The first Sunday of NFL action is finally here. Few days in the year are as refreshing as today. But something is still missing.
As special as starting out the year on Monday Night Football truly is, especially against rival New England, this opening Sunday is a little watered down with no Dolphins’ football.
But fear not, I thought I would wait to post my three keys to victory for today in order to satisfy your Dolphins’ fix.
Pressure, pressure, pressure
There has been one key to slowing down Tom Brady and the Patriots over the past decade.
If you can get consistent pressure on Brady you’ll stand a chance. If not, well, you’re probably going to get run out of the building.
The Jets beat the Pats twice last year with pressure and the true blueprint was laid by the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. The Dolphins’ defense is primed for similar success with one of the game’s best pass rushers in Cameron Wake facing off against rookie Nate Solder thanks to Sebastian Vollmer likely being out of the lineup.
But Wake can’t do it all by himself. He’s going to need Jason Taylor to flash glimpses of his old self and maybe Koa Misi showing improvement in the pass rush department to truly fluster the game’s top signal caller.
I also expect Mike Nolan to dial up some of those exotic blitz packages he’s famous for. With that said, Belichick will likely counter with plenty of quick reads for Brady and a heavy dose of the screen game.
If there is a measuring stick for a defense poised to take the next step and emerge as an elite unit, it’s against Tom Brady and the Patriots. It’s time to put up or shut up for the Dolphins’ defense.
Oh Captain My Captain
The Dolphins named their captains for this year’s 2011 season today.
Jake Long (probably best player on the team) was nominated as a captain. Long is the leader of the offensive line and should obviously be a staple and leader on this team for this year and many years to come. Long is already arguably the best left tackle in the game.
Chad Henne: For the first time in Chad’s career, in college or in the pro’s, he has been named a team captain. Chad has taken on more of a leadership role this offseason and his nomination as captain is well deserved.
Two Michigan men as captains
Karlos Dansby: The heart of the defense, ILB Karlos Dansby has already made an impression here in Miami and is a wise choice for defensive captain.
Yeremiah Bell: The Pro Bowl safety is ready to roll this year.
Special-teams captains will be named week to week according to Coach Sparano.no comments
It’s pivotal for the Dolphins to get off to a good start this season, but that is easier said than done. They aint playing no “slouches” in the words of Darrelle Revis. On Monday the Dolphins have the honor of playing the best team in the AFC- the rival Patriots.
In order to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck you have to bring your A game.
Can the Dolphins beat the Patriots? Yes! They have in the past and they can do it again. That being said, it won’t be an easy task and they will need their best from a couple of key contributors.
Here are the 5 players that I think will need to have a huge impact Monday night in order for the Dolphins to come away with the W.
This one is kind of obvious; it goes without saying that Miami will need a decent game from Chad to win. While I don’t think they need a 300 yard performance from Henne, I think it is more important that Chad doesn't commit any turnovers. If Henne can walk away from Monday night’s game without any INT’s or fumbles it would be a huge step in the right direction.
Last night we finally got back to football. The Packers and Saints put on a show in a game that could eventually go down as one of the most exciting of the year.
But around here, we won’t officially get back to football until the Dolphins take the field for some meaningful action. And few games this season will be as meaningful as next Monday night’s showdown with the New England Patriots.
While a loss wouldn’t necessarily spell doom for the Dolphins, as the Patriots project to be one of the top teams in the league again this season, a win would instantly return nation-wide respectability back to this franchise and catapult this team into the playoff discussion.
It certainly won’t be easy and few talking heads will give the Dolphins much of chance. But we’ve heard that story before.
Miami has been the underdog against New England for every game the past decade it seems. But history has shown us, even in dire times for this franchise, never to count out the underdog.
The Patriots have won four out of the past five matchups and outscored the Dolphins by a whopping 62 points in their two contests last year.
But Miami has been a thorn in the Patriots’ side on several occasions in the Bill Belichick era. Let’s get pumped up for Monday night’s opener by revisiting a couple games against New England nobody gave the Dolphins a chance to win.
December 20th 2004: Dolphins 29 Patriots 28
Less than a week after receiving his pink slip when final cuts were made, Larry Johnson was back on the practice field for the Dolphins today.
Johnson was presumably brought back because Daniel Thomas reportedly tweaked his hamstring. Another theory is the Charles Clay injury, also a hamstring, is forcing Lex Hilliard to spend more time at fullback, thus opening a need for a third running back.
At any rate, Johnson’s performance in the fourth preseason game, highlighted by a 22-yard touchdown, was likely what the Dolphins needed to see to bring him back in a scenario like this.