It may be a game against the Cleveland Browns, but for head coach Tony Sparano, the first away game of the season may just be the biggest of his career for the fourth year coach.
Yes, that’s right, a game against the Cleveland Browns. You know, the same Browns that just may be the only team that has been more mediocre than the Miami Dolphins the whole decade.
That is exactly what this Miami team has sunk down to in terms of desperation. This is a team that is fighting not only to keep up with every team in the AFC East (yes, even the Buffalo Bills), but to keep their coaching staff as well.
In order to do that, the Dolphins have to win this Week 3 game against the Browns, and improve their record to 1-3 before going into a Week 4 showdown with the San Diego Chargers.
The Dolphins have a few things in particular that they will be looking to do against the Browns to establish superiority and come away with the victory, so let us delve into the minds of the Miami coaching staff and see what they should be looking to exploit against Cleveland.
3. Who’s The Better Team?
Well, the answer to that question is rather simple. We all know thr Dolphins possess clearly the better talent on their roster, but they just have problems putting everything together on gameday. The Dolphins very well could have come away last week against the Texans with a victory, but they failed to put everything together. The Browns have some players on their team, such as running back Peyton Hillis. This team also beat us last year, and it would not surprise me if they did it again this year if we come out flat. Last week the Dolphins were able to pound the ball down the Houston defense’s throat, but were inconsistent in the passing game. On Opening Day against the Patriots, it was the opposite. So whenever Miami can pull everything all into one good game, a win shouldn’t be far behind. And compared to the Chargers, Texans, and Patriots, the Browns should be a warmup session, a game in which they get all of their kinks out, and really get ready for the season.
2. Stop Hillis Before He Starts:
So far this season Peyton Hillis has not embarrassed defenses like he was doing last year. He has found his way into the end zone, but he is not eating up the massive number of yards that he was last year. The Dolphins allowed the Texans to do as they please on offense last week, whether it was on the ground or through the air. The Browns would prefer to give the ball to Hillis, and let him take care of the rest. Paul Solia and Kevin Burnett will be huge factors in this game in stopping the run, especially if captain Karlos Dansby is out for the game as well. The Browns do not possess a strong passing game, so stuffing the run should make the offense panic.
1. Find A Good Strategy:
The coaching staff is fighting for their lives already because they failed to outsmart the other teams in their tenure in Miami. Sparano is known for mishandling the clock. Mike Nolan has taken a massive step back with his defense this year, and the offense is still learning the playbook under Brian Daboll. So to say that coming up with an effective gameplan that makes the whole team look good is key for this game, would be the biggest understatement of the year. Owner Stephen Ross views his team from a fans perspective. He knows the Browns are clearly the inferior team and should be beaten. With the BYE week coming up after the Chargers game, if Sparano only enters the idle week with one or fewer wins, Ross could hand someone else the job, and have Sparano looking back at this game as the turning point in his coaching career in Miami.
Final Prediction: Overall I see Miami pulling out the win, 17-10 in a battle of the ground and pound style of football. The Dolphins got the running game going last week with rookie Daniel Thomas, and they undoubtedly will be eager to try and start it up again this week. Led by Thomas and fellow running back Reggie Bush, the Fins should control the pace of the game, and come out victorious in Cleveland, capturing their first win of the young season.