The last time the Buffalo Bills played the Miami Dolphins, I opened this article with the following statement:
The Miami Dolphins are not a good football team.
This is still a true statement, though it’s different than it was previously. The Dolphins are on a two-game winning streak and at home this Sunday against the Bills with their coaching staff hoping to further damage their draft position against their division rivals. The Bills, meanwhile, are frustrated after dropping a game against the previously 2-6 Cleveland Browns. Head coach Sean McDermott is leaving press conferences early and fans are calling for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s head. The team may or may not be trolling the fans on social media by showing practice videos of quarterback Josh Allen hitting deep balls in practice to wide receiver John Brown.
I truly believe this game is a pivotal moment for the 2019 version of the Buffalo Bills. Even at 6-3, the season may be hanging in the balance and a loss to the Dolphins this week may very well close the door on both their playoff chances in 2019 AND fans’ patience with the Buffalo offense. A statement win with 31 points scored could reinvigorate the team and the fan base and set the stage for a Wild Card run with renewed optimism.
How do the Bills see to it that they “squish the fish” this weekend? I have some thoughts...
This can be where the run D gets right, so play Ed Oliver
Kalen Ballage ain’t it folks. The last time the Bills played the Dolphins, it was the beginning of the concerns about the 2019 Buffalo run defense. It would be fitting if this week was the end of those concerns. Ballage is averaging an abysmal 2.1 yards per carry this season, which could be blamed on the Dolphins’ offensive line at first glace before noticing that previous Miami running backs Mark Walton and Kenyan Drake performed markedly better with the same line. Walton is now suspended and Drake is a member of the Arizona Cardinals, leaving Ballage as the lead back facing Buffalo this Sunday.
If the Bills give up a big game to Ballage, it might be time to wave the white flag on the run defense, so we might as well give Ed Oliver some run.
For some reason, when the Bills diagnosed their run-defense issues, they identified that Ed Oliver was the problem. I disagreed with their conclusion. They started giving Ed Oliver fewer snaps and it didn’t appear to have much effect on the performance of the run defense. Maybe it’s time to admit that Ed Oliver wasn’t the sole problem with the run defense. The Bills should play him against a Miami interior offensive line that played surprisingly well against Buffalo in their first meeting, but lacks the elite talent to be counted on to replicate the rushing attacks the Bills have seen over the last few weeks.
Go after the Miami corners in man coverage; feed Beasley
Cole Beasley is a nightmare against man coverage, and the Dolphins’ best cover corner Xavien Howard is out. Seems like pretty simple logic. There is, however, more to it.
Xavien Howard, if healthy, wouldn’t likely have been matched up with Beasley anyway. Instead, he would have most frequently found himself opposite Bills leading receiver John Brown. Why, then, would I suggest feeding Beasley?
The Bills (and Josh Allen most notably) are going to have to learn how to deal with Cover-0 looks from opposing defenses. Allen’s absent deep connections have emboldened defenses to take their chances on him connecting down the field, instead opting to utilize their safeties in the box for run support or in blitzing roles. Buffalo is likely to see plenty of snaps with eight or nine defenders lined up across the line of scrimmage, daring Allen to correctly interpret who’s coming and who’s dropping and make a correct and accurate throw.
If Allen can’t hit the deep ball, he could at least beat the defense with Beasley.
Cole Beasley’s ability to separate early in the play can be the key to beating the Cover-0 looks from opposing defenses without having to rely on accurate passes 30 yards down the field into man coverage. I certainly wouldn’t complain if Allen were to hit a few of those, but in the event his deep-ball struggles continue, having Beasley on the field can help provide the cure to what ails the Bills’ offense in those situations.
...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter @BruceExclusive and look for episodes of “The Nick & Nolan Show” on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network every week!