The Miami Dolphins take on the Washington Redskins tomorrow afternoon in Sun Life Stadium, Miami. The Dolphins are coming off their first win of the season, and are hosting a slumping Washington team that is starting a cast off Dolphins quarterback, and looking for a spark, any spark, to rescue the season.
So, what should we expect from this game? Here are five things to watch tomorrow.
1. Miami Offensive Line. Last week, the Dolphins offensive line played better than they have all season. It started with All-Pro left tackle Jake Long apparently getting healthy, and flat out stonewalling Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali all game, but it extended across the entire line, where even the much maligned Marc Colombo played like a starting right tackle. If the Dolphins can continue to protect quarterback Matt Moore, Moore will have the time to find the open receiver, and Miami will have another solid outing.
2. Miami Secondary. Cornerback Vontae Davis is apparently healthy for the first time this season, and is expected to start tomorrow. With him back in the lineup, it allows the Dolphins to pair up Davis and Sean Smith, leaving Will Allen at the nickelback position. That will free up rookie Jimmy Wilson to add depth at corner, and allow the Dolphins to play some match ups - a thing they were limited in doing the past few weeks without Davis. The safety positions should also see an upgrade, as there are no safeties listed on the injury report for the first time all season. Last year's starter Chris Clemons and this year's starter Reshad Jones should be sharing time at free safety, while captain Yeremiah Bell holds down the strong safety position. If the secondary can take the return of all these players and turn it into a pass defense that hasn't been in Miami most of the season, things could get bad for former Dolphins quarterback, and current Redskins starter, John Beck.
3. Daniel Thomas. Thomas saw limited action last week, coming in to spell starter Reggie Bush. Thomas only picked up 7 carries for 12 yards, but, his hamstring injury appears to be healed finally, and he should be ready to go this week. Thomas adds a bruising, between the tackles, running style to the finesse, explosiveness that is Bush. If the Dolphins can get both players moving this week, against the 25th ranked rush defense, it could be a really long day for the Redskins.
4. Redskins Tight End Fred Davis. Davis has been thrust into the starting role in Washington with the injury to Chris Cooley. And, Davis hasn't missed a beat, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards (40 for 559 yards and 2 touchdowns). It's no secret, meanwhile, that the Dolphins struggle to defend tight ends. Linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby seem to finally be on the same page, and, hopefully, will be able to contain Davis. If they struggle, look for Miami to move cornerback Jimmy Wilson or Sean Smith on to the tight end.
5. Sun Life Stadium. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and local television station WSVN-7 purchased the last 10,000 tickets to tomorrow's game, keeping the Dolphins' streak of non-blacked out games in tact. The last time Miami did not get a televised Dolphins game was in 1998. While Ross' move to ensure the game would be televised in the local markets, it also doesn't help the lack of home field advantage the Dolphins have in Sun Life Stadium. With Miami having a 1-10 record at home over the last two seasons, and a 1-7 record so far this year, it's hard to imagine Miami being behind the Dolphins at home - but the win last week has added some positive feelings toward the team. It will be interesting to see what the stadium looks, and sounds, like this weekend.