The Dolphins look to run their preseason record to 3-0 tonight when they travel across the state to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
The Fins are coming off of a 20-10 win over Carolina, while the now 1-1 Bucs were dropped 31-14 by the Patriots. Last week for Miami, the offense put up 301 total yards in the first half and the defense held the Panthers without a point until the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, looked helpless as Tom Brady marched his offense back and forth in front of the pirate ship all night long.
The third preseason game is considered the most important for coaches (and fans), because we’ll see more out of the first team units tonight than in any of the other exhibitions. Expect the starters to not only play the entire first half, but to see them early on in the third quarter as well.
Keep reading to see what Keith Sims is looking for out of the Dolphins offense, what John Congemi wants to see from the Miami defense and Sam Madison’s explanation as to why this game is so critical.
I’m looking for the o-line to really come together and open holes and protect the QB. The best five have to make it clear which group will be the opening day starters.
At RB, we saw how explosive Reggie Bush can be when he gets into space. We need to see Daniel Thomas, Lex Hilliard or Larry Johnson step up to be the big bruising back. The Dolphins can not afford to waste Bush by pounding him in between the tackles too much.
Also, will someone please stand up and claim the TE spot? Anthony Fasano has been the best of this bunch, not sure if that’s saying much. The Dolphins need much better play out of this position. TEs are always a young QB best friend.
Finally, quarterback. Chad Henne looked much improved last week against the Panthers. Can he solve the consistency that has haunted him his whole career? If not, Matt Moore might just turn this into a real QB competition if he has another good performance.
The Dolphins have a lot of difficult decisions to make between now and the end of the preseason. Some of those decisions are on the defensive side of the football and multiple players with abundant talent might be on the outside looking in! The majority of the talented traffic is up front on the defensive line and at the defensive back position. This week’s game at Tampa Bay just might create some separation at those positions and bring some clarity as we get closer to week one of the regular season.
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan might have the first team defense on the field for the entire first half against the Bucs. Kendall Langford, Paul Soliai and Randy Starks should play the majority of the first two quarters, but look for Jared Odrick, Phillip Merling and Tony McDaniel to shuttle in and out of the game. At linebacker, Jason Taylor should get some needed pass rushing reps and Cam Wake could benefit playing extended minutes in this one as well. Ike Alama-Francis and A.J. Edds have played well and could use another solid performance in Tampa, especially Alama-Francis to secure his position.
The secondary is crowded with talented veterans and are being pushed by the youth movement. Vontae Davis and Sean Smith will start at the corners, but the free safety position is still up for grabs. Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones will battle it out once again on Saturday night and the starter should be determined by the fourth quarter. It looks a lot like a NASCAR race in the rest of the secondary with Benny Sapp, Nate Ness, Nolan Carroll, Tyrone Culver and rookie Jimmy Wilson all battling for a spot on the roster. One interception or forced fumble could be the difference in separating yourself from this crowded group.
This week around the NFL, watch the play calling. You want to finally introduce how the game plan for the up coming season is presented to the players. You want to see penalties and mental errors limited, because the starters will play into the third quarter. Going into the second half with the starters is important, because the next time they do it, it’ll be under the lights against the Patriots. Long touchdowns, balanced offensive drives, with three-and-outs on defense is ideal. But situational football is key to getting prepared for week one.
Be sure to join us for pregame coverage tonight at 7pm, with kickoff set for 7:30. For all of the details on how you can watch and listen to the game, just check out this rundown. Enjoy the game!
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.