After months of agony, the NFL regular season has officially begun. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they open the season against the 12th man and the Seattle Seahawks. Sure, all the franchise has done over the last several years is fill us with false hope, before inevitably finishing near or below.500. 2016 is the beginning of a new era. The Adam Gase era. Which begins with Miami’s new coach taking on his arch-nemesis, Pete Carroll. Seattle’s defense has caused nightmares for Gase’s offense. The L.O.B is Gase’s kryptonite, and he an offensive Superman. It will be interesting to see how Gase has his team prepared, for this heavyweight-bout.
Here is what to watch for in the Dolphins Week 1 match-up vs Seattle.
Adam Gase vs Seattle
As stated above, Adam Gase has been thinking about Seattle since Super Bowl 48. Gase was the offensive coordinator in Denver at the time, and his unit laid an egg vs Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. The Broncos only managed to gain 27 yards on the ground, in addition to 279 yards through the air that game. The final score was 48-3, and Adam Gase has been seeking vengeance ever since.
The only difference now is this is Adam Gase’s team, and the offensive mastermind might just have a way to counter the aggressive Seattle defense. The offense should look entirely different than what we saw throughout the preseason, and I expect a heavy dose of Arian Foster in the run game. Jakeem Grant may have a bigger role, becoming a mismatch nightmare for Seattle’s defense. Can the Dolphins pull out the upset victory in Seattle? Stranger things have happened.
Miami’s secondary vs Seattle’s receiving core
Much of the concern throughout the offseason, was finding a suitable starter to play opposite of Byron Maxwell. Tony Lippett had his opportunity, but inevitably lost the starting job to rookie second-round draft pick, Xavien Howard. Howard, who missed most of the Preseason with a leg injury, will start his first regular season game on Sunday.
Seattle’s receiving core is as dynamic as they come, with Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockette, and Jermaine Kearse causing fits for opposing defenses. Jimmy Graham will likely play Sunday, adding another weapon to Russell Wilson’s arsenal. Miami must limit their mistakes, and play fundamentally sound football, if they plan on stopping Seattle’s high-octane offense.
Run Arian, Run
Adam Gase decided to leave Ajayi behind, after the second-year running back “sulked” after losing the starting job this preseason. This means that the Seahawks will see a heavy dose of Arian Foster on Sunday. Gase likes to utilize multiple running backs, so expect both Pead, Drake and Williams to also get some carries. However, one thing is for certain, Arian Foster will be the workhorse until further notice.
Foster will be deemed the task of keeping the Dolphins’ offense balanced. When healthy, there’s very few running backs with the talent that Foster possesses. Miami reshuffled their offensive line this offseason. In addition, Miami’s offensive line must play well, against one of the best defenses in the National Football League. I expect to see an expanded role for Foster in both the run and passing game. If the Miami wants to have a chance on Sunday, the team must feed Foster early and often.
Can the Dolphins stop Seattle’s run game?
The Dolphins run defense ranked among the bottom of the league in 2015, and the team will have their hands full Sunday against the Seahawks’ rushing attack. Seattle has a plethora of running backs capable of toting the rock, with Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael the most likely to split touches. Rawls is the thunder, to Michael’s lightning, and the Dolphins must eliminate the big plays that both backs are capable of producing.
If Miami wants to stand a chance this Sunday, they must stop the run and force Seattle into third and long situations. It will be up to the Dolphins’ defensive line to set the edge, containing either back from getting to the outside. It doesn’t look like Germain Ifedi will start, which leaves a huge void on Seattle’s offensive line. Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Dolphins’ front seven, must take advantage. The first thing Miami must do if they hope to win on Sunday, is stop the run.
How will Miami’s receivers fair vs Seattle’s L.O.B?
Earlier this week, Jarvis Landry had nothing but good things to say about all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman. He also made it very clear the Dolphins intend on attacking Sherman, regardless of how great of a corner he may be. There’s nothing I look forward to more Sunday, than watching Landry line up one-on-one with Richard Sherman.
Kenny Stills is the Dolphins #2 wide receiver, and if the preseason was any indication, he should have a huge season in Gase’s offense. Stills has been one of Tannehill’s favorite receivers this offseason, and it will be interesting to see how that translates to the regular season.
DeVante Parker is out for Sunday’s game, so the team will rely heavily on rookies: Jakeem Grant and Leonte Carroo. Both players should see snaps this weekend, and could pay dividends vs Seattle. If Miami plans on getting the victory on Sunday, things will have to work out perfectly for Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins.
The 2016 season is finally here. #FinsUp