Even as there has been much celebration about Jason Allen's rise from the ashes to starter status this year, you might have noticed that my reaction to his rise has been muted.
I have not joined in the celebration or been prone to grand applause because, well, I'm still not a believer. (By the way, I also didn't rip him for giving up a TD and getting called for a pass interference against the Jets last week.)
I guess I have a hard time thinking that four years of bust do not get erased by four months of boom. And so I have decided to say nothing rather than say I don't trust him as a Dolphins starting cornerback because he's a good man and why rain on his parade?
But it gets serious now. This Dolphins schedule becomes seriously challenging now so I cannot be silent any more.
The next three games, starting with tonight's against the New England Patriots, will tell me if Allen is the resurrected talent everyone thinks he's become ... or something of a blind squirrel who stumbled upon a nut the first few weeks of this season.
The next three games Allen will face receivers such as Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. He will look across the field and see Hines Ward and Mike Wallace with the Steelers. And before too long, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Anquan Boldin will be challenging him.
This is a far cry from the first two games of the season when Allen played wonderfully, but did so, in part, because of favorable matchups and the fact his opponents were diminished.
Allen was excellent against the Bills and Minnesota. But the truth is against the Bills he constantly got help over the top from safety Chris Clemons and that forced quarterback Trent Edwards to not throw even one pass in the first half to Lee Evans, whom Allen was covering.
Eventually Evans caught a couple of passes but Allen got the better of that matchup. No doubt about it. But remember the quarterback that was trying to complete passes against him that day was out of the starting lineup and eventually off the team within a matter of weeks.
Allen had the best game of his career against Minnesota. He had two interceptions and it was excellent work. But please remember he was working against a Minnesota team that doesn't have its best wide receiver because Sidney Rice is on PUP.
So now comes Tom Brady and the New England passing show. Then comes Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing show. Then comes Ben Roethlisberger and the fine receivers the Steelers bring to the field.
There are no excuses now. If Allen plays as well against that trio of teams and those difficult matchups, I will say I am finally convinced he has arrived. I hope he has.
We shall see starting tonight.
[BLOG NOTE: Of course, there will a be a live blog during tonight's Monday night game between the Dolphins and Patriots! Get back here in the hour or so prior to kickoff for all the latest and the chat.]