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The Dolphins TCB against the Bengals

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Just a workman-like game against an inferior Cincinnati Bengals team. Just a get up, put your head down, and get the job done-like effort that the Miami Dolphins, your Miami Dolphins, displayed against this rag-tag Bengals team. The Dolphins won 19-7. It’s a score that would make someone with the untrained eye or the brainless cranium at the “worldwide leader” or other outlets think that the Dolphins got away with one. That’s not the case at all. The Dolphins bullied and punished the Cincinnati Bengals throughout the game. And when it was time not to be nice, the the Dolphins brought a Dalton from Road House-like approach to work and took out the trash.

Saying things got chippy out there today would be understatement to bedlams. Things got real after these consecutive plays.

A skirmish broke out and it wasn’t just the players that got involved. Brian “Stone Cold” Flores was looking to open up a can of whoop ass on anyone wearing a striped jersey.

Brian Flores was ready to stomp a mudhole in someone and walk it dry. The absolute nerve of the Bengals’ Mike Thomas (no relation to the former Dolphin Mike Thomas who’s cool) to not once but twice blast Jakeem Grant on punts like that. That’s the kind of play that gets a player like him, who can be forgotten about in an instant, out of the league forever. I wouldn’t hate it if that happened.

This wasn’t even the beginning of the high tension between these two clubs. The guy who should be the leader in the clubhouse for DPOY got into with Tyler Boyd.

This was a bit of a weak altercation that resulted in Howard and Boyd both getting ejected. That’s just the way it is now. Throw punch, swing, or swipe and the referee sees it and you’re gone.

Fortunately, though Howard, Parker, and Mack Hollins were tossed from the game, they should be fine to go next week against the Kansas City Chiefs, I hope.

The fact that all this fighting with the Bengals occurred thus resulting in Flores going on the field looking to hand out Stunners to anyone that moves, is exactly what this teams needs heading into a game with the, consensus #1 team in the league. The team can use this situation as a moment to come together. The Rams game is where this team put many things together but this game can be used to make everything whole. Must be nice for the guy’s on the team that they know their coach will F people up for them if thinks he needs to.

Oh, and other stuff happened as well.

We pretty much knew Tua was starting heading into Sunday but it was confirmed once reports of Tua taking snaps from Ted Karras was reported.

Also, we found out that the Dolphins were going to sport not just a rookie quarterback but also three rookie offensive linemen. I imagine this was the plan the whole time. Why? Because Flores works in mysterious ways.

The Dolphins started the game on defense and Christian Wilkins got a nice TFL.

One thing I love that happens is when other teams go deep on the Dolphins. It rarely works and the Dolphins are always close to picking it off. Brandan Allen tried a few times to go deep on Byron Jones and didn’t have any luck. It used to be I would cringe when teams went deep on the Dolphins. Seemed like more often than not a guy would get behind the defense. That’s not the case this year.

Miami gets the ball and immediately go three and out. It was a couple of runs and an high throw to Gesicki. Hey, at least they’re being aggressive I guess.

Tee Higgins for the Bengals is going to be a stud. He had only five catches for 56 yards but he worked Xavien Howard just a little bit. I have no idea why he wasn’t more sought after in the draft. I had him barely behind Juedy and Jefferson.

Nik Needham with a beautiful, text book pass deflection on a second down. This guy has really upped his game the last month or so. I saw a stat that said Needham had the third lowest completion rate for slot corners in the league. With Howard and Jones on the outside, it’s nice knowing that he cleans up guys in the middle.

Speaking of Howard, he did it again...

That makes it eight INTs for Xavien Howard making him the leader in INTs in the league. Will this get him on the radar for DPOY? Probably not but maybe because he got thrown out of the game that the masses will have to mention him and maybe just maybe they’ll also have to mention how he leads the league in interceptions. One can dream.

Howard’s INT makes it 18 straight games that the Dolphins forced a turnover. That’s best in the league by a bunch.

