Miami Dolphins Week 1 Preview: 5 Keys to Success

Matt DalbyCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2011

Miami Dolphins Week 1 Preview: 5 Keys to Success

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    The Miami Dolphins would probably have liked to open up the 2011-12 campaign against someone besides the potent New England Patriots, but as is the case in all teams they didn't really have a choice.

    At least they're at home right?

    The Dolphins will look to shock most of the general public and take down the defending AFC East Champs.

    Here are five keys that could seal the deal on Monday night.

Starts and Ends with the Offensive Line

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    Miami must find a way to keep the Patriot pass-rush off Chad Henne, while paving the way for running backs Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush.

    While the offensive line may not boast the most talent in the NFL, it is a veteran group that could gel well together.

    Jake Long remains one of the best left tackles in the business and rookie center Mike Pouncey has the potential to be an All-Pro down the road.

    Regardless of who steps up to the line, keeping the pressure off a vulnerable Henne will be paramount if the 'Phins are going to steal a win.

Establish a Running Game ... or Something That Resembles One

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    The Dolphins must find a way to relieve some pressure from the passing game and the easiest way is on the ground.

    Miami managed just 88.8 yards rushing a game in the preseason, nearly last in the league.

    Reggie Bush isn't your typical every down, between the tackles back and Daniel Thomas is far too inexperienced to carry all the load.

    The duo must come together to be better though ... or else.

Knock Down Brady

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    Tom Brady and Patriots operate one of the most systematic offenses in the NFL. It is no mystery why they rank near the top in total offense every year.

    The best, and most proven, way to disrupt this flow is by putting Brady on his back. Over and over and over.

    Even if the 'Phins defense doesn't manage to rack up sacks or tackles for loss, letting the Patriot signal caller know they're back there will go a long way in preventing a big number on the scoreboard.

Brian Hartline Relief

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    The Dolphin's number two receiver, Brian Hartline, must help relieve some of the double coverage placed on Brandon Marshall.

    Marshall, who managed just a couple touchdown catches last season, has looked like himself in the preseason and will get most of the looks from Henne.

    But, in order to put Marshall and the offense in opportune situations, Hartline must be able to work his way through single coverage and bust the Pats secondary regularly.

    Slot man Davone Bess provides an excellent option over the middle as well.

Start Early

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    The last thing Miami can afford to do is allow New England to jump ahead early.

    Keeping the Dolphins crowd involved throughout the first pair of quarters will be vital to winning this Monday night affair.

    If the Dolphins can keep it close through the first half, I wouldn't be surprised to see them with a chance to win late in the game.