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Andy Benoit
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Wideout Marvin Jones (John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Bengals offense vs. Dolphins defense

Andy Dalton & Co. probably won’t hang five easy touchdowns on this defense. The Dolphins, unlike the Jets, have decent enough pass-rushers to deny Dalton the time for deep routes to unfold. The Dolphins secondary is also coming off one of its best performances of the season. Cornerbacks Brent Grimes, Dmitri Patterson and Jimmy Wilson were fantastic in off-man assignment pickups last week, taking away the Patriots’ quick-striking underneath passing game.

Of course, the Bengals are more vertical in their route designs than the Patriots, especially now that wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are showing rapid improvement. And just because the Dolphins have better pass-rushers than the Jets doesn’t mean the Bengals will completely eschew the deep ball. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden may believe that his big, fundamentally sound front five can handle this pass rush. Especially given that the most dangerous rusher, Cameron Wake, is still working his way back from a knee injury. Wake has lately been a shell of his usual self.

For the past several weeks, Miami’s front seven has been stingy against the run for three quarters, only to wear down late in the fourth. (This was a problem down the stretch last season, as well.) Given that it’s a short week, don’t be surprised if the Bengals stubbornly commit to the ground game early on in hopes of reaping rewards later.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Dolphins wideout Brian Hartline (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Dolphins offense vs. Bengals defense

The loss of slot man Brandon Gibson really hurts Miami. This is an offense that prefers to spread out and, aside from Brian Hartline, is now devoid of any viable inside receiving threats. When things usually get this tough, a team would typically lean on the wide receiver it just signed for $30 million guaranteed. However, Mike Wallace has been nothing close to a true No. 1 this year. He doesn’t make contested catches, his route tree is limited and his rapport with Ryan Tannehill is undeveloped. Last week, based on matchup assignments, Hartline seemed to be the guy whom New England considered Miami’s top receiver.

Tannehill may not have time to even throw incompletions to Wallace, given his offensive line’s protection woes. Aside from a costly blown assignment on a slot blitz, Bryant McKinnie was actually solid in his Dolphins debut at left tackle last week. And Jonathan Martin looked a little better playing on the other side. But neither was competing against veteran dynamos like Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. And if New England’s blitzes were hard for McKinnie and some of his teammates to figure out, then Cincy’s, with limited prep time, will be impossible.

On the inside, look for the Bengals to do whatever they can to get Geno Atkins one-on-one against right guard John Jerry. Run or pass, that matchup will be a one-sided bloodbath favoring the man in stripes.

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12 comments
Kcirtap!
Kcirtap!

What people don't understand is these guys (OTs) need several years to grow into their bodies. The position requires mass and strength that most 21 year olds just don't have yet. Most won't peak until late 20s to early 30s. So to call a 24 year old OT a bust is just laughable. Football is a numbers game, a guy that can consistently win 1 on 1 matchups is going to be valuable.

Jazzaloha
Jazzaloha

The main thrust of the article seems to be that elite OTs, particularly LT, are not as important as they once were. This is a slightly different from saying pass protection by the o-line is no longer as important as it once was (which is something I'd disagree with). 

A part of me does feel like elite OTs are not as valuable as they once were. Here's another reason I'd consider: the  rules to protect QBs. My impression is that for every 3 hard hits defenses exact on QBs, one of them will draw a big penalty. (I'm just making that number up.) I realize that getting to the QB is a high priority for defenses, but I wonder if the rules hinder the effectiveness of pass rushers to some degree. 

On another note, Russell Wilson's quarterbacking--and the Seahawk defense--have mitigated the problems with Seattle's OTs and their pass protection in general--but I don't think they will go deep into the playoffs if they continue to have these problems. Indeed, I believe their Super Bowl hopes depend heavily on getting Okung and Giacomoni back healthy and effective--partly because the current line is putting Wilson's health at risk--and if they lose him, they have no chance. 


