As we have all pre-season we checked in with the Browns’ opponents writers for a In the Enemy’s Camp to learn more from those following the Miami Dolphins. Phin Phanatic covers the Dolphins. They asked questions related to the Browns which can be found here when article is posted.
1) Coach Joe Philbin is in his second year with the team, what has been the most pronounced stamp he has put on the team so far?
Mike: Speed. On both sides of the ball. The Dolphins played slower than any team in the league over the past several years. Bringing in guys like Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller (before the injury), Dion Jordan, Phillip Wheeler and more, makes them a team that can keep up with any team in the NFL.
Brian: Philbin reminds me more of Don Shula than any other coach the Dolphins have had since Shula. He commands respect with question and surrounds himself with high character players that have the same drive that he does. He has completely remolded the Dolphins in two off-seasons to fit his style and his vision. Perhaps the biggest part of that is how well he works with GM Jeff Ireland to access and find players. Ireland was more of a Bill Parcells protege but has embraced the changes since Philbin arrived.
2) With the loss of Jake Long a already limited offensive line seems to be even weaker. Has anyone stepped up? How will the Dolphins deal with this limitation?
Mike: Jonathan Martin is taking Long’s spot at LT. Outside of the first preseason game, we haven’t really heard Martin’s name and as far as linemen as concerned, that is the best news. Martin is going into his second year and the Dolphins are hoping he makes a big leap from year one to year two.
Brian: I don’t think the offensive line is actually weaker as a result of Jake Long being gone. In fact I think it is better. Jake Long was not a fit in this more athletic system. Long struggled adapting to the blocking schemes installed by Philbin last year and was a liability in pass coverage as a result. Jonathan Martin stepped in last year and did fine. So far this year he is one of Pro-Football Focus’ top pre-season LT’s. Taking his place on the right is Tyson Clabo and Mike Pouncey at center has All-Pro talent. The question really comes down to the right guard position where John Jerry is still questionable. The Dolphins can’t seem to find a plug and play guard. That makes the offensive line weak.
3) The Dolphins finished a somewhat surprising 7-9 with rookie QB Ryan Tannehill, what improvements has he shown this off-season?
Mike: He certainly seems to be making smarter decisions. I would hope he makes the necessary improvements as a sophomore quarterback. The biggest improvements, in my opinion, is his supporting cast. The Dolphins didn’t have much last season to put around a rookie quarterback, and this offseason was all about getting Tannehill some weapons. Bringing in Wallace and Gibson will hopefully open up the offense and Tannehill can show us what he has.
Brian: The 2012 record is bad on paper but the Dolphins last season lost three games on field goals at the end or in over time. Two game winning misses and one miss that would have tied a game. Only one team really beat the Dolphins last season handedly. We don’t yet know what Ryan Tannehill is going to do in 2013. He has worked with a makeshift line (Dolphins didn’t play their starting line most of pre-season trying out different players with the first unit) and WR’s that are no longer on the team due to injuries. Still, Tannehill finished the pre-season with an over 90 QBR. That alone is improvement but the test comes when the regular season debuts.
4) The Browns new offense wants to air it out, how has the Dolphins secondary looked this off-season? How has Brent Grimes, who rejected the Browns to sign in Miami, looked recovering from last year’s injury?
Mike: Grimes looks every bit the shutdown corner he was before the injury. The Dolphins don’t seem to have any concern with him. The rest of the secondary is questionable though. Richard Marshall was a surprise cut during the preseason. Dimitri Patterson right now is slotted to be the cornerback opposite Grimes, which scares everyone. The Dolphins drafted two rookies, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, to fill the Sean Smith and Vontae Davis void. Davis has flashed a little during the preseason but he is very raw and is still getting beat too much. Taylor has been battling injuries off offseason. We haven’t seen much of him.
Brian: Brent Grimes has emerged as a defensive leader. He had crazy ball skills and closing speed that surprised me. He has fully recovered from his Achilles injury of a year ago and will be a tough corner to play against. The other side is a little less confident. Dimitri Patterson will line up as the starter and two rookies, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis will see plenty of action as well. The Dolphins safeties are split. Reshad Jones could be one of the best NFL safeties in the game but lining up with him is nothing more than marginal talent.
5) Many Browns fans are hopeful that the Dolphins game can be a win. Fans are probably 60% confident in a win for their Browns, how would you say Dolphins fans are viewing the game and their expectations?
Mike: It’s funny, when most fans saw the schedule originally, they thought this game should be an easy win. That belief has flipped 180 degrees since the preseason began. I would agree that about 60% of Dolphins fan believe this is going to be tough game for us. My personal expectations are for a win. The Dolphins have an extremely strong front seven and the Browns biggest weapon is Trent Richardson, who I believe we can neutralize. That would require Brandon Weeden to beat us, and from what I saw last season, I don’t think it’ll happen. It should be a much closer game than most people are expecting.
Brian: The Dolphins open on the road and stay on the road for week 2. In fact 3 of their first five games are on the road. Making matters worse, they face the Super Bowl defending Ravens, Drew Brees’ Saints, the Falcons, Patriots, and Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. Dolphins fans are expecting a win against Cleveland. If the Dolphins lose many fans will be ready to throw the towel in early.
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