The Miami Dolphins will open their home season on Monday against the Indianapolis Colts. While the Colts are not the former self, they still possess the high-octane offense behind the arm and hands of Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne. The Phins will get an exercise in patience while facing the ever audibling Manning. Here is this weeks Edge Report
Miami Offense Vs. Indy Offense
The Dolphins have a long way to go before they can compare to the scoring machines of teams like the Colts. All is not lost however as this match-up is actually closer at first glance. The Dolphins plethora of RB’s is much more potent than the corp that is on the Indy roster and in that regard the edge falls towards Miami. It’s the passing game that makes the tilt in favor of the Colts.
The Dolphins did little to prove they can score last week against the Falcons, a trend that carried over from the pre-season. Chad Pennington uses a methodical approach to his game and while that sometimes can yield a winning reward, the offensive system in Miami is not one designed for playing from behind. With the Colts you know what you get, Peyton Manning. Manning’s big arm and Reggie Wayne’s veteran route running often squares the two perfectly for long TD’s. Manning will also have one of the better TE’s in the league in Dallas Clark and you can bet they watched plenty of Tony Gonzalez footage from week 1.
For Indy there is one caveat to this weeks game. They are without starting WR Anthony Gonzalez and will rely on two of their youngsters and recently signed ex-Philly WR Hank Baskett.
Miami Defense Vs. Indy Defense
The Colts are solid on the front line but they are not stellar. DE Dwight Freeney will try and continue what started with John Abraham last weekend. A full press pressure blitz on LT Jake Long. While Freeney is stellar in his own rights, the Indy defense will have to contend with their first real look at the Dolphins WC offense and that could prove too much when/if Miami starts offsetting Long to the right side like they typically do.
For the Dolphins, it’s all about pressure once again. Manning is touchable but his quick release gets him out of trouble often. A solid game from the secondary will keep Manning in the pocket longer and the Dolphins blitzing ends and LB’s could prove too much for a very good offensive line. Manning is not a scrambler and that falls into the play of the Dolphins pass rushing duo of Jason Taylor and Joey Porter.
While the Colts may suffer from a WC package that gains positive rushing yards, the Colts lack of a solid running game will face one of the best rushing defenses in the league and it’s that reason that the Phins defense has the edge.
Miami St’s Vs. Indy St’s.
Until the Dolphins solve their return game issues and their special teams defense they won’t have the edge on anyone, including Indy. Coach Tony Sparano and staff have “re-assigned” some of the duties on their ST’s to try and get more production out of the unit that has struggled for years. Indy doesn’t possess a lights out return guy but against Miami, most teams seem to find even moderate success.
The Dolphins do have the edge in the kicking game with Adam Vinatieri coming off injury. Dan Carpenter has been reliable and he will need to be again this week.
Tony Sparano Vs. Jim Caldwell
I know, Caldwell is a first year NFL HC but he has been sitting behind Tony Dungy for years and learning. Plus he inherits a very good offense and much improved defense. While Tony Sparano is no slouch in his own rights, the fact that offense still struggles has to be attributed to the man on the sidelines. Sparano took his lumps last season and led the team to a remarkable 11-5 record but that was last year. He will have learned from his mistakes last year and Sparano rarely makes the same one twice.
What To Watch
Dwight Freeney Vs. Jake Long
Jake Long looked lost and like a rookie last week against veteran John Abraham and Freeney is nothing less and some will argue that he is better. Long will have a long day if he can’t stand up to the fast veteran DE’s and the Dolphins offense, especially the passing game will suffer because of it. Long will need to keep Freeney to the outside and in back of the pocket. If he can succeed, the Dolphins will have time to throw.
Phillip Merling and Jason Taylor Vs. the Right Side
Ryan Diem is the RT for the Colts and Merling exploded last week with probably his best game as a pro. Jason Taylor should be able to exploit the right side and if the Phins can get the push up the middle they will continually harass Manning all night. This could be one of the best match-ups to watch on the night as Taylor and Merling could keep Manning in check.
Ted Ginn Vs. The Secondary
The Colts are young and while they play well, they are not All-Pro’s. This could be the game that Ted Ginn needs to get his stuff together. If he can’t excel against these guys then it may seriously be time to consider replacing him with someone else. To me, as is every week it seems, this is a pivotal game for Ginn. The Colts corners are Marvin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden….yeah that’s what I said. Safety help is going to be a must on Monday and if Pat White can get his adrenaline to subside, the two might actually be able to connect a couple of times.
Yeremiah Bell Vs. Dallas Clark
Last week Bell had his hands full with Gonzalez and while some will argue that Clark is not in the same group, I disagree. Clark runs excellent routes and has very solid hands. He may not make all the acrobat catches that Tony G. will but he uses his body better to shield LB’s and safeties and he is very used to the reads that Manning makes of defensive schemes.
Indy 24 – Miami 16
I find it hard to predict a Miami win, even at home. The Phins will have to keep Manning at bay and while they can, the offense must put points on the board, which so far they can’t. This is not going to be a shootout and therefore both sides of the ball have to be firing on cylinders. Turnovers here are the key and the Phins must stop the trend that started with last years playoff loss to the Ravens.