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Bengals must disrupt Ryan Tannehill and Dolphins passing game to win in Week 5

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Ryan Tannehill and his plethora of wide receivers have success when pressure is not applied to them. The Bengals’ defensive line must get to the quarterback on Sunday in Cincinnati.

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins have among the biggest surprises of the 2018 season.

Tannehill has looked good coming off of his season-ending injury in 2017, and he led the Dolphins to a 3-0 start before losing to the New England Patriots in Week 4. The Dolphins struggled to do much of anything offensively in that game, as the Patriots had an excellent game plan for stopping them.

Tannehill is an accurate passer who can find gaps in zone defense. On the first play of the game, the Patriots defense dropped off in loose coverage, and Tannehill threaded the needle between three defenders to complete this pass to Kenny Stills.

Stills is able to gain 22 yards before he is pushed out of bounds by defensive back Patrick Chung.

Tannehill has a much tougher time when defenses match up on his receivers in tight coverage. The Patriots locked up in tight man coverage for much of the game, and it caused Tannehill a lot of problems.

Here the Patriots match up tight with every Dolphin who gets into a route. Tannehill looks to get the ball to receiver Albert Wilson, but Stephon Gilmore is all over him. The Bengals can do this as well.

William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick have had their struggles this season and need to step up to this challenge. With Jackson, Kirkpatrick, and Darqueze Dennard, the Bengals have the ability to match up with the Dolphins’ wide receiver group.

Tannehill has thrown three interceptions so far this season. One came on a broken play where his wide receiver ran a dig, but he threw a post. The other two came on plays like this where he lofted a ball up to the outside seemingly without looking.

Jackson is in great position here on the hip of the receiver and is able to make a play on the ball as it comes to him. If a cornerback is in good position when he decides to take a shot like this, he will have a good shot at the pick.

Although he seems relatively comfortable in the pocket in the clip above, pressure from the defensive line could cause him to make bad decisions and throw errant passes like this. Tannehill’s best game of the season was against the Oakland Raiders; he completed 17 of 23 attempts for 289 yards and three touchdowns. That is the same Raiders defense that is coordinated by Paul Guenther and that traded away Khalil Mack.

In short, they get no pressure. With Carl Lawson, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, and Sam Hubbard getting after Tannehill, the Dolphins quarterback will not be comfortable, which could lead to much-needed turnovers for the Bengals defense.

In the clip below, the pocket is collapsing on Tannehill with Lawrence Guy and Trey Flowers leading the way on the pressure for the Patriots. The Patriots are playing tight coverage across the board, with Kyle Van Noy covering Stills down field.

Between the pressure and the coverage, Tannehill can’t make the connection.


The Bengals have a great group of pass rushers whose play will be highly relevant to the outcome of this game. The defense has played mostly lose zone coverage, but would be best served to have their three former first-round pick cornerbacks play in tight physical coverage against the Dolphins’ wide receivers.

If these two groups can do what they need to do, the Bengals end their turnover drought and cruise to victory against the Dolphins.