The Miami Dolphins are by no means “the team to beat” in the NFL these days, but a victory Sunday at Sun Life Stadium could be a turning point for the struggling Redskins. Before winning big on the road in Kansas City last weekend, the Dolphins were one of the easiest teams in the league to beat, and beating up on a bad team could reignite the fire that the Redskins played with at the beginning of the season. Sure, the ‘Skins are lacking a true number one quarterback and receiver, but most of all they’re lacking confidence. John Beck should be plenty fired up to be back in Miami, and he would love to prove that the Dolphins made a mistake when they gave up on him after only five games, surrounded by a lousy team. In order to perform well, however, Beck needs to believe that his revamped offensive line is going to keep him upright long enough to hit the receivers we all saw running down the field wide open last Sunday. The offensive line played way above expectations against San Francisco, giving up only one sack. While they seemed to be blocking better, they were helped out immensely by Kyle Shanahan calling short, quick-release pass plays, and Beck’s dump-offs to rookie running back Roy Helu at the first sign of a 49er pass rush. If the pass protection remains good this Sunday, Beck should gain the confidence to glance downfield once in a while to see what’s going on past the first down marker. The Dolphins have the 27th ranked pass defense, so this is the game for Beck to get his timing down with youngsters Hankerson, Paul, and Austin, while making Redskin fans and future opponents believe in our downfield passing game. Until Beck proves he can get the ball downfield, every team will have their safeties up to stop the run and short passing game, and every fan will continue to groan and grumble.
Defensively, the ‘Skins will have their hands full with Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall, but few other Dolphins pose much of a threat offensively. Rookie running back Daniel Thomas has shown some flashes of greatness, but has been inconsistent and injury prone. If the Redskins pass rush can knock Matt Moore around early and often, it shouldn’t be difficult to keep this offense in check. As long as they aren’t constantly faced with defending a short field, this is a matchup that favors the ‘Skins defense.
Every opponent left on the Redskins schedule has proven to be beatable at one time or another this season, but if the ‘Skins blow another one against a one-win team, it could lead to a horrific downward spiral. A win, however, should have the opposite effect, which will be needed when they go back home to face their hated rivals from Dallas. This Sunday’s game could be the most important of the season. Let’s hope our boys have some fight left in them, and come out with a victory!