Four of the next five games for the Miami Dolphins will be played at Sun Life Stadium beginning with Sunday’s non-conference tilt with the Washington Redskins.
Head Coach Tony Sparano and his team are intent on restoring a home field advantage by riding the momentum of last week’s first win at Kansas City to a second consecutive victory. They will be facing a Washington team that has lost four straight after jumping out to a 3-1 start and a team that has been beset by injuries.
Sparano had a challenging task this week of trying to balance the enthusiasm and confidence that came as a result of the 31-3 rout of the Chiefs with the need to regain focus and give the Redskins their proper respect and attention. The fourth-year head coach believes that mission was accomplished on all fronts.
“I don’t want to ruin confidence. I mean I think that you work too hard to get it,” Sparano said. “The good teams have it. They have a swagger about them. They have a way about how they approach the game, the way they approach practice. I don’t want to ruin that.
“You can go in there and you can be this downer and that’s not really what I want to do with this team. They’ve worked hard here with no reward early in the season and came off of a win and finally got a little reward. So you don’t give them a lot of sugar. That isn’t what we do here. But at the same time you don’t squash enthusiasm.”
“I think it’s going to be a very physical game against a very strong NFC East team,” Smith said. “These guys are going to bring everything they’ve got because they’re just as hungry as us to get a win right now. They have a lot of playmakers at the wide receiver position but hopefully we’ve got some guys up front that will apply that pressure and allow us to make plays back there.”
Here are some key matchups to watch come Sunday once the ball is kicked off at 1 p.m.:
1. Dolphins quarterback
2. Washington tight end Fred Davis versus Miami’s ILBs
3. Dolphins running back
4. Washington quarterback John Beck versus Miami’s secondary: Beck began his NFL career with the Dolphins as their second-round draft pick in 2007 and started four games as a rookie during a tough 1-15 season. He was relegated to third-string in 2008 behind Chad Pennington and
5. Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano versus Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan: This is a matchup between a cagy veteran coach with two Super Bowl rings on his resume in Shanahan and a fiery young head coach who has won over his players in Sparano. Shanahan has played musical quarterbacks this season with Beck and Rex Grossman while Sparano had to thrust Moore into action after Henne suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4 at San Diego. The outcome of this game most likely will be decided early on by which team can find its rhythm first and sustain it, like Miami did last week at Kansas City, and how the coaches handle their players and play-calling will go a long way in determining that.