This week the Miami Dolphins(4-5) travel north to Ralph Wilson Stadium to face off against division rival Buffalo Bills(3-6). The Dolphins are coming off an embarrassing loss to the now 4-6, Tennessee Titans. After destroying division rival New York Jets 30-9, many believed that the Dolphins had officially turned a corner. Since that game, Miami has lost 2 straight. First was against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts 20-23, then this past Sunday at home against the Tennessee Titans 37-3.
This past Sunday showed the Dolphins still have a ways to go. They showed poor discipline, and they looked like what many “expert analysts” said they would at the beginning of the season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill looked like a rookie, running back Reggie Bush was benched after his fumble, and the defense couldn’t stop Titans RB Chris Johnson. Those are just a few examples of the fiasco at Sun Life Stadium.
Even with all of that said, the Dolphins still aren’t out of the hunt for an AFC wildcard spot in the playoffs this year. If they continue to not show up on defense and can’t get their running game going again, the season will be over. I still believe the Dolphins will be able to squeeze into that last wildcard spot and could be a playoff contender within 3 years.
The Buffalo Bills have the worst run defense in the NFL, giving up an average of 163.7 yards a game. They also have the worst defense in terms of scoring giving up 31.7 points a game, and 31st in total yards at 410 yards per game average. If the Dolphins plan to get back on track they will have a great opportunity Thursday night.
Their are plenty of individual expectations to choose from after Sunday’s loss, but here are my top 5 individual expectations for this Thursday against the division rival Buffalo Bills:
1. Reggie Bush(Running Back)- After being benched for his fumble, Reggie Bush ended the day with only 4 carries for 21 yards and no TD’s. Assuming he isn’t benched again, and with going up against the worst run defense in the league, he has to have a big day. He’s too explosive of a player to not have a day like he did against the Oakland Raiders in week 2. I will be watching for him to redeem himself after being benched.
2. Dolphins Offensive Line- The offensive line has to do a better job on protection for both the run and pass. They also need to do a better job keeping the defensive line from batting down passes. This is a very talented offensive line and overall has had a good season so far, but they have to fix a couple things. I will be looking to see how many sacks they allow, how many balls are batted down, and how well they can open up holes for the running game.
3. Sean Smith (Cornerback)- To put this simply, Sean Smith has to show up. He was being looked at as a young player on the rise to being an elite corner, but he has made a 180 the past couple weeks. I still strongly believe he has what it takes and he one day will truly be an elite corner, but he has to get his act together. He has taken wrong angles when trying to tackle, giving too much space between him and the receiver, and missed easy turnovers. I will be looking to see if he can correct these mistakes starting this Thursday.
4. Dolphins Run Defense- The Dolphins Run Defense the past few weeks has started to decline. This past Sunday they allowed 126 yards rushing and 1 TD to Titans Chris Johnson. They now are sitting at 5th in the league in run defense after being in the top 3 most of the season. Thursday they have another difficult assignment with Bills Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The Bills currently have the 6th best run offense with an average of 143.1 yards per game. I will be watching to see if Miami can put a stop to Jackson and Spiller, and get back to being a top 3 run defense.
5. Ryan Tannehill(Quarterback)- This is one I’m not too worried about, but it does need to be addressed and has some cause for concern. Many fans were probably extremely angry, disappointed, and worried about Tannehill’s performance this past week which is completely understandable. 3 interceptions and no touchdowns is very pathetic, especially against the Titans who are still 27th in the NFL in passing yards, and 30th in scoring defense after Sunday’s game. But we can’t forget that he’s still a rookie and will make mistakes.
After watching Tannehill’s interceptions more closely, his pick six wasn’t completely his fault. A Titans defensive linemen batted the ball back for an easy interception for Tennessee. His second one, which was going to TE Anthony Fasano, was questionable at best. He was heavily covered and didn’t really have a window to get the ball in Fasano’s hands, but Fasano didn’t help him out any by stopping the ball from going into the defenders hands. Fasano is also to blame for the second interception. Now his third interception is another story. It looked like Tannehill passed the ball right to the Titans defender. I don’t see Tannehill making the same mistakes he did Sunday, but I will be watching to see if he can keep from getting balls batted down, which has been a problem for him several times this season.
Those are my top 5 for this week. There are plenty of things you can bring up and make an legitimate argument for each one. So what’s your top 5 individual expectations list for this week against the Bills?