Dolphins and Bengals Rebuilding In Different Ways

When you look at the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins franchises from the time the 2018 season ended, these two franchises went in similar directions.

Coaching: The Cincinnati Bengals fired their longtime head coach in Marvin Lewis after a decade-plus with the Bengals; they made many playoff appearances but could not advance far in the postseason. The Miami Dolphins fired Adam Gase after a 7-9 season and a 6-10 season before that. Miami made the playoffs in Adam Gase’s first season but never got back on their feet after that,

The new coaches they each hired happened to face each other in the Super Bowl the previous season; Zac Taylor worked under Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay while Brian Flores worked under New England Patriots coach. Brian Flores came out victorious in that Super Bowl, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3.

Quarterbacks: Although we will not be seeing Joe Burrow suit up for the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend, even after this season, these two franchises and these two quarterbacks will be linked to as long as they are both in the league. Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow faced each other in their last season in college in the annual Alabama-LSU rivalry game, a game that is a must-watch, regardless of the quarterback. Still, the 2019 game had a different feel to it than ever. Many people involved with the Miami Dolphins, whether it’s the scouting department, the management, the beat writers, and fans, had eyes on this game. Even on the Bengals side, they were looking into this game. Two high draft prospects, a QB coming off an ankle surgery (Tua) and questions on whether he’d play, and a QB(Joe Burrow) who was on pace at the time to have one of the greatest seasons in college football history, eventually leading the LSU Tigers to a National Championship. Both these QB’s know what it takes to win at a high level. Weirdly, the Alabama-LSU game this year happens to be on the same weekend that Dolphins-Bengals is going on. One thing that the Dolphins and Bengals knew, they were in good hands regardless of which Quarterback fell into their laps.

With an injury that Tua Tagovailoa suffered against Mississippi State, it gave Joe Burrow a certainty to be the number one overall pick. With many questions on where Tua would land when it was the Dolphins’ turn to pick, they drafted the guy many fans wanted all along. The best part? They did not have to get the number one overall pick to draft him.

Though we won’t see Joe Burrow this weekend, there’s a chance we see Tua this weekend as it seems as if Tua’s agent might have broken the news that Tua is starting this Sunday. But no official confirmation from the Dolphins coaching staff at this moment in time.

Free Agency: After both teams being some of the worst teams in the NFL, these teams spent big in Free Agency. Miami spending on big names CB Byron Jones, Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy. Bringing in veterans to help Brian Flores establish the culture he wants to set in Miami. Cincinnati spent on free agents like former Texans DT DJ Reader, former Vikings CB Trae Waynes, franchise-tagged AJ Green, and former Saints S Vonn Bell. Though big spenders on both sides, only one has had early returns in their signings.

Draft Position and Assets: Both teams were atrocious last season; AJ Green missed all of the 2019 season, Andy Dalton was just about done in Cincinnati after continuously falling short in the postseason before and not being good enough to carry a bad team around him and to help his rookie head coach. Cincinnati finished 2-14 in the 2019 season, with their second win coming in Week 17. Miami finished 5-11 after starting the season 0-7. What’s the difference here? Miami got a head start with a rebuild to gain more assets via the trades of Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick. I can argue that if those two players were still on the team, Miami would not have finished 5-11; Miami would’ve had to trade up to draft Tua, possibly giving up a 1st round pick in 2021 and a second. Along with paying Tunsil, there would not have been room to sign a Byron Jones, or Emmanual Ogbah and Shaq Lawson. 3 1st round picks better than one. Miami’s aggressiveness towards their rebuild has been the difference; it shows in their current records. Cincinnatti did wrong did not pull the trigger when it came to trade for AJ Green, who was on an expiring contract in 2019. This was their chance to get more assets to build around their number one overall pick in Joe Burrow. Sure, Cincinnati got the higher overall pick. Still, the assets to build around the quarterback are not what Miami has been able to obtain, which has somewhat to do with why the Miami Dolphins are 7-4 and why Cincinnati is 2-8-1, and likely in a position to draft the top tackle Penei Sewell out of Oregon.

This is a game Miami should win, being 2nd in scoring defense, and the Bengals’ offensive line not being able to protect the quarterback regardless of who is out there, so the defensive line should be able to Bengals starting quarterback Brandon Allen uncomfortable, along with the secondary not giving AJ Green, Tee Higgins many opportunities. This is a game for the offense to hopefully gain momentum with the Kansas City Chiefs coming to town next week, but the mission this week stays the same, to get to 8-4 before KC comes to town. Right now, it’s all about the Cincinnati Bengals and to come out with a win with a very tough final stretch of season coming up.