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Five Keys To The Bengals Game

Posted Oct 31, 2013

Here are some of the things that need to happen for the Dolphins to improve to 4-4.



The time is now for the Miami Dolphins to turn this four game losing streak around on Thursday evening. It will be a difficult task against one of the more dominate teams in the AFC East, but taking care of the football and eliminating the mental errors will give this team a chance to get back to their winning ways. Here are some of the things that need to happen for the Dolphins to improve to 4-4.

1) Get Off Of The Field - The Cincinnati Bengals offense has plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the football, starting with quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has shown poise in the pocket and has the ability to get the football out on time to his playmakers. The key to Dalton's success is taking advantage of the big play when it there, or finding rookie sensation Giovanni Bernard on check downs out of the backfield. Bernard is third on the team with 26 receptions for 242 yards, and is hard to tackle in the open field because of his quickness. The Bengals are 42 percent on third down conversion and the Dolphins defense must find a way to "win" in these situations.

2) Win The Turnover Battle - This is an area that Miami was very good starting the season, but has regressed as of late (minus three for the season) leading to four consecutive losses. There's no question that quarterback Ryan Tannehill must protect the football in the passing game and within the pocket if the Dolphins want to have success. Miami's offensive line must find a way to identify the pressure at the line of scrimmage and give Tannehill protection from the backside. You cannot win consistently in this league when your averaging four and a half sacks a game! The quick passing game and strong running attack helped in the first half last week at New England, but this offense must find a way to get more explosive plays down the field and that means solid, sustained blocking up front. Also, Miami must turn up the heat and get to Dalton so he feels the need to force the football into coverage.

3) Slow Down Cincinnati's A.J. Green - This has not been an easy task for opposing defenses around the league, but something the Dolphins defense must find a way to get accomplished. Green's numbers have been outstanding (46 receptions for 734 yards and five touchdowns in eight games) and his ability to stretch the field allows his teammates more room to operate and have success. Slowing down Green's effectiveness and big play ability (long of 82 on the year) should help Miami's coverage on secondary targets like tight end Jermaine Gresham and wide receiver Marvin Jones, who has six touchdowns in his last three games!

4) Get The Lead And Hold It - The Dolphins must start fast again just like last week on the road against New England, but unlike last week, build upon their success and step on the accelerator! Miami must again get comfortable when the game starts to feel uncomfortable and execute in those situations. The margin is very small in the NFL between winning and losing football games, and it gets magnified when you miss a field goal or drop a pass that stalls a scoring drive. If the Dolphins are going to beat an elite team, they must find a way to make more game changing plays then Cincinnati (Bengals are 2-2 on the road this season) and make the plays that ultimately determine the outcome.

5) Win Up Front - Cincinnati's front four on defense has been very dominate and their linebackers can cause havoc up front. I'm sure that the Bengals have studied the problems pressure has caused the Dolphins and will test them early with multiple looks and blitz packages. If veteran tackle Bryant McKinney can bounce back on a short week and play like he did last week that will secure the backside. Tackle Jonathan Martin hasn't practiced this week and that points to inserting Tyson Clabo back into the starting lineup. Clabo must take advantage of this opportunity to play his best game of the season. If the Dolphins can handle the initial pressure early in the game, that should set the tone and open up the offense. This in my opinion will be the most important key to offensive success.