Breaking down the game

The Dolphins have faced some pretty tough competition the last two weeks with games against Atlanta and New England, but the Cleveland Browns represent an opponent that is trying to find its way under a first-year head coach. Sort of like the Dolphins. But the Browns' road back to respectability appears at this point to be a little longer than that of the Dolphins.

Still, there are an awful lot of similarities, starting with the obvious of the teams' identical 3-6 marks and their having new coaches.

But there's also a journeyman starting at quarterback for both teams, Gus Frerotte for the Dolphins and Trent Dilfer for the Browns.

Cleveland actually has an advantage at that position because they might already have their quarterback of the future on the roster in the form of third-round pick Charlie Frye.

But it will be Dilfer on Sunday, possibly against Frerotte, possibly against Sage Rosenfels. As of Friday afternoon, there was no definitive answer, although Frerotte was able to throw in practice Friday.

Regardless, the Dolphins might want to not rely on their passing game so much in this one considering Cleveland is ranked 28th in the NFL in run defense.

Of course, it's entirely possible that Cleveland will follow New England's lead and stack the box to make sure to contain Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.

If that's the case, then the Dolphins need to connect on a few passes to loosen the Browns up.

This would be a great time for a breakout game from Chris Chambers, who happens to be a native of Cleveland.

Cleveland switched to a 3-4 defense after the arrival of head coach Romeo Crennel, and the guys to watch on that side of the ball are linebacker Andra Davis and defensive end Orpheus Roye.

On the flip side, Dilfer has been inconsistent but he did have a big day against Tennessee a few weeks ago.

The Browns do have some talent at wide receiver, namely starter Antonio Bryant and rookie Braylon Edwards. Edwards was a player Nick Saban considered taking with the second overall pick before deciding on Ronnie Brown.

Edwards will be chomping at the bit to make the Dolphins pay, especially considering he felt betrayed by Miami after he claimed someone in the organization, believed to be former GM Rick Spielman, told him the Dolphins would draft him.

But we digree. Cleveland's offense has been mediocre this year, in large part because of the inconsistency of Dilfer and also because of a mediocre offensive line which hasn't done a great job at protecting him.

In particular, the Dolphins should be able to take advantage of left tackle L.J. Shelton if he doesn't get any help trying to pass-protect against Jason Taylor.

Cleveland has good kick returners in Dennis Northcutt (punts) and rookie Joshua Cribbs (kickoffs), but Cribbs is questionable for the game because of a neck injury sustained in Sunday's loss at Pittsburgh.

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