Week 1 matchup for the Dolphins, has them heading to Cleveland to take on the Browns. Both teams will have their franchise quarterbacks, both 1st-round draft picks in 2012 on display; Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill (#8) and Browns’ Brandon Weeden (#29). Dolphins were (7-9) and the Browns were (5-11) last season.
I love everything about Tannehill’s game. Last year, I said if they drafted a quarterback in the 1st round it would be Tannehill and I was right. He is a star in the making.
Owner Stephen Ross and GM Jeff Ireland gave Coach Joe Philbin, OC Mike Sherman and DC Kevin Croyle, plenty of new guys to work with this offseason.
Philbin did a solid job coaching, despite the fact he didn’t have a lot talent. They both were pleased with Tannehill’s 1st year, and now with the new weapons on offense; this will be his year to really shine as a make a name for himself. Tannehill really came on strong as the year progressed once Mike Sherman opened the playbook and let him use his legs. That allowed Tannehill to throw on the run, and run to make to plays. I watched him all season long and was so impressed by his poise. He never got down on himself. He could have led them to the playoffs, if not for his kicker Dan Carpenter missing potential game-winners vs. the Jets and Cardinals. He did beat playoff teams such as: the Bengals and Seahawks.
From: http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/14878/brandon-weeden: He started 15 games = 297-517 (57.4% Completion), 3,385 yards, 14 TD’s, 17 INT’s, 3 fumbles lost, QBR = 27.0, Rating of = 72.6. His rushing stats: 27 carries, 111 yards. Tannehill was the better quarterback of the two, and the most important stat of the all is: 7 wins for Tannehill, Weeden 5 wins.
From: http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/_/id/14876/ryan-tannehill Spin: He has a pretty good matchup against a Browns pass defense that ranked 25th in the NFL last season, but Tannehill has not proven he can get it done outside of Miami. In his eight road starts as a rookie, Tannehill threw just four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Having a new top target in Mike Wallace will certainly help, but this has the makings of a low-scoring, run-heavy game. ESPN Fantasy Projection: The numbers look awful. Tannehill passed for 12 TDs and 13 INTs in his rookie year, but the fact that he started 15 games is in itself a victory. Remember, this kid was a converted WR who had 19 college starts at QB. The Dolphins see poise and talent in Tannehill, and the mockery they endured for taking him No. 8 overall in ’12 has quieted. Miami is in “go for it mode,” and the addition of Mike Wallace helps what was the NFL’s worst receiving corps. For now he’s dynasty-league material, but Tannehill has brought hope to South Beach.
Tannehill didn’t have that many weapons to work with, and thanks to Owner Stephen Ross and GM Jeff Ireland, this year he has the top WR free-agent Mike Wallace, and WR Brandon Gibson at his disposal to compliment newly resigned WR Brian Hartline. Of his 12 TD’s, only 3 were to his wide receivers (lowest in the league). The offense ranked 27th overall. 198.9 in passing (26th), and 112.6 in rushing (17th). http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/page/MIA/miami-dolphins
To lure Wallace away from the Steelers; it took 60 million over 5 years (27 million guaranteed). What a weapon for Tannehill. Wallace is the fastest player in the league and most definitely will give Tannehill that big playmaker they surely lacked last season. I love Wallace’s playmaking ability. He gets open at the blink of eye and once he catches the ball, he is off to the races. I love the fact he is not afraid to go over the middle and take a hit. Ben Roethlisberger will sure miss him. You can’t teach speed and now Tannehill has to just throw it his way and lets watch the track meet.
Receiver Mike Wallace really, really likes his new quarterback’s skills and potential. Asked if Ryan Tannehill can become as good as Ben Roethlisberger, Wallace said, “Definitely. It’s funny; they both played receiver at the beginning of college. They both know what we [receivers] like to do out there, so the chemistry is there already. Both have strong arms. Ryan has a cannon, can really fling it. “Ryan may be able to throw the ball a little farther than Ben. Obviously, Ben is more experienced in game time experience. The way it’s going, it won’t take long for Ryan to be one of the great quarterbacks. I feel like we can make a lot of big plays.” He said developing chemistry with Tannehill “will not take as much time as people think. By the time we get to training camp, we’ll be fine. We throw two to three times after practice every day.” It helps that Tannehill “always wants to work, never wants to take a second off,” Wallace said. “….I like this team. I like how everybody works. Not much talking, just grinding. That’s the way it should be. I’m one of the older guys on this team, so it’s different than being in Pittsburgh. Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/2013/05/fins-tidbits-wallaces-views-martins-move-rbs-battle-and-more-canes-heat-chatter.html#storylink=cpy
The Dolphins also signed WR Brandon Gibson away from the Rams to play the slot. They traded Devone Bess to the aforementioned Browns to give Gibson a chance. Gibson is a big physical receiver with excellent hands and great separation skills. Bess was a great receiver, but he lacked speed. Gibson has a solid speed.
