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NFL AM: Wins and Oklahoma Drills For The Miami Dolphins

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Miami Dolphins Resurgence

After an uninspiring effort in a loss to the New York Jets, The Miami Dolphins were sitting at one win and three losses with their season on the brink of disaster. This led to the Dolphins saying goodbye to head coach Joe Philbin and promoting tight ends coach Dan Campbell to head coach.

Two weeks and a host of Oklahoma drills later and the Dolphins are back in the thick of things with back-to-back dominant wins over the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. In this two-game turnaround, the Dolphins defense has played to the level everyone thought they would before the season and the offense has set a physical tone throughout each contest.

Dolphins linebacker Kelvin Sheppard attributes the success to the new man in charge:

“With the changes that happened, we honestly feel like it was a new season,” Sheppard said. “That’s from the top down. That’s what our head man stands before us and says. We’ve all bought into that, and that’s truly what we believe.”

This leaves the question as to whether the last two games are fools gold or actually a sign of things to come for the Dolphins. The Texans and Titans have a combined three wins and ten losses; therefore, it’s not like the Dolphins have shown their ability against solid teams.

The answer will likely come next week as the Dolphins will face off against the undefeated New England Patriots. On paper, Miami has an opportunity to give the Patriots a lot of trouble, especially with their front seven on defense behind Cam Wake and Ndamukong Suh.

Nevertheless, it is time to pause on all the praise for Campbell and withhold judgment until the Dolphins beat a team who could sniff .500 this season.

Cassel Isn’t The Answer Either For The Cowboys

While everyone is discussing the sideline antics of defensive end Greg Hardy, the real problem for the Cowboys is that they are entering a dangerous territory of being out of the playoff race by the time Tony Romo returns in late November.

Until the third quarter, the Cowboys were playing a very solid game considering the circumstances. The defense was playing well and the offense was playing smart and pounding the football down the New York Giants’ throats. However, three Matt Cassel interceptions later and the Cowboys’ hope of winning the game appeared to go up in smoke. Nevertheless, they still hung in the game and even tied up the game in the fourth quarter. Two terrible special teams plays ultimately put the final nail in the Cowboys’ coffin.

The fact is that the Cowboys would have won this game if they got any semblance of competent quarterback play. This game was ripe for the taking and the Cowboys failed to capitalize.

Head coach Jason Garrett tried to be positive, but even he acknowledged how big Cassel’s mistake was:

“He did a lot of good things in this game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Cassel, who made his first start for the Cowboys in place of Brandon Weeden. “I thought he handled himself well, was composed, and had poise. Obviously the three big plays for him were the interceptions.”

The Cowboys have a lot to figure out between now and their must-win contest against the Seattle Seahawks. Dallas could potentially start Kellen Moore and keep the quarterback carousel going or they could stick with Cassel and hope he keeps the mistakes down against one of the most turnover-prone defenses in the NFL.

Whatever the case may be, the Cowboys season is on the brink of collapsing, but with a Dez Bryant return on the horizon, the offensive line playing to their potential and the defense remaining stout, there is still hope.

Arizona Cardinals Look Strong

While the Seattle Seahawks have ruled over the NFC West for the last few years, the Arizona Cardinals have been the class of the division thus far this year. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has built a title contender on the back of a stellar defense, revamped running game and a steady quarterback.

The Cardinals continued their winning ways as they beat the Baltimore Ravens, 26-18 in a thrilling game that was sealed by a Tony Jefferson interception in the end zone. It was a fitting end to the game because of how dominant and opportunistic the Cardinals defense has been this year.

The Cardinals secondary has been one of the best in the NFL. Patrick Peterson may be the most talented cornerback in the league and Tyrann Mathieu has played as well as any defensive back this year. The front seven is carried by dominant defensive end Calais Campbell, who may be the most underappreciated defensive lineman in football.

On offense, Arians has somehow brought about the resurgence of running back Chris Johnson, who isn’t second in the NFL in rushing yards at this point in time. Larry Fitzgerald has rejuvenated his career beside explosive receiver John Brown, which has made life much easier on Carson Palmer.

When you build a Super-Bowl contender without a tier-one quarterback, you need a great defense, dominant running game and weapons on the outside, which the Cardinals have in spades. Barring another injury at an important position, the Cardinals look to be serious contenders for the NFC crown.

 

I’d like to take this time to congratulate our managing editor Charlie Bernstein on a stellar job as a part of the Yahoo Sports live web stream of the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars game. Great job Charlie! You made us all proud. 

 


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com