clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 storylines to follow for Chargers-Dolphins

How will the Chargers’ new-look offense attempt to dismantle Vic Fangio’s under-manned defense?

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There’s going to be plenty of storylines to pay attention to in this game. Just the fact that Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa are playing on the same field gives us half a dozen, but we chose to find just three that we’ll be keeping an eye on when the Chargers take the field against the Dolphins inside SoFi Stadium on Sunday afternoon.


1.) How will offensive coordinator Kellen Moore move around Mike Williams and Keenan Allen to avoid cornerback Xavien Howard?

One of the biggest takeaways from training camp and all of Kellen Moore’s press conferences is that the first-year play-caller for the Chargers plans to utilize his toolbox of receivers in a myriad of ways. That includes moving Keenan Allen out of the slot more often and potentially putting Williams on the inside to take advantage of matchups with slower linebackers/smaller slot cornerbacks.

I believe this overarching idea will come in handy against the Dolphins defense who will be without All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. With him, the pair of Howard and Ramsey would be a formidable matchup for Allen and Willliams, wherever they may line up on the field. But with Ramsey reportedly out until December, Moore has a greater chance of finding advantages to exploit on Sunday. - Michael Peterson

2.) Eric Kendricks’ ability to disrupt the middle of the field passing game of the Dolphins

The Dolphins loved finding ways to get Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle open over the middle of the field. It naturally puts them in matchups with linebackers and safeties and usually got into their favorite plays via motioning Hill across the formation to gather even more info on defenses pre-snap. Against the Chargers, LA’s defense was ready for everything the Dolphins threw at them. The linebacker duo of Kenneth Murray and Drue Tranquill each had a strong game that week, with Tranquill specifically making an impact in coverage. He posted the second-highest coverage grade on the team (79.5) while recording a pair of pass breakups and allowing just two receptions on five targets for 20 yards.

With Tranquill now a member of the Chiefs, the Chargers will look to Kendricks to play a similar role in this week’s matchup. Prior to last year’s defensive debacle in Minnesota under Ed Donatell, Kendricks had been one of the league’s best coverage linebackers from 2019-2021, including an elite seasonal coverage grade of 90.7 in 2020. My money is on a revitalized Kendricks to make his presence felt immediately in his first game for the Chargers. - Michael Peterson

3.) Will the Dolphins’ outside zone run game target Asante Samuel Jr.'s new defensive role?

Under McDaniels, the Dolphins had the 8th-highest outside zone percentage last season, this tendency to run outside the tackles is going to directly target Asante Samuel Jr.'s new role at the Star position in Brandon Staley's system. He is going to gain gap responsibilities against certain formations, especially in lighter boxes so we will see whether the coaching staff's faith in his ability to play inside the numbers is going to be repaid.

Asante Samuel Jr. had a rough 2022 season in the run game with a PFF run defense grade of 49.2 so the idea of increasing his exposure to this side of the game is an intriguing gamble that will be interesting to keep an eye on. Staley has said they will be using a lot of guys in that Star role to match certain looks but modern day offenses are very good at using motion to create mismatches, so even if Staley and Ansley try to protect Asante Samuel Jr. from run looks by rotating him out, it will still leave him with enough opportunities to prove his standing as a starter going forwards. - Ryan Watkins