RUN THE FOOTBALL
Sorry, I had to put that in all caps. The Dolphins rushed for only 86 yards last week against a very talented and fast Cardinals defense. Reggie Bush, while nursing a bruised knee, rushed for only 67 yards. This week, the Dolphins face a Cincinnati defense that allows the most yards per carry in the NFL (5.3 ypc). The Bengals defense ranks #24 overall against the run, allowing 130 yards per game. The reason they haven’t allowed more rushing yards is because they have been leading and opposing offenses are forced to pass. The Dolphins must attack this defense early and often with a combination of Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller. No, I didn’t forget Daniel Thomas…..He can be used in a limited fashion running the ball and when the Dolphins will be pass because he’s the best pass blocking running back we have.
The Dolphins need to run the ball effectively because it will open up more opportunities for the Dolphins receivers. When the linebackers start creeping up to the line of scrimmage to stop the run, it creates space for receivers to operate. If the Dolphins run the ball effectively early, it will force the Bengals to bring an 8th man into the box to stop the run, again helping the passing game. Running effectively would also help the Dolphins a lot if they could give Tannehill more 3rd and shorts to work with. The Bengals are good at sacking the quarterback; They have 11 total sacks over their last 2 games. Staying out of obvious passing situations will only help this offense.
I know, I know, he has 6 interceptions. I also know that they’ve come at some very bad times. But last week, the Dolphins struggled running the football and needed to rely on Ryan Tannehill. Most would agree that he had a very good game, making big throws and throwing for over 400 yards. Tannehill MUST protect the football. The Dolphins have lost the turnover battle way too many times. However, the Bengals will be missing cornerbacks Jason Allen and Dre Kirkpatrick. This means the Bengals will be thin at cornerback and will be vulnerable. The Dolphins must trust Tannehill to make the big throws when needed, especially down the field (like he did last week).
Newly acquired Jabar Gaffney is said to be adjusting well while learning the offense. I think we’ll see Gaffney out there for a set number of plays. After Hartline’s breakout performance last week, I feel a little better about the Dolphins 3 wide receiver package (Hartline, Bess, Gaffney) than I did last week at this time. But I do miss Legedu Naanee #sarcasm. If the Dolphins are able to establish the run, as we mentioned above, it’ll open up the play-action passing opportunities for Tannehill and his receivers by baiting the linebackers towards the line of scrimmage.
Finally, the Dolphins do have an advantage that no one seems to be talking about. They see the Bengals defense an awful lot in practice because it’s very similar to what Kevin Coyle installed this offseason. Coyle was the defensive backs coach for the Bengals last year. In addition to being familiar with the defensive scheme, Coyle also knows the strengths and weaknesses of a lot of the Bengals players. I’m sure he was involved in an offensive meeting or 2 this week!