The Dolphins looked like they answered the call against the Bengals. The defense played a very good game, really limiting the Bengals offense. The Dolphins shut out the Bengals in the 1st half, leading at the half 14-0. Talk about a tale of 2 halves, Ryan Tannehill completed 12 of 18 attempts for 114 yards and 1 TD, in the familiar short passing offense. All was well for the Dolphins, even through the 3rd quarter, although I thought they were a couple of plays that gave the indication that the wheels were ready to come off the tracks. The first was the ST’s hit by Martell Spaight, which at the time when the flag went up, I nearly lost my mind. It was a completely legal, legit hit, and I thought they flagged it for a late hit out of bounds, but it turned out, after the hit, Spaight was jawing at the Bengals returner Alex Erickson, and was flagged for a 15 YD unsportsmanlike conduct. That was #1. That moved the starting field position from the Bengals 14 yard line to the 29, big difference, especially after the Bengals struggled for 3 QTR’s.
Number 2 was just a few plays later, the Bengals were at midfield, and Dalton threw a short pass to TE CJ Uzomah, and Uzomah had to go up for the ball, and Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald came from behind and hit Uzomah a few milliseconds after the ball went through his hands. It wasn’t a vicious hit, McDonald contacted Uzomah with his hands first to his back, but he was leaping into the player, and then he eventually knocked the player to the turf, but not in a dirty way at all. That was called for the 2nd unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for 15 yards, and in my mind, that’s where the unraveling started.
The Bengals went on to score a TD on that drive, 30 yards of Dolphins penalties, which ended with Dalton hitting RB Joe Mixon for an 18 yard TD to start the 4th quarter. Then the real scary stuff happened. Grant returns the kickoff to the 19 yard line, and Gore on 1st down is stuffed after a 2 yard gain. 2nd and 12, Tannehill is sacked by DT Geno Atkins for a loss of 8, the ball now at the 13 yard line. Tunsil was injured at this point, and he was replaced by swingman Sam Young. Tannehill found Drake in a short pass over the middle, and Drake picked up the 1st down gaining 18 yards. At the 31 yard line, Kalen Ballage got his first carry of the game for 2 yards, and then IT happened. With Sam Young struggling to block anyone really, and the Bengals sensing the weakness there, they overloaded the right side, and sure enough there was immediate pressure on Tannehill as soon as he took the shotgun snap, and he attempted to roll right, and there was additional pressure from that side as well, and Tannehill inexplicably while attempting the throw the ball away, threw it low and it hit the helmet of RG Jesse Davis, and caromed into the waiting hands of DE Michael Johnson who returned the INT for a TD, which tied the game at 17-17. No excuse, that was a terrible play by Tannehill, who could have thrown it to the sideline out of bounds.
I’m not going to bother giving the blow by blow any further, I can sum it up with Sam Young couldn’t block anyone, The Bengals had all the momentum, and we don’t have a QB that can rise above everything and bring us back. Ryan Tannehill is not the problem, but I now believe he is not the answer. We’re not an explosive offense, we can’t put 40 points on a team, and the way the NFL has evolved, I think you have to. Too many things have to be aligned just right in order for Tannehill to succeed, and I think we’ve tried and continue to do just that, but in this league, the QB has to have that confidence, that killer instinct that I think Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have. He’s not a terrible QB, he’s just not the type of player that can lift his team, and I’m certain this will be his last season as the Dolphins QB.
This week can be extremely ugly, facing the #1 defense in the NFL, very likely without our starting LT Laremy Tunsil. The Bears are allowing the 2nd fewest points per game, 16.3, which is pretty close to what we score per game at 19.8, good for 28th out of 32 teams in the NFL. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. The Bears incidentally, are scoring 27.8 PPG, but that’s a little skewed due to the 48 points they hung on TB before their BYE week. Rookie QB Mitch Trubisky threw 6 TD’s in that game, but the 3-1 Bears don’t really score like that consistently, and they don’t have to with that defense. The Bears probably send fruit baskets and flowers to Jon Gruden weekly for trading Khalil Mack to their team.
This is a game we have no business winning, and yet for some reason, I have a feeling we hang around in this game, and possibly even win it, just because it makes no sense. No prediction this week, who cares anyway. It’s bizarre to look at the NFL standings, and see the Miami Dolphins there at 3-2, 1st place AFC East. I think about Jakeem Grant and how much more important he becomes each week, and then conversely, I think about Devante Parker and how close people are to saying “Who?” when you say his name. Are 1st RD Dolphins WR’s cursed? Yatil Green anyone? I think about the defense, and realize that this is probably the last year for Cam Wake, and I get the feeling he doesn’t have that storybook ending here. Shame, he deserves it, but I think maybe father time has finally reined the big boy in. I think about the young players we have on defense that are coming on, Jerome Baker, Minkah who started out great, Raekwon who needed to shake off some rust after being out last year, Xavien Howard, who is a top 10 CB, Vincent Taylor who keeps on getting better and Davon Godchaux too. Add in good ole Bobby McCain too. I guess what I’m saying is, draft a QB in the 1st RD next year, there are some really good young pieces to build around. Next year, always next year. I know, I know, we’re 3-2, probably soon to be 3-3, but we will win the Fest game, because . . .