MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Dolphins are a team that is still forming its identity. The Green Bay Packers have seemed to find theirs over the past couple weeks.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are rounding into form. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who played a big part in developing the All-Pro quarterback.
Seeking a third consecutive win, the Packers try to get the best of their former offensive coordinator when they visit Miami on Sunday.
“I’m very proud of Joe and thankful for our relationship and time together, but this is a game we both need,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy told the team’s official website.
Philbin spent nine seasons as an assistant with Green Bay before leaving to take the Dolphins job in 2012. Despite his familiarity with his former team, much has changed since he left.
“The game’s going to get decided by the players. What’s amazing to me, when we started preparing for this game, I looked at the roster and I think there’s at least half the guys that are brand new or I have no experience with any of those guys,” he said. “That’s the way the NFL is. People move on. Things are different.”
Rodgers has been a constant for Green Bay, leading the team to three consecutive NFC North titles. The Packers (3-2), who have won 14 of their last 15 October games, are currently tied with Detroit atop the division after cruising to a 42-10 win over Minnesota last Thursday.
Rodgers was able to sit out the entire fourth quarter after completing 12 of 17 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns, giving him seven over the last two games. The three-time Pro Bowler ranks second in the NFL with a passer rating of 114.8.
“There’s some guys that are truly special,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle told the team’s official website. “This quarterback rates up there with the best of them. He’s really amazing to watch.”
Miami will also need to be wary of Eddie Lacy, who ran the ball 13 times for a season-high 105 yards and two TDs against the Vikings. The second-year back had averaged just over 40 yards on 3.0 per carry in the first four games.
“Eddie, you know, he’s going to be a guy who’s just going to be continuing to lay on people and to be more of a force as the weather continues to turn here,” Rodgers said.
The Dolphins (2-2) come out of their bye hoping to get a boost from several key players returning. Knowshon Moreno is likely to suit up for the first time since injuring his elbow in Week 2, and safety Reshad Jones and Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey are expected to make their season debuts.
Jones was suspended the first four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing policy, while Pouncey is returning from hip surgery.
“The bye came at a pretty good time,” No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace said. “It’s going to be good for our team. We haven’t seen these guys together like this in a long time. I’m excited; I know our whole team is excited.”
Miami evened its record with a convincing 38-14 win over Oakland in London in Week 4 behind Ryan Tannehill’s season-high 278 yards passing and two touchdowns.
“I wanted to come out and personally play better,” said Tannehill, who recorded a lousy 74.1 passer rating through the first three games. “My teammates demand that from me and they expect that from me, and to finally come out and do that felt good.”
Lamar Miller ran for two touchdowns and is fifth in the league with 5.7 yards per carry but could surrender some attempts to Moreno, who led the NFL with 134 rushing yards in Week 1.
Only four teams are averaging more yards on the ground than the Dolphins’ 142.3, and they should find plenty of running room against the Packers. Green Bay is allowing a league-worst 163.0 rushing yards per game.
Miami has put up 35.5 points per game in its wins compared to 12.5 in its losses.
“We have to start playing at a consistently high level. It’s time.” Philbin said.
The Dolphins are 10-3 against the Packers after winning the last meeting 23-20 in overtime in 2010. Rodgers was 18 of 33 for 313 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Miami defensive lineman Derrick Shelby was suspended indefinitely after police arrested him on misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and trespassing at a nightclub. The Dolphins will gather more information before making a final determination on disciplinary action.
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