The Miami Dolphins get back to football on Sunday as they visit the Indianapolis Colts. After a bye week that seems to have the team healthier than they were the last time they were on the field, Miami will be looking to keep themselves in the playoff picture with a win over another team looking to stay in the fight for the postseason. To do that, Miami will need some key players to come up big this weekend.
Exactly who needs to have those big performances? Several offensive players must lead the way and get the offense out of this stagnant, non-touchdown scoring funk in which it has been the last two-and-a-half games. There are defensive players who need to have a big day for the Dolphins, but this is primarily about the offense this week.
Ryan Tannehill, quarterback - Is there any doubt about whom this game will revolve for the Dolphins? Tannehill comes back this week after missing more than a month, and the Dolphins need him back, and back at his 2016 levels. This offense has looked way to constipated without him, and, if Miami is going to make a charge to the postseason, it is going to be on the right arm - and right shoulder - of Tannehill.
Frank Gore, running back - The Dolphins removed Kenyan Drake from the injury report on Friday, but that does not mean he is ready to have a giant game. Gore has become the feature back for Miami, with Drake seeing more playing time as a receiver than as a running back at this point, and Gore needs to have a big game against his former team. Miami needs to establish the run early and stick with it, both to gain yards and to make the play-action pass an option. That is going to be Gore’s main role this week.
Ja’Wuan James/Laremy Tunsil, tackles - The Dolphins need their tackles to be up to their top shape on Sunday, two weeks after they both missed Miami’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Miami has to protect Tannehill and open up running lanes for Gore/Drake, and that is going to start with big games from James and Tunsil. The Dolphins’ left tackle, Tunsil, has been playing at a Pro Bowl level this year; hopefully, that continues against the Colts.
DeVante Parker, wide receiver - Parker is dealing with his third different injury this season, but after missing five games already this season, the wide receiver told South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly, “It’s about pain tolerance. Sometimes I might run a certain route that hurts it, but the pain goes away. It’s not there consistently, and it’s about how much you can take.” There is no guarantee Parker will play on Sunday, as he is listed as questionable, but if he is out there, the Dolphins, who are incredibly thin at receiver, need him to have a great performance in what could quickly become a shootout.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety/Jerome Baker, linebacker - The Dolphins are going to have to come up with a plan to deal with tight end Eric Ebron, the Colts most targeted, receptions leader, and most touchdown reception producing receiving option. T.Y. Hilton should be covered by Xavien Howard most of the day, so Miami should be looking to safety/cornerback/do-everything-guy Fitzpatrick as the primary option to cover Ebron. If not Fitzpatrick, this should be Baker’s chance to shine. Miami needs to take away Ebron, so whomever they tap to be in coverage on him, they are going to have to be on top of their game.