Written by Luis Sung at 10:00 PM EST | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
After a stunning performance that saw the Miami Dolphins blank Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers in a 37-0 blowout last Sunday, the Dolphins have turned their attention to a challenge that in its own way, may be even greater than the one they just overcame.
The Dolphins will have to go on the road to Detroit, and face off against a high-powered Detroit Lions offense which has been bolstered by the announcement of the returns of star wide receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush, as well as a defense that has proven how dangerous they can be, especially their front four with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and young pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah causing trouble for any offensive line.
Given the team's struggle with elite defensive lines in the past, the battle in the trenches will be of the utmost importance on Sunday, something that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor recognized immediately.
"I think they’re explosive up front. I have great respect for their front players." Lazor said. "Not only for the amount of sacks that some of them have, but if you just put the tape on and watch them, they disrupt things."
There's been speculation that the coaches switching Mike Pouncey to right guard was actually partly in anticipation of this game, and Pouncey has recently said that he's actually looking forward to facing off against Suh on Sunday.
"Suh is a great football player, I'm a big fan of his. I just can't wait to go out there and play against him for the first time." Pouncey said. "It's going to be the best defender we go against all year."
It's good to see Pouncey seems confident about the matchup, because he's going to need every ounce of confidence he can get his hands on while going up against Suh, who on top of being a disruptive force in the middle, is also considered one of the dirtiest players in the NFL.
It's not just the defense though, the offense is absolutely loaded with weapons that if given the chance, can burn any defense that gets caught unawares.
“It’s another one of those high-powered offenses with very good skill players. They’ve got a superstar in Calvin Johnson. They’ve got a very good quarterback who can throw the football extremely well." said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. "They’ve got three tight ends that they can utilize at any time, good tight ends, not just a good tight end and then two backups that can kind of get in the game. They’ve got three legit tight ends. And they’ve got Reggie Bush and a couple of other running backs that are showing that they can do things."
If the Dolphins are going to stop the Lions offense, they will have to make sure to pressure Matthew Stafford with their front four and cause him to be a little reckless, which will hopefully open the door for the recently opportunistic Dolphins defense to make plays.
The team will have a quite a challenge ahead of them, but if they can win the battle in the trenches, it is a very doable game that will show the world that the Dolphins are not mere pretenders, but legitimate contenders for a playoff run.
"They’re going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a challenge most every week down the road." Coyle said. "We’ll prepare hard and we’ll have a good plan and our players are excited about going to Detroit and trying to get a victory."