This is a 4 part look at the Miami Dolphins schedule, and my early predictions of those games. It is never too early for pre-season predictions. Broken down into months, the schedule will be viewed game by game. Without getting into specific details of players and stats, I will examine the schedule and tell you how I see the game going for us based on the current system that is being implemented into our offense. Part I: September:
Miami vs. Washington:
"Stop Clinton Portis. The Dolphins front 7 have been very good at stopping opposing RBs. Stopping Portis will force young QB Jason Campbell into throwing more than he wants. With Brandon Lloyd and Santana Moss on the outsides, the Dolphins DBs will have a rough day, however, pressure from the DEs and the DLs should make Campbell bail out early."
"The Redskins last year gave up and average of 137 yards on the ground and another 200 plus in the air. The Dolphins are not going to try and test the Redskins DBs which consist of CBs Fred Smoot and Shaun Springs and Safeties Sean Taylor and Rookie Laron Landry. What they will do is use Ted Ginn to spread the middle out. This will allow the Miami RBs the opportunity to expose the weaker LB corp. Lorenzo Booker will see some opportunity, but the real beneficiary will be David Marten. We won’t have to wait long to see just how good he will be. Trent Green does not have the long arm, so for the most part, we will see a lot of what we saw last year, with better results. Short over the middle passes, dump offs to the RB, and the occasional long ball to Ginn or Chris Chambers. Ronnie Brown should gain modest yards as the O-line will struggle against the Washington front 4."
"Miami 27 – Washington 16. I just don’t think Campbell will be able to find the time to exploit the DBs."
Dallas @ Miami:
"Stop Terrel Owens. The Cowboys have a very good offensive line and that should give Tony Romo the time he will need to get the ball down-field. Owens is good over the middle and he will hurt you underneath if you give him too much of a cushion. The Cowboy running game is good but not as spectacular as it could be. Marion Barber and Julius Jones will test the front of the Dolphins, but it will be in the passing game that Miami will win or lose. If Joey Porter and Jason Taylor can get pressure on Romo, the running game will fail and Owens will be quiet. This is not the first HC job for Wade Phillips so he will not be making rookie mistakes. Still, the Dolphins defense should be good enough to handle them this early in the season. Improvement in training camp by the DBs will be the key to winning."
"Miami must come out and attack. The Dallas defense is just too good to sit back and play it safe. The Cowboys run a 3-4 so the opportunity is there for some nice play action passes if the running game can get the inside line backers to bite. Ginn will not likely see as much down-field routes as he did the week before. The Dallas DBs are good, but not as good as those in Washington. Miami once again should be able to exploit the interior of the field, and with Chris Chambers likely seeing a lot of motion in this game, don’t be surprised to see him get over 100 yards. Chambers could be primed for crossing routes."
"Miami 21 – Dallas 20"
Miami @ N.Y. Jets:
"The Dolphins need to keep Laverneous Coles in check and keep Leon Washington from catching the balls out of the backfield. 4 receptions in game two last year netted him 108 yards. The Dolphins lost both meetings last year by a combined 6 points. It was the lack of offensive output that left the Phins looking up at the Jets in the standings. Not this year. Porter is poised to force Pennington to run, unfortunately it is Jason Taylor on the other side that Pennington will run into. He is not likely to see much of anything else as the Dolphins defense will harass him all day. Last year, the fins let the RB catch out of the backfield. Donnie Spragan isn’t starting anymore, Porter is. Porter has good coverage skills and with Matt Roth in front of him, it could be a long day for the Jets offense."
"A balance attack will serve the Dolphins well. Realistically the Dolphins should not have lost either one of the games against the Jets. Ronnie Brown posted over 100 yards both games and Harrington added two touches in the first one, but gave it back twice. Despite the overall progression last year of the Jets, I don’t think they have improved to the point that they are a force. Miami has a new offense and on paper a better defense. The Jets will be tough, but they always are. Still, if Miami can keep from making dumb mistakes, which they should after having a full training camp to work out the kinks, this game could be over in the 3rd quarter."
"Miami 30 – NY 10 I think that the Defense and the Special Teams have more to do with this score than Trent Green throwing TDs to get us to 30."
Oakland @ Miami:
"The Dolphins have little excuse to not dominate this game from the start. The Raiders added a brand new QB in JaMarcus Russell and a veteran in Josh McCown. McCown will likely be the starter. What the Raiders did not do, was add an offensive line that saw last years starting QB, Aaron Brooks look like he was in high-school. The Dolphins should be in the faces of the Raiders QB or QBs all day. The lack of a solid line will mean that the running game will also suffer. The biggest force working against the Dolphins defense is “let down”. They still have to play the game, and they need to be aware that any slack could still put them in a position to lose."
"The Raider defense is off and on, but never really good. The Dolphins probably would have beaten the Raiders early in the season last year and Culpepper would have had 2 wins instead of one. Oakland has not done a tremendous amount of acquisition to change that. The biggest asset in this game is Trent Green. He has faced the Raiders twice a year for the last 6 years. This should be a smooth game for Miami, if the Dolphins are still trying to Gel and are sitting at 0-3 or even 1-3 at this point, this game will be the one to either get them on track or hang it up. I see a solid game from Ronnie Brown and I also think that Ted Ginn scores his first receiving touchdown here and maybe crack the 100 yard mark."
"Miami 28 – Oakland 10 This will be the on paper game. This game will tell us more about the team compared to last year than the other 3 especially if we are not above .500. These are the games that we should have won last year and didn’t."
"I think the Dolphins have a very good shot at being 4-0 heading into October. The Dallas game is the game I have the most concern about. Of the 4 September opponents, only Washington has a head coach who has been there longer than 2 years. The Jets have Eric Mangini going into his sophomore campaign, and both Dallas and Oakland have HCs that are first year coaches with their respective teams. Add to that the first year stint for our very own Cam Cameron, and there is a lot of firsts for these teams. Miami should be able to do well. Unlike years past, the offense will finally have an entire training camp, barring injury, with a definitive starter at the QB spot. That should help with the timing issues and the offense as a whole should be closer to form come opening day then they have been the last 3 years."