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No beating around the bush on this one, Miami needs to come out with their game faces on against Cincinnati.  The home opening victory may have been one of the most uninspiring wins we have seen in a long time.  Coach Adam Gase, who himself needs to step up, isn't kidding around any more.  He has put his players on notice - status and talent do not equal playing time.  We may very well see some lineup changes or decreased snap counts for some guys on Thursday evening.

 

Last year Miami played their Thursday night game in New England after trouncing the Houston Texans.  Coach "Dude" Dan Campbell had at least emotionally inspired his squad for a couple of games against inferior opponents, but in New England it was like lambs to the slaughter.  I should know, I was at that game.  We were hoping it would be a statement game, a protest to Philbin and a message that the talent was there.  My oh my were we wrong.

 

Once again Miami enters a short week needing a victory to turn the tides.  There will be no misplaced confidence or emotional high for this game.  From head coach to backup long snapper, everybody knows this team isn't fooling anyone right now.  The keys to victory are the same redundant messages we relay every week - the offense needs to start faster, the defense needs to tighten up, the QB needs to get into a consistent rhythm, the trench play needs to be stronger and at some point there has to be a rushing attack.  It is ridiculous that after three weeks Miami's leading rusher is Ryan Tannehill with 54 yards.

 

Cincinnati brings something Miami has yet to face - a true alpha receiver.  A.J. Green is going to be a major problem for the secondary, but it's possible Miami could take him out of the game or at least limit him with a good pass rush.  As Mark Grimm (Swerve13) pointed out on the boards, Cincinnati's line play has been as bad if not worse than Miami's.  Believe it or not, they are actually ranked below Miami in rushing yards and have allowed QB Andy Dalton to be sacked at an alarming pace.  If Miami's defense can get after the QB and clog up the lanes, they have a puncher's chance. 

 

After watching the highlights from Sunday's game against Denver, I noticed Cincinnati's CBs were getting beat deep on several occasions.  Tannehill needs to take advantage of this with Devante Parker and Kenny Stills.  Another thing that is becoming more obvioius every week is that the passing game needs to keep using play action roll outs.  It buys Tannehill extra time and he's moving the ball down the field.  Sprinkle in some read options and half back draws to really keep that weak Cincinnati line guessing.

 

This game is winnable.  Cincinnati looks to be more of a paper tiger than a solid foe.  But this weekend proved Miami went from a tough out to a potential laughing stock.  Will we see the team that went down to the wire against Seattle and New England, or will they embarrass themselves in the national spotlight?  It is a tall order for a short week, but if they want to take a step forward it has to start on Thursday night.

 

Go Phins!

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