The Miami Dolphins will face the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3 after a tough two-game road trip against the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts. The Dolphins emerged from the consecutive road games with a 2-0 record and will look to open the season for their faithful fans by giving them a live taste of what they missed during the first two weeks of the season.
Dolphins players and coaches will aim to show the crowd what it has wanted to see for years: a winning team.
We will break down everything you need to know heading into Week 3. We will take you through division standings and an updated injury report, and we will highlight the areas in which the Dolphins need to improve before Week 3 if they want to give the home crowd what it has been itching to see.
The New England Patriots battled the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football and barely escaped with a 13-10 victory. The win came one week after another close call against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. The Patriots stand in a temporary two-way tie with the Miami Dolphins for division supremacy.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills thrilled their home crowd with an upset of the Carolina Panthers. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel tossed a game-winning touchdown to wide receiver Stevie Johnson with seconds remaining on the clock, bringing the Bills to a 1-1 tie with the New York Jets in the division standings.
The last time the AFC East division looked this ripe for the Miami Dolphins to potentially take the division crown was in 2008, after quarterback Tom Brady left the field in Week 1 with a torn ACL.
Above, you will find Miami's injury report as listed on the official NFL injury report heading into the Week 2 game against the Indianapolis Colts. A new injury report will not be available until Wednesday.
Rookie corner Will Davis appeared close to a return to the field with limited practice participation prior to being listed inactive for Week 2. There is some hope that he will be available in Week 3.
Starting corner Dimitri Patterson was active in Week 2 after being limited in practice during game week; however, he did not appear in the game itself.
Defensive tackle Paul Soliai injured his knee during the fourth quarter of the Colts game, and the Dolphins have not yet given an indication about his status. However, Soliai's agent, David Canter, may have given an indication of his client's status this Sunday:
What Must Improve
The Dolphins made drastic improvements on offense from Week 1 to Week 2 by getting Lamar Miller more open spaces in which to run. They also found ways to spring marquee free-agent acquisition wide receiver Mike Wallace loose for a good day of production.
However, the team continued to display weakness when covering athletic tight ends. Through two games, the combination of Jordan Cameron, Gary Barnidge, Coby Fleener and Dominique Jones produced 15 catches for 199 yards, with two touchdown receptions.
Additionally, Cleveland's backup, Barnidge, had a 20-yard touchdown catch against Dolphins safety Reshad Jones called back on a holding penalty. Colts third-string tight end Dominique Jones was originally ruled to have caught a 20-yard pass against the Dolphins, which would have put his offense on the doorstep of the end zone, before replay showed that Jones bobbled the football while on the ground. Colts starter Coby Fleener had an 18-yard touchdown catch on Miami safety Chris Clemons called back on an illegal shift penalty.
While the official tight end tally shows 15 catches for 199 yards with two touchdowns, that very well could have been 18 catches for 257 yards with four touchdowns but for a few lucky breaks. The coverage will need to tighten up significantly this week as the Dolphins face future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill took a combined nine sacks in Week 1 and Week 2.
The offensive line lacks consistency. Center Mike Pouncey is the only player on the line that played well during both games. Left tackle Jonathan Martin and left guard Richie Incognito improved significantly from Week 1 to Week 2; however, right guard John Jerry and right tackle Tyson Clabo played poorly during both outings.
Atlanta's pass rush may not be as fearsome as Cleveland's pass rush, but if the Dolphins end up in a track meet scenario against a potent Falcons offense, they can ill afford untimely sacks killing their drives.
If the Dolphins can improve in these areas while not regressing in any other aspect of their game, they should be able to give their home crowd a season opener to remember.