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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Dolphins-Browns game:
Miami's offensive play-calling vs. Cleveland's defensive play-calling
This is an intriguing story line for a number of reasons. For starters, Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll held the same position in Cleveland the previous two seasons. He is very familiar with the majority of the Browns' defensive personnel, and he is capable of putting together a creative, strong game plan.
In Miami, Daboll has a better WR corps to work with than he did in Cleveland. Brandon Marshall is an elite talent, and Davone Bess is one of the game's better inside receivers. The Dolphins also have an intriguing RB tandem in Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. The offensive line, while not a strength, does have a blue-chip left tackle (Jake Long) protecting QB Chad Henne's blind side.
Henne was sharp in the Dolphins' season-opening loss to New England, completing 30-of-49 passes for 416 yards with two TDs and one interception. He wasn't nearly as effective in Week Two vs. Houston, however. He completed just 12-of-30 passes for 170 yards with one touchdown and an interception in Miami's 23-13 loss.
If Henne throws with accuracy and shows he consistently can test the Browns' secondary downfield, the Dolphins' offense could pose a tough matchup for Cleveland, given their variety of weapons in the running and passing games and Daboll's imaginative streak. When in rhythm, this offense can be formidable.
Jauron, the Bills' head coach from 2006-09, is familiar with Henne, although the Dolphins' offensive personnel has changed significantly in the past two seasons. On balance, Jauron's Cleveland defense is off to a solid start. The unit showed marked improvement in Week Two, making fewer mistakes. An alignment miscue that left WR A.J. Green wide open cost Cleveland dearly in Week One, but there were no glaring mix-ups in the win at Indianapolis.
Some clear strengths have emerged for the Browns' defense: the DT tandem of Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor, MLB D'Qwell Jackson's playmaking ability, CB Joe Haden's tight coverage. Other defenders playing well early: CB Sheldon Brown, DE Jayme Mitchell, DE Jabaal Sheard and S Usama Young. The Browns have allowed just 579 yards in two games, and only five defenses have surrendered fewer yards entering Week Three.
Can Jauron's defense continue to improve? Will Daboll, who knows Cleveland's personnel so well, craft a plan that gives Miami the edge? Browns observers aware of the club's recent history surely will watch this battle closely.