The Miami Dolphins will make their fourth appearance of the season and the task at hand will be tough. The Chargers open the game with a 2-1 record and are seeking an above .500 record for the first quarter of an NFL season under HC Norv Turner. For Miami, Tony Sparano is looking to stave off his detractors for at least two weeks.
The wolves are at the door and while a win will take the team in the right direction, it’s not going to be enough yet to get fans off the embattled coach, it will be a start to an otherwise abysmal season thus far.
While Tony Sparano’s coaching decisions today will be scrutinized the players still need to execute. We already know that the team will be without starting CB Vontae’ Davis which means that either Will Allen or Nolan Carroll will replace him. Allen has been hamstrung by a nagging injury so his availability is in question regarding full service today.
So who will be the hero’s and who will be the zero’s? Here is a look at five players that should have a major impact on today’s game.
Reggie Bush – I’m of the opinion that we will see today what we haven’t seen all season. Bush heavily involved in the passing game. Look for Bush to be split out wide, in the slot, and used in screen plays as wellf. I look for him to have a big game. It’s do or die for the Dolphins. A loss here and the Dolphins will officially enter the “Suck for Luck” campaign. Sparano and the coaches know this so they will need to pull out all the stops. That should be more than enough reason to get Bush heavily involved in the offense today.
Kevin Burnett – Burnett said this week that he has not done enough to help this team. That’s a fact that many will agree with. Burnett’s play has been so pedestrian that media speculate whether or not the oft injured Channing Crowder would be a better option. Burnett will be tested today by a running game that features a speed back in Ryan Mathews and a bulldozer in Mike Tolbert. He will also face former Phins TE Randy McMichael who will start in place of Antonio Gates. Burnett has a chance to be a game changer today and needs to step up. There will be no average today.
Cameron Wake – Wake has struggled since game one. He has one or two sacks (can’t look it up right now) and has basically been manhandled by opposing tackles. For those thinking about it, no he has not been double teamed. Wake has to do more than simply hold the perimeter, he must get continual pressure on Phillip Rivers and force him to throw passes he doesn’t want to make. Without pressure from Wake, Rivers will have ample time to pick apart a desperate Dolphins secondary.
Marc Columbo – To put this in the most simplest of terms, if Columbo can’t block out the defender on the right side the Dolphins will bring in Nate Garner to help him. If they do that then one offensive playmaker will be on the sideline. It will also mean that Chad Henne is being planted on his back again. Henne has been sacked far too much and is on pace to be sacked a Dolphins record by seasons end…or maybe by the 8th game. It all starts on the right side where Columbo has been a major dissappointment to everyone not named Sparano.
Yeremiah Bell – The Dolphins need big plays out of their secondary and today I think we see a return of the old Y-Bell. I look for Mike Nolan to disguise safety blitzes that will allow Bell to get to Rivers and I also suspect that he will find more than one opportunity to take a pass away from the Chargers. If Bell can have a huge game the Dolphins will take a big step closer to winning. Bell needs to step up today and lead the defense. I think he will.