Three things to watch: Bucs at Dolphins

August, 10, 2012
8/10/12
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MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins make their 2012 preseason debut Friday night at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The AFC East blog will be live at the game to bring you all the latest happenings from Miami.



No. 1: Three-way quarterback battle

Analysis: This one is obvious. Miami is one of those rare preseason teams where all four quarters will be meaningful, because each quarterback will be closely evaluated. David Garrard will get the start, then give way to Matt Moore. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill won't make his Miami debut until the second half. But all three quarterbacks are competing for the starting job. Time is running out, and one of these quarterbacks must make a push to separate from the competition. This preseason opener against Tampa Bay is the perfect time to do it.

No. 2: Joe Philbin’s debut

Analysis: Another person making his debut is Miami rookie head coach Joe Philbin. We don’t know much about Philbin’s in-game coaching, but we can start to get a feel for it tonight. Philbin has an even-keeled mentality, and practices have been up-tempo and crisp. But I want to see how well-coached, organized and mistake-free the Dolphins are after a couple of weeks of training camp. This is a reflection of how much progress Philbin has made.

No. 3: Miami’s 4-3 defense

Analysis: The Dolphins have followed an AFC East trend of switching to a 4-3 defense under first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Miami has the personnel to run the defense, it’s just a matter of learning the different responsibilities up front quick enough to be successful. We will get a chance to see how much progress the Dolphins’ front seven has made in the preseason opener.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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