The Miami Dolphins will take on the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday in a game that could have playoff implications later on in the season.
It’s also round two of the Ryan Tannehill vs. Andrew Luck duel, which could emerge as a rivalry in the AFC for years to come.
Here are three matchups to keep an eye on:
Kevin Coyle vs. Andrew Luck
Yes, Kevin Coyle is the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator and won’t be on the field Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. But the decisions he makes upstairs, calling plays for Miami’s defense, could be the deciding factor in this Week 2 matchup.
Coyle has been much more aggressive this season than he was a year ago, in large part because he now has the ideal personnel for a blitz happy attack. Bringing heat throughout will be awfully tempting vs. a Colts offensive line that struggled to protect Andrew Luck last week against the Raiders.
But scaling back some of the all-out blitzes he employed in Cleveland might be in order this week, as Luck is a more capable passer than Brandon Weeden. Weeden has been and was dreadful when pressured, whereas Luck has the awareness, mobility and toughness to make defenses pay for bringing extra defenders.
Like I mentioned yesterday, Luck had a 134.8 quarterback rating against Oakland blitzes last week. Now, if Coyle believes the Dolphins’ pressure will get to Luck much quicker than the Raiders were able to, maybe he should stay the course.
Miami was able to pressure Brandon Weeden an incredible 30 times on 59 total dropbacks in Week 1, after all. And that was against an offensive line that boasts two Pro Bowlers and a solid right tackle.
The Colts’ offensive line isn’t as established, and could really struggle in this game. Besides, if you give Luck time in the pocket, he’s probably going to pick your defense apart anyway.
Unless, of course, the Dolphins are able to generate consistent pressure from their front four, which is certainly a possibility given Cameron Wake’s monster game last week and with more capable rushers on the opposite side of the field in Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan.
It should be fascinating to see Coyle’s game plan unfold.
Mike Wallace vs. Greg Toler
I was originally under the impression that wide receiver Mike Wallace would be covered by former Dolphin Vontae Davis for much of Sunday’s game, being as Vontae is a potentially elite talent who only needs to become more disciplined mentally.
But the Colts allowed Greg Toler to cover the left side of the defense in the opener, which means, barring a switch, he’ll be the one assigned with the task of containing Mike Wallace.
Wallace only caught one pass for 15 yards in Cleveland, so getting him involved early and often in Miami’s offensive attack will likely be made a priority. The Dolphins should try some quick hitters early in the game, like a screen or slant, in order to ease any tension that comes with an underutilized $60 million new toy.
And if the Dolphins’ offensive line can provide quarterback Ryan Tannehill with more time in the pocket this week — which they should be able to against an unproven pass rush — Wallace will have the ability to get open deep behind the secondary or run his man off with some deep curls, comebacks and outs.
He’ll need to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage, though, as Greg Toler is a physical corner who likes to play bump and run. When Wallace successfully does so, he should be able to separate with legitimate 4.3 speed compared to Toler’s 4.45 ability.
Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll vs. Reggie Wayne
Like the Colts, the Dolphins project to keep their starting cornerbacks on the side of the field they normally play, regardless of matchups. And unlike many number one receivers, Reggie Wayne usually lines up on the left side of the Colts’ offensive formation.
That means Wayne could avoid being covered by the Dolphins’ best corner, Brent Grimes, and will be matched up with Dimitri Patterson on many downs. That will change at times in Miami’s nickel package, when Patterson moves inside to cover the slot and Nolan Carroll becomes the starting boundary.
Patterson was one of the stars of the opener, with two interceptions on quarterback Brandon Weeden. Carroll also had a pick, which came on the first series of the game.
But we should find out much more about the two on Sunday, as they will tag team one of the league’s most prolific receivers in Reggie Wayne, who had eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown vs. Oakland.
Are Patterson and Carroll really starting-caliber corners in the NFL? Or could they become the one weak spot on an otherwise elite defense? We should have an answer by Sunday evening.