The Arizona Cardinals hope to improve to 4-0 with a win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. On paper, with a record of 1-2 the Dolphins look like a team that will not be too tough a opponent to do just that. However, one thing that Miami does very well is stop the run.
Bryan Gibberman took a look at the numbers in a post for SB Nation Arizona.
Through three games Miami has been run against 81 times for 199 yards (3rd best in NFL), at 2.5 yards per carry (2nd best in NFL), with their longest run allowed being 14 yards (best in the NFL).
According to Pro Football Focus nine of the Fins starting 11 defenders rate positively against the run - Jared Odrick 12th and Cameron Wake 20th out of all 4-3 defensive ends, Paul Solai 9th and Randy Starks 18th for defensive tackles, Koa Misi 4th and Kevin Burnett 14th at 4-3 outside linebacker, Karlos Dansby 5th for inside linebacker and Rashad Jones 4th and Chris D. Clemons 9th at safety.
The numbers get even better, according to Bill Barnwell on Grantland:
MIAMI AGAINST THE RUN
|vs. Dolphins||vs. Other Opponents|
Essentially, three teams that like to run the ball struggled mightily against the Dolphins and have done well otherwise.
Arizona, though, has struggled with the run, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry thus far. They have not bailed on it, though. They are 12th in the league in attempts per game.
At a glance, you would think that all Arizona needs to do is just throw the ball. After all, Miami has struggled against the pass.
One thing that Gibberman noticed in game film against the Texans is that Miami played a lot with eight men in the box. Houston only attempted to run out of the shotgun once. In that case, Miami had six in the box. This could play into the hands of Arizona, who with Kevin Kolb are more likely to spread the field.
Do the Cardinals need to be great at running the ball against Miami? Probably not, but they will need to not give up on the run, thus keeping play action available.
With Beanie Wells out and perhaps LaRod Stephens-Howling unavailable to play on Sunday, the running game will be a combination of Ryan Williams and William Powell to go against Miami's defensive front.
It will be up to them to protect the football and fight for yards, but most importantly, Kevin Kolb will have to make plays with his arm.