Miami simply could not catch a break against the Patriots last weekend, and with those missed chances came the real possibility of missing the postseason as well. S Reshad Jones intercepted Tom Brady and returned it for a touchdown but flags were thrown on the play against both teams for low blocks and instead of getting the touchdown, the Dolphins were forced to start their drive inside the 50 yard line.
To make matters worse, the officials spotted the ball incorrectly forcing Miami back even further than they should have been to start their drive. It was that kind of day for the Dolphins, and it got worse when former #1 overall pick Jake Long suffered his second season ending injury in as many seasons when he tore his left tricep.
Rookie RT Johathan Martin switched over to his former college position and played relatively well for the Dolphins, and will finish the season at that spot. His first start however, will come against a fearsome pass rush in the form of Aldon and Justin Smith. With the playoffs now hanging by a string, Miami hopefully will begin to look at some of their younger players who have not gotten a lot of time this season.
WR Rishard Mathews, RB Lamar Miller, TE Michael Egnew, and OLB Josh Kaddu are all 2012 draft choices that could use these last four games to help make impressions for next season. These games will also be very important for two other rookies in QB Ryan Tannehill and Martin, both of whom need to solidify to their team and the fanbase that they can be cornerstones worth building around. How Martin handles the LT spot could determine how hard the Dolphins negotiate with Long in the offseason and whether they bring him back or not.
MDD Staff Writer: Chad Pullen
Ryan Tannehill QB
Really not a lot of hope for the Dolphin offense this week against a top notch defense so the best advice that can be offered if you are forced to choose which Dolphin to play would be to choose the Dolphins that touch the ball the most. Tannehill could be in for a nightmare of a game facing a dominant pass rush without his starting LT, and that position now being filled by a rookie. Even if he is afforded the protection he needs, the 9ers also boast a great linebacking core, and a solid secondary. Tannehill will not have it easy with or without being harassed all day by the 9ers DLine.
Reggie Bush RB
After Tannehill, Bush should get the next most amount of touches on offense giving fantasy owners the best shot at getting some points against a tough matchup. Bush always has the speed to break one and pick up some points, but if there are other backs stashed on your roster, this is the week to use them if you can. Miami fans have been asking for it all season but it has not been utilized very much, Bush in the slot could be a useful spot particularly if they keep Daniel Thomas in the backfield to help protect Tannehill. The opposite look to that would be to have Bush in the slot, and the much faster Lamar Miller in the backfield simply to get the most speed on the field that the Dolphins can muster. With Miami’s playoff hopes on life support, it may be time to start looking at Miller a little closer anyways.
Dan Carpenter K
Carpenter has been much improved since his early season struggles, and in a game against a tough defense, kickers can usually get a couple more field goal attempts than extra points attempts, thus more opportunities for points from them. If the Dolphins can at least manage a couple drives to the 35 yard line or so, Carpenter could get a shot at a couple long distance kicks. If the Dolphins could produce a turnover on the 9ers side of the field, such as the Jones interception last week, that’s also a chance for Carpenter to get some scoring chances in. On paper the Dolphins don’t appear to have much of a chance scoring too many touchdowns, so if they can at least be semi effective, Carp may just be their most valuable player on Sunday.
OT Jake Long – Triceps, and CB Richard Marshall – Back
The only two players with any significant injuries to be concerned about. Both have been placed on IR for the season, Marshall last week, and Long this week after tearing his tricep against the Patriots. Everyone else was in practice and should be good to go this weekend barring any setbacks. They will need every available body they can get flying cross country to face one of the NFL’s elite teams.
For most of the season, the offensive line seemed like it was handled for at least another year or two with OG the only real need in terms of either an upgrade or worst case a lower round selection for depth, now with Long’s career in Miami up in the air, it suddenly could become a major need. And even more ironically, there happen to be two extremely good Tackles that could come in the draft from none other than Texas A&M, formerly coached by OC Mike Sherman and protected Tannehill last season. One would hope that Miami isn’t forced to take yet another offensive lineman in round one, but just in case, here are some names worth watching in April that may end up on Miami’s radar.
Jake Mathews, Texas A&M**
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M**
Taylor Lewan, Michigan**
Oday Aboushi, Virginia
Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
D.J. Fluker, Alabama**
Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin