The third-year wide receiver cleared the concussion protocol Thursday, which is a big boon to a Dolphins receiver room that is banged up. River Cracraft is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, and Erik Ezukanma has a neck issue.
But the No. 1 reason why it’s important for the Dolphins to have Waddle on the field Sunday? Except for one terrible drop in the Dolphins-Bills playoff game in January, he kind of owns Buffalo.
Awful drop by Jaylen Waddle in a big spot.
Why did he jump?pic.twitter.com/TRTWBSedRr
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 15, 2023
Miami Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle Set To Make His Return
In four regular-season games against the Bills, Waddle has 17 catches for 293 yards and a touchdown. His 17.2 yards-per-catch average against the Bills in his career is the second-highest among any teams he’s faced at least twice (Chargers, 18.2).
In two 2022 regular-season games last year, he was electric.
Waddle went 3-114-1 in the Dolphins’ Week 14 loss and 4-102-0 in their Week 3 win.
Quick math: That’s an absurd average of 30.9 yards per catch and 17.4 yards per target.
Now add that to a Dolphins offense that dropped 70 points a week ago against the Broncos, and the scoreboard operator at Highmark Stadium would be advised to get a good night’s rest on Saturday.
“Only time will tell, I guess,” Waddle said this week. “But 70 is historical. It’s a tribute to the guys that we’ve got that are unspoken heroes that really don’t get too much glory that go out there and play.”
What does Waddle’s return mean for Tyreek Hill?
“Guys can’t double then,” Hill said. “Teams aren’t able to just put me as the key focal point. You have two guys on the same team who can do literally the same thing. It’s more dangerous when we’re both on the field.“
So good luck to cornerback Christian Benford, who has allowed 15 yards per completion and a 99.3 passer rating this year. Plus, the Bills’ secondary is banged up, with safety Jordan Poyer (15.7 yards per completion, 113.5 passer rating) dealing with a knee injury.
But don’t sleep on the Bills’ defense, which has been opportunistic in 2023.
They lead the NFL in opponent passer rating (54), interceptions (7), and turnovers (9) but are 16th in yards per pass allowed (6.4).
“You want to talk about making people pay for their mistakes,” Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said this week. “If they get their hands on any sort of ball, they are turning the ball over. It’s a very, very