1. Ryan Tannehill is enjoying a good season and is seeming to get better as it moves along. What do you attribute to the improvement?
I think Tannehill's improvement is a combination of him getting more comfortable with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's offense, as well as Lazor getting more comfortable with Tannehill's skill set. Lazor is getting creative with his play calling, and is using Tannehill's ability to run perfectly as of late, both running for yardage and rolling him around behind the line of scrimmage. Tannehill plays his best when he is throwing on the move and when he is being blitzed. He's not perfect in those scenarios, but he is good at it, and Lazor is using that to the team's advantage.
2. In your post on Denver's depth chart, one of your writers wrote, "Miami, just throw the football." What do Tannehill's weapons look like, and how is the passing game being used to attack defenses?
The offense is not "dink-and-dunk" but there are not a lot of deep passing plays, either. The idea is to get the ball out of Tannehill's hand quickly, to let the playmakers make plays. Mike Wallace is turning into a really nice wide receiver - not just a speed guy going deep on every play, but crossing the field, playing hard, and making things happen. Jarvis Landry is a steal of a second round pick at this point, and looks better-and-better every week. He's a possession receiver who has the speed to be a difference maker.
The frustration of the receiving corps so far has been the disappearance of Brian Hartline and Charles Clay this year. They have both made guest appearances at times, but it's normally a cameo and then they are gone again. Both have been battling injuries, so that's probably a big part of the issue, but it's just been difficult knowing that both of them could be big parts of the offense, only to wonder where they are.
3. We all know the Dolphins have one of the fiercest defensive lines in football. What about them makes them so good?
Speed and tenacity. Cameron Wake is one of the fastest players I have ever seen in terms of reaction time from snap to starting his rush. There have been times this year where the commentators have called him off sides, but the replay shows he is just that good at timing the snap and firing out of his stance.
Olivier Vernon on the opposite side is developing into a great pass rusher of his own. He's not Wake, but he is very talented. Inside, Randy Starks, Earl Mitchell, and Jared Odrick rotate, and all three of them can get after a quarterback in their own right.
That does not even mention Derrick Shelby, Terrence Fede, Dion Jordan, and Chris McCain, all of whom have shown flashes of great pass rush abilities, and can make plays.
None of them quit. The Dolphins rotate all of the lineman a lot, which keeps them fresh throughout the game and makes it so, on every snap they play, they are able to go all-out.
4. The Dolphins shut out the Chargers a few weeks ago, which was freaking great. Any tips on how to do that?
Move to the East Coast, play a 1pm ET game, and make it hot and humid? Really, I think that was just a perfect team game. Everyone came to play that day, and the Dolphins were able to put it all together, from the coaching through every individual execution. That game was incredible, and it is going to take another effort like that to keep up with Peyton Manning and the Broncos this week.
5. What are your predictions for the game and for the Dolphins down the stretch?
I don't know how to predict this game. Which Dolphins team will we see this week, the one that laid an egg to the Bills early in the season? The one who gave up late leads to Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford this year? The one that demolished the Chargers? Which Broncos team will we see? The good thing is, Miami can drop this game and be okay in the playoff race. It's not ideal, but there is at least a little wiggle room.
This game will probably be a good one, and a close one. Miami's defense has to be able to get to Peyton, and the offense cannot turnover the ball. The Broncos offensive line has to play better than it has the last couple of weeks and find a way to overcome last week's injuries. Both teams have strengths and weaknesses right now, and it will come down to who is able to execute better. I think the Broncos probably win, because I never bet against Peyton, but a Miami win is probably not out of the realm of possibility.
As for the rest of the season, Miami should be in position to make the playoffs. They have the talent and just have to learn how to win some close games, holding on to the lead late when they have it. I have not given up hope for an AFC East crown, given the Dolphins are just two game behind the Patriots, but still have to play them again this year, and have already beaten them once. It's possible, even if it is not likely.