Home opener for new Dolphins coach when Miami faces Houston
MIAMI (AP) — Joe Philbin would still have a job if things had gone better at home.
The Miami Dolphins went 13-12 at Sun Life Stadium under Philbin, who was fired Oct. 5. They endured a dismal loss to Buffalo in their only game at the stadium this season, and play at home under interim coach Dan Campbell for the first time Sunday when they face Houston.
“To me this is the home opener,” Campbell said. “As far as I’m concerned we haven’t played there yet this season, and that’s kind of the approach that we are taking. It’s a new season.”
The reboot worked when Campbell won his head coaching debut last week, leading the Dolphins past Tennessee 38-10. Here are things to know as Campbell tries to become only the fifth interim coach of 26 since 2000 to win his first two games:
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: The Dolphins (2-3) barely missed the playoffs the past two years, largely because they lost four games in Miami each season.
Now they’re again in a hole at home, thanks to a 41-14 loss to Buffalo on Sept. 27. The rout was especially embarrassing because it was the first game at Sun Life since the start of a two-year renovation that will cost more than $425 million.
“It’s time for us to really christen that stadium,” receiver Jarvis Landry said. “With all the renovations going on and having one home game in six weeks, it’s good to be back home. We’ve got to make plays early, and I think we can take this one.”
The Texans (2-4) earned their first road victory last week at Jacksonville. They’re trying to become the first NFL team to win back-to-back games in Florida as the visitors since they did it in 2011 with victories at Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, according to STATS.
LOPSIDED SERIES: The Texans are the only team Miami has never beaten. Houston is 7-0 against the Dolphins, with the most recent victory in 2012, and 3-0 in Miami.
The first four games, from 2003 to 2008, were decided by a field goal or less.
Are the Dolphins due against Houston?
“This franchise is due, period,” said defensive end Cameron Wake, who has lost to Houston three times in seven years with Miami. “I don’t think the Texans have an X on them. In general we’ve been underperforming since I’ve been here.”
LIGHTS-OUT WIDEOUT: Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins has a chance to break a franchise record with his fifth consecutive 100-yard game.
Hopkins leads the NFL with 726 yards receiving on 52 catches. That includes a highlight-reel reception where he trapped the ball with one hand against the side of his helmet last week.
When reporters asked if he was amazed by his statistics, Hopkins said no.
“Our record is 2-4, so there’s nothing really to be too amazed about,” he said. “I guess I’m doing historical stuff right now. I guess you guys should be amazed.”
WAKEUP: A four-game sack drought by Wake to start the season fueled speculation the 33-year-old defensive end was in decline. The Dolphins’ four-time Pro Bowler silenced that talk with four sacks and two forced fumbles in the first half last week.
“Cam Wake is back, not that he was ever gone,” Campbell said. “For any of the doubters out there that said that Cam Wake is slowing up or slowing down: I don’t think so.”
Houston’s Brian Hoyer has been sacked only six times, third-fewest among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 100 passes.
OLD FRIENDS: At 39, Campbell is the league’s youngest coach. He’s perhaps the first NFL head coach to be a Metallica fan, and so young his roommate at Texas A&M, Shane Lechler, is still playing.
Lechler is the Texans’ punter. His buddy from college offered long-distance barbs this week, reminiscing about a kick Lechler shanked nearly 20 years ago against Texas Tech.
“We don’t need to talk about that punt,” Lechler said. “It was like 8 yards, out of bounds.”
Why did Campbell bring it up?
“Why wouldn’t he?” Lechler said. “That’s what friends are for, right?”
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