With week 1 of the NFL season now in the books, many Dolphins fans have chose to analyze Miami's struggles in a 30-10 loss to Houston last week instead of looking ahead to this Sunday's matchup, the home opener against the Oakland Raiders. While the Texans showed that they are a Super Bowl calibre team, the Dolphins were able to find several positives from the game including the play of Reggie Bush and Randy Starks, the run defense and the special teams unit.
Like Miami, the Raiders begin the year with an 0-1 record after a 22-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. The eight point defeat allowed the game to appear much closer than it actually was seeing as Oakland's touchdown came with seconds remaing in the 4th quarter and they were unable to muster any sort of offense for most of the night.
This week 2 matchup will provide a fair idea of where the Dolphins stand this season and luckily for Miami all the advantages are in their favour. Here's a look at why Miami should come out with a victory and even their record to 1-1 on the season.
1. The Dolphins Have the Raiders Number
Despite the fact that the Dolphins have been in a rebuild for the past several years and have failed to make the playoffs the last three seasons, the Raiders have a habit of making Miami look like one of the elite teams in the NFL. In the past two matches between these teams, the Dolphins won both in convincing fashion including a 33-17 win in 2010 and a 34-14 victory a year ago. For the last Raiders win against Miami you would have to go all they way back to the 2007 season. Since then the 'Phins have come out on top in three straight occasions when taking on the silver and black.
2. Miami's Stout Run Defense
One aspect of the Dolphins game that stood out to many in the loss to Houston was their impressive run defense and ability to contain the league's best running back. Arian Foster was held to a pedestrian 79 yards on 26 carries while averaging only 3 yards per attempt. The Raiders have their own threat out of the backfield in Darren McFadden however he is certainly not on the same level with the likes of Arian Foster. Against the Chargers, McFadden was a better reciever than running back as he caught 13 passes for 86 yards and only managed 32 yards on the ground on 15 carries. If a young Chargers defense was able to shut down McFadden, a talented Dolphins front seven should have no problems doing the same. The challenge is defending him as a reciever where Miami continually struggles to stop the short pass.
3. The Dolphins Pass Rush Will Put Pressure On Carson Palmer
While 297 yards passing and 1 touchdown is certainly not a bad day's work, Carson Palmer was never able to find his groove against the Chargers as he was sacked three times and knocked down twice. Ensuring Palmer remains on his feet will be a tall task for Oakland's offensive line just like it was last season when the Dolphins pass rushers were in the Raiders backfiled on seemingly every play. Similar to nearly every other NFL quarterback, Palmer crumbles when facing a heavy pass rush and his entire game completely falls apart. With Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby and Randy Starks among others, Miami is in prime position to expose the Raiders' largest weakness; the offensive line.
4. Raiders Wearing Black Uniforms Under the Miami Sun
Throughout all of the major North American sports, there are few uniforms that are more iconic than the silver and black of the Oakland Raiders. While the colors are a significant part of the Raiders identity, they are incredibly uncomfortable to be worn in the scorching Miami heat at 1 pm in the middle of September. The reason for this being that darker colors, especially black, trap heat and ultimately effect the performance of the players. Also don't think for a second that the Dolphins didn't have this in mind when choosing to wear their aqua jerseys for this home game.
Altough many aspects of the game are in Miami's favour, the Raiders are current favourites by a 2.5 point spread. These advantages all add up to a Dolphins victory and a great way to cap off the day the 1972 perfect season is honored at Sun Life Stadium.
For coverage and analysis throughout the Raiders vs Dolphins game be sure to follow @Phins_Phocus on twitter.
Week 1 has now come and gone and the Dolphins fan base has been left pretty discouraged about the outcome of this season. While the concern is obviously more than warranted, it’s time to sit back and realize there is still a lot of football to be played this season.
The Dolphins played a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the Houston Texans and get a much more realistic test in week 2 in the Oakland Raiders. Week 1 the Dolphins had to face a fierce defense which is one of the best units in the NFL combined with a offense loaded with firepower at almost all the skill positions and if that wasn’t bad enough the Dolphins have been terribly historically against the Texans.
With that being said the Dolphins are in for a much different situation when facing the Raiders, the Phins are currently riding a 3 game winning streak against the Raiders dating back to 2008, and have won the past 6 of 7 battles against Raider nation.
The Raiders are coming off a shorter week playing the late MNF game to open the season and looking pretty unimpressive in their opener.
Raiders have a strong defensive line and could have a nice afternoon getting to the QB but their secondary is one to be left desired and could present opportunities for rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill should find a couple of holes in the defense and if he could get ANY help from WR’s could have a nice game to help build his confidence.
The Raiders offense also does not compare to the Texans, as the Raiders don’t have the same strength on the outside and it was clear in week 1 Carson Palmer does not really trust his receivers. The Raiders also aren’t strong at tight end a position the Dolphins always struggle with.
