If you would have bet me, that in week one, Chad Henne would go 30 for 49 for 416 yds and 3 touchdowns, while the Miami Dolphins’ defense would give up 600+ total yards, I would have bet my house against you and would be homeless right now. Coming into the new season, I had questions that the Dolphins needed to answer to be successful. Would Henne continue his preseason “success?” Would the Dolphins running game exist at all? Would the Dolphins’ CB tandem live up to Vontae Davis’ declaration that they are the best in the NFL? Some questions were answered, but many more new questions emerged. This Sunday the Dolphins will match-up with the 1-0 Houston Texans at 4:15pm in Sun Life Stadium and will look to find some answers.
What to expect:
Texan Offense vs. Dolphin Defense:
Trying to predict how this weekend’s match-up will play out based on week one provides a bit of a challenge. In week one, the Houston Texans blew-out a Manning-less Colts team 34-7. It should be interesting to see what strategy the Texans offense uses against the Dolphins. You would think the smart money would be just let Schaub, Johnson, and the rest of the receiving core to go nuts, right? On the other hand, the Texans ran the ball 41 times for 167 yds (4.1 y/c) on Sunday while only airing it out 24 times. Just running out the clock you say? On the contrary, of their 36 first half plays, 21 of them were rushing plays. Which brings me back to the question, after seeing Brady dissect the Dolphins’ secondary, do they come out throwing the ball all over the field or stick with their successful running game, which “Oh by the way” did not have Arian Foster (who looks to play on Sunday)?
Either way, the defense needs to show up if the Dolphins are going to have shot at winning this game. Obviously, most of the blame has to be placed on the secondary for last week’s performance. They were beat all night and, at times, they seemingly just did not know their responsibilities. You have to believe that solidifying coverages had to be the main focus during practice and though they may struggle again this week, I don’t see them giving up another 500 passing yards again this week. Maybe the return of Will Allen will provide them with some stability and leadership they need. The secondary could also use the help of the LBs and pass rushers that seemingly could not cover any TE and only got to Brady for one sack. When they were able to at least get pressure is when we saw Brady’s incompletions. Overall, this defense needs to right the ship, I just don’t know if this is the best team to do it against.
Dolphin Offense vs. Texan Defense:
The Dolphin offense led by Chad Henne was nothing less than shocking. The opening drive that went for 84 yds, lasted 7+ mins and most importantly resulted in a TD left me speechless and wondering what team I was watching. Maybe it was the opening night hype, maybe it was the Monday Night Football effect, maybe it was the Pats, MAYBE the offense can actually be that good, but whatever it was that made them look that good, it needs to happen more often. As the game went on, the offense did come back down to earth a bit, but I was still impressed. Henne looked sharp for most of the night. I have a feeling his new freedom to change the play at the line has really helped his confidence. One of my initial concerns was about the Dolphins ability to run and while Bush only went for 38 yds, it was over 11 carries for an average of 3.5 y/c. Several of his rushes were between the tackles and honestly Bush looked strong. By the end of the game he was worn (umm where was LJ on short yardage situations??), but we should have Clay and Thomas back this week; which will keep Bush fresh. The line did let Henne get tagged 4 times and Incognito was anything but, as he racked up far too many penalty yards. Fortunately these mistakes should be correctable and despite getting beat (by a great interior d-line) Mike Pouncy looked good in his debut.
It’s hard to judge the Texans’ defensive performance against the Colts who realistically were missing their entire offense with Manning. As is usually the case, we will go as our O-line goes this week. If they can improve, open up running lanes, and keep Henne’s jersey clean against a Texan D that recorded 3 sacks against the Colts, then we should be able to continue our success. I would LOVE to see the Dolphins come out throwing on first down like they did during the first drive. Teams are used to us being a run first offense and by spreading the field with our weapons, our running game will only benefit. Driving the field was not a concern against the Pats, but we still do not know how to put the ball in the endzone. It’s almost like we get conservative in the redzone, trying not to make a mistake rather than punching it in (what happened to the play-action pass?). You can’t win games kicking field goals, especially against a high powered Texans offense.
Two Minute Drill:
Dolphins’ Key to the Game: Obvious one here. Defense, defense, DEFENSE. The only way the Dolphins will have a chance in this game is if the D rebounds from its dreadful performance against the Pats. If we can turn Schaub’s jersey green and contain their running game, then the DBs should have an easier time covering their responsibilities. Oh yea one more thing, DRINK SOME GATORADE, PICKLE JUICE, PEDIALITE, AND/OR RUN WITH AN IV IN!
Texans’ Key to the Game: Weaknesses & Turnovers. That is, take advantage of the Dolphins’ weaknesses and don’t commit the turnovers. If the Dolphins do not fix their glaring coverage problems, then the Texans should be able to hit the big play to Andre Johnson all day. On the other hand, they gave away 3 turnovers (2 ints and a fumble) to a less then respected Colts defense. If they are able to accomplish these points, then it may be a long day for the Phins.
Dolphins’ Player to Watch: Cameron Wake. Struggled against a rookie in week one. If he can’t get going, Schaub may pick apart the secondary.
Texan’s Player to Watch: Jacoby Jones. I feel the Texans will come out firing and the Dolphins will be keying on Andre Johnson (atleast they should be) These should leave Jones in favorable (for him) one-on-one coverage.
How it plays out: The Dolphins have never beat the Texans, but this week…will be no different. I have to believe the defense will play better, but will not handle the Texans receiving core AND their rushing game; which is good with or without Arian Foster. The Dolphins offense will continue to grow and Henne will have another good day, but can’t win the shoot-out. It will be close and we should have a chance to win.
Prediction: 27-24 Texans. Could go either way and I hope I’m wrong, but Texans win the shoot-out.
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