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New opponent, new challenge for Miami Dolphins coaches

Every week is a test for any NFL coaching staff and just as the Green Bay game was a test for Miami Dolphins coaches (which they failed) and the Chicago game was a test for Dolphins coaches (which they aced with flying colors), Sunday's game will be a test for Dolphins coaches.

But unlike the Green Bay debacle and the wonderful work done in the Chicago victory, this game offers different challenges for the coaching staff.

This game tests coaches' ability to set a goal and have the team attain it.

That goal this week?

Coach Joe Philbin laid it out in the minutes following the Chicago victory in the locker room: Win two in a row. Get on a roll. The Dolphins have not yet done that this season.

"Obviously, we had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago and lost the game on the second to last play of the game," Philbin said, referencing the Green Bay loss. "We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to finish games better. Certainly, we haven’t done it yet and until we do it’s one of the challenges we’ve got to meet as a football team."

The challenge this week comes with a benefit and burden.

The benefit is the Dolphins face one of the worst teams in the NFL. Jacksonville is 1-6. Jacksonville has a rookie starting quarterback. Jacksonville has two rookie starting receivers. Jacksonville doesn't score many points. Jacksonville's defense, meanwhile, is 27th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed.

So the Jaguars seem to be easy pickins' on paper.

The burden?

Getting a football team coming off two emotional games in a row -- one in a loss and one in a great victory -- to take their preparation and the Jaguars seriously.

It is the coaching staff's job, in other words, to make sure the team suffers no letdown against an inferior opponent.

That's what Philbin has been trying to do. And the way he's doing it is by trying to convince his players to understand that Jaguars can hurt them if the door is opened.

"Really what I said to the team is just watch the film," the coach said. "Two weeks ago, I studied, usually all of the close games in the NFL from the prior week and I watched their team line up to potentially kick the game-winning field goal against Tennessee to put their team in position to win.

"Last week, they won by 18 points. Their defense the last few weeks I think is averaging giving up 13 points a game or something like that. They’ve got a young quarterback. I didn’t even really talk about the record so much as just watch the tape. These guys are improving. They’re a good football team."

The Dolphins need to win this game because they see themselves as much more than a .500 team. Unfortunately their vision of themselves is worthless unless the record actually states they're better than .500 and right now it doesn't do that.

So winning at Jacksonville would help confirm what the Dolphins thinks of themselves. For the coaches, meanwhile, getting the team above .500 and staying there is important to their job security. Not that Philbin is too worried about that.

"Not at all," he said. "Again, when you coach, I’ve coached at all different levels, college football and in the National Football League, and I’ve always approached it as a one game at a time mentality. It’s certainly a privilege to be the coach of the Miami Dolphins. Really we’re just focused on playing a team, I think Gus (Bradley) is doing a great job up there, and his team is improving.

" I think they have the fewest penalties in the National Football League. They’re playing great red zone defense. They’re doing a lot of good things up there. I’m concerned about getting our guys ready to play as well as they can Sunday at one o’clock."