We have a division match up on our hands Sunday as the Buffalo Bills travel down to the sunshine state to take on the Miami Dolphins. It will be the first time that rookie Josh Allen goes against Miami and we are interested to see how he does. To get the scouting report on the Dolphins, we talked to Kevin Nogle from The Phinsider on the situation the team finds itself in.
1. Do fans have a lot of faith in Ryan Tannehill going forward?
Not really. At this point, he is seen, at best, as an average quarterback who could be a bridge to a younger quarterback the team needs to find. My guess is that he is the starter in 2019, then the team is looking to draft a quarterback in 2020. If they fall in love with a draft prospect this year, then I could still see Tannehill back next year, with the rookie sitting on the bench, but I think he likely has one more year with Miami unless something suddenly changes.
2. What has been the biggest weakness of the team after their fast start?
Health. This team has been decimated by injuries, especially to the wide receivers (where Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant are on injured reserve and Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, and Danny Amendola have all been banged up) and the defensive line—the release of Jordan Phillips playing into that as well. You could honestly make a pretty decent starting NFL offense with the players from the Dolphins on injured reserve or who have missed games because of injury—with the running back position the only one not hit hard, unless Kenyan Drake’s injury becomes serious.
As for on the field, and injuries are a part of this, the Dolphins offensive line has not been as good lately as it was early in the year and the team has not been looking downfield or being aggressive when they should because of the offensive line and Brock Osweiler starting. Last week with Tannehill back, the offense started looking better for a while, but then returned to the shell it has been in the last month or so. On defense, the linebackers are still the weak spot, though Kiko Alonso should be a Pro Bowl player this year and Jerome Baker is developing as he gets more experience. Raekwon McMillan has not yet found himself, so that is a disappointment this season.
And, with the coaches, play calling is a big issue. On defense, it has led to a lot of desire to see defensive coordinator Matt Burke replaced. On offense, most fans want Adam Gase to give up the play-calling duties and focus on being a head coach. Not sure either of those will happen this season, but it could be a part of the offseason adjustments for the team.
3. How would you grade Adam Gase so far this season?
With his play calling, it will drag down the grade, but considering the injuries and playing five of 11 games with Brock Osweiler as the starter, he really has held the team together. He has a lot to fix, but he has not been horrible either. There are calls from fans to have him fired, but I think he has shown that with his team, he is able to get results. Now the Dolphins need to add depth behind his starters and maybe they can overcome these injuries better than they have the last two seasons. I expect Gase to be back next year, but I think he will go look for a name defensive coordinator and he has to consider giving up play calling as well.
4. I saw a poll that said most Dolphins fans don’t consider the Bills to be a main rival, why do you think that is?
I was actually surprised by those results. I get that the New England Patriots are the top team in the division and everyone in the league hates them. I get that all Dolphins fans hate the New York Jets. I get that the Baltimore Ravens are a rival because Miami seems to play them every year and they seem to win every year. But for the Bills to receive zero percent of the vote was odd. There are plenty of fans that remember Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas versus Dan Marino, so I thought they would at least be up around the Ravens in the result. I think it is just a matter of the Patriots dominance and both the Dolphins and Bills struggling for so long that people do not consider them first among the rivals anymore. It will get back to that if both teams can start winning consistently, but for now, I think it is just seen as another two games on the schedule.
5. What match up are you looking forward to on Sunday?
Really, I am looking forward to seeing Josh Allen versus the Miami defense. Miami has not been great at pass rushing this year—they can get close but they are not generating the sacks you would expect from Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, Andre Branch, and Charles Harris. They have a great coverage cornerback in Xavien Howard, a really good nickel cornerback in Bobby McCain, and a rookie do-everything-defensive-back in Minkah Fitzpatrick who has been playing really well as a cornerback. If the Dolphins can generate some pressure and the corners play like they can, it will be interesting to see how Allen adjusts.
As for his running ability, the Dolphins defensive line has to be disciplined and keep Allen contained, while the linebackers have to keep an eye on him. That will not be easy for the Dolphins defense, who love to give up huge chunks of yards to any rusher, running back or quarterback.
This should be a fascinating watch as a rookie goes against a defense that has a ton of talent, but the sum is not equaling the parts right now.