Know what. you got to be a bit happy about Noah Igbinoghene filling in for Howard. I don’t think he gave up a catch when he got in there. Making strides

Eric Rowe got put in the concussion protocol. When that happens I have no faith that they ever come back during the same game. He did and that’s a relief because next week Travis Kelce needs to be dusted.

Though the secondary had a very nice day only giving up 153 yards, 72 of them on a two inch catch that went the distance by Boyd, it was the front seven that controlled the game. Cincinnati only had 40 yards rushing and I don’t think they had more than 60 yards, total, in the second half.

Kyle Van Noy had himself a game.

Van Noy had three sacks, five TFLs and one pass deflection. Even before this game, I thought he was starting to find his role on this team. This game cemented, to me anyways, that he was worth the contract he got in the offseason. He makes impact plays, while also being asked to do many things something that’s a staple in a Brian Flores defense.

Shaq Lawson, who has been sort of lost in the sauce due to Howard’s INTs and Emmanuel Ogbah’s sack total, had two sacks and was very active today. I even saw him set the edge on running plays, something I feel he needs to improve on. Having bookend guys who can get to the quarterback along with a secondary that takes the ball away like Miami does should keep them in every game they play regardless of who they play.

Zach Sieler also had a sack making it six total for the Dolphins today.

It was a dominant performance by the defense. Besides the one big play the Bengals had, they didn’t do much of anything. And when the Bengals finally got something going late in the game, the defense tightened their grip and went Over the Top to put them away.

This was another game where the front seven got after the quarterback. I still would like to see the down linemen get home with out linebacker help more often, but I’ll never get annoyed with six sacks. We’ll talk about next week at the end but this defense has, easily, their toughest test yet with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce next week. The Chiefs are about to win a close one with those pesky Broncos where they only scored 22 points. You know they’re going to amped up to try and put more TDs on the board next week.

The Dolphin’s offense wasn’t an offense that anybody can feel absolutely wonderful heading into next week against an offensive juggernaut. I also don’t feel that the offense is a lost cause at this point either. They need to clean stuff up and simply be sharper in their execution. To many plays left on the field, that’s why you get a funky number like 19 points.

Tua was certainly off to begin the game. His timing was off which led to him having below average accuracy. Simply put, there was legit talk about if Flores would pull him again and go with Fitzpatrick at halftime.

It doesn’t help that guys who like to carry themselves like “real” wide receivers can’t catch passes that real wide receivers catch.

If Grant hauls in the beautiful toss by Tua, then there’s no thought at all about taking Tua out and Tua gets more praise today then he will.

Halftime comes and Tua and the whole Dolphin’s squad were a completely different entity out there.

Then

And then

Which culminated in a smart play call from inside the five yard line

Just like that the Dolphins have a 13-6 lead at home against a bad football team. The difference besides Brian Flores stunning everyone in sight in the locker room at half time was that the coaching staff took the restrictor plate of Tua and let him do his thing. They let him operate a no huddle offense and the Bengals were off kilter. That’s how this offense with Tua at the helm with these skill’s guys can play if you let them.

The Arizona game was special for Tua, but this game, with adversity of what happened the last time he played to being down at halftime not moving the ball well against the Bengals is the game Tua can look back to see what he can do in a tough, awkward spot.

Tua finished with 26/39 for a career high 296 yards, one TD and, again, zero INTs. We’re there passes that should have been picked off by Cincinnati, sure. Does about 40 of his passing yards equate to one inch tosses to Jakeem Grant and Lynn Bowden, yep. But you can’t deny unless you’re some sort of Tua denier which puts you in the realm of loserville , that Tua can play and when he’s surrounded by more competent offensive players, this offense will be fine.

There were a few spots that Tua has to see presnap and during the snap. One was the, very fortunate, fumble that wasn’t.

