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Scouting The Miami Dolphins (Week 2 2021)


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Well, not the start we were hoping for to say the least. I didn't think we would blow out the Steelers, but I was confident in a win. I think Sunday's game was a bit of a perfect storm for the Bills and it shows in the box score. Our offensive line looked like a huge concern and Josh never looked comfortable and was chasing the big play. However, I do take away a few positives...I thought the defense tired late, but put in a very strong effort. I was especially impressed with the run defense and thought our tackling was improved compared to 2020. Devin Singletary and Dawson Knox had solid games in what I'm hoping could be their breakout seasons. I also loved hearing that crowd noise again and I'm relieved that we didn't suffer any injuries on what was a brutal weekend for several teams.

 

Looking ahead, we're on the road to face the Miami Dolphins in their home opener coming off their one-point win against the Pats. That was another weird box score kind of game in that New England dominated when you look at the stats, but they beat themselves with fumbles and penalties, especially in the red zone. Miami did a good job of limiting their own mistakes and allowing the Pats to implode. The Dolphins get Will Fuller back this week, but lost starting DT Raekwon Davis to the IR which should affect their run defense. Same as the previous weeks/seasons, I wanted to do an amateur deep dive/scouting session into the Dolphins' last three games based on their game highlights (granted it's not the All-22 film but still nearly an hour of tape) and then list some keys/X-factors for our matchup this week. Anyways, hope you enjoy/find this useful:

 

***Offensive and Defensive Ranks are based on Football Outsiders' Defense-adjusted Value Over Average statistics***

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings  ***take these with a huge grain of salt since it has only been one week!***

 

Just a quick note that this post for our Week 2 opponent will be a bit different/shorter than the usual format given that we only have the opening game to go on so far (as the season progresses, I will continue to look at the opponent's three previous games as usual). 

 

September 12th- Week 1 Win Away to the New England Patriots (the Pats (current record: 0-1) have the 18th ranked offense, 16th ranked defense, and 22nd ranked special teams) by a score of 17-16:

Tua Tagovailoa- 16/27 for 202 yards, 1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD, and 1 INT. An up-and-down performance from the second year signal caller. Tua brought the Dolphins right down the field on their first drive and executed an RPO to perfection, scoring easily from three yards out after the LBs bit down on the RB. Tua mostly took what the defense gave him throughout the contest and threw to his WRs and RBs underneath, but he did launch a nice looking deep ball to Waddle to set up a FG late in the first half and another to Parker later on with excellent ball placement. Interestingly, more than half of his passing yards were gained by his receivers after the catch (TACKLING!!!). However, Tagovailoa threw running to his right on one play and the ball went straight to Devin McCourty who dropped a sure INT. More crucially, he made a really ill-advised decision throwing the ball up for grabs into a crowd and was picked off by Jonathan Jones in the fourth quarter. Miami were lucky that this gaffe did not come back to cost them the game and Tua's decision-making is still poor at times.

 

His arsenal of offensive weapons is night and day compared to last year with the additions of Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller replacing the below average options that played last season such as Malcolm Perry and Lynn Bowden Jr. The catch is that their offensive line remains a bottom half of the league group that might be the largest in the NFL, but lacks much experience or talent. Tua was only sacked twice, but was under pressure on a significant number of snaps, forced to backpedal or move sideways as the Pats defensive line was winning the LoS battle. He just isn't as mobile as I think you want a modern day QB to be (4 carries for 1 yard). Rookie LT Liam Eichenburg was absolutely run over by Josh Uche on a first half sack and the guy he replaced Austin Jackson is coming off a bout with COVID. It sounds obvious, but Tua is most successful when he is kept clean and gets the ball out in 2.5 seconds or less (like most NFL QBs). The main difference is how far his performance declines when he is pressured and/or forced off of his first read. Miami's co-offensive coordinators ran more play action in this game than I remembered from their scheme in 2020. 

