One of the great things about the Buffalo Rumblings team is the ability to come together to bring out the best in everyone. This week has been a whirlwind with a lot of new content and a short week to get it all done. In the analyst “room” we’ve already gotten into a good groove on figuring out who is doing what. For this week’s opponent preview, the conversation couldn’t have come at a better time with the week hitting me particularly quickly.
Shout out to B.J. Monacelli for tossing out ideas and having a lead on me for DMiami Dolphins prep. I don’t want to say I stole his idea on what to cover, but I also don’t want to say that “pilfer” might be pretty accurate. To make sure he gets the credit he deserves, we’re joining forces this week to cover some of Miami’s explosive plays that helped them secure a comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
WR Jaylen Waddle’s 59-yard reception (Q2, 14:11)
B.J. Monacelli: The Miami Dolphins’ line up in an “empty” formation backed up against their own endzone, gutsy! The Baltimore Ravens have three linebackers on the field, which the Dolphins use to create a mismatch. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are being covered by linebackers....YIKES!!!! Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen has no chance against Jaylen Waddle. Looking forward to Week 3, the Buffalo Bills usually only use two linebackers so, hopefully, defensive back Taron Johnson can take care of this better than the Ravens’ linebackers.
Skarekrow: I like Waddle’s route here so let’s give some credit there. I know there’s a lot of doubt surrounding quarterback Tua Tagovailoa too, but he delivers the ball well despite a long-developing route that requires timing. There’s a good block downfield for Waddle too. The Ravens aren’t keeping the play in front of them like Buffalo tends to. There’s a bad tackle to pair with that sentiment. Some good things from Miami collide with some bad things from Baltimore and that’s an easy way to flip a field.
WR Tyreek Hill’s 48-yard touchdown (Q4, 7:54)
Skarekrow: While I do want to credit the throw by Tagovailoa to some degree, things are a lot easier when you have a prototypical speed receiver burn past everyone with enough space to adjust to the ball wherever it lands. The Ravens try to bring the heat but Miami keeps a clean pocket for their QB. Check out B.J.’s comments on the coverage Baltimore uses below. For my two cents, this seems to be banking on Tagovailoa being unable to hit this pass, which turns out to be a bad gamble. On the other hand, when the official is more of a threat to the route than the defensive backs it’s a good sign someone is late to the party.
B.J. Monacelli: The Ravens bring a blitz here, which leaves them with one less pass defender. It doesn’t help that the blitz doesn’t get home in time, but it's even worse that they blitzed TWO defensive backs and dropped a defensive end into coverage. Not a great idea, especially when said defensive end is covering nothing but the 45-yard line during the play. Even with all of this chaos, the Ravens have a chance to cover this play properly. Baltimore is in Cover 3 and in decent position for the first portion of the play. The cornerback guarding Hill has to get out of his backpedal sooner to stay on top. The safety in the middle of the field is in a tough spot between covering the dig in front of him or running with deep with Tyreek Hill. As you can see, he picked the wrong choice, especially with a big lead in the fourth quarter. Moral of the story: keep Tyreek Hill in front of you.
Tyreek Hill’s 60-yard touchdown (Q4, 5:27)
B.J. Monacelli: This play is troubling to watch for Raven’s fans. What. were. they. doing?! They just got torched by Hill for a 48-yard touchdown, wouldn’t you just play off coverage and keep everything in front of you? They attempt to trick quarterback Tua Tagovailoa by faking an all-out blitz, meanwhile, Tyreek Hill is left one-on-one with the Ravens cornerback who apparently doesn’t know what the play call was and just lets Hill run by him for a wide-open touchdown. We expect the Bills to be more organized than this.
Skarekrow: To Miami’s credit, they put Tyreek Hill on an island up top and bunch up their other targets at the bottom to try and draw coverage away from Hill. I’m a bit shocked that Baltimore stacks the line, leaving them with zero help over the top. I’m even more shocked that the one guy left to deal with Hill seems unaware he’s preeeeetty quick. He’s essentially just hanging out until Hill is on top of him. This would be too late for any receiver, let alone Hill.
Jaylen Waddle’s 7-yard touchdown (Q4, 0:19)
Skarekrow: I’ll just say it... This is mostly kudos to Miami. Jaylen Waddle’s change of direction is fantastic, creating a ton of space. Miami creates a pick with their route combo on top of that. Baltimore still manages to close in for a near breakup, but Waddle high-points the ball for the score. I’ve been praising Miami and Tua Tagovailoa to some degree here, but I do want to toss it out that I credit Waddle more than Tagovailoa on this play. Waddle creates great separation and the coverage has no chance to catch up unless the throw is late or behind. You could easily have laid this out in front of Waddle and have him run to it. With the throw a bit behind, the fact that it’s a bit high is most likely a happy accident. Trying to hit Waddle in the numbers is probably a pass breakup.
B.J. Monacelli: A magnificent reverse whip route here by Jaylen Waddle—that’s hard to cover in man-to-man, even harder when you have to deal with a pick route too. The Ravens actually covered this play well, but when you get no pressure on the quarterback it's hard to cover these good wide receivers for a long period of time. The hope is the Bills can get pressure quicker here and make the quarterback have to throw the ball before he wants to.
Though we’re seeing things through different lenses, I think B.J. and I are describing the same thing. Miami is good enough to pose a threat but I don’t think either of us are expecting as many explosive plays as the Ravens allowed. Buffalo tends to keep the play in front of them and play more disciplined on the back end, which should cut down on opportunities for Miami. Defensive coordiantor/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier, head coach Sean McDermott, and the rest of the coaching staff also have a knack for getting the best out of the team’s defensive backs.