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Dolphins look to improve against the run
In a home opener, The Miami Dolphins must get their run defense in order to avoid an embarrassing upset by the visiting Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The Dolphins are 30th in the NFL in run defense at 136.5 yards per game while the Browns are eighth in rushing offense at 132.5 yards.
Cleveland will likely pound Miami with running back Isaiah Crowell, whose 195 yards rank third in the NFL and might be the best thing the team has going offensively.
Rookie third-team quarterback Cody Kessler is expected to make the start for the Browns.
"We've got to get back to doing some of the little things that we did that first game," coach Adam Gase said of the team's season-opening loss to Seattle. "Leading into the regular season, we did a lot of good things in training camp. I know we were very detailed going into the regular season. They did a really good job against Seattle, which I think that was pretty obvious.
"Last week, we put ourselves in a bad situation and we got behind. Once they kind of got going there, it becomes tough. The play count starts getting high, then you start to get worn down and all of a sudden they are running power football, and you have all these guys taking double teams, and we're trying to set the edge. They ran some plays where they got to the perimeter. You have to go back, you have to clean that up."
Gase said he think the mistakes are more physical than mental.
"I want to say for the most part, mentally we've been pretty sound," he said. "It's just a couple things in coverage every once in a while. Sometimes it's formation predicated. When you get thrown something different - guys are in different spots - you start getting that conversation, that's when you get in trouble.
"You've seen a couple times where guys are pointing at each other - who has who - and now all of a sudden they're snapping the ball, and you're slightly late. In this league if you're late, you're probably in trouble."
Miami, which was 28th in run defense last season at 126.2 yards per game, tried to address its problems in that department during the offseason. The run defense's performance against Cleveland will go a long way toward determining how much progress has been made.
SERIES HISTORY: 17th regular season meeting. Series tied, 8-8. Miami defeated the Browns, 23-10, in the 2013 season opener. Not many players are on either team from the games before that contest, in 2011 and 2010 (both won by Cleveland). In the 2013 contest, QB Ryan Tannehill was 24 of 38 for 272 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked four times and had a passer rating of 82.3.