Dolphins Running Game- Myles Gaskin (49 yards and 5.4 YPC as well as 5 catches for 27 yards) isn't the biggest or fastest back you'll see on tape, but he's a solid RB in most facets of the game (pass blocking may not be his strong suit). Gaskin does a good job of making the first man miss and broke a big gainer between the LT and LG on Miami's first drive. Gaskin is also a capable receiving back and seems like the safety valve for Tua. Malcolm Brown (16 yards and 3.2 YPC) came in to play QB in their goal line Wildcat formation and converted the first down, but was otherwise ineffective.

Devante Parker (4 catches for 81 yards)- Had success separating from the Pats DBs on crossing routes and Miami kept going back to that play whenever they really needed a first down (something to watch for!). Used his big frame and long arms well to bring in a 30 yard catch over JC Jackson as well. 

Jaylen Waddle (4 catches for 61 yards and 1 TD)- Dropped his first target on a key third down play. He rebounded with a 35 yard catch over the top of Jonathan Jones which led to a Miami FG before HT and then scored a TD beating Kyle Dugger to the edge with his speed on a simple pre-snap flat route. He didn't have the biggest game stat-wise, but I think he will be a star sooner rather than later. 

Albert Wilson (finally healthy!) and Jakeem Grant- both players finished without a catch. I'm anxious about the speed that they provide in addition to Waddle and Fuller, but they didn't appear to be a big part of what Miami wanted to do on offense. 

Mike Gesicki (2 targets, 0 receptions for 0 yards)- Possibly the most shocking stat line even in a weird box score overall. NE clearly made an effort to take him out of the game, but I didn't even really see Tua look his way. Miami has 5 TEs rostered currently and Durham Smythe had the only reception from the group. 

Dolphins Run Defense- NE seemed to have their most success running between the guards in this game, especially after Davis was injured. Damien Harris got the vast majority of the carries (100 yards and 4.3 YPC) and helped take some of the pressure off of Jones and the passing game. Jerome Baker was very active leading the team with nine tackles. With the game on the line and the Pats inside the ten yard line, Xavien Howard was able to force a second Rhamondre Stevenson fumble to ice the game. Huge play from a player with some notorious contract negotiations this offseason. 

Dolphins Pass Defense- A surprising rollercoaster performance from this usually strong unit. On one hand, they were stingy in the red zone and only gave up 16 points on the road. But for most of the day, Mac Jones (29/39 for 281 yards and 1 TD) looked pretty comfortable in the pocket in his NFL debut and they didn't have a sack or INT. They did force four fumbles though, clearly something they focus on in practice. Van Ginkel and Christian Wilkins forced a Mac Jones fumble on New England's first drive that Jonnu Smith somehow recovered (he was only in that position because he whiffed so badly on his block) and Eric Rowe forced a fumble on an earlier Rhamondre Stevenson catch that the Dolphins recovered at midfield. Jacobi Meyers seemed to be a major focus of the NE offense despite all the FA weapons they brought in and he was open underneath a lot. Emmanuel Ogbah executed a great bull rush and batted down a third down pass from Mac Jones to kill a first half drive. Byron Jones allowed Nelson Agholor's TD catch in his zone before halftime. As the game went on, it seemed like the Miami defense tired and the Patriots passing game was more effective as their TEs got involved. Van Ginkel missed a tackle and Jonnu Smith was able to take a short pass down the sideline for 25+ yards. It's notable that NE was able to move the ball and sustain drives (11/16 on third down), but the Dolphins defense made enough splash plays in this game and limited their points allowed. The Dolphins do a great job most weeks of confusing the opposing QB and forcing turnovers with their amoeba-type defense so you never know who is rushing and who is dropping into coverage. However, Miami sacked Jones zero times and failed to get consistent pressure. Rooke 1st rounder Jaelin Phillips was pretty invisible so hopefully that continues.

