Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
Ah yes, it's finally time to really examine a football game. For the first time in 9 months, the Dolphins will play a meaningful game. So let's get right to previewing it with a look at how the Dolphins offense might handle this Redskins defense. Then be sure to check back tomorrow, as we talk about what the Dolphins defense might do against Washington's offense.
Last season, this Redskins defense was simply quite bad. They ranked 31st in the NFL in total defense, giving up 355 yards per game. They only foreced 12 turnovers, which was by far the worst total in the league. In fact, the next lowest turnover total was 19. And they were also dead last in the NFL in sacks, picking up just 19 in the entire season. What does this all mean on Sunday? It's hard to tell, as things change in this league so quickly. The one thing, though, that I'd bet my money on is that Trent Green is going to be blitzed often. Why? Because if he isn't he's going to have plenty of time to throw the football, as Washington's starting front 4 had just 10 combined sacks all of last season.
Combining Miami's questionable offensive line and Washington's likeliness to blitz, you're likely to see plenty of three-step drops by Trent Green, which is fine because making quick reads and decisions is something Green has always excelled at. It'll just be a matter of hoping Miami's wide receivers can get some quick seperation. And I think you need to keep in mind that Washington's secondary is quite good, meaning the Dolphin receivers will have their work cut out. Sean Taylor is a monster who is all over the field and LaRon Landry has the raw talent to possibly be even better than Taylor. In a year or two, the Skins will have the best safety tandem in the league.
But that doesn't mean there aren't any matchups that I like when looking at the passing game from a Dolphin perspective. Marty Booker is likely to be matched up on Shawn Springs, who at times looked as though he was coming to the end of his career. I think Booker could play a key factor in the quick passing game, as I don't suspect he'll have much trouble getting off the line against Springs when Green gets blitzed and has to make a quick throw. The other matchup I like, though some may call me crazy, is Ted Ginn lining up against Fred Smoot. Smoot, after a promising early career, has been a disappointment. After 4 solid years in Washington, Smoot went to Minnesota, where in 2 years he recorded just 3 interceptions and have a tendency to get beat. Now he's back in Washington and I just like the idea of having Ted Ginn matched up with Smoot. Smoot will likely try to jam Ginn. As long as Ginn can get off the line, he should be able to beat Smoot all game long, forcing the Skins to shade over a safety to Ginn's side, which could open the middle of the field for either the backs or David Martin.
We also can't forget about the running game, which will be lead by Ronnie Brown. Last season, the Redskins were 27th in the league in rush yards allowed per game, with the opposition picking up over 137 yards on the ground against the Skins. This year, however, London Fletcher steps in at middle linebacker. Last year, despite being up there in age, Fletcher had an outstanding season in Buffalo, making plays against the run and the pass. But when you look at how the Dolphins need to attack this Skins defense on the ground, you just need to consider this: their defensive line is big, but slow. So what I think you do here are running plays that go around the line rather than through the line. Counters, tosses, and off tackles would be some likely plays to see on Sunday. This is a game where Ronnie could really jump start his season and he needs to take advantage of it. He needs to show his vision and burst and quickly get past the first level of defenders.
Dolphins Running Game vs Redskins Run Defense: Slight Advantage Dolphins
Dolphins Passing Attack vs Redskins Pass Defense: Slight Advantage Redskins