Packers hope to bounce back against Dolphins' pick-happy D
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — One team is starting a backup at quarterback but still above .500. The other boasts one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, yet has a losing record.
It's a topsy-turvy matchup when the Miami Dolphins visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Brock Osweiler will make a fifth straight start at quarterback for the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill nursing a shoulder injury . Two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers seems to be getting healthier after hurting his left knee in the Packers' season opener against the Chicago Bears.
Advantage Packers on offense, at least on paper.
Yet for whatever reasons, what should be a prolific unit isn't clicking consistently for the Packers (3-4-1), especially in the fourth quarters of their last two losses.
"Yeah, it's definitely frustrating, especially when you've got the talent we do," receiver Davante Adams said. "We just need a little bit of flow and consistency, and I think that's what's going to get this offense moving in the right direction."
It's little consolation that the losses have come against two of the league's best teams, the Rams and Patriots . Miscues on special teams, offense and defense have caught up to the Packers to contribute to the stinging defeats.
Green Bay may need a "run the table" type of streak to get into the postseason. That phrase uttered by Rodgers turned into a catchword in 2016 when the Packers won eight straight games to go from 4-6 to the NFC title game.
"We're focused on winning No. 4. That's all we're talking about right now," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We improved as a football team the last two weeks, but you have to play your best football coming down the stretch, and that's clearly been evident the last two weeks."
The Dolphins (5-4) relied on a resilient defense to beat the struggling New York Jets 13-6. Miami had four interceptions and four sacks while holding the Jets to 2 of 15 on third and fourth downs.
It's a nice cushion with Osweiler making another start. The Dolphins are 2-2 with Osweiler behind center, averaging 22 points a game.
"Any time you play a quarterback that's as special as Aaron is, you want to limit the amount of possessions that he's able to have," Osweiler said. "We know offensively this week it's very important for us to sustain drives, get first downs and try to be in control of that clock."
Other notes and things to watch:
RUN THE DRAKE?
Kenyan Drake had only three carries for the Dolphins last week, while starter Frank Gore carried 20 times.
"We don't want to be that far apart," coach Adam Gase said. "There were a few opportunities where we were trying to do certain things with Kenyan that didn't work out the way we wanted to where we were trying to get him the ball."
Drake is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, but he has had six or fewer in five of Miami's nine games. For the season he has 73 carries to 104 for the 35-year-old Gore.
A groin injury to Geronimo Allison means more opportunities for Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The fifth-round draft pick out of South Florida has shown potential to be a stretch-the-field threat with his speed and 6-foot-4 frame. Valdes-Scantling is averaging a team-best 21.1 yards per catch. He could be a beneficiary of more targets if the Dolphins decide to double Adams, the Packers' top wideout.
Reshad Jones will be back in the lineup for the Dolphins after the two-time Pro Bowl safety took himself out of last week's win over the Jets. Gase said that communication problems between defensive coordinator Matt Burke and players need to be addressed. Still, the defense last week was better after three straight poor games.
SAFETY SHUFFLE, PART 2
The Packers have done a midseason shuffle at safety. The moves began with the trade of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington last week.
Kentrell Brice was limited at midweek with a knee injury, while Jermaine Whitehead was released this week. Veteran cornerback Tramon Williams was moved to safety against the Rams, but could be needed back at cornerback against Miami because of Kevin King's hamstring injury. Green Bay picked up safety Ibraheim Campbell off waivers from the New York Jets this week, while second-year player Josh Jones figures to see more snaps after being slowed by injury earlier this year.
The four picks of Jets rookie Sam Darnold last week gave Miami a league-high 15 interceptions. Now the Dolphins face Rodgers, who has thrown one pick this season.
"They've made a lot of plays on the ball. They do a nice disguise package," Rodgers said. "Guys with vision to the football, which means you always have to be smart about your eye discipline."
AP Sports Writer Steven Wine contributed.
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