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Dolphins Have Little Choice But To Play A Ball Control Game

Miami Dolphins v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

As the 2018 regular season rapidly approaches, a harsh reality becomes more and more apparent: to have any realistic chance of winning games, at least in the early portion of the season, the Miami Dolphins are going to have to control the ball and play a time of possession game. Having the ability to run a hurry up offense that can strike quickly from anywhere on the field is a nice luxury to have, at the end of a half or a game, or if the team falls behind by double digits, but the Dolphins will need to keep their defense, and the other team’s offense, on the sidelines as much as possible, during the first month or so of the season, to give themselves the best chance of winning.

So, what happened to all the optimism, you ask? Have I done a complete 180, and soured on the team once again? Not at all; Miami just needs a few games to get the new guys on defense some reps and get them better acclimated to Matt Burke’s scheme. At some point, probably by late October/November, this young defense may very well give opposing quarterbacks fits, but, based on what we saw last week against Carolina, and are even more likely to see this weekend, they’re going to need some time to get up to speed.

Until then, veteran QB Ryan Tannehill and the offense will need to carry a disproportionate share of the load. Fortunately, Tammy and Co. appear to be well equipped to pull this off with aplomb. The past year has no doubt been difficult for the team, as well as Ryan himself, but the rewards of sitting out the season and being able to engage in film study will manifest themselves this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tanny is named AFC player of the week at some point during the regular season for Miami. Those of us who followed the Dolphins during Dan Marino’s career remember all too well that other teams used to employ this strategy against Miami when they played the Dolphins; Marino and the offense couldn’t score if they weren’t on the field.

We’re about to find out, once and for all, whether or not Adam Gase can coach, and I wouldn’t bet against him; during the team’s improbable playoff run of 2016, he adjusted on the fly, shifting gears and slowing the clock down to take advantage of Jay Ajayi and the running game. As CT pointed out, the Dolphins had, I believe, the second fewest pass attempts in the league that year. The hard running of Frank Gore and Miami’s quick hitting passing game would seem to be well suited for an efficient, bread-and-butter type attack that wears down opposing defenses and will keep the Dolphins’ own defenders fresh, ready to come into the game and wreak havoc in the pass rush.

If Miami can come out of the gate in September without stumbling too badly, they should be able to put together a good run during the middle portion of their schedule, before closing with a tough five game stretch to end the year. This promises to be an entertaining season. It’s an exciting time to be a Dolphin fan.