The Miami Dolphins will take on the Arizona Cardinals, one of the three remaining undefeated teams in the league, at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The other 3-0 teams being the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans.
Miami will be looking to bounce back from last week's heartbreaking 23-20 overtime loss against the rival New York Jets and even their record to 2-2. The Dolphins looked like the much better team for most of the game however a missed game winning field goal by Dan Carpenter prevented them from moving into a tie for the AFC East division lead. Despite a 1-2 record, the team led by rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has played very competitive football and has exceeded the expectations of many experts in the early stages of this NFL season.
On the other hand, the Arizona Cardinals are a surprise 3-0 team after shocking upset victories against the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Cards' offense has yet to fire on all cylinders, the play of their defense has led them to the NFC West division lead seeing as they have only surrendered 13.3 points per game.
With the first three games in the books, here's a look at the keys to victory for the Dolphins Week 4 matchup against the Cardinals:
1. Get consistent pressure on Kevin Kolb.
Although Arizona is undefeated, their offense lacks explosiveness despite the contributions of Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals rank 19th in points per game, 31st in total yards per game, 29th in pass yards and 26th in rushing yards. The one way to keep this trend going is to get Kolb on his back as often as possible and ensure he does not find a groove throughout the game. In order to do this Miami must take advantage of the Cardinals weak offensive line. Left tackle Levi Brown is out for the season and Bobby Massie, a rookie fourth round pick is starting at right tackle. This situation puts Cameron Wake in prime position to record his first sack of the season.
2. Double-team WR Larry Fitzgerald.
Larry Fitzgerald is virtually the Cardinals only threat on offense with Beanie Wells making another trip to injured reserve, leaving an inexperienced Ryan Williams as the starter. If the Dolphins can manage to shutdown the six-time pro bowler they will have a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset. The rest of the Cardinals offensive weapons have put up pedestrian numbers at best including WR Andre Brown's 111 yards on 9 recpetions and TE Todd Heap's 95 yards on 8 catches. With Heap missing practice, the Dolphins may have one less option to worry about in the passing game. CB Richard Marshall's availablilty will be something to monitor as he would provide a boost for Miami's secondary if he is able to play.
3. Play to your strengths.
There's no question that the strength of this Dolphins team is their ground game consisting of the Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller trio. Miami's backfield stacks up with the best in the league and ranks an impressive 4th in the NFL. Dolphins fans took a collective sigh of relief when news broke that Reggie Bush is expected to play this Sunday. His return will be crucial in efforts to have any success against a talented Cardinals defense, however Bush can't do it alone. Thomas and Miller will have to step up their game especially if Bush is not yet at 100% health wise and the passing game continues to be less than impressive. Miami may catch a break with the possibilty of Cardinals' DE Darnell Dockett missing the tilt due to a hamstring injury. He is currently listed as doubtful.
4. Limit the turnovers.
In both of the Dolphins losses, against the Texans and the Jets, turnovers proved costly. Early in the season opener in Houston, Miami was contolling the pace of the game and were out to a 3-0 lead. However, the second quarter was a nightmare as Miami turned the ball over four times on route to a 30-10 Texans win. A similar outcome happened last week as the Dolphins began the third quarter with a 10-3 lead only for Tannehill to throw a pick six, allowing the Jets back into the game. Miami must duplicate their performance in the home opener against the Raiders in which they won 35-13, and coincidentally had zero turnovers. Keeping Tannehill upright will also be a point of emphasis for the Dolphins seeing as Arizona is third in the NFL in sacks with 12 in three games. Miami, though, has not allowed a quarterback sack in two weeks, a stat that has gone unnoticed by many.
In order for the Dolphins to hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season, they must play a near perfect game. Miami is a solid team when they limit their mistakes, and for this reason I see them leaving the desert with an upset win and an even 2-2 record on the year.
PREDICTION: Dolphins 20 Cardinals 17
Follow @Phins_Phocus on twitter for all the latest leading up to and during the Dolphins vs Cardinals matchup.
The culmination of this past weekend could not have been more welcoming as a Miami Dolphins fan and a physiotherapy student. Yes, I was awake until 4:30 in the morning mauling over the broken English of my lab report group mates. The debacle and misery I felt at the wee hours of Monday morning did not even brush the surface of what transpired Sunday afternoon at Sun Life stadium. This Monday, was not only blue, but made me feel like the vomit-green of the New York Jets jerseys.
