It has been a two week period filled with changes for the Miami Dolphins, who spent their bye week firing coaches, promoting other coaches, making new hires, and trying to figure out why a team filled with hype before the season is 1-3 and looks lackluster through the first quarter of the season. Interim head coach Dan Campbell will lead the team out to the field for the first time after being given control of the team just 13 days ago, looking to end the three game losing streak and turn around the franchise in their 50th season.
What should we expect to see from the Dolphins as they take on the Tennessee Titans later today? No one is really sure. But, what do we need to see?
There is no denying the Dolphins started the 2015 season meekly. The play on the field was not what was expected, the play calling was not what was expected, and the overall results were not what was expected. Now, Campbell is looking to ignite a fire underneath the team, both on offense and on defense, and he is looking to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo to adjust the play calling. The offense has got to get back to running the ball and taking their shots down field in the passing game, and the defense has to start dominating the line of scrimmage and getting after opposing quarterbacks. This week, there has to be an aggressiveness to the Dolphins that we have not seen as of yet.
Miami is adjusting their offensive line in an effort to find a way to better protect Ryan Tannehill and to open running lanes for Lamar Miller. Left tackle Branden Albert is expected to return to the starting lineup after dealing with a hamstring injury he sustained in Week 2, while guard Billy Turner is expected to move into the starting lineup, replacing rookie Jamil Douglas. Turner was expected to start the season at right guard, but the position was given to Douglas based on performance against Ndamukong Suh in training camp. Will the move to bring Turner back to the top five offensive linemen help solve some of the issues that have plagued the line early this year? It will definitely be something to watch throughout the game.
Bill Lazor has a history of running the ball. Joe Philbin was all about passing the ball. Philbin is gone, Lazor is still with the Dolphins. Will that be enough to change the play calling from the most pass heavy offense in the league (73.58% of the plays are passing plays for Miami this year) toward a more neutral system? Will Miller be able to finally get started for the 2015 season? He has yet to have more than 13 carries in a game, and that high was in Week 1. The last two games, Miller has seven carries in each contest. After a 1,099 yard performance in 2014, Miller is on pace for not even half of that this year, with 131 yards in four games putting him on pace for 524 yards this season. Miller averaged 5.1 yards per carry and had eight rushing touchdowns in 2014. This year, he is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry and has not found the endzone yet. Lazor has to trust Miller more and the offensive line has to block better, then Miller will be able to get back to the running back we saw last year. This week has to start that process.
What will you be watching this weekend?