We’re now two days removed from witnessing what we thought would be a top five defense get torched for over 600 yards. That’s the type of loss that sticks with you for awhile and to be honest, I had to drag my feet getting back to blogging today.
But the beautiful thing about the NFL is that it was only Week 1. It doesn’t matter how many yards the Dolphins surrendered on Monday night, it counts as just one loss all the same.
But this team needs to move on. Back-to-back losses at home after the 1-7 home debacle a year ago may be too rocky of a start to handle for these Dolphins.
Beating Houston will be no easy task on Sunday. The Texans boast one of the league’s top offenses, giving a suddenly questionable Dolphins’ defense another tough test after getting exposed against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
We should have a more accurate feel for this team on Sunday night, however. We should find out if Tom Brady and the Patriots are that good or the Dolphins’ defense was just that overrated.
Let’s see how the Dolphins and Texans matchup.
Dolphins’ ground attack vs. Texans’ run defense
As expected, the Dolphins weren’t able to produce much on the ground against the Patriots. Well, actually they were when you consider Chad Henne ran for a shocking 59 yards, but I’m talking about the conventional running game.
Miami was playing from behind for most of the game, though, and Chad Henne was finding so much success through the air that Brian Daboll wasn’t inclined to unleash a balanced attack. But Reggie Bush only averaged a measly 3.5 yards on his 11 carries.
Daniel Thomas should reportedly return to the lineup this week and if the Dolphins can manage to play a little defense we should get a more accurate gauge of where this running game stands.
The Texans’ transition to the 3-4 defense has been a success so far, but dominating a Colts’ offense with no Peyton Manning was expected. They held Joseph Addai and Delone Carter to just 64 yards on the ground, but thanks to Indy playing from behind and so many three-and-outs they only saw a combined 15 attempts.
This is a matchup that could go either way, but until we actually see the Dolphins move the football on the ground consistently, I’m going to have to give the edge to the defense.
Dolphins’ run defense vs. Texans’ ground attack
The Patriots weren’t only able to expose the Dolphins attempting to cover tight ends and slot receiver Wes Welker, they were able to carve Miami’s front seven up on the ground some as well.
They averaged 4.8 yards-per-carry, taking advantage of an exhausted Dolphins’ defense and catching them in their nickel package attempting to stop the bleeding against the pass.
While I am troubled by this defense’s performance on Monday night, I think they’ll be much better against the run for the rest of the year. New England is just such a difficult team to prepare for and line up against.
I still think offenses are going to find some tough sledding attempting to run the ball on Miami’s base defense. That’s how most teams establish their running game, so it’s far from panic time up front for the Dolphins.
Having said that, the Texans have one of the top ground attacks in the league when Arian Foster is healthy. He returned to practice today so chances are he’ll get the start on Sunday.
Dolphins’ passing attack vs. Texans’ pass defense
Once again, the Dolphins’ hopes rest on the arm of Chad Henne. He didn’t disappoint against New England and shredded up their secondary for over 400 yards through the air. Too bad he didn’t get any help from his defense because that could have been a career-altering performance in a win.
But the good news is if Henne can continue to play well it’s hard not to envision an improved team this season. If he really is as improved as he looked the other night, we should see another big game on Sunday against what was the worst pass defense in football a year ago.
It should be another game in the right direction for Henne if he can avoid costly mistakes because he’s going to have opportunities to attack down the field.
That, of course, is contingent on the Dolphins’ ability to protect him. Mario Williams facing off against Marc Colombo on the right side is a scary thought. And truthfully speaking, Jake Long didn’t look like himself on Monday. Maybe that stemmed from Monday being his first game back after missing the entire preseason or maybe that knee just isn’t 100% yet. Hopefully, Big Jake puts those doubts to rest on Sunday.
Dolphins’ pass defense vs. Texans’ passing attack
It could be another long game for the Dolphins’ secondary and inside linebackers. Andre Johnson is the most intimidating receiver in football, but I’m more concerned with slot receiver Jacoby Jones and tight end Owen Daniels.
Will Allen replacing Benny Sapp in the nickel may help covering Jones, but the Dolphins looked lost attempting to cover Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on Monday.
But luckily Matt Schaub isn’t Tom Brady. He’s a very good quarterback but there’s only one Brady. Like I said, I’m very intrigued if Brady was just that great on Monday night or the Dolphins’ pass defense was that bad. More than likely it was a combination of the two.
One thing is for sure, though, the pass rush needs to step it up. Cameron Wake managed a sack, but one play doesn’t ease concerns that came with getting locked up by a rookie in his first start for the majority of the game. There’s no question he needs some assistance from Jason Taylor, Koa Misi, or Mike Nolan dialing up some pressure with the inside backers.
This defense as a whole needs to come out with something to prove against one of the most prolific passing attacks in football. We need to see a bounce-back performance from the likes of Vontae Davis, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, and Reshad Jones and Will Allen needs to be a considerable upgrade over Benny Sapp.