Miami Dolphins Week 1: 3 Keys for Dolphins' Victory over Cleveland Browns

Mario CuadrosContributor IISeptember 5, 2013

Aug 29, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin looks on during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Football season is finally here!

The Miami Dolphins will be taking on the Cleveland Browns to kick off their season. During the offseason, this was seen by many as a cakewalk given the acquisitions by Miami.

However, during the preseason, the Browns have proved that they will not be a team everyone can mark as a win on their schedule.

Miami has a lot of new players that will be playing a complete game for the first time. The longest the starters have seen the field in one game has been the complete first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

There are still a lot of questions that this team has yet to answer and will be looking to do so against the Browns. 

On the other side of the field, the Browns will be looking for Brandon Weeden to continue improving from his preseason form. They also have some new players that are still getting used to a new scheme and a defense that will be tough to play against.

If the Dolphins expect to make the playoffs, they have to get off to a fast start this season. They have games against the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens, which makes this game against Cleveland a must-win.

Now let's take a look at some of the keys in order for Miami to win this game.



Ryan Tannehill must be effective


Last year, Tannehill wasn't able to reach the levels of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson in part because the support system around him was not up to par. This year, Tannehill has been given the weapons he needs in order to showcase his arm talent and lead the team back to the playoffs.

We will get to see the first glimpse of what this offense is capable of against a tough Browns defense. Miami's offensive line has struggled and will have their hands full with the Browns defensive line, which includes a matchup between Desmond Bryant and Jonathan Martin.

Due to the Cleveland line, Tannehill will have to be on his game and ready to get rid of the ball quickly and accurately. He won't be able to hold on to the ball for too long without finding himself on his back. 

This will be the first step in being able to see what Tannehill will offer this season. Let's hope all the signs point in the right direction.



A tight end, any tight end, must step up


The loss of Dustin Keller was big for this offense. He was another weapon for Tannehill and he would act as a safety net when Tannehill was under pressure or was forced outside the pocket. He was also the best tight end on the roster.

It wasn't even close.

Now, the Dolphins will be looking at Charles Clay, Dion Sims and Michael Egnew to step up and look to fill the role Keller was brought in to do. Obviously none of these players will have the impact Keller would have had, but they can have an impact in their own way.

As of now, Clay has been penciled in as the starting tight end due to his experience. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Sims becomes the starter further into the season. He's a complete tight end that can be a weapon once he gets used to the speed of the NFL.

If Sims becomes the starter, Clay can go back to his usual role as an H-back, giving Tannehill another weapon that can create mismatches.

I haven't seen much from Egnew that would lead me to believe that he's capable of contributing much this season. Due to Keller's injury, he will probably see the field more often than if Keller was healthy. He has to take advantage of this opportunity.

His clock may be running out if he's not able to prove anything this season. 



The defense must be able to stop the run


With Josh Gordon out for this game, the Browns will most likely lean on sophomore running back Trent Richardson to carry the load. He is one of the best young running backs in the league and will be difficult to stop for any defense.

Brandon Weeden won't be able to throw the ball around with Greg Little, Davone Bess and Travis Benjamin as his receivers. This will allow the Dolphins to crowd the line of scrimmage and focus all their energy on stopping Richardson.

The Dolphins run defense was ranked No. 13 last year allowing just over 108 yards rushing per game. They will have to be as good or even better than they were last year in order to win this game.