Well, we made it. We’ve gone through the back end of Winter, through the heat of Summer, the draft, free agency, training camp and the preseason. Finally, we have actually real deal, important NFL football that matters. It’s a new year and a clean slate for a team whose fans are buzzing with optimism. All the big-time departures there were accompanied by all the new additions have fans of this franchise this team believing Miami could really surprise just about every analyst, Vegas and big time NFL journalist who has Miami finishing with a bottom 5 record. That’s all well and great. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that idea. I’m a see it to believe it type of guy, so until the Dolphins go out there and actually do something besides playing inconsistently, I’m going to go on thinking there will be more of them same with this team. I’m not going to just pick a player who hasn’t performed well or hasn’t even played yet and just say “this guy is going to be a stud/leader/great player just because without actually seeing it. I honestly don’t know how anyone could do that and be serious about it, but it happens all the time.

Needless to say, this is the start of a new season and everyone is 0-0. So, Miami can very well go on to simply pound teams. It’s sports and stuff like perceived bad teams rising up to take care of business week in and week out happens every year. That could be Miami. But, it all starts against the Titans. And to beat the Titans of Tennessee, Miami should look into accomplishing these 5 goals.

1. Offensively, don’t wait until the end of the 2nd quarter to play with gusto 

Theirs’s not enough hands in Scranton to realistically count how many times the Dolphins came out to start a game and went absolutely no where on offense or even 3 and out. You can set you your watch to it. Everyone gets all jazzed that this is going to be the game where Miami is going to come out guns blazzin and put points up on one of their first possessions only to see them run play action on 1st down, which I like but lash out because it never catches anyone off guard for some reason, run the ball for 2-3 yards on second down and then run patterns on 3rd and seven that aren’t longer than 4 yards, then punt. It’s so completely frustrating because there’s probably a false start or procedure penalty mixed in there somewhere as well. The Dolphins scored a soul crushing 2.6 points a game in the first quarter last year, which ranked them 30th in the league in that department. So, I think it would behoove Miami to actually come out with a high-octane motor and move quick. Gase has said he wants to have upwards to 70-75 plays a game, something that will never happen, but striving to get to that level will force this group to play fast. If you think Miami shouldn’t play fast, consider that Miami typically plays slow and we know where that gets them. The rule of Costanza says that if every impulse you have is wrong than the opposite must be right. So, playing up tempo must be the right way to go.

2. Target Mike Gesicki and make him a real viable option for this offense besides the red zone

Let’s just get this guy the ball, shall we? I think it be a good idea to make it a point to get the 6’7 guy with next level hops who in case you have forgotten played some basketball before the ball. And let’s get him the ball not just in the red zone. Let’s get this guy the ball down the seams and really stretch the defense. Though I’m not seeing him in practice, I think my man Mike can do that. Is he going to wow anyone with any chilling blocks? Nope no he won’t. But he can go down the field and get it and like I already implied, in the red zone he can be a force. Sadly, I can easily envision a world where Mike gets about 3 targets with one catch for 14 yards and everyone afterwards is asking what happened to the 2nd round pick? I wish I didn’t feel as strongly as I do about that, but I’ve seen to many players that this team have drafted or brought in and simply not get used anywhere near what you’d think they be used. Gesicki should have plenty of opportunities to produce due to Gray being shelved and no other TE being an optimal pass catching option. Just, use this guy like he’s meant to be used and other aspects in the offense will probably be even better.

