Written by Matthew Cannata at 8:30 AM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
It’s a short work week for the Miami Dolphins but that’s not the only thing that they have to worry about heading into Thursday’s game. They’ll also have to deal with the stress and pressure of winning to stay in the playoff race and the fact that they have been beaten by the Bills the past four of five games. First though, let’s start with the quick turnaround and why it becomes so hard.
“It’s a quick turnaround. Obviously, the amount of preparation is different,” said Joe Philbin. “The preparation aspect kind of shifts toward the mental preparation as opposed to the physical (preparation). When we get ready on a seven-day schedule, we feel like we provide the players with a lot of full-speed repetitions of some of the routes they are going to see, some of the blitzes they are going to see, and those types of things. It’s going to be a little bit harder to do on a short week like this. It’s going to be more mental, more walkthrough type stuff than the full speed that we typically get on a normal game week. I think that’s the biggest thing. The players really have to do a great job mentally preparing for the game.”
As mentioned above, the Bills have won four of the past five games against the Dolphins. However, Philbin doesn’t necessarily look at those games combined together but instead, looks at them as each game as an independent season of its own.
“I can only speak for myself, I think they executed better. The game up there in Buffalo in Week 2, we really didn’t get off to a very good start offensively I didn’t think. We didn’t convert a first down until my famous two-minute drive up in Buffalo (joking). We had a lot of negative plays. I think we had five negative plays in the first half on offense. I believe the blocked punt was in the first half on offense. We had a couple 28-yard passes that were really, again, not to take anything away from them, that we felt were more mistakes, schematic things on our end that we didn’t execute well. We didn’t get off to a good start. We played ourselves into the game a couple of times, but we never really had momentum in that game. When we did, to their credit, they went back and established the momentum. That’s what happened in that game. We have to make sure we learn from those things and that they don’t happen in the rematch here.”
The third challenge, besides the actual game on the field, is the fact that the AFC standings are so tightly packed right now and if the Dolphins lose, it could end their playoff hopes for the 2014 season.
“The big thing I look at is it’s an AFC East game and it’s already in the middle of November, hard to believe and we’re playing at home,” Philbin said. “Those are three things that are really really big. That’s what our focus has to be on – playing as well as we possibly can Thursday night at 8:30 (p.m.). If we take care of business there, some of that other stuff will take care of itself.”
Of course, with this being a rivalry game, the intensity will be heightened and already, there’s been some trash talking leading up to the game on the part of the Bills. Following their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, cornerback Leodis McKelvin told reporters that they were going to come down to Miami and kick the Dolphins a--. Philbin said that he and his players aren’t bothered by his comments.
“Football is going to be decided on the field Thursday night at 8:25 p.m. or whenever kickoff is. That’s really what is important and that’s really when all football games get decided is on the field.”
It would be great for the Dolphins to make McKelvin eat his words and stay alive in the AFC playoff race before getting a mini-bye weekend.
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