I had the opportunity this week to catch up with a terrific Dolphins site right here on the Bloguin Network called Phins Phocus. Michael Serrania was kind enough to take the time to drop some knowledge on the Dolphins current state, the matchup, and some other fun facts. Many thanks to Michael for stopping by, and please check him out on twitter. Here's my 10 questions to him:
Saints Nation: So Ryan Tannehill, quarterback of the future?
Phins Phocus: It all depends on who you ask. Some fans will tell you they want to see more of the 4 touchdown performances they were so accustomed with Dan Marino from Ryan Tannehill. On the other hand, other fans that are still critical of Ryan Tannehill want him to just do what he did in college which is move away from traditional pocket passing and instead roll out and run more. Interceptions made by Tannehill irk the fan base when they happen. However, this season Tannehill has made strides and throwing for 4 touchdowns on two picks is the reason the Dolphins are 3-0. Tannehill has led the hottest team in the red zone converting on all red zone opportunities. Tannehill is the quarterback of the future and the best since Dan Marino for Miami.
3-0 to start the season, a little bit of a fluke, or are the Dolphins for real? Do you consider them a playoff team?
It might seem to most that the Dolphins being 3-0 is a fluke. However, the Dolphins overhauled their wide receiving corps adding Brandon Gibson and the hottest free agent wide receiver in Mike Wallace. While Wallace has one touch down, Brandon Gibson is the third most productive player on the team with 14 receptions for 137 yards and 9.8 average. What's most interesting about the overhaul is the fact that the Dolphins got younger and faster on defense with two fast and strong linebackers (Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe), adding a lock down corner in Brent Grimes, and then adding Dion Jordan in round 1 of the 2013 draft. The Dolphins are playing well, playing together, and nothing fazes them when they play from behind. They hang around and pick their spots. The Dolphins are a play off contender and have a greater chance to prove that win or lose in New Orleans.
Cameron Wake is out and I've heard you guys are pretty banged up. How compromised is the defense going into this game?
Sure, Cam Wake is out for now, but don't rule him out if he practices on Thursday and Saturday. Since the Dolphins have an extra 33 hours to prepare, he could still play. If he doesn't look for Dion Jordan to get a shot. Jordan played well last week and disrupted the final play by getting to Matt Ryan and forcing an errant throw leading to the interception by Jimmy Wilson. Yes, the Dolphins are banged up up front with the injury to Paul Soliai at defensive tackle, but they are a unit that slowed down the run game in the last three games after making adjustments in the second half. The team as a whole has issues up front, but not having starting corner Dmitri Patterson who picked two passes week one versus Cleveland, has been a bit strenuous on the defense. You might see the safeties pinch up early in the game to provide run support.
How much do you guys miss Reggie Bush? He was pretty awesome for y'all and your running game isn't very good now. Do you wish you had given him a long term deal?
That's an interesting question. After week 2, we wrote a piece on Phins Phocus about showing Reggie the money. However, the following week, Reggie took a helmet to the knee and was ineffective for several weeks. While the Dolphins didn't use him properly playing to his strengths, he didn't exactly hold up his end of the bargain after promising to be the leading rusher and only rushed for 4 touchdowns. He had one solid game rushing, versus Oakland week 2. After that Reggie started to fumble the ball, first versus the Jets, then versus Tennessee. The writing was on the wall as soon as he was benched in that Tennessee game and after the season, he cleaned out his locker and that was it. The fumbled exchange versus the Patriots at the 4 yard line didn't help. Personally, I think getting better and cheaper at the position was more important. So far, the running backs have 3 touchdowns and no fumbles. Dolphins fans just want to run the ball to keep the defense honest, but in reality, they pay for the Dolphins to sling the football for first downs and touch downs.
How has Dion Jordan looked so far?
Dion Jordan is tall, quick, and menacing to any tackle trying to block him. He's looked good thus far. However, given that he's served as more of a specialist, he has one sack (negated by a face mask penalty) and he's been limited in practice until week one of the regular season. Jordan has also played some special teams snaps which scares most Dolphins fans. The reality is, he was not healthy after his surgery when he was drafted, but because he looked good at the combine and then had the surgery on his shoulder, the Dolphins took a chance. This week, it could be his chance if Cam Wake is not playing. Jordan could receive more snaps on defense and what a place and game to do it in! His best trait is he can get to the quarterback. He had a hand in disrupting Matt Ryan's throw to end the game. Look for Dion to have a bigger role on Monday night.
What are your thoughts on the Saints-Dolphins matchup? What do the Saints need to do to win?
The biggest question in this matchup is will it be defensive or offensive. I believe the latter. Both teams are built to play in a shootout style with receivers that can score touchdowns when they touch the ball. With Mike Wallace coming home to New Orleans, it should be interesting if there is a huge Dolphins cheering section. In addition, both teams do have a tough time running the football. However, New Orleans is a much more balanced team and having Sean Payton calling the plays will keep the game in New Orleans favor. However, for the Saints to win, they need to stay balanced and force the Dolphins defense to cover Jimmy Graham. The Dolphins cannot cover tight ends and this game could be an embarrassment to their strategy. Bottom line, the game comes down to the turnover margin. Dolphins win if they get the Saints to turnover the ball. Dolphins have won games by forcing turnovers. Saints can't turnover the ball.
You look at the AFC East and the Jets/Bills are both utter trash. The Patriots are winning, but more compromised and shaky than they've been in years. Do you feel like this is the window now to take this division?
The window is definitely open for the Dolphins to control the division. However, even though the Patriots may not seem to have the most talented receiving corps, they are the Patriots and having Tom Brady makes all the difference. For the Dolphins to win the division, they must win out in the division and win on the road.
I don't know how the hell you won that Atlanta game, but from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU for giving them a loss. Just wanted to express appreciation there.
You're welcome. You can thank Ryan Tannehill bringing them back in the 4th. Atlanta fell asleep in the 4th quarter and could not complete passes in the red zone to put the game away. That's typical of Atlanta.
Remember that time you guys traded us Olindo Mare for a 7th rounder and he couldn't make a kick to save his life? Was the guy you drafted with that pick any good? Thanks for shipping us damaged goods. We still owe you an ass kicking for that.
Guy or guys...two choices Reagan Mauia of Hawaii, a full back that had a youtube of putting a hole into a wall with his head. He never did anything in Miami and ended up a Raider. The other choice is Center Drew Mormino. He didn't do anything either and was cut by Parcells in 2008.
Give me a prediction on the game.
Dolphins win if they don't turn the ball over. 24-17 Don't count out Caleb Sturgis the Dolphins star rookie kicker. Saints win if they stop the Dolphins hot red zone offense. 24-20
I don't even think this game will be close. I think it will be a repeat of The Cardinals game where it will be close early on and then The Saints blow the doors wide open in the 2nd half. Of course I'm a little Black and Gold biased but even if I was an unbiased outsider I'd still be comfortable giving the 6.5
The Dolphins passing ,no pun intended, on Brees, IMO, wipes the Dolphins slate clean for trading Mare to the Saints.
Saints win 38-24