The day we’ve waited so long to arrive will be here in 3 more days. Yeah, there’s a game on tonight, and may even be a good one, but I’m looking right past it to Sunday, 1PM, Hard Rock Stadium. This team has made a lot of changes and we will be relying on a lot young players, but if you look at the drafts we had last year and this year, I feel pretty confident.
On the offensive side of the ball, we brought in free agent LG Josh Sitton, I feel that is a clear upgrade. Returning at LT is Laremy Tunsil, and he will most definitely benefit by playing next to Sitton. At center, we said goodbye to Mike Pouncey, and traded for SF 49ers C Dan Kilgore. In theory, it will be nice to have all our starting OL practicing together and hopefully developing a rhythm and a chemistry. Kilgore will probably be an upgrade run blocking, but Pouncey was good last year pass blocking, and throughout his career, so Kilgore will have to play very well to in that regard.
Gone is the go-to-guy Jarvis Landry who caught over 400 passes in 4 years here in Miami, and in his place will be veteran WR Danny Amendola, as well as rookie TE Mike Gesicki, and WR Albert Wilson. 3 new faces for Tannehill, each with their own particular skill set. I never loved Amendola, but that guy is a clutch performer, helping the Patriots big time in the playoffs with excellent performances. Wilson was relatively underused in KC, and my hope is it’s not because he didn’t have the goods, it’s because they had too many weapons in KC with Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Gesicki can be the TE we’ve craved here for too long, at least as far as a receiver, his blocking is a work in progress. Gesicki brings athletic ability we haven’t had, and he’s a very talented pass catcher. We’ll also have the oft (minor injured) Devante Parker and Jakeem Grant as well. Grant will bring excitement, and Parker disappointment, just the way it usually is.
Ryan Tannehill returns from injury as he hasn’t played a regular season game since December 11th of 2016. Tannehill is acutely aware this is his team now, and if he can elevate his play, the team will come along as well. This is a great opportunity for him, I hope he makes the most of it. With Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage, I think he has the tools to succeed. I think the backs will share a workload, but Kenyan Drake is the primary back. There won’t be a workhorse among the 3, but Drake is the lead, Gore next, and then Ballage and Senorise Perry.
On defense, we let go a pro-bowl caliber DT, one who played an exorbitant amount of plays for us, and he will be replaced by the frequent rotation of Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, Akeem Spence and Vincent Taylor, with an occasional sprinkling of DE William Hayes. At LB, 2nd YR Rookie Raekwon McMillan returns after missing last season with an ACL injury. He’s joined by Kiko Alonso and and a combo of Jerome Baker, Stephone Anthony and Chase Allen. The biggest change is at CB, where Xavien Howard returns at RCB, but opposite him will be Bobby McCain, who was previously the slot and nickel corner. Depth wise, Cordrea Tankersley, Torry McTyer and rookie Cornell Armstrong round out the CB position. At safety, a few veterans return in Reshad Jones, T.J. McDonald, Walt Aikens, but they are joined by do it all rookie sensation Minkah Fitzpatrick. We’re going to see him on the field A LOT!
So on to the game! Tennessee will be lead by 5th YR QB Marcus Mariota, and the run game led by big back Derrick Henry (Kenyan Drake’s RB mate at ALA), former Patriots RB Dion Lewis, former Dolphins WR Rishard Matthews, 3rd YR WR Corey Davis and veteran TE Delanie Walker. The Titans like to impose their will with a power run game led by a tough OL with excellent bookends Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin. Henry had previously been splitting carries with RB DeMarco Murray, but with Murray out of the picture, Henry will be getting the lion’s share of carries. We have struggled defending the run, at least in the preseason, so we’ll see if we can hold here at home.
On offense, Devante Parker is OUT, so Albert Wilson will likely replace Parker as wideout. In the preseason, the offense was a fast pace, no huddle short pass game clinic. Not sure if that continues in the regular season, or if we’ll be more balanced with more of a rushing attack, and also get the TE’s more involved in the passing game as well. We have a rookie kicker, and supposedly Jason Sanders has ice running through his veins. Let’s hope we don’t need to find out!
MIA 30 – TEN 13