How to beat the Cardinals

David StatmanContributor ISeptember 13, 2008

Hello Dolphins fans. Like me, I am sure you are still frustrated and angry over last week's loss to Brettie and the Jets. Frustrated by how quick offensive coordinator Dan Henning was to abandon his offense. Frustrated by the defense's failure to stop Thomas Jones, who matched his total of rushing touchdowns in Week 1. But, a new week has started, and tomorrow, the Dolphins march into Phoenix with intentions of taking down the always-mediocre, somtimes awful Arizona Cardinals. Here are three keys to a Dolphins win.

1. Establish the running game.

The run was supposed to be the Dolphins' strength this year, but unfortunately, Dan Henning put it aside and threw 45 passes. Ronnie and Ricky couldn't get into a groove, and the offense suffered, especially when Henning called two passes at the 2 with Ricky Williams in the backfield. Ricky will have to get more than 10 carries. Let him pound and pound the defense, wearing them down. The floodgates will open late, and the two will be unstoppable. The Cardinals did lose Calvin Pace to free agency, but Bertrand Berry, Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett, and talented rookie Calais Campbell are still staring down the Dolphins on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

2. Defense defense defense.

The Dolphins couldn't seem to stop the Jets, with Favre too often hitting his receivers, and the line not bringing sufficient pressure. The only defender who really pressured Favre was rookie Kendall Langford, who had a sack and brought good pressure all game. Of course, the Dolphins aren't facing a Brett Favre on Sunday, but even with Kurt Warner at the helm, Edgerrin James is still in that backfield, and Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are still Warner's targets. Channing Crowder needs to make more plays, as he seemed to disappear for the Jets game. Rushing up the middle might be easier this week for Jason Ferguson, as the Cardinals are missing Al Johnson at center, forcing them to choose between practice squad lifer Pat Ross and undrafted rookie Lyle Sendlein.

3. Protect the quarterback.

For the most part, I liked what I saw from the revamped Dolphins' O-line last week. Chad Pennington had lots of time on most of his throws, but with the aforementioned Berry, Dockett, and Campbell, time might be scarce for Pennington. This could prove disastrous, especially with the Dolphins' weak receivers and stud rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and his partner-in-crime, Antrel Rolle, who had five interceptions in 2007. Number one draft pick Jake Long needs to be smarter, as he committed two dumb penalties, a trip and a hold, which called back two long quarterback keepers by Pennington.


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