I’m going to admit that I have flip-flopped on my direction of this article about 3 times before I started typing. Last night before I actually fell asleep I do some deep thinking, and I was picturing in my mind the Dolphins scoring lots of points and outlasting the Bills at Hard Rock. When I woke up I had more of a dread feeling about this game, the one that every Dolphins fan has (or should have) that the Bills have absolutely owned us over the last 3 seasons and if we’re being realistic, we haven’t belonged on the same field with them. If I wrote the article just then, I’d have us losing, and by double digits. Now I sit here clear headed, caffeinated, and I hope accurate, as I feel like this going to be a wild shootout in Miami, minimal defense, a whole lot of offense, possibly near record breaking, and the Dolphins somehow topple the big, bad Bills. One thing might disrupt that, there are thunderstorms in the forecast, and that would much more derail our offense than the Bills. We’ve seen Tua fail in sloppy weather, so I’m hoping that doesn’t come into play here.
Both teams are hurting on defense, more specifically in the secondaries. Dolphins CB Xavien Howard is going to play, but he’s dealing with a groin injury. We’re already missing CB Byron Jones, but I can’t imagine us trying to cover Stefon Diggs and Gabe Jackson with Nik Needham, and Kader Kohou. For the Bills, S Micah Hyde is OUT. CB Dane Jackson is questionable with a neck injury. The Bills may decide to let Jackson heal up as they have with S Micah Hyde, which would leave CB Siran Neal as the likely starter, mostly a STs guy who has played less than 20% of the snaps on defense over his 4 year career with the Bills. We saw what happened last week against the Ravens, but one major difference, this Bills defense can bring lots of pressure from their front 7, especially considering the addition of All Pro DE Von Miller. Adding Miller to this defense gives 2nd year DE Gregory Rousseau less attention, and this Bills defense already has 9 sacks in just 2 games. Our O-line played fantastic during the comeback last week, but this will be a huge test for this group.
OK, so let’s talk about last week! Yes, I was in the process of losing my my mind and throwing in the white towel and in between a multitude of curses muttering in between gritted teeth something along the lines of “same old Dolphins getting mauled by the Ravens” and then IT happened. The best comeback in team history and among the best in the history of the NFL, erasing a 21 point deficit with less than 1 quarter left. Our two ultra fast WR’s were just running by people, sometimes before the catch, and sometimes after the catch. Tua was masterful in getting the ball out to these guys. Sure, some passes were underthrown, but I’ve seen Mahomes do the very same with Tyreek Hill, and no one blinks. Just get it there, and he did. Some of Tua’s throws were just fantastic, throwing into tight windows like to Waddle and Gesicki in the endzone, and letting your receiver make the play. When it was all over, we knocked off the Ravens in their house, a house of horrors for us as we have never won at M&T Stadium. Actually, we’ve been thoroughly dismantled at M&T Stadium, and at home in Miami as well. This was such a big win, but it’s just one game, we must continue this type of play against the Bills.
We know Josh Allen is going to run, the question is can we limit him, or hit him so hard he stops running. Our pass rush has been anemic, invisible and disappointing. We have 2 sacks in 2 games, and one of them was from the safety spot, a huge strip sack by S Brandon Jones. I mean it wasn’t just me that expected so much more from Jalean Phillips, and then we added Melvin Ingram and Trey Flowers and added them to Emmanuel Ogbah, who would probably crack double digit sacks after finishing with 9 sacks both last year and in 2020. So far, we haven’t gotten the job done and the pressure, forgetting sacks for a moment, hasn’t been there. That has to change this week against the Bills. If Josh Allen has all the time in the world to throw he will shred us. Our front 7 will also have a tough assignment to stop Josh Allen from running wild, and also keeping an eye on Devin Singletary and Zack Moss as outlets. We’ve scuffled badly against this offense, getting pushed around with Allen looking like the bully on the block, and our defenders looking like the poor bullied victim. One thing that could change that somewhat is our offense lighting up the scoreboard. If we can be the aggressor, and score TD’s each possession, that might take away that part of their offense, where Josh Allen just runs us over.
I’m curious to see if our offense is going to be the same high flying aerial attack, or will our RB’s have a larger role this week, both rushing, and probably more likely catching the ball. If our WR’s can get open like last week we might not see much of a running game, but if Tua doesn’t have time to throw like he did last week, the RB’s will play a larger role, both in pass protection and as outlet receivers when Tua won’t have the time to go downfield. We know in theory HC Mike McDaniel wants to run the ball, but once again I point out our backs need space to operate, so short quick passes with a LB in coverage to speedy RB’s like Raheem Mostert can break a defense. I think Mostert might have a huge game Sunday but that’s mainly if we don’t/can’t give Tua time. I’d be shocked if we beat the Bills with 30 carries and just kept the ball away, I can’t even fathom that happening, but who could have seen the improbable comeback last week? Mike McDaniel might just keep everyone guessing. Either way, I hope Mike McDaniel just keeps winning!
INJURY UPDATE – S Micah Hyde, CB Dane Jackson and DT Jordan Phillips are all OUT for the Bills