The Redskins on Sunday take on the Dolphins in their 2015 season opener at FedExField. Dolphin Digest Editor Alain Poupart (@apoupartFins on Twitter) gives us an insider's look at the major storylines for the opposing team heading into the matchup.*
Redskins.com: The Dolphins this offseason had perhaps the biggest offseason splashes when they signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a reported six year, $114 million contract. What kind of impact is Suh expected to make on the Dolphins' defense?
The Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins have met 11 times during the regular season and twice in the Super Bowl. Here's a look back at some of those games.
Poupart: **"The expectation is that he is going to make everybody around him better on defense. From the guys who play with him up front, Olivier Vernon, Earl Mitchell, Cameron Wake, to the linebackers and then the secondary behind him. There are extraordinarily high expectations for this defense, which started off great last year and then really faded down the stretch. The hope is that they can keep it up and produce the entire season and the acquisition of Suh is a big reason for that optimism."
Redskins.com: Ryan Tannehill has improved each year he has been the Dolphins' starting quarterback, but one underrated aspect of his game is his ability to move and escape out of the pocket. What stands out to you about Tannehill?
Poupart:"He's gotten incrementally better every single year. There's always something that picks up in his game a little bit more. This summer what we've noticed is just how much more accurate he was. Look at his completion percentage in the preseason, it was 80.5, and yes, a lot of the throws were short throws, but even in training camp he was just a lot more on target than he's ever been and that's just one of the things that has progressed. Last year he seemed to do more damage with his running in parts because of the new offense that was brought by Bill Lazor. So in terms of his running and his mobility...honestly the guy's a great athlete and he can move. That became a big part of his weaponry last year. One thing he didn't do a ton of was scramble out of the pocket and one wonders why he didn't do more of it because it's not because he doesn't have the athletic ability to do it."
Redskins.com** The Dolphins have finished 8-8 the past two seasons. They obviously play in a very tough division, but there seems to be a great deal of optimism that this team can get over the hump and get 10, 11 – maybe even more – wins. What is the confidence level for this team heading into the season?
Poupart:"If you're talking from the team perspective, we have not seen this level of optimism being expressed by the players this openly as we have this summer. There's a feeling that, 'We've been there, we've had opportunities, now it's time to cash in.' There is reason for optimism because they were right there the last two years and they did it down the stretch. They have improved in some areas. The wide receiving corps was re-made and I think it's better than it was before. The defensive line hasn't had an impact player with the likes of Suh for who knows how long. There's no reason to expect Tannehill to continue to get better because that's all he's done, plus he's in his second year under the new offensive system. You put all those factors together and you're absolutely justifiable reasons for a lot of optimism here."
Redskins.com: We've heard of Suh, Tannehill, Cameron Wake, Brent Grimes. Who are some players who aren't necessarily getting much attention on the Dolphins we should know about?
Poupart: "On a national level, I would probably tell you offensively the one guy who might jump out is Rishard Matthews, who is a wide receiver. He's not listed as a starter for the Dolphins, but Rishard Matthews could figure into a fairly prominent role at some point. Outside of that, all the other names, the three wide receivers, Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller, Jordan Cameron. Defensively, I would be tempted to keep an eye on Jelani Jenkins and Walt Aikens."