Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
10:00
AM ET
The Miami Dolphins are 1-0. With the first game in the books, let's take a look at whose stock is rising and falling with the team.

Falling

1. Offensive line: There have been worries about this group dating back to training camp. However, most didn't expect Miami's offensive line to play this poorly in a Week 1 win over the Cleveland Browns. The Dolphins created virtually zero running lanes and allowed four sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Cleveland's front seven on defense established its will, and Miami ran for just 20 yards on 23 carries. That has to change quickly if the Dolphins want to win consistently.

2. Lamar Miller, running back: Not all the blame goes to the offensive line. Miami's starting tailback deserves some blame for its lack of a running game. Miller, in his first regular-season game as a full-time starter, rushed for 3 yards on 10 carries. Again, Miller got little push up front, but he also failed to make defenders miss. It was a group effort. Miller also has a lot to prove in his second start.

3. Dolphins kick coverage: The Dolphins allowed 25.8 yards per kickoff return and 15.5 yards per punt return. That is not what Miami wants in the third phase of the game. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin raved about the potential of his special teams this year. However, that didn't show in Week 1 on the coverage teams.

Rising

1. Miami's defense: We saw flashes of great defense by the Dolphins in the preseason. But this group put it together four quarters Sunday against Cleveland. Miami's defense was fast, physical and forced three early turnovers. Once the Dolphins got a lead, they defense also pinned its ears back and got after Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden with six sacks. Health permitting, Miami defense has the potential to be a top-10 unit in 2013.

[+] EnlargeBrian Hartline
Ken Blaze/USA TODAY SportsBrian Hartline's 34-yard touchdown catch against the Browns put the Dolphins ahead for good.
2. Brian Hartline, receiver: With fellow receiver Mike Wallace getting doubled most of the game, Hartline took advantage by recording nine receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Five of his catches for 86 yards came during an important second half where the Dolphins pulled away. Hartline is in his natural spot as a No. 2 receiver. He's good enough to take the lead role, but now he doesn't have the pressure to do so every week. Hartline was ready on Sunday when his number was called.

3. Dimitri Patterson, cornerback: This was a special weekend for Patterson. He was returning to Cleveland, which is where he was cut less than one year ago. Patterson showed the Browns he still has game by picking off Weeden two times. He showed concentration on both tipped balls and made the plays. Patterson didn't finish the game due to a groin injury but expects to play against Indianapolis.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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