My question to Tony Sparano on Thrusday was simple enough: Give me your No. 1 key to victory against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
“Number one key to be able to win this game in my opinion I would tell you would have to be the turnover situation," Sparano said. "I think we need to win the turnover situation. We can’t come out 0-0 in this game. I think we need to be ahead of the curve in the turnover situation, and I think that if you can do that and you can minimize the minus plays, the negative plays when you’re in somebody’s else’s place, I think you have a chance."
Understand that it is not new for a coach to say he doesn't want turnovers. But it is interesting that Sparano not only thinks, but stresses that the Dolphins must win the turnover battle to "have a chance."
That wouldn't be a big deal to me if the Dolphins were playing the New Orleans Saints or Indianapolis Colts. But they're playing the Buffalo Bills, for goodness sakes. The Bills aren't winning any titles this year, folks. They'll be lucky to rise from the division cellar where they finished last year.
And the Dolphins need to have the Bills make more turnovers to beat them? The Dolphins cannot beat the Bills if both teams play error-free?
I am extremely nervous about this game. We all expected the Dolphins to easily be the better team. But looking over the Bills and Dolphins, I don't see an enormous gap. I don't see a 31-14 blowout for the Dolphins in a return slap for the beating Buffalo administered Miami in Orchard Park last year.
I predict a very, very close game.
Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said today he was not sure if the Bills would have all three of their running backs -- C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch, and Fred Jackson -- available to him.
I think I know.
During a segment on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said all three RBs will play against the Dolphins.
I don't see how Channing Crowder (groin) plays against Buffalo. He hasn't practiced in nearly a month. He isn't running or cutting. He cannot possibly be in football shape now because he hasn't hit anyone for a long time.
Sparano kept hinting he was not worried about Crowder's availability for the Buffalo game as late as last week. He obviously has information we do not and he's not sharing it right now. So maybe the miraculous happens.
(The Dolphins, by the way, fine players if they speak to the media about their injuries -- something the players will eventually figure out gives the team an advantage over opponents, but also gives the team an advantage over them, too.)
Anyway, my naked eyes tell me not to expect Crowder playing the Bills. Tim Dobbins would be the starter there, if the depth chart can be believed. How's the "throw-in" in the draft-day trade with San Diego looking now?
We get on the Dolphins for blowing it when they pay guys such as Jake Grove $29.5 million and he turns out to be a bust. We should also note with appreciation when they find nuggets like Dobbins.
And, oh by the way, if Dobbins indeed starts and plays well, I'd be getting a little worried if I'm Channing Crowder. He is not promised anything. If he can be replaced by a less-noted, lower-paid player who is healthy then what is the point of keeping him?
Crowder should think about what happened to Grove during this uncapped year in that regard. Or maybe he should think about what happened to Justin Smiley or Matt Roth. Injured guys don't play. And guys that don't play don't stick around here.
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[BROADCAST NOTE: Huge show on Armando and the Amigo on Friday. Guests will include Miami SS Yeremiah Bell, CBS information man Charley Casserly, ESPN's Marcellus Wiley, Bernie Kosar, former Bills coach Marv Levy, and the New York Post's Mark Cannizzaro. Armando and the Amigo is on every weekday morning 6-10 on 640-AM. If you're not in the area, listen on the web here.