The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars face off tonight at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville. While this will be the Jaguars' first preseason game, this will mark the second time the Dolphins have gotten on the field in the exhibition season. Will the team come out better than they did against the Dallas Cowboys in last Sunday's Hall of Fame Game? Here's a look at some of the things we should be watching for during the game.
1. Offensive line - Just like last week, the offensive line is the top storyline this week. It will likely remain here throughout the preseason, as the Dolphins look for a way to protect second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Jonathan Martin did not play as badly as some thought last week, but he was only in there for 10 snaps. Will he play longer tonight, and will he continue to play well? Will Josh Samuda continue to stake a claim as the starting right guard? And, where will the Dolphins try to use Dallas Thomas this week? These are all things we as fans need to watch tonight.
2. Tackling - This is probably the area of the Hall of Fame Game that disappointed me the most. I know it takes a a little while for players to get back into tackling, especially in this era where live tackling to the ground in practice is almost non-existent, but what happened on Sunday was brutal. Way too many lazy arm tackle attempts, allowing ball carriers to simply continue running down the field. The tackling does not need to be all highlight hits, but it definitely should be better than last year.
3. Passing Offense - It appears both Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace will be ready to play tonight, so the passing offense should be a little more crisp than it was early on Sunday. Can Tannehill hook up with his top two receivers, and will the team move the ball better? Tannehill only threw five passes against the Cowboys, but, assuming the starters stay in the game longer this week, we should see more attempts against Jacksonville.
4. Pass Rush - Against the Cowboys, the Dolphins pass rush looked good, headlined by Derrick Shelby and Dion Jordan. This week, they will be going against number two overall pick Luke Joeckel and veteran Eugene Monroe. Will they be able to continue to get after quarterbacks? Will Olivier Vernon, who sat out last week, be ready to go this week? The Dolphins should have a strong pass rush this year. Another good performance in the preseason will go a long way to changing should to will.
5. Backup quarterbacks - Tannehill will play early in the game, then hand it off to Matt Moore and Pat Devlin. This past week, Moore has looked tired in practice, short hopping multiple passes and just being off. Devlin injured his hand (or leg, depending on which reporter you ask) and could be limited in his play tonight. One of the two, at least, has to be ready to go, since we know Tannehill will not play the entire game. While no one is overly concerned about either one of the two backups, poor performances from one, or both, could signal a need for the Dolphins to bring in a fourth quarterback, if only to run reps during practice.
What are you going to be watching tonight?