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Dolphins vs. Bengals: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Cincinnati

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2016

Dolphins vs. Bengals: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Cincinnati

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    The Cincinnati Bengals took an early lead over the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, but eventually fell to rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Co. 

    For Cincinnati, a variety of things went wrong in a game the team was supposed to win at home against a team that had been struggling coming into the contest. 

    The loss moves the Bengals down in the AFC North with a 3-2 record after both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers picked up victories on Sunday. 

    In the following slides we will review each major player and coach that had a part in the Bengals disappointing loss and assign each individual a grade. Here is a final report card and player grades for the Cincinnati Bengals. 


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    Andy Dalton — D

    All in all, this Cincinnati loss falls squarely on the shoulders of Andy Dalton. He was unable to feel pressure in the pocket and made consistent mistakes reading the defense all day long. Dalton never looked comfortable with the exception of one scoring drive. 

    While the lack of a running game certainly hurt Dalton, his horrendous pocket presence and decision making hurt the Bengals. For a quarterback that so far has looked like a veteran, Dalton looked very much like a rookie against the Dolphins. 

    He finished the game with 221 yards to go along with one touchdown and one interception. Statistics aside, Dalton had plenty of opportunities to put his team ahead and couldn't get it done. 

Running Backs

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    BenJarvus Green-Ellis — D

    The Bengals were comfortable with Green-Ellis being the starting back heading into Sunday, but that may be change leaving the stadium with a loss to the Dolphins. 

    Green-Ellis carried the ball nine times for 14 yards and had one reception for two yards. A complete non-factor against Miami, Green-Ellis is not exactly who the Bengals front office thought he was. If Bernard Scott can stay healthy, he may steal his job. 


    Bernard Scott — A

    Scott was the surprise of the game for the Bengals. Although he only carried the ball five times before tweaking an injury again, he made the most of it by gaining 40 yards, 29 of those on one explosive carry. 

    His playing time was limited, but Scott showed flashes of an explosive feature-back the Bengals have been searching for. The result of the matchup with the Dolphins may have turned out differently had Scott remained in the game.

Wide Receivers

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    A.J. Green — C

    Green was bottled up most of the day against the Dolphins, but he still managed to have a big impact with nine receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. 

    The issue for Green against Miami was ball control, as he let go of the ball twice. He recovered one and another was eventually ruled a down-by-contact after a length review, but it is still a disturbing trend developing by the Bengals' best player. 


    Armon Binns — C

    Binns had a quiet game with four catches for 41 yards, which is disappointing considering the plethora of opportunities he should have seen with the Miami defense focusing mostly on Green. 

    The Bengals need a solid No. 2 option in the passing game, and that problem reared its ugly head again against the Dolphins with Binns' lack of impact. 


    Andrew Hawkins — D

    Hawkins had another solid game, although not one with a major highlight play like in the past few appearances. Still, Hawkins added five receptions and 47 yards to his total and was sthe security blanket for Dalton all day. 

    Hawkins' main issue against the Dolphins was dropping passes. He dropped at least two, and as one of Datlon's favorite targets, that cannot happen regularly. Had Hawkins been able to grab some key passes, the outcome may have turned out differently. 

Tight Ends

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    Jermaine Gresham — B

    Gresham had one of his more active games of the season so far against the Dolphins. He posted five receptions for 60 yards and managed to come up with some key grabs for the offense. Gresham was also solid in run blocking, although as a result of the play calling he was not asked to do so often. 

    Even in a loss, Gresham managed to shine when actually given an opportunity, which is a good sign for the Bengals, and one the coaching staff should be paying close attention to moving forward. 

Offensive Line

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    Andrew Whitworth — B

    Whitworth put together another strong performance, which should surprise no one. There was plenty of pressure in the backfield all day on Andy Dalton, but Whitworth was not the reason. Dalton did not have to worry about his blindside often thanks to Whitworth. 


    Clint Boling — C

    Boling was responsible for some of the pressure on Dalton and was also a major reason the offensive line was unable to get a push in the running game. It is clear Boling is still developing, but better play is going to be needed soon. 


    Jeff Faine — D

    Faine has to be given the benefit of the doubt considering he joined the team late as a result of an injury to Kyle Cook, but he has to play better than he did against the Dolphins. Faine is a veteran but had a silly penalty that killed a drive and he consistently gave up pressure and didn't contribute positively in the running game. 


    Kevin Zeitler — C 

    Zeitler has been looking like a genius pick for the Bengals so far, but his performance against the Dolphins left something to be desired. He struggled to keep pressure off of Dalton and had some issue in the running game. Zeitler helped to spring Bernard Scott for his big gain early. 


    Andre Smith — B

    Smith continues to be a nice surprise this season as he has really turned things around since having an up and down career to this point. While he had his issues as well in both facets of the game, he certainly had a better performance than the interior linemen Sunday.

Defensive Line

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    Robert Geathers — C

    Geathers had a quite game statistically tallying only one tackle, but he was a major reason the Dolphins were unable to get a lot going in the running game. He was not a major factor in the game, but had enough of an impact to deserve a mention here. 


    Geno Atkins — A

    Atkins was a dominant force once again for the Bengals against Miami in the losing effort. He was disruptive against the run, helping to stuff a few plays in the backfield for negative yardage. Atkins also managed to grab a sack. 

