This will be part of an ongoing series where we take a look at each individual team we will face this season.
After a week of rest from the bye in week 9, the Titans will be matched up against the Dolphins in Miami who will look to revenge last years matchup. The Fins will look to follow up their relative success in the two years under Tony Sparano with a winning year in 2010. Under the guidance of Bill Parcells, this franchise is one without drama, though that could change soon with the recent acquisition of Brandon Marshall. It will be interesting to see if he and Chad Henne can finally put together the passing attack this team has so desperately missed. If they can, this matchup that looks great on paper, could suddenly get a lot more difficult for the Titans.
Follow me through the jump for a look at the Miami Dolphins 2009 Season, the offseason, and three keys to winning this matchup.
2009 Season (7-9)
|Rushing YPG||PPG||Offensive DVOA||Defensive YPG||D. Passing YPG||D. Rushing YPG||Defensive PPG||Defensive DVOA|
* stats from NFL.com and Footballoutsiders.com
It's hard to call last year a bad season for the Dolphins considering their one win season only two seasons earlier. Still, they had hoped to do better than finishing 7-9 and missing the playoffs. The team got off to a rocky start with three consecutive losses to start the season. Despite this, the Dolphins controlled their own destiny heading into week 15 against Tennessee. The Titans ended their playoff hopes, winning a close one in overtime 27-24. Not that it mattered, the Fins lost their final two games of the season.
On offense, this was a team that relied heavily on the run game. One year later, the Dolphins still continued to run the wildcat offense that took the NFL by storm in 2008. After losing Ronnie Brown to injury mid season, Miami was forced to look to their traditional offense for production. And, while they did struggle down the stretch, there were two positives for Dolphin fans: 1. Ricky showed flashes of his former self, and proved that he's still capable of carrying the rushing load for an offense. 2. Chad Henne could be a franchise quarterback.
The Dolphins struggled in all aspects of the defensive game. The team couldn't consistently stop the run and the pass. While they weren't the worst in the league, they were in the bottom half. They will look to improve that unit this year with the hiring of Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan.
The Offseason: Free Agency and The Draft
Miami made a couple of key offseason acquisitions. Via trade with Denver for two second round draft picks, the Dolphins acquired Brandon Marshall (WR) who, if he can avoid being a distraction, could be a big target for Chad Henne for years to come. The team also picked up coveted inside linebacker Karlos Dansby through free agency. Other acquisitions included Tim Dobbins (ILB), Richie Incognito (G), and Cory Procter (C).
It was clear that the Dolphins wanted to address their defensive weaknesses through the draft. Of their eight selections, seven were defensive, including first round defensive tackle Jared Odrick from Penn State. None of the picks were big household names, but most gurus have given the team a solid draft grade. You can view their picks here.
Three keys to winning
1. Run. Run. Run. Just like the strategy dictated run against the Chargers, it does the same in this matchup. Even against a above average run defense, we should still be running the ball since that's what we're best at. When a team is below average against the run like the Dolphins were last year, it makes the decision that much easier.
2. Load the box. Leave at least seven in the box at all times, and bring in one or two more when the situation is right. Eliminate the run, and make Henne beat this defense with pressure in his face.
3. Take some shots out of play action. This team struggled against the pass last year, which means Vince could have some success here as well. Keep the defense honest from over pursuing the run by taking some big shots downfield out of the playaction. If the run game is working, there should be some good opportunities here.
After a few weeks of difficult games for the Titans, this is finally one I like. I think CJ and Vince both have success and we cruise. Titans win 24-14 in South Beach.