Week 4 in the NFL gets going with a matchup featuring the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, and the only undefeated team left in the conference, the Miami Dolphins. Miami was able to secure an impressive home win against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, defeating their division rivals 21-19 at home. The Bengals were able to get in the win column for the first time this season in Week 3, soundly beating the New York Jets on the road 27-12.
The game should be a good litmus test for both teams looking to finish the month of September strong.
Tua Tagovailoa’s Health
Even though Miami won the game on Sunday, emerging quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was pretty banged up during the contest. On a play in the second quarter, Tagovailoa fell to the ground as his head hit the turf hard. He appeared to be shaken up, stumbling a couple of times on his way to the sideline.
The Dolphins have been adamant that their young signal caller did not suffer a concussion, but rather back and ankle injuries that caused his initial struggle to jog back to the sideline. For what it’s worth, Tagovailoa did return to the Bills game and played decently well, but the NFL is reviewing what took place with regards to his medical evaluation.
Be that as it may, if the third year player is unable to give it a go against the Bengals, it would be a sizeable loss for a team with a lot of early season momentum.
Young Coaches From A Similar Tree
Thursday night’s matchup features some of the best players in the NFL on the field, but the decisions made on the sidelines by two of the league’s better young coaches will also be fun to watch.
Miami’s Mike McDaniel and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor are actually part of the same coaching tree, dating back to Mike Shanahan’s days coaching the Washington Commanders in the early part of the last decade. McDaniel worked under Kyle Shanahan before becoming a head coach, and Taylor worked under Sean McVay before getting his chance to lead the Bengals. Both Kyle Shanahan and McVay were on those Washington staffs, which clearly produced some intelligent offensive minds.
It will be fascinating to see if the two young coaches utilize any of the schemes they learned along the way against one another.
Protecting Joe Burrow
Despite making it all the way to the Super Bowl during the 2021 season, the Bengals had a difficult time protecting quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati knew that they had to do a better job of keeping their franchise quarterback upright in 2022, and spent a lot of money to make sure that their talented passer would get the protection he needed to get the ball downfield.
That attention and money paid to the offensive line has not resulted in improved play thus far. Burrow has been sacked 15 times in three games, making it difficult for him to get in a rhythm. The Dolphins have recorded six total sacks in three games, and love to send pressure. Fans should keep an eye on whether the Bengals try to get the ball out of Burrow’s hands quickly, or leave in an extra player to absorb additional pass rushers.