Stop: Conservatism and Carpentry
Conservatism went out of style with Tony Sparano. Sure his signature field goal fist pump makes him a charismatic head coach, or now offensive coordinator, but the determined and serene demeanor of current skipper Joe Philbin is the latest trend in South Florida. So when I heard the Dolphins were watching 2011 film of Papa T’s offense the bells started to ring: damn, we’ve got some smart guys running this team! Clearly the ever-intimidating Mike Sherman watched a little too much of Sparano’s documentary on conservatism and prevented Tannehill from finding any sort of rhythm against the Jets. It is important to get young quarterbacks in a rhythm early and allow them to garner confidence to make plays later in the game. Although, the rookie signal caller had what I think was his most impressive game yet. He drove the team down to tie the game late, and drove them down to win it in overtime. But low and behold the Carpenter himself could not hammer the nail through the upright. Dan Carpenter has simply missed too many field goals to be anywhere on my football team. He is inconsistent and I am no longer surprised by his multi miss games. Give one of those undrafted kickers a chance, let us all be surprised. We all know this will not happen as Coach is not a man of rash decision like his superior Mr. Ireland.
Start: Like Andre Like Larry
Arguably the best wide receiver in football today, Larry Fitzgerald, will be Sean Smith’s only responsibility come Sunday. The thing is, why should it be all for Smith? Sean Smith was outmatched against Andre Johnson in week 1, and despite his stellar play in weeks 2 and 3, you have to expect that the perennial pro bowler will get the upper hand on our number 1 cornerback. Coach Coyle, I implore you to play double coverage. Give Smith help inside or over the top and we will have a shot at this game. Limiting Larry Fitzgerald will be a priority for this Dolphins’ secondary. The Cards aren’t the most overpowering 3-0 team, but they believe in their identity and play hard. Miami has got to do the same so as not to repeat that 41-10 disaster from a few years ago.
Continue: Double Dancing
It seems that the only time the dolphins can get open down field is when they are putting double move’s on the opposing DB. Brian Hartline sent Cromartie 3 yards past him with a comeback-and-go route, while Bess ran open with a nice stutter and go for a big game. The Dolphins need more explosive plays through the air and therefore need to run more of these double fakes. Hartline and Bess’ best assets are their route running abilities; when you’re so thin at wide receiver, you have to take advantage of what you’ve got. Count your blessings coach Sherm.
“Incognito” Dolphin of the Week: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback. Ryan Tannehill’s numbers will not blow you away this week, but his poise and resilience will. I’ve never seen a rookie so calm and so unflustered after throwing a pick-6. Not only did Ryan drive the offense down the field to tie the game, but he drove them down to win it in Overtime. This was RT17’s best performance as a leader and game manager. The future is bright.
So you’re all probably wondering where is the mention about the Monday night Miracle. Sorry, I mean disaster. Well here it is. In the words of the NFLDraftScout, “Clay Matthews just looked at Russell Wilson. Better flag it. Roughing the passer.” The words paint the entire picture.
Let’s have those Dolphins receivers really Stop and Go!
No one said it was easy being a Dolphins fan and this Sunday was no expectation. The Dolphins lost control of a game they had win only to lose in overtime to the hated rival Jets.
Whether it was a missed field goal, a timeout freezing the kicker when the kick might have been blocked, Tannehill not hitting Hartline in stride resulting in a longer field goal attempt, poor coaching by Philbin which even he admitted might have not have been the best route that led to a Reggie Bush injury Sunday was a difficult loss to swallow.
Before we start with the dissection and the negatives of Sunday’s game, there was some positive news this Monday as Adam Schefter tweeted that there is no structural damage in Reggie’s knee and it is not believed to be a serious injury. There is a chance Bush will play this week if he can practice.
Back to Sundays game, the Dolphins played a well rounded steady first half leading 10-3. While Miami could have taken better advantages of their opportunities, the run game had been established and the defense was playing fairly well, including the Dolphins safety that had a strong first half. However with the lack of pass rush there was a sense that the Jets passing game could start producing.
The second half got underway almost the same fashion as week 1 with two back to back turnovers, the first a poor decision by Tannehill and the second another fumble by Daniel Thomas.
Tannehill played a pretty steady game leading the team down the field twice on key drives once for a game tying field goal and the other for an attempted field goal to win the game which was obviously missed. I had no issues with how Tannehill played although his pass to Hartline was a little off which could have cost the Dolphins a couple of yards and an easier attempt to win the game.
