With a key third preseason game coming tonight against the Dolphins, we turned to Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider fame for all the answers to our burning, itchy questions about Miami's franchise. Find his answers below.
Dave Choate: The big question about a big dude: How does Ndamukong Suh look thus far? Is he fitting in, and what do you expect from him in 2015?
Kevin Nogle: Suh looks like exactly what the Dolphins paid for with a 6-year, $114 million contract. He's been dominating in practice since the pads came on at the start of training camp, and he is already demanding double- and triple-teams from opposing offensive lines. Suh is going to have a big year for the Dolphins, even if his biggest contribution is taking blockers away from Cameron Wake.
' offensive line is one of the big question marks for the team in 2015, and in this matchup, I'm most concerned with pass protection. Who should we be watching out for in that front seven as the team tries to move the ball through the air?
Kevin Nogle: That Suh guy will probably be the first place to look. Cameron Wake coming off the left end is pretty good, which his four Pro Bowls and one First-Team All-Pro selection kind of indicates. Olivier Vernon, the right defensive end, is not a household name, but it developing into a really good pass rusher of his own right. Behind them, Terrence Fede and Derrick Shelby, the second string defensive ends, are both able to get after the passer as well.
As for the linebackers, Jelani Jenkins can get after the quarterback, and Chris McCain, who will likely enter the game as either the starting or second string strong side linebacker can pass rush well - and will likely see some time at defensive end in the game. The Dolphins defense appears to be built to put pressure on the quarterback, rather than forcing the secondary to cover and make plays, attacking from multiple angles in order to disrupt any passing attempts.
Dave Choate: Is this the year where Ryan Tannehill goes from good to great? Do you feel his supporting cast has improved in 2015?
Kevin Nogle: I absolutely think the supporting cast is better this year. Maybe not from a talent standpoint, where Mike Wallace is clearly a very talented wide receiver, but in a fit standpoint. Tannehill appears to have better timing and chemistry with this year's wide receivers, as compared to the 2014 edition of the group. That should allow Tannehill, who has a Preseason stat line of 18-for-22 for 158 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, giving him a 126.9 passer rating. While it is, of course, the Preseason, that is still impressive and he has looked like a mature passer this year. Tannehill is making great decisions, putting the ball exactly where it needs to be, and even beginning to use the long ball - considered his weak point after failing to ever connect regularly with Wallace. This should be Tannehill's breakout year.
Dave Choate: Give us a couple of players the average fan wouldn't be aware of, but will likely be impactful in this one.
Kevin Nogle: We talked about the pass rushers, so I will not go into them. I would say cornerback Jamar Taylor would be someone to watch, but he has a quad injury and is likely out until the start of the regular season. On defense, watch out for Reshad Jones, starting safety. He is on a mission to get to the Pro Bowl this year, and he has the talent to do it.
On offense, the ball will likely be spread around among Lamar Miller out of the back field and wide outs/tight ends Greg Jennings, Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, and Dion Sims. Rookie wide out DeVante Parker is still recovering from foot surgery in June, so he will not play. I am really looking for Miami to start using Cameron more, so, while you probably already know his name, that would be an offensive player to watch this week.
Dave Choate: What are your expectations for this game, and for your season?
Kevin Nogle: I think this is a playoff team - and it better be or else Joe Philbin may find himself looking for a new job. I don't know that they necessarily dethrone the New England Patriots atop the AFC East, but they should be in Wildcard contention all year. I think they can get to 10-6, but would be happy at 9-7 on the season.
As for this game, just coming out of it without any more injuries would be nice. The key takeway I want to see is how the offensive line continues to gel, and if guard Billy Turner can bounce back from some struggles last week. The line is already a concern, then add in a questionable status for backup left tackle Jason Fox (who has been starting in the absence of Branden Albert who likely will not play as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL last year) and it could be dicey for Tannehill. Fox suffered a concussion last week, so it is all a matter of whether or not he can clear the concussion protocol - and if Miami wants to rush him back out there. If he does not play, Dallas Thomas will likely move to left tackle from right guard, and rookie Jamil Douglas will slide into the starting right guard position. It is not ideal - and could lead to some interesting moments for Tannehill - but the Dolphins will do what they have to until Albert or Fox are ready to play.