3 Takeaways: Dolphins 19 Bengals 7

By: Colby Guy

HEADLINE: “Three Takeaways from the Miami Dolphins’ 19-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals”

The Miami Dolphins came out on top against the Cincinnati Bengals by the score of 19-6. With the win, the Dolphins move to 8-4 and currently sit as the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture.

If Buffalo loses on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m against the San Francisco 49ers, Miami will be tied with the Bills for first place in the AFC East heading into their Week 14 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here are three takeaways from today’s game that will come into play during the Miami Dolphins’ playoff push.

A Slow Start

One major concern from the Miami Dolphins’ offense was the slow start, as they failed to put points on the board until a Jason Sanders field goal in the 2nd quarter, and failed to get in to the end zone till the 3rd quarter.

“We just needed to play better,” head coach Brian Flores said. “We had too many penalties in the first half. We didn’t execute offensively. We gave up the big play defensively, which just had to do a better job really across the board, playing, coaching, and execution. And we talked about it at halftime.“

At halftime, the Dolphins only accounted for 143 total yards and only 32 of those were gained on the ground.

Myles Gaskin did alleviate some concerns about Miami’s run game in the second half, however. He finished the game with 90 yards on 21 carries, but the point still remains that the team needs to learn how to establish the rushing game in the first half.

Gaskin also fumbled the ball, which still brings up concerns in Miami’s run game moving forward, as this isn’t something new.

We saw the same exact thing happen against the New York Jets last week, where the Dolphins also accounted for only three points in the first quarter against a winless team. Running backs Matt Breida and Patrick Laird each had a fumble in that game as well.

If the Dolphins want to compete with the defending Super Bowl Champions next week, they’re going to have to start the game with the same intensity they showed during the second half instead of starting off slow and establish the run game without turning the ball over.

Tua Has Been Unleashed

In the second half of Sunday’s game, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey officially let Tua Tagovailoa play to his full potential, and it showed on the stat sheet. 

“(Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) and the offensive staff made that adjustment. We just wanted to pick up the pace a little bit. It was efficient,” Flores said. “We got some production out of it, so we stayed with it. I think, again, that’s hard to deal with defensively. So we were able to make some good throws, make some good runs and execute and really keep the pressure on, that was the thought process at halftime. We got it accomplished.”

Tagovailoa finished with a career-high 296 passing yards, adding one touchdown while completing 26/39 of his passes.

The offense was struggling in the first half while the tempo was a bit slower, only scoring three points and adding 143 yards of offense. When they picked up the pace in the second half, the dolphins were able to add almost 300 yards to their total while scoring 16 of their 19 points.

This was also when Tagovailoa was able to break out, as he amassed 185 of his passing yards, as well as a touchdown after Gailey changed the game plan.

“I’d say the only thing that was different was our tempo. We just got on the ball, and then we played,” Tagovailoa said. “The reason we did that was, it confuses the defense not to get into their calls that they want to get into whether it’s a pressure call or a coverage call. So I think that was our only adjustment. We’ve just got to play football. That was it.”

With Tua growing more and more comfortable with the NFL by the week, he will soon be able to return to his Alabama form, and this week’s game was a great showing of that.

This Team Is a Family

When Jakeem Grant was on the butt-end of a controversial hit, the Miami Dolphins’ bench cleared, with players, and even Brian Flores himself, going after the Bengals following the cheap shot.

“The people in this organization, they’re very important to me,” Flores said. “I’m going to try to protect everyone here – players, coaches.”

By sticking up for his team, Flores had gained a lot of respect from Dolphins players, as they admire his character and have grown close as a team.

“I think it speaks a lot to ‘Flo’s’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) character – how much it means to him that, you know, his player got hit, and it wasn’t the first time,” Tagovailoa said. “It was the second time. It just means a lot. He’s not just a coach out there. If his guy gets hurt, he’s not going to let it go. He stands up for us as a team. You got to see, not just him, but other guys going in there trying to defend Jakeem (Grant) and whatnot. But I think it’s a testament – although it happened the way it did, it’s also a testament to how close we are as a team.”

The way the team went out there and fought for their teammates really shows the culture that Flores has installed in Miami.

“That’s what we’re going to do. We’re a family,” Kyle Van Noy said. “That’s what you do for your family, right? If you saw somebody get hit, you’re going to act a certain type of way, so keep it moving.”

The growth from the beginning of the 2019 season, where the Dolphins were the laughing stock of the league to this point has really shown, and it is because the team has rallied around Flores and has bought into his culture.

The team never backs down when their back is against the wall, they are always working hard, and they have bought into the system Flores has in place. Everyone who walks into the doors of the facility is there for the logo on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.

That culture Flores is developing in Miami is the difference between a consistent winner and the one-season-wonder that was Adam Gase’s tenure in Miami.  Flores is on the path to building that consistent winner.

The Miami Dolphins will be back in action at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs at 1:00 p.m. You can catch the game on CBS.