The Miami Dolphins will be taking on the Indianapolis Colts tomorrow in what could prove to be a match-up of AFC play-off hopefuls. Both teams currently stand pat at 1-0 after the first week of NFL action, but only one can walk away 2-0.
Miami’s defense played remarkably last week against Cleveland and racked up 6 sacks to go along with 3 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. The offense, on the other hand, stalled during the first half and was only able to produce 6 points. During the second half, however, the offense came out looking like a whole different team. Miami went on to win the game by a score of 23-10.
Indianapolis’ offense played well against a struggling Oakland defense. The offense was able to get out to a 14-7 half-time lead, but struggled during the third quarter allowing Oakland to pull closer bringing the score to 14-10. QB Andrew Luck scored the game clinching touchdown on a 19-yard scramble for a touchdown. Indianapolis’ defense, on the other hand, struggled against an anemic Oakland offense. QB Terrell Pryor was able to throw for 217 yards and rack up 112 yards on the ground. This defense must clamp down if Indianapolis wishes to walk away with a win.
Here are a few things Miami must do to ensure a victory over the Andrew Luck-led Colts:
- Get the ground game going early and OFTEN. Last week Lamar Miller carried the ball 10 times for 3 yards. Sure, Cleveland’s front seven deserves praise for such a great performance, but with production like that opposing defenses do not have to worry about Miami’s running game being a threat. Miami must be able to pound the ball against a bad Indianapolis run defense. If Miami cannot establish a running game, QB Ryan Tannehill may struggle early on for the second straight week.
- Get Mike Wallace involved early. Last week Wallace faced one of the league’s best in CB Joe Haden. Haden deserves a lot of credit for Wallace’s lack of involvement during the game. This week, however, Wallace is facing former Miami corner, Vontae Davis, and former Arizona Cardinal, Greg Toler. Wallace should be able to burn both corners all day long. Both Davis and Toler are aggressive and very inconsistent. If QB Ryan Tannehill can hit Wallace on a few of those deep balls, look out. And don’t sit there and tell me that LaRon Landry or Antoine Bethea is going to hold down the back-end.
- Bring the heat! I’ve read just about every “Keys to a Miami Victory” article and they all stress to be weary when blitzing. No. Stop. Miami cannot sit back and give Luck all day to dissect their defense unless they want a repeat outcome of last year’s game. Miami’s defense must send the pressure using their “speed package” and rattle Luck. If Miami can get some hits and pressure early on Luck, it will lead to turnovers. Pressure + Hits + Bad Offensive Line = Turnovers. Simple.
- Improve on tackling. The tackling last week against Cleveland was not as awful as it was during the preseason. That being said, it still was not something Miami should be bragging about. Cleveland RB Trent Richardson broke something-like 8 tackles on 13 carries. Wait, what? Exactly. As Chris Nelson points out, MLB Dannell Ellerbe was a culprit of bad tackling early in the game. Miami’s linebackers and safeties must buckle down and tackle RB’s Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown (Vick Ballard tore his ACL in practice Thursday and will be done for the season).
- Ryan Tannehill, do not step off the gas young man. Miami’s young signal caller found WR’s Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson quite often during Miami’s win over Cleveland. He also developed a good connection with TE Charles Clay early and often. If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it Tannehill. Yes, getting Wallace involved is a huge must for Miami’s offensive game-plan. That being said, do not force something if it is not there. Tannehill has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. He just has to make the right decision by finding the open receiver and allow his receiver to make plays for him.
Miami also must take advantage of Indianapolis’ beat up roster. It seems like every linebacker listed on Indianapolis’ roster is banged up. Add in the fact that starting TE Dwayne Allen is also battling a hip injury, Miami should be able to take advantage of this throughout the course of the contest.
Miami – 27 Indianapolis – 24
Now, it would not surprise me if Indianapolis ended up defeating Miami. In fact, I had originally thought they would. But seeing how Indianapolis struggled against Oakland last week, Miami actually has a shot in this one. If Miami’s offense can get rolling early to extend a lead, this Miami defense is too good for QB Andrew Luck to lead his team back.