The Bengals and Dolphins are getting ready to square off in Cincinnati. It is a meeting of divisional leaders that are still seeking respect despite their 3-1 starts. We caught up with Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider to get his perspective on the Week 5 game at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
Patrick Judis: The Dolphins offense got shutdown in Week 4. What can you attribute this to?
Kevin Nogle: Everything seemed out of rhythm from the start of the game. Ryan Tannehill never looked comfortable, and two injuries to the offensive line, including to center Daniel Kilgore for most of the game, did not help. It just felt like, no matter what Miami tried to do, the Patriots had an answer. They stayed with the wide receivers the entire game, step-for-step locking them down and leading to Tannehill being sacked. They were able to blow up any sort of running game Miami thought they should have. I wish I could point to one thing and say, “There’s the problem,” but it was just a complete failure of the entire unit on Sunday, and they have a lot of work to do to get back to looking more like they did in the first three weeks.
PJ: Miami’s defense has created an insane amount of interceptions. They have nine interceptions on the season. How would you say they’ve accomplished this?
KN: A big part of that is Xavien Howard, who has become a shutdown cornerback despite no one really knowing his name. Reshad Jones is still a play making safety — if he is healthy — and is another part of that. Pass rush is the third piece, though they are not creating sacks as much as they should be yet. The Dolphins have wanted to get ball hawks all over the field for a long time, and now it seems like, with Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn providing pressure, they have the players who can go make a play on the ball and create a turnover.
PJ: How do you feel about Ryan Tannehill at this point? He has had some bright moments during the season, but struggled mightily against the Patriots. Does he still feel like the franchise quarterback?
KN: He is still a divisive player among Dolphins fans. I have always thought he is a better quarterback than a lot of the vocal fans seem to believe, but he does have faults which came out big time on Sunday. He is a rhythm quarterback, and if it is not there, he can struggle. He has made some bad throws this year, especially when he has felt pressure, with balls behind receivers or over/under-throws. Really, I think his biggest need right now, though, is the run game. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore have been non-existent the last two weeks, and Miami is such a play-action style offense that having no run support severely hampers what Tannehill can do with the ball. If they can find the running game, and if DeVante Parker is back to give Miami a full compliment of receivers, Tannehill should have a better day this week.
PJ: The Dolphins offense has some talented players, but they don’t have the biggest names at this point. Who are some guys Bengals fans should watch out for on Sunday?
KN: Kenyan Drake will be the first one — at some point, Adam Gase is going to have to just run him into the ground to force somethings to open up, and I would hope that happens sooner rather than later. People may know Kenny Stills’ name, but he is definitely a player people do not realize is as talented or as dangerous as he is. And, Jakeem Grant is ridiculously fast with the ball in his hands; he is tiny, but he can make people miss and use his speed to his advantage.
If you are looking away from the ball and want to watch the offensive line, this game may be decided by the left guard and center combination. Ted Larsen has been playing left guard after Josh Sitton was lost for the year, but the team signed center Wesley Johnson this week and he has been working at guard, so we will see what happens as the game gets closer. At center, Travis Swanson replaced Daniel Kilgore, who was lost for the season with a torn triceps muscle against the Patriots, so he and Tannehill have to get on the same page. If those two positions have success, Miami may be able to be better on offense. If the Bengals are abusing them, it will be a long day for Miami.
PJ: What is your prediction for the game?
KN: A week ago, I would probably have said a close game, with the Bengals having a slight edge due to it being in Cincinnati. Now, I have no idea. Maybe Miami comes out and takes out their frustration from last game on the Bengals. Maybe Miami never gets off the plane like last week against the Patriots. I really do not know what to expect from this team. I guess I will trust that they can fix some of the most glaring issues from last week and be able to look like a team leading their division. Let’s still say close and go 27-24 and I will make that a homer pick and say Dolphins; though I am not full of conviction about it.
Prediction: 27-24, Dolphins win.
Thanks again to Kevin Nogle for taking time out to answer our questions. You can check out more of his work at The Phinsider.