By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
TONY GROSSI'S SCOUTING REPORT
Browns vs. Miami Dolphins
Sunday, 1 p.m, in FirstEnergy Stadium
Record: 0-0 (2-3 in 2013 preseason, 7-9 in 2012).
Last game: Defeated Saints, 24-21, Aug. 29, in Miami.
Coach: Joe Philbin, 7-9, second year.
Series record: Dolphins lead, 9-8.
Last meeting: Browns won, 17-16, Sept. 25, 2011, in Cleveland.
League rankings: In 2012, offense was 27th overall (17th rushing, 26th passing), defense was 21st (13th rushing, 27 passing) and turnover ratio was minus-10.
Offensive overview: Coordinator Mike Sherman favors multiple tight end packages in his West Coast scheme, which made the season-ending knee injury to free agent Dustin Keller so devastating. Keller and QB Ryan Tannehill had developed instant chemistry in the first two preseason games, but now Sherman must try to incorporate a mix of Charles Clay and Michael Egnew into the flow. Tannehill needs a bail-out tight end target because his ability to read and react to defenses quickly is still a work in progress. The Dolphins revamped their receiver position through the additions of ex-Steeler Mike Wallace and ex-Ram Brandon Gibson. Those transactions made chains-mover Davone Bess expendable. Wallace’s price tag ($60 million/five years) demands they get him the ball. The question is whether Tannehill can, as Wallace will draw the opponent’s best cornerback each week. The running game was a question mark in preseason. Two big changes are Jonathan Martin replacing Jake Long at left tackle and second-year fourth-round pick Lamar Miller replacing Reggie Bush.The running game averaged 3.0 a rush in preseason.
Defensive overview: Where’s Dion? That was the question in Dolphins training camp and will continue to be the question for opposing offenses. Dion Jordan, the team’s top draft pick – No. 3 overall after a trade after trading with Oakland – missed the last three games preseason to save his shoulder from wear. He had torn labrum surgery in February. He is expected to play in pass rush situations and may line up anywhere – at right end or as a standup linebacker – giving coordinator Kevin Coyle a hybrid 3-4 look that seeks to confuse quarterbacks. Jordan will be the complement to left end Cameron Wake, a premier pass rusher who has 1.5 sacks in two games against the Browns. Coyle likes to blitz the A-gaps with his linebackers, so free agent Dannell Ellerbe could be a factor there. The secondary decent at safety, but the cornerbacks might be suspect. Ex-Brown Dimitri Patterson earned one starting job and the other one is manned by free agent pickup Brent Grimes, who missed all of 2012 after Achilles surgery.
Special teams overview: Fifth-round rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis was so good so early, the Dolphins cut former Pro Bowler Dan Carpenter in the middle of camp. Sturgis has a big leg on kickoffs and placements. He was 9 of 9 in preseason with a long of 58 yards. Punter Brandon Fields averaged 50.2 yards gross and 41.2 net in 2012. Return specialist Marcus Thigpen had touchdowns on both punt and kickoff returns in 2012.
Players to watch:
1. DE Cameron Wake: This undrafted find from the CFL has 43 sacks in four seasons, the fourth-most in the NFL during that time. Among his nine multi-sack games was a 1.5 effort against the Browns in 2010.
2. WR Mike Wallace: One of the fastest wideouts in the NFL – and one of the priciest free agents of the 2013 transaction season – he never really beat the Browns with Pittsburgh. In seven games as a Steeler, he averaged 20.8 yards on 16 receptions, with only two touchdowns.
3. QB Ryan Tannehill: The best franchise hope at quarterback since Dan Marino retired, he enters his second season as a pro under his college coach, Mike Sherman, running virtually the same system he played in at Texas A&M. In preseason, he had three TDs and no interceptions and a 98.6 rating, but averaged only 6.73 yards per pass attempt.
Injury report: CB Will Davis (ankle) and CB Jamar Taylor (groin) may be limited.
Small world: Former Browns include DB Dimitri Patterson (2011-12) and LB Jason Trusnik (2009-10) … Trusnik is from Macedonia and attended Ohio Northern … P Brandon Fields is from Toledo … WR Brian Hartline is from North Canton and attended Ohio State.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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