The Miami Dolphins got beat up on both sides of the football and dropped their first contest of the 2023 season on the road against the Buffalo Bills. If someone had prophesized that Miami would win two of three road games and open the season 3-1, most Dolphins fans would be pleased with that start. Even so, that doesn’t fully neutralize the sting from Sunday’s shellacking.
Our preview article detailed some of the keys to victory for these Miami Dolphins. Let’s see where they missed the mark and whether or not there are any positives to take from this early-season hiccup.
How did they Attack Miami’s Offense?
The Bills ran a lot of the same things they always run but executed at a very high level in this contest. Their base coverage is typically a Palms (cover 2 read) look and the Dolphins saw a ton of that. They mixed in some bump and run man coverage (always with safety help over Tyreek) and were able to buy their pass rush unit the time it needed to impact the game.
They beat up Miami’s receivers at the line, took away any opportunity the Dolphins had for a deep shot and their linebackers were good enough in coverage to really muddy up those middle-of-the-field looks. This is going to be the game plan most defenses attempt to execute against the Dolphins. The way Miami counters it is to give Tua time in the pocket to work through his progression (like the Chargers game) or to run the ball (like the Patriots game).
Getting Tua Off His Game
One of the reasons Miami couldn’t keep up with the Bills is that their pass rush really took over-especially from the interior. As an offense, you can work around edge defenders much easier than pressure up the gut. When your quarterback can’t step up in the pocket, it throws off everything that you want to do.
The interior of the Dolphins offensive line had been one of the best in the NFL for the first three weeks of the season, but they had a rough day against Buffalo.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 3, 2023
Connor Williams is one of the most important players in this offense and they need him back. pic.twitter.com/5CVpkGZRgm
Connor Williams was the big absence for the Dolphins offense in this game. Not having him really hurts your offense in all facets and his presence was sorely missed from this interior. They struggled to get much push up the middle, missed assignments, and surrendered more sacks and pressures than Tua had seen in their other three contests combined. It’s always good to preach patience with young offensive linemen, but Liam Eichenberg looked like a liability in his first start at center.
Josh Allen Had a Day
Josh Allen really had his way with this Fangio-led defense. He completed over 80% of his passes for 320 yards and 4 touchdowns (he ran in another). Even when the Dolphins made plays and forced third downs, the Bills seemed to find ways to convert when they needed to. They failed to force a single turnover and the Bills just steamrolled them for a full 60 minutes.
The different ways Josh Allen can use his mobility puts so much stress on a defense. pic.twitter.com/ocV6mEvsH9— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) October 3, 2023
There are a lot of things about Josh Allen that make him difficult to defend, but the most glaringly obvious is his mobility. Even when your pressure gets home, he’s able to buy himself just enough time to get the ball down the field. He has the arm strength to put it wherever he wants, whether he’s on or off platform. It puts your defense in a bind, and his chemistry with Stefon Diggs was on full display in this game. It was their worst defensive performance against Allen since McDaniel took over.
Let’s not sugarcoat this one, it was ugly. The offense started off hot but began to stall once the Bills’ interior pressure heated up and the Dolphin defense failed to offer any resistance. While the Chiefs are the measuring stick for winning a Superbowl, the Bills will remain Miami’s measuring stick for winning the AFC East. It’s clear they aren’t there yet but will have an opportunity to avenge this loss at home to wrap up this regular season. They’ll have a few months to prep for that one, but for now, it’s onto the Giants in what could be a get-right game for a beleaguered Dolphin defense.