The NFL Preseason is over and the final cuts have been made. More importantly, we can finally move on to the regular season and fantasy football.
It’s the first time the league will see the new-look Miami offense for four full quarters of game-planned football. So many questions immediately come to mind. How will Tannehill mesh with a new core group of receivers, mainly deep threat Mike Wallace? Is Lamar Miller capable of adding some balance to their offensive attack out of the backfield? Last, but not least: Will they manage to get the ball in the end zone with any sort of consistency? Dolphins’ fans have long been cursed to boring drives that result in nothing more than a field goal.
The defensive side of the ball for Miami paints a much clearer picture. The core of the defense returns with Randy Starks, Cameron Wake, and Chris Clemons. Additions like Dannelle Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, and rookie Dion Jordan only strengthen an already stout front seven for the Dolphins. The secondary is full of veterans with the additions of Brent Grimes and Dimitri Patterson.
On the other side of the ball, we have the Cleveland Browns. Sophomore halfback Trent Richardson will make his season debut against a revamped Dolphins’ defense. Fantasy owners must start Richardson, but it will be interesting to see how this matchup develops throughout the game.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden returns for his second season as well. Weeden will be without top receiver Josh Gordon (1 game suspension), but he will have former Miami receiver Davone Bess and Greg Little at his disposal. Tight end Jordan Cameron hopes to create mismatches for the Dolphins as well.
This game seems like a minor blip on the radar compared to some of the other games that are scheduled for the NFL’s opening week. However, it means so much more for both teams actually playing in the game.
Several experts have the Browns as being one of the most improved teams in the league. Weeden and Richardson are expected to lead an extremely improved and balanced offensive attack. Cleveland’s defense faces a tough first test – or so we think – against a Miami offense loaded with firepower. Beating Miami would be a great step in the right direction for a franchise that has become somewhat laughable.
The Miami Dolphins face their highest expectations years. The front office finally went out and put some talent on the field for the coaching staff to work with. Will they live up to the hype? Or will they collapse under the pressure? By no means are the Browns an imposing defensive powerhouse, but they will provide Tannehill with a solid first test.
Both teams view this game as a potential stepping-stone, but it can also resemble a return to mediocrity.