This is my first post in a weekly series that will be published on Saturday nights during the NFL season. This series will detail what the Miami Dolphins will need to accomplish in order to win tomorrow's game. Unlike a Monday morning QB or Captain Hindsight this series will not focus on the previous week unless the previous game had a direct impact on personnel or game planning.
Tonight's post will be two parts since I did not cover last weeks game. You will have to trust me when I learned that Miami had no plans in really trying to re-sign Jake Long and Reggie Bush, I knew it would drastically impact this team. The following would have been my post last Saturday night:
The Dolphins' weaknesses going into the first game against the Browns is their running game (held to about 20 yards, a .9 yard per rush average). However, the potential lack of a running game is a manifestation of a larger problem. That problem is Jeff Ireland's neglect of the offensive line and running back position in the off-season. The most egregious part of this problem is the players where already on the team. Reggie Bush and Jake Long were let go in free agency with the notion that Lamar Miller and Jonathan Martin would seemingly replace them. Bush and Long were hoping their free-agency would give them a big payday, but it didn't as they only signed for a few million more. Considering the Dolphins are currently over 20 million dollars under the salary cap, Jeff Ireland and his team could have kept Long and Bush on the Dolphins as insurance at least for this year.
Well that was last week, so let's move on to the Colts' game tomorrow. I'm a firm believer that a team should always receive the kick off if they win the toss. Starting the game off with a score and making a team play from behind is a huge advantage. If I were to script the first two plays I would open up with play action with D. Thomas as the RB, and a bomb to Mike Wallace, even if he is double covered. It's Tannehill's responsibility to put the ball where either only Wallace can catch it or it is incomplete. The second play I would like to see is a screen pass or an out to Lamar Miller. Last year Miami notoriously underutilized Reggie Bush in the passing game and I'd hate to see this happen to Lamar Miller this year. In addition, Mike Sherman needs to be more innovative with his formations and the use of Lamar Miller. At least Kevin Coyle is doing this on the defensive side of the ball with the use an all defensive end speed rush line combination. Last week Dion Jordan was used sparingly as a spy on Brandon Weeden. This week I'd like to see him used more extensively as spy since Andrew Luck is more mobile than Weeden. Last year Miami did get some good pressure on Luck, but he was always an instant ahead of the pass rush, completing multiple third and longs just as he was hit. With the improvement of the defensive line and cornerbacks I think Miami has a better shot this year at applying effective pressure. The game will come down to Miami's defensive play and whether or not the front seven can get to Luck fast enough and the cornerbacks can stick to their man long enough. I'd also like to see the running game make some progress, but I don't think a stellar running performance is pertinent for a win this week, subsequent weeks it will be.