Time is always working against a team in the National Football League and the Dolphins are no different. Doomsdayers always crop up in the few short weeks prior to the regular season, but nothing changes the fact that in just four days' time, a division matchup is going to happen.
The culmination of the Miami Dolphins' 2010 preseason was nothing short of disconcerting. Ill-timed injuries and roster moves have turned one of the NFL's most successful offseasons into, what looks to many, like a tragic accident waiting to happen.
Do not panic, Fins Nation, because everything is going to be okay.
I was admittedly shocked to hear the team announce that Bill Parcells' role in the front office will undergo a dramatic change, however, I was not shocked by the reaction. At least half of the Fins faithful now see a dark cloud upon the horizon, while still others are in full-on Chicken-Little mode.
Relax, guys, the sky is not falling.
Injuries will always happen in the preseason, and the turnover for the bottom half of any depth chart is always going to be high. While I question the timing of power changing hands, I have to believe that it was a carefully calculated move.
Much like the starting of Jason Allen over Sean Smith. Was it meant to be a last-minute curveball, or is it simply intended to send a message to Smith that he needs to work harder?
Regardless of how you choose to view the Fins' current situation, nothing is going to stop Sunday from coming, and the Buffalo Bills have something to prove in a big way. A few last minute changes do not implode a talented teams' chances, so I fully expect the Dolphins to shine, and show the Bills that they are going to need a lot more than just 'something to prove.'
Yes, the Dolphins are having continued trouble putting together a solid offensive line, and yes, Chad Henne has made a lot of folks nervous with his sketchy preseason performance. But I do not think this will ultimately change the outcome of the game, and Miami is still the clear favorite.
The Bills have looked deceivingly sharp over the past month, largely in part to the heightened play of rookie RB C.J. Spiller. The kid is good, but it takes a heck of a lot more than one or two superstar players to take down an opponent like the Dolphins.
Even in a broken state, the Dolphins can hand just about any team a loss, even teams with so-called superstars. Just ask Tom Brady and Randy Moss. If you can't get in touch with them, you could always ask former and current Jets players Thomas Jones, and Darrelle Revis.
All Miami needs to do on the offensive side of the ball is what it does best: Run the ball down the opposition's throats. Very little talk has surrounded Ronnie Brown in recent weeks, many figuring that his contribution to the team will be limited by another injury down the line. What people tend to forget is that Ronnie has repeatedly stated that he is back to 100 percent, and that he will be playing his heart out in hopes of getting a new contract.
Does any opponent really want to see what a Ronnie Brown looks like when he is playing for his livelihood?
Then of course, there is Ricky Williams, whose continued efforts at age 33 make him look more like a machine than a man. Don't think for a second that you will not see that machine at work.
Does Chad Henne still seem like he is on a slow learning curve? Yes. Are the Dolphins still a rushing team? Sure, but with weapons like Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and some guy the Dolphins got from Denver over the offseason, don't be surprised to see the Fins' passing game yield a few points as well.
The Dolphins offensive preseason was deceiving, as is any teams' preseason. Those games are planned out down to the last snap, and not with winning in mind so much as getting looks at each aspect of each players' game for evaluation purposes. It is for this reason that I do not read too much into the perceived lack of performance.
People have questioned the integrity of the offensive line, but at the end of the day, a lot of what seems like an inability to stave off the pass rush is Henne needing a bit of work on the speed with which he delivers the ball into play.
There are minor issues facing this offense, but I do not think they will be over-exposed by Buffalo's D.
I guarantee that what Mike Nolan "showed" in the preseason with respect to the full extent of what he will bring to this phase of the game, was only the very tip of a very large iceberg.
Yes, Channing Crowder's status is still touch-and-go, and the Fins lost Will Allen...again. Couple that with all the last minute roster moves, and one can see why there is a lot of gloom-and-doom talk, but once again I urge Fins Nation to cool off, and realize that the situation is not nearly as grave as some in the media and the general fan base would have you believe.
Each and every player on the defensive side of the ball knows that defense was the Dolphins' missing link last year, and I assure you that they all feel the burden of needing to play winning football from the very first snap.
Cameron Wake speaks about the upcoming season like a man on a mission, and between himself, Randy Starks, and the plethora of exotic blitz packages that I'm certain Nolan is working on for the linebacker corps, I am not so sure that the Dolphins are going to have as much of a problem generating pressure as so many people assume.
The biggest challenge, and perhaps the only major obstacle with which this defense is faced, will be in the holding of the secondary; something that we have known even before the preseason. Over the last month, no comfort has been taken in watching the first team DB's get picked apart by backup quarterbacks, and if Buffalo has any chance of winning, it is going to fall to Trent Edwards' ability to generate a big passing game.
Something tells me that we should not be exceedingly worried about that.
In summation, it really appears as if the Dolphins could be in trouble, but looks (especially preseason ones) can be extraordinarily deceiving, and I am going out on a limb in saying that at least for this first game of the year, I am not worried in the least.
It is going to take more than what the Buffalo Bills currently possess to stop the Miami Dolphins.
The fact is, every team has its troubles at this or any other time of year, and Miami's are not so glaring that fans should be giving up the Dolphins for dead before the season even begins.
That is exactly what many people are doing, and I am here to tell you that you're wasting your energy in worrying. Even with current hardships, I believe the Dolphins are still firmly in the top-half of the league, and will continue to do so until proven otherwise.
I said it back in July when the list of unknowns was even greater than at present, and I will say it again now:
The Miami Dolphins are dangerous, and opposing teams may disregard this fact at their own peril.
C.J Spiller will get his first NFL touchdown, but be held to that. Brandon Marshall will score for the first time as a Dolphin, and Miami's defense will struggle initially, but eventually find its footing and come through in the end.
Dolphins win, 27-17
Want to see ALL of my Week One Picks? I made these back in early July. The only one I would change now, two months later, based on what we have seen since would be Rams v. Cardinals. Now I think I'd take the Rams.
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