Miami Dolphins vs Cincinnati Bengals: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Miami
Miami now moves to 2-3 on the season and records their first road victory of the season. Cincinnati moves to 3-2 and loses their first home game of 2012.
Let's take a look at the Dolphins' final post game grades and evaluations for what was an exciting and important victory for Miami.
Offense — B
Overall Game Grade — B
Miami's offense hoped to establish balance against the Bengals, and did a decent enough job of it.
On the ground Miami was a bit tentative. It seemed like whether it was Reggie Bush or Daniel Thomas, Miami's running backs were too busy attempting to look for holes, and would get burned with negative rushing plays due to that.
In the air Tannehill was masterful, however he could've had at least 100 more passing yards had it not been for some key dropped passes.
The Dolphins offense did what it took to win the game, and did show some balance. However with the way the Bengals were covering Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, Jabar Gaffney can't get here soon enough.
Ryan Tannehill — A
Overall Game Grade — A
Ryan Tannehill didn't throw for 431 yards. He didn't have any touchdown passes. But his game was still a fantastic one that won the Dolphins the game.
On each of Miami's scoring drives, Tannehill had a key pass play (on third down no less) that set up the score for the Dolphins. He moved around the pocket well despite Cincinnati's constant pressure on him, and most importantly, he didn't have a single turnover.
His stat line isn't the most impressive: 17-of-26 for 233 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 94.0. But the end result and how important Tannehill was to it gets him an easy A.
Reggie Bush — C+
Reggie Bush started the game tentative and a bit fearful. He shed this as the game went on and managed to score a 13-yard touchdown, however he seemed too occupied with finding a hole to hit the home run as opposed to chewing up some yardage. This could still be looked at as an after-effect of his knee injury from two weeks ago, but considering that this is the Reggie Bush we saw at USC and in New Orleans, one has to wonder if old habits are returning.
In the end Bush finished the afternoon with 48 yards on 19 attempts, only averaging 2.5 yards per carry.
Daniel Thomas — B-
Thomas wasn't as tentative as Bush, yet still seemed to seek out holes instead of whatever yards he could get. Like Bush, Thomas scored a touchdown, however on 10 attempts he only gained 29 yards.
Thomas did get better towards the end, and was key in helping the Dolphins kill some time off of the clock by being more of a straight ahead runner.
Jorvorskie Lane — D-
Lane has been great for the Dolphins thus far this season, but today was a game he'd probably like to forget. When he was called in on short-yardage plays, he didn't get very much thrust up front, and he did fumble the ball inside the red zone in the first quarter, costing Miami at least three points.
Lane did have a reception for five yards in the fourth quarter that helped the Dolphins get out of the shadow of their own end zone, which is why his grade is a D- instead of an outright F.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Brian Hartline — B+
Everyone knew that Brian Hartline was going to be a target for Tannehill. Yet despite that Hartline still turned in a very well played game despite not producing as much as one would think.
But when a catch was needed, Hartline was there. Only targeted six times throughout the afternoon (by my count), Hartline caught four of those passes for 59 yards, while another pass to him drew a key pass interference penalty on the Bengals in the fourth quarter.
Was it spectacular? No, but it was solid, and just what Miami needed.
Davone Bess — B
Davone Bess only had two catches for 29 yards, and was targeted many more times.
But two of those targets were long passes where Tannehill was attempting to go long. Both times Tannehill overthrew his target by at least five yards.
As for Bess' receptions, each one played an important role in keeping a drive alive, especially a 28-yard reception on a third-and-nine in the third quarter that set up Reggie Bush's 13-yard touchdown run to put Miami up 14-6.
Anthony Fasano — B
Fasano is another target of Tannehill's who didn't get many passes thrown to him, but made key catches when needed. One catch that went for 10 yards in the second quarter would set up Miami's first touchdown of the game, a one yard run by Daniel Thomas.
Fasano was a big safety blanket and showed sure hands, just as you'd expect from him.
Charles Clay — C-
Charles Clay started off the afternoon playing very well and looking like he would be integrated into the offense more, as he had three catches for 35 yards.
But in the fourth quarter, Clay fell apart. The very first offensive drive of the fourth quarter for Miami started off with a beautiful Ryan Tannehill pass that went right into Clay's hands. Unfortunately Clay seemed inspired by Bengals' wide receiver A.J. Green's juggling abilities and juggled the pass that would've gone for not only a first down but at least 10 more yards. Mr. Clay feel free to take up juggling in your spare time (it helps with hand-eye coordination, which is somewhat for a tight end or H-Back), but not while you're actually trying to catch the ball!
