Heeeere we go. The 2012 NFL season is just days away for the Miami Dolphins. The ‘Phins will travel to face the Houston Texans, and here is a preview of a few things we will look for with the Miami offense vs the Texans defense (Dolphins defense vs Texans offense preview is HERE)
Easy place to start is with the rookie QB Ryan Tannehill making his first NFL start. He will wear #17, ironic as he is the 17th starting QB since the legend Dan Marino retired. This game is not exactly a dream-debut scenario as A) rookie QBs have a 35-67 record the past few seasons… B) Tannehill’s o-line is in flux (especially the right side)… C) the WR group for the ‘Phins is also in flux, and the guys that are there now have been inconsistent in preseason (except Davone Bess)… D) this Texans defense was once laughable (recently too) but defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has ramped up this group to the point where they are one of the best in the NFL.
Despite losing Mario Williams in week 5 of the 2011 season, this unit still harassed and dropped QBs on a regular basis. Williams is now with the Buffalo Bills, but youngsters like J.J. Watt plus veterans like Antonio Smith are still around to contribute for their defensive line. The Texans play a 3-4 base defense, and their two outside LBs are a nightmare for opposing QBs too (Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed)
Craig’s Key – Tannehill needs to continue to show his poise. The Texans front-7 will get their paws on him (several times) and they will not make many mistakes (this unit is rarely penalized). There are already built-in areas of concern for a guy making his NFL debut, but the schedule makers did Tannehill no favors by starting his career vs such an adept defense. In preseason a lot of things went wrong, but Tannehill did show good poise (that needs to continue)
Reggie Bush will start (Reggie Bush Player Profile is HERE). I would like to see offensive coordinator Mike Sherman use Bush in screen passes early on as A) the ‘Phins did not show any screens in preseason so I am hoping it is an element of surprise that they can unleash with success…B) it is a good way to make the aggressive/pursuing Texans front-7 pay for their over-aggression.
We can assume the ‘Phins will try to get Bush going early, but let’s not forget Daniel Thomas too. In last seasons week 2 loss to the Texans (23-13 Texans won in Miami…Texans are 6-0 all-time vs Dolphins) Thomas had a great game which included a total of 107 yards, with a gaudy 5.9 yards per carry. In preseason we saw next to nothing from the thunder/lightning combo of Bush/Thomas, but to stay in this game with a great team like the Texans they will surely need to produce on Sunday.
Craig’s Key – Miami o-line vs Texans front-7. Jake Long should be okay to play which does give us confidence in Tannehill’s blind-side, but the right side of the line will be in tough. Tannehill is already very good at going through his progressions, but if the right side of the o-line is constantly pushed in his face then the down-field routes have no chance to develop which leaves Tannehill with only check-down options. ‘Phins are 11 point underdogs so to be in this game the o-line will have a spotlight on them as they have to open running lanes to help support Tannehill’s passing game.
Craig’s Key – turnovers – This is true in any game. Turnovers are game-changers so it is an obvious area to look at, but especially in this game as the Texans excel at creating turnovers while the ‘Phins struggle mightily to create turnovers.
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