This afternoon’s contest between the Miami Dolphins and the Arizona Cardinals should prove to be a true test of the Dolphins character. Arizona has been one of the toughest teams in the league over the first three weeks, winning all of their match-ups, and they present a well balanced offense, as well as a top tier defense. How Miami handles the pressure today could likely solidify the identity of the team going forward.
With Week 4 representing a full quarter of the season, I believe it is fair to say that, for the most part, what you see is what you are going to get. There are always some teams who pull it together late in the season, and make impressive runs, but with a team as young and inexperienced as Miami, this seems highly unlikely.
After giving a home game away to the New York Jets in Week 3, the rebuilding Dolphins could easily fall into a tailspin. Miami had been in position to win against their division rivals nearly all game, just to watch the Jets kick a field goal in overtime, for the win. The mood after the game was one of somber understanding, with everyone realizing they had given away a key game that should have been their second win in a row. Instead, the ‘Phins will head across country, and try to show up against what looks to be a very good Arizona team.
The Cardinals came into the season with questions as to who was going to be their quarterback, but they seem to have settled that issue. Kevin Kolb is finally playing the way Arizona envisioned when they unloaded the Brinks truck to lure him out west. The defense is playing with such intensity, it could be argued to be the best in their division. This is truly saying something considering the NFC West includes the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, two teams built on defense first philosophies.
The Dolphins running game has been among the best in the league, but there will be questions surrounding their star running back, Reggie Bush, who was knocked out of the Jets game after a hit to his knee. He is listed as active and may see action against the Cards, but how effective he can be will have to be seen. If the Dolphins offense is able to overcome a drop off from Bush, as well as the Cardinals oppressive defense, it will give great hope to the team for the future. If the ‘Phins defense keeps Kolb and superstar wideout, Larry Fitzgerald, in check, Miami will have a chance to win in the desert.
If the Dolphins do win, it could propel them forward in a division that appears to be wide open. The New England Patriots have been struggling in the first quarter of the season, and while it is likely they will get it together and come on strong, the Jets and the Buffalo Bills are having troubles finding their way. It is completely possible for the Dolphins to overachieve and make a run in the division.
First things first, the Dolphins need to play strong today. They need to shake off last week’s loss and stand tall in a hostile environment. It is time to make a statement, and Arizona, on the road, is the perfect spot to dig in and show who the 2012 Miami Dolphins truly are.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.