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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.