The Phinal Word: Don't Tread on These Miami Dolphins
Lost in the trauma that was Week One, was something very reassuring. The Miami Dolphins have a whale of a run defense.
(That will be the first of many nautical puns in my Dolphin writing career.)
Long ago, before Dan Marino ever fixed a rocket to his arm, the founders of football decided that in winning football games, defense and the run game were tantamount.
At least Miami had one of two, placing them in Bon Jovi territory ("...halfway there...whoa-oh, living on a prayer...").
The Falcons averaged only two-and-a-half yards per carry against the Miami defense. This is a good sign for a team that has a history of good run defense. In 2008, Miami allowed 101.3 yards per game, good for 10th in the NFL.
The longest run the Falcons were able to muster all game was only 12 yards long. Barry Sanders once rushed for 12 yards in a dream where he was falling. The Fins were bending and then breaking down Atlanta.
Not where you thought I was going with that one, eh?
Even more titillating (was that titillating for you too?) is how well Miami controlled Atlanta's run game on third down. Miami only surrendered three rushing first downs to the Falcons, and none of them came on third down.
Some standouts for Miami: Philip Merling, who had four tackles (one for a loss) along with pressuring Matt Ryan like he wanted a DNA test from the guy. Jason Ferguson also re-established himself as being the centre of the universe (and Miami's defense) by nabbing a sack while filling gaps like a sweatshop.
Miami's pass defense wasn't as sterling, but it wasn't completely anemic either. The Fins allowed 213 yards through the air, but the Falcons were only averaging 6.4 yards per completion. Good, but not above reproach.
Much like myself.
The most important thing, though, is that in a division that has two teams (Buffalo and New York) that need to run the football to succeed, Miami is ready. Their defense can hopefully continue the one-game trend of being stingy against the rush.
Next week against Indianapolis will be a good indicator of whether or not Miami can continue to stop the run. Peyton Manning has never been afraid to defer, and with Anthony Gonzalez out, the Colts' options are limited. Miami has to be prepared to stop the famous Indianapolis stretch that signals fall like the leaves changing colour.
Joseph Addai and Donald Brown make up Indy's rushing attack, and their first week together was meh. Brown and Addai averaged three and two-and-a-half yards per carry, respectively.
That's about as frightening as having me suit up against the Fins. (Pssst, Indy, I'm available.)
Come Monday night, the Dolphins should continue stuffing runners. Because of this, the game will probably be decided like a Phil Collins song.
You can probably guess that one on your own.
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