Dolphins vs. 49ers: 10 Keys to the Game for Miami
It's safe to say that the odds are against the 'Phins yet again as they now travel across the country to take on the San Francisco 49ers.
Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers look primed for yet another deep playoff run, while the Dolphins are still in the early stages of rebuilding under rookie head coach Joe Philbin.
The NFL, however, is full of surprises week in and week out—as we've all come to know and love.
Here's what the Dolphins have to do this Sunday to take down the 49ers on the road.
Give the Ball to Bush
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It's starting to get a bit redundant at this point, but the Dolphins coaching staff just doesn't seem to get it.
Reggie Bush is the best weapon that this offense has, plain and simple.
If he doesn't see 20-30 touches per game, then the offensive strategy is clearly flawed.
Regardless, Bush needs to see upward of 20 carries as well as a few receptions if the Dolphins hope to jump-start their offensive attack Sunday.
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Colin Kaepernick is quick. Scary quick.
With a quarterback who can tuck and run at any given moment, it's imperative to keep an eye on him at all times.
The Dolphins would be wise to run a lot of containment on the ends as well as spy formations with the linebackers in the middle.
Martin's Move to Left Tackle
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When you lose a Pro Bowl offensive tackle, you can pretty much expect an immediate drop-off in protection the following week.
For rookie tackle Jonathan Martin, this is an opportunity to solidify his position on the O-Line for years to come.
Sunday's start at left tackle will be a chance to earn the trust of both his coaching staff and teammates, while also answering any lingering questions the 'Phins may have as Jake Long enters free agency at season's end.
Martin did a nice job protecting first overall pick Andrew Luck at Stanford, now let's see if he can protect the blind side for another top QB draft choice in Miami.
Win the Turnover Battle
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The Dolphins have been absolutely killed on turnovers this season any which way you look at it.
The 'Phins are 4-0 in games in which they force more turnovers then their opponent, compared to 1-7 when they break even or have more giveaways.
Need I say more?
Deny Aldon Smith
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As we enter Week 14, Aldon Smith currently sits alone atop the NFL leaderboard with 17.5 sacks.
Averaging over a sack a game, Smith is one of those guys that requires special attention for four straight quarters.
Get Lamar Miller Some Touches
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As I mentioned earlier, the 49ers defense does rank third in the league against the run.
Lamar Miller is an elusive back, capable of turning the corner and busting out a big run when given the opportunity.
In his 27 attempts on the season, he has 145 yards and a touchdown for an average of 5.4 yards a carry.
Utilize Davone Bess in the Slot
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He did have six targets on the day and an early game drop, but he needs to be a key component to this Miami Dolphins passing game.
The ability to utilize his speed and agility out of the slot early and often in conjunction with their solid rushing attack should open up chances for other players such as Brian Hartline down field.
Reshad Jones Making Plays
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Reshad Jones is coming off of a stellar game last week in which he recorded 10 tackles, a sack and an interception against the Patriots' high-powered offense.
The Dolphins safety has continued to play at a high level all season long, and has emerged as one of the few bright spots in what is otherwise a weak secondary.
You can't ask the man to pick one off each and every week, but keeping up with his consistent caliber of play is essential to stopping the 49ers talented receiving corps.
Cameron Wake's Pass Rush
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He may not lead the league in sacks, but Cameron Wake's 10 on the season thus far are good enough to place him in the top five.
Sometimes all it takes to rattle a young quarterback is just the thought of pressure, and pressure is what Cameron Wake is good at.
Avoid the Big Plays
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If ever there was a time to take a shot down field with rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick, that time is now.
It's one thing to get beat by a methodical passing or running game, it's another thing to allow a home-run ball for an 80-yard score.