Buffalo puts up 41 points and get a W... New York Jets slide into a comeback victory over Dallas... Now, Miami needs some magic of their own to face the New England Patriots in Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season. The loser of this game starts Week 2 in last, although that's still too early too truly matter, it's a position Miami can't get used to-- as too much is on the line for this brink season. When I say brink season I mean Miami can be a playoff contender come January, or could be interviewing for a new head coach and new quarterback amongst others. I can see the Dolphins going 10-6 this year or 6-10. It all depends on how Chad Henne delivers in tonights game. Here's some quick things that will draw my particular interest during tonights game:
1. Mike Pouncey The rookie faces a true test as a first round pick going against giants Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth. How do you prove you're ready for NFL action? Go up and against the best in the league and battle them. Miami's O-Line was shaky all preseason, leaving many doubting its form for this game. Perennial Pro Bowler Jake Long, who missed the entire preseason, will certainly add comfort to that line, but a tough Patriots D-Line will test any team.
2. Reggie Bush We've seen the Wild Cat unleashed against New England in 2008. Now it's time to unleash a new weapon in South Beach. With the addition of Reggie Bush, Chad Henne can take a big load off of his shoulders if he can use Reggie Bush properly. Bush was just flashy in New Orleans, failing to live up to his Heisman (sort of) years at USC, masked behing injury after injury. Now, a motivated Reggie Bush leads a Miami running attack replacing Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Bush needs to be utilized between tackles, where he can use his speed to burst out into the secondary. I feel like the New England front is solid, but with Brandon Meriwether gone, the Patriots aren't as strogn as years past may have indicated. For Reggie, it's about staying healthy and creating an unbalanced field where Miami can thrive.
3. Chad Ochocinco I don't feel like the addition of Chad Ochocinco in New England was as big as the media played it out to be. However, 85 can still play at a level where he can thrive as a Patriot, where the ball will find you if you get open for a split second with Tom Brady as a cannon. With that being said, I don't believe 85 can perform as a number one receiver anymore. Luckily, in New England's system, last year showed you don't need a number one to win games. 85 had a weak preseason, and his entire Patriots tenure this far has been rather quiet. Whether that's the Patriot way or the decline of Ochocinco, we'll get a preview tonight. Ochocinco has always been a Miami guy, and at one point in his career made a video asking for Bill Parcells (who worked for Miami at the time) to reach out to him. I believe 85 will get 45 yards on 4 catches tonight. I like Miami's corners in this match-up, but still am excited to see how New England will use 85.
4. Brian Daboll Weird for anyone to mention a coach, but this is the first game under the Daboll era in Miami. I can't help but recall when the Cleveland Browns of all teams beat the Patriots, one of their only two losses on the entire 2010 season. Daboll, although worked with an underachieving Browns team, generally works a run-first offense, which can complement the inconsistencies of Chad Henne. If the run game is working and the offensive line comes ready to play, Chad Henne, who had an impressive preseason, will continue to gain momentum. (Henne has always raher done well in divisional play...). However, the real duty of Daboll and the entire coaching staff is to bring back a winning record at home. Home games and Monday night games are special things in the league that must be taken as gold.
With that aside, let's go Miami!