By Colby Guy
The Miami Dolphins are set to face off the lowly Cincinnati Bengals at Hard Rock Stadium this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. What was set to be a matchup between two of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks is now nixed due to injury.
Joe Burrow tore his ACL in Week 11 against the Washington Football team, forcing Brandon Allen into the starting role, while Tua Tagovailoa is officially listed as questionable for today’s game with a thumb injury.
Tagovailoa’s agent had hinted at his client starting, as he posted that he was “flying to Miami to see Tua play” in a Facebook post, but Flores has not concerned the starter.
With that being said, here are some keys to the game if the Dolphins want to move to 8-4 and keep themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff race:
Don’t Sleepwalk, Keep Your Foot On The Gas
A major red flag from last week’s game against the New York Jets was that the Dolphins did not find themselves on the scoreboard until late into the 1st quarter against an 0-10 Jets team.
The Fins can’t come into this game feeling comfortable and having a slow start to this game.
We saw the Dolphins get hurt by this against the Denver Broncos, with the offense going silent against a sub-par Broncos team, letting them take the win.
The Dolphins can’t play down to their competition while playing the Bengals, they have to keep moving the ball down the field and keep putting points on the board.
Utilize the Whole Playbook, Get Tua Going
With the 2-8-1 Bengals on the other side of the field, it’s time to let Tua play aggressively if he does happen to be the starter.
The Bengals have given up the 12th most passing yards and the eighth most passing touchdowns, which means that there is a lesser chance of Tua making mistakes against that defense.
Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey has traditionally been very conservative with his play calling with Tagovailoa is in the game in fear of making mistakes, and this is the game to let him be the player he was at Bama.
Have Tagovailoa show off that deadly deep ball he had at Alabama, convince Tua to make those tough plays, and let him play to his full potential.
If Tagovailoa is able to play, this game will be huge in making him more comfortable with the NFL game and it will allow him to show off what he can do with the full playbook if Gailey allows him to.
Establish The Run
The three running backs the Dolphins utilized against the Jets combined for 94 yards, zero touchdowns, and two fumbles. That will need to change today.
DeAndre Washington, who ran for 49 yards on 13 carries and was the only member of the trio, which included Patrick Laird and Matt Brieda, who did not have s fumble, is listed as doubtful for today’s game.
However, it does seem like Myles Gaskin will be returning from a knee injury, as he was activated off of IR earlier this week.
For the Dolphins to establish their offense, Gaskin will need to have an instant impact upon his return to the lineup or one of Breida or Laird will have to step it up.
You can catch the Dolphins in action against the Bengals this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on CBS.