The Dolphins (4-4) have reached the midseason as a .500 team, and playing exactly like a middle of the pack team but this is the strangest season that we can remember in recent years. To archive the goal of making the playoffs like last season the first step into the second half of the season is beating the number one defense in the league, the Carolina Panthers (6-3.) That will be a tall task and it is going to be a hard test so these are the 3 questions to answer tonight to have a better view of what this team can do from now till the end of the season:
1) Running game- Last week we were witnesses of what Adam Gas wanted since day 1 from his running backs, a multidimensional position that could be a dangerous weapon in the ground and in the air while letting employ the blocking scheme that best suit for his offense. Tonight the running game is going to be challenged by a physical defensive line (more about this in a moment) and linebackers with not only great instincts and discipline but also with rage range to make the work of the Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams harder than last week.
2) Offensive Line- The Dolphins have two changes in the starting Offensive Line. Ja’Wuan James is out for the season and Jesse Davis is going to replace him as the starting right tackle. But even as Davis brings a physical presence to the running game also brings inexperience to face Julius Peppers. The other change is Ted Larsen, the starter at the beginning of training camp before being placed on the injured reserve, now is back after 9 weeks (or 8 games.) Even though he has experience and has been cleared we don’t know if he is ready to face the best defense the Dolphins have faced this season or if he can handle one of the most physical defensive lines in the league.
3) T.J. McDonald and the secondary- Everybody has talked about the return of T.J. McDonald to the 53 roster after the suspension and about if he and Reshad Jones are too similar to be a successful couple at the back end of the defense. What I really want to know is if he can help to tighten things up for the entire secondary and is he going to be a factor covering tight ends? That was something the Dolphins didn’t have an answer in the first half of last week game. Is he going to be a difference covering running backs coming out of the backfield? Is he able to play cover one as a center fielder? Does he has that kind of range?
These are the questions I have and I can’t wait to watch tonight’s game and answer all of them, hopefully in a positive way.