Cleveland Browns @ Miami Dolphins (-9.5)
Hard Rock Stadium
Announcers: Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots
With the rough start to the schedule now complete, the Miami Dolphins finally come home in 2016, to their home opener at Hard Rock Stadium. The newly renovated stadium that cost north of $500M is set to host the Cleveland Browns.
While the Dolphins (0-2) had two tough defeats against perennial Super Bowl contenders, the Browns (0-2) have dealt with their own heart break in the first two weeks. After signing Robert Griffin III, he injured his shoulder in week 1 against the Eagles. In week 2 against the Ravens, Josh McCown was injured which leaves rookie quarterback Cody Kessler from USC to take the helm. This seems like an extreme match up problem for Cleveland, but Miami’s defense hasn’t looked the part. The Dolphins struggled (that is an understatement) against Jimmy Garapolo and Jacoby Brisett last week, allowing a season high 485 yards of offense, almost 300 in the first half. The same issues that has occurred last season, continues through two weeks. To win this game, Miami needs to FINALLY put a full game together, offense, defense and special teams. What better week to start than now, against an overmatched team on paper. Here are the keys to an extremely important Dolphins win:
1. Get off the blocks, for once: If you read back to my first 2 previews, I specifically wrote about establishing their identity. Unfortunately they have, which is inconsistency on offense, with 13 three and outs in the first half in the first 2 games. Instead of electing to defer if they win the toss, Miami needs to take the ball and get some points up right away. This will allow the front 4 to tee off on a young, inexperienced quarterback, allowing this 9-wide approach to finally show some worth. Get the ground game going on the opening drive, run nothing but no huddle and get this team breathing heavy on the sideline in the South Florida Heat.
2. Let Tannehill do his thing- The offense goes when Tannehill is in hurry up mode. This should be the base offense every week at home. There is no better advantage than that 90 degree heat, specifically in a stadium designed to have that sun beating on the opposing sideline. Tannehill was extremely efficient in the second half with proper adjustements. That offense needs to attack as it did against NE, versus a Browns defense that is having its own struggles.
3. Sack the QB- Nothing will rattle a rookie QB more than getting hit. Suh is great at this. Even if he doesn’t hit the QB, he will put a hand on him after the ball is thrown to get them thinking. And for goodness sakes, get Cameron Wake on the field more than 16 snaps. The lack of pressure continues to be concerning. Dial up exotic blitz’ and force Kessler to make poor decisions.
4. Be loud- It’s the home opener, in a brand new stadium. The Dolphins fans need to come in droves, be loud while the defense is on the field and keep up the energy until the final whistle. With 4 home games in the next 5, this is a time to get the record back to .500, if not better, with some favorable match ups.
This game has the making of a big win for the Dolphins. Call me skeptical, but I see this being closer than what most believe. This is absolutely, 110% a must win and a game to get some confidence building. If you recall, the Dolphins fired Philbin, opened their next game off the bye week against the Titans and laid them to waste. The following week destroyed the Houston Texans at home. This is the type of game Miami needs before a short week against the Bengals. Give me the Dolphins at home.
Miami 27 Cleveland 20
Season record 1-1