Tale Of The Tape: Miami Dolphins At Indianapolis Colts
- QuarterbackRyan Tannehill is proving to be a capable leader for head coach Joe Philbin. Tannehill made significant progress throughout the 2012 season and he started off the year with a solid performance in the season-opening win over the Cleveland Browns. Tannehill has excellent recognition and he can find the weak spot in a defense and pick it apart. He rarely makes the same mistake twice.Andrew Luck made the key plays in the Colts’ season-opening win over the Raiders. His 19-yard TD run in the late stages of the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in the game, as he recognized that Oakland’s man coverage gave him a crease to run through. Luck has one of the strongest arms in the league and his superior release gives him a chance to attack quickly.
- OffenseThe Dolphins were unable to get even the semblance of a running game going against the Browns, so that meant it was time for Brian Hartline to do his thing. That means finding a way to get open and holding on to the ball whenever Tannehill comes his way. Brandon Gibson can also get open, but the Dolphins need explosive Mike Wallace to assert himself.Reggie Wayne remains a game-changing receiver who can make big plays at key moments. He caught a team-high eight passes for 96 yards and a score, and Luck knows he will not drop the ball. The Colts got some production from RB Vick Ballard, but they may give Ahmad Bradshaw a bigger opportunity against the Dolphins. Darrius Heyward-Bey has game-changing speed.
- DefenseThe defense got a big lift from unheralded cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who intercepted two of Brandon Weeden’s passes and helped give the Dolphins control of the game. Defensive end Cameron Wake had 2.5 sacks vs. the Browns and he has the ability to torment Luck and turn the game in Miami’s favor.The Colts’ secondary delivered several big plays in Week One against the Raiders, and head coach Chuck Pagano had to be thrilled with the play of strong safety LaRon Landry, who had 10 tackles and 5 assists. However, it was free safety Antoine Bethea who came up with the game-clinching interception in the final minute. The rest of the defense needs work on its tackling.
- Special TeamsRookie placekicker Caleb Sturgis had a superb debut for the Dolphins, as he made all three of his FG attempts, including a 49-yarder. Punter Brandon Fields has a huge leg and he can turn the field around with his booming kicks.Adam Vinatieri remains a consistent threat for the Colts and Pagano has confidence that he will make any kick with the game on the line. He may have lost a bit of distance, but he is still cool under pressure. Pat McAfee could be a liability punting because he doesn’t get the distance that his competitors do and he rarely has a positive impact on field position.
The Dolphins are an under-the-radar team who could prove troublesome this season. While beating a playoff team on the road is a big assignment, Tannehill and the team’s hard-nosed defense may be ready for a big game away from home. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor