Sunday’s showdown between the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts is perhaps one of this weekend’s better games. Both teams are coming off victories against sub-par NFL teams, so this game should help clear the mud as to how both teams should be identified. Many pundits have this game pegged as a must-win for Miami, as they face an extremely challenging schedule in the weeks ahead. If Miami want to claim a victory on Sunday, they’ll have to do three things that are absolutely critical to their success.
1. Establish a running game.
The Dolphins must establish any semblance of a running game to get a victory against the Colts. Starting running back Lamar Miller had virtually no holes to run through versus the Browns. The offensive line’s run blocking was horrific, often allowing instant penetration by a very talented Browns front seven. Fans have often mentioned that Lamar Miller had chances to “shed” tacklers, but that’s simply not true. It’s difficult to shed anything when you have to run through three to four defenders on nearly every rushing attempt. The Dolphins have absolutely no excuses not to create running lanes for Lamar Miller, as the Indianapolis' front seven is not nearly as talented as Cleveland's.
2. Get Mike Wallace involved early and often.
Getting high-prized wide receiver Mike Wallace involved in the passing game is an absolute must for offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Sherman’s playcalling was too vanilla last week, often lacking innovativeness. He seemed to legitimately want to use Wallace as merely a decoy rather than a focal point of the offense. It worked just fine as Wallace’s presence alone seemed to take the top off of the Browns’ defense, allowing Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline to get open with no effort at all. One could argue that shutdown corner Joe Haden erased Wallace, which may have had something to do with his quiet day on the field (quietness off the field was a different story, though). The Colts have an old friend in former Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis, but as many fans know, he’s not nearly as consistent as his talent should dictate. If Sherman’s playcalling dials up Wallace’s number, Wallace should be able to get open with ease.
3. Stop Andrew Luck on third down.
The Colts have this quarterback that’s pretty good, and his name is Andrew Luck. Many of you know how good he is, so I won’t get into that, but one area that’s absolutely critical to a victory for Miami is stopping Andrew Luck on third-down. Luck converted a ridiculous 13 of 19 third downs against the Dolphins in 2012, and seven of them came on 3rd-and-9 or longer. He was a magician in the pocket, often evading pressure and extending plays with his feet. Even more amazing was the fact that Luck accomplished this while facing a Miami squad that entered that game as the NFL’s best third-down defense. Miami’s defense, specifically the front even, looked elite last week, but Andrew Luck is not Brandon Weeden. His pocket presence alone justifies keeping a spy on him at all times. Never lose sight of the man. Ever.
We at PhinsPhocus.com ultimately believe that Miami will come away with a win, but the steps listed above are absolutely vital for that to happen.