Week 2 should be a real test for this Dolphins team as a good matchup and home opener could be an opportunity for this team’s first win. If the Dolphins can manage to get to 1-1 perspective changes a lit and we take one step at a time, however if the Dolphins lose the game it might be hand over face time in Miami.no comments
One went to Wisconsin and another went to Texas A&M. One has the keys to the franchise as the "People's Choice" and the other just plays hard nosed defense for a Super Bowl contender.
Ryan Tannehill's debut Ends on a sour note with 3 interceptions and zero touchdowns. Tannehill although kept is uniform slightly clean, did not improve on some of the key adjustments suggested by Head Coach Joe Philbin: stepping up in the pocket when there is pressure, reading the defense, and going through his progressions. At times it was encouraging to see Tannehill use his head and dump the ball to the sidelines when he didn't find an open receiver.
JJ Watt, second year player of the Texans owned Tannehill by knocking two passes in the air on consecutive drives. In all, Watt batted up 4 passes and two went into the waiting hands of a patiently waiting Texan.
At the sight of three interceptions it appeared that Coach Joe Philbin hung Tannehill out to dry leaving Tannehill in there to take punishment and to make decisions under the pressure of a game that quickly unraveled. The only thing that saved young Tannehill was "halftime" as indicated by coach Joe Philbin in his post game presser.
However, Ryan Tannehill, given a chance to respond appeared gun-shy and made the same mistakes multiple times causing outward disgust all over the twitter verse.
Fans were exclaiming that Tannehill is a bust, Philbin is not s good coach, and Jeff Ireland should have drafted someone else.
Consequently, the start of the young QB went better in the second half despite the turnovers from the first half and led the team to the redzone twice. However, turnovers haunted the team and it seemed like the Dolphins gave the Texans the game in the first half. However, the Dolphins lack of execution on offense, clean pass blocking, a fumble, and giving Tannehill clean passing lanes were all exacerbated the mistakes made by Tannehill.
Much of the media was in "I told you so" mode. Ryan Tannehill wasn't awful, but he wasn't an improvement in Miami after 1 week and three preseason starts. He certainly has not yet earned the label of franchise quarterback.
What is Tannehill? He is a young rookie QB with a lot to learn and has a steep learning curve eventhough he grasps the offense.
Will he improve is the question on the minds of his teammates and coaching staff.
He's the starter and he will take the blame for the poor performance.
He's JJ Watt's Daddy for today.
30-10 and 3 Ryan Tannehill interceptions ! Not exactly the start Dolphins fans would have hoped for.
That being said, slow down and take a big deep breath Dolphins fans. While the Dolphins did break down half way through the game with 4 consecutive turnovers turning the game completly out of hand, it is only one game.
While I understand the idea of patience is not one many Dolphins fans want to hear, the fact is this is going to be a process, even the great Andrew Luck threw 3 interception this week and fellow rookie Brandon Weeden threw 4.
Tannehill showed flashes and was calm and collective throughout the game but had major issues getting the ball past the large hand of JJ Watt and the big arms of the Texans defensive line. Tannehill despite being a tall QB struggling to get his throws high enough above the line of scrimmage, we saw this during the preseason and it appears this has trended into the regular season.
Tannehill as expected did not get much help from his "weapons" as it seemed the wide out group failed to get open early and most of the game. The running game was encouraging as similar to 2011, Reggie Bush might have been the teams best player this week. Daniel Thomas also showed strides before fumbling and getting injured to which the details are not out yet.
While the O-line played strong in the run game, they could not come close to controlling JJ Watt as he dominated all game long.
The defense played a very impressive first half but after the offense helped the Texans gain momentum with 4 straight turnovers it seemed the D lost their mojo as Andre Johnson beat Sean Smith play after play eventually spreading the game wide open. Owen Daniels became yet another tight end to torche this defense as it seems year after year the Dolphins get nowhere in improving their coverage of the position.
There were also questions about the coaching staff as the was much to be desired with the way Joe Philbin managed the ending of the second half. Also questionable not calling many roll outs for Tannehill, not putting him in a situation where he shines the most.
Overall it isn't hard to see that this team will struggle to even get 6-7 wins, however the team will have to try and gain moral victories and hope Tannehill can progress.
It's going to be a very long season, it will be frustrating and very annoying and times but there isn't much that can be done now.
That being said, there was a report on Rotoworld.com that Jeff Ireland's job might be in serious danger, that would make for pretty amazing news for Dolphins fan should it be true.
Each week, as a way of bringing out the best in the Miami Dolphins, I plan on featuring a player the fans can be proud about.
This week, Jared Odrick is the guy that captures my attention and I have big expectations for not only in Houston later today, but throughout the season.
With size compared to almost like a Jason Seymour standing 6'5" 302 lbs, Odrick is a beast for any offensive line pushing from any defensive line position.
While, Odrick missed much of his first season with a broken fibula in practice, his first game versus the Buffalo Bills showed some promise contributing right away with a tackle.However, with his season cut short, Odrick was automatically labeled a bust and injury prone in the eyes of most Dolfans.
