I had the chance to exchange a few questions about this weekend's upcoming game with the Dolphins with a guy that's in the know about Seattle's opponent, Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider.
Here's what he had to tell me.
DK: Ryan Tannehill started the year out pretty well and had gathered some praise for his poise and ability to read defenses and make the correct throws. The last two games his performance has seemingly trailed off. What is your impression of his play? Do you see him trending back up this season or does he still have a ways to go before he can be considered a potential future franchise QB?
Kevin Nogle: I'm extremely happy with Tannehill, and do believe the Dolphins have finally found their franchise quarterback. Tannehill could, of course, regress, but everything is looking positive so far. His play lately is concerning, but I think a lot of that has to do with the team needing another receiving option, and the offensive line suddenly deciding they no long want to block anyone.
DK: I heard a stat the other day that the Dolphins run no-huddle 55% of the time, the highest mark in the NFL. Is this trend likely to continue versus Seattle? Can you describe the Dolphins general offensive scheme or type for fans that haven't gotten a chance to watch Miami play a whole lot? Who are the major players that make the scheme go?
The team relies on the no-huddle, and you will see a lot of it. It's not as fast paced as it sounded like it would be in the preseason, with the team getting to the line early, but letting Tannehill use the time to read the defense before the snap.
As for the style of Miami's offense, that's a great question. I wish I had an answer.
It seems like the team has suddenly become overly conservative and moving away from the team's strength. If Miami can get Reggie Bush running and find ways to get Brian Hartline and Davone Bess into the passing scheme, then they can have success. The team will probably also look to get tight ends Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay into the mix as well.
DK: How do you think Miami will look to defend the Seahawks? Similar to above, for fans that haven't seen the Dolphins play much, what's Miami's philosophy on defense and what types of schemes should Seattle expect? Blitz-heavy? Lots of nickel/dime?
The Dolphins defense will look to get as many people into coverage as possible, relying on the front four and Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett to stop the run, with Koa Misi in and out of the game. The team will probably try to lock Sean Smith on Sidney Rice, then have Jimmy Wilson and Nolan Carroll rotate on everyone else.
They will bring blitzes, especially from the cornerback positions, to assist in the pass rush, but they really try to get pressure with Cameron Wake, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick, and Olivier Vernon.
DK: What's going on with running back in Miami? From what I hear, Reggie Bush is now starting to lose some snaps. Who should Seattle expect to see carrying the football for the Dolphins? Similarly, which receivers might present matchup problems for Seattle's secondary?
No one really knows. Bush has played fewer and fewer snaps each week, with Daniel Thomas getting more and more. No one really seems to know why. If the Dolphins are going to succeed, I really think it's going to be by using Bush both in the running game and the passing game. But the Dolphins seem to be using Thomas to carry the ball more often. I would look for Thomas to probably continue to see the ball more often than Bush.
As for the passing game, Hartline is always a threat to have a big game, but he has been held in check lately by teams game planning to shut him down. The player to watch this week may be seventh round draft pick Rishard Matthews. Matthews made his debut last week, and the team seems to like him, since they released Jabar Gaffney this week. Matthews has the speed to get deep, and could be an added member of the Miami offensive attack.
DK: How was the '12 Draft class played this year? Obviously, Tannehill has gotten the bulk of the attention, but what about the rest of the picks -- impact players? Busts? I personally really liked what the Dolphins did in the draft with Jonathan Martin, Olivier Vernon, Michael Egnew, Lamar Miller and Josh Kaddu, but admit I haven't heard their names much over here in Seattle.
Martin has developed nicely. He still looks like a rookie sometimes, but he's playing well and getting better every week. Vernon is one of my favorite players on the team. He is not an every down player yet, but when he is on the field, he can flat out make a difference - on special teams or defense.
Egnew has yet to be active for a game, and really looked like the speed of the game overwhelmed him early this year. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said this week the problem for Egnew may simply be the number of reps he has missed already this year.
Miller has looked special at times, and then disappears behind Bush and Thomas for games at a time. When he's in there, he is a threat to make a big play, but you don't have to worry about him most of the time, simply because he isn't seeing the field.
Kaddu started on the practice squad for the team, and has worked his way onto the active roster. He rarely sees playing time though, and I think he is being developed to eventually replace Burnett or Dansby, both of whom are getting older.
A few more rookies are seventh rounders defensive tackle Kheeston Randall and wide receiver Rishard Matthews. Randall has seen some playing time this year, and is looking like a good developmental player for the future. Matthews I discussed above. Also, undrafted free agents, center Josh Samuda and defensive end Derrick Shelby, are both minor contributors who have shown promise for the future.
Thanks again to Kevin Nogle for answering a few questions I had, and make sure you head over to The Phinsider to read more about the enemy. I've been over there a lot this week and they really do superb job covering the Dolphins so it's worth your time.