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Andy Cohen: Final Four Games Will Define Season
By on December 3, 2013 at 5:55 am

131203_AC_AMAndy Cohen In The Morning appears every Monday through Friday until the end of the season. The column is posted each day at 6 a.m.

Have a question for A.C.? Submit your questions to Andy Cohen on Twitter at @ACohenFins. Andy will answer questions every other Wednesday throughout the season.

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Fresh off a thorough whipping of the Jets and looking ahead to an important challenge Sunday in Pittsburgh, there is much to talk about with three quarters of the season now in the books.

• Beating the Jets – yes, those Jets! – in the manner the Dolphins did was awfully sweet. This was complete domination on both sides of the ball, a refreshing change of pace for a team that has done so much the hard way this season.

• I expected the Dolphins to have success throwing the ball. But running for 125 yards? Getting 72 out of Lamar Miller? That was heady stuff against the league’s No. 1 rushing defense. Now I’d like to see Miller break another long one.

Kudos to the offensive line for playing perhaps its best game of the season, giving up only one sack and doing a solid job with the run. This group has been through so much this season. How can you not admire a performance like this one? The big challenge now? Keep it going.

• The defense gives up just 177 yards. That’s 75 yards less than any game this season. Three takeaways. Four sacks. Now that’s more like it.

• Nice to see linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler intercept a pass and recover a fumble respectively against the Jets. That’s why the Dolphins signed both players last offseason and that’s what needs to continue during this final playoff push.

• Sixteen interceptions through 12 games? A year ago the Dolphins had 10 interceptions in 16 games. Think Brent Grimes has made much of a difference?

• Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman saw a lot that he liked against the Jets, but he’s still waiting for a breakout performance from this offense. Said Sherman: “What’s wrong with scoring 35 points?

• Think Mike Wallace will be a little pumped up to face his old team, the Steelers, on Sunday?

Nobody on this team has improved more in one season than defensive end Olivier Vernon. You reach double-digit sacks, and by only the 12th game, and that puts you in pretty good company. “He’s a hell of a football player,” Cameron Wake says of Vernon. And, especially coming from Wake, those are impressive words.

• As I look at the standings and I see the Dolphins and Ravens as the only 6-6 teams in the AFC, I think back to when they played in early October and how the Dolphins had a real chance to win the game on their final possession, a 57-yard field goal attempt sailing wide left. Are there Mulligans in the NFL?

Was that laughter coming from the Dolphins locker room late Sunday afternoon? If ever a team needed a good chuckle, if ever a team deserved a little levity, this team is it.

• Is it just me or does Ryan Tannehill look a lot more comfortable in the pocket these days? These next four games, I believe, will define his season.

• One of these days Marcus Thigpen is going to break another long one on a kickoff or punt return. He’s coming too close for it not to happen.

• And now it’s on to Pittsburgh (5-7), a team still a part of the playoff equation, but only if they beat the Dolphins. As well as the Dolphins played against the Jets, they’ll have to play significantly better to beat the Steelers.

• The Dolphins go from facing an inexperienced, mistake-marred quarterback in Geno Smith to one of the league’s most savvy veterans in Ben Roethlisberger. That should get their attention in a hurry.

• So we’ve hit the three-quarter pole of the season and the state of the Miami Dolphins is simply this: Despite all the ups and downs, despite fourth quarter frustrations, season-ending injuries and an attention-grabbing locker room controversy, it’s all going to come down to the final four games. And really, considering everything this team has endured, can you ask for much more than that?

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On Wednesday, AC in the AM takes a look at a very unusual player: offensive lineman Nate Garner.

Click here for more A.C. In The A.M. Columns


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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