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Now Dolphins worry about overconfidence

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DAVIE, Fla. — Interim coach Dan Campbell is preaching caution this week as his upstart Miami Dolphins, now 2-3, play the Houston Texans Sunday.

“The challenge now for these guys is to not start patting themselves on the back because we’ve been notorious for that around here,” Campbell said, “We get a big win and all of a sudden it’s a lull the next week.”

Campbell is concerned about complacency after the Dolphins snapped their three-game losing streak with an inspired performance, and a victory, against Tennessee.

The coach sees the game against the visiting Texans (2-4) as more of a mentality test than a physicality test — a trap game after an emotional 38-10 win over Tennessee.

And for the Titans, this visit to Miami comes right before their game at New England next Thursday.

Campbell wants everybody to keep the pedal to the metal and maintain the aggressive play they showed against Tennessee.

“The energy and the speed at which we played is what I was hoping we would get,” Campbell said. “I knew if we did that, that we would be all right and I could feel that and the players could feel that.”

Campbell said he will continue the one-on-one workout sessions — aka Oklahoma drills. He believes they raise the level of competition.

“The 1-on-1s that we’ve had session-wise, we may change it up a little bit this week, but it’s been literally one guy verses another guy, offense (vs.) defense and all of your teammates are on the side watching,” Campbell said.

“You have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and you get the most out of those guys because nobody wants to fail, especially in front of their teammates. Everybody is watching.”

Campbell credits those drills for raising not only the physical level of play, but the team’s overall attitude against the Titans.

One play many viewed as backing up Campbell’s aggressive talk came in the fourth quarter after cornerback Brent Grimes’ interception at Miami’s three-yard line.

On the very next play quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed a 38-yard pass to wide receiver Kenny Stills.

“We told them, ‘Hey, we’re going after it, we’re going to be aggressive,'” Campbell said. “They’re going to have to adjust to what we do, we’re not going to adjust to them. We set the tone, and we set the tempo. That validated that.”

Miami should have enough leaders — defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, defensive end Cam Wake, cornerback Brent Grimes, center Mike Pouncey, left tackle Branden Albert, etc. — to stay focused on Houston.

Campbell would certainly like to see the team maintain its recent level of play because perhaps that would show that a change in coaching is all that was needed.

SERIES HISTORY: 8th regular season meeting, Houston leads series, 7-0. In the last meeting the Texans won, 30-10, in 2012, and in the meeting before that the Texans won, 23-13, in 2011. The 2011 game was at Sun Life Stadium, where the Texans are 3-0.

GAMEPLAN: Miami wants to flex its defensive muscle against a Houston team that has struggled to score consistently. The Texans (21.3 points per game) are ranked 21st in scoring offense and they have had quarterback problems with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett.

The pass rush, led by defensive end Cam Wake, must stay aggressive. The run defense, which got good contributions from the entire front seven, must be committed to dominating Houston’s running game. Miami had problems with intensity and aggression in its first four games.

Of course, Miami has to keep its offensive line tight with Texans defensive end J.J. Watt coming to town. And defensive tackle Vince Wilfork still is capable of shutting down the run, and hard-hitting inside linebacker also is Brian Cushing in the mix.

If Miami can grind out yards on the ground and tap into the physical defensive tone it established last week it should do well against Houston.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

–Houston DE J.J. Watt, who lines up on either side, vs. Dolphins Ts Ja’Wuan James and Branden Albert, who will both be challenged by Watt’s speed and strength.

Watt, who has 4.0 sacks this season, is among the best and most intense defensive players in the NFL. He’s a beast in pass-rushing situations and although Albert, who is recovering from a hamstring injury and a knee injury, seems to be healthy, James probably will require help.

–Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, who has had at least three potential interceptions dropped this season, vs. Houston pass defense, which is tied for 24th in the NFL with nine sacks.

Tannehill had his best performance last week vs. Tennessee but he still was sacked twice and had a potential interception dropped. Given time, Tannehill can do damage. But Houston could foil that plan either from its base 3-4 defense or with its blitz packages. This probably will be a game-changing matchup.


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