Daniel Thomas however fumbled yet again and has developed quite the case of fumbleitis. Thomas will need to get his act together if he wants to stay a factor in this offense especially with Miller running the ball well.
I personally was upset Daniel Thomas was such a focal point of the offense once Bush was out never really giving Miller an opportunity.
Down the stretch I also questioned the play calling and management from Philbin and Sherman who seemed poised on settling for a 49 yard kick and not making Carpenters life easier.
Carpenter missed two big kicks this week and it is QUITE noticeable how his play has declined since his pro bowl season. If I was Miami I would at least be brining in kickers for work outs to let Carpenter know this is unacceptable and give him a bit of a kick in the ass.
Another note from this week is that it has become obvious the Dolphins are clearly struggling with a severe lack talent at WR. Anthony Armstrong appears to be a useless piece and the Dolphins are going to struggle all year if their receivers can’t get separation.
This week was a really tough spill to swallow not to mention considering the Dolphins would have been in 1st place in the AFC East had they won. With Revis out for the season with an ACL, the Dolphins would have looked very nice compared to the rival Jets but they let the game get away and now at 1-2 perspective is a little different.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Dolphins who face the 3-0 Cardinals next week potentially without their best player on offense Reggie Bush.no comments
While my colleagues have focused their efforts on covering the Dolphins matchup against the Jets and the return of Daniel Thomas, I thought it would be cool to explore the idea of re-signing the Dolphins best weapon on the team, Reggie Bush.
Consequently, Jeff Ireland got Reggie Bush in a trade for Jonathan Amaya and a 6th rounder. Reggie was a first round pick of the draft that was headed for bust status as Heismann Trophy winner in College and a headache for opposing coaches.
However, like a fine wine, Reggie got better with age and a new scenery.
Here are five reasons the Dolphins need to hurry up and re-sign Reggie Bush:
1. Reggie is currently the face of the franchise. As of right now, Reggie Bush since his break out year in 2011 has been the focus of reporter interviews, expose's, and anything Miami Dolphins.
2. Reggie Bush can run, pass, and catch. We know about Reggie's ability as a runner in space, but he is now starting to learn how to run between the tackles with burst and speed. He seldom dances to find the whole. He now hits the whole and understands the nuances of the opposing defense. When Reggie gets on a roll, the whole team follows and it is evident that the Dolphins win when no one can stop Reggie. As a passer, he can make a short 20 yard pass in an HB Pass play to trick the defense.
3. Reggie Bush is showing no signs of slowing down. Not only is Reggie more elusive than his first year with New Orleans, he is out running the competition. He has shown acceleration, that when healthy, the endzone is the green zone and he seems to find it and can't be caught from behind. He always heads for the endzone with scoring in mind, not going out of bounds.
4. The Dolphins clearly have a player that sells jerseys. While last year, there seemed to be many Henne, Long, and Bess jerseys sold on-line, Reggie is by far exceeding his teammates in jerseys sold. It is apparent that the first set of merchandise on the new Nike line of jerseys has been all Reggie Bush on most websites. This idea of Reggie selling jerseys has to make Mike Dee and Stephen Ross most happy lining the Dolphins franchise coffers.
5. Lastly, Reggie Bush is a man of the community and has contributed greatly in and around South Florida and in his hometown of San Diego.
So, if healthy, I vote the Dolphins sign Reggie and find a way to show him the money!
Phins Up! @Phins_Phocus for the latest!!!
So nice having football on Thursday night, breaks up the week in the midst of waiting for football every Sunday. That being said the Dolphins don’t have a Thursday game until November so the wait for Sunday still lingers on for Dolphins fans. We have broken down the upcoming rivalry matchup this week and it’s time to make some bold predictions.
The news of Darelle Revis being active and ready to go does have an impact on this game but it also had to be expected. There is still a chance Dustin Keller could miss the game which would be a huge bonus for the Phins who have struggled covering him in the past.
The Dolphins enter the game 2.5 underdogs heading into their second game at home. The matchup is a fairly good one for the Dolphins as the Jets are only 2 weeks removed from being run all over by CJ Spiller and the Phins will be hoping that Reggie Bush can continue his excellent start and help get the Dolphins offense going. That being said Reggie Bush most likely won’t be enough to overcome this fierce Jets defense.
