After coming off a tough week one win over the Jags, the Indianapolis Colts must wait until Monday night to see if they can open the season 2-0.
The Colts travel to Florida to take on the 0-1 Miami Dolphins who lost their season opener to Atlanta 7-19. The phins lone score came late in the fourth quarter as turnovers plagued the Miami offense. Likewise, the Colts struggled with turning the ball over in week one, losing the rock on their first two possessions. A stout defense helped Indy pull out the win.
Everyone knows the Colts identity: a power offense anchored by Peyton Manning with his rocket, laser arm and his insane will to win and a bend but don’t break defense. This year that theme might be changing a bit as the offense attempts to be more balanced and the defense looks to blitz more than in recent years. The Dolphins have recently gained a reputation as being a “wildcat” team utilizing the run happy offensive scheme. Despite drafting a wildcat familiar quarterback in Pat White, the phins only managed 82 yards rushing in week one. Miami has also turned into a very solid unit on defense, a huge key to going 11-5 last year and winning the AFC East.
Initial thoughts – from myself, other Colts blogs, the radio guys, and many of the analysts – is that Indy will pick up the road win, defeating Miami in a close game. However, I’m not so sure it will be a close one. If Indy can come out and build an early lead, it could turn into a long night for Chad Pennington and the Dolphins if they are forced to be one dimensional. Pennington is a solid quarterback, but will be forced to make big plays against an aggrssive Indy defense which held David Garrard to only 14 of 28 for 128 yards passing.
Keys to the game for Indianapolis will be similar to those of last week. In order to win the game, here are a few things each team must try and accomplish.
1) Protect the ball: Last week Indy turned the ball over on their first two drives, both times in the red zone. Reverse that and Indy could have built an early 14-0 or 10-0 lead. Instead they lost the ball and the Jags made it a close game. Protect the rock and Indy will be ok.
2) Stop the run: Miami is a run first offense and will look to get it going early with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. They have the skills to punish a defense and if Indy doesn’t shut down the run, it could be a problem. The D might give up the occasional big run, but the Colts must consistently stop the run game if they want to keep Miami off the field.
3) Establish the run: Just as we need to shut down Miami’s ground attack, we need the Colts need to get theirs going. Jospeh Addai ran rather well in week one and rookie Donald Brown showed some good things in his first NFL action, but the duo will need to improve and keep gaining good yardage on first down and get valuable yards late in the game. Running the ball will be imperative for the Colts - it helps manage the game clock, balances the offense and sets up Peyton’s play action passing.
For the Dolphins:
1) Protect the ball: Just like Indy, if the Dolphins want to win this game they’ll have to protect the ball and prevent turnovers. Four turnovers to Indy’s offense will not equal good things and if the Phins want a chance to come out on top they can’t hand the ball over to Peyton.
2) Go with Brown: Everything you read says that Ronnie Brown is a better back than Ricky Williams … and well they’re right. Brown is younger, quicker and has the step that Ricky has lost over the years … perhaps to age, perhaps to other things. Either way, Brown is the better running back and needs to get the rock more than a handful of times. He has the ability to break the big play and 18-22 touches is not a bad thing.
3) Pressure Peyton: Anthony Gonzalez is hurt and Peyton will be working with some young – (but talented) – receivers in Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and with a receiver who joined the team this week in Hank Baskett. If the Dolphins can pressure Peyton and force quick, ill-advised throws perhaps the Miami can get Manning and crew off the field. If they want to win this Monday night game, getting Manning off the field will be key.
That’s it for now …. final thought is Indy pulls it out somwhere around 24-13. GO COLTS !!!