Miami Dolphins vs. Houston Texans Preview: 5 Key Matchups

Brandon ChillingworthCorrespondent IISeptember 17, 2011

Miami Dolphins vs. Houston Texans Preview: 5 Key Matchups

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    Last week the Miami Dolphins defense got annihilated through the air by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This week they look to bounce back against the Houston Texans and Matt Schaub.

    Chad Henne had the Miami Dolphins offense rolling; this week will be a strong indicator of whether or not he can keep it going.

    The Miami Dolphins will need to establish their running game with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas if they are going to be a force this season.

    The Texans will need to run the ball well, and showcase one of the NFL's best passing offenses.

    The main keys for the Dolphins are to continue to throw the ball well on offense, and shut down the pass on defense. These five matchups will be vital to their success if they're going bounce back in Week 2.

Brandon Marshall vs. Kareem Jackson/Johnathan Joseph

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    Against the Patriots, Brandon Marshall had seven catches for 139 yards. He was a big part of Brian Daboll and the 'Fins new offense, and will be key to their success against the Texans.

    Chad Henne looks to be gaining confidence now, and will need Marshall to make his job easier. Last season, Henne and Marshall had problems. This year they are reportedly on the same page, and are slowly turning into the the dynamic connection that fans have been hoping for.

    The Texans have had secondary problems for years, and have been trying to turn over a new leaf. They brought in Johnathan Joseph this offseason to help them at the cornerback position.

    If the Dolphins passing offense is to continue rolling, Marshall will have to get the best of Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph.

Jake Long vs. Mario Williams

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    Chad Henne did a great job of handling pressure against the Patriots. A good part of his success should be attributed to his pocket presence and poise. It's very hard to get passes downfield if you're worried about getting hit.

    Mario Williams is a top pass-rusher, and will be coming at Henne all night.

    Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long will be tasked with the job of shutting down Williams when he is rushing to the blind side. Long is as solid as anybody, and should have no trouble blocking him.

    But should Long miss a step or two and allow Mario to get after Henne, it will be a long night for the Dolphins offense.

Vontae Davis vs. Andre Johnson

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    The Dolphins secondary got torched against the Pats badly. Hopefully this week they don't have such a poor showing.

    Vontae Davis is the anchor of the 'Fins secondary, and is tasked with covering opponents' No. 1 targets. This week he will have his hands full with Andre Johnson.

    Johnson is considered the best wideout in the NFL—he makes good corners look pedestrian, and average corners look like pylons.

    The Texans passing offense is very much dependant on Johnson. If Vontae Davis can slow him down, the Miami's job will become much easier.

Cameron Wake vs. Eric Winston

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    They say that a good pass-rush is better than having a good secondary. Miami was rarely able to generate pressure against the Pats. That could very likely be the reason that Miami got beat so bad last week through the air (I hope).

    Last season the Dolphins had one of the better pass-rushes in the NFL, and will need to be as good this year if they want to enjoy the same defensive success.

    Cameron Wake is the key. He was one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL in 2010, and looks to have another great year.

    Against Houston, he will be key to disrupting the Texans pass game. Wake usually rushes from the strong side, and this week will be going against Eric Winston. Winston is a good right tackle, but Wake should be able to get the better of this matchup.

Owen Daniels vs. Karlos Dansby/Kevin Burnett

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    The Dolphins defense has been good, but they've always had trouble with tight ends. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski had a field day on the 'Fins last week.

    Texans tight end Owen Daniels is a good player, and will definitely be incorporated into their game plan this week.

    Kevin Burnett was signed by Miami this offseason to help fix their problem with tight ends and was supposed to be an improvement over Channing Crowder in the pass game.

    Dansby and Burnett will alternate in coverage on Daniels, and will have to do better than last week.