  1. Let’s cover the TEs and backs for a change

An area Miami has been dreadful pretty much my entire existence on this Earth is in pass coverage of TEs and backs out of the backfield. Doesn’t matter who the LBs have been, they get out classed regularly by TEs and backs. Unfortunately, Tennessee have exactly what the Dolphins have problems defending in Delanie Walker and Dion Lewis. We’ve seen plenty of times Dion Lewis rip apart the Dolphins when he was with New England and I would figure Tennessee are aware of that as well and will make it a focal point to get that match-up of Lewis on a LB as often as possible. Delanie Walker has quietly been a top 5 TE for the last few seasons, who is probably the best offensive skill player the Titans have. So, expect him to be targeted often. Miami addressed their TE core with drafting Jerome Baker, who is a smaller/faster kind of LB who was mainly drafted for this type of spot and getting last year’s 2nd round pick Raekwon McMillan back from injury. Kiko Alonso is the leader of this group until he isn’t and all three will need to be in good shape if they are going to keep tabs on Lewis and Walker. Of course, a pass rush will help them, but there’s going to be a few times where they will have to make a play where Lewis has the ball in front of them from a short pass and they’re going to have to make the tackle in the open field. There will also be a time where Walker releases down the seam and someone is going to have to keep up with him as the ball is coming in over the top. It is nice to prevent these from becoming big plays like they usually do. Easier said than done I know, but still, we know this is coming.

  1. Keeping them from rushing for 150-200 yards would be a plus

Yes, this is a no brainer. But, it needs to be mentioned because besides Miami’s LBs, there isn’t any other position group more suspect than the interior defensive line. Phillips, Spence, Taylor and Godchaux make up a relatively young core of DTs. Their experience is mixed, and a lot is being asked from them. Suh is gone and the LBs, like I said, are smaller who have shown in the preseason that they have trouble shedding blocks. That puts more of an emphasis on the guys up front to maintain gap responsibly and win 1 on 1 matchups.  Football 101 says that if you can’t stop the run, then you’re going to have a really difficult time stopping the pass. So, you could make the argument that if Miami can’t stop Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis then Miami is going to have a bad time. We’ve seen twice this preseason. The starting defensive line get completely beaten in run defense. If that doesn’t motivate them then Suh’s shot at the run D after the McCaffrey run in week 2 of the preseason should have this unit plenty angry. Hopefully they’re angry enough to not let Tennessee, who wants to run early and often, just ram it right at them because that’s when Walker will run past the LBs for a huge play.

  1. Ryan Tannehill needs to be sharp, calm, and look to let everyone know just who the hell he is

This is Ryan’s last chance to show everyone exactly who the hell he is and no better way to do that but to light up the Titans. During the preseason, Ryan was much maligned due to a base offense where they apparently didn’t show to much. He was pretty much Ryan Tannehill, which was conservative and measured. Besides fumbling twice against the Ravens, in very John Beck ways, he was efficient and didn’t show any signs of rust after coming off multiple knee injuries. I’m not exactly sure where he truly stands in terms of his absolute mobility, but you’d have to think he’s a bit slower since the last time he played in a regular season game. Ryan’s been ripped apart a few times this off season and preseason by several folks in the media. Whether it was kicking Ballage out of a huddle or just being lambasted for being Ryan Tannehill, he got it pretty consistently. But, this might be a new Tannehill with a new attitude. The kind of attitude, that if he plays well, the guys around him will follow him. I mean, he has that new tattoo, so I think the skies the limit for him. I want him to go out there and leave no doubt who he is as a player and put up a day that rivals Marino’s opening day against the Patriots once upon a time. That might be to much to ask for but I’m asking anyways. Yeah, we can say it all starts with the running game, but I think we all know that if this team is going to finally breakthrough and be a force, not just a team that can either go 9-7 or 7-9 it starts with #17. I firmly believe that if Ryan plays at an average level this team will be an average team or worse. There’s simply not enough talent on this squad to overcome average QB play. I don’t know exactly how Ryan will play. If you take how he typically plays, I think you’ll think that he’s going to need to play better for this team to succeed. That’s where I fall. I need more from him, but I think he has the talent to do it. He just has to do it.

No matter what happens, I’m just stoked (trying to bring stoked back) that NFL football is back. Can’t wait for the morning to get breakfast put on my Gesicki jersey, have a catch in the yard and talk out loud to no one on what Miami needs to do win the Super Bowl. Enjoy the day, enjoy the game and let’s see this team go out there and blow the doors off the Titans.

PS- An honorable mention for a goal is to not miss any field goals. Seems like this might be the kind of game that gets decided by 3. So, when there’s a kick to be made, Jason Sanders should do well to try and make all of them. But, let’s hope that we’re not kicking many FGs and put the ball in the endzone. Dang, just thought that scoring in the RedZone should have been another goal that Miami should try and accomplish.

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