Miami Dolphins Playmakers Who Must Shine Against the Indianapolis Colts
Now the Dolphins will hit the road again, taking on the Indianapolis Colts. Miami is pretty familiar with the Colts after their back-and-forth game last year. Both teams appear to have improved since then, and this could make for a vital early-season game with potential playoff implications.
Even though Miami came out of Cleveland with a win, it wasn't necessarily a pretty one. There are several aspects where Miami must improve, and some players must step up in order to come out of Indianapolis with a 2-0 record and a leg up in what could become a playoff race with the Colts.
Let's take a look at who must step up for Miami against the Colts.
Lamar Miller/Daniel Thomas
It's safe to say that the Dolphins' running game needs to improve in order for the offense to be successful. Miami averaged just 0.9 yards per rush against the Cleveland Browns, a far-from-competent performance from their running backs.
An argument can be made that the offensive line struggled to open up holes and that the Browns run defense is among the best in the league. However, only 20 yards rushing in one game is not very impressive, no matter what defense they play against.
Lamar Miller had the chance to start off the season on a positive note and cement his place as the starting running back, but he picked up three total yards on 10 carries for an average of 0.3 yards. Those are not numbers you want to see from your starting running back.
On the other hand, Daniel Thomas was just as unimpressive. He had 14 yards on eight attempts for an average of 1.8 yards. Thomas did have a touchdown, but that doesn't excuse his lackluster performance.
If Miami wants to come out of Indianapolis with a win, the running game must show up.
Mike Wallace made it publicly known that he wasn't happy with his lackluster performance in his first regular-season game with the Miami Dolphins. Wallace only caught one pass for 15 yards while being targeted five times.
It's understandable that he was upset, even more because of the comments he made before the game. Wallace's impact may not be seen on the stat sheet, but it was felt throughout the game.
Across from Wallace, Brian Hartline had a big game. He caught 9 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. This performance was made easier due to the lack of attention that Hartline received. Wallace was being monitored closely, as the Browns used Joe Haden with safety help to prevent deep passes.
Brandon Gibson was also able to have a good game thanks to Wallace being on the field. Safeties were not able to crowd the box and prevent the slot receiver to get open over the middle.
It would be nice to see Wallace win his one-on-one matchup against the Colts. This would give Ryan Tannehill the weapon the Dolphins paid for and would open up things for Hartline and Gibson even more.
I don't have anything negative to say about Olivier Vernon's performance against the Browns. At the same time, I don't have many positive things to say, either.
Vernon was held in check by Joe Thomas, one of the league's best left tackles. He failed to put much pressure on Brandon Weeden and didn't record a sack. In a game where Cameron Wake, Randy Starks and even Derrick Shelby managed to record sacks, Vernon was nowhere to be found.
Even worse for Vernon, Dion Jordan had a solid game, recording a sack before being flagged for a facemask. If Vernon doesn't play at the level he did during the preseason, it may not be long until Jordan (when fully recovered from his shoulder surgery) takes over the starting defensive end spot.
It was a very good game for the Dolphins' defense, but it wasn't the best of days for Vernon. If he can make an impact against the Colts, he can regain the advantage he had on Jordan before the Browns game.
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