Five Reasons to Watch the Miami Dolphins' First Preseason Game Tonight
The Miami Dolphins are BACK.
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
The long, tedious summer wait is finally over: tonight the Miami Dolphins play the Chicago Bears, in an actual football game, in which people will reportedly keep score. Sure, it's just the preseason, but have you watched the Marlins lately? Any Miami Dolphins football beats that, even if it's not exactly for real. The Phins come into this season with crazy-high hopes and a roster full of exciting talent — all of which adds up to one of the most highly anticipated Dolphins seasons in years.
So what should we be looking tonight? Here are a few things to keep your eyes on tonight when Miami Dolphins colors finally flash across your television screen again.
Who the hell is going to play offensive guard for the Miami Dolphins?
It seems as if the Dolphins are hoping that a combination of Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, and rookie Jamil Douglas can keep Ryan Tannehill upright this season — but so far, not so good. There is literally almost zero true game day experience between the three, and it's shown thus far in training camp. How much of that has to do with the fact that the Dolphins defensive line is littered with potential Pro Bowl players and young up-and-coming difference makers? Probably a lot, but the Dolphins play in a division heavy on defensive line talent — so that's not exactly making fans feel better.
Tonight — for the first time this season — the Miami Dolphins get to see what they have at offensive guard. The longer questions remain at that position, the more likely it is free agent ex-Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis gets a phone call from a 305 area code.
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Who will pick up the second cornerback spot opposite Brent Grimes?
Apparently there aren't set rules about not starting two cornerbacks, but common sense dictates that at some point the Dolphins will have to pick someone to play on the other side of Brent Grimes. As of now it seems Jamar Taylor is the guy, but he has yet to prove he can stay healthy, and has little experience. The Phins have multiple corners that seem capable in the slot — most of them named McCain — but having a solid corner on the outside to match-up with the other teams best receivers is a must if the Dolphins are to go far.
Luckily, the Phins have one of the best lines in the NFL, so whoever ends up playing corner opposite Grimes won't have to cover his man too long.
Hold on to your butts — we've got a good old fashioned kicker competition
Caleb Sturgis and Andrew Franks will soon fight to the death! OK, probably not; but they will continue to kick until someone tells one of them to leave. Since being drafted by the Dolphins, Caleb Sturgis has been anything but reliable, posting just a 77.5 percent field goal percentage, making just 14 out of 20 kicks from 40-49 yards, and only 6 out of 13 kicks from 50 yards or more. That's pretty sucky! Undrafted newcomer Andrew Franks is known for swinging a big leg but tends to kick hot and cold — not exactly a trait you are looking for in an NFL-caliber kicker.
The good news for these two is; someone has to be the kicker! The bad news for these two is; it might not be either of them! Preseason football: Catch the fever!
Let's all overreact to every deep ball Ryan Tannehill throws in the preseason
People continue to harp on Ryan Tannehill's deep-ball issues — and now with a revamped wideout group — they will be looking for him to utilize them to their maximum abilities. The good part of the new additions the Dolphins made at wideout is that they all do more than just sprint deep — most of the wide receivers this season are just as capable to changing the game on a short pass.
Tannehill continues to get a lot of crap for his past issues with the deep ball, but this season shouldn't be about that — the Dolphins have surrounded him with talent that can score fast in multiple fashions. Still, fans will overreact to a good, or bad, few preseason passes, because that's what us fans do.
Which running back will distinguish himself as the clear-cut back-up to Lamar Miller?
Damien Williams, LaMichael James, Mike Gillislee and Jay Ajayi all enter camp with a legit shot at being a back-up running back in the NFL; but thus far, none seem to be the clear favorite. Williams flashed some skills late last season, and according to reports, James has had a great camp, but both will have to hold off the hype train that is Jay Ajayi. Ajayi might just hold himself back from gaining that honor, though, as the team has voiced their concern about his pass blocking and recently he has missed time with a hamstring injury.
Lamar Miller is the clear-cut leader of the group, but he is anything but a Marshawn Lynch type of workhorse. Someone from the above group will touch the ball multiple times each Sunday, and the preseason will go a long toward deciding who that will be early in the season.
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