September 14, 2008 was the last time the Miami Dolphins visited University of Phoenix Stadium. That day the Cardinals manhandled them 31-10.
With a win over the Dolphins on Sunday, the Cardinals would move to 4-0 for the first time since 1974 when they started 7-0.
How can Arizona stay among the ranks of the unbeaten?
All week long the players have talked about staying focused and not looking past a Dolphins team that has a rookie quarterback, and that’s 1-2 right now.
Which leads me into No. 1…
1. The team focus has to remain as constant as it’s been all season long. It’s nice to be undefeated, but they know fortunes can change very quickly.
Just maintain that laser sight on the Dolphins, not 4-0 and never take them for granted for a split second.
2. Kevin Kolb has led this team, this offense about as well as you’d expect him to.
They haven’t scored a ton of points, but you know what? That’s okay, because the points will come if Kolb remains smart in what he’s doing and doesn’t turn the ball over, which is what he’s done with the exception of the fumble in New England.
Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald were a good team last week against the Eagles. If those two can spark some more, and Kolb spreads the ball around to stretch Miami’s defense, then eventually more points will come, because the confidence factor will kick in for everyone on the offense.
3. The running game will be minus Beanie Wells as we all know, but the four guys they have now (Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell and Alfonso Smith) are all capable of playing at a very high level.
However, they’ve got to do better than 2.8 yards per rush, which is what they’re averaging right now as a team. That’s 30th among 32 teams.
It’s on the offensive line to create more gaps and running lanes for them so they can get out in space, break some long runs and keep the Dolphins defense on their heels.
4. The Dolphins running game is very good. They’re averaging 176 yards rushing per game, so the Cardinals defense will be tested big time on Sunday.
The status of Reggie Bush is still in the air.
From all accounts, Bush took part in practice on Thursday and ran well. Whether he and his knee will be ready on Sunday will most likely be decided closer to game time. If Bush can’t go, then look for Daniel Thomas and rookie Lamar Miller to share the load.
Miller is explosive, averaging almost six yards per rush, but Thomas has a tendency to fumble the ball away. He’s fumbled twice so far on his 22 carries.
The defense also needs to go for broke against rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He saw a strong defense in the Texans in Week One, but it’s time for him to see and feel another one in the Cardinals defense.
Tannehill’s offensive line is strong, giving up just four sacks this season.
The Cardinals defense is going to have to break that wall and put Tannehill on the ground, or on the run the entire game.
5. The Cardinals can’t afford to cough the ball up at all.
If they can stay on the plus side of the turnover ratio like they did last week against the Eagles, get Miami on the minus side, win the time of possession, then they should be in good position to get their fourth win of the season.