Continuing on with our preview of this weekend's season opener in Buffalo between the Dolphins and Bills, it's time to turn our attention to some keys to Sunday's game. But rather than simply listing out the keys to the game for the Dolphins, Brian Galliford (from Buffalo Rumblings, of course) and I decided to do things a little differently.
What we did was each highlight three keys to the game, looking at it from our respective team's point of view. Then we let each other respond to those keys. We think it made for some interesting reading. Hopefully all of you will as well.
My keys to the game for the Dolphins are listed below, along with Brian's rebuttals. You can head over to Buffalo Rumblings today to see the keys Brian highlighted and how I responded to them.
Recipe for a Dolphins win
1. Take advantage of the attention Brandon Marshall will receive. It's probably safe to assume the Bills will be game planning to take away Marshall as an option for Chad Henne. No one corner can defend Brandon. And the truth is even two defensive backs might not be enough. Expect the Bills to shade their entire defense towards Marshall. Of course, that will leave Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, and company with more room to operate. They may not be as talented as Marshall. But they can do damage if given the opportunity.
Brian's Rebuttal: I don't think the Bills would necessarily mind that scenario. Hartline and Bess are not big-play receivers, so keeping the entire receiving corps in check would not be a bad thing, provided the team could get off the field on third down. Buffalo needs to make Miami earn all of its points; big plays will kill their chances of winning.
2. Remain committed to the run. In their last four meetings, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have combined to average 121 rushing yards per game and 4.36 yards per carry. No matter how tempting it might be to pass the football (especially with a new big-play receiver making his Dolphins debut), it'll be important to remain true to the team's identity and pound the football - especially with a young, developing quarterback under center in a hostile environment like Buffalo.
Brian's Rebuttal: Buffalo's run defense has not looked markedly better through a scheme shift and preseason action, but we've yet to see much in the way of exotic game-planning, as well. The Bills were able to defeat the Dolphins last November because they forced Chad Henne to beat them - he didn't - so it's absolutely imperative that they keep Brown and Williams from ripping off large chunks of yardage. It's the big runs that are important, because these backs are too good to not have at least solid outings. I'm curious to see how Miami's still-gelling offensive line performs in front of these two players.
3. Force Trent Edwards to throw. When you look at this Bills' team, it's obvious that their strength on offense is their running game. Containing those backs and keeping Buffalo in 2nd and 3rd & longs - forcing Edwards to make plays - would make this game much more difficult for the Bills. I'm not a believer in Edwards at all. I don't think he can win you football games. Let's hope Mike Nolan's defense can contain those talented Buffalo backs and put the pressure squarely on Trent's shoulders.
Brian's Rebuttal: I don't have a rebuttal. This is absolutely right. Buffalo's offensive line is very shaky in pass protection, and Edwards is still rattled under pressure. If Miami can limit the effectiveness of C.J. Spiller and the Bills' rushing attack and force them to pass - an early lead would help there, as well - Buffalo's offense would have very little chance of survival. Cameron Wake would have a field day. The only hope for Buffalo here is that they get a lead themselves early, or the game is close, and they're able to move the pocket and utilize misdirection to slow down Miami's pass rush.
Be sure to head over to Buffalo Rumblings today to see how I responded to the keys Brian highlights for his Bills.