Dolphins passing attack: 235.0 pass ypg (13th)
Bengals passing attack: 270.8 pass ypg (6th)
Dolphins pass defense: 216.5 pass ypg (17th)
Bengals pass defense: 222.0 pass ypg (19th)
Dolphins passing stats
C. Henne: 130-206, 63.1%, 1,452 yards, 8 TD's, 6 INT's
B. Marshall: 42 rec. 524 yards, 1 TD
D. Bess: 32 rec. 348 yards, 3 TD's
B. Hartline: 20 rec. 234 yards, 1 TD
Bengals passing stats
C. Palmer: 151-244, 61.9%, 10 TD's, 6 INT's
T. Owens: 40 rec. 564 yards, 3 TD's
C. Ochocinco: 36 rec. 424 yards, 2 TD's
J. Shipley: 21 rec. 321 yards, 1 TD
Back on Tuesday, when we looked at how the these two teams matched up in the running game, it was quite clear, on paper at least, that the Dolphins have the advantage on both sides of the ball. The passing game is the strength of this Cincinnati team, though.
On offense they posses potentially the most lethal wide receiver duo in football with T.O. and Ochocinco, and on defense, many have praised Leon Hall and Johnathan Joesph as the best corner tandem in the entire league.
Needless to say, the Bengals' passing game is a big reason why I have a strong feeling they are much better than their 2-4 record suggest. That's why the Dolphins better get over their controversial loss to the Steelers in a hurry, because the Bengals are a playoff caliber team that is very capable of dropping the Dolphins below .500 for the first time of the season.
Bengals passing attack vs. Dolphins secondary
The Bengals' mediocre record is probably the main reason why Terrell Owens and Ochocinco's prolific season together isn't getting too much attention. When I see the numbers Owens is putting up, I can't help but wonder why nobody wanted to sign him in the offseason. Sure, he's old and doesn't exactly have a model character, but you can't tell me teams couldn't have used a good 1,500 receiving yards, which is what he's on pace for.
Based on the way Vontae Davis has played, we know not to worry too much about one side of the field, but it's the other side that has me nervous. Jason Allen has been hit and miss this season, and was badly burnt by Mike Wallace a week ago. Rumor is, Sean Smith will once again return to the starting lineup against the Bengals.
Despite not picking off a pass in his rookie season, I was a huge fan of how well Smith played last year. He made his rookie mistakes, but overall he showed some lockdown potential, and was actually thrown at far fewer times than Vontae Davis. If only Smith could make the same huge strides Davis has made in his second season, this Dolphins' secondary would be set for years to come and they could possibly challenge Mr. Hall and Joseph for that "best corner duo in the league" title.
But that is very optimistic. Davis and Smith are completely different players, and will develop at different speeds. But if Smith can come out, for this game at least, with a chip on his shoulder for getting benched for the first six games and attempt to cement his name in stone for that starting position opposite Davis, we should see a solid, inspired performance out of the kid.
Regardless of how well the corners play, they can always use a little help from the pass rush. Cameron Wake and Koa Misi haven't disappointed replacing Joey Porter and Jason Taylor, and they are only going to get better and better as the season goes on. Last week we saw the Dolphins pressure Big Ben frequently, but because Roethlisberger is just so good at hanging in the pocket and keeping the play alive it didn't result in a bunch of sacks and didn't help the secondary out much.
Carson Palmer doesn't have the same sort of mobility that Roethlisberger does, and he is battling a hip injury that forced him to sit out Thursday's practice to boot. I see the Dolphins' front seven having another big day, and possibly forcing a turnover or two from Palmer. That still probably won't be enough to stop the Bengals from moving the ball through the air, though.
Dolphins passing attack vs. Bengals secondary
Like I said in the running game preview, Sunday will provide a golden opportunity to get back to running the football successfully. That doesn't mean Chad Henne can't have another big day. Yes, the Bengals have a very good corner tandem, but their third contributor, Adam Jones, is out for the season and Leon Hall did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with a hamstring injury and Johnathan Joseph has only practiced on a limited basis due to a hurt ankle.
Add corner Morgan Trent, safety Chinedum Ndukwe, and safety Roy Williams to the list of those who haven't practiced and the Bengals have a pretty banged up secondary. That obviously doesn't mean the Dolphins should get all pass happy, but it does mean this Bengals' pass defense must be tested early and often, regardless of most of these injured players play or not.
Look back to the Green Bay game. That's the type of balanced approach this offense should try to employ week in and week out. Against teams like the Steelers that's obviously impossible because they are so stout against the run. But against a team like the Bengals, there's no excuse because they aren't dominate against the run or pass.
Even if the Dolphins have consistent success on the ground, hopefully we see Dan Henning let Henne take some shots at the endzone once Miami moves the ball to the Cincinnati redzone. The Dolphins should have learned their lesson last week. You can't settle for field goals and win in this league. Yes, you have to take the points once you hit fourth down under most circumstances, but the redzone struggles is what is currently holding this Dolphins' offense back.
I would be willing to bet this offense ranks in the top ten by year's end in total offensive yardage. But unless they improve in the redzone and put more points on the board, all of that won't matter a whole lot, because it likely won't lead to any more wins. Besides giving Henne a true go-to threat, I was especially excited about this team's redzone potential once they acquired Brandon Marshall.
How many fade routes to the corner of the endzone have we seen thrown Marshall's way? There was that back shoulder throw that was slightly off the mark last week against the Steelers, but other that, it seems like the Dolphins have been using Marshall as more of a decoy than anything near the goal line. That needs to change in a hurry. Marshall is too big of target to only have one touchdown on the season.
One thing to be very optimistic about, though, is the lack of a Bengal pass rush. They have only registered six sacks collectively so far, which is fewer than Cameron Wake all by himself. When you add that to the fact the Dolphins' offensive line has been very effective in pass protection, Henne should have plenty of time to scan the field on Sunday.
Dolphins passing attack: 235.0 pass ypg (13th)