Last year, Tannehill relied on Bess, Hartline, Reggie Bush and Anthony Fasano. Hartline is a number 2 receiver, not a number 1. He is a fantastic possession receiver, which is why Miami rewarded him with a 31 million, 5 year contract. Hartline numbers were a career-high: 74 catches, 1083 yards (14.6), 1 TD and earned himself into the Pro Bowl as Pro Bowl Alternate. He will get plenty of catches due to the defenses trying to double-team Wallace. Also, Tannehill had Reggie Bush to lean on last year. Bush rushed for 986 yards and 6 TD’s. He also caught 35 balls for 292 yards, 2 TD’s. He was a Pro Bowl Alternate. The Dolphins drafted RB Lamar Miller in the 4th round last year with the intentions of allowing Bush to become a free-agent at the end of the season. As much as Bush wanted to stay, he ultimately signed a 16 million, 4 year contract with the Lions. Tight End Anthony Fasano was a big-time target for Tannehill (41 catches, 332 yards, 5 TD’s). Fasano too, packed his bags and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Dolphins wanted a faster TE, a more down-the-seam tight end. They signed Dustin Keller away from the Jets to fill that role, but he got seriously injured vs. the Texans in preseason. Keller damaged his right knee severely, as he was taken out by safety D.J. Swearinger. The Dolphins plan to use Charles Clay as the main TE.
Lamar Miller is the new featured back. In limited action last year (13 games). 51 carries, 250 yards (4.9 Avg), TD; 6 catches, 45 yards. Miller has the natural ability and displayed that in a few games last season. I was so surprised that he was not used more. So what if he is a rookie, he is explosive. For team last struggled to score points, he could have provided that if given the chance. Now, he is the number 1 and plans to run for 1500 yards. Miller, meanwhile, reiterated “my goal is to become a starter” and has set lofty goals: 1500 yards and 5.0 per carry. “I’m trying to get bigger and faster, improve my explosiveness so I can break more tackles, make guys miss. Trying to become a great back in this league.” Miller, who said he is staying at 215 pounds but adding more muscle mass, has been working out with 49ers running back and fellow UM alum Frank Gore, who counseled him on lessons learned in the NFL. Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/2013/05/fins-tidbits-wallaces-views-martins-move-rbs-battle-and-more-canes-heat-chatter.html#storylink=cpy
Lamar will be spelled by Daniel Thomas (a bruising runner), and 5th round pick Mike Gillisee (a nice compliment) to both. Miller’s job will be to gain yards on most every down and distance. Center Mike Pouncey thinks he will, predicting a 1,300-yard season for Miller, and believes the offense will be at its best when Dolphins run the ball some 30 times a game. “I think we have to,” Pouncey said. “Our biggest advantage is running the football. We’ve got a big offensive line. We’ve got the right zone scheme. And now we’ve got the speed on the outside so guys can’t stack the box. Our run game should be really good.”
If the Dolphins are going to be successful, they need to have a solid offensive line. They have a Pro Bowl and very outspoken Pro Bowl (alternate) center in Mike Pouncey and a Pro Bowl (alternate) Right Guard in Richie Incognito. In the offseason, they signed Right Tackle Tyson Clabo, resigned OG Nate Garner and drafted G/T Dallas Thomas in the 3rd round. John Jerry won the left guard spot, beating free-agent signee Lance Louis (Bears). So what is left? Who is going to protect Tannehill’s blind side? In close race, All-Pro LT Jake Long to 34 million over 4 years from the Rams and left Miami. The LT position is being handled by Jonathan Martin. Martin played RT until Long got hurt last year, and took over from there. He spent all offseason working on his footwork and develop better blocking skills. Hopefully, he will be able to protect Tannehill from getting hit a bunch of times. The Miami offensive line finished tied for 14th in the NFL in sacks allowed a year ago with 37. http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/page/MIA/miami-dolphins
You can’t win ball games without a good defense. The defense was relied heavily upon due the lack of offense. The defense last year was ranked 21st overall under new defensive coordinator Kevin Croyle. 13th (108.4) vs. the run. and 27th vs. the pass (248.4). http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/page/MIA/miami-dolphins
The defense last year was led by the “Sackmaster” Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, who recorded 15 sacks (4th overall). He also had 53 tackles (38 Solo, 15 Assisted) along 3 forced fumbles. Reshad Jones, who was a Pro Bowl snub had a BREAK OUT year; 95 tackles (74 Solo, 21 Assisted), 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 sack. He should have gone, but has emerged as a Top 5 safety. His fine play was rewarded handsomely by receiving a 30 million, 4 year deal. The Dolphins are blessed with 2 Pro Bowl (both alternates) Nose Tackles in Paul Soliai and Randy Starks. Also have Jared Odrick to spell this guys.
The Dolphins also traded up to 3rd overall with the Raiders and selected the top defender in the draft from Oregon Dion Jordan. Ireland was in love with this guy and did what he had to do to get his man. Ireland believes that he and Wake will form a dynamic sack tandem for years. Now that Jordan is healed from his right shoulder injury, he plans to wreak havoc on defenders.
The Dolphins totally revamped their linebackers core. Jeff Ireland wanted to get faster and younger at linebacker. He brought LB’s Dannell Ellerbe (Ravens) and Phillip Wheeler (Raiders) in and cut the outspoken Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. Dansby and Burnett were 1 and 2 on the team in tackles. Dansby was 8th overall in tackles with 134 (101 Solo, 33 Assisted). Burnett had 109 (80 Solo, 29 Assisted). They were cut on June 1st, saving 10 million dollars in salary. Ellerbe had 92 tackles (69 Solo, 23 Assisted), along with 4.5 sacks and help lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl Championship. Wheeler had 109 tackles (78 Solo, 31 Assisted), along with 3 sacks. Ellerbe will replace Dansby as middle linebacker and Wheeler replaces Burnett as the outside linebacker. The Dolphins also have Koa Misi as the other outside linebacker, who just signed a 4 year/17 million extension. Misi had 65 tackles (50 Solo and 15 Assisted).
In the secondary, the Dolphins lost their top cornerback in Sean Smith, who signed a deal with the Chiefs. Smith had 2 interceptions. The Dolphins found a much more suitable replacement in former All-Pro Cornerback in Brett Grimes of Atlanta. Grimes missed all but 1 game when he hurt his knee and had surgery. He is healthy now. Opposite of him, will be Dimitri Patterson, whom was acquired off waivers last December from Cleveland. Nolan Carroll will be the nickel corner. The Dolphins in the 2nd and 3rd rounds drafted CB’s Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. Both Rookies will not play in game 1 because of injuries. Taylor (groin), and Davis (toe). Both are ballhawks and will be fun to watch.
At Safety, besides Reshad Jones, they brought back Chris Clemons. Clemons has a fantastic year as well; 99 tackles (72 Solo, 27 Assisted), along with 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery.
The Dolphins did the best thing for the special teams unit and that was draft a kicker in Caleb Sturgis (5th round). Sturgis has a big leg, as evidenced with 58 yard FG in a postseason win vs. the Jaguars. Sturgis beat Dan Carpenter, who missed 4 FG’s (3 cost Miami 2 victories), that would have put them into the playoffs.
The Dolphins have Pro Bowl (alternate) Punter in Brandon Fields. He was one of 2 players to average more than 50 yards per punt.
The Dolphins have a solid kick and punt returner in Marcus Thigpen, who scored a kickoff and a punt return last year.
Keys to the Game:
1) Attack the Browns’ secondary right from the get go. Test CB’s Joe Haden and Buster Skrine,as well as Safety T.J. Ward right from the start. A simple play-action pass, that would get Wallace open. Do it on the 1st play of the game. If Wallace is open, hit him in stride and he will have a big play. If covered, look for Hartline. The Browns secondary gave up 245.2 yards a game (25th overall). Tannehill should light up the secondary.
Wallace had this to say about facing Haden: “I know it is going to be a long battle all day long. I’m going to sleep early and I hope he goes to sleep early because it is going to be a long day,” Wallace said, per the Sun-Sentinel. “I’m excited because [Haden is] a guy where you can really [gage] where you’re at. He’s a upper echelon cornerbacks where you can see if you’re ready or not. I feel ready, but we’ll see on Sunday.”Wallace is not only familiar with Haden from his days in the AFC North, but the rivalry goes back to college, when Wallace played at Ole Miss and Haden at Florida. “We go way back,” Wallace said. “Joe is a great player. The thing that makes Joe a great player is he’s real confident. He’s confident in his abilities.” http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/page/MIA/miami-dolphins
The Dolphins were tied for 25th in the NFL with seven touchdowns of 20-plus yards
2) Utilize Brian Hartline. The focal point will be Wallace, but Hartline is Tannehill’s security blanket. Former Ohio State standout Brian Hartline is making his second trip to Cleveland since his NFL career began with the Dolphins in 2009. And if his first visit is any indication, he could be in for a big game against the Browns on Sunday. Hartline, who grew up in nearby Canton, had his best performance in 2011 against his hometown team with four catches for 87 yards. But that’s not the only reason Hartline is a strong play for Fantasy owners on Sunday. He is likely to spend much of the afternoon covered by cornerback Buster Skrine, who gives up five inches in the matchup. Skrine committed nine penalties in 2012 despite limited playing time and struggled mightily playing outside. Hartline emerged as a 1,000-yard receiver last season despite scoring just one touchdown. Though he is ranked as no more than a low-end option by the CBSSports.com senior Fantasy writers, he could be a fine hunch pick. His height advantage over Skrine might even lead to matchup problems for the Browns in the end zone. http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/page/MIA/miami-dolphins
3) Run Lamar Miller hard. Miller wants the ball early and often. He wants to prove that he can be an every down running back and make the fans of Miami chant his name. The Browns ranked (18th) in run defense last year. The Browns boast strong pass-rushing outside linebackers in Jabaal Sheard and free agent pickup Paul Kruger (Ravens) and a big front-line of Desmond Bryant, Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor is huge and steady while linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is a tackle machine. Miller has to be decisive with his cuts and try to bounce outside. http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/page/CLE/cleveland-browns
4) Let Tannehill use his legs. Tannehill is an effective runner and showed his ability to do so, more in the latter part of the season. Games of 33, 25, 52, 44 yards rushing in 4 of his last 6 games. He can scramble, and throw on the run. He improved so much after the 1st game last year and he is the leader of the offense.
5) Offensive line. The O-Line needs to stay efficient and not let Tannehill get sacked, and no penalties.
1) Go after Brandon Weeden. The Browns have a solid offensive line led by All-Pro LT Joe Thomas. Cameron Wake is a freak of nature and needs to wreak havoc. Weeden doesn’t have his top go to guy in Josh Gordon (who is suspended), so probably will be forcing throws and staying in the pocket along time. Could be a field day for the sackmaster.
2) Stop Trent Richardson. Richardson, really is the Browns only plausible scoring option. He is a fantastic runner = 267 carries, 950 yards, 3.6Avg, 11 TD’s; 51 catches, 367 yards, TD. He is also a very physical runner, so everybody defense better be ready to hit hard and drag him to the ground.
3) Cornerbacks better be ready catch. Too many times last year, Dolphins defensive backs couldn’t catch the ball. They dropped so many potential interceptions. It was embarrassing. Brandon Weeden really only options are former Dolphins wideout Devone Bess and Travis Benjamin. So, if balls are thrown towards which most likely will happen = Make the play. Either catch it or knock it down if you can. No big plays.
1) Caleb Sturgis. Caleb has to make his field goals and extra points, if they are presented which should happen.
2) No big plays. Travis Benjamin is a solid returner and guys like Olivier Vernon can’t let him get by him for a big game.
3) Make a play. Either a block kick or block punt.
4) Marcus Thigpen. Thigpen needs to give Miami solid field position for Tannehill and company.
This is a winnable football game for Miami. They have a tough schedule, so a road victory to start the year would be huge. The Dolphins have lost their last 4 games vs. Cleveland. Time to change that.
As always, I predict the Dolphins to win and my prediction this week is: 24-13 Dolphins.
My predicted stats:
1) Tannehill = 22-30, 275 yards, 2 TD’s; 7 carries, 35 yards
2) Wallace = 5 catches, 100 yards, TD
3) Hartline = 7 catches, 85 yards, TD
4) Miller = 25 carries, 100 yards, TD; 5 catches, 35 yards
5) Wake = 3 sacks, 5 tackles
6) R. Jones = 10 tackles, 1 interception
7) Grimes = 6 tackles, 1 Interception
Sturgis = 40 yd FG, 3 extra points
About the Author
Written by Daniel Saviuk
My name is Daniel. I love the Miami Dolphins (been a fan since I was 10)...