Earth, meet Dolphins.
Dolphins, meet Earth.
Week 4 between Miami and Buffalo really couldn’t have gone better for the Bills. What began as a back and forth shootout quickly gave way to Miami miscues and was a runaway almost before Liam Eichenberg even had a chance to snap the ball into the ground.
Woe is us.
Miami’s defensive staff must have never watched Buffalo play
Someone in the DC suite needs to get a little Alex DeLarge treatment with some game film. As much as I can dislike him at times (read: most of the), Josh Allen is a good quarterback. He does a lot of things very well, like extend plays with his legs, move around the pocket, and find open targets. His biggest achilles heel, however, is his tendency to go for too much and force himself into turnovers.
You know how you force a player into rash decisions?
By letting four pass rushers stand calmly across from five linemen for roughly 60 minutes.
It’s true: tackling was heinous at all levels of the defense. Properly bringing the opponent to the turf would have gone a long way to lessening the score. I know, I know. Revolutionary thinking.
The biggest concern I have with the defensive scheme, though (besides it not being designed for the opponent whatsoever), was the apparent refusal to adjust anything at all. Kader Kohou is a good corner, especially for a UDFA. Instead of leaving him on an island to be manhandled by the tag team of Stefon Diggs and the officials, throw him a bone and maybe a little safety help. Let Gabe Davis try to be their top guy. It sure seemed to work the other direction against Tyreek Hill.
But man, the anemic pass rush never saw any adjustments either. Allen had all month to throw and throw he did, to the tune of a perfect passer rating. You have to apply meaningful pressure somehow. Whether that’s through better play from the front four or more frequent blitzing (like, any blitzing), it has to happen. Yes, the risk is higher that Allen can extend his time to throw, but as long as the linebackers can recognize the situation and come up to make a pl— OH WAIT:
Miami’s linebackers will be their undoing
Our linebackers are not good. I’m not sure when they last were, really. The Dolphins have tried time and again over the years with disappointing attempts like free agents Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler, Lawrence Timmons, Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts, and draft picks Jordan Tripp, Raekwon McMillan, Quentin Poling, and seemingly Jerome Baker. That’s not exactly a who’s who of linebacking prowess.
David Long Jr. was signed in free agency this offseason and Jaelan Phillips was taken in the first round in 2021 as a sort-of linebacker, more-of pass rusher. Phillips missed this week with a back injury, while Long looked lost. He whiffed in zone defense on a Diggs touchdown and invited Latavius Murray out of his favorite chair at the nursing home just so Murray could school him.
Oh, I forgot third-round pick Channing Tindall.
There are also pseudo linebackers like Emmanuel Ogbah and Bradley ‘Coulda been Nick’ Chubb. I know it’s early to really rag on the guy, but he’s being paid a monster contract to be well below average. That’s the exact recipe you’ll find in the cookbook ‘How to Build a Losing Team.’
Andrew Van Ginkel is the only bright spot thus far and hats off to him. Mostly so you can see his hair.
The offense might have failed worse than it seems
Miami put up 20 points and had opportunities for more. That’s not the worst, on paper. However, they also failed three 4th down conversions, had two giveaways (a fumble and INT), and negated a Jaylen Waddle score with a penalty for an ineligible Eich downfield. At one point, Buffalo was minus two starting corners (Christian Benford and Tre’Davious White) along with starting safety Jordan Poyer, and Miami still wasn’t succeeding, even though they were passing like it was going out of style.
De’Von Achane had 101 yards rushing. Why throw it 35 times instead of giving him a few more carries? Even with their depleted secondary, the Bills were playing Cover 2 and welcoming the Dolphins to run. I realize a big part of that shift may have been due to Eichenberg being at center and Kendall Lamm at left tackle for the injured Connor Williams and Terron Armstead respectively, but don’t overthink it. Run with your effective back, lure the safeties down a little bit, then attack their backup corners.
Speaking of attacking corners, typically, Tua is a decisive passer who takes exactly what’s offered to him by the defense. This game, Allen played more like you’d expect from Tua: he took the easy yardage and moved the ball, while Tua left a lot of opportunities for quick hitters untaken in favor of shots downfield. It felt very un-Tua like. I’m not sure if the hype got to them or they just had a team-wide short circuit, but it looked like everything that worked in Week 3 was thrown out the window in exchange for trash flavored trash.
The Fins need to be more Finsical
This one is a weird pet peeve of mine that’s existed for a while. It feels like whenever the Fins have a big-time game, the other team is pushing them around. Like literally, physically pushing them around on the field. Miami’s linemen, both offensive and defensive, seem to get blown off their spots more often, players end up on the ground more frequently, and it just comes off as a finesse approach to a brute force task.
Now, I’m not one of those old-school clowns calling for players to rip each others’ heads off, land cheap shots, and stomp on their opponents. I’m not Ndamukong Suh.
I spy with my little eye that Buffalo is always hitting up to (and sometimes a little past) the end of the play, running their mouths nonstop, cheering after big hits, and so on. And it never seems like Miami responds in kind. Again, I’m not advocating players to be dirty or stupid or earn penalties. Just remind them that you’re there. It’s not just the Bills, mind you, but they are the ones most consistently being more physical than Miami as of late.
If Josh Allen is going to constantly be looking for flags, maybe actually make contact with him once in a while. (Side note: You know it’s bad when even Tony Romo, his biggest number one most bestest fan, calls him out on whining after a nothing push and flopping on an AVG nose boop).
The team needs to get back to basics a little bit: Hit someone hard, wrap up, and win your one-on-one matchups. Sometimes, it’s slightly more than just a game.
The Dolphins need to respond in a big way
After such a public drubbing, Miami needs to bounce back and quickly. Thankfully, they’ve got the underperforming 1-3 New York football Giants next Sunday.
They need to buckle down and play much more like Week 3 than Week 4. While not quite as ailing as the Broncos (in my opinion), the Giants should afford the Fins a chance to rebuild any lost confidence and easily handle an inferior opponent again.
Just do that.
Has this game shaken your foundation of belief in the Dolphins? What if De’Von Achance scores twice a game for the rest of the season? Still no? Release the kraken in the comments below.