Even James Lofton, who we’ll get to in a bit, said that he has to identify this before he snaps the ball. He’s right. Even I in my, elementary approach to the game, saw all that pressure coming his way and that he would have to adjust the offensive line protection and make sure he gets the ball out of his hands fast. He didn’t and it almost resulted in a season changing play.

The other was third down at the three yard line in the first half.

Tua was in the gun and had a RPO set up. All he has to do is read the defensive end and make the proper read. He could have ran it in himself, or flipped it to Adam Shaheen who trojaned(how’s that for an elementary football approach) to the flat of the end zone wide open. Instead, Tua handed it off for no gain and Miami was forced to kick a field goal. It’s cliché, but as you get later in the year and the games get more important each week, you can’t kick field goal especially when you’re knocking on the door of the promised land. You get away with that against the Cincinnati’s of the world, but not the heavy hitters, like the Chiefs. The coaches will show Tua all that and it’s something that can get cleaned up pretty quickly.

Hats off to the offensive line. Starting three rookies is something that doesn’t happen really ever but the Dolphins did it well. I think this was actually part of the long plan of Brian Flores. I think the idea of having three rookie offensive line appeals to his Col. Hannibal Smith nature in him. Oh you think it’s not smart to start three rookie offensive linemen, with a rookie quarterback and a second year running back coming off of an injury? Flores response to that is that’s exactly why it’s going to work.

The offensive line didn’t give up any sacks and the Dolphins ran for 110 yards on the ground. That’s a good day and one where you can build from.

There was however an injury to Ereck Flowers that didn’t look good at all. But, the football Gods are once again on the Dolphin’s side.

This is excellent news. Jesse Davis came in and the offensive line didn’t miss a beat. That’s the sign of an alright line. Your 6th linemen, whoever it is, can come in and get the job done as if he is one of the starters. The Dolphins will always draft and sign more offensive linemen every year. That’s a good thing until you get your perfect lineup. With Miami having three rookies who they have confidence in, if two of them hit well then you have a great start towards that perfect lineup.

A nice day for Myles Gaskin. He had 90 yards on the ground and 51 in the air. He didn’t look rusty at all from missing a month. This play was the play that stood out to me the most.

It’s a designed screen that got sniffed out from the get go but Gaskin muscles through a tackle and gets a first down. It was very gritty. It’s the kind of play that Flores would, probably, get enamored with thus never taking him out of the lineup.

Going forward, the Dolphins will need all their backs healthy. A stable of Gaskin, Washington, Ahmed and even Breida and Laird, all average alone but together form a consistent level of play is what will keep drives going and keep their defense off the field.

A nice, solid performance from Lynn Bowden Jr.

And even a straight up hand off

Finally, the Dolphins are getting the few play makers they have the ball. But, it didn’t stop there. They did something me and many others have been asking them to do for weeks. Free Gesicki

You’re kidding me? You’re telling me it’s wise to throw jump balls to a 6’6 guy who can jump out of the building? Blasphemous.

But the icing on the Gesicki cake was this. For what it’s worth it was ESPN’s top play of the weekend.

Once you get past the ridiculous complaint James Lofton had about how Gesicki should have thought about staying down so that Miami could sub him out easier as if Lofton was the one in that position instead being up in an announcing booth, you can’t help but think about another similar catch...

Just incredible stuff by Mike Gesicki. Are there better tight ends in the league, yes. But not many and that’s saying something. Nine grabs for 88 yards a touchdown is a stat line I’ll take any game.

Gesicki was the leader in yards and catches. But one thing is clear: when Tua is in the game, he’s going to distribute the ball to everybody.

That’s how this offense is designed. Any week, it could be any one of their receivers who are going to get the bulk of the looks. This week it was Gesicki. Next week it could be Parker or Grant. As long as you have a Dolphin’s jersey on, you have a good chance of seeing a ball come your way.

I expect the Dolphins to acquire more receiving help in the draft and possibly free agency. But I don’t expect them to ever design game plans to force the ball to one guy. It’s really a whoever the open guy is type of system.

