The Dolphins will be on national television tonight so I don't want any excuses out of you. You should be watching -- barring family commitments or illness. Or you should be on this blog -- barring family commitments or illness.
Come to think of it, you should be on the blog and watching on TV at the same time. It's the optimal experience and that way, we can all share opinion and analysis of what we're seeing during the live blog rather than regurgitating play-by-play. So the live blog begins at 8 p.m. and probably a little earlier and it would be great if you can be here.
All the other blogs and stories (bless their hearts) are talking about the three key things you should be looking for or the seven major points of interest tonight. Most of those have already been covered here earlier this week and so I'm not going to nitpick them now.
This, on the other hand, is big picture we should see tonight:
The Dolphins offense should get the better of Tampa Bay's defense while the starters are in the game. The Dolphins defense should get the better of Tampa Bay's offense while the starters are in the game. And Miami's special teams should have its act together and that doesn't mean punts hitting players in the facemask.
Asking a lot? Sure. But the truth is we're asking a lot of this Miami team this year. We don't want a step-back year. We don't want a team that buckles under the weight of the NFL's most difficult schedule.
We want a team that is more talented than last year's team and plays like it. And seeing as that this is the closest thing to regular-season football you'll see from the Dolphins in the preseason, seeing as that Tampa Bay wasn't a playoff team last season and is in full-fledged rebuilding mode this season, the Dolphins should show their dominance tonight.
That doesn't mean the Dolphins should be unveiling any secrets. Don't misunderstand. But they should be correcting the problems we've seen the previous two preseason games.
I don't want to see Chad Pennington underthrowing Patrick Cobbs and turning what should be a TD into a FG. I don't want to see poor tackling turning 4-yard runs into 24-yard TD runs by the opponent. I don't want to see inconsistent receiver play and inconsistent play-calling. I don't want to see turnovers on special teams. I don't want to see a deep secondary that struggles to cover TEs.
I want to see a solid, fundamentally sound performance. I want to see a team that continues to improve as the regular-season draws near.
Let's check it out together starting at 8 p.m.