Miami brings an intriguing mix of youth and talent into this game, but their inexperience showed in their Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans. The defense was able to shutdown the Texans’ offense for the first quarter, but 24 points in the second blew the game wide open in Houston’s favor. The Miami offense struggled to put a solid drive together all day and only had one drive of more than 50 yards, which resulted in a turnover on downs.
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill struggled in his debut, throwing three interceptions and getting sacked three times. He completed about 55 percent of his passes and threw for 219 yards, but he struggled to gain chemistry with some of his receivers. Reggie Bush took some tpressure off the rookie, running for 69 yards on 14 carries and catching six passes out of the backfield. Despite Bush’s nearly five yards per carry average, the Texans were able to get Tannehill into enough passing situations that they were able to pick him off three times in the second quarter and allow themselves to pull away.
The Dolphins’ defense got a lot of help from the offense in the first quarter and only needed to spend six minutes and 21 seconds on the field, holding Houston to a missed 52-yard field goal and a three-and-out. The second quarter was a disaster with the Texans’ takeaways taking their toll on the Miami defense. The Texans scored 21 points in a span of three and a half minutes and Miami had two plays in that span, both turnovers. The humid Houston air got the Dolphins’s defense tired and the Texans steamrolled into the end zone.
The second half was a struggle for both teams, as Miami couldn’t get the offense going until it was too late and Houston was unable to convert two long drives into touchdowns. The lone bright spot for Miami wasMarcus Thigpen’s 72-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter, but they could not convert the momentum into points. Houston ended the game with just about a 10 minute advantage in time of possession, much of which came in the second half.
The stars of the Miami defense Sunday were Koa Misi and Karlos Dansby. The two linebackers were all over the field and made a combined 20 tackles, 16 of which were solo stops. Both also had one tackle-for-loss and will be key players in stopping Darren McFadden on Sunday. The other bright spot was Randy Starks who got the Dolphins’ only two sacks on the day and the interior part of the Oakland offensive line will need to make sure he can’t get pressure of Carson Palmer, who felt a lot of heat from the outside, but not much from the inside.
Based on their Week 1 performances, Oakland will need to get off to a quick start and force some turnovers to pull away from Miami. If the Dolphins hang around at home, it will be up to McFadden to control the clock and give the Raiders’ defense some rest. Palmer should be able to pick apart the Miami secondary based on how well he threw the ball Monday night.