The Miami Dolphins got big brothered by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and ultimately served a thick slice of humble pie. According to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, it’s a loss the team may have needed because certain players started to buy into the hype and didn’t show up to play. I would guess that those players are most likely on the defensive side, but I have no sources. At the end of the day it’s just a guess.
The Dolphins’ defense got abused the whole game, and the offense got virtually shut down in the second half outside of DeVon Achane, and a few Tua touchdown throws. One got called back for an ineligible player being downfield so it didn’t count.
Out of all of this mess, few players stood out. Devon Achane was a beast again and may take over as the starter sooner rather than later if Raheem Mostert keeps fumbling the ball. Andrew Van Ginkel was the only player in the trenches who showed up and had himself a few sacks, but there was one defensive player who actually had a great game, and that is none other than Xavien Howard.
You may be thinking, how can a cornerback be the unsung hero of the game when Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs did whatever they wanted? Great question, and the answer is that the Bills game plan was to pick on everyone other than 25.
Xavien Howard had no targets against him, none. Pro Football Focus has him at two targets for one catch and eight yards, but debatable because it was in zone. I personally didn’t see the targets in man coverage after watching twice so I’ll believe my eyes. His matchup Gabe Davis, had no catches against Howard in man coverage. Gabe Davis had three catches in zone coverage, one for a touchdown, beating Justin Bethel to the spot.
You want to know how the defensive gameplan, and play calling was shit?— Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) October 2, 2023
Xavien Howard played 58 snaps, had 3 tackles, was targeted ZERO times, for ZERO catches, ZERO yards...
but they gave up 48 points.
With no targets going his way, the question becomes why didn’t defensive coordinator Vic Fangio make an adjustment and match him up with Stefon Diggs. I may be a writer, and he is an esteemed NFL defensive coordinator, but 99.9% of the people watching that game could see that Kader Kohou, who I’m a big fan of, was in over his head matched up against Stefon Diggs.
I was one of the people singing the praises of Vic Fangio when the Dolphins got him, but it feels like his defense so far is a basic, noncreative system that focuses on tackling and not letting the big play happen. That scheme got exposed on Sunday.
Dolphins DC Vic Fangio said this week he didn’t plan to shadow Stefon Diggs with Xavien Howard. It looked like a mistake. You need your top elite CB on Diggs even in new scheme. They got destroyed for it today — Diggs had 120 yards and 3 TDs.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) October 1, 2023
Xavien Howard was so good Sunday that you didn’t see him on your screen. I know I didn’t. I hope this is a lesson for Fangio because when it comes to the receiver-to-cornerback matchup, you need to listen to your guys, especially if you have a dawg out there that wants the matchup, that wants the smoke and wants to take on the best.
Xavien Howard wanted to follow Stefon Diggs: “It’s a mentality. I want to go on the field to go against the best. Let me make my money on the top guy. You pay me this money to go do what I do... But it’s a new defense. It’s a new scheme. I just got to control the stuff I can…— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) October 1, 2023
There you have it. The “Unsung Hero Of The Week” for week 4 goes to Xavien Howard, who played so well that he was almost “bored” out there. He wanted to cover Stefon Diggs, and everyone who has ever watched Dolphins football expected that to be the case was stifled by Vic Fangio for an unknown reason that ultimately backfired in his face to the tune of 120 yards and three touchdowns for Stefon Diggs. Hopefully, next time, Fangio will listen to his players, and there will be a different outcome on the defensive side of the ball.
Let us know in the comments, and tweet me on “X” @saba12_ who you think should’ve been The Week 4 Unsung Hero Of The Week.