Week 3 Preview: Browns at Dolphins

The Miami Dolphin’s loss in Week 2 against the New England Patriots was a disaster for the team in almost every way. While the final scoreboard showed 24-31, that score doesn’t come close to telling the story of the Dolphins lack of productivity for most of the game.

Defensively, Miami was shredded by Jimmy Grappolo who passed for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the first half before leaving the rest of the game with a shoulder injury.

Offensively, Miami was able to close the gap in the second half by putting up 21 unanswered points. However, the Dolphins’ offense in the first half was only able to muster up a field goal. The rushing game also continued to be a struggle for Miami as Ryan Tannehill came out to be the team’s leading rusher with 35 yards on 6 carries.

It may have been reassuring for some to see Miami make that strong attempt to come back late in the game, but moral victories don’t equal a W at the end of the day. WR Jarvis Landry also expressed that close losses aren’t going to get it done.

We can’t be an almost team,” Landry said, “We have to play better and come out with a victory. It’s on our back. We should want it.”

In this upcoming game, the Dolphins have their home opener hosting the Cleveland Browns. Yes, this should be an easy win for the Dolphins, but this is the NFL and nothing is for sure in this league. Therefore, here are the key points that Miami needs to capitalize on in order to come away with their first W.

Stop the run:

Despite adding DE Mario Williams and trading for LB Kiko Alonso, Miami continues to struggle to stop the run, ranking 31st in the league. While the defensive line seems to be doing their part by controlling their gaps, the linebacker corps needs to do their part by closing in on the runner and finishing plays with strong tackles.

Cleveland is ranked 8th at running the football so this will be another test for Miami. If the Dolphins can get the job done this week against the run, then there is hope. If not, then lack of defense against the run will probably be a problem that will follow Miami for the rest of the season.

Start strong:

As stated before, Miami struggled for most of the game last week. Tannehill’s late game surge was impressive to see as he ended up carving the Patriot’s defense for 387 yards and two touchdowns but the offense needs that surge from the very start of the game. Cleveland ranks 22nd at defending the pass so that can bode well for Miami.

Head coach Adam Gase needs to realize that the wide receiver group is the offense’s best weapon and get those guys off to a hot start. WR DeVante Parker hauled in 106 receiving yards, all coming in the second half in last week’s game. Plain and simple, Miami needs to find a way to get that sort of performance going in the first half in order to be a winning team.

Find a running game:

Ryan Tannehill is the team’s leading rusher. That isn’t a typo, you read that right. The Dolphins are ranked 27th at running the football and that’s not helping out the offense’s first half woes. With Arian Foster out with a groin injury, RB’s Jay Ajayi and rookie Kenyan Drake both have an opportunity to step up and show what they’re made of. With a 7-yard touchdown run in last week’s game, Drake has been the only one so far that has shown a spark in the running game.

The Dolphins are already highly favored to win this game against the Browns. If Miami can capitalize on all three of these key aspects of the game, that’s what can make the difference between a close game and an utter blowout.

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