NFL Preview - Green Bay (3-2) at Miami (2-2)
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Joe Philbin's past is coming back to haunt him this week.
The Miami Dolphins head coach got his job in South Florida thanks in large part to his work as the offensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers where he helped develop perhaps the best quarterback in all of football, Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers and Co. will now try to win their third straight game at the expense of Philbin's Dolphins on Sunday.
Philbin spent nine seasons as an assistant with Green Bay before leaving to take the top job with the Dolphins in 2012.
"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 said.
Rodgers threw for three touchdowns in Week 5 to lead the Packers to an easy 42-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.
He finished with 156 passing yards on 12-of-17 efficiency while sitting out the fourth quarter of the blowout. Meanwhile, Eddie Lacy had a season-high 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries for the Packers, who were coming off a 38-17 win over Chicago the week prior.
Jordy Nelson had a 66-yard touchdown catch, while Davante Adams and Randall Cobb also caught a scoring pass.
Miami has had extra time to prepare for Rodgers after evening it's record at 2-2 with a 38-14 Week 4 win over Oakland in London even though Ryan Tannehill's status as the team's starting quarterback was questioned leading up to the contest.
Philbin wouldn't officially commit to Tannehill during the week leading up to the game, as the Dolphins followed up a stirring season-opening win against New England with subpar efforts in losses to Buffalo and Kansas City.
The tweak to Tannehill's ego may have worked as his performance against the Raiders quieted any rumors of backup Matt Moore taking over. Miami's first- round pick in 2012 completed 14 straight passes against Oakland at one point, finishing the contest 23-of-31 for 278 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception on a deflected pass.
"I envision myself as a good player," said Tannehill. "I knew I wasn't playing up to those standards in the first three weeks, so I wanted to come out and personally play better and my teammates need that from me. They expected me to play better and to finally be able to come out and do that, it felt good."
Lamar Miller ran for 64 yards with two touchdowns and the Miami defense was brilliant after allowing a touchdown on Oakland's first series. The Dolphins D picked off three passes and returned a fumble for a score.
Miami is 10-3 all-time 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 in that one.
Green Bay is also just 1-6 at Miami, with the Packers' lone win coming the last time the team played at the Dolphins, a 34-24 victory in McCarthy's first season (2006).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
After telling his fan base to relax after a 1-2 start Rodgers has indeed started to heat up, throwing seven TD passes and compiling a 147.0 passer rating over his last two contests. The All-Pro currently ranks second in the NFL with a rating of 114.8.
His best attributes are extending the play thanks to rare pocket awareness, underrated athletic ability and an arm that might be the best in all of football.
"There's some guys that are truly special," Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "(Rodgers) rates up there with the best of them. He's really amazing to watch."
The fact that Lacy is also rounding into form after a very poor start will only make things more difficult for the stout Miami defense, which now has to respect the running game. That could result in a false step here and there on play action, something which usually results in Nelson, the best receiver this side of Calvin Johnson, getting behind the secondary.
"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 not only have gotten some extra rest, they are also expecting the returns of three key contributors. Running back Knowshon Moreno is on track to play for the first time since injuring his elbow in Week 2, while the team's best offensive lineman, Mike Pouncey, should make his season debut as he returns from offseason hip surgery.
Pouncey has been working at his normal center position as well as right guard in practice, a position he hasn't played his junior year at the University of Florida.
"Guard's my position," Pouncey said. "I was kind of forced to play center when I got drafted. Guard's been the position I've played my whole life. Whatever position I'm playing, I'll help the team. It's coach Philbin's decision."
Those two additions should help a running game which is already averaging 142.3 yards per game, fifth best in the NFL. The Packers, on the other hand, are the league's worst at stopping the run, allowing 163.0 ypg.
Boosting the Miami defense will be safety Reshad Jones, who will be back from a performance-enhancing drugs suspension..
"The bye came at a pretty good time," Dolphins 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."
The Dolphins have been hit or miss this year, scoring 35.5 points per game in their two wins and just 12.5 in their two setbacks.
"We have to start playing at a consistently high level. It's time." Philbin said.
Of course the Miami head coach also said: "The game's going to get decided by the players."
And Green Bay has the best player on the planet in Rodgers, a QB who has led his team to a 14-1 mark in his last 15 October games.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Packers 28, Dolphins 23
10/12 07:38:19 ET