The Miami Dolphins will be looking to put a mark in the win column for the first time in 2016 when they face the Cleveland Browns later today. Both team have started 0-2, but the Dolphins’ losses were to two potential Super Bowl contenders by a combined margin of nine points, while the Browns have lost as many quarterbacks as games played at this point. Things should line up for the Dolphins to have the better game this weekend, but what things will make the determination on how the game unfolds?
We take a look at three things to watch for the Dolphins this afternoon:
1. Pass rush
The Browns will be marching a rookie quarterback out as their starter, a rookie quarterback described last week as not being close to being ready to play. If Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, Jason Jones, Andre Branch, and Terrence Fede are not salivating at the idea of getting after Cody Kessler, there is something wrong. The team is currently tied for eighth in the league with five sacks on the season, but they could quickly climb up the leader board if they can get after Kessler early in the game and get him flustered.
2. Run stuffing
The other side of the defensive coin, the Dolphins have struggled against the run this year. They are currently 31st in the league in terms of rushing yards allowed per game, giving up 136.5 yards a game. That has to end, and this week would be a great time to make it stop. Cleveland is eighth in the league in rushing yards per game, averaging 132.5 yards over their first two contests. With receiver Corey Coleman missing the game with a broken hand, the Browns’ running game will likely become even more of a focus for the Ohio team, which means Miami has to focus on stopping it. The defensive line has to set the edge and clog up the middle, and the linebackers have to be in the right spots and actually make tackles.
3. Miami receivers not named Jarvis Landry
Jarvis Landry enters the week as the league leader in receptions. That is with both the Seahawks and Patriots attempting to limit him and force quarterback Ryan Tannehill to rely on other receivers. Landry has 17 receptions already this year, nine more than the next receiver, DeVante Parker. Tight end Jordan Cameron has seven receptions, then the totals drop to four for Jay Ajayi and three each for Arian Foster and Kenny Stills. Parker, Stills, Cameron, Leonte Carroo, Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Pead, Dion Sims, and Damien Williams, when given their chances, have to prove they are a threat with the ball in their hands, allowing for Miami to open up the offense and force the Browns to spread around the defensive focus.