It's the end of the week and that means it's time to answer your questions! The Dolphins are running it back at Hard Rock Stadium to take on the New York Giants, and as we do weekly, we want to hear from you!
We'll dive into three questions posed on the weekly Twitter thread (can be found on the timeline of @WingfieldNFL). We also answer a handful of your questions on the Friday edition of Drive Time with Travis Wingfield, your daily podcast on the Miami Dolphins podcast network.
Q: @PaddyPerk - What's the easiest path to victory this week? What's the quickest road to defeat
A: The word easy doesn't sound right - nothing is easy in this league. But I think what the Dolphins can do to give themselves the best chance to win the game is to create takeaways. That's obviously the case each week, but the Giants have turned the ball over only two times in their four victories this season. In their seven defeats, New York has given the football away on 12 occasions. They've found ways to put together long drives, but between turnovers and bogging down in the red zone, more the 30 percent of their points come from field goals and it's tough to win that way. So preventing big plays and forcing the issue are two good ways to find a victory.
The flip side of the coin is the same story. New York has at least one takeaway in each game this season and when they get multiple turnovers, they're tough to beat.
Q: @FinsNFights - Christian has so far produced this year the way we've all hoped he would. Do you credit this most to D-line coaching specifics, defensive scheming, or just a jump in personal development?
A: Christian has been an effective player really since he entered the league. He always charts well in run-stop win rate (an ESPN metric that tracks success against the run), as well as Pro Football Focus' run stops category. He's top 10 this year in RSWR again and second in run stops.
"Sometimes hey, I could have the best run game of my life and not make a single tackle but just taking double teams or being in the right spot or making the ball fall back to a linebacker or whatever it is," Wilkins said Wednesday. "Sometimes numbers can be misleading or whatever, so I don't try to pay attention to it regardless. I just do my job and whatever happens, happens."
I think the best example of that was the Carolina game. On Jaelan Phillips' first sack, Wilkins arrived on the scene first with his pressure. Cam Newton spun out and wheeled right into Phillips, who collected the sack. Later in the game, Phillips crashed inside on a stunt, P.J. Walker eluded the tackle, but wound up in Wilkins' crosshairs. Sacks, like most stats in football, are a team-driven metric that requires everyone to do their job. Wilkins has been creating chances each of his first three years, but now the numbers are properly reflecting his abilities.
That said, he has mentioned a heavy emphasis on his hand usage and placement. I think both of those traits seem to have improved and are serving him well this season.
Q: @requejo1 - Travis, with the team going first on a losing streak and now on a winning one, I wonder: Have you seen any significant changes that the coaching staff has made in terms of process, schedules, ways of working, points of emphasis that have been key?
A: Ask any player or coach their favorite aspect of working with Brian Flores and they'll tell you his even-keel demeaner, that he's the same guy every day regardless of the results. He believes in the process and sticking to that process. Mack Hollins said it well earlier this season.
"I think, at least for me as a player, how I always like to be coached is somebody who is consistent because if you get a guy that that is an ass when you are losing and is this upbeat guy when you are winning, it turns into poor coaching. And we don't have that. We have a coach that is going to stay consistent. He's going to stay on us when we're losing. He's going to stay on us when we're winning. That's what I like. Obviously I can't speak for everybody on the team but for me, that encourages me as a player that I'm going to get the same rules when I'm playing really well as when I play poorly."
If you didn't see your question here, listen to the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield where John Congemi and myself get your questions every Friday.
To submit questions, keep an eye on the @WingfieldNFL Twitter handle each Thursday when the mailbag thread goes up.