Mallett, Cutler Look For Rhythm in Ravens-Dolphins Clash

jay cutler

Jay Pryce

Thursday, August 17, 2017 1:02 PM GMT

Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 1:02 PM GMT

Offense is the focal point for both the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins as the two collide at Hard Rock Stadium Thursday night (7 ET) in Week 2 of the NFL preseason. Pick and preview here.

Baltimore

“I am looking for points,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters in the run-up to Baltimore’s second preseason game vs. the Dolphins Thursday night. The offense scored 23 points in a win over the Redskins in the opener, but the first-team stumbled to a pair of three-and-outs on its first two drives. Ryan Mallett, the starting quarterback until Joe Flacco returns from a back injury, completed 9-of-18 passes for a paltry 58 yards. The veteran backup debuted without any presumed starting wide receivers (Jermy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshard Perriman) and sure-handed running back Danny Woodhead.

All camp the unit has underwhelmed and Harbaugh is looking for less mistakes, more polish and good flow in their second preseason test. A patchwork offensive line is a primary issue, unable to create or hold for any big gains. All of the first team will play for at least a few series with a lot of juggling up front between first and second-teamers.

The defense put in arguably the best performance of all teams last week, holding Washington to 8 first downs and 138 total net yards. Harbaugh is satisfied with what he witnessed. This unit could be one of the best in the NFL this season. Expect more playing time for the youngsters in this one.

 

Miami

All eyes will be on quarterback Jay Cutler, making his Dolphins debut after being lured away from retirement to replace the injured Ryan Tannehill (knee). The veteran quarterback, who had shoulder surgery in December, is expected to play the entire first quarter. Matt Moore, who started under center in the preseason opener, will see limited action in an effort to rest his 33-year-old bones. David Fales and Brandon Doughty will take the majority of snaps for a second week in a row. They combined for 263 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs on 15-of-29 passes in a 23-20 win over the Falcons last week.

Head coach Adam Gase is fretting over an injury-riddled team. In addition to Tannehill, the O-line is in shambles. A trio of starters is hurt, highlighted by three-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey (hip). The front should see a veteran presence in this one, however, with the most competitive roster battles in camp unfolding for second-team positions. Expect the Dolphins’ signal-callers to get plenty of protection.

Gase hinted that first-team running back Jay Ajayi may not play, despite clearing the NFL’s concussion protocol Tuesday. How much action some of Miami’s defensive stars see, like defensive end Cameron Wake, strong safety Reshad Jones, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, is up in the air. Gase is concerned about the myriad injuries plaguing his squad, including going through a no-pads practice on Tuesday.

 

Final Analysis

The goal for both head coaches is to get their offenses tuned-up for the regular-season opener, especially at quarterback. There’s a sense of urgency among both teams to establish some rhythm with each unit looking anemic and out-of-sorts in three weeks of practice. This is nothing new for Harbaugh. The unit often plays a secondary role to the defense, and the veteran coach tends to put his foot on the gas offensively in Week 2 of the preseason. In 9 years, his team averages 24.4 points per game in this spot. The total opened at 39.5 points, adjusting to 38 in early wagering.

Free NFL Pick: 'Over' 38Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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