Keys to the Dolphins toppling the Cleveland Browns


The Miami Dolphins officially open “Hard Rock Stadium” on Sunday.  While beating the Cleveland Browns seems like a foregone conclusion (the Dolphins are favored by 10 points) there are no “gimmies” in the NFL.

These are five things that need to happen for Miami to topple the Cleveland Browns.

Don’t turn the ball over

Don’t give the Browns offense a short field.  Their offense is one-dimensional and has a rookie, third-string QB behind center making his first start.  Cleveland isn’t going to put together many 70-80 yard drives so force them to try.

Stop the run

Last year Miami was terrible against the run, finishing 28th in the league.  So far this season, Miami has been even worse defending the run.  Through two games, Miami is 31st against the run giving up 136.5 yards/game.

On the other side, Cleveland is 8th in rushing this year at 132.5 yards/game, and the second highest yards/attempt (6.0)  With the Browns down to their 3rd string QB, Cody Kessler, they will be even more reliant on running the football in this game.  As for Kessler….

Put pressure on Cody Kessler

Despite what they showed last week, the Miami Dolphins have historically been rough on rookie quarterbacks.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s take a look at the stat lines of two of the greatest quarterbacks ever vs Miami in their rookie year:

Peyton Manning (0-2 vs Miami in 1998)

43-79-442-2 TDs-5 INTs, sacked 4 times

Tom Brady (0-2 vs Miami in 2001)

23-44-194-1 TD-0 INTs sacked 7 times

Cleveland will try to run the ball but eventually Kessler will be put in a position where he needs to drop back and pass.    When that happens, Cameron Wake, Mario Williams and Ndamukong Suh must make Kessler’s life miserable and force him to make mistakes.  What’s the best way to force Kessler to pass?

Show up in the first half

If they can put points on the board early, it will force Cleveland to play “catch up”.  Force a couple of turnovers and Miami has a chance to put Cleveland away early in this game.

Miami’s flight from Seattle to Foxborough must have been delayed because the Dolphins didn’t show up on either side of the ball in the first half versus the Patriots.  That needs to change this week.

The longer the Dolphins allow Cleveland to keep this game close, the greater the chance for a potential upset.  They need to ride the emotion of the home opener to an early lead and ‘step on their necks’ when they get the chance.

Don’t take the Browns lightly

Along with “stop the run”, this is probably the biggest worry the Dolphins, and their fans, have going into this contest.  Miami has a history of “playing down” to inferior teams.

While Miami avoided doing that much last year, having ‘hammered’ Houston and Tennessee, the team was riding the emotional high of Dan Campbell’s debut.  Hopefully, the packed crowd expected for the debut of the new stadium will stop Miami from coming out flat against an inferior opponent.


Tomorrow’s game is one that Miami MUST have if the Dolphins have any chance of rebounding from their 0-2 start to reach the 2016 playoffs.  A loss could also potentially damage the players belief in Adam Gase.

In the end, Miami has better personnel on both sides of the ball and I can’t imagine they will lose this game.

Prediction:  Dolphins win 24-10