Miami will have a new general manager with a new vision for the team. The Dolphins have a newfound running game. Miami will field a few impact defenders who weren't on the team last season. The Bills will be facing an entirely new (back-up) linebacking group.
But the most important change is one the Bills will be witnessing from the defensive side of the ball-- Bill Lazor's offense.
Lazor, who replaced the much maligned Mike Sherman as the Dolphins offensive coordinator this offseason, brings with him an innovative, creative offense and an impressive coaching pedigree.
Lazor called an excellent game for the Dolphins when the team defeated the New England Patriots 33-20 last Sunday. There were no calls that left the fan base head-scratching and the offense moved the ball efficiently.
In fact, it seemed as though the Patriots had no answers for Lazor's offense. Only turnovers were able to stop the Miami offense last Sunday. The Dolphins didn't punt until the fourth quarter.
Despite the multitude of mistakes, the Dolphins' offense still managed to score 33 points. This has many excited for the potential of Lazor's offense.
However, Lazor will face a telling trial this Sunday when the Dolphins take on the Buffalo Bills in New York.
The Bills' defense allowed only 20 points to a high-powered Chicago Bears offense that is filled with weapons. The Bills forced Jay Cutler to make mistakes and took advantage of these mistakes.
The Bills' defensive line is one of the best in the NFL, and their secondary is a strong unit as well. Much like the Dolphins, the Bills have a limited number of places to attack the defense.
Also much like the Dolphins, these weaknesses lie in the middle of their defense.
Lazor will need to attack these weak links and find a way to scheme around the monster of a defensive line the Bills possess (this seems obvious, but if we think back to the days of Mike Sherman....). While the Dolphins rebuilt offensive line played extraordinary last week, this Sunday will be a tribulation for this unit.
The Bills are missing linebacker Kiko Alonso for the entire season, but his replacement, Brandon Spikes, could present an issue for the Dolphins. Spikes is an extremely strong and aggressive run defender. Behind the defensive line that is in place in Buffalo, a LB like Spikes could have a huge impact.
Conversely, Lazor can attack Spikes in coverage. Spikes is slow in space and will be a mismatch that Lazor looks to exploit. The same can be said for Bills' LB Preston Brown. For this reason I expect Charles Clay to have a big game and be used in many different ways. Lazor will also try to use motions to try to isolate one of the Bills linebackers on a receiver, as successfully did with Mike Wallace against the Patriots.
On top of a quick passing game with short throws, Lazor will likely call many screens and use exotic formations to slow down the Bills' pass rush. You can also expect to see Tannehill use his legs a bit more to present that threat to the defense and open up other things.
We can expect a large dose of Knowshon Moreno. Moreno is the Dolphins most physical back, but he also has the best vision (by far). This will be very important Sunday because running lanes will be tough to find.
The Dolphins will need to take advantage of opportunities and keep mistakes to a minimum this Sunday. The Bills want to run the ball and win the time of possession battle, so Miami needs to score when they have the ball.
Lazor needs to call an excellent game and scheme away from the Bills defensive line in order to win this game Sunday. Starting 2-0 in the division is a huge step, and this Dolphins team has the talent to do so.
Many fault the coaching staff for holding back this team in the past. That cannot happen against the Bills. I have faith in Bill Lazor and believe he will find a way to scheme productive drives and adjust to what the Bills are doing.