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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
For the second week in a row the Dolphins lost a game in jaw dropping fashion. With five minutes remaining in the third quarter it seemed Miami was on the door step of a statement game. Their defense was nearly pitching a shutout versus the red hot Bengals offense. Miami's offense, lackluster again, was at least avoiding major mistakes. Then the wheels came off.
Miami's defense was missing Cameron Wake, Andre Branch, Bobby McCain and the recently released Jordan Phillips and they still held a Cincinnati offense averaging nearly 30 PPG to only 13 points on the day. Kiko Alonso intercepted a pass tipped by Reshad Jones and it set the tone for the defense making big plays all day. Rookie LB Jerome Baker recorded his first two career sacks. DT Vincent Taylor block yet another field goal. If not for an insanely luck touchdown catch by Joe Mixon on an Andy Dalton prayer the defense may have held the Benglas to a day of field goals. This unit is showing something and is growing from question mark into a team strength.
Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake provided a nice 1-2 punch out of the backfield. Gore continues to be a hammer on first down by consitently chugging out four to five yards per carry. He had 12 carries for 63 yards on the day. Drake ripped off a 25 yard run and caught a very nice 22 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill. When Miami runs the ball the offense, and Drake as a receiver, seem to click on a much higher level.
Jakeem Grant. This guy seems to have a big scoring play in him every week. He put Miami ahead 14-0 heading into half time with a 71 yard punt return touchdown. He needs the ball in his hands more often because defenders struggle to tackle him.
Ryan Tannehill is officially on notice. The loss is not squarely on him, but a bizarre pick six and strip sack fumble for a touchdown ultimately killed any chance Miami had of winning this game. Even prior to the turnovers (three by the end of the day) his offense engineered two scoring drives for a total of 10 points. He proved for the second week in a row that he was not up to the task of lifting an offense that has scheme and injury issues. He seems to throw aggressively at unnecessary times and not take chances in more opportune times. The worst was a 3rd and 1 play with only three minutes remaining in the third quarter. He underthrew Kenny Stills on a deep pass rather than run for the first down to keep the clock going. Cincinnati used the next drive to score their lone offensive touchdown. It was the turning point of the game.
The offensive line depth is bad, really bad. Cincinnati DT Geno Atkins was in Tannehill's face all game and almost single handidly disrupted Miami's pass attack. Travis Swanson and Ted Larsen are not adequate answers as starters for the remainder of the season. They are going to get Tannehill, his backups or any other QB Miami brings in hurt as time goes. When Laremy Tunsil left the game with a possible concussion it was Sam Young who replaced him, and boy did he look lost. Even Bengals coach Marvin Lewis commented after the game that Cincy smelled blood in the water on the left side of the line. Which leads to...
Adam Gase. His decisions have been problematic the last two weeks. Lewis expanded on his comments about Young saying he was shocked Miami left Young alone on an island. Where was the TE help? After the drubbing by the Patriots Gase said he didn't see that type of game coming. After yesterday's loss he said Tunsil's injury shook the team. What? You lost a left tackle, not a stud QB or game changing skill player. Where are the adjustments or the contingency plans? Your QB is getting pressure in his face on the majority of his drop backs and you're dialing up deep shots and complicated routes. You're leaving a severely inadequate backup tackle without a safety net. Maybe he is seeing something the rest of us are not but it was not a good day for him.
The fallout from yesterday's loss is about as bad I've seen for Miami since Joe Philbin got the dreaded vote of confidence before the 2015 London game. Reporters are already asking if Tannehill is the starter going forward and rumblings on social media are that owner Stephen Ross is very unhappy. If you lose games like the last two weeks and make head shaking comments after the losses one wonders if the locker room will hold up much longer. We were told the culture would change and wins would follow. Miami is still 3-2 and has consecutive home games to hopefully stop the bleeding. Gase and Tannehill need the offense to have a good showing against a tough Bears defense next week or both could be facing lame duck status before Halloween.
Not going to lie guys, everyone is looking for answers, who to blame and what should change. Your Miami Dolphins were embarrassed by a division rival, but it wasn't the first time and probably won't be the last. Its over, time to move forward and looking to Cincinnati might be the best course of action.
The Dolphins head to Ohio next Sunday for a 1 PM game. Vegas has them as 5 point underdogs with a 50 O/U. Quite frankly I'm surprised they aren't bigger underdogs after the Bengals won a thrilling game in Atlanta on Sunday. The last time Miami went to Cincinnati they were embarrassed on national television and it looked like the beginning of the end for Adam Gase changing the fortunes of Ryan Tannehill and the offense. Will this Sunday be different?
I mentioned earlier that last year Miami went on to lose five straight after enduring a whooping at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night football. They were 4-2, had just defeated the Jets and were looking for momentum. Matt Moore started the game and was horrible. It became a rotating door of him and the wounded Jay Cutler laying eggs over the next few games. Will it be different with Ryan Tannehill and a retooled offense?
