Three days ago the Miami Dolphins were polishing off the Buffalo Bills, 35-8, and now tomorrow they’ll be back on the field taking on the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. The turnaround is so short that Head Coach Tony Sparano didn’t even show his players the film from the Bills game, quickly switching their focus to Dallas.
Both teams are riding three-game winning streaks and are pretty familiar with each other. Sparano of course coached in Dallas from 2003-07 as their tight ends coach (2003-04), offensive line coach and run game coordinator (2005) and assistant head coach/offensive line (2006-07). He still knows almost everyone on Dallas’ offensive coaching staff and quite a few players, but he’s not getting sentimental.
“Those people were really good to me,” Sparano said. “I mean, the (Jerry) Jones family and the fans there were really good to me so we spent a lot of time there obviously, and obviously I know a lot of players there too. Still that’s it. It’s a business trip. If I want a vacation in Dallas I can do that some other time.”
Four of Sparano’s current players were in Dallas with him – tight end
So here are some of the key matchups to pay close attention to in between bites of turkey, stuffing and sweet potato pie:
1. Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware versus Miami’s offensive line – Since the Cowboys like to move Ware around constantly, Columbo, Pro Bowl left tackle
2. Dolphins linebackers and safeties versus Dallas tight end Jason Witten and rookie running back DeMarco Murray – Whenever Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo can soften up the middle of the defense by connecting with Witten down the seams and running Murray between the tackles, he grows more confident in taking big shots down the field to wide receiver Dez Bryant. Miami’s inside linebackers,
3. Cowboys backup cornerback Alan Ball versus Miami wide receiver
4. Dolphins outside linebacker
5. Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano versus Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett – These two were on the same coaching staff together in Dallas for one year back in 2007 after Garrett spent his first two years in the profession in Miami with the Dolphins as their quarterbacks coach. Garrett was the offensive coordinator and Sparano was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach so they do know a little about each other’s tendencies. That’s why Sparano likes the short turnaround. “You don’t have too much time to over analyze much,” he said. “You got to get to what it is that you got to get to and study your guys, see the tendencies and move on. The game is on you fast. Here we are, we’re on a plane tomorrow and we’re getting ready to do this thing. I like it. I always did when I was in Dallas. I thought the three games in 11 days can change your fortunes fast, one way or the other. And I think that this is a good opportunity for us.” One Sparano and the Dolphins do not want to let get away.