It’s finally here. In just four days, the Miami Dolphins invade First Energy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns in the season opener. The rosters are set and it’s time to get to work. Here is a look at what to be aware of with coach Joe Philbin’s Dolphins.
Much like the Browns, the new-look Dolphins are lead by a second year quarterback. A former wide receiver in college, Ryan Tannehill threw for 3,300 yards last season and 12 touchdowns. Like Brandon Weeden, Tannehill had a season of ups and downs in 2012. The Browns need to be aware of Tannehill’s mobility and the ability to keep a play alive. Tannehill rushed for 211 yards last year and two touchdowns.
With Reggie Bush departed, Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas create a two-headed monster in the Miami backfield. Both players are young and explosive near the line-of-scrimmage. However, Thomas is very injury prone. In two seasons, he has missed seven games. Stopping the run for Cleveland should be a low priority.
The receiving corps has vastly improved with the addition of Mike Wallace. Tannehill now has a true deep threat in Wallace. Brian Hartline is his go-to guy when he needs a first down. Hartline also can get by the safeties if he is not watched carefully. The former Ohio State Buckeye had his first 1,000 yard season in 2012, but only scored one touchdown. Charles Clay at tight end is a non-factor.
With 43 career sacks, left defensive end Cameron Wake will be hunting Weeden. Mitchell Schwartz will have his hands full with Wake. Phillip Wheeler is their version of D’Qwell Jackson. Wheeler is a tackling machine collecting over 100 solo tackles in 2012. The signing of Dannell Ellerbe could pay dividends this year as well.
A familiar face and a veteran the Browns attempted to get in the offseason make up the Dolphins’ corners. Brent Grimes and Dimitri Patterson will be guarding Greg Little and Davone Bess. A key match-up could be Will Davis covering the speedster Travis Benjamin in nickel formations. Veterans Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones man centerfield at the safeties. Together, they had six interceptions in 2012.
In a very interesting move, the Dolphins released their experienced kicker Dan Carpenter a few weeks ago. The reason – Caleb Sturgis, the rookie kicker from the Florida Gators. Toledo, OH native, Brandon Fields is one of the better punters in the NFL. Fields averaged 50.2 yards per punt a season ago and also dropped 29 inside the twenty yard line. Marcus Thigpen is their returner on both kicks and punts. He returned two back last year for a touchdown.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Cleveland Browns Correspondent for The SportsFix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportfix.net.