When the Dolphins get set to kickoff in Arizona on Sunday they will be facing a team with a 3-0 record because of the identity it has established as a team unified behind turnover free football and great Defense.
Tomorrow is a game that can be won if the Dolphins win the turnover battle and assume their identity, which is Dominating The Line Of Scrimmage.
If the Dolphins plan on establishing their identity and winning, these are my 5 Keys to Victory.
- Make Arizona One Dimensional- With the way the Dolphins front 7 has performed against the run and Arizona’s lack of ability to run the ball due to Beanie Wells injury and average offensive line, this prospect almost seems a given, but nothing is ever guaranteed and they must deny Ryan Williams any room to run.
- Must Sack Kevin Kolb at Least 3 Times- The Dolphins need to bring pressure up the middle and keep contain early and often. Kolb is known to get flustered under pressure and give up on plays when he doesn’t have a clean pocket to step up into. Along with the hope of making Arizona one dimensional, the pass rush will be the best way to keep a shaky secondary from getting exposed by a receiving core that has 4 dependable if not spectacular players in Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, and Early Doucet.
- Must Win 3rd Down- This is the down in which players salaries are earned. The key to having success on Offense is being able to sustain drives. Hopefully the running game will be effective behind Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, and Lamar Miller; keeping them in manageable down and distances. On defense the Dolphins have to be able to get Arizona off the field when they have their opportunities, limiting Arizona’s chances to create mismatches and convert big plays.
- Win Turnover Battle- It’s quite simple really, protect the football on Offense and take the ball away on Defense. Dolphins win this stat along with points off turnovers and they win this game.
- Special Teams, Special Teams, Special Teams, Special Teams- I wrote it four times for you because the Dolphins have to win all 4 phases of this facet of the game (punt, kickoff, FG, & returns) in order to win hidden yardage and close games out. They need to win the field position battle like they did against Oakland, so their Kick Off and Punt Coverage units have to maintain their lanes and bring returners down on first contact and pin them as deep in thier territory as possible. They need to convert FG opportunities into points, so no more missed kicks within 50 yards Mr. Carpenter. They also need to give the Offense good starting field position, so Marcus Thigpen needs to remain consistent and shine a bit to give us a spark on the road.
In order for the Dolphins to accomplish the above Keys to Victory, these 5 Players Need to Step Up.
- Daniel Thomas- Especially with Bush’s injury, he needs to avoid the fumbles and start living up to his billing. Also needs to remain dependable in pass protection, cut the drops, and run with more physicality and vision. Sounds like a whole lot, but he has it in him. If he doesn’t start providing this consistently though, Miller will reap the benefits as he improves his pass pro.
- Charles Clay- Someone other than Tannehill’s primary targets of Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and Anthony Fasano has to step up and become a presence to be accounted for. The most ideal option would be Clay as his versatility is supposed to create mismatch opportuinities.
- Chris Clemons- He’s been rather steady so far this season but he’s also been a reoccurring factor in missed tackles from bad angles that have led to the big run after the catch plays that have plagued this secondary, especially on third downs. If he cleans up his angles, it’ll clean up deficiencies.
- Jared Odrick- I had and still have high expectations for this 3rd year pro. Playing DE opposite of Cameron Wake affords him plenty of one on one opportunities against tackles that as a 300 pounder with quickness on the edge clearly outmatches athletically. It’s time for him to start dominating these chances and put opposing QBs on their back. His half sack last week was a start.
- Ryan Tannehill- I hate to put pressure on the youngster because he has progressed and should have 2 career wins on his belt instead of 1 but I have to call it like I see it. For all his improvements and progression, eventually Tannehill is going to have to be more efficient and complete passes at a higher percentage. I know part of it has been due to drops but most of it has been ball location and failure to scan the whole field. He missed an open Bess for a TD and Hartline deep a few times last week. If they’re going to beat Arizona, he’s going to have to hit those because Arizona will be trying their best to stuff the run.
Prediction: MIA 17 ARZ 13
I think Miami can run the ball on Arizona and fluster Kolb, and as long as Tannehill plays a turnover free game, he can lead the Dolphins to victory.