However, last season with a clean bill of health and more comfort within the defense, Odrick flourished in the Mike Nolan coached defense with a share of sacks out of the DE position.
Odrick recorded 6 sacks, 22 tackles, and 1 forced fumble. Not to mention an awesome sack dance that brought us all back to our childhoods with the Pee Wee Herman Tequila scene dance.
Last season Odrick came up big providing support in the areas of pass rush and stopping the run.
One particular reason for his dominance was the isolation of Cam Wake who was double teamed frequently and allowed Odrick a gap to make plays.
This season, if Jared Odrick can make plays on the new 4-3 defensive scheme employed by Dolphins defensive coach Kevin Coyle, then Dolfans will hear Odrick's name for good reasons: sacks and tackles.
Despite the terrible start the Dolphins defense has had this preseason, it's now time for the players on the defense to show the physical side that this defense has been known for. Going into his third season,
Odrick needs to show he can be that guy that will be consistent and be a leader of this defense.
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Happy Dolphins Sunday!
MIAMI DOLPHINS @ HOUSTON TEXANS
Current Line: Texans -12
Time: 1 pm Eastern
Location: Reliant Stadium. Houston, Texas
On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins will kickoff the 2012 regular season against a potent Super Bowl contender; the Houston Texans. The game will officially mark the start of a new era in South Beach with a new head coach in Joe Philbin and a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Miami couldn't have been matched up with a tougher opponent to begin the campaign as the Texans will be out to prove that they could have won their first franchise title a year ago if it wasn't for an injury to QB Matt Schaub. Last season the Dolphins finished with a forgettable 6-10 record however they were a very respectable 9-7 against the spread. On the other hand, Houston wrapped up the regular season with a 10-6 record, falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional round but were an impressive 11-5 against the spread.
Dolphins Defense vs Texans Offence
Houston has one of the most dynamic offences in the NFL with elite players at the skill positions. Houston is led by signal caller Matt Schaub. While Schaub isn't in the same company as quarterbacks such as Rodgers, Brady and Brees, he is one of the most reliable and accurate passers in the game. Miami's defense will have its hands full with the Texans running back duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Foster burst out onto the scene in 2010 when he rushed for 1,161 yards and added 16 touchdowns. He followed that up with a stellar 1,224 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Although Foster will take the majority of the carries, Ben Tate will see his share of work. In 2011 Tate was handed the ball 175 times for a total of 942 yards. If Miami somehow manages to stop the Texans run game they must find a way to contain one of the top wide recievers in the league; Andre Johnson. Sean Smith will be given the task of covering Johnson which promises to be an interesting matchup. One of their few weakness can be found in the offensive line where the Texans will start an unproven 2011 seventh round pick.
Without a doubt the Dolphins defense is one of the most underrated units in the league. Miami's defensive front was ranked in the top 10 last year and have been hovering around that position for several years now. Miami's defense which features one of the NFL's best pass rushers in Cameron Wake and Karlos Dansby who should thrive in the 4-3 formation, will benefit from the fact that they are returning their entire front seven.
Dolphins Offence vs Texans Defense
Ryan Tannehill's first NFL start comes against one of the leagues top defenses, featuring an overwhelming pass rush and a talented secondary. While Jake Long will certainly be able to hold the fort, rookie Jonathan Martin is bound to get beat by the Texans linebackers throughout the course of the game. Altough the Dolphins no longer have to game plan for Mario Williams when playing the Texans, Miami will now deal with the likes of Brian Cushing and J.J Watt.
In order for the Dolphins to record their first win against Houston in franchise history they must exploit a weakness in the Texans defense up the middle of the field. As a result, running backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas will see a ton of touches both in the air and out of the backfield. Miami will also utilize many short passes to their most reliable recievers Davone Bess, Anthony Fasono and the now healthy Brian Hartline who will provide a signficant boost to the Dolphins offence. Bush has high expectations for himself in 2012 with a goal of being the league's leading rusher. One thing is for sure, Bush will definitely recieve plenty of opportunities on Sunday.
The Dolphins kicker and punter combo is arguably second in the league to only the Oakland Raiders. Dan Carpenter and Brandon Fields have been nothing short of brilliant in their careers for Miami. Carpenter has proven to be an incredibly reliable kicker and his abilty to bail out the Dolphins offence has not gone unnoticed. Fields' contributions have been significant as well seeing as he provides the Dolphins defense with the best chances to succeed by giving the opposition poor field position. Both teams have solid kick returners in Marcus Thigpen (Dolphins) and Trindon Holliday (Texans).
While I don't expect the Dolphins to leave Houston with a massive upset win, I do believe they will cover the spread and keep the game relatively close.
PREDICTION: Texans 26 Dolphins 16
Follow us on twitter @Phins_Phocus for coverage and analysis during the game. Phins Up!
Two days left until Dolphins football ! Here is a nice picture to help you enjoy your weekend ! Phins Up !