The Miami Dolphins are in a position they may or may not have thought they would be at the first corner post of the season.
Three wins, possibly looking at four and challenging New England for the top spot in the AFC East and one of the top spots in the NFL makes them a target all other franchises are aiming at.
Coming to New Orleans to continue an unbeaten streak is a pretty tall task for any team, especially one that is in its second year of a rebuilding process under head coach Joe Philbin.
But winning has a way of curing things, hiding mistakes and flaws and makes teams that are climbing the mountain look the part of top contender in a division. The Dolphins are anything but flawless.
Injuries have been a question this week, especially with the defensive
line and the expectation of playing against one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL in Drew Brees.
This will be the toughest test of the year so far for the young Fins.
I personally like their chances in the Dome because of their youth. Speed, energy and emotion suit this team, one that needs a true signature win. While beating the Falcons was special, taking care of Indianapolis, Atlanta and New Orleans in back-to-back-to-back weeks would show the NFL this is a team ready to take the next step.
Here are four keys to a Dolphins win tonight.
Run to control the clock
While the Saints can score in a blink of an eye, the Dolphins must find balance. That means many things for the offense.
Run blocking has been an issue. The Saints' defensive line is much improved last season. Can Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas or even Mike Gillislee find holes in the front four to run through? Can the guards create space for the running game? The worst thing would be for Ryan Tannehill to have to throw the ball on every
Blanket the receivers
It sounds like a broken record when it comes to defending the Saints passing game, but it’s true. Brent Grimes, Chris Clemons and the group will be constantly back peddling most of the night. It will interesting to see how the nickel and dime packages work as well. Will the defense play in zone? Will Nolan Carroll, with his size, be
just the right elixir to cover Marques Colston?
Does Philip Wheeler have the speed to cover Jimmy Graham all night?
Mike Wallace to the rescue
This is a fast track. Mike Wallace has speed to burn.
This might be the game where the Dolphins look to Wallace early and often and finally use all of that speed and energy to prove he was a good free agent signing. Look for Wallace to be a main part of this offense tonight.
In weeks past, Wallace has been a decoy, where the tight end and Brian Hartline have been the benefit. Could Mike Sherman’s offense be such this week that Hartline is the decoy and Charles Clay plays more of a blocking role? If so, Wallace could have the game of his career.
Don’t let the defense overcompensate
Cameron Wake is questionable for the game. Paul Soliai (knee) and linebackers Jonathan Freeny (shoulder) and Koa Misi (shoulder) are also listed as questionable.
This could mean a huge week for Brees in the passing game.
Their injuries could also spark the running attack, which has been as sluggish as Miami’s all season. This could also be the first game of the season where the Dolphins defense is left exposed. They must put pressure on the quarterback and the front line must record sacks.