In their first late afternoon game of the 2012 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins will face the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday. To get us better prepared for the game, and to know what to expect from the 3-0 Cardinals, I turned to Tyler Nickel from Revenge of the Birds, SB Nation's Arizona Cardinals blog.
Nickel agreed to trade questions with me, and, here are his Dolphins questions, with my answers.
Here are my questions and his answers:
Kevin Nogle (KN): The Cardinals were the last team in the league to decide on a starting quarterback this year, and have already had to make a change due to injury. Yet the team is still 3-0. Although John Skelton has returned to practice this week, it's looking like Kevin Kolb will remain the team's starter against the Dolphins. How comfortable are fans with Kolb under center? Would they rather see Skelton?
Tyler Nickel (TN): At this point, most fans are in agreement that the team should stick with Kolb until further notice. He has played well in the two full games he has started and it would be a bit foolish to remove the hot hand now. I get a sense that most fans are comfortable with what he is doing right now and I have even seen many say that they are finally seeing the Kolb that the Cardinals thought they were trading for.
KN: Arizona placed running back Beanie Wells on the designated injured reserve list this week, meaning he will be out for the next eight weeks. Ryan Williams will, presumably, take over the role as the team's primary rusher. Is Williams fully recovered from his knee injury that sidelined him for all of his rookie campaign? What should Miami fans expect to see from the former Virginia Tech Hokie?
TN: Williams is, I would say, 95% recovered from his torn patella tendon. He is often listed on the injury report each week due to it flaring up a bit, but it's usually just precautionary. Fortunately for Dolphins fans, the Cardinals have struggled mightily in the run game so far this season. The offensive line rarely gets any push and the backs usually stumble forward for 2-3 yard gains. Unlike what we consistently have seen from Beanie Wells, however, Williams is a hard runner to take down. If the middle gets clogged, he can bounce it outside with a sharp cut and take it upfield for a decent gain. He ran the ball well towards the end of the game against the Eagles, so we will have to see if that carries on.
KN: Other than Skelton, how are the Cardinals health wise? Is defensive end Darrell Dockett going to be able to play?
TN: Health wise, the Cardinals are in a bit of rough shape right now. 14 players showed up on this week's injury report. As of now, they only have one truly healthy tight end, so that is a cause for concern. Their running back corps, including Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling and even Williams to an extent, is a bit banged up. The offensive line features two players dealing with lingering wounds. As for Dockett, I would say it is up in the air. He is not the type of player that likes to miss games, but then again, hamstring injuries can be a bit serious and they can linger as well. The team may opt to hold him out this week. If they do, look for Nick Eason and David Carter to get a lot of snaps in his place.
KN: Cornerback Patrick Peterson is starting to get noticed around the league. Is he really on the verge of being among the top corners in the league, or is it hyperbole because of the success of the Cardinals? Are the Dolphins simply going to have to stay away from Peterson?
TN: Coincidentally, I just wrote a piece on this a couple of days ago. As you can see, Peterson has already ascended into becoming that shutdown type of player. I don't believe it is hyperbole because of how well the team is doing because the team is doing well due to all of their key cogs playing so well, including Peterson. Most teams tend to shy away from Peterson and since Tannehill is a rookie, I would expect him to do the same.
KN: If you are developing the game plan for how to attack the Cardinals, what do you do on offense? On defense?
TN: If I am the Dolphins, I try to run the ball as much as possible to set up the play action. The Cardinals love to bring pressure, so keeping them on their toes with draw plays, play action, etc. would be a decent idea. On defense, watch for the quick throws over the middle from Kevin Kolb. He is always going to have hie eye on Larry Fitzgerald (for good reason), so keeping a safety over the top of him at all times would be wise. Other than that, trying to pressure Kolb up the middle would be a good idea as well. When teams pressure him off the tackles, he usually tends to evade it pretty well and can throw darts to his hot route receivers. But when they blitz up the middle, it usually doesn't end too well for the Cardinals.
I want to say thank you you Tyler for taking the time to let us know more about the Cardinals. You can continue to read up on the Cardinals by heading over to Revenge of the Birds, or check out our "2012 Week 4 @ Arizona Cardinals Stories" hub pinned into our cover. I am collecting stories from Revenge of the Birds and posting them in there.