The Miami Dolphins entered Week 2 of the 2020-2021 NFL season with much to prove after a disappointing 21-11 season-opening loss to the New England Patriots. The Dolphins came into the Week 2 matchup against the Buffalo Bills as a big underdog against quarterback Josh Allen and a stout Buffalo defense. The team did well to keep the game close in the end, but it was not enough against their AFC East counterpart on Sunday.
The Bills came away with the hard-fought victory in a 31-28 slugfest against Miami, sending the home team to 0-2 on the young season. Even in a tough loss, we learned more about this Dolphins football team, and I will review those key takeaways from their Week 2 battle. Entering into a short week, Miami will need to regroup quickly and get ready for their Thursday Night Football intrastate matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Early injuries haunt Miami in the secondary.
On a dark day in the NFL for injuries, the Miami Dolphins found themselves short-handed early on in the Buffalo game Sunday. Prized free-agent signee Byron Jones injured his groin in the first quarter while covering wide receiver Stefon Diggs. He never re-entered the game for the Dolphins.
Jones’ loss proved significant, as Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen amassed his second straight 300-plus yard passing effort. Allen looks like one of the early stars of the 2020 season, with over 800 combined yards and seven touchdowns.
The Dolphins provided some help for their secondary via the pass rush, but Allen consistently found open receivers by eluding the pressure and making plays downfield. Rookie Noah Igbinoghene replaced Jones outside, but it did little to stop Diggs, one of the better route runners in the game. The Dolphins hope to get Jones back soon, but he may struggle to get back to full health in the short week.
Run defense shows improvement and needs to continue to grow.
During the Week 1 loss to New England, Cam Newton provided problems for the Dolphins with his legs as the Patriots racked up 217 total rushing yards. Those struggles appeared to dissipate some in Week 2 for the Dolphins, as the Bills only averaged 4.8 yards per rush as a team with 111 combined yards. Miami will need to continue to make adjustments and be more disciplined as they head into the meat of the NFL schedule, but Sunday was a step in the right direction for their front seven.
The game’s story was the Dolphins’ inability to stop the Buffalo passing offense, so the lack of a running game may have been a byproduct of that. Either way, the Dolphins will look to continue their success versus the running game against Jaguars rookie James Robinson on Thursday. Robinson finished with 102 rushing yards against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, so the Dolphins will have their work cut out against him and another mobile quarterback in Gardner Minshew.
The offense found a spark in the second half but fell short in the end.
The Dolphins once again struggled to run the ball early and provide a consistent threat from the backfield. The team made some plays in the short passing game with Myles Gaskin, Isaiah Ford, Mike Gesicki, and DeVante Parker in the second half, but the rushing attack needs to find a way to get going quickly to avoid making this team one-dimensional. Gaskin finished as the leading rusher again and was able to find some decent running room in the second half. He finished with 46 yards rushing and six catches for 36 yards. New addition Jordan Howard found the end zone once again but was used sparingly outside of a few goal-line touches.
Fitzpatrick looked uncomfortable again in the first half but made some significant plays in the second half when the team needed them most. However, an end-zone drop by Preston Williams and a failed comeback attempt knocked this team to 0-2 heading into Week 3. Miami must have read my Week 2 keys to the game, as they were able to exploit the middle of the field with Gesicki. He finished with a team-leading eight catches for 130 yards and a score. Gesicki is a significant weapon in this passing offense, and the Dolphins will look to keep him going in Week 3 and beyond.