Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)
By now, we are all aware of how the Dolphins didn't really try to throw the ball down the field all that often against the Redskins. Perhaps that's because of the fact that Washington's secondary is pretty good. Maybe there's another reason. I don't know. But what I do know is that this week against Dallas, the Dolphins will need to open up the offense a little bit more. The Giants were successful last week in throwing the ball down the field against this Cowboy secondary. No doubt the Dolphins are going to have to score some points to win this game, so let's see Cam and company open up this offense.
Before we look at my favorite individual matchup in the passing game, there's something else that will be a key in this game. Though the Cowboys only sacked Eli Manning one time last week, this group of Cowboy linebackers are very good at rushing the passer. DeMarcus Ware is a budding star and, much like Jason Taylor, has the ability to drop back into coverage or rush the passer. On the other side, whether it's Greg Ellis returning from injury or rookie Anthony Spencer filling in again, the Cowboys will have another pass rushing force on the outside much like the Dolphins do with Joey Porter. Wade Phillips ins't afraid to send his linebackers often, so it will be key for this Dolphins offensive line, which did a decent pass blocking job last week, to give Trent Green some time to get the ball out. Trent is exceptional at reading defenses and makes quick decisions, so the line won't have to hold up against the blitz too long; just long enough for Trent to locate either the hot receiver or one of the backs out of the backfield.
As for the one matchup I love this week, should Terence Newman be unable to play, is Chris Chambers lining up against Anthony Henry. Last week, Henry struggled in covering Plaxico Burress. Though Chambers is nowhere near as tall as Burress, he's faster and can jump through the roof. Last week, the Dolphins were successful in getting the ball to Chambers often. He made some nice catches both on the outside and down the middle. This week, I don't see any reason why Trent and Chris can't simply abuse Henry if Newman is not playing.
On the other side, I love the matchup of Marty Booker against whoever Dallas throws at him. Last week, the Giants' Amani Toomer hauled in 9 passes for 91 yards. The way I see it, Booker is a lot like Toomer. They're taller, older, and slower but are crafty veterans who know how to get open, especially on third downs. I look for Booker, who didn't see many targets last week, to be more involved. And speaking of more involved, I got a feeling that this is the week that the Dolphins get Ted Ginn Jr involved in the offense. I think Cam is going to realize that the Dolphins need to score more points than usual to win this game and will decide to open it up a bit and get the ball into the hands of the fastest player on the field. I love the matchup of Ginn against anyone Dallas throws at him and think he could really introduce himself to the NFL in this game. Hopefully this isn't just wishful thinking, as I'm sure we all would like to see Ginn get involved.
All this talk about the passing game, mainly because of how questionable Dallas's secondary is, and we haven't even gotten to talk about the most important aspect of this game on Sunday. Of course it's the run game. Last week, we all know just how poor the ground game was, as the line couldn't open up any holes and Cam questionably went away from it once he saw it was ineffective. But also last week, the Giants, who don't have a very good line either, were able to run successfully for 124 yards. And that's with their 2nd string running back, Derrick Ward, picking up 89 yards on 13 carries. With Jason Ferguson out of the picture and Jesse Chatman banged up, this could be Ronnie's big chance to quiet all the naysayers, at least for now. If only this offensive line, which couldn't open up a damn running lane for a mouse last week, was able to give Ronnie a chance when he touches the ball, I could see his combo of speed and power giving Dallas's defense some fits.
And what a difference a rushing game could make in this game, as Dallas's safeties are very prone to biting on play-action fakes. If the Dolphins can just get something going on the ground to cause Roy Williams (the most overrated safety in the NFL, bar none) and Ken Hamlin to cheat up to the line, Miami could really make some plays down the field. But an ineffective run game means that play-actions will also be ineffective. Of course, there's one other benefit to an effective running game, especially in this game. It would keep the Cowboy offense off of the field. Considering how good that offense looked last week, having them on the sidelines may be the best defense. Also, it would give our defense a chance to stay fresh, something we all know was a hot topic following the Redskins game.
Oh, and speaking of our defense, check back tomorrow as we preview the Cowboy offense against JT, Zach, Channing, and company.