Dolphins Gameplan: Defense must dominate

Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby called the Dolphins game on Sunday against the Cardinals a ‘must win’.  The 1-2 Dolphins certainly have their work cut out for them if they hope to beat the 3-0 Cardinals.  The Dolphins offense has been sporadic and the defense is not ready to carry the team at this point.  The Dolphins must get more consistent play from quarterback Ryan Tannehill (I know he’s a rookie!), but he also must get some help from receivers other than guys named Bess and Hartline.  By the way, has anyone seen Charles Clay?

The Dolphins are also dealing with a couple of injuries that could greatly impact their chances of pulling off an upset.  Reggie Bush is working his way back from a knee bruise that he suffered against the Jets.  And yesterday, Richard Marshall’s back injury resurfaced, causing him to miss practice.  Although it may seem bleak, the Dolphins do have a chance in this game.  Here’s what the Dolphins need to do to pull off the upset in Arizona:

Protect the Football

Coaches always say that if you win the turnover battle, you have a much better chance of winning.  The Dolphins are -3 in the giveaway/takeaway department this season.  A big part of that statistic is the fact that Ryan Tannehill has thrown 4 interceptions.  3 of those came in the first game against the Texans, so he’s been doing a better job of protecting the football.  His only turnover in the last 2 games was the pick-6 he threw to LaRon Landry last week.

The Cardinals are currently +4 in the giveaway/takeaway department.  The Arizona defense has intercepted 2 passes and caused 4 fumbles (HOLD ONTO THE FOOTBALL DANIEL THOMAS!).  The Cardinals defense is young and very fast.  They swarm to the ball and strip the ball in packs.  Last week, they caused a game-changing turnover against the Eagles, just before halftime, which essentially iced the game.

The Dolphins MUST protect the football if they want to win this game.  The Dolphins aren’t good enough to lose the turnover battle, on the road, with a rookie quarterback and beat a good team.  I hate calling the Cardinals a good team but they’ve beaten the Seahawks (2-1), Eagles (2-1), and won in New England.  

Run to open up the pass

The Dolphins are currently the #4 team in the NFL at rushing the football, averaging 175 yards a game and 5.0 yards per carry.  The Cardinals defense ranks #17 in the NFL, allowing 106 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry.  If Reggie Bush can’t play (I think he will), Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller will need to step up.  The Dolphins must run the ball effectively to set up the passing game for Ryan Tannehill.  If the Dolphins can threaten the Cardinals with the run, they’ll be forced to move an 8th defender into the box, creating 1 on 1 matchups that the Dolphins must take advantage of.  Hint: don’t throw at Patrick Peterson.

I’d also like to see the Dolphins call more play action passes and even roll Tannehill out off of a play fake.  If the Dolphins can get the Arizona linebackers to ‘bite’ on the run, it will create room for the Dolphins receivers, tight ends, and backs to operate.  Again, is Charles Clay still on this team?  This was supposed to be Clay’s breakout year and he’s caught 1 more pass than I have.  He has 1 catch for 2 yards.  Seriously, I had to look it up because I didn’t remember him catching anything.  The Dolphins also need a 3rd wide receiver to step up.  I’m looking at you Anthony Armstrong.  (cont’d on page 2, click below)

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