As head coach Dan Campbell has said since he’s taken over, this is a new season and today’s match up against the Houston Texans is the home opener. For Miami Dolphins fans, they hope this is the home opener they waited all offseason to see. Few things would be sweeter than a home victory in their newly renovated stadium with a new head coach in tow against a team this franchise has never beaten. In order for the Miami Dolphins to walk away victorious, there are a few prevalent match-ups they will have to win or at least break even in to earn the right of walking off the field as a .500 team and back in the thick of the AFC playoff race.
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Grimes is still only a few weeks removed from his sprained knee and while he had an incredible game clinching interception last week, there were multiple passes completed in front of him. Hopefully this week he is healthier and ready to play tighter converge because the NFL’s leading receiver will be lined up in front of him today. That said, the task of containing Hopkins will not fall only on Grimes’ shoulders. Rarely do the Dolphins have Grimes shadow the opponent’s best receiver as they mainly choose to leave him on the defense’s left side where he is most comfortable and dominant. This fact brings Taylor into the fray because the Texans assuredly will try to move Hopkins around the formation to gain an advantage and create mismatches. Taylor is young and flashes potential but he has yet put it all together, with Brice McCain out with a sprained knee, Taylor is going to need to play one of the best games of his career if the Dolphins hope to contain a receiver who is quickly becoming a superstar in this league.
This is a job no one man can ever think to handle alone. Watt is an absolute beast and it will take these two Dolphins plus tight ends and running backs in support to contain this monster of a superstar. Star power aside, Watt impacts the game in so many ways that if you don’t make him a priority in your game plan, he can disrupt an entire offense as the only defensive player in the league capable of dominating a game. James and Turner are two second year pros coming into their own, James more so than Turner, and this will be the toughest task of their young careers. Turner is physical at the point of attack and was a catalyst to an improved running game last week, but he will need to be that again today as the Texans are sure to test him early and often with blitzes and stunts across his face. James will have to anchor the edge unlike ever before and be prepared for the speed to power game that Watt brings with him to the field. This will be a pivotal match up, especially with Jadeveon Clowney listed as questionable.
Ryan Tannehill vs Texans Defense
In Tannehill’s first career start, the Texans flustered him with batted passes, strip sacks, & interceptions. RT17 has grown immensely as a player since then but has been rather mediocre this season. He always performs better with a balanced attack behind him and that doesn’t come by his effort alone; but if this game is close in the fourth quarter, the Miami Dolphins will need their franchise quarterback to rise to the occasion and give their fans and ownership their money’s worth by being money in the money moments. It’s time for Tannehill to start winning games with his will and lead this team to the level of play they all know they’re capable of.
All in all, this is the true turning point in the Miami Dolphins season. A win here will drastically change the complexion of the season, bringing them back to .500 after they were left for dead leaving London. Getting to 3-3 after so much turmoil heading into the toughest road stretch of their season will put them in position to make some noise with a couple road upsets, but none of that is possible if they don’t protect their house and win today at Sun Life Stadium.