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Week 1: Patriots at Dolphins
About the only player who stood out to me that deserves to be in this category is Jelani Jenkins. Jenkins had 14 tackles and seems to be growing into the role of a starting linebacker.
Get ready for a long list.
Let's start out with the offense, because anytime you only put up 10 points, there is plenty of blame to go around on offense.
I am disappointed in Bill Lazor's playcalling today. He was absolutely too pass happy when the running game was effective. Lamar Miller averaged 4.2 yards per carry and Damien Williams averaged 3.8 yards per carry. These are not stellar numbers, but they are effective enough that you continue running the ball. Instead, the Dolphins seemed to call way too many pass plays. The pass:run ratio today was 21:53. That is simply unacceptable.
The offensive line was a disappointment too, though I am not surprised that the Bills were able to get to Tannehill. I noted last week that while Tannehill was only sacked once by the Patriots, he was pressured on more than 30% of his dropbacks. It will be interesting to see how many times he was pressured in this game. We already know he was sacked 4 times.
Shelley Smith gets a special spot in my Ring of Dishonor this week. He was soundly beating several times by his man and this led to at least two sacks. Smith left the game with an injury, but it was a poor performance for him in pass protection.
Samson Satele and Ryan Tannehill have to get on the same page with the snap. Having Tannehill clap for Satele to snap the ball is almost as bad as having your snap count be GO or GO GO.
Charles Clay's face is on a milk carton, unless you're looking for drops. Actually, put Charles Clay and Brian Hartline on the same carton. They have both gone missing. As a pass catcher, throw Lamar Miller into the mix. I will be interested to see how many drops the Dolphins receivers had this week.
I know Ryan Tannehill is going to get a ton of criticism. He is the starting QB and people look to him for leadership. It falls on his shoulders to lift his teammates up. Tannehill missed a few throws today, including a deep throw to Wallace and an intermediate pass to Gibson, both that could have gone for touchdowns. But I am not going to get too down on him for missing a few throws. Every quarterback misses a few throws. My problem with Tannehill in this game is that I felt as if the pressure, the game, the moment was too much for him. That he couldn't rise up to the moment as a leader. Ryan Tannehill is the starting QB, the field general, and at some point he has to take the bulls by the horns and make this HIS team. I didn't see that today.
Special teams were trash. Allowing a 102 yard kick off return for a touchdown, allowing a blocked punt, a bad punt and muffing a punt on a return. Just unacceptable. To be honest, with all the things that went wrong today, I think special teams is solely responsible for 13 of the Bills 29 points and the biggest reason we lost today.
The Dolphins front four got virtually no pressure on E.J. Manuel. After harassing Tom Brady last week, they could barely get pressure on the Bills QB. Of special note is Cameron Wake getting neutralized by former Hurricane Seantrle Henderson, a 7th round rookie who was disappointing in college.
Will Davis. STOP FALLING!
Knowshon Moreno's injury hurt. He is expected to be out for 4 weeks with a dislocated elbow and that is huge. He was a spark plug on offense and we could have used him today. Granted the Dolphins should have continued running the ball when he went out and they didn't, but his enthusiasm is infectious and was sorely missed by a team that put together a lackluster effort on the field.
Officiating hurt in this game as well as the officials missed a fumble by Sammy Watkins that should have been a touchback but was instead called a touchdown. Each score is supposed to be automatically reviewed, but there didn't seem to be one or if there was it was completed in record time.
The Dolphins can't seem to win in Buffalo. It is a tough matchup for the Dolphins as the Bills strengths align with the Dolphins weaknesses. Those weaknesses, specifically the offensive line in pass protection, get exploited by this Bills team.
It's back to the drawing board for the Dolphins as this was a bad, sobering loss. Next up are the Kansas City Chiefs, a team with a strong defense but some injury issues and questions at quarterback. Can the Dolphins rebound?
The 1-0 Miami Dolphins travel to Buffalo to take on the 1-0 Bills in a AFC East battle. Miami is coming off a 33-20 win over the New England Patriots in Miami in a game in which the Dolphins out scored the Patriots 23-0 in the 2nd half. Buffalo is coming off an impressive 23-20 overtime win in Chicago over the Bears. The game is a 1:00 kickoff on CBS.
Buffalo comes into the game lead by 2nd year QB E.J Manuel out of Florida State. He has some nice weapons to work with in RB's Fred Jackson and C.J Spiller, and the Bills will want to come out and establish the run game to help take pressure off of Manuel. Rookie WR Sammy Watkins is part of a wide receiver corp that features Robert Woods and Mike Williams, while Scott Chandler is the featue tight ends for the Bills.
Defensively, the strength of the Buffalo Bills and the unit that dominated a poor Miami offensive line in 2013 is the defensive front, featuring DE Mario Williams, DT's Kyle Williams and Marcel Darius. They lead a solid defense that lost a key piece to this unit during the pre-season in Kiko Alonso. Former Patriot MLB Brandon Spikes leads the LB corp while CB's Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore lead the secondary.
The Dolphins offensively are lead by 3rd year QB Ryan Tannehill and feature a revamped running game lead by offseason signing RB Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller. The Dolphins also have a totally rebuilt offensive line and will feature WR's Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and TE Charles Clay.
Defensively, the Dolphins are lead by DE Cameron Wake and feature DE Vernon Olivier opposite Wake along with DT's Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and new Dolphin Earl Mitchell. The linebacker corps for Miami has been decimated by injuries, as the lost OLB Darnelle Ellerbe for the season and will be without Koa Misi for this game, as he hurt his ankle in the New England game. There some talk that Phillip Wheeler could play in this game, but that is in serious doubt as well. Jason Trusnik, Jelani Jenkins, Jonathan Freeny and undrafted free agent Chris McCain came in and did an admirable job filling in for the starters, and some will make the case that the linebacker play improved. The secondary features safety Louis Delmas and CB's Courtland Finnegan and Brent Grimes.
Keys for this game for the Dolphins offensively begins upfront in the trenches. The offensive line for the Dolphins struggled mightly in 2013, and no unit gave them more problems that the Bills front four. If this new, revamped offensivle line can continue to play well today against the Bills, the Dolphins can have success offensively. QB Ryan Tannehill had some issues with accuracy in the 1st half, but picked up his accuracy in the 2nd half, and he has to continue to improve from that standpoint. Miami will want to establish the run game and have balance.
Defensively, once again, the Dolphins will want to make the Bills one dimensional and put the game in 2nd year QB Manuel's hands. The Dolphins can't let Fred Jackson and C.J Spiller get off in the run game. If they do, then it opens up the offense for the Bills and takes pressure off a young QB that has not shown yet that he can win games passing the ball. The linebackers will be a big key in this game.
Miami can get off to not only a 2-0 start overall, but a 2-0 start in the division. They face a team that pretty much cost them a spot in the playoffs in 2013, and swept the Dolphins in 2013. I belive the Dolphins gain a bit of revenge today in Buffalo.
Let's GO Miami.