The Dolphins are coming off of crushing loss at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck. Miami was decimated by last week’s Opposing Player Spotlight subjects, tight ends Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron, in the process. Now, the team is in crisis mode and will take on the division rival Buffalo Bills in the hopes of saving a rocky season. The Bills have a plethora of former Dolphins players we can focus on including defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, tight end Charles Clay, linebacker Deon Lacey, cornerback Lafayette Pitts, and newly signed punter Matt Darr, but today, we’ll be taking a look under center.
Each week of the 2018 season, I’m highlighting one player on the opposing team that Dolphins fans should be watching out for. This week, that player is Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
Experience: 1st season
Height/Weight: 6’5”, 237 lbs
Through seven games and six starts in his inaugural NFL season, Allen has failed to put up steady statistical production despite a propensity for making occasional big plays both downfield and with his legs. Thus far, the rookie has completed 52.5% of his passes for 992 yards three touchdowns, and five interceptions, good for a 65.2 passer rating.
Though those numbers are underwhelming to say the least, Allen has also rushed for 254 yards on 48 attempts for an additional four scores, showing that he is dangerous when he tucks away the football and takes off running. He’s also fumbled the ball fives times, losing one.
The key to stopping Allen and the Bills is simple. Miami needs to capitalize on the mistakes the first-year passer is bound to make (something the team failed to do against Luck and the Colts). Any quarterback that has more interceptions that passing touchdowns and who has fumbled five times in six starts is prone to errors, especially a rookie.
In last week’s game in Indianapolis, Miami’s defense forced three turnovers, yet failed to turn them into meaningful points. That can not be the case this week against the Bills. Head coach Adam Gase needs to ensure that when his defense makes a play, the offense can turn it into production downfield and points on the board.
Through recent years, the Dolphins have been torched on the ground by mobile quarterbacks. Two years ago it was Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers. Last season it was Cam Newton with the Panthers. This year, Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson both had their way with the defense running the football and evading defenders.
With Allen averaging almost seven rush attempts and over 36 rushing yards per contest, the Dolphins can’t let the athletic gunslinger evade the pass rush and make plays outside the pocket. Miami’s edge rushers and linebackers need to contain Allen and force him to make throws from between the numbers, letting the secondary make plays when he inevitably throws a few errant passes. Putting pressure on the rookie is the best way to force those errors. Allen has been sacked an average of three times per game. Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, Charles Harris, and Andre Branch need to take advantage of an o-line that’s been prone to letting their quarterback take a few hits.