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Miami Dolphins Face The Chicago Bears In Turning Point Game For 2018

Alex Donno
October 11, 2018 - 11:06 am
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With a victory on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins can stop the bleeding of their 2-game slide. They'd enter the start of week 7 with a respectable 4-2 record, and be no worse than tied atop the AFC East. 

With a loss, they can magically turn a 3-0 start into a 3-3 spiral. Adam Gase's seat would get warmer, Tannehill's critics would become louder, and the faith invested in this team by its fans would bottom out yet again. 

The Dolphins face the Chicago Bears this Sunday, October 14th at Hard Rock Stadium. The Bears are 3-1 on the year, leading the NFC North. They happen to have one of the most dangerous defensive players in the league: outside linebacker Khalil Mack. The former Raider has already recorded 5.0 sacks, 14 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, an interception and a defensive touchdown in just 4 games this year. 

There is some good news, though. Miami faced Mack last season when he was with the Raiders and held him without a sack. 

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was asked how difficult it is to match up with Mack. 

“It’s hard," said Gase. "It’s hard because he does a really good job … he gets double-teamed a lot. And when you do that to good players, they’re going to figure out a way to work around it, whether it be somebody setting a pick for him and then now all of a sudden he ends up on the guard through a stunt (or) where they align him. They’re going to find ways to try to get him one-on-ones and then he’s going to adjust. He’s a smart player. He’s been around for a minute, so he’s seen it all. There’s not a whole bunch of new things you can throw at him. You know that when he starts moving around, you just have to have a good plan.”

The matchup with Mack worries me a lot, especially since the Dolphins do not have the full strength of their starting offensive line. They've already lost center Daniel Kilgore and guard Josh Sitton for the season. Against Cincinnati last Sunday, they lost left tackle Laremy Tunsil to a concussion. Tunsil is still in concussion protocol, so he's unlikely to suit up against Chicago. If he cannot go, Miami would be down to just 2 starters from opening day on the O-Line. Mack and the Bears will eat them alive. 

Can Ryan Tannehill make plays under pressure? Recent evidence says he can't. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald pointed out some alarming stats this week:

On plays where the quarterback is under pressure from a pass rush, Tannehill this season ranks 28th in passer rating at a poor 58.5.

Among all quarterbacks who have taken at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps, Tannehill – in those pressure situations – is tied for 24th in completions (13, in 28 attempts), 24th in yards (159) and 22nd in passer rating (58.5), with that rating ahead of only Sam Darnold, Andrew Luck, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr and Cam Newton.

Tannehill has taken 12 sacks and thrown two touchdowns and two interceptions on those plays under pressure this season. On Sunday on those pressure plays, Tannehill completed 6 of 12 passes for 65 yards but with two interceptions and a strip sack and a dismal passer rating of 26.7.

Tannehill, who threw 2 interceptions and lost a fumble against the Bengals, discussed what he needs to do this week to find success against Chicago. 

“I have to play better," Tannehill said. "I have to take care of the football. That’s what it comes down to is really just eliminating the turnovers. Those turnovers we had at the end of the game – that I had at the end of the game – last week, really hurt us. If you eliminate those, we’ll be in good shape.”

The Bears are a 3-point road favorite in Miami. 

Kickoff for Dolphins - Bears is set for 1:00pm this Sunday from Hard Rock Stadium. You can listen to the game on 560 WQAM, with our coverage starting at 9:00am.