If it isn’t already hard enough to play at CenturyLink Field in Seattle just imagine what it’s like for the Miami Dolphins rookies heading into this afternoons game against the Seahawks.
More from Phin Phanatic
- 4 offensive tackles Miami Dolphins could draft at 51
- Miami Dolphins don’t need CB help but these 5 could be available at 51
- 4 players that could replace Wilkins if Miami Dolphins don’t re-sign him
- Miami Dolphins have a starting point with Wilkins after Simmons deal
- The Miami Dolphins should not take a running back in the draft
Well known across the sports community is the home-field advantage the Seahawks have at home. Fans there have broken the Guinness World Record for “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium” twice before. Although the world record is currently held at Arrowhead Stadium at 142.2 dbA (decibal(s) (a-weighted)), the Seahawks may be looking to take that record back today.
For the Dolphins rookies playing in their first regular season action it’s going to be a hostile environment. Not only that but they’re playing a great football team that’s expected to compete for a Super Bowl this February.
Miami drafted eight players in the 2016 NFL draft. Of those eight, seven are on the active roster (7th round pick Thomas Duarte was cut and signed to the practice squad) and depending on who head coach Adam Gase chooses to put on the inactive list, roughly 4-6 will be dressed for todays game.
If we want to be technical all those that dress will play key roles. But three in particular could prove to be the reason Miami goes to New England 1-0 or 0-1.
No Dolphins rookies are more important than first rounder Laremy Tunsil.
If you protect your quarterback and attack the opposing you’re going to win in the NFL. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been safe in any of his four seasons in the league which is why Miami were elated when Tunsil fell to them last April.
Most of all Tannehill will need protection against the front four of Seattle’s elite front four. This includes being on the same page with the center Anthony Steen as Miami is expected to utilize the silent count.
"“Just trust my center with the head count – just looking at him, understanding the plays and understanding the snap count. I’ve been here before; I’ve been in loud stadiums before so it won’t be nothing new.”"
The silent count will play a factor. So will audibles; Tannehill now has freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage in Gase’s offense. These audibles could make-or-break a drive, and if Tunsil is off it’ll show.
Much of what Tunsil will be responsible for, so will third rounder Leonte Carroo.
Injuries and cuts have pushed Carroo up the depth chart after having a pedestrian camp and preseason, catching just three passes for 23 yards in weeks three and four. DeVante Parker is expected to miss today’s game due to a hamstring injury; if he doesn’t, Carroo will see few snaps. If he is out, Carroo should be involved in three-receiver sets.
Of all the Dolphins rookies Carroo may be the most underrated, however. Preseason stats aside, Carroo proved to be a playmaker with a knack for the end zone. The Rutgers University graduate scored ten touchdowns on just 39 receptions. On those 39 receptions he finished the 2015 season with 809 receiving yards.
Miami will need to run the ball and control the clock against the tough Seattle defense. Running back Arian Foster will appreciate tough receivers like Carroo and Jarvis Landry paving running lanes in the second and third levels.Carroo may just be the type of receiver Miami needs in what may be a grinding battle against Seattle. He not only prides himself on his sure hands he, along with general manager Chris Grier, prides himself on being a tough run blocker.
Xavien Howard is getting thrown into the mix with little game experience under his belt. After suffering an injury during mini camp in July he missed most of training camp and all but one preseason game.
You have to expect quarterback Russell Wilson to attack the second rounder out of Baylor. The Dolphins secondary – specifically the cornerback positions – is a huge question mark. How Howard plays not only today but throughout the season could be the difference between preparing for the playoffs or hitting the golf course.
Expect to see Howard lined up across Jermaine Kearse throughout the game. This plays in Miami’s favor; like Kearse, Howard is a physical player. The rookie can’t be aggressive, though, as Wilson isn’t afraid to take Kearse deep down the field. While Howard has the playmaking ability to change the game he can’t be the cause of a big play.
Tunsil, Howard and Carroo have a big test this afternoon. Because of the hostile environment and pressure of their first game, coaches, teammates and fans will know exactly what they have in their 2016 draft class.