The Miami Dolphins met up with the Indianapolis Colts during a Week 9 battle of rookie quarterbacks last season. The Dolphins had been on a hot streak heading into the game, but after a record-setting performance by Andrew Luck led to a close loss, Miami’s rising star quickly cooled off.
Both Luck and fellow rookie quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, played well in the game, but Luck was fantastic, connecting on 30 of his 48 passing attempts for 433 yards, the most ever by a rookie in a single game. It was an embarrassment for the Dolphins defense, but one that Nolan Carroll says will not be repeated in 2013.
“This year we’ve got to pay attention to detail,” Carroll told reports this week. “We’ve got to cover those guys man-for-man and we’ve got to keep [Luck] in the pocket.”
Carroll, who had one of the Dolphins’ three Week 1 interceptions, is ready for the rematch, and he has plenty of new talent to help him out this time around. Brent Grimes may wind up being the team’s best offseason acquisition at left corner, rookie Will Davis appears ready to make his regular season debut, and Dimitri Patterson will look to top his two interception performance against Brandon Weeden last Sunday despite re-aggravating a groin injury. There is also hope that Jamar Taylor, another rookie corner selected high in the draft, will be able to make his Dolphins debut.
On the backside of the secondary, the safeties have done nothing but improve since last year’s meeting with the Colts. Rashad Jones ended the year as one of the top ranked safeties by Pro Football Focus, and although he had a rough start against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, his presence in the secondary is sure to be a key part of Luck’s decision making. While Jones had a slow start, his partner at safety did not. Instead Chris Clemons had one of the best games of his career, and after the first week of the season finds himself ranked as the 6th best safety in the NFL by PFF.
This secondary still has questions that only game-action will answer, but it is nowhere near the weakness it was last season.
Andrew Luck will certainly make a play, or two, but he will find this defense much tougher to figure out. With the Colts’ weakness along their offensive line, it would not be surprising at all to see the Miami defense get the best of this regular season re-match.