Clay had two more blunders on Miami's final offensive drive (not counting the kneel-down). First came another dropped pass that Clay seemed like he was juggling. I could give him a pass there since he did have some contact with a Bengals player, but the ball again went into his hands. The next blunder came a few plays later on third-and-eight. The Dolphins called a nice screen play that Cincinnati's defense had snuffed out. Clay was able to gain some yards, but would be met by at least three or four Bengals had he attempted the first down. Just by getting tackled in bounds, the Dolphins would've still run at least 0:45 seconds off the clock (which was at 1:53).
Clay wound up stepping out of bounds, which would have been disastrous had it not been for Reshad Jones' interception.
Jake Long — B
I wasn't too impressed with Miami's offensive line. While the game in the trenches turned out to be a wash, Miami's line at times failed to get any push on running plays.
Long was a tad more effective in run blocking (though not by much as Incognito was the one who opened some of those holes up), but as far as protecting Tannehill, he was spot on.
Richie Incognito — B+
The Bengals attempted to bring the heat to the Dolphins from all sides, but doing so from the left side was difficult—especially while dealing with Richie Incognito. Incognito, like Long, was great while protecting Tannehill. Also take note that most of Miami's productive running plays came from the left side.
Mike Pouncey — A-
Pouncey and Tannehill seems to have worked up a great rapport, as the two always seem to be in tune with each other. This is critical to the success of any quarterback. It's also worth mentioning that the Bengals couldn't get through the middle, and Pouncey even came close to succeeding in faking out the Bengals defense when Miami attempted to draw an offsides penalty.
John Jerry — D
Maybe I'm going a bit easy on Jerry by giving him a C, but if there was pressure, it came from his man. He allowed a big sack on Ryan Tannehill which led to Dan Carpenter's terrible 56-yard field goal attempt (unless there's no time left, you have no business attempting that kick anyways), and just couldn't get any push on running plays.
Forget this I'm giving him a D. John Jerry was terrible.
Jonathan Martin — B-
Martin spent most of his time this afternoon cleaning up after John Jerry's mess. While that's all well and good, he himself still wasn't at his best. Was he effective? Only to an extent.
Defense — A
Overall Game Grade — A
This Dolphins defense was greatly improved. I saw great play out of the secondary, great play up front. Overall it was an impressive performance.
Holding the Bengals to one touchdown and two field goals is a pretty good job considering how well the Bengals offense had played going into this game. Especially great was the fact that after a bad luck muffed punt in the first quarter that gave the Bengals prime field position, all Cincinnati could do was go three-and-out and settle for the field goal.
How did this defense get an A? Let's find out.
Randy Starks — A+
Do I have to explain to anyone why Randy Starks would wind up with an A+? On the afternoon he brought constant pressure to Andy Dalton, recorded three tackles, half a sack, a pass deflection, and an interception.
The interception was the nice bonus that the Dolphins got, as a led to a Reggie Bush touchdown.
Cameron Wake — A+
Another prominent member of Miami's A+ club produced a sack, five tackles, and even forced a fumble (that should've gone Miami's way but hey, I guess they give jugglers the benefit of the doubt).
Paul Soliai — B+
And the run on A's are over for now, but Soliai still turned in a good game. Once again Miami's run defense was stout despite showing some cracks early on, as the Bengals would finish with only 85 yards on the ground. Soliai was again a huge part of that and would pressure the quarterback, recording a half sack to go along with three tackles.
Jared Odrick — B+
So we're in B-territory I guess, but this is the lowest this defensive line will go. Odrick turned in another good performance with three tackles and a half a sack. As a quick aside, look at how many half sacks the Dolphins have, showing that this line doesn't just get one guy to the quarterback, they all swarm. Very good game had by all.
Tony McDaniel — B+
Tony McDaniel is included as well thanks to his good pressure when he was in the game, despite only having one tackle (he did see limited action). McDaniel also recovered the only fumble recovery that counted for the Dolphins. A very good game for a player that has missed time due to injury.
Kevin Burnett — A
Burnett and the rest of the Dolphins linebacking crew turned in another solid performance. This time around Burnett hit the quarterback twice (with one of those hits being half of a sack), while also limiting Cincinnati's short passing game.
