Fans of both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins have had their sights set on the 2020 season for much of this campaign. With Miami’s 38-35 overtime victory at Hard Rock Stadium, the Bengals secured the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. What can supporters of both franchises take forward into the offseason and next season?

Cincinnati Bengals

One and done for Zac Taylor?

The future starts now for Cincy. It is highly likely that they will take Ohio native Joe Burrow from LSU with the first overall pick in the spring. That alone will probably bump up season ticket sales for owner Mike Brown despite a woeful campaign that has ended much worse for the team than many anticipated.

No one was expecting the Bengals to make many waves this year under first year head coach Zac Taylor, but few expected them to post the worst record in the league. They’ve put up the worst points per game average in the league and whilst they rank 18th in pass yards per game, the Joe Mixon led running game is 28th in the NFL.

Taylor, part of the Sean McVay coaching tree, was hired because of his offensive background. Yet quarterback Andy Dalton has posted rookie level stats this year. Could Taylor experience a similar fate to that of Steve Wilks who was fired last offseason after just one year in charge of the Arizona Cardinals?

Some may be fearful of having Taylor managing the future of the franchise in Burrow, given the level of play we’ve seen from Cincinnati’s quarterbacks this year. However, I’d be shocked if the inherently conservative Bengals organisation chooses to move on from their rookie head coach.

       

Taylor can perhaps point to the loss of number one wide receiver, A.J. Green, and last year’s first round pick Jonah Williams, the team’s presumptive left tackle, as key factors that have derailed an already talent deficient roster. The front office will probably want to see what their head coach can do with his handpicked signal caller.

Though no one in Cincinnati will be pleased with the loss to the Dolphins, they may also consider the late fightback from the team as indicative of a roster that is still competing for their head coach. That is important as early in this game, as Miami pulled away, with the Bengals struggling to string offensive drives together, it appeared the game could get out of hand.

Help for Burrow

Burrow might also be relatively pleased to go to a team with an effective running back and number one wide receiver. Though Green will likely leave this offseason, Tyler Boyd has shown he can step up in his absence. The fourth-year man out of Pitt only needs 13 more receiving yards to surpass 1,000 receiving yards for a second straight year, and he put up 128 yards against the Dolphins, including an impressive diving touchdown to help contribute to the Bengals late comeback.

Whilst running back Joe Mixon was clearly hampered by a bug that he was fighting off against Miami, he currently sits on 975 rushing yards, meaning Burrow won’t be expected to put the entire offense on his shoulders.

If the team can continue to add talent up front this offseason, perhaps Burrow wont step into as bad a situation as many may have feared.

Miami Dolphins

Flores is the head coach this franchise needs

Brian Flores has done a fantastic job getting 4 wins out of this roster. Written off as a potential 0-16 team before a ball had even been snapped, the Dolphins did little to challenge that narrative in a blowout defeat to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener.

It’s got to be hard to motivate your team to play hard every week as the front office continues to trade away any players of value in return for draft capital. Nonetheless, the performances that Flores and his staff have wrung out of no-name players and players cut from other franchises, should give Dolphins fans confidence that their team is in the right hands moving forward.

When you look at individual statistics for this roster, there are few individual standout performances, though part of that is due to the sheer level of player turnover in South Beach this season. That, though, strengthens Flores’ credentials, as the Dolphins have got those four wins through true team performances.

Parker and Fitzpatrick in 2020?

One individual who has seen a huge spike in his production under offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea is wideout DeVante Parker. The Louisville product put up just 309 receiving yards in 11 games last season, yet this year has accumulated 1,065 yards and 9 touchdowns with one game left to play. That is a huge credit to Flores and O’Shea: that they have been able to make the most out of a player many had written off as a draft bust.

The team could also give strong consideration to bringing back Fitzpatrick as its starting quarterback in 2020. The Dolphins currently sit outside the sweet spot for picking up one of the top rated signal callers, and given the fact that Burrow seems likely to go to the Bengals, whilst Tua Tagovailoa’s injury places a question mark over him as a first round pick, general manager Chris Grier could use the Fins’ three first rounders to build up the talent level on the roster.

Fitzpatrick can continue to act as a placeholder for a year with the Dolphins using their considerable draft resources to target their quarterback of the future in next season’s draft. There isn’t a position on Miami’s roster that wouldn’t benefit from an upgrade, whether it be the offensive line or defensive backfield. As noted previously, the Dolphins could be considered to be less well off than the Bengals in terms of their lack of individual difference makers.

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