In the first week of the season the Houston Texans face the Miami Dolphins and the Texans defense must be chomping at the bit to get onto the field. The Dolphins will be starting rookie Quarterback Ryan Tannehill who will be experiencing his first NFL regular season action. This in itself would be an advantage for the defense but the Dolphins have more problems. Injuries to the Dolphins offensive line will make this game even tougher for Tannehill.
Several players along the Dolphins line will not be available or less than full strength. Jake Long, the teams left tackle suffered an MCL injury in practice and will be limited in the season opener. The Dolphins also lost offensive lineman free agent acquisition Artis Hicks for the season. After battling a neck injury during the preseason the team has decided to sit him out for the year. The team’s depth is also depleted because guard Eric Steinbach decided to stay retired. The team’s replacements are not ideal. John Jerry was not expected to make the team’s 53 man roster because he showed up to camp out of shape and struggled. However, with the injuries the dolphins are forced to keep him on the roster. To fill out the roster the Dolphins have resigned offensive guard Ray Feinga. Feinga is an offensive guard out of BYU and was previously released by the Dolphins on August31.
The injuries on the offensive line and the fact that Tannehill is making his first start will give the Houston defense the edge. Pass rushers Connor Barwin, (11.5 sacks 2011) and Brooks Reed (6.0 Sacks 2011), should have constant pressure on the quarterback. This should help the secondary with take aways , look for a strong game from cornerback Jonathan Joseph. Last year Kareem Jackson had some struggles in pass defense but look for the front seven to cause enough havoc to keep him from getting into too much trouble.
Miami’s inability to move the ball coupled with the Houston’s strong rushing attack should help the Texans dominate time of possession. I see the Texans holding the ball for at least two thirds of the game and wearing down a tired Miami defense. The Dolphins injuries will have a direct impact on the outcome of the game.