Miami Dolphins Need To Resolve These Five Questions on Monday Night
For the second week in a row, the Miami Dolphins have another huge prime time game at home.
This week they face off against another AFC East foe in the New England Patriots. The Patriots head into the game with a 2-1 record, as do the Dolphins.
Prior to last week's heartbreaking loss to the New York Jets, the Dolphins were confidently 2-0 and looking sharp. The offense was getting the job done, and the defense was dominant.
The Jets didn't care about that, marched into Miami, and racked up over 400 yards of total offense.
Now the Dolphins will be looking to bounce back and come out of Monday night with a big win over the Patriots.
However, there are five glaring questions that must be answered to ensure a favorable outcome for Miami.
Can Jason Allen Bounce Improve From Last Week?
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Cornerback Jason Allen, who had a strong opening two games, struggled mightily against Mark Sanchez and the Jets' aerial attack.
If the defense is going to step up for Miami, Allen is going to have to make some plays as well as not get beat. And if Miami is going to win, the defense is going to need to play well once again.
If Allen doesn't bounce back and lock down his part of the field, the Dolphins will be in for a long night of Tom Brady connecting with the likes of Randy Moss and his other weapons.
Will the Special Teams Step Up?
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Special teams may be the most underrated aspect of football.
Without good field position, it's hard to get a good drive started. An offense would much rather start with the ball closer to midfield as opposed to pinned deep in its own territory.
In the first three games of the season, Miami has been below average in the special teams department, ranking 27th in the league for kickoff returns and 14th for punt returns.
Head coach Tony Sparano would love for his special teams to make a big play to boost the team's momentum as well as give the offense better opportunities. If the Dolphins can manage to do so on Monday night, Chad Henne and the Miami offense would be thrilled.
Will Brandon Marshall Quiet His Critics?
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Following last week's loss to the Jets, many were critical of Dolphins star wide receiver Brandon Marshall's body language at the end of the game.
Marshall appeared tired and perhaps even out of shape. He struggled to run his routes fully and line up on time following his big catch to set up the Dolphins' chance to win.
Marshall has since defended his stamina, but the critics will not stop until the wide receiver shows it on the gridiron.
Can the Defense Contain Tight Ends?
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One of the most difficult tasks for Miami's defensive unit so far has been simply containing the opposing teams' tight ends.
Last week Jets tight end Dustin Keller racked up two touchdowns in the first half, and Miami's inability to defend the tight end goes back quite some time. Just take some time and look at what various tight ends did to Miami last year.
It's not pretty.
The Dolphins have acknowledged this flaw and have stated they are working on his issue in practice. If improvements aren't made, Tom Brady will readily use his slew of talented tight ends in his attack.
How Will Chad Henne Respond to Last Week's Loss?
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Even though the Dolphins couldn't pull out the win last week, quarterback Chad Henne managed to have his best game this season.
Henne threw for 363 yards against the Jets along with two touchdown passes. However, none of that matters in the end as it wasn't enough to come out with a victory at home against New York.
It will be interesting to see how Henne responds to the loss. Will he produce back-to-back great performances?
More importantly as a young up-and-coming quarterback, he needs to learn now to step up and get his team back on track. In a nutshell, he needs to be a leader.
We will see if he did so on Monday night.