Friday, September 27, 2013

Dolphins Face Toughest Test on Monday Night Football

Dolphins Saints Monday Night Football 2013
Credit: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

Submitted by Parker Jones

The Miami Dolphins are the surprise of the NFL three weeks in, going 3-0 and beating two playoff teams in the process. The first impressive victory came against the Indianapolis Colts, which hadn’t lost at home in about a year. For an encore, the Dolphins orchestrated a comeback to beat the Atlanta Falcons, which many consider Super Bowl contenders.

With those two quality wins, the Dolphins are no longer a secret. But is it all just a fluke? Can it possibly continue? Well, Week 4’s game against the New Orleans Saints – and the next one after that against the Baltimore Ravens — will determine whether the Fins ultimately sink or swim in 2013.

How have the Dolphins done it?

Simply put, they've combined sound defense with effective offense and have avoided self-inflicted wounds. Miami’s defense forced three turnovers and held the Browns to 10 points in the season opener. Then in Week 2, Ryan Tannehill aired out 319 passing yards, while the running game topped 100 yards; Mike Wallace and Charles Clay each surpassed 100 receiving yards against the Colts.

Finally, the victory over the Falcons went down to making crucial defensive stops and executing scoring drives down the stretch. A year ago, Miami doesn’t win this game. This year? Put it in the win column. In all Miami has a +2 turnover ratio, they're converting on 50% of third downs and have scored 8 TDs while holding opponents to 5 TDs. That's a recipe for a 3-0 football team.  

Is Tannehill finally the answer at QB?

We want to say yes. However, the real answer is we don’t know for sure yet, but it’s looking good. He faired well against the Colts but had a more pedestrian afternoon against the Browns in Week 1 (272 yards, one touchdown, one interception, four sacks). However, he came back strong against Atlanta. Overall, the game’s greatest quarterbacks thrive with all the weight on their shoulders. While Tannehill has managed some wins, he needs to consistently string together effective outings and continue to prove himself in marquee games. 

Can Miami really go 4-0?

After their Week 3 victory, it seems very possible. Prior to the Falcons game, many didn't think Miami's defense could hold off Atlanta's strong offense nor did they believe the Dolphins offense would keep up. But guess what? Miami – which would have probably struggled against the Purdue Boilermakers football team last year – found a way to win. And the Dolphins will try to do just that under the bright light's of Monday Night Football versus the Saints. Don’t look now, but Miami is slowly (let’s not book Super Bowl reservations yet) turning into a very good NFL team.  

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