    Unfortunately for Atkins, the rest of the line was not up to par and the Dolphins were able to shut him down on some plays. Overall the line played bad, but it certainly was any fault on the part of Atkins. 


    Domata Peko — C

    Peko did what he does best—stuff the run. While he did not have any highlight-worthy plays to speak of, he was a key part of the run defense. 


    Michael Johnson — A

    Johnson continues to have a breakout year, tallying four tackles and a sack. Johnson was a force in both facets of the game and managed to not only have a major impact in shutting down the run, but also managed to consistently apply pressure on the opposing quarterback.


    Carlos Dunlap — C

    Dunlap had an unusually quiet game, only grabbing once tackle in the contest. For such an explosive defensive force, it was strange to see Dunlap have such minimal impact on a game. Dunlap played well enough against the run and managed to provide pressure every now and then, but overall this was not one of his better performances. 


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    Rey Maualuga — C

    Maualuga managed to come up with 11 total tackles in the contest against the dolphins. He played well against the run and managed to come up with a few huge stops in short-yardage situations. 

    The issue for Maualuga was once again in coverage. He gave up multiple completions in the middle of the field while in zone coverage, and it appeared as if the rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill was comfortable throwing his way. 


    Vontaze Burfict — A

    Burfict did not have an amazing game on the defensive side of things, but he did manage to gather seven tackles in his second game as a starter. 

    What earns Burfict an outstanding grade here is his heads-up play on special teams that saw him recover a fumble that hit a Dolphins player on a punt. The great play allowed the Bengals offense to take the field once again. 


    Manny Lawson — C

    Lawson had serious issues in coverage and the Dolphins took advantage most of teh game. He notched three tackles and had positive contributions against the run, but his obvious weakness in coverage hurt the unit overall. 

    Dan Skuta — D

    Skuta has been hailed as a great backup and rotational player for the Bengals, and he is, but his performance for against Miami Sunday was anything but spectacular. He was a liability while in the game and was whistled for a penalty as well. While solid on special teams, Skuta had a game to forget.

Defensive Backs

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    Reggie Nelson — A

    Nelson continues to be the best player on the Bengals defense not named Geno Atkins. He was everywhere on the field against Miami and led the team in tackles with five solo and five assisted. 

    Nelson is neither a liability against the run or pass, and it showed against the Dolphins. He did not make any major mistakes and stuck to his assignments well. 


    Nate Clements — A

    Clements is seeing time at the strong safety position because of the horrendous play of others at the spot, and he is doing a magnificent job. Outside of grabbing a total of nine tackles, Clements forced a fumble in the red zone that prevented the Dolphins from scoring and allowed the Bengals offense to take back control. 


    Terence Newman — C

    Newman had an average game all things considered. At times he looked great defending the run, and at other times he was abused in coverage or getting flagged for a penalty. He finished with six total tackles but had issues keeping up with faster receivers and putting himself in the proper positions to make plays. 


    Leon Hall — C

    Hall had an extremely quite game, which makes one wonder if he is still recovering from an injury. He had two total tackles and did not appear to struggle in coverage. As usual he was in a good position to make a play in the running game as well. 


    Adam Jones — A

    Jones had an outstanding game in all. He played great coverage and had a great hit on a receiver to force an incompletion. Of course, Jones was electric as a punt returner and helped the Bengals to win the field position battle for most of the game. 

Special Teams

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    Mike Nugent — D

    Nugent connected on two early field goals to give the Bengals a lead early in the game, but it is his one miss late in the fourth quarter that would have put Cincinnati within one point that stings the most and puts a black-eye on his performance. 

    While he was fine on kickoffs and early in the game, a miss in a high-pressure situation is a concerning development for Nugent. 

    Kevin Huber — B

    Huber would have a higher grade, but he shanked one punt. Still, overall his performance was outstanding as he was great at pinning the Dolphins deep in their own territory and was a major reason the Bengals were able to win the field goal battle for most of the game. 


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    Marvin Lewis — B

    Lewis is going to be torn apart for his decision at the end of the game to kick a field goal that would have put the Bengals within one point rather than simply going for it on fourth down. Had Nugent made the kick the Bengals would have had two timeouts and the two minuet warning to stop the Dolphins offense. 

    The Bengals came out flat and the decision by Lewis at the end was questionable, but overall it is hard to place the majority of the blame on him.


    Mike Zimmer — C

    Zimmer and his defense had an average day overall as giving up 17 points to the Miami Dolphins is not going to cut it. The defense struggled with the zone coverages Zimmer was running for most of the day, and the defenses inability to shut down a rookie quarterback is concerning. 


    Jay Gruden — D

    Gruden is the main person to blame for the Bengals complete inability to move the ball against the Dolphins Sunday. His gameplan clearly did not surprise the Miami defense and his lack of effective half time adjustments to what the Dolphins were doing is an issue. 

    Gruden failed to call high-percentage plays that would get Dalton into a rhythm and develop some confidence, and he completely abandoned the running game, which made the offense one-dimensional. 

    His tenure in Cincinnati has been amazing so far, but his performance against the Dolphins Sunday is one to forget. 


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