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By: Ray Aspuria
Miami’s Raheem Mostert, Tyreek Hill are explosive a running back, wide receiver combo as can get in the NFL
Antonio pierce made no bones about what awaits his Las Vegas Raiders as he preps his team for the Week 11 road matchup at the Miami Dolphins this Sunday.
“Yeah, we’re getting our track shoes on,” the interim head coach said during his mid-week media availability.
Mike McDaniel’s Dolphins are the league’s best offense in terms of scoring points and racking up yards at 285 points and 3,918 yards total. That’s tops amongst the 32 teams as McDaniel’s orchestrated offense has dropped 20 passing touchdowns (also first the league) and galloped to 17 rushing scores (second). It’s an offense that is every bit as explosive and it’s versatile and thus, it’s the concern amongst a number of them, for the visiting Raiders.
“That’s the kind of game it’s going to be — explosive, well-coached,” Pierce noted. “They put a good team together across the board, even on the defensive side of the ball. We’re going to have our hands full. Obviously, we are going to have to play our best football, but this is an extreme challenge for our team and we’re looking forward to it.”
While the two New York teams that visited Allegiant Stadium the prior weeks was a litmus test for Pierce’s ability to lead Las Vegas, the matchup in Miami will be the true barometer of exactly how much better the Silver & Black are under the watchful eye of Pierce. Are the Raiders closer to competing with upper echelon teams (Miami is tops in the AFC East at 6-3 overall), is the 5-5 team out of the desert still very much far away from making top teams sweat?
We’ll find out after Sunday’s East Coast trip.
The Tone Setters
Tyreek Hill is fast, but so is Raheem Mostert.
The No. 31 Raheem Mostert wears on his jersey also represent his age, but don’t get it twisted, Miami’s running back hasn’t lost a step. He clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.32 seconds back at Purdue’s Pro Day in 2015 and was clocked in as the fastest player in 2020.
So, while Tyreek Hill draws plenty of attention with his speed, Mostert is every bit as fleet-footed as Miami’s wide receiver.
Mostert’s 13 touchdowns — 11 rushing, two receiving — has him tops in the NFL this season and his rushing output of 605 yards is good for ninth in the league.
The 29-year-old Hill leads the league in receiving yards (1,076) and receiving touchdowns (eight) which exemplifies the dangerous element he poses to opposing defenses. McDaniel moves his scintillating speedster around to take advantage of matchups, too — which compounds how team’s defend the Dolphins.
“What is this, year eight for him or seven for him?,” Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham began when asked about Hill during his mid-week press conference. “I mean, he’s seen everything from people being on top of him, someone playing underneath, double teams, trying to get the zone coverage to him, people dogging and him and just running around the field playing zone outside of them. So, there’s a number of things that people have tried to do obviously. Sometimes it’s been successful, but for the most part, he’s beaten all that stuff. So, what we’ll try to do is what we think is best for this week. We’re still in the lab trying to figure out how to limit the effectiveness of these guys. But he’s seen everything, so we got to figure something out.”
And we haven’t even mentioned tailback De’Von Achane and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle who are just as fleet-footed as Mostert and Hill. Achane was designated to return from injured reserve and may not be available for the Week 11 matchup, but if he returns to the lineup, then it’s going to be a pure track meet like Pierce noted.
Las Vegas is not without speed on their defense, but it would appear rookie cornerback Jakorian Bennett is the only one who has track speed (4.30 40-yard dash time from the 2023 NFL Combine) to keep up with the likes of Hill, Mostert, Achane or Waddle.
Another Balanced Pass Rush
Like the New York Jets before them, Miami brings a balanced rush to the table defensively. Vic Fangio’s defense is paced by linebacker Bradley Chubb who has six sacks under his name. The Dolphins have two interior linemen who get to the quarterback in Christian Wilkins (4.5 sacks) and Zach Sieler (four sacks). Those two are flanked by Chubb, linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel (four sacks) and Jaelen Phillips (3.5 sacks).
In total, Miami’s defense has racked up 29 sacks with 11 different defenders notching a quarterback takedown.
Unlike the Jets, however, the Dolphins are ranked 26th in points allowed (225) and 12th in yards yielded (2,902).
Pierce spoke glowingly of special teams after the team’s win over the Jets and noted for punt returns, no more fair catches and take the return up field in hopes of flipping field position. That’s likely the status quo going forward for the Raiders.
That may be a difficult proposition against the Dolphins, however.
Miami’s punter, Jake Bailey, and the special teams coverage unit are doing a great job of limiting returns this season. Bailey’s punted 27 times for 1,228 yards (45.5 averge) with a long of 63. Nine of those boots have landed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line with two landing in the end zone.
Thus far, teams have only returned punts eight times against Bailey and Miami’s coverage crew for 50 yards total (a paltry 6.3 yard average).
Originally posted on Silver And Black Pride