The Miami Dolphins face their second AFC East division rival of the season tonight, traveling north to face the Buffalo Bills. As we get ready to watch Miami try to bounce back after two straight losses, I got a chance to talk with Buffalo Rumblings managing editor Brian Galliford about the Bills, and what the Dolphins will have to do to come away with the win this week.
Here are my questions, with Galliford's answers:
Kevin Nogle (KN): The Bills offense was able to put up more yards and more first downs against the New England Patriots than the Patriots had ever allowed in a single game. Where did the offensive explosion come from? Was it just a matter of the Bills clicking, or was there something tangible that changed?
Brian Galliford (BG): "No, nothing changed - Chan Gailey has just figured out Bill Belichick's defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick has four consecutive 300-yard passing games against the Patriots, and the Bills have put up an average of 26 points in those contests. It also helps that New England's defense just isn't that great. It may sound crazy, but I wouldn't mind watching another Bills/Patriots game this year, simply because the Bills can move the football on that team more than they can against others. "
KN: Fred Jackson has been ruled out of Thursday game with a concussion. How healthy is the rest of the team?
BG: "Two more starters won't play: defensive end Mark Anderson and cornerback Aaron Williams both have knee injuries keeping them sidelined. Another major contributor, Chris Kelsay, has a neck injury that caused him to miss the Pats game; Chan Gailey says he's 50/50 to play. Other than that, there are a few notable players with nicks (Stevie Johnson and Kyle Williams chiefly), but everyone else is expected to suit up."
KN: The Bills were a popular choice this preseason be in playoff contention, especially after building what should have been a formidable defense. Yet, Buffalo is 21st in the league in pass defense and 32nd in rush defense so far this season. What's the biggest problem with the Buffalo defense?
BG: "Their defensive line and the secondary has been a little beat up, Dave Wannstedt's scheme is pretty unimaginative and basic (which I'm sure won't come as a surprise to Dolphins fans), and the unit has been terribly inconsistent. But when you get right down to it, Buffalo probably has the worst group of linebackers in the NFL, and that's caused a lot of their problems. Nick Barnett is a shadow of his former self, and teams are starting to run right at him and throw quick receivers into his short zones. There isn't really another linebacker of note on the roster, either. That group is in rough shape."
KN: What Bills player do Dolphins fans not know now, but will by the end of the game?
BG: "Kyle Moore. He's a fourth-year defensive end out of USC and a former fourth-round draft pick of Tampa Bay, so there may be some name recognition, but Moore is finally getting some extended playing time at the pro level, and he's done some nice things. That's particularly true as a pass rusher; he got his first career sack in Week 9 against Houston, and has consistently created pressure on quarterbacks this season. Miami needs to be careful to avoid third-and-long situations - and if they end up in some, they might need to be more worried about Moore than they will be about Mario Williams."
KN: If you are game planning for how to attack the Bills, what's your offensive scheme? Defensive?
BG: "Run the ball. Run it early, run it often, and run it hard. This defense is built to play the pass, and they can be worn down, starting with a thin defensive line that's hampered by injury. When teams establish the run, Buffalo is typically in for a world of hurt, as they really struggle to defend play-action and misdirection. Defensively: tackle. The Bills' offense is predicated on unpredictability and yards after contact, so when teams wrap up, they can typically contain the attack. Also, don't blitz Ryan Fitzpatrick too eagerly; it's when teams drop guys into coverage and flood throwing lanes that he typically starts making mistakes."
I would like to thank Galliford, who has been a repeat nominee in our annual Matty Awards here on The Phinsider, for taking the time to answer my questions. You can check out Buffalo Rumblings to keep up on all the Bills news.