View Full Version : Dolphins vs Steelers: Key Matchups

10-22-2010, 08:25 AM
Dolphins vs Steelers: Key Matchups

Phinsider_s_tiny by Matty I on Oct 21, 2010 5:00 AM EDT in Miami Dolphins News
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A couple of weeks ago, we needed to talk some Dolphin fans off the ledge. After back-to-back division losses at home, morale among fans was low. Luckily the players didn't have the same mindset - bouncing back off the bye week to knock off the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Now the Dolphins have a chance to make a big statement on Sunday. Following up a win up in Green Bay with a win over the Steelers would be as impressive a two game streak as we've seen this team pull off in recent memory.

It'll be no easy feat, of course. The Steelers are as tough and as talented as any team in the league. With that said, let's discuss three of the most important matchups of the game.

Jake Long vs James Harrison

Some people didn't like the fact that I called Harrison an idiot on Twitter yesterday after reports surfaced that he was contemplating retirement due to the NFL's new strict enforcement of "helmet to helmet" hits. But let's be honest for a minute - if he even remotely thought about retiring over this, leaving millions of dollars on the table, he needs to have his own head examined.

Regardless, Harrison is one of the NFL's most physical (and quite frankly one of the "dirtiest") players in the league. He openly announced that he "tries to hurt people." And on Sunday, it's going to be Jake Long's job to make sure Chad Henne is not one of the players Harrison has an opportunity to hurt.


As ridiculously dumb as Harrison's comments are, he's still one of the most talented defensive players in the league. The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year is having another good season, tied for ninth in the league with five sacks this season. He's more than just a pass-rusher, too. He can set the edge as well as any outside linebacker in the league and will even drop into coverage at times.

Long, meanwhile, will face his most challenging test yet. He did an outstanding job against Vikings pass rusher Jared Allen. Now the tackle that is rated number one in the league according to ProFootballFocus will have to again prove he is indeed the best offensive lineman in the NFL. Otherwise it could be a long day for Henne and this Dolphins offense.

Chad Henne vs Troy Polamalu

In my very unprofessional opinion, Henne has shown very good progress this season. But if there's one thing that we can all agree has been an issue at times, it's that Henne has a tendency to lock onto his receiver before making his throw.

We've seen that mistake from Henne come back to bite him in the butt a couple of times this year. On Sunday, Henne needs to be very careful. You don't face a safety like Troy Polamalu very often. He's as talented as they come and can make it a long afternoon for young quarterbacks. Troy already has two interceptions this year in just five games and is known as one of the best ballhawks in the league. If Henne locks onto a receiver and is late getting the ball out, Polamalu is going to have a chance to make a play.

Here's an interesting and probably meaningless stat. On passes that travel between 11 and 20 yards through the air, Henne is completing over 64% of his attempts and is yet to get intercepted. That's also the area of the field that Polamalu patrols. Something will have to give this weekend. Can Henne do a better job of looking off defenders? Or will Polamalu haunt Chad?

Brandon Marshall vs Ike Taylor

With Pittsburgh having the most dominant defense against the run in the NFL this year (allowing only 63 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry), the Dolphins are going to have to move the football through the air to score points. The Steelers are only ranked 24th in the league against the pass.

Needless to say, that means we should expect a game where Brandon Marshall is targeted 10+ times on Sunday. He's the "alpha receiver" and he'll likely be the focal point of this Miami passing attack - as he should be. Ike Taylor, though, is a very talented corner and has the size (6'2) to go up and battle Marshall for the football. I'd imagine the Steelers will double-team Brandon on obvious passing downs. But I also think we might see a fair amount of single coverage on early downs - particularly if the Dolphins come out and make a strong attempt at running the football. Most teams still look to take the running game away from Miami, preferring instead to force Chad Henne to beat them through the air.

I expect the same thing out of this Pittsburgh defense this weekend. And if Taylor is able to limit Marshall's impact on the game without an extra defender, Miami's offense is going to struggle. They have got to get Brandon involved early and often - much like they did a week ago against Green Bay.

10-22-2010, 03:03 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers say they are well aware of Miami Dolphins' not-so-secret weapon, Cameron Wake


Dolphins linebacker Cam Wake, who has six sacks in five games this season, has earned the attention of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who play at Miami on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010.


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 10:16 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

DAVIE The time when outside linebacker Cameron Wake could be considered the Dolphins' secret weapon appears to be over.

Both Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger - who will visit the Dolphins at 1 p.m. Sunday - had high praise Wednesday for Wake, whose three sacks against Green Bay gave him six for the season, moving him into a tie for first in the AFC.

Tomlin and Roethlisberger spoke to South Florida media on a conference call.

Tomlin said the Steelers pursued Wake when he was a free agent coming out of the CFL in early 2009.

"We studied him and pursued him when he came out of Canada," Tomlin said. "We identified him and Stefan Logan, a returner we had last year. We were able to acquire Logan but we weren't able to get in the mix on Cameron."

While the Dolphins sacked Roethlisberger three times in Pittsburgh's 30-24 win in last year's season finale, Wake didn't have any of them. That didn't stop Roethlisberger from saying he's become well aware of him.

"Everybody in the NFL knows who he is," Roethlisberger said. "He's causing a huge stir and he's doing some great things.

"He's a very physical rusher; it doesn't even matter if he's being blocked, he finds a way to throws guys off him or run through them. He's making plays left and right."

New fullback arrives: The timing of the arrival of fullback Deon Anderson, who signed Monday, could prove to be impeccable.

Fullback Lousaka Polite (knee injury) was the only player to miss practice Wednesday, raising the possibility that Anderson, who also plays special teams, could be in the backfield Sunday.

"We have some history with Deon," coach Tony Sparano said. "I was in Dallas when we drafted him (and) he can block you pretty well. He's a pain in the neck that way. Plays the game pretty hard and physical."

Anderson, a 5-foot-10, 240-pounder in his fourth NFL season, started the season with Dallas but was waived after injuring his knee in Week 1. He said he was sitting on his couch watching the Cowboys play Minnesota on Sunday when his agent called and told him to report to Miami.

Carpenter honored: The NFL announced that Dan Carpenter was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after making a pair of huge field goals against Green Bay.

Carpenter set a career high with a 53-yarder just before halftime, and hit a 44-yarder in overtime to win the game.

Harrison skips workout: Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, who was fined $75,000 for his hit on Cleveland wideout Mohamed Massaquoi and at one point was said to be considering retirement over the incident, was allowed to skip practice after discussing the situation Wednesday morning with Tomlin.

"We had a meeting this morning, (and) it was a very productive one," Tomlin said. "Part of being productive is moving forward, excusing him and coming back Thursday."

Also missing practice was defensive end Brett Keisel, who is not expected to play because of a hamstring injury. Guard Trei Essex was limited with an ankle problem.

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