Okay, time to move on from the lambasting of Adam Gase’s lack of preparation and the lack of the players’ performance in Baltimore. You need a thick skin and a short memory in the NFL, and let’s hope the Dolphins have both.
The Arizona Cardinals come to town. Seemingly for the 13th game in a row, the Dolphins face a team with a Top-5 defense. I don’t know how this happens each week or why the schedule makers pitted us against such tough defenses this season, but it’s happening again. The Cardinals’ offense is no slouch either. They’re a perennial playoff team lately who got off to a slow start, but now they’ve been coming around and beating some decent teams.
They have a lot of momentum coming into a game where the Dolphins just lost all their confidence. That does not bode well.
The good news is that the Cardinals are stoppable. Despite the emergence of a few other key players, the Cards’ offense is still the Carson Palmer-to-Larry Fitzgerald show. Yes, other guys can burn you, but if you take away Palmer’s favorite target, he tends to get into trouble. Another good thing is that the Cards don’t run the quick slant as a base part of their offense. Sure, the Ravens and Patriots showed the world the easy blueprint to beat the Dolphins: run the same slant pattern across the middle all day long. However, that type of play isn’t a strength of what the Cards do, although if I were them I would perfect that play in practice all week long.
The Dolphins are also hobbled with injuries and the iffy status of key players. I really wish that Vance Joseph and Gase would change up the linebacking corps. They need to start Kiko Alonso, Mike Hull, and Zach Vigil. As I’ve been saying all year, can those guys do any worse than the likes of Jelani Jenkins, Neville Hewitt, and Spencer Paysinger? Shake things up and let’s see what happens.
As bad as the offense played Sunday, the prior few weeks they were doing better, including putting up 31 against the 49ers. In some ways, that shows me that Mike Pouncey isn’t missed as much as the media seems to report. Almost daily, some reporter is asking Adam Gase if Mike Pouncey will play again this year. Instead, I myself would ask Gase to comment on the outstanding work that Anthony Steen is doing at center. This seems to happen each year. Pouncey gets hurt, and a backup fills in adequately, and then somehow Pouncey makes the Pro Bowl. I do hope he comes back and can help toward a potential playoff push, but I don’t think his absence is killing us.
I don’t get the sense that the Dolphins are looking past the Cardinals and eyeing a prime time game against the Jets the following week. I think they are focused and realize that they face a tough opponent this week, and I expect them to rebound. It’s Miami’s only home game in December (thanks, NFL), and they have to take advantage of it. After the Cardinals, we face another road game on a short week, just like when we had travel to Cincy on a short week. Short weeks are hard enough, but to give us two shorts weeks in one season? Plus BOTH of them on the road? No respect!