Though the preseason has yet to wrap up for the Miami Dolphins, games that count are right around the corner. And Miami’s Week 1 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could help the team get off on the right foot.
Last season Tampa Bay finished 22nd in run defense, allowing 1,875 total yards on the ground and 4.4 yards per carry. The Buccaneers’ struggles against the run should bode well for the Dolphins, who will enter the game with a new quarterback and a running back with high expectations.
It’s imperative that Miami gets featured back Jay Ajayi off to a hot start, proving early on that his 1,272-yard, eight-touchdown season was more than just a one-season explosion. A confident, effective Ajayi should help to open up the passing game, in turn, easing the transition for new quarterback Jay Cutler.
Cutler will make his regular-season team debut against a Buccaneers defense that also finished 22nd in pass defense last season. Tampa’s bottom third finish in both defensive categories suggests that a balanced offensive attack, set up by respect-earning runs from Ajayi, could prove effective.
Being able to ease Cutler into the offense by limiting his responsibilities could pay dividends in Week 2, when Miami faces the Los Angeles Chargers, who finished 10th against the run last season but only 20th against the pass. Keeping Cutler relatively rested and confident could allow Miami to feel more inclined to attack the Chargers through the air.
Join our reporters for a special evening as they talk NFL with Dolphins Pro Bowl Guard Jermon Bushrod, two-time Super Bowl champion Bob Kuechenberg and former Dolphins Pro Bowl linebacker Kim Bokamper on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Bokamper’s Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to the first 100 people and will include raffles, light bites and drinks.