"I think some of it is coincidence, matchups on the team besides me,'' Pennington said. "I don't think there's a lot that goes into that as far as your record versus a team, it's just that's the way that it's happened, including last year. I always know that when I do face the Chargers, especially on the road, that I've got to really be in tune with my protections and all the different things that we do because they give you a bunch of different looks and they're going to test you and ... you're playing against a team that also has an explosive offense. I got to make sure that I can't give them opportunities, and give them a short field too, by turning the ball over."
"Their secondary's very active. I think they're very athletic in the secondary with their two corners, and you got to be very aware of where these guys are,'' Pennington said. "We got to make sure that we don't allow the linebackers to control the front with their penetration, and moving around, and things like that. Anytime you face a 3-4 defense, you got to account for all four linebackers — who's rushing, who's not, who's in coverage, so we got a big challenge."
But with nose tackle Jamal Williams out for the season, expect the Dolphins to pick up where they left off against the Colts when they gained 239 yards on the ground and pound the ball at his young replacements — Ogemdi Nwagbuo and Vaughn Martin and newly signed veteran Alfonso Boone. The Chargers allowed 148 rushing yards to Oakland and 130 last week against the Ravens, but just 46 in the second half. They're ranked 24th against the run.
In last season's meeting, the Dolphins ran for 167 yards, with running back Ronnie Brown going for 125 yards. Brown is coming off a 136-yard, two-touchdown outing against the Colts.
"They protected pretty well the other night, we ran the ball, you don't get to 240 yards rushing by accident in this league, just doesn't happen," Sparano said. "They played pretty well, Jake Long played pretty well the other night. I thought our special teams played pretty well the other night. I thought there was some pretty good things that came out of that ballgame the other night ..."
The Chargers have been preparing for the Wildcat, especially after watching Miami gain 107 yards on 12 carries, including a touchdown, when running the trendy formation last week. When they played the Dolphins last year the Wildcat was fresh off its smashing debut against the Patriots, scoring four touchdowns out of it. Against San Diego, Miami gained 49 yards on 11 Wildcat attempts, including a 5-yard TD run by Brown.