins and Ravens matched up against one another last season in a game that saw Miami take down the top team in the AFC. The Fins’ defense received much credit in this game as they were one of the few teams that managed to limit Jackson due to a creative scheme developed by defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. Boyer ran a “zero defense” practically the whole game which essentially meant he had his team blitzing Jackson and the Ravens all game and allowed his secondary to play in man-to-man coverage.

“They just caught us off guard, really. We hadn’t really gone over defenses doing all-up zero against us – like, just all-up flat-out zero,” Jackson told the media after practice this week. “But I feel like we’ll have an answer for it this year. We watched film – watched a lot of film on those guys – because we don’t want it to happen again.”

We will see if Boyer and the defense can replicate what they accomplished last year and build off the dominance they showed in Week 1

2. Will the offense come to play this week?

Miami’s offense was one of the lowlights during Week 1’s victory simply due to the hype that had been building all off-season. Although the team came out with a win and that’s all you can ask for, another performance of that caliber could fail to bring the same result against a better team. 

Baltimore is notorious for being one of the more dominant defensive teams over the last decade and this year’s team is no different. With many playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, Tua Tagovailoa and the rest of Miami’s offense have to come out much sharper than they did in Week 1. 

The Dolphins can not afford to fall behind in this game and hope for another defensive masterclass to save them. The Ravens’ offense with Jackson at the helm will eventually find a way to expose Miami’s defense and the offense must be able to support the team with points of their own to make sure the game doesn’t get out of reach.

3. What adjustments will Mike McDaniel make in his second game as head coach?

McDaniel received heaps of praise for his coaching performance in week 1 despite going up against a six-time Super Bowl winning coach in Bill Belichick. Even so, McDaniel seems to have not allowed his early success to get to his head.

“Man, I wish all you had to do is win one game because that would be cool,” McDaniel said after last week’s victory. “That’s not the case, so I’m kind of thinking about Week 2. Again, time for reflection will come on my own time, not other people’s.

This mindset McDaniel has exhibited in his short time as head coach of the Dolphins is a big reason for the admiration that fans have for him. With McDaniel being an offensive-minded coach, it will be interesting to see how he can get the team to put more points up on the board this week. With the vast amount of talent that Miami employs on the offensive side of the ball, it will be imperative that McDaniel begin to produce far more as the season progresses.

4. Can the Dolphins win the turnover battle?

The Fins’ defense wreaked havoc in the turnover battle in week 1 and are currently tied for second in the league with a plus-three turnover differential. While the sample size is small, there is plenty of evidence supporting the correlation between forcing turnovers and winning games.

“You know, we’re plus-three in the turnover margin, which that’s probably the biggest indicator that you’ll ever have,” McDaniel told the media following last Sunday’s win. “I think that’s factual, actually. 87 percent or something.”

Although an experienced quarterback like Jackson may have greater ball protection and security, the Dolphins must find a way to limit their own mistakes and do their best to force some on defense. The former Heisman trophy-winner showed last week that he could give the ball away on rare occasions and the defense must be prepared to capitalize. 

After such a strong Week 1 performance by Miami’s secondary, there should be optimism for the team to force some takeaways like they were able to do against Jackson last season.

5. Will the Dolphins establish a steady run game?

Fans were disappointed after Miami failed to establish a serviceable run game in week 1. Many have had this gripe the last few seasons, and after strengthening the offensive line, as well as bringing in running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, a greater performance was expected on the ground to start the season. 

McDaniel was questioned on the performance of the running game in Week 1 several times during practice this week. While a substantial change may not be shown immediately after one week, the hope is that as the season progresses, Miami has a run game to threaten opposing defenses with. 

“The whole idea of the offense, in general, is not to have a ton of yards rushing every week,” McDaniel told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s to win. It’s to have productive offense and to take advantage of what the defense is giving you.

Although the offensive line is slightly banged up after the first game, it is imperative Miami run the ball well, control the tempo of the game and tire the defense.

Anthony Blanco is a senior majoring in Digital Journalism with hopes of pursuing a career in sports journalism. Anthony is passionate about covering sports and hopes to one day make his passion his profession.