Dolphins DE Cameron Wake vs. Texans RT Derek Newton
If the Dolphins are smart (insert your own joke), they will line Wake up on Newton more often than not on Sunday. It would only take one clean shot on Matt Schaub to change the course of the game and give the Dolphins some semblance of a fighting chance. Newton is still quite raw, and in my opinion didn’t win the starting right tackle job as much as Rashad Butler lost it to him.
I expect the Texans will help Newton handle Wake with tight ends and the occasional chip block from the running back. If the Dolphins are silly enough to leave Wake on Duane Brown for all or most of the game, I’m more than confident that Wake will have a relatively quiet game.
Dolphins CB Sean Smith vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson
Smith is a guy that I highly coveted coming out of the 2009 draft and seems poised to join the upper-third of NFL corners, if he’s not there already. I heard a Miami beat writer the other day say he’s a better practice player than he is a Sunday player, but he’s obviously the best Miami has by far.
The Dolphins are a bit of a mess in the secondary. I expect the Texans to try and establish the run early, but Schaub could absolutely have a field day against the Miami defensive backs even if they aren’t able to run the ball. It will be interesting to see how much separation Andre can get against Smith, and how it affects the rest of the receiving weapons if Smith gets a lot of safety help.
Dolphins OL vs. Texans Front Seven
As far as I’m concerned, the Dolphins are trying to trick everyone with the assertion that Reggie Bush is their clear cut number one running back. Then again, they haven’t made much of an effort to put a lot of talent behind him. Bush shockingly averaged five yards per carry last season and has publicly set a goal to lead the NFL in rushing in 2012 (outburst of laughter).
There are questions about just how healthy Shaun Cody’s back is, and at his position he won’t last long if he has any additional back issues. Behind Cody is Earl Mitchell who simply has not held up against the run. Add to that, the flat-out bad play of ILB Bradie James and there are some causes for concern in the middle of the Texans’ up-front defense. All that said, we also have to take into account the fact that the complete front seven didn’t play one single snap together in the preseason due to various injuries to Cody, Brian Cushing, and JJ Watt.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill vs. Bulls On Parade
I do expect the Texans to contain Reggie Bush, and any other RB the Dolphins trot out on Sunday. What that means, of course, is that at some point Miami’s rookie QB is will be depended upon to make plays. The only thing Tannehill has going for him other than his natural talent, is… I don’t know. He basically has no weapons to throw to. Houston fans will be frothing at the mouth. The noise level will be off the charts. The Texans have good pass-rushers, and perhaps the BEST pass-rush scheming in the NFL with Wade Phillips at the helm… not to mention good safety play and one shutdown corner.
I don’t see Sunday going well for the Dolphins, and especially Tannehill.