Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins vs. Arizona Cardinals: Five things to watch

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill yells at receiver Kenny Stills at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter as they play the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on December 4, 2016.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill yells at receiver Kenny Stills at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter as they play the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on December 4, 2016. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

1 Can Ryan Tannehill rebound? He was on a great streak, having led the Dolphins to six consecutive wins while throwing nine touchdown passes and only one interception. And then Tannehill ran into the Baltimore Ravens defense. He threw three interceptions. His rating was an abysmal 63.1. It was his worst performance in two months. So the question now is whether the Dolphins quarterback can regain his win-streak form.

2 Do the Dolphins go back to doing what helped them win? The formula for success during Miami’s win streak was to play physical, run-first football that featured Jay Ajayi as the offensive star. The approach kept the Miami offense on the field and kept the defense off it. And it wore opponents down as the Dolphins won multiple games in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins went away from that formula last week. Look for them to return to it.

3 Who are those linebackers out there? So Koa Misi is on injured reserve, Jelani Jenkins has knee and hand injuries and Kiko Alonso has hamstring and thumb injuries. None are expected to play against the Cardinals. So can Mike Hull in the middle and Spencer Paysinger and Donald Butler on the outside do a good enough job, or do they become liabilities against Arizona’s superior offense?

4 Can the Dolphins contain David Johnson? The NFL’s best player you probably never heard of is Arizona running back David Johnson. Forget that he was the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month in October. Forget he is already a 1,000-yard rusher this year. The point is Johnson is big and fast and a dual threat on run and pass downs. When you consider the Dolphins have allowed more than 100 yards rushing in each of the past three games and their 971 yards allowed the past two games is the most by the team in a two-game stretch since 1984, Johnson coming to town spells trouble for Miami.

5 It’s homecoming week! Cardinals wide receiver John Brown is from Homestead, CB Patrick Peterson is from Pompano Beach, DT Ed Stinson is from Homestead and DT Calais Campbell played for the University of Miami Hurricanes. Yes, the Cardinals are going to have a lot of family and friends in the stands. Yes, several of these guys are going to be motivated to play well in their hometown.

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