Saturday, September 8, 2012

Opening weekend game primer: Dolphins at Texans


The Miami Dolphins open their 2012 campaign on the road, facing off against the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Expecations on the season couldn't be much lower for the rebuilding Dolphins, and they aren't given much of a chance against the AFC contending Texans. That doesn't mean this game is without significance for Miami; it's the first game of the Joe Philbin era, and the debut of heralded rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Keys for a Dolphins win:

Turnovers. To win this game, the Dolphins must force turnovers on defense and avoid them on offense. Turnover margin has been a point of emphasis for Philbin and the Dolphins' coaches in practices.

Tannehill must play effective, high-percentage football. Houston's defense is fast, talented and aggressive. It'll be a tough test for the rookie, but if he can manage to move the offense and lead scoring drives, it will keep Miami in the game. (photo: photo-gator, Flickr)

Good third-down defense. Miami's defense doesn't look it will be as good as it was last year, but it will still likely be solid against the run and should be able to generate some third downs. Stopping the Texans in those situations and forcing punts or limiting them to field goals will be key.

Keys for a Texans win:

Force Tannehill to beat them. The Dolphins' lone offensive playmaker is Reggie Bush, and the Texans should do everything in their power to stop him and the rest of Miami's tailbacks. Put the pressure on the young quarterback and a weak Dolphins' receiving corps to beat their talented defensive backs.

Spread the ball around on offense. The Dolphins will struggle to generate consistent pressure, so quarterback Matt Schaub (photo: Maitri, Flickr) should have plenty of time to exploit a weak Dolphins' secondary.

Close the deal early. Houston should ramp up the aggression on the rookie quarterback on defense and test the Dolphins defense deep on offense and try to put the game out of reach early on.
Week 1 Dolphins Posts:

Philbin: 'We've got to win the turnover margin'

Rigid task in Texans looks familiar to Fins' secondary

Week 1 game picks: Dolphins at Texans

Marino: Growing on run part of deal for Tannehill

Philbin on state of Dolphins: 'Am I concerned? Yeah'
Dolphins injury report:
Questionable: DE Tony McDaniel (knee/toes). Probable: G John Jerry (ankle), LB Koa Misi (back), T Jake Long (knee), LB Jason Trusnik (ankle, DE Derrick Shelby (shoulder), WR Brian Hartline (calf).
Questionable: RB Arian Foster (knee), LB Brooks Reed (hip), LB Brian Braman (hamstring). Probable: TE Owen Daniels (illness), LB Brian Cushing (ribs), S Shiloh Keo (neck), DE J.J. Watt (elbow), WR Andre Johnson (chest), RB Ben Tate (head), DT Shaun Cody (back/ankle).