Quick Thoughts on Opener

The Dolphins took care of business Sunday when they used a dominant defensive performance to beat the Cleveland Browns 23-10. It was by no means a perfect effort for the Dolphins, but a good start to the season nonetheless because they find themselves 1-0 for only the second time since 2005. Here's what stood out from the game.

• As I wrote in the regular season preview issue of Dolphin Digest, the defense is going to carry this team all season and that certainly was the case on Sunday. A tremendous, tremendous effort.

• Cornerback Dimitri Patterson said this week playing against the team that cut him last December was no big deal, but you just have to know he loved coming up with two picks against Cleveland. His first pick was just tremendous.

• The Nolan Carroll interception also was impressive for the way he and safety Chris Clemons defended a deep ball attempt against Travis Benjamin.

• The pass rush also was tremendous. Cameron Wake had three sacks, Paul Soliai got push up the middle and batted down two passes, and Randy Starks and Derrick Shelby also had sacks. Brandon Weeden simply was under pressure all day.

• At the risk of being a downer, the Dolphins' defensive effort would have been more impressive against a better opponent. Let's face it, Cleveland doesn't have a lot of weapons offensively, and one of their best, Josh Gordon, missed the game because of his NFL suspension.

• Offensively, the lack of a running game was obvious. As in very obvious. And let's not point to Lamar Miller too much, the run blocking simply was nonexistent.

Daniel Thomas fared a little better than Miller on the ground, but not much. Truth is, the Dolphins won't be able to run the ball against anybody if the run blocking doesn't improve.

• The pass protection was pretty shaky in the first half, but it improved tremendously in the second.

• It was a strong performance by Ryan Tannehill, particulary on that 85-yard drive that ended with a touchdown for a 20-10 lead. The one interception Tannehill threw came when he failed to pick up the middle linebacker dropping in coverage, which led to a tipped ball. Overall, though, Tannehill threw the ball well.

• The touchdown pass to Brian Hartline in the third quarter was an absolutely beauty and part of a big game for Hartline. The guy was getting open seemingly at will against the Browns.

• Of course, Hartline didn't have to go against Joe Haden, who pretty much shut down Mike Wallace. Even then, Wallace's mere presence opened things up underneath for Hartline and Brandon Gibson.

• For all the talk of the tight ends, Charles Clay had himself a pretty good game.

• In the kicking game, Caleb Sturgis just continued to impress, while Brandon Fields had some big punts but needs to be careful about outkicking his coverage.

• The Dolphins face a much tougher test on Sunday at Indianapolis, but they certainly can beat a Colts team that just squeaked by the Raiders in Week 1.

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