Even if the #1 guy, David Garrard, was playing we would still be watching the QB play to see if it will be Matt Moore or Ryan Tannehill that steps up to be the #2 guy. With Garrard out, the QB battle takes on that much more meaning. Head coach Joe Philbin has said the starters will see approx 20 plays; we will see who starts at QB.
Whenever Tannehill does take the field, we will be watching. He is coming on strong, and his next step is to play well against starting defense units (so far he has just played the back-ups). This is a Panthers defense that was decent in their first preseason game, but that is not going to cut it for head coach Ron Rivera. Rivera has a history of turning defenses around, quickly. The Panthers starters did create turnovers, and Rivera will have them hungry to show improvements. Whoever does start at QB could have their hands full on Friday night, specifically with Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson. We will likely see Jake Long do battle with Johnson, and if either Moore or Tannehill is going to have a good game then Johnson needs to be held in-check.
One thing I hope we see carry over from game 1 is the fact that Anthony Fasano was targeted often (during his brief playing time as the starters were only in for a short time). Fasano is a key to the offense in my opinion.
As for the WR group, let’s take a look. We know the top 2 WRs were slated to be Chad Johnson and Brian Hartline. Johnson is gone, Hartline remains sidelined with an injury. Legedu Naanee and Davone Bess are pass-catching machines and their status on the WR depth chart is secure. We will see the next wave of WR get their shot, and that includes guys like Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, Julius Pruitt, and Jeff Fuller. I, like many, hope to see Chris Hogan get an opportunity for playing time too. A telling sign for me was when Miami had their initial 3rd down last week they called a play for Johnson. He was the first WR to get a chance to show he can be the go-to guy. Who will step up in this game and establish that he can/will be the 2012 go-to guy?
Miami threw 50 passes in their first preseason game, vs just 13 runs. The offensive line was poor on running plays. In particular we saw rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin struggle, and he is a guy we will watch closely vs the Panthers. Reggie Bush was good vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the other running backs were bad. For the running game to improve we will need to see much more from the o-line (especially the right side) and some better play from RBs like Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. Carolina was bad vs the run in 2011, and was run-over by the Houston Texans in their initial preseason game, so this should be an opportunity to build some momentum for the 2012 running game. It looks like the Panthers will have a few of their linebackers OUT for this game (including tackle-machine Jon Beason) which should help contribute to some ground-game success.
The starting defense for the Dolphins were a step slower than the Buccs in preseason game 1. This is a defense that is desperate to find a way to create turnovers. Vs the Buccs they were not close to a turnover, but this Panthers team should provide a few opportunities for INTs. I love Cam Newton (massive future in my opinion) but early on in his career he is good for 1 INT per game so we will watch the Miami secondary and see who can step up and create the first turnover (1st turnover on defense I mean. Special teams recovered a fumble vs the Buccs)
The front-7 was decent-at-best vs the Buccs, and starting RB LeGarrette Blount did run successfully. The Panthers have an outstanding running game and will surely be a good test for the ‘Phins phront-7. As far as game-planning for Newton, the ‘Phins do not see another QB like him in 2012. I doubt that defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will try to implement too much through his front-7 that specifically addresses stopping Newton. FYI Tony McDaniel is unlikely to play
Game 1 had mostly unimpressive moments. Here’s hoping game 2 provides clear steps forward for the 2012 Miami Dolphins.
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