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No beating around the bush on this one, Miami needs to come out with their game faces on against Cincinnati.  The home opening victory may have been one of the most uninspiring wins we have seen in a long time.  Coach Adam Gase, who himself needs to step up, isn't kidding around any more.  He has put his players on notice - status and talent do not equal playing time.  We may very well see some lineup changes or decreased snap counts for some guys on Thursday evening.

 

Last year Miami played their Thursday night game in New England after trouncing the Houston Texans.  Coach "Dude" Dan Campbell had at least emotionally inspired his squad for a couple of games against inferior opponents, but in New England it was like lambs to the slaughter.  I should know, I was at that game.  We were hoping it would be a statement game, a protest to Philbin and a message that the talent was there.  My oh my were we wrong.

 

Once again Miami enters a short week needing a victory to turn the tides.  There will be no misplaced confidence or emotional high for this game.  From head coach to backup long snapper, everybody knows this team isn't fooling anyone right now.  The keys to victory are the same redundant messages we relay every week - the offense needs to start faster, the defense needs to tighten up, the QB needs to get into a consistent rhythm, the trench play needs to be stronger and at some point there has to be a rushing attack.  It is ridiculous that after three weeks Miami's leading rusher is Ryan Tannehill with 54 yards.

 

Cincinnati brings something Miami has yet to face - a true alpha receiver.  A.J. Green is going to be a major problem for the secondary, but it's possible Miami could take him out of the game or at least limit him with a good pass rush.  As Mark Grimm (Swerve13) pointed out on the boards, Cincinnati's line play has been as bad if not worse than Miami's.  Believe it or not, they are actually ranked below Miami in rushing yards and have allowed QB Andy Dalton to be sacked at an alarming pace.  If Miami's defense can get after the QB and clog up the lanes, they have a puncher's chance. 

 

After watching the highlights from Sunday's game against Denver, I noticed Cincinnati's CBs were getting beat deep on several occasions.  Tannehill needs to take advantage of this with Devante Parker and Kenny Stills.  Another thing that is becoming more obvioius every week is that the passing game needs to keep using play action roll outs.  It buys Tannehill extra time and he's moving the ball down the field.  Sprinkle in some read options and half back draws to really keep that weak Cincinnati line guessing.

 

This game is winnable.  Cincinnati looks to be more of a paper tiger than a solid foe.  But this weekend proved Miami went from a tough out to a potential laughing stock.  Will we see the team that went down to the wire against Seattle and New England, or will they embarrass themselves in the national spotlight?  It is a tall order for a short week, but if they want to take a step forward it has to start on Thursday night.

 

Go Phins!

The Good

 

I know this is amazing, but in a game where the offense put up 30 points and the Dolphins won, I literally have nothing good to say. I guess maybe... nice stadium? That's about it.

 

Perhaps a shout out to Reshad Jones, who was beasting, but then again he was part of a secondary that allowed a rookie QB and a QB playing wide receiver to tear us up. So no, as the owner of this blog space, I am choosing to say nothing good.

 

The Bad

 

Here comes a long list.

 

  1. The defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, needs to get his act together. We are facing the worst team in the NFL, with no viable QB, no viable wide receivers and literally only a running game to worry about. And the defense gives up 430 yards of offense and 24 points? And it should have been 33 points if not for the Browns having a terrible kicker. Joseph, here are a couple of simple things  you could do to maybe help your defense out a bit. First, have Byron Maxwell play press corner almost exclusively. It is clear that when he is at the line of scrimmage jamming the receiver and disrupting routes, he is a far better corner than when the has to play off and react to the receiver. Second, when you are facing a 3rd round rookie starting his first game, you may want to blitz him once in a while. You know, throw him a few curveballs so he is confused into mistakes. Third, you need to figure out why teams have success running outside against your defense. It may be time to widen your linebackers a bit. Change something! Because your defense is awful right now. Against awful teams!!

 

2. Jawuan James, maybe you can try blocking a scrub or two. You literally got benched in overtime because you sucked so bad. You got benched for Billy Turner! This may be a wake up call.... just saying.

 

3. Adam Gase, here's a clue. When you let your offense run the no-huddle, it works! When you call plays, it's a disaster! Play to your team's strength. Go with what works. And when you have a 4 point lead, that isn't the time to slow things down and try to chew up clock with your non-existant running game. That's the time to increase the lead to 11!

 

The Ugly

 

Ryan Tannehill needs to catch up with the season. Every year, he does the same thing. Starts off slow before he gets going. It's time to get going! It's time to stop playing it safe and attack downfield. There's a guy named Devante Parker. If he is one on one, you should throw him the ball. Tannehill had an ugly game with turnovers but also made some nice downfield throws. It was nice to see him hit Landry downfield on crossing routes, but it was frustrating to see a few errant throws. I think Tannehill may need to become more of a maverick and just run the no-huddle even if his coach calls a play. Stick your neck out and lead a little bit. In short, it is time to LEAD.

 

Overall

 

This is the worst win I have ever seen. I've never watched the Dolphins win a game and feel so empty afterwards. I think the root cause is that the coaching staff has not figured out how to motivate these players, especially to start games. And even though they paid lip service to this, they have not figured out how to use players to their strengths. That being said, it takes time. It takes time for players, especially a quarterback, to learn a new offense. It takes time for a coach to figure his team out. As discouraging as the season has been, we have to continue to see how it plays out before we're calling for heads to roll. It is interesting to see fans who were predicting Gase to be the saviour already jumping ship. It is also interesting to see fans who predicted a 6 win season also becoming unhinged. I get it. We've been mired in mediocrity for over a decade. But let's keep in mind that this is a rookie head coach trying to put his system in place. Let's keep in mind that this team turned over a good portion of the roster. Let's see if they can figure it out before we make up our minds.

 

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Week 14: Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins, 1 pm, FOX

 

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