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Cleveland Browns versus Miami Dolphins: Three Matchups to Watch


Jack Kopanski
In a matchup between two teams that sit at 0-2, what area will each team need to dominate to gain their first win? | Photo Credit: cleveland.com

Both the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins sit at 0-2 thus far in the season. The Dolphins will be making their debut at home this year in a newly renovated stadium against a Cleveland team that has been decimated by injury already in the first two games. With both teams desperate for a win, the game will come down to three key aspects that will decide who walks out 1-2, and who bears the shame of being winless for a third straight week. 

1. The Cleveland Browns offensive line versus the Miami Dolphins defensive line

Offensive line play has long been an issue that has plagued the Cleveland Browns, but this year is it is far and away their Achilles Heel. Outside of Joe Thomas and on occasion Joel Bitonio, their inability to hold blocks and create a pocket for their quarterback led to the injury of Josh McCown after he took numerous big shots last week against the Ravens.

After an injury to Cam Erving forcing right guard John Greco to take his spot at center, and Austin Reiter to fill in for Greco, this line is even more makeshift than it was before.

With rookie Cody Kessler getting his first career start, it is imperative that the Browns give him time and protection so he does not suffer the same fate as McCown. Going up against a stacked defensive line that consists of Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips and Mario Williams, you can sure that they will be bringing constant pressure and attempt to rattle the young starter. 

2. The Cleveland Browns Rushing game versus the Miami Dolphins defensive line

Browns running back Isaiah Crowell went off against the Ravens last week, totaling 133 yards with an 85 yard touchdown run. Despite Cleveland's lackadaisical offensive line play, this is an outlet the team could be able to exploit this Sunday, as the Dolphins rank 30th in run defense this year, giving up 137 yards per game on the ground.

It is anticipated that after losing Corey Coleman for the next 4-6 weeks, along with it being Kessler's debut, Cleveland could rely very heavily on the run game. It will have to be effective in a game that is considered by many to be one of the few opportunities this team has to get a victory.

3. Ryan Tannehill versus the Cleveland Browns secondary

Ryan Tannehill has proven to be a serviceable starter in the NFL, but has yet to truly "wow" the league and separate himself from the average starters in the league. He will have a shot to make himself look like an elite starter for at least this one game against a weakened Browns defense without rookie standout Carl Nassib, and Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden.

That means Tramon Williams and Jamar Taylor will get the starts at corner, with Jordan Poyer starting in his normal free safety slot, but Derrick Kindred will taking over for the injured Ibraheim Campbell at strong safety. Now not only lacking pass rush, but secondary help as well, it will be hard to limit what Tannehill can do with options such as Jarvis Landry, Jordan Cameron, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills.

Jack Kopanski is the lead Cleveland Browns analyst and an editor for Pro Football Spot. Follow him on Twitter @Jack_Kopanski, or contact him via email at jackkopanski@gmail.com.


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