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The 2-3 Miami Dolphins, coming off their most impressive performance of the year in a 38-10 domination of the Tennessee Titans, take on the 2-4 Houston Texans, coming off a 31-20 win in Jacksonville, in a 1:00 kickoff in South Florida.  The game is a 1:00 kickoff on CBS.

 

The Dan Campbell Era got off to a BIG start, as the Dolphins came out against the Titans and played like the team most Dolphins fans thought they would see all year long.  Miami was intense, physical and played with a purpose.  Can the Dolphins maintain this level of play?  That is a question that will be answered on Sunday.

 

Let's take a look at the teams and see how they match up.

 

Miami comes into the game offensively generating 338.6 yards per game, which ranks 24th in the NFL.  Miami is putting up 247.2 yards per game passing, coming in at 16th in the NFL, and are generating 91.4 yards per game rushing, coming in at 26th.  Miami is scoring 20.6 points a game, which ranks 24th.  They will be facing a Texans defense that is allowing 348.8 yards per game, which ranks 11th in the NFL.  The Texans are allowing 239.8 passing yards per game while allowing 109.0 yards on the ground, coming in at 13th & 16th respectively.  Houston will be without starting CB Kareem Jackson and starting OLB Jadeveon Clowney.  The one player that will be playing that the Dolphins will need to be concerned about is 2014 Defensive Player of the year, DE J.J Watt.  The offensive line played their best game of the season by far, and wiil have their hands full with Watt and DT Vince Wolfork.

 

The key for this offense will be the same formula used in the game last week against the Titans, a balanced offensive attack.  29 pass attempts and 32 runs is the formula for success for the Dolphins.  QB Ryan Tannehill was very sharp and accurate for the most part, going 22-29 for 254 yards.  RB Lamar Miller finally got touches, and finished with 113 yards on 19 carries and a 5.9 per carry average.  Getting Lamar going early is important for Miami in this game.  Expect a lot of 2 TE sets with TE's Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims.  Sims was a welcomed site, as he is a very good blocker and has become a very good pass catching TE.  He compliments Cameron well.  If the Dolphins can use the same formula as they did in the Titans game, the offense should have a good day.

 

Defensively, the Dolphins come in allowing 379.4 yards per game, which ranks 24th in the NFL.  The Dolphins are allowing 238.4 yards per game passing, 141.0 yards per game rushing.  That ranks 12th and 31st respectively.  The Dolphins are allowing 22.2 points per game, which ranks 12th.  They are facing a Texans offense that generates 393.8 yards of total offense, which ranks 6th in the NFL.  The Texans  are putting up 297.8 yards per game via the passing game, 96.0 yards via the run game.  This ranks 4th and 23rd respectively.  The Texans are scoring 21.3 points per game, which ranks 21st.  The Dolphins defense we saw Sunday was an aggressive, attacking unit.  The Dolphins came into the game with only 1 sack.  They had 6 sacks in the game Sunday, 4 by DE Cameron Wake.  Miami had 2 interceptions in the game, one returned for touchdown by S Reshard Jones.  They face journeyman QB Brian Hoyer, and the game plan should not change, as he is not very mobile, unlike Marcos Mariotta of the Titans.  The Texans did get back RB Arian Foster a few weeks ago, and he is good in the run game and in the pass game out of the backfield.  The Texans also feature WR DeAndre Hopkins, who has exploded on to the scene for the Texans.

 

Once again, if the Dolphins can repeat the game plan from last week, they will have success.  Miami does need to be more concerned with Foster in the pass game, and Hopkins is dangerous.  The linebackers will need to play well in this game against Foster.  But once again, Hoyer is a journeyman QB who is capable of playing good stretches of football, but is also prone to making mistakes.  Put the same type of pressure on Hoyer as the Dolphins did against Mariotta, then I like the chances of the defense having a good day.

 

Miami wants and needs to continue the good play they showed last week, and need this win to get back to .500.  They face New England on a Thursday Night Game, so that makes this game even more important.  Add to these facts, the Dolphins are 0-7 against the Texans.

 

Dan Campbell spoke of how this team has come off of big wins before and come back the following week and laid an egg.  The Dolphins will be back at home in a game they need very badly.  Time to show that last week was not a fluke.

               

Its been over 16 years since I was able to fist pump while saying that statement. Dan Campbell has set an unusually high bar for himself and the Dolphins. The Titans are not that  good a team but neither were the 1-3 Dolphins coming into last weekend. It wasn’t so much the level of competition but its  how they took care of them. When is the last time you saw a Miami  Team completely over match another team?  Did they not get the memo? They were supposed to play down to the level of the competition and lose it in the end….ala Jacksonville. What were  they thinking?  The defense? You were supposed to roll over and play dead? Instead you smothered the Titans. Miami’s Offense put up 31 points against the Titans Defense which is a top 5 unit.  Overall, a fantastic outing on both sides of the ball.

