Buffalo Bills (6-6) vs Miami Dolphins (7-5)
Sunday December 7, 2008 4:05 PM EST
Rogers Centre - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Well, I really don't even know where to start, what to say, or how to feel about this game. We've got the whole Canadian backdrop here, with the potential of watching the Buffalo Bills lay an egg AND pondez un oeuf this weekend. Hooray! Do they speak French in Toronto? We also have the steaming pile of turtle poop that we call the Bills trying not to embarrass themselves against a team with a winning record. And I, like many of you fellow Rumblers, just don't feel as excited about this game. Anyways, what do Les Bills have to do to win this weekend? Here goes:
Kidnap Ted Ginn Jr: I really don't want to see this guy go crazy on us again. The last time we faced them, his performance was probably the most infuriating in recent memory. He was practically handed his 175 yards on a silver platter by Terrence McGee and Perry Fewell. Now with McGee supposedly 100% (we all have our doubts) and Ginn back to his normal mediocre self, there is absolutely no reason there should be a repeat performance. If McGee doesn't play up on Ginn this week, then just leave him in Toronto. Don't come back. Now, if we want to guarantee that Ginn won't treat McGee and the Bills like his personal punching bag, some evil genius Bills fan needs to go Celtic Pride on him. I'm kidding... I think.
Stop the run: We did it the first time around, limiting Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to 21 carries for 59 yards. That was a heck of a performance by the run D; too bad the pass D stayed in the locker room. I have a feeling the Bills' D is going to be extra sure Ginn, Chad Pennington and the Dolphins' aerial attack doesn't beat them again, so it'll be important for them not to get gouged on the ground. If the unit plays like it did for the last 52 minutes or so against the 49ers, they will have done their job, that's for sure.
Force some punts: I saw a milk carton with Roscoe Parrish's image on it the other day. That's how bad it's gotten for him and the Bills punt return unit. If the D can force some punts from Dolphin's territory, I like Roscoe's chances this week against his hometown team. The faster, indoor surface coupled with a poor Dolphins punt coverage unit should really give Roscoe an opportunity to turn it around. Punter Brandon Fields has one of the lowest net punt averages in the league (35.0) and the Dolphins are 3rd worst in the league in punt coverage per Football Outsiders. Take advantage of these stats, Bobby April and friends!
Run the ball, yawn, run it: Another week, another chance for Turk Schonert to run the ball like we've needed in weeks past. The Dolphins are pretty good against the run, allowing just 97 yards per game, and we had success the first time around running for 119 yards at 4.4 yards a pop. With J.P. Losman behind center, we can't put the ball in his hands and expect him to win it. (We can't with Trent Edwards, either, really...) Schonert needs to be much smarter than he has been this year and find creative ways for Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson to run it with success. Get it to them on the outside, if possible, and if not, go off tackle behind our strengths.
Shut Joey Porter up and down: 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a safety . That's what Porter did to us back in Week 8. He's been extremely successful and consistent all season, having not gone consecutive games without a sack all season. With Losman's love for holding the ball too long, Jason Peters and Langston Walker - and any help they may require - absolutely have to keep him off the QB initially and hold their blocks as long as possible. Porter is relentless and will kill us even if he is blocked initially.
Let Losman do what Losman do: Yeah, we need to run the ball and run it well, as I mentioned above. However, we also have to play to Losman's strengths a bit, which pretty much amounts to the downfield passing game and not much else. When he came in against the 49ers last week, I fully expected a deep ball to Lee Evans almost immediately. It never came and I still don't know why. This week, after a full week of practice under his belt, I can't see us NOT going deep to Evans at least 2-3 times this week. For crying out loud, this is all J.P. Losman is good for! At least let him play to his strengths, Turk! On top of that, I'd like to see some designed roll-outs, away from Porter, that will keep Losman from sitting in the pocket too long.
Protect the football: This could probably be the most important key to the game. Four turnovers against Miami the first time around weren't necessarily the reason we lost, but they sure didn't give us a chance to come back and win. Our losses this year, other than last week's shot to the groin, have been highlighted by the inability to protect the football. Hey offense, just hang on to it and give us the chance to win! I don't think the good people of Toronto want to see sloppy, disorganized, mistake filled football. They already have the CFL for that! (Hey-o!)
Have some pride: Look, for all intents and purposes the Bills are eliminated from the playoffs. That shouldn't stop them from getting after it against one of their most hated rivals. I'm sick of the complacent team we've seen the past two months and it'd be wonderful if we could have a performance where we came out from the start and just punched the other team in the mouth. This would be the perfect week to do it, even if it's in Canada.
Learn your lesson, coaches: Let's see, burned by Ted Ginn in the first game. You better scheme to not allow it again this week. Let's see, we stink when we don't run it often. Well, run it this week, and make it the focal point of the offense. Let's see, get the ball to Evans and good things tend to happen. Make sure it happens this week!
That's it, that's all I've got. These are your keys to Frying the Fish and staying mathematically alive for a playoff spot. Ya never know...