Koa Misi — A
Misi only had five tackles on the day, but was all over the field doing his best impression of a ball hawk. Actually it's not an impression anymore, Misi just gets to the ball. The short passes that killed Miami in the past just didn't work for the Bengals this afternoon, and Misi, like Burnett and Dansby, were a huge part of it.
Karlos Dansby — A
I have a theory that needs to be looked into: the less Karlos Dansby talks during the week, the better he plays on Sunday. This week he didn't speak much, but came away with five tackles and a solid game. See Karlos, keeping your mouth shut is a good idea sometimes.
Olivier Vernon — A-
Vernon saw limited game action this afternoon, and mainly played linebacker. This will likely be his position going forward as he is solid at the position.
He ended his afternoon with one tackle and a big pass deflection on the Bengals' final drive.
I'm so happy with how the secondary (a short-handed one no less without Richard Marshalls) played this afternoon that I was thinking of just giving everyone an A and calling it a day (because let's face it, I do grade on a slight curve). But let's be serious, I'm giving two of them A's because they deserve it, and whatever grade any player gets is one he deserves.
With that being said, no one in the secondary got lower than a B-, which means I'll be hosting a pizza party later this week for their accomplishments. Sure they won't show up but, I'll at least enjoy the pizza.
Sean Smith — A
Let's let this sink in; Sean Smith followed up a great day shutting down Larry Fitzgerald, with a great day where he shut down A.J. Green. Sean Smith is a number one corner and is effective at it.
Granted Green did have nine catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, but you expect more than 65 yards on nine catches. Also his touchdown was a short one (as was Fitzgerald's touchdown last week).
Smith also wound up with eight tackles and a pass deflection, rounding out a great day. The only thing that would've been better would've been an interception.
Nolan Carroll — B+
If Nolan Carroll can play well for a second consecutive week (and do a great job starting), then maybe there's hope for other things in the world that seems hopeless. Maybe we can end world hunger, we can bring world peace, we can live in harmony with Jets and Patriots fans.
Well maybe the first two since that last one is somewhat impossible. However Carroll was great against Cincinnati. He didn't commit any stupid Nolan Carroll-esque penalties, he didn't get beaten, and he recorded a pass deflection and four tackles.
Reshad Jones — A
That muffed punt? Bad luck. He was doing his job blocking, and it just happened to hit him in the back. How could he see that coming? (The real issue is the fact that Vontanze Burfict didn't have control of the ball when he went out of bounds yet the call was ruled Bengals' ball anyways).
On defense though, he was superb with 7 tackles (including one for a loss), a pass deflection and the game-clinching interception.
Chris Clemons — B+
Clemons recorded six tackles and didn't allow the Bengals' short passes to kill him like the Dolphins secondary has been wont to do at times. Good game.
Jimmy Wilson — B+
Nickleback (the position not the crappy Canadian band—my apologies to any Nickleback fans out there) seems to be a natural fit for Jimmy Wilson. He ended the day with three tackles and a pass deflection while doing well covering the Bengals' third and fourth receivers.
Special Teams — B
Dan Carpenter — B+
Carpenter (nor any kicker) has any business attempting a 56-yard field goal unless there's not any more time left in the game. I don't really pin that miss on him.
But seeing him hit that 46-yard field goal was a beautiful thing to see. You could see that the Dolphins still have confidence in Carpenter, and he needed that, especially considering the fact that had he missed that kick and the Bengals need a field goal instead of a touchdown on their final drive, the drive likely ends differently.
Brandon Fields — B
I wasn't happy with Fields' last two punts, mainly because he seemed to put far too much juice on them. Both of them went for touchbacks when just a little less mustard would've downed them inside their own 10. Either way, Fields did play another good game.
Coaching — B
Overall Game Grade — A
The play-calling was exceptional, the execution while lacking at times got the job done overall, and the Dolphins came out with a hard fought victory on the road.
Miami needed to win a game like this. The coaching staff had to instill the close-out mentality this week. It's always tough to win on the road, especially against a 3-1 team, but Miami came in and passed the test with flying colors.
I actually felt bad for the coaching staff at times, mainly because most of the calls actually went against Miami. This wasn't just a case of bad luck, as some of them were egregious. But despite so much going against this team, they held everything together and came away with a well deserved victory.
That's the sign of a well-coached team.