Miscellaneous- The Patriots lost Trent Brown in the first quarter which could have made their offensive game plan less effective. The Dolphins used Jacoby Brissett on certain short yardage packages and QB sneaks. Miami averaged 5.0 yards per play which underlines the lack of many explosive plays from Tua and the offense. Miami committed 5 penalties for 28 yards. 

 

 

Sunday September 19th Preview- Week 2 Miami Dolphins (current record: 1-0, have the 14th ranked offense, 10th ranked defense, and 8th ranked special teams) vs the Buffalo Bills (current record: 0-1, have the 27th ranked offense, 8th ranked defense, and 28th ranked special teams)

 

Bills On Offense- It's important for Josh (and Daboll!) to get back to what made him great in 2020 and not try to play hero ball. We have an outstanding record against what is a tricky amoeba style defense for most other opponents. Miami will switch between three and four man fronts as well as alternating man and zone coverages on the back end. Miami have some good players like Christian Wilkins and Emmanuel Ogbah in their front seven, but there's no one on the level of Cam Heyward and TJ Watt in that group and I expect the offensive line to have a bounce back performance (if they don't, I will be officially concerned). The strength of the Miami defense is their secondary especially Xavien Howard and Byron Jones on the outside. Then they have intelligent, steady veteran safeties in Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty (an upgrade over Brice McCain in 2020) with rookie 2nd rounder Jevon Holland getting snaps in some three safety looks as well. It will be important for the Bills to sustain drives and keep our defense rested in the Florida heat, maybe we can even tire their defense out if we play the way we're supposed to. Miami's defense thrives on TFLs and playing the down-and-distance game so staying on schedule and taking the easy completions/yards is big this week. Miami isn't especially quick on defense and I think they can be vulnerable in the wider areas of the field. And as we have seen in past matchups, I like our WRs against their DBs in man coverage if our offensive line can keep Josh clean.

 

Bills On Defense- If the Bills can get pressure with four rushers and/or force Tua to go through his progressions and hang onto the ball for longer than 2.5 seconds, Miami should be in for a long day on offense. Our secondary needs to play physical against the likes of Parker and Williams who are powerful threats at the catch point which we have struggled with in the past (Levi Wallace is a concern here). Miami also have added the elite speed of Waddle and Fuller, we don't have anyone that can match them one-on-one so we likely need to bracket them over the top where possible. If Miami wants to get the ball out quickly, we need to get interior pressure and get hands up to disrupt passing lanes. Lastly, the Bills need to take the football away and tackle well to prevent YAC. One of the Bills strengths is not giving up the big play and forcing teams to dink-and-dunk and I think that will force this Dolphins offense to become rather predictable if we execute well on Sunday. 

 

On Special Teams- Jason Sanders is probably the second best kicker in the NFL behind Justin Tucker, he's pretty automatic. Michael Palardy is an average punter that the Panthers moved on from. Jakeem Grant is a weapon we need to handle with care on returns, but he can be a liability with his ball security at times. 

 

Alright thanks for reading! I enjoyed putting this together and will look to do so each week moving forward. Can't wait for Sunday! All the best and Go Bills!

 

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Edited by Dont Stop Billeiving
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51 minutes ago, CSBill said:

Only one week, but no one expected the Bills to be the 27th ranked offense. That hurts.

I thought Bills are 20th and Miami is 27th...

 

The stat I find really interesting is the YAC for Miami's receivers. Half of Tua's yard were YAC; 6.6 average I think.

 

Bills WRs had a 2.3 avg YAC I think. 

 

It will be interesting to see how that goes on Sunday. In general, I feel the Bills CBs are good at attacking the WR at the catch point, partly helped by good defensive design.

 

https://www.espn.com/nfl/stats/team/_/sort/netYardsPerGame

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1 minute ago, Dont Stop Billeiving said:

Agreed, typo from my last post. Fixed now, thanks! 

But where are you getting that they have the 27th ranked offense? You might be looking at a different stat, but the general one used is yards per game.

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1 hour ago, CSBill said:

Only one week, but no one expected the Bills to be the 27th ranked offense. That hurts.