Next up is the Houston Texans. The Texans are 2-4 and like Miami found a little life last week. Hoyer enjoyed a 330yd 3 TD, zero INT performance last week against the Jags. Make  no mistake, DeAndre Hopkins is for real at WR. He’s a big time threat and a favorite option. If he’s not available, Hoyer usually finds Arian Foster his outlet valve.  Defensively, they’ve struggled.  They’re middle of the pack on defense and are near the bottom of the league in sacks….that speaks volumes when you have JJ Watt running around on defense.  In any case, Campbell and  company can expect a little more pressure from the Houston offense than they got from Tennessee but Miami’s Offense should enjoy more time to throw and better production overall. It would  be nice if Cameron actually showed up to play this week. He was MIA last week. No pun intended.

Campbell ruined my plans for the remainder of the year. I now have to watch to see the remaining  episodes featuring  Campbells Cream of Whoopazz Soup. But just like Dan's Photo here, let's not get too carried away. It was the Titans. Take care of business this week..show up and play NE down to the wire and we know they have a shot. But let's get there first...

 

Go Tannehill

GD2

Dan…be the man.

Rich Rodriguez, Phinfever.com, blogger, Miami DolphinsNow that Philbin has been fired, back to our regularly scheduled program.

 

The Good

 

Have to start with Cameron Wake and the defense. Wake had 4 sacks, including a strip sack that began the turnover parade. Before this game, Wake had zero sacks. There's one sleeping giant that woke up. Reshad Jones was a missile as always with 8 tackles. Throw in a pick 6 that pretty much sealed the deal. Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins were everywhere from the linebacker spot, combining for 15 tackles, including three tackles for a loss. And Brent Grimes overcame a shaky start early to nab himself a beautiful pick late in the game.

 

Overall, the defense allowed 299 yards, including 63 yards rushing after being ranked towards the bottom of the NFL in rush defense most of the season. The defense also forced four turnovers, sacked the QB 6 times, stopped the Titans 8 times on 10 third down conversion attempts and, most importantly, held the opposition to 10 yards. This is the unit we were expecting since we signed Ndamukong Suh. We finally got it today. Interestingly enough, while Suh only logged 1 tackle, he did have two passes defended. The pass rush was ferocious and the run defense buckled down as the game went on.

 

Lamar Miller and the offense also showed up today. Miller rushed the ball 19 times for 113 yards (5.9 ypc) and 1 TD. The offense gained 434 total yards on offense, with 180 of those yards coming on the ground. Pretty impressive stuff for a team that couldn't run the ball for four weeks. Rishard Matthews caught all 6 of his targets for 85 yards. But the play that set the tone for the offense was a short catch early in the game in which he was crushed by two defenders and still held onto the ball. A shout out goes to the offensive line for only allowing two sacks and paving the way for those 180 yards.

 

The Bad

 

Even though he caught a TD, Jordan Cameron had a rough game, drawing a holding penalty, causing one Ryan Tannehill interception while not being on the same page as Tannehill on the other interception. Cameron also dropped a couple of passes.

 

The Ugly

 

Tannehill's stat line looks rough. While he did complete passes to 8 different receivers and completed 75% of his passes, he had a couple of instances where he and the receiver were not on the same page. One led to an interception in which Jordan Cameron went one way and Tannehill threw the other. The other was with Lamar Miller. Same thing. Guys need to know their assignments, but Tannehill ultimately needs to protect the ball. Definitely something to work on there.

 

Olivier Vernon took that "walk the line" meme too far as he was flagged twice for roughing the passer penalties. Expect him to be fined by the NFL for his low hit on Mariotta.

 

There are still things to work on. The defense looked shaky early and the secondary and that zone coverage left receivers wide open at times. There were still some missed assignments on the offensive line. And obviously, the QB and receivers always need to be on the same page.

 

Overall

 

Congratulations to Dan Campbell on his first win. Talk about a coming out party. I am sure this went better than he ever imagined. So his talk about aggressiveness and waking the sleeping giant paid off this week on the road against a young, talented team that is still getting it together. The result from changing approach is remarkable as this Dolphins team lost to a hapless Jacksonville Jaguars team just a couple of weeks ago but totally thrashed the Titans. Does this serve to highlight just how much of a problem Philbin's approach was? Obviously, the early results are that Philbin was in over his head and these guys needed to be motivated and pushed.

 

But, this is only one game. The expectations just went way up for Dan Campbell. Next week, the Dolphins go into Houston against a team they have never beaten. Can Campbell keep the giant awake and do something the Dolphins have never done before?

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