After being embarrassed by the Bengals in 2016 Miami subsequently lost a home game against the Titans that proved to be a turning point for the season. Gase began jettisoning offensive linemen who were blowing assignments and altered his philosophy to a run heavy scheme that could set up the play action pass. Miami went on a tear that changed the entire narrative of the season, yet once again they were punched in the mouth at a critical time in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Instead of turtling, like so many expected, Miami came out and secured their path to the playoffs (of course they lost Tannehill to an ACL sprain) by outgunning Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals the next week.
So which Miami are we going to see next Sunday? A deflated bunch who have been exposed or a group who can rally to compete in a tough road game?
It is beginning to sound redundant but I like this theme of teams buying into their own hype. Cincinnati has been very good this season. They are 3-1 and have played three of those games on the road. Andy Dalton continues to be the Jekyl and Hyde we are accustomed to seeing however he is producing good numbers. He had a game sealing touchdown pass with just seconds left yesterday which was the definition of clutch. For Miami to win this game they'll have to hope the Bengals are on cloud nine and looking through them to the following week against division rival Pittsburgh.
The Bengals offense is going to be a big problem for Miami. Dalton is throwing well and has great targets with AJ Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross (if he isn't injured). The offense ranks 4th in points scored and 16th in total yards. Giovani Bernard has taken over as the lead back with Joe Mixon being injured. Expect him to be used as a receiving weapon the way James White was for New England. They key for Miami is applying pressure to Dalton and forcing him into errant passes. He has 6 interceptions on the season with 4 coming in week 3 versus Carolina. He also went from stud to dud in a week 2 win over Baltimore so its possible neutralize him. Miami can't afford to play catch up and must stop Dalton from carving up their injured secondary. CB Tory McTyer received sort of a rude awakening and was picked on frequently by Tom Brady yesterday. Expect the Bengals to see that film and try the same thing.
Conversely, the Bengals defense has been lousy so far. They have given up over 20 points per game and currently 23rd in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed. We also said this about New England last week and they completely neutered Miami's offense. Can Marvin Lewis force Tannehill and company into another week of inept play?
I wish I had easy answers. We know the defense can be effective if not overused. They even picked off Tom Brady twice which was shocking. Robert Quinn applied good pressure but the rest of the DEs were invisible and probably exhausted. Miami's offense needs to buy these guys recovery time on the bench.
Let's start with the biggest problem and that was the play of the offensive line. They did nothing to help either the ground game or the passing game. In his press conference this morning Gase implied the line got out "physicaled" and nothing worked. The running game was non existent and even when receivers were open there was little time for things to develop. Sounds like center Dan Kilgore could miss some extended time and Ja'Wuan James was banged up. If Miami has to start Travis Swanson and Sam Young it may not be pretty.
Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill, Tannehill, Tannehill. Our never ending catalyst to fights among Miami fans. He doesn't just need a clean game this week, he needs to step up. I don't want Gase getting pass happy because it doesn't work, but Tannehill needs to make a few more of those big boy throws we saw the first few weeks. Its in him, he's capable and he'll need to do it this Sunday. New England proved that you can push around Miami's receivers and instead of removing one guy you can actually remove the whole element of speed. I had hoped Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki would open up the intermediate routes but neither showed up (literally and figuratively). It might be time to unleash a little combination of Danny Amendola and Kenny Stills in the slot to see what they can do with YAC opportunities. Until Miami proves they can do more than bubble screens and the occasional play action deep pass it will be easier for defenses to shut them down. Prove it against Cincy.
Is there a missing person report filed for Kenyan Drake? This guy should be the stud of the offense as both a running and receiving threat. He needs to have a chance to get into a rhythm this Sunday. Maybe have Frank Gore take first down carries since he'll consistently give you 3 to 5 yards, then deploy Drake to keep the front 7 nervous about him breaking one. Also, Tannehill can run and has done so very well this year. Get him using those legs and keeping defense off balance with the occasional option play where both Gore and Drake are with him in the backfield. Run the dang ball!
Okay so this has been as much therapy session as it has preview for the upcoming game. I believe Gase and the players learned a hard lesson yesterday and will be a bit more humble in practice this week. Gase's own comment of "I didn't see that coming" tells you all need to know about where their collective heads were at. This gets corrected and Miami plays a much better game this Sunday.
Will they win? Survey says no. Too many injuries and a few more growing pains prevent Miami from upsetting the Bengals. I think Dalton will do enough to keep the ball moving and avoid the big turnovers. Xavien Howard will get a HUGE test against AJ Green but with Bobby McCain now hurt who takes away the other threats? Will Reshad Jones even suit up? Last week I went against my gut so this week I'm sticking with it. Miami puts up a respectable fight, Tannehill and the offense bounce back, but the defense begins to show signs of fatigue. This Bengals team has scored over 30 points 3 times already. They get an early lead, Miami mounts a comeback but its too little too late.