Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills: on defense
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins will have their hands full when they play the Buffalo Bills this weekend. At least offensively. Defensively the Dolphins match-up much better but will it be enough? Miami enters the game surrounded by talk of underperforming.
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Prior to the seasons start talk about the Dolphins easily gravitated towards the Dolphins front defensive line. The addition of Ndamukong Suh was supposed to make everyone around him better. That has yet to be realized as the defensive line is playing poorly, the linebackers are playing poorly, and the secondary isn’t getting help either.
The Bills will give the Dolphins an offense that will be starting an inexperienced quarterback in Tyrod Taylor but a quarterback who has beaten the Indianapolis Colts and rallied the team late against the New England Patriots last week. Quarterback isn’t the Bills strong spot but Taylor benefits from a very strong offensive line and very good supporting running game.
The Bills are hoping that LeSean McCoy will be at least close to 100% by Sunday and he is expected to play. The Dolphins have struggled to contain Alfred Morris and rookie T.J. Yeldon in the first two weeks. McCoy is a much better runner than both. A dual threat, McCoy is explosive as a runner but even better as a receiver out of the back-field. The Dolphins, who are struggling to contain the edges will be tasked with stopping the Bills rushing and receiving attack and thus putting pressure on their inexperienced quarterback.
Up front, Miami is going to face the toughest offensive line they have played against thus far. Both tackles are very good, Seantrel Henderson will man the right side and try to contain Cameron Wake while Jordy Glenn will man the left taking on Olivier Vernon who has been disappointing thus far. In the middle a familiar name returns to South Florida.
Starting at left guard, Richie Incognito will return to Miami. He last played two seasons ago following the Jonathan Martin fiasco and sat out football last season. Rex Ryan brought the tough guard to the Bills this off-season and Incognito quickly gave them a reason to start him.
If the Dolphins can’t get pressure on Tyrod Taylor, the secondary is going to have a tough time containing the Bills receivers. Sammy Watkins is a young up and coming and very talented wide-out with a combination of size and speed and very good hands. He runs almost near perfect routes and will give the Dolphins corners fits all day. Watkins is able to find mistakes in the secondary and will try and use those scheme errors to find the loose zones to set up in. When Watkins isn’t putting himself into position to make a play, Robert Woods will.
The Bills have a good group of receivers and two more members of their offensive squad have ties to Miami. Chris “Always open” Hogan was a member of the Dolphins training camp team in 2012. He has blossomed as an outlet slot receiver in Buffalo and is very sure handed. The Bills also made a play for the extremely talented but underperforming Percy Harvin.
Harvin is interesting because he can have a huge game or be non-existent. Harvin can do well in the short game and is a legit deep threat the Dolphins safeties will have to be aware of. If Taylor gets in trouble, Harvin has the skills to generate space giving Taylor a viable option.
The 2nd receiver threat with ties to Miami is of course Charles Clay who makes his first return to Miami after leaving for Buffalo via free agency. Clay has looked good in Buffalo but he has not become a hot target just yet. Clay has battled injuries since training camp but is expected to be at or near 100% this weekend. The Dolphins defense is familiar with Clay but how the Bills use him in their scheme this week will be the telling factor as to whether the Dolphins defense can read his tendencies.
The Bills made Clay their top off-season target and he is only beginning to acclimate himself into their offense. He is a big option for Taylor who could use Clay as his outlet if under pressure.
Under pressure is a key here as the Dolphins front defensive lineman have yet to generate much upfield push through two games. The success of the Dolphins this week will hinge on the line play from both sides of the ball and both sides are not playing very well.
The Bills have a lot of weapons offensively so the defensive schemes are going to have to be such that they challenge Taylor to beat them with his arm. Doing so will mean taking away the run game and then putting a lot of pressure on Taylor hoping they can force mistakes.