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A Day in the Sun: Dolphins v. Bengals Preseason Week 3

Analysis from a guy who went in person and survived

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine yourself in the sauna of a luxury hotel and spa. Feel the warmth of the dry air soothe your aching bones. There are shimmering rocks, wooden bamboo benches, and calming instrumental music playing overhead. There’s also a bear carcass on the floor.

Cut it open. Squeeze yourself inside. Force your way amongst the steaming guts. Are you the whole way tucked in? Good. Now seal it shut. Completely shut. You’re now inside the body of a dead bear inside a scalding sauna. You’re starting to get an idea of what it was like at the Dolphins v. Bengals Week 3 preseason game.

I wish I had awesome anecdotes and dozens of one-of-a-kind pictures like Griff does when he attends a game in person. Alas, I didn’t go to a Dolphins regular-season showdown in beautiful Miami Gardens to tailgate with the hometown fans and live it up. I went to a Dolphins preseason game in fiery Cincinnati to boil alive as one of the dozens of Fins fans. (To be fair, there were hardly more than dozens of Bengals fans either. It wasn’t exactly a packed house).

My Errors in Judgment

Mistake #1

I bought tickets on the Visitors sideline, 50-yard line, toward the front row of the top section. It was a great view and a screaming deal. However, because all stadium designers are smarter than me, the Visitor's sideline is almost always in the sun. By halftime, I understood how hot dogs feel. I missed a drive or two of the third quarter while walking around to the other side of the stadium to weasel into seats less akin to a campfire in Qatar.

Mistake #2

I wore my Mike Gesicki jersey. Unfortunately, Mike Gesicki didn’t even wear his Mike Gesicki jersey. All of the starters were on the sideline in long sleeve white t-shirts and shorts. My Dolphins t-shirt serving as an undershirt was so tight to my body with sweat by about 30 minutes in that I considered cutting it off and just taking the loss.

Mistake #3

I didn’t get drunk enough. At the appropriate level of inebriation, I could have better ignored the smoldering inferno that was every surface within eyesight and instead poured all of my energy into being Reid Sinnett’s newest biggest fan. There was one Bengals supporter who was far too into the outcome of the game (Preseason is glorified practice, everyone. It’s basically Whose Line Is It Anyway? because the points don’t matter) and, in hindsight, I would have liked the too-drunken opportunity to have made an ass of both of us.

Takeaways from the Game

The Good

Gerrid Doaks: 16 car 56 yds 2 TDs

He looks like a solid prospect. Maybe, Chris Grier and Co. have a weird knack for finding 7th round running backs. Depending on their ultimate opinion of Patrick Laird, I could see Doaks being stashed on the practice squad, but I could more easily see him taking Laird’s place on the 53.

Kirk Merritt: 3 rec 72 yds 1 TD

I have no idea what they’ll do with so many seemingly capable receivers. Trade a top-tier guy while his value’s up? Have a practice squad filled out with nothing but receivers? Make our extra receivers play offensive line? Merritt did his job and did so admirably enough to stand out from the pack. He did have a tip that went for an INT, but that’s a two-way street. Hopefully, they can figure out how to tuck him away.

Kai Locksley: 5 rec 46 yds

As much as I love the Dolphins and usually pride myself on knowing players, positions, numbers, etc. when #87 started pulling down catches, I had no clue who he was for a minute. Once I saw the name on his jersey, my brain corrected the announcer’s calls of ‘Kyle Lockland’ to Kai Locksley, and I could adequately appreciate his performance. He’s in the same boat as Merritt, most likely, so let’s see if the front office has some tricks up their sleeves to keep the talent we’ve found in the building.

Reid Sinnett: 22/33 343 yds 2 TD 1 INT

I’m not ready to throw Jacoby Brissett to the curb since his previous NFL starting experience brings much value, but Sinnett was King of the Ring yesterday. He looked comfortable in the pocket, in command of the offense, and just squirrelly enough at the perfect time to pull a rabbit out of his hat and make a preseason game entertaining as hell. I realize, as with any analysis of a Week 3 preseason game, caveats abound. But the guy can only do what’s asked of him, and Sinnett killed it. I doubt he’ll jump Brissett this year, but he showed enough to prove he’s worth finding a place for.

The Less Good

Noah Igbinoghene played A LOT: 6 tks 1 TFL

No matter how you slice it, having a former first-round pick play the entirety of preseason Week 3 in his second year is fairly ominous. Iggy returned kicks and played boundary corner for, from what I could tell, nearly every play. He might have worked in the slot some, but he played every defensive snap one way or another. Despite being up against what might have been a few lucky fans by the end, he still had an up and down game. I tried my best to pay attention to him throughout and saw some of him get beaten in man coverage at times and leave too much space in zone at others. On the flip side, he also had some blanket coverage moments and the game-sealing breakup of a would-be touchdown pass. I don’t think he gets cut, but he’s probably about as far down on the depth chart as you can get without drowning.

Jaelen Phillips (rookie) looked like a rookie: 0 anything.

Along with Igbinoghene, I tried to follow Jaelen Phillips any time I knew he was on the field. He had one nice QB pressure but didn’t record any stats. According to Daniel Oyefusi’s snap counts, he played 29 snaps (41%). Maybe he’s still slowly working back from injury, but for a first-round pick playing against backups, I wanted him to shine. Instead, I’ll have to watch the replay to convince myself he played at all.

Jamal Perry (not rookie) looked like a rookie: 5 tackles

I feel like I remember Jamal Perry being a pretty capable defensive back in very recent history. But any time I noticed #33, he was having a hard time. He struggled in coverage and was run over a few times trying to make tackles. With the slew of defensive backs we have floating around, it won’t surprise me to see him on the wrong side of the cut line come Tuesday.

Conclusion

The Bengals might have a rough season.

I know. It’s preseason. It means nothing on paper. But you can still glean some insight from the exercise. The Bengals claimed they wanted Joe Burrow to get his feet wet with real ‘game time’ action. Burrow said he valued the reps. He got two handoffs and an incomplete pass. I get it. He was recently injured, so why risk him for nothing? But by the same token, he was recently injured, and he’s about to get risked way more in two weeks. The Bengals starting offense with Burrow ran three plays and went nowhere against a mixture of Dolphins backups. Sure, it’s three plays. But that’s the first overall pick out there, doing a whole lot of nothing with all his shiny new toys, including a fifth overall pick with a sudden case of the dropsies. It’s an absolutely tiny sample size, but I wouldn’t be brimming with confidence as a Bengals fan. Plus, they got totally skunked by Reid Sinnett at the last second, and that shit is gold.

The Dolphins might have a great season.

I disagree with sitting every single starter, given that there’s a built-in week of rest coming up. Thankfully, I have no say in the matter, so who cares what I think? The fact that Coach Flores thought he’d seen enough of the first team tells me his confidence is high. And at this point of his tenure, that’s good enough for me. We have a solid young defense and a host of skill players. We have potential on the offensive line and at QB. That’s more than we’ve had in a while and fewer holes than I’m accustomed to seeing. I’m not saying we’re Superb Owl bound quite yet, but I am, as I often am, cautiously optimistic. If the O line comes together as a unit, Tua starts moving the ball with calculated precision a la classic Drew Brees, and the injury bug leaves us the hell alone: we just might be on to something.

Pay extra for seats in the shade

Don’t be like me. Never be like me.