Sam Heflin
Sam Heflin

I haven't seen every Chargers game this year but the two I have watched, against Indy & Philly, I saw more bunch formations and 7 man protections than I have ever seen a team run on a regular basis.  There was a lot of ingenious things happening, especially running off tackle on the light side of an unbalanced 7 man front.  The one thing I haven't seen from them is a great deal of "spreading it out, they almost always have 2 tight ends. 

musicmansf42
musicmansf42

Yeah, DJ Fluker's feet are so slow that he's only allowed 2.5 sacks, one full sack of those coming from a mistimed snap where no one on the OL was ready. He stoned JJ Watt. He stoned Mathis. He stoned Babin while playing LEFT tackle, out of position. You couldn't tell me enough that he isn't one of the best picks in the draft to this point.

Bucky182
Bucky182

Disagree with this article on so many levels. Solid offensive lines are very important regardless of how elusive a team's quarterback is. David Bakhtiari and Don Baryclay (Packers) may not be the team's chosen starting tackles but having been forced into the lineup due to injuries they have done a quality job. Mistakes are bound to happen with fourth round rookies and undrafted free agents but look at their total body of work. I'm no so sure their blocking (or lack thereof) has blown up that many plays. Look at the Vikings game, for example. Bakhtiari shut down Jared Allen completely. No sacks. No tackles. Not even a blip on the box score for Allen. 

If Cleveland actually had a quarterback Joe Thomas would show you just how much an elite left tackle is truly worth. Put that guy on a team with a proven pocket passer and you won't see many, if any, sacks from the blind side. At least not coming off Thomas's blocks.

CMFJ
CMFJ

"But Clady was absent in five of Denver’s wins, too. Few noticed much drop-off on the left side because Peyton Manning knows where to go with the ball (before and after the snap)."

Well, as someone that has watched all the Broncos game, I have certainly noticed a drop-off.  As noted, Manning can mitigate the effects, but when you are forced to call plays to cover up a player, it is limiting.  This has also seemed to reveal the limitations in TE Julius Thomas blocking ability, since he has often been called on to help on that side.  Thus far, it only really mattered against the Colts.  That is, it has only really mattered against the only likely AFC playoff team they have played.  When the Broncos get to the playoffs and are forced to limit their offense against such defenses, the value of Clady will be more obvious.  

gary41
gary41

What we have seen are much improved defenses, especially pass rushers, making the need for very good offensive lineman all the more important and that has been occurring lately in the draft.  If you don't believe this, ask some of the top QB's, who have dropped out of the top 10.  Some have been able to make adjustments, often with less than desirable choices and some have not.    

eleibow22
eleibow22

Completely disagree with this.  Look what the Rams did to Seattle Monday night.  Yeah you can win games but if you want to go deep into the playoffs you need a good line, tackles included.

BY
BY

Eric Fisher, taken first overall, has been a mistake magnate ...... From Webster's:

MAGNATE:  a person of rank, power, influence, or distinction often in a specified area

lmorran
lmorran

I am a frequent reader of The MMQB and a big fan. However, I believe this article is perhaps the worst I've read on the site. I see very little evidence to support the author's conclusion regarding the value of offensive tackles in today's game. Many of the examples given are prefaced with the qualifier of "exception" to the conclusion. Further, it should be noted that teams using play action as means of reducing pressure on the QB do in fact rely on those tackles to set up play action (a successful running game is critical to effective play action). I understand that the traditional role of left tackle is less of a run blocker, but nonetheless it is still huge part of their game. As for teams winning without solid tackles, I would like to see a breakdown of the teams they are beating. It might be that with a good QB and average tackles you can beat mediocre teams. But, no one pays big money to the best left tackles to beat mediocre teams. If this truly is the "Dive Deep" section, then I'd like to see it go a bit deeper.

mtoews
mtoews

@lmorran I dont know about most teams.. but the Saints put all their O line money into guards not tackles for a reason.  Brees needs lanes as he is shorter so the guards unclog his middle so he can see downfield.  With his great awareness he simply steps into the hole his guards have made and the edge rushes which always seem to beat the Tackles end up behind him while he throws it "hopefully" for a completion.  I think given the Saints overall record with Brees and Peyton this formula works and I believe you can say that the Saints are able to win on any given Sunday regardless of the opponent.

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