The special teams were once again special led by their soon to be dual pro-bowl kickers of the ball.

And of course...

Sanders racked up a casual 4/4 day. He may no longer be exactly Mr. Perfect but he is Mr. Money in the Bank every time he lines up to kick.

Some dude name Munson nearly Munsoned us with a blatant personal foul penalty. No idea who he is and I would like very much not to see him again. I hope Elandon Roberts is alright to come back or they get anyone else in there.

Zac Taylor is 0-3 this year on challenges. That’s a bad percentage.

Here’s a break down of the overall sense of what happened if you’re a big math person.

The one that jumps off the page for me is that Miami went 1/10 on 3rd down. That’s awful. Again, that won’t, typically, get it done against the good teams. When you get third downs, you can really get an opposing team down in the dumps. They want to get on the field, they’re watching the play saying “alright D get off the field.” And when you defy them, they bitch and moan about it. It frustrates them and makes them press a little bit once they get the ball. It’s why it’s imperative that the Dolphins improve this.

I also would like to see Mike Gesicki used more at the goal line. I realize he’s not the best blocking tight end on the team. But Shaheen nor Smythe can put points on the board like Gesicki did today.

Using boot actions on the goal line is another strategy I think would be wise to use on the goal line. Whenever Chandler Cox comes in the game and Tua is under center, why not try to deceive the defense, just once, by faking run and getting Tua on the move. He’s accurate enough to fit the ball in a tight spot and has the capability of running himself into the end zone. He’ll throw it away if nothing is there. Better than doing a predicable run for nothing when everyone knows it’s coming.

It was uncharacteristic game for this team in terms of penalties. They average four a game and yesterday they had eight. This team isn’t talented enough on offense to withstand to many penalties. I’m sure Flores will be all over them about that.

One of those penalties erased what was going to be the play of the year.

Love the call but you need to have everyone understanding what they have to do. This would have been talked about all day today and it would have painted a picture that the Dolphins could attempt anything against the Chiefs. I’m sure they have other tricks but this would have been nice to have under our belt.

Lofton was his typically anti-Miami self. Of course he went after DeVante Parker after a PI was called on the corner back that was covering him. Lofton said Parker needs to get off the line better though he was thrown to the ground when he tried to get off the line, which was why the PI was called. He later disagreed with another PI that called against the Bengals.

Then he said Lynn Bowden Jr. needs to learn how to get out of bounds when he was trying to get extra yards. There was more space to get yards and since Bowden plays football, a sport that supports folks who want to gain yards, he did that. Lofton likes when guys go out of bounds especially if they wear Miami colors.

The Dolphins are 8-4 and are still the six seed in the playoffs.

Ordinarily, 8-4 would mean you’re probably definitely, making the playoffs. But the AFC is beyond stacked and the Dolphins still have much work to do. They need to go no worse than 2-2 in their last four games if they want to make it. Even with teams losing to each other, they can’t afford a loss.

The big, bad Kansas City Chiefs come to Miami on Sunday. It’s the biggest game the Dolphins have played in years. From an excitement standpoint and importance standpoint, this game is everything. If Miami lose, they still have a chance to get in to the post season. With games against the Raiders, Patriots and Bills, the Dolphins have opportunities to get wins. There isn’t anyone the Dolphins can’t play with I think. The only team I fear is the Chiefs. Mahomes, Hill and Kelce are a force and acting like they aren’t is foolish. And you can’t let Edwards-Helaire get going either. They’re a perfect offence with potentially a top 10 quarterback of all time running the show. They’ll be ready and will have a variety of gadget plays that will keep the Dolphin’s defense thinking.

Until then, enjoy the win and your week. Cherish the fun that this team is giving us. Don’t live week to week like the world wide leader wants you to in how you approach consuming football. This team is way ahead of schedule. You need to understand that.

Understand that the Miami Dolphins TCB all over the Bengals and are looking to do it in six days.

Follow me @2ndSatSports