The Miami Dolphins travel to Canton, Ohio this weekend to take on the Dallas Cowboys to kick off the pre-season schedule. The team has completed eleven practices so far during training camp, and I’m sure that it’s time to see a different colored jersey on the other side of the line of scrimmage. There have been multiple positions changes where the Dolphins have improved the overall team speed and skill level heading into the season, and now is the opportunity to showcase it on both sides of the football.
Here are some of my thoughts heading into Sunday’s game and what I’ve learned heading into the pre-season:
– Tannehill Looks Poised And Confident – The position of quarterback is arguably the toughest position to play in professional sports. It takes mental toughness and the ability to perform while under extreme pressure. So far, Ryan has looked like the leader you want directing this franchise. He has thrown the football with velocity and accuracy, and seems to have a complete command of the offensive scheme.
I’m not sure how much playing time he will get on Sunday night seeing that wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline probably won’t see any game action. I believe that Tannehill’s meaningful preseason action will start next week against Jacksonville and escalate through game four against Tampa Bay. He looks ready physically right now for the regular season, and that’s right where he needs to be.
– Defense Could Be Elite – One of the first things that you notice about this year’s defense is their overall team speed, and their ability to get bodies around the football. The front seven has the chance to be dominant because they are big and physical up the middle, and athletic on the edge led by all pro defensive end Cameron Wake. Wake has a bigger frame this season, but hasn’t lost his ability to find the quarterback. The combination of Olivier Vernon and rookie Dion Jordan will give opposing tackles fits, and take some of the attention away from number 91. New additions at linebacker (Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler) has given this unit the ability to rush the quarterback more efficiently than in the past, and adding corner back Brent Grimes has strengthened the secondary.
This group also now has the depth at defensive back to create different looks to opposing offenses. Cornerback Will Davis has led the charge getting takeaways in bunches over the last couple of practices, and Dimitri Patterson gives defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle options in nickel and dime coverage.
– Some Question Marks That Need To Be Decided – Depth on a football team is usually the difference between good teams and great teams. The Dolphins offense still has plenty of holes to fill at multiple positions for this team to reach its potential. Up front, it’s imperative that the offensive line gets through the preseason healthy, already losing guard John Jerry for most of training camp.
Can Lance Louis or Josh Samuda step up to challenge to start in his absence? Will second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin take control of his opportunity on the left side, and play with more consistency as the preseason get underway? Who will emerge behind second year running back Lamar Miller and will someone separate from the pack at wide receiver to seize the fourth and fifth spot? Dustin Keller has shown the ability to get open down field and find the holes verses zone coverage, and Charles Clay and rookie Dion Sims give this position the flexibility that is needed. With that in mind, will this offense need both Jorvorskie Lane and Evan Rodriguez at fullback, or keep just one opening up another spot for tight end Kyle Miller?
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