A week after Brian Hartline was the guy who stepped up the other dolphins “weapons” will need to find a way to contribute as it is hard to believe Hartline can have the same success against the league’s best cornerback. A heavy dose of Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano might be in order for this offense.
On the other side of the ball the Dolphins have to be fairly confident they can shut down Shonne Greene and the Jets running game leaving the responsibility to the Dolphins secondary. I’m going to go out here on a bit of a limb and say they will be ready for the occasion. Santonio Holmes hopefully provided these corners and safety the extra bump they needed to come out and ball on Sunday.
This should be a tight contested matchup between the two rivals, I am going to go the optimistic route and say the Dolphins let the good times roll.
Dolphins 24 Jets 21
Miami's performance on the ground in last week's convincing 35-13 win over the Oakland Raiders was the dream of every NFL running back as the team rushed for 263 yards on 43 carriers. Unfortunately for Daniel Thomas, he was not a part of it.
After suffering a concussion in the season opener against the Houston Texans, Thomas was forced to watch from the sidelines as his teammates ripped off one huge run after another. With the Dolphins' offensive line continuously creating running lanes throughout the course of the afternoon, Thomas could have very well had his first breakout game had he been on the field.
A now healty Daniel Thomas expects to return for this Sunday's anticpated divisional matchup against the New York Jets, however he finds himself in a similar situation from a year ago. In 2011, Thomas had a promising start to the season until being hampered by a hamstring injury midway through. His absence provided Reggie Bush with the opportunity to take control of the team's featured back role and as we know, Bush has never looked back. Thomas on the other hand saw a tremendous decrease in his overall production.
In week 3 of the 2012 campaign, there is now a possibilty that Thomas drops even furthur down the depth chart with rookie Lamar Miller making a strong case to be the Dolphins backup. Miller took full advantage of the chances given to him against Oakland, tallying 65 yards on 10 carries and adding a late touchdown. The fourth round pick out of the University of Miami also posseses a better skill set than Thomas and is certainly the more explosive runner of the two.
Although Thomas lacks in several aspects of the game compared to Bush and Miller, the fact that he is the best blocker in the backfield works heavily in his favour and may turn out to be the reason he keeps his No. 2 role for the time being. In order for Thomas to live up to the expectations of being a second round pick there is still plenty to improve on, however his top asset will prove to be beneficial to the Dolphins offense this season.
With Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller in the fold, Miami has one of the best running back trios in the league. If Ryan Tannehill is to be put in the best possible position to succeed this year, the strengths of these three backs must coexist.
For all the latest news and analysis leading up to Sunday's game be sure to follow @Phins_Phocus on twitter.
The rivalry starts up again this week as its Jets week this week. The rivalry comes with a little extra excitement this year as the Phins face off against former head coach Tony Sprano and head coach Joe Philbin and rookie QB Ryan Tannehill get their first shot at the loathed Jets.
Coming off last week’s win the Dolphins head into this game confident and excited. Coach Philbin said that the players have a little more bounce in their step this week as the excitement is hard to miss. Tannehill said everything picks up a notch for a division game and Reggie Bush said this is the type of game you live for, and love to play. Everyone seems ready to go for the Jets this week.
Daniel Thomas and Anthony Armstrong both said they should be ready to play this week meaning the Dolphins should have a healthy unit for this week’s game. The same cannot be said for the Jets however as Revis has not been cleared for play yet and Dustin Keller has yet to practice. Two huge injuries which would certainly help the Phins however it is only Wednesday.
Ryan Tannehill is in firs t a true test against the fierce Rex Ryan defense and he will have to play a nearly mistake free game as this Jets D is hungry for turnovers. Reggie Bush has been the motor of this offense but he faces a tough test against a strong defensive line and will need to be his best to help take the load of the rookie QB.
The Dolphins defense should be able to shut down the run as they have for 16 consecutive games but don’t be surprised if we see some WildCat and Tim Tebow. The Dolphins pass rush will need to have more success as Sanchez is prone to make mistakes when rushed and under pressure.
The matchup is pretty tight between these two teams as both bring solid defenses and a running game to the table. Coaching could be a big factor in this one as Tony obviously has the inside track on the phins this week. That being said I expect turnovers to be the deciding factor in this week’s game. Would also expect to see a lot of field goals which could mean some Sprano fist punch action.
This game should set the tone for the rest of the season, if Miami can get the W improve to 2-1 and get a lead on the division rivals the whole perspective and attitude around Miami might shift.no comments