Big game on Sunday and I for one am Big Poppa Pumped to see what the Miami Dolphins, YOUR Miami Dolphins do to not get destroyed yet again by the Buffalo Bills. I realize it might be a bit unfair to keep asking so much out of the defense when the offense doesn’t hold up their end, but that’s the team the Dolphins have constructed at this point. Sunday’s home opener is as good an opportunity as any for the Dolphin’s defense to show that they’re not just good defense but be a real defense that can stop good offenses.
We know all the fun stats such as 23 straight games forcing a turnover and how rookies Jevon Holland and Jaelan Philips did good things in their first game last week against New England. We’re fully aware of how good Xavien Howard is and how Byron Jones is an excellent #2 corner. We understand that Emmanuel Ogbah can be a force and that Jerome Baker is solid. That we all get. Do you know what else I get? I get that Josh Allen and the Bill’s offense have their absolute way with the Dolphins. Here are some stats that aren’t so fun;
I assure you my goal is not to bum you out. I, firmly, believe in having perspective when discussing what I love dear. I love the Miami Dolphins. That doesn’t mean I can’t say when they’ve been awful. They’ve been beyond awful against Josh Allen. If your aqua and orange-tinted glasses refuse to let you see that, good for you I guess. I see clearly.
But I also see a reality that the Dolphins actually put the screws to the Bills and let the rest of the division, the rest of the AFC, and the rest of the league know that the 2021 Dolphins are a team that needs to be taken seriously. I feel that the Steelers gave a roadmap on how to, potentially, take down the Bills.
In that game last week against the Bills, the Steelers got to Josh Allen, hit him, and sacked him while causing a fumble. They did that with mostly four guys up front. Personally, I’m not sure if the Dolphins have the horses to attack with only four guys. I like our guys but I don’t think they have that level of nastiness and physicality in them to get home as Pittsburgh did. Hope I’m wrong.
Where I think the Dolphins can duplicate the Steelers game plan is by running a bit more zone. Yes, I know that means sort of going against what the Dolphins mantra is, and that’s plays in your face man-to-man defense. What I’ll say to that is to quote the great Latin writer Publilious Syrus(what you don’t know old Pub? shame on you) “it’s a bad plan that can’t be changed.” I’m rather sure old Pub, as his boys affectionately called him, wasn’t describing defensive football strategies but his point remains sound. The Steelers strictly ran zone and it worked.
Josh Allen had a rough outing going 30/51 for 270 yards and one TD. Maybe more importantly, he only 44 yards on nine carries some of them designed. That’s significant because it’s the zone defense that keeps the off-script runs at bay. Playing man allows those lanes to open up like a busted damn giving Allen tons of space to wreak havoc. I’ll take my chances with Allen running at zone as compared to man.
On a larger point, I like the Dolphin’s defense. I like many of the players they have. But I get this feeling that they’re a defense that beats up on the offenses that don’t have dynamic skills guys, such as the Patriots last week, but get put in their place when a good offense faces them. Last year, they lost to the Bills twice, the Chiefs and the Seahawks. All of those are excellent teams. All of those teams took the Dolphin’s defense to task. No shame in getting beat by those teams but if you’re looking to take the next step you have to stop them a little bit. I understand those types of teams are going to get theres but you have to make it a little bit hard for them. Again, the offense probably is only going to give you 24 points at most.
I still remember how I felt last year in week 17 when everything was on the line and the Bills casually put 56 points on the Dolphins. We all do. It was as if the defense wasn’t even there besides the Byron Jones first drive INT. Gabriel Davis, who I fear a lot, ran all over the place and Diggs and Beasley had a fun day crushing Miami. Even Matt Barkley did what he wanted.
The Dolphins will have the heat and the home crowd on their side on Sunday. All they have to do is show up and play the kind of defense we’re told they have. Play the kind of defense we all believe they could play. Oh and maybe the offense chimes in with an offensive explosion. That would also be nice. Enjoy the weekend