This week the Miami Dolphins face the undefeated Arizona Cardinals in Arizona. Coming off a close and heartbreaking loss to the New York Jets, in a game that the Phins pretty much dominated and lead for most of the game. Fortunately they were not the only team in the division to lose as the New England Patriots also fell to 1-2, keeping Miami in the competition. The Jets and Buffalo Bills are 2-1 but the Jets are hosting the San Francisco 49’s which is honestly a game the Jets can only hope to contend in. The Bills will be hosting the Patriots which as a division game can really go any direction though the Patriots are heavily favored.
Miami’s Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has already faced a Top Tier Defense in the Houston Texans and we won’t get into that game. He also faced the best corner back tandem in the league last week in Derrel Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and did a fairly decent job for a rookie in his third NFL game. Other then the pick he threw in the opening drive of the second half he did a great job of finding an open man for the first down and avoiding the blitz when he had to, which was not very often thanks to the O-line. Some in the media were saying he took too many shots down the field but it might have helped the running game by stretching the field. That, more then likely wasn’t his goal but the safeties and corners backed off the ball when they realized he can air it out if he needs to. His performance wasn’t one to remember and is in no way comparable to Eli Manning’s or Tom Brady’s numbers but for a Rookie QB he did “OK”.
This week Tannehill faces proabably the second best corner back in the league, Patrick Peterson. Of course calling him the second best is up for debate but he has definitely been showing that he has the skills and talent to be in at least the top three. He is by no means a stat monster, he has only 3 picks in 2 years and one of them came in their second game against the Patriots two weeks ago. Not mention he gets to work off one of the best Wide Receivers in the league, Larry Fitzgerald. On the other side the field is William Gay, formerly of the Pittsburg Sttelers. Gay is a more of a run support corner and not so much a ball hawk, but still pretty good in coverage all over the field. These two, along with Safties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes, have made the Cardinals 9th in pass defense and 10th overall, both higher rankings then Jets and Oakland Raiders but less then the Texans. In other words, Tannehill is about to face the second best defense he’s seen so far this year.
Good news is that the Cards rank 17th against the run and Miami is still in the top five when rushing the ball. If Reggie Bush does play this weekend he can probably have another stellar game against an average run stopping team. Along with Daniel Thomas(if he can hold on to the ball) and Lamar Miller, Miami can do what has been working for them the most so far this season, run the ball. Some of the best defensive players for the Cards are in the secondary, and without any real threats at wide receiver, Tannehill is going to have his hands full trying to complete passes. Miami was successful and winning in all three games until they abandoned the run and started passing the ball. Hopefully Miami sticks to what works this week and continues to run the ball.
Tanehilll has had his moments and shown that he can really play QB at a professional level and be a leader. He has also shown that he is a rookie and has continued to make rookie mistakes. Last week’s interception by Laron Landry was due to Tannehill staring down his receivers before the pass, and as the game went on it became harder and harder to complete a pass because the secondary was keying in on Tannehill’s eyes. He is still a rookie, but he has to be able to learn from his mistakes and change his habits, otherwise defense are going to figure him out and he will never be successful.
Another large issue this game is Arizona’s defensive rush. Right now the Card’s are tied for second as a team in sacks with 12 so far this season, 4 on Brady alone. The O-line must be at their best this weekend and give Tannehill time to throw the ball. They must keep the Cards D-line out of the pocket and not let the d-line get their hands up to stop the pass. Bush, Lane and Thomas must pick up the blitz and protect Tannehill better they have been. Even though Miami is the underdog, again, Miami can absolutely win this game with the right play calling and individual effort by the players. The Phins are still in contention in the division, its too early to quit on the season. If they can string together some wins, take advantage of their relatively easy schedule and the bad play of other teams in the division, Miami could possibly make a run at the playoffs. But first things first, get past Arizona and then lets go from there.