 

It means nothing honestly.

 

Can't start to truly aggregate total offense/defense and other key metrics to at least 3 or 4 games into the season.

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5 hours ago, CSBill said:

Only one week, but no one expected the Bills to be the 27th ranked offense. That hurts.

That Pittsburgh front four sure surprised me. They destroyed us helping Josh to be off and allowing Pittsburgh to cover with seven. If you can't hold out four with your five it is generally going to be a long day.

It sounds like Miami kind of lucked out vs. NE? Would the author say this?

I really hope the Bills thump 'em - squishing the Fish in the process.

Thats what I need to see.

To me, our D looks improved. I really liked Ed's and Tremaine's game last week. Disappointed the front four petered out with our big lead in TOP. So, I'm looking for four quarters Sunday. Maybe give the second string, Efe Obada more snaps to keep the front fast.

On offense,I want our OL to be a wall, particularly vs. a four man rush. C'mon guys, bounce back. Even though the OL let Josh down, and even though the Stealers got to cover with seven, I thought Josh clearly did not play up to 2020 form when he was a superstar. No, no superstar looks from Allen last week. Let's face facts, Wallers, if Josh doesn't play like a stud QB, like clearly one of better players from both teams, we haven't a chance of winning the big one. We need Josh to be a MVP, it is as simple as that. I think Beane did his job and surrounded JA with enough talent, let's hope last week was an outlier and Josh, Daboll and his whole O really respond this week and put Buffalo back on top of the AFC East again.

 

This was well-written and we appreciate it, keep them coming and....

 

Go Bills!

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12 hours ago, LeGOATski said:

I thought Bills are 20th and Miami is 27th...

 

The stat I find really interesting is the YAC for Miami's receivers. Half of Tua's yard were YAC; 6.6 average I think.

 

Bills WRs had a 2.3 avg YAC I think. 

 

It will be interesting to see how that goes on Sunday. In general, I feel the Bills CBs are good at attacking the WR at the catch point, partly helped by good defensive design.

 

https://www.espn.com/nfl/stats/team/_/sort/netYardsPerGame

 

11 hours ago, LeGOATski said:

But where are you getting that they have the 27th ranked offense? You might be looking at a different stat, but the general one used is yards per game.

Yeah the Miami YPC stat from Week 1 is pretty wild if we can take away anything from just one game. On one hand, it shows how elusive their weapons are and how much speed Miami has added over the past few years. On the other, it means Tua completed less than 100 passing yards in the air before the catch which is really underwhelming especially since Miami didn't lean on the run game vs the Pats. I agree with you that our CBs generally do well at attacking the catch point and limiting YAC, but I am slightly cautious given that we struggled to match Devante Parker and Preston Williams' physicality in some previous match ups and we haven't seen Waddle yet who brings Tyreek Hill level speed. 

 

And to answer your offense rankings question, I typically use the Football Outsiders DVOA rankings as I think they are the most comprehensive and accurate method for grading how well a team is playing. I always copy the link near the top of my OP if you want to have a look at the whole league.

 

According to their site, this is how they calculate their DVOA rankings: "Our proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system breaks down every single NFL play and compares a team's performance to a league baseline based on situation in order to determine value over average. Only the regular season is included. OFFENSE and DEFENSE DVOA are adjusted based on strength of opponent as well as to consider all fumbles, kept or lost, as equal value. SPECIAL TEAMS DVOA is adjusted for type of stadium (warm, cold, dome, Denver) and week of season."

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The professional game can be so up and down from year to year and even week to week. The one thing that concerns me is teams that get blown out by another usually put up a pretty good effort the next time they play that same team. I'm sure Miami is still stinging from that embarrassing week 17 loss last year.

 

I expect a very close game. A toss up in which I don't know who will win. 

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11 hours ago, billybrew1 said:

That Pittsburgh front four sure surprised me. They destroyed us helping Josh to be off and allowing Pittsburgh to cover with seven. If you can't hold out four with your five it is generally going to be a long day.

It sounds like Miami kind of lucked out vs. NE? Would the author say this?

I really hope the Bills thump 'em - squishing the Fish in the process.

Thats what I need to see.

To me, our D looks improved. I really liked Ed's and Tremaine's game last week. Disappointed the front four petered out with our big lead in TOP. So, I'm looking for four quarters Sunday. Maybe give the second string, Efe Obada more snaps to keep the front fast.

On offense,I want our OL to be a wall, particularly vs. a four man rush. C'mon guys, bounce back. Even though the OL let Josh down, and even though the Stealers got to cover with seven, I thought Josh clearly did not play up to 2020 form when he was a superstar. No, no superstar looks from Allen last week. Let's face facts, Wallers, if Josh doesn't play like a stud QB, like clearly one of better players from both teams, we haven't a chance of winning the big one. We need Josh to be a MVP, it is as simple as that. I think Beane did his job and surrounded JA with enough talent, let's hope last week was an outlier and Josh, Daboll and his whole O really respond this week and put Buffalo back on top of the AFC East again.

 

This was well-written and we appreciate it, keep them coming and....

 

Go Bills!

1) Yes Miami "lucked" into that win. How often does a Belichek team lose two fumbles (the last in the red zone down by a point) and one int...it  hardly ever happens.

 

2) Pressure from the front four of Pitt killed us, it got to a comical level when at the end of the game they were only rushing three.

 

3) Josh and the entire offense was off last week, no debate about that.  One of the dangers off putting everything of Josh's back.  If he crumbles, our season is over.

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1 hour ago, Beast said:

The professional game can be so up and down from year to year and even week to week. The one thing that concerns me is teams that get blown out by another usually put up a pretty good effort the next time they play that same team. I'm sure Miami is still stinging from that embarrassing week 17 loss last year.

 

I expect a very close game. A toss up in which I don't know who will win. 

I think Miami is on cloud 9 after lucking into a win at New England and being on top of the division, alone.  Last year was last year.  If they beat us, they still are on top with wins over both chief rivals, I dont think a Jet team with injuries and a rookie QB are currently a real threat.

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keys

 

mia - D - they pay their both corners top money - so they use man a lot but dont have an organic pass rush so they blitz - that combo seems to allow the Bills to gameplan very well as I dont see them adopting zone coverages as the Steelers did

 

Mia - O - short-intermediate passing so far - TE vertical seams down the middle are lethal when Bills LBs blitz or are a step behind due to play action - this is a game where the Bills pass rush needs to that improvement helped by controlling the LOS-run game.

 

Note: Will Fulller vet Mia WR with speed- will miss game due to personal reason..

Edited by First Round Bust
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My takeaway from Week One was the Bills defense was impressive against the Steelers. 

 

They shut down Najee Harris outside of one run. 

 

Ben Roethlisberger largely lived off of low percentage ducks. 

 

The unit got handed raw field position in the second half as the offense floundered around. 

 

 

 

Speaking of the offense, I'm tired of hearing about 2020 from Buffalo media. Diggs, Beasley and Sanders are nice players. I think 250 yards from Allen, 2 TDs and 0-1 Interceptions, is my expectation for this game. I don't want to assess whether Sugar High Josh is a problem. 

 

What I want to see is this defense handle a tricky player in Jaylen Waddle (4.27 speed ala Tyreke Hill), suffocate Tua, and collapse their dink and dunk offense. Ed Oliver (9th Overall) make plays, Tremaine Edmonds (16th Overall) make plays, AJ Epenesa do something, you were a 2nd Round pick, let's see all this investment on the defensive line pay off with sacks. Get home. 

 

I want to see 27-7 type game, where the Bills defensive line looks like the Steelers did last week. I want a week where I'm not listening to Brian Daboll explain goofy backwards pitches, flea flickers that don't work, why Josh Allen got 9 designed runs, and "tipping our hat" to the tough Miami secondary. 

 

 

 

 

 

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