Frustration is likely the word to characterize the Miami Dolphins’ performance against the Buffalo Bills, as Miami had a tough go of it on the road at Ralph Wilson Stadium today. It was a game of impact plays, with Buffalo simply making more of them. Miami repeatedly struggled at creating explosive moments in all three phases of the game. It’s a tough loss after such a great start in Week 1, but this game can be used as a teachable moment and a learning experience as they turn the page towards next week’s game at Sun Life Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here’s some of the things that stood out to me during Miami’s 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills:
1. Starting Slow
Through two games, it’s been great to see how the Dolphins’ offense has responded out of halftime offensively. But the one bad thing about it is that the offense seems to be starting slowly out of the gate. Hopefully this is just a two week phase, not a season long trend. The Dolphins offense again didn’t crank up until the third quarter when they put together their only two scoring drives of the game. The difference between when the offense sputtered and when it was efficient starts up front. It seemed that the Bills were getting too much penetration in the interior of the offensive line, and that didn’t allow Ryan Tannehill to create any sort of rhythm or consistent timing in the passing game. When the offense did look efficient, receivers were running quick crisp routes and the ball seemed to come out on time. Also, it helps when you turn to the running game and get multiple positive plays in a row. The Dolphins weren’t able to get that out of their backfield today.
2. Staying In It
The 29-10 score seems like a lopsided victory, and it is. But in reality, it could’ve been much worse. The Dolphins defense started in poor field position the majority of the first half, but didn’t allow the Bills to enter the end zone on offense until the Sammy Watkins 14-yard touchdown reception late in the 3rd quarter, which may have actually been a fumble upon further review. The Bills scored a TD before then, but it was on a 102 yard C.J. Spiller kickoff return.
Better quarterback play out of E.J. Manuel inside the red zone could have probably changed the scoring sheet inside the first half. He missed Watkins down the middle for an easy score, and missed a slant pattern early on that potentially could’ve turned into points. In any event, those plays didn’t happen, and you must credit the Dolphins defense for being stout and keeping the game within reach for 30+ minutes. Keeping the game in striking distance until the fourth quarter.
3. Lack Of Explosion
When it came to big plays during this game, it felt like it was pretty one-sided. On offense, defense, and special teams, the Bills were able to create big plays that lead to scores. Special teams was a big factor in the Dolphins’ loss, as the Bills blocked punt that lead to a field goal early in the first half, and of course had the killer kickoff return that extended Buffalo’s 3rd quarter lead to 13, increasing the number to chase for Ryan Tannehill and company. Buffalo also sacked Tannehill four times and created two turnovers, while the Dolphins didn’t register a sack or a turnover.
Miami always seemed to be chasing this game, and while Buffalo was making big plays when it counted, the Dolphins had several opportunities that they missed out on. Tannehill missed an open Brandon Gibson in the red zone late in the game, underthrew Mike Wallace on a deep crossing route early, and several receivers had key drops on 3rd down throughout the contest. If the Dolphins had just converted on some of those chances and created explosive plays, it could have been a whole different ballagame.
News & Notes
- Running back Knowshon Moreno left today’s game early in the 1st quarter with an elbow injury and did not return.
- It’s important to “win quarters” during games, and the Dolphins never did, contributing to the loss. Buffalo outscored them in each quarter today.
- Linebacker Jelani Jenkins got his first start today and led the charge on defense with 13 tackles, including one for a loss.
- Converting on third down is always a confidence booster and a momentum maker for offenses, and the Dolphins struggled on that key down today. They went 5/16 on third downs, only converting 31% of them.
- Miami was never really able to consistently run the ball today, which was key in their Week 1 win against the Patriots. The Dolphins only rushed for 80 net yards as opposed to the 191 they had the previous week.
- The Dolphins closed the deficit tp six points twice, but never could get closer. It was 9-3 with a Caleb Sturgis 34-yard field in the 3rd quarter, and was 16-10 after Mike Wallace’s one-handed touchdown grab.
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