Dolphins vs. Bengals: Drawing Up a Game Plan for Miami
The Dolphins may be 1-3, but they have proven that they can play a good 55 minutes of football. It's the other five minutes that seem to be giving them a hard time.
With the right game plan, the Dolphins could once again go toe-to-toe with a legitimate opponent. Whether they win or lose will come down to execution, but they put themselves in a much better position with the right game plan.
Here's what I think the Dolphins should be working into their game plan this week as they prepare for a tough opponent.
Contain A.J. Green
You can't stop him. You can only hope to contain him.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was dubbed AFC Offensive Player of the Month for his fantastic 27-catch, 428-yard, three-touchdown performance in September.
He had all five of his receptions with 27 minutes remaining in the game. At that point, the Ravens shut him down for good.
They did it with smart play at the safety position.
The Dolphins may struggle to keep up with Green. Their strength has been against the run, where they currently rank first in the league, giving up just 2.4 yards per carry. The Bengals have moved the ball well even when the running game has failed to help them along the way.
If the Bengals become one-dimensional, the Dolphins must capitalize with an effective pass rush, as they did last week against the Cardinals, when the team logged eight sacks of quarterback Kevin Kolb and doubled their production of the first three weeks of the season in a single game.
The more time Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has in the pocket, the more time A.J. Green has to get open. The coverage and the pass-rush always work as a unit, but the Dolphins must emphasize that even more strongly against the Bengals.
Stick With The Balance
The Dolphins have spent much of the season establishing the run to help open up the passing lanes for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and their balance to this point has been astounding at 143 pass attempts to 134 rush attempts.
Recently, the Bengals have clamped down well on opposing No. 1 running backs and held Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew to 38 yards on 13 carries, but they also got a bit of help from quarterback Blaine Gabbert being...well, Blaine Gabbert (78.8 passer rating).
If the Dolphins stay balanced, they will have opportunities both in the air and on the ground.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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