Let’s review the Miami defense vs. the Dallas offense. You can read the report on the Miami offense vs. the Dallas defense here.
Miami run defense
The Redskins were able to run the ball very effectively against a Dolphins’ defense that should be the strength of their team. Early on the Redskins ran between the tackles and were able to make the yards needed to continue to run. In fact, they ran it 41 times for 191 yards in the whole game. They really started to make the run payoff in the second half when they attacked the Miami defensive ends. The Miami defense is on the small side and the Redskins were able to wear them down. The Dolphins were using their speed and quickness to shoot gaps in the running game, but the Redskins were able to handle it.
The Dallas line is massive and will try to impose their will on the smaller Dolphins’ front seven (except for Keith Traylor). Getting MLB Zach Thomas blocked is of course a priority; the guy can still play and was all over the field against the Redskins. But they were losing the war at the line of scrimmage and Thomas had to make a lot of tackles after yards were already gained. Dallas should be able to pound the ball early which opens up their play-action pass game like we saw last week.
Miami pass defense
The Dolphins were pressing their corners up in coverage while keeping the safeties deep. Even when they got beat they still pressed the corners, so this must be something they believe in doing. While they did get two INT’s on the day, the Redskins receivers were getting plenty of open space to operate. Washington should have scored more points than they did but some dropped passes and errant throws cost them. Particularly vulnerable in the Miami pass defense was CB Travis Daniels who got torched repeatedly by Antwaan Randle El.
The Miami defense will blitz, and had varying degrees of success. They managed to get two sacks on Jason Campbell, but there were plenty of plays when Campbell had time to set up in the pocket and pick out receivers deep down the field. Jason Taylor is still a force in the pass rushing game, and is the kind of player that gives Flozell Adams fits. Tall and rangy with excellent quickness, Taylor can keep tackles off him with his long arms and use his speed to get around the big bodies. Joey Porter had a few tackles but didn’t really stand out in the review.
The Cowboys huge offensive line should be able to win the war at the line of scrimmage. Where Miami could gain an advantage is to use their speed to shoot the gaps and try to disrupt the Cowboys timing in the backfield. The Dolphins do have a good group of LB’s so Julius Jones and Marion Barber will be tested, not only in running the ball but in pass protection on blitzes.
The Dolphins secondary wasn’t very impressive against the Redskins and the Cowboys should get opportunities to exploit it. The Dolphins linebackers should do a better job of keeping up with Jason Witten, but a season-ending injury to their starting safety may make the middle of the field an inviting target. The Cowboys offensive line will need another good performance because the Dolphins will blitz and will count on pressure to protect a suspect secondary.