Now it's time to look ahead to Sunday's game against the Patriots. And like I often like to do when talking about the upcoming game, let's look at 5 "burning questions" that face the Dolphins this week:
Will the offensive line finally play up to its ability?
This Dolphins' offensive line was supposed to be a strength of this team. But so far, the play of that unit has been nothing but a big disappointment. And this week, things don't get any easier. The Patriots' defensive line is one of the league's very best. How will Jake Long play this week? The Patriots' will surely try to confuse the rookie and disguise their blitzes.
But the biggest match-up along the offensive line is probably center Samson Satele against Patriots' nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Satele has struggled against the likes of Kris Jenkins and Bryan Robinson. Now he faces his toughest challenge yet. Last week, Satele was consistently pushed back, whether he was run blocking or protecting the QB. We all thought Satele was a budding star after last season, but things have changed. Now it's time for Samson to step up and play like we all thought he would.
Can the Dolphins continue to stuff the run?
After struggling at times to stop the run against the Jets, the Dolphins held Arizona's ground game in check for most of the game, allowing just 81 yards and an average of just 2.6 yards per carry.
The Patriots, notoriously a passing team last year, now rely on the run more following the injury to Tom Brady. This season, they average 115 yards per game on the ground. For the Dolphins to keep this game close, they have got to stuff New England's rushing attack and force Matt Cassel, making just his 2nd career start, to beat them through the air. Granted, he has the weapons to do so (Randy Moss and Wes Welker). But forcing the Pats into 3rd & long situations will be critical if the Fins want to even think about winning this game on Sunday.
Can the Dolphins contain Randy Moss?
Let's face it: the Dolphins cannot match up with Randy Moss. He's the most physically gifted receiver to ever play the game, at least in my honest opinion. And last season, in 2 games against the Dolphins, Moss tallied 9 receptions for 172 yards and 4 touchdowns. And don't tell me that because Matt Cassel is the QB, things will be different. All a QB has to do is throw the ball up to Moss and he's more than likely going to come down with it - at least against this team. Anyone remember those ridiculous catches he had last year against the Fins? In particular, when he came down with a TD using one hand despite being double-covered? How do the Dolphins plan on defending him this time? I'd imagine Will Allen will be assigned the task of covering Moss - but he'll obviously need help over the top. But will that even be enough?
Which receivers will finally step up and make some plays?
It's likely that the answer to this question will be "none of the above." But still, I have to bring this up because, at some point, one of these receivers have got to step up. It seems like every other team in the NFL has a receiver who has come out of nowhere to make some big plays for their team. Whether it's DeSean Jackson for the Eagles, Greg Jennings for the Packers, Anthony Gonzalez for the Colts, or Eddie Royal for the Broncos (just to name a few), teams that win games have receivers who step up and make some plays. Will the Dolphins ever have a receiver like that? Do they have one now and we just don't know it? Let's see somebody step up on Sunday. After all, if they want to win this game, they'll need a receiver to make a play or two in critical situations.
Will Joey Porter ever shut up?
Incase you missed it, Joey Porter is at it again. For a player who has only won one game since arriving in Miami, Porter sure loves to run his mouth a lot. His target this time? Patriots' QB Matt Cassel. Here's what Porter says of Cassel:
"I just know he's not a Tom Brady. So if it's not Tom Brady, it shouldn't be that hard."
"He's a guy we'll prepare for, but that was his first start since high school. So you can take all the reps you want to. This is a totally different game, a totally different league. He's only had one start in the NFL. Take that for what it's worth. He won it, but if you compare him to Brady, there's no comparison. You can say whatever you want to put with it. Those are just the facts. That's what it is. It means what it means."
Ugh. Way to give the Patriots some unnecessary bulletin board material.
Seriously, Porter is out of control. And what does he mean that it "shouldn't be that hard"? Is he saying that beating the Pats, or at least slowing down their offense, will be an easy task? Because if so, he needs to get his head checked.
Here's an idea. Before mouthing off, maybe it's about time Joey Porter earns some of his money.
So those are my "5 burning questions." Let us all know what your thoughts are below...