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     Gase sent a strong message to his team this week…perform or get put on the bench. The problem is he has to follow through or its just empty rhetoric. The other problem is he is throwing a young player under the bus who made only two mistakes the entire game. Yes it came at a critical juncture but you’d expect your head coach to offer some cover. I guess we’ll find out Thursday how the players are going to react to that type of coaching. Honestly, there is a part of me that is happy with that. However the other part is saying he needs to be careful with that line of reasoning or he might end up with a mutiny on his hands.

    Tonight they play a team that is 27th running the ball and 7th at throwing. Bengals are ranked 11th overall in total offense. Their passing offense is just slightly better than Miami’s but if you’re their coaching staff you’d have to be thinking heavy on the run plays coming into this game. Mix in some quick slants and bubble screens because Miami struggles against an offense ran this way. If Cincy gets pass happy and tries to throw deep too many times it will be an interesting matchup between theMiami  pass rush and their OL. Miami has to do something out of character on defense here: They have to commit any and all resources to stopping the run. I would single up Maxwell in press coverage on Green all day. First off Green is going to get his catches and Maxwell is a liability in open space. This solves that to some degree and as we saw last week, Maxwell will win a few battles.  Miami’s defense stopping the run will be key. It seems they do well but every now and then let the RB go on a 20-30yd jaunt. They have to be more consistent.

   On defense just the opposite. Cincinnati’s defense is 15th while Miami’s is 29th. Cincy held Denver’s running game in check but lost the game to a rookie QB who threw for 300 yds and 4TDs enroute to the Offensive Player of the Week Award. Their strength is stopping the pass and are middle of the pack against the run.  That still doesn’t’ mean Gase can come in with the same plan to force the run in order to help TOP, otherwise, this game could get ugly quick. Gase has a strong tendency to line up in a run formation and run all the time, especially on first down. Teams are keying on this. The 3rd and 4 or less are marred by the fact teams are keying on small ball….ie throws behind the LOS or close to it. He hasn’t done much to disappoint them. Unless he gets more liberal and aggressive tonight, they’ll lose this game. Last week in the 2nd half trailing by 3 they began throwing downfield, mid range. They quickly scored twice then went back to small ball to kill the clock. RT is a streaky QB. When he is hot, Gase needs to feed the beast until the game is out of reach.  That will allow the defense to pin their ears back. My belief is he is too focused  on TOP and has forced the running game to try and help. This has lead to a first half hole in the first 3 games of the season. He needs to up his game here and allow Ryan Tannehill to throw against their secondary early and often.  Tannehill was most effective last week throwing on first and 10. That needs to be exploited more often.

Finally, in order to even have a shot at winning Miami has to quit playing give-away. They’re averaging 1 more turnover than they’re creating each week. They can’t afford that. They’re just not that good. Also, they’re dead last in the NFL in TOP. You can’t expect your defense to shut down the other team’s offense down when they’re on the field an average of 10 min more. Think about that.

I stood up, screamed something appropriate at the T.V. and, in my fit of frustration, tore off my Ryan Tannehill jersey and threw it on the floor.

I had just watched some guy that plays for the Browns (the BROWNS, for the love of football!) named Lemonaid (or something like that) blow by Ju’Wuan James to strip sack Ryan Tannehill, with the fumble being recovered by Cleveland to set them up with a sure-fire game winning field goal at the end of regulation.

This jersey means a lot to me. A former student of mine whom I was especially fond of gave it to me as a gift at the end of her eighth grade year. This was meaningful to me because I know that jerseys such as this aren’t cheap, and I also know that she comes from a family where money is extremely tight. It was a sacrifice for them to get this jersey for me, one which I appreciate dearly. It was an act of love on the part of that student and her family. I treasure that jersey.

And I tore it off and threw it on the floor.

That’s what this game does to us fans sometimes. It makes us do things, say things and post things that aren’t really a good reflection of who we are and what we value. It can make us crazy, especially after all the mediocrity and painfully bad decisions that have been made by ownership, general managers and coaching staffs over the years. I won’t bother making a list… it’s already forming in your minds, if you’ve been a fan for more than a year.

I read Jammer’s blog yesterday and immediately agreed with his statement that “The home opening victory may have been one of the most uninspiring wins we have seen in a long time.” It was empty. Hollow. So how do we sift through this and find reason to hold onto hope? It’s difficult, but there were some things to hang onto.

1. Cam Wake. The man got significant playing time, and helped to force Cleveland’s right tackle into an embarrassing number of penalties. He was disruptive. He was relentless. He was, well, Cam Wake. I don’t know if he can keep this pace up for a whole season, but man it was fun watching him dominate again. The guy is straight up one of the best defenders we’ve been privileged to watch in a Dolphin uniform, a once in a generation type player along the lines of Jason Taylor. Sunday gave us reason to think we might get to see that again this year, which was never a given after his catastrophic injury last year.

2. Reshad Jones. A man among boys. Jones was everywhere. He was intense. He was in the backfield stopping running plays for a loss. He showed why this front office needs to… HAS to make it the top priority to sign this guy to an extension while the opportunity to do so is there. When was the last time we got consistent play from the safety position at this high a level? Do we really have to go back to Jake Scott? He’s another special player. We can only hope that his intensity and work ethic rub off on the rest of the secondary.

3. Dion Simms. Okay, he’s not going to be confused with any of the top TEs in the league anytime ever. But… he may be the best choice to play starting TE for the Dolphins this year, in spite of the fact that Jordan Cameron seems to deserve that status due to his reputation as a pass-catching threat. Why? Because Simms quietly graded out as the top run-blocking tight end in the league in this game, and also pulled down 4 catches for 46 yards. While he might never be an elite seam threat, he can help uncork the Miami running game. I would say that is a reason for hope.

4. Kenyan Drake. So I didn’t really know what to expect from this guy, since all I had seen from him so far this season was his name on injury reports. Maybe that will be the trend from this point forward, as his reputation indicates. But… while he was in there, it seemed like the game was not too big for him. He ran hard, once moving the pile to pick up a first down. He showed soft hands, nifty moves and a burst that is missing with Ajayi. I can’t say I count on him yet, but he showed reason for hope.

5. Adam Gase. His game planning sucked. The team was not motivated. There’s soooo much room for improvement, yet… he responded to this game by simultaneously owning his own need to do better, while holding players accountable in a very visible way that hasn’t been present since, well… Jimmy Johnson. Ju’Wuan James got benched in overtime, and the message has been sent. Shots fired. Do your job, or lose your job. AMEN, brother. Preach.

Winning at Cincinnati will take good game planning (hasn’t happened yet), a fast start by the offense (hasn’t happened yet) and the ability to control the damage done by an elite wide receiver (we haven’t seen one yet.)  Against those seemingly unsurmountable odds, I say this.

We have reason for hope. We can win this game. I can imagine any possible outcome happening on Thursday night except one.

I could see us winning a close one.

I could see us losing a close one.

I could see us getting blown out.

I will be very, very surprised if we blow out the Bengals.

But oh, my… what that would do for the team. What it would do for the fan base.

It would help us find the thing we want so desperately…. Gold. A reason for hope.
And maybe, (just maybe) I can keep my jersey on this week.

Next Game

Week 4: Miami Dolphins at Cincinatti Bengals (8:25 pm on NFL Network)


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