Five things to watch when the Miami Dolphins visit the Los Angeles Chargers:
1. Miami’s offensive tackles versus Los Angeles defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa: Laremy Tunsil is moving to his natural left tackle spot and right tackle Ja’Wuan James is playing to convince the Dolphins he’s deserving of a contract extension after the season. They should be up to the task of containing the two Los Angeles defensive ends. Last season the Dolphins limited the Chargers to one sack, that by Ingram. Anything worse this game would be regression. Look for Anthony Fasano and Jay Ajayi to help with the blocking.
2. What is the Dolphins offensive personality?: The Dolphins want to play an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Of course, that was the plan last year and it didn’t work out because the unit didn’t convert enough third downs. It will be up to new quarterback Jay Cutler with his full complement of weapons -- Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Jay Ajayi, Julius Thomas and others. If it doesn’t work, it’ll be back to a more methodical approach.
3. Can Julius Thomas be Denver Julius Thomas?: He scored 24 touchdowns in two seasons while playing for Adam Gase in Denver. The Dolphins hope he will be a red-zone threat. We’ll see.
4. Is the Dolphins run defense better?: It had better be. The Dolphins were No. 30 in the NFL against the run a season ago. It is not possible to win consistently when opponents can run the ball that well throughout a season. The Chargers have a solid runner in Melvin Gordon, who gained 70 yards against Miami last season. The Dolphins believe they upgraded their run defense with the addition of Lawrence Timmons and the drafting of defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor.
5. Will Matt Burke’s defense be an upgrade over Vance Joseph’s?: This is interesting because Burke is a first-time defensive coordinator replacing a first-time defensive coordinator who became Denver’s head coach. So Joseph obviously had leadership and other qualities that led him to the promotion. But Joseph’s defense was 18th in the NFL in points allowed. And the Dolphins spent a lot of draft picks and free agency resources upgrading the defense for Burke. So this defense, under first-year coordinator Matt Burke, needs to be better immediately because Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers is pretty good.
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