After my prediction of a division win against the Patriots in the opening game was proven wrong in a big way, I’m a little more cautious of what I think will happen in this weeks game.
While both teams bring a high-speed aerial attack to the table, the Houston Texans also bring a bruising running game led by Arian Foster, who will be making his first appearance of the season after returning from a hamstring injury suffered in the pre-season.
But we know all of that about the Texans already. We already know that we are 0-5 against them all time, and we already know exactly how difficult it has been over the years to beat these guys.
So what little things, what intangibles are the Dolphins going to have to complete to do what they couldn’t last week, and come away with their first win of the season?
3. Show That We Are In Shape: Last week Tom Brady exposed our defense, plain and simple. Not only did he expose our weaknesses, but he also showed that we are a team, that does not hold the normal Miami Dolphins home field advantage-the heat, at the moment. It was this heat and the Patriots hurry up offense that caused this defense to look fatigued and have their hands on their knees by the end of the first half. So why would the Texans not try and run some sort of hurry up offense, to force our defenses hand again? Why not try and keep our D on our toes, and try and gas them as well? It worked last week, and the Texans have arguably better complementary weapons to go along with their star quarterback Matt Schaub. For the Dolphins to be able to compete on defense, coming into this game in a little bit better condition will be key to shutting down this high-octane offense.
2. Get The Running Backs More Carries: Last week the runoff backs only touched the ball a combined 12 times. An offense that once prided itself on it’s running game, now has resorted to running the ball a combined 12 times in a game! Granted, Reggie Bush was the only real running back that this team was comfortable tossing into the fire on opening night, but now that rookie Daniel Thomas is available, we should see the backfield getting more carries. The Dolphins want to get back to pounding the ball, while being aggressive through the air, and in order to do that, the offensive line is going to have to do a better job at paving lanes for our backfield to run through. Sadly, the line is still a work in progress, as is the Texans new 3-4 defense, so something has got to give this weekend. In order to not become one-dimensional though, Miami needs to gain the upper hand in this battle.
1. Limit The Big Plays: Last week Miami lost to the Patriots by 14 points. The game would have been much closer if not for the 99 yard touchdown that put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. The blown coverages by Benny Sapp and Reshad Jones are inexcusable, and Sapp lost his job because of the two touchdowns that he gave up. The Dolphins resigned Will Allen to replace Sapp and try and prevent the tight ends and slot receivers from making the difference between a win and a loss again. The Texans only threw to their tight ends 5 times last week for 62 yards, but Owen Daniels always has the ability to break loose down the seam. The linebackers and nickel backs are going to have to improve on this from last week for the defense to be as effective as we all think it can be.
Final Result: I predicted that the Dolphins pull out the win in this one, 20-16 in large part because the Texans still trying to fully transition into their new 3-4 defense. But they completely shut the Colts offense down last week, so the book is still open on whether this defense is ready to become a dependable unit or not. If the Dolphins can gain the upper hand against the Houston defense, the Dolphins should be able to capture their first win at home of the season.