Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel gives us his thoughts on all-things Miami Dolphins in our weekly installment of The Other Side.
Q: What's happened down there? What's been the key to the turnaround?
A: As strange as it might seem, despite the team's 0-7 start they've always been a confident team. In fact, it bordered on arrogance. The players kept working hard, kept their attitudes positive, and they kept saying it would eventually turn around. That's exactly what happened once Matt Moore became comfortable, and the defense finally started playing up to expectation.
Q: Is the heat off Tony Sparano?
A: Not really. I don't think he can survive this season unless he puts together at least a .500 record. Too much damage has been done. However, if the Dolphins remain hot it could make it a tough decision for owner Steve Ross. However, the fan base is demanding a regime change and Ross typically gives them what they want. The problem is this team is rallying for Sparano and the rest of Miami's coaches. Unfortunately, it might be too little too late.
Q: How is former Cowboys tackle, Marc Colombo, playing?
A: Horribly. He's a turnstile, which I'm sure isn't much of a surprise to Dallas fans. He's allowed four sacks this season, but a tight end is usually next to him at all times. He typically allows five bad pressures a game, and considering how much Moore locked onto what's going on downfield those pressures can turn into turnovers.
Q: Tell us about the defense. It hasn't given up a touchdown in 12 quarters.
A: The strength of the defense is the defensive line, which is six players deep. Paul Soliai, the nose tackle, is a force against the run. The past four opponents are averaging 2.8 yards per carry. The biggest improvement that's been made comes from Karlos Dansby's resurgence. He can to camp at least 25 pounds over weight and it took him two months to play like he did in 2010. Now that he's doing it some of the pressure that was placed on Kevin Burnett has subsided. Also, the secondary is playing a lot better. A month ago opposing quarterbacks had a cumulative rating of 103.1. Heading into Thursday's game that QB rating has dropped to 85.8.
Q: Matt Moore is a pretty emotional player. How much has this helped during this win streak?
A: He's become a very popular person in the locker room. The players rally around him, and and the feel of the offense is a lot different with Moore as the starter. It doesn't hurt that he's transforming those red zone opportunities into touchdowns. Over the past five games the Dolphins have scored 11 touchdowns on the team's 16 red zone opportunities. Of course the running game has been better, but the touch Moore puts on his passes has also helped.
Q: Will the short week help or hurt the Dolphins?
A: I think it should help the Dolphins considering they are a relatively healthy team. Only one of two players are nursing injuries, and everyone is fairly young, so they should be able to bounce back quickly. However, the short turnaround might hurt the team from a preparation standpoint because the Dolphins are typically show starters. Just look at the 0-7 start.
Q: DeMarcus Ware is one of the best defensive players in the league. How can the Dolphins slow him down?
A: By playing a lot of two tight end sets, and putting a competent blocker in the backfield. Of course Rob Ryan will try to put him up against Colombo, and the Dolphins would be crazy to not protect their weakest link. The best approach might be to shorten the game by running the ball a lot.
Q: You're picking the Dolphins this week, right?
A: No. I think this is the week the team's feel good vibes come to an end. The Dolphins don't do well against teams with strong pass rushing games. That's why I'm picking the Cowboys to win 24-17.