Yes, the Dolphins play tonight against their feeder team, the Dallas Cowboys. Yes, there will be a live blog. And yes, this is the final preseason game.
So next up is the Monday night regular-season opener against New England. There are approximately 5,000 tickets left for that tilt. Unlike tonight's preseason-finale, the Dolphins expect to sell out that one.
But what happens in that game will set the tone for the rest of the season. ESPN will broadcast the game as part of a doubleheader with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden on board for the call. They recently held a national conference call to talk about that game and the slate of games coming on Monday night.
The trio was asked to size up the two teams, including a critical look at their offensive lines, both of which struggled in their most recent preseason games -- the Dolphins versus Tampa Bay and the Patriots against Detroit.
JAWORSKI: "We all know that Detroit put a lot of energy into that game. It wasn't a show‑off preseason game. They wanted to show they were going to be for real. They really did torch the Patriots offensive line. I'm sure it's not been a good week at practice for the Patriots. It's an area they certainly have to get better. Tom Brady got hit too many times. He got flushed from the pocket too many times.
"You know what happens. This is a copycat league. We all know the Dolphins can play pretty darn good defense, and Cameron Wake can get after the quarterback. They're going to look at that tape and say, 'Hey, that was the Detroit Lions. I know it was a preseason game, but look at the individual matchups. They were winning up front.' When the Dolphins look at that tape, they're going to glean something positive out of that tape. They're probably going to look back and see Brady get rattled against theJets last year in the playoff game. When I look at this matchup, I think it's going to come down to that Patriots offensive line against that Miami defense, which is much improved again. They've got a wealth of talent on that front seven.
TIRICO: "Since I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and you have two Michigan quarterbacks going head to head, Tom Brady and Chad Henne. You know everything about Brady, obviously unanimous MVP. But what a huge game for Henne, and if you think about it over the last couple of years, Chad Henne's games have come earlier in the year, nationally televised games. So a very important game not just for Chad but for Miami.
"There is so much, I gu0ess, lack of clear messaging coming from the Dolphins during the off‑season. Would there be a new head coach? Would there be a new quarterback? Well, the same two guys are in the two most important positions in football. So they're feeling that pressure.
"Their schedule early on is difficult, and there's a lot rolled into this game at home. If they can get one against the Patriots and gain some confidence, can Reggie Bush have a good game in his debut? Brandon Marshall, after another off‑season with issuesand problems, I think we all always know approximately what we're going to get from the Patriots. There's such consistency in the regular season from Belichick.
"So Miami is the wild card to me. And will those guys who are put, I guess, on the ledge a little bit in terms of their future with the Dolphins, will they come up with big games with everybody watching first game of the regular season? To me, that'sthe big curiosity factor of the game going in."
GRUDEN: "I'm not as concerned about New England, nor am I as concerned about the offensive line after the Detroit Lions game. I credit Detroit with playing great at home. I think after being pummeled on Thanksgiving Day by the Patriots a year before, making numerous mistakes, they rose to the challenge. But I don't put as much stock in preseason games maybe as others.
"I think New England is the team to beat in the AFC this year for obvious reasons. They got the best coach, and they have the best quarterback combination. You could argue that, but they're dynamic. And I think their young players that emerged and exploded onto the scene last year will be even better. Hernandez, Gronkowski, a number of players will even be better this year than they were a year ago.
"I just have a lot of questions about the Dolphins. They've got a new offensive coordinator. They've got a completely new cast of running backs. Ronnie and Ricky are gone, and Chad Henne, he's going to really have to put a masterpiece together, I believe,to beat the New England Patriots in an opener."