1 The use of Cameron Wake: The Dolphins are trying to strike a delicate balance between using Cameron Wake enough to win but not so much as to get him re-injured after he missed much of 2015 with a ruptured Achilles. Last week, that meant Wake playing only 29 plays or 35 percent of the snaps. The Dolphins don’t think that’s too much. But they think Wake played too many plays on early downs. They want to use Wake almost exclusively on passing downs. Wake should come to this game more motivated than usual, if that’s possible, because he ruptured the Achilles at New England last year.
2 Does Bobby McCain have a target on his back? The Patriots are known to pick on Dolphins defensive backs they deem the weak link in the defense. They also have a lot of talented slot receivers. So that means the Patriots are likely going to be targeting Bobby McCain, who struggled at times against Seattle and also gave up the winning touchdown in the final seconds of the game.
3 Can Anthony Steen make it two in a row? Mike Pouncey isn’t playing, which means Anthony Steen starts at center again. He played very well against the Seattle Seahawks. Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said the best thing he could say is that he didn’t notice Steen during the game — meaning, he didn’t do anything wrong. The question is whether that performance was a sign of what Steen is about or whether he simply lucked into a great game in his NFL debut?
4 Ryan Tannehill has to be this game’s better quarterback: The Dolphins believe in Ryan Tannehill and think he’s going to have a fine season. Well, this is a good time to start doing that because last week Tannehill got the Dolphins in the end zone only once and that simply isn’t good enough. Tannehill, who did lead a fine late-game TD drive, was outshined by Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who authored the game-winning drive. This week, Tannehill must show himself a better performer than Jimmy Garoppolo, who is still New England’s backup quarterback and is only babysitting the starting job while Tom Brady is suspended.
5 The Miami Dolphins offensive line: This unit was supposed to be better this year and still might be that, but the opener was a nightmare. Ryan Tannehill, the NFL’s most sacked quarterback the past four years, was sacked five times by the Seahawks. That means this pass protection is on pace to allow 80 sacks in 2016. That cannot continue.