Pregame Observations

The Dolphins face a difficult test as they try to avoid an 0-2 start. In the Houston Texans, they face a team that might not be as explosive as the New England Patriots but probably is more balanced.

• Yes, I said it, more balanced. Let's face it, the New England passing game is outrageous, but its running game is nothing special and the defense isn't that great. Houston has perhaps the most balanced offense in the league, and its defense will be much better in 2011 than it was last year. Mark my words.

• The prediction on the Houston defense isn't based on what happened in the Texans' season opener against Indy because the Colts are just another team without Peyton Manning at quarterback. No, Houston will be much improved on defense because Wade Phillips is now on board to coordinate the defense and free agents Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning will make a big difference in what was an atrodicious secondary last year.

• Of course, Phillips brought in his 3-4 system to Houston, so that meant a big move for former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams. Well, it obviously wasn't a problem in the opener as he had two sacks. Phillips thinks he can have another DeMarcus Ware in Williams and who's to say he's crazy to think that.

• Last word on the Houston defense, expect to see a lot of Jason Allen when the Dolphins go to three-wide formations. Allen is the third quarterback on the Texans depth chart behind Joseph and 2010 first-round pick Kareem Jackson.

• The Dolphins secondary, meanwhile, will have its hands full with Andre Johnson and company, and it would be a good start to make sure everyone — namely Sean Smith and Vontae Davis — is hydrated. What happened against New England on Monday night was bad.

• Of course, Davis and Smith won't have a chance if the Dolphins don't do a better job at pressuring Matt Schaub than they did Tom Brady. At the risk of repeating ourselves, one of the biggest concerns on the Dolphins defense is the lack of a pass-rushing complement to Cameron Wake. That was evident on Monday night.

• Safe to say that everybody will be watching very closely to see how well Will Allen plays in the nickel after he replaced Benny Sapp earlier this week. Yes, Sapp had his problems in coverage, but the two points that need to be made here are that Sapp made the only big play on defense and he also wasn't the worst defensive back on Monday night, that honor going to Nolan Carroll. Of course, that's all based on what was observed from the press box and without knowing the defensive calls on any particular play.

• There are a lot of things that could be said after that particular roster move, but suffice to say the Dolphins will be second-guessed a lot if Allen struggles.

• Offensively, the hope is that the running game will produce against Houston after failing in the opener. Daniel Thomas is likely to play, but it remains to be seen whether he can make a difference, particularly in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

• Finally, the last thing we want to see is whether Chad Henne can duplicate what he did Monday night. We're not talking his numbers because it's unlikely he'll get to 400 again, but rather the decision-making. As we said at the top, this will be a tougher challenge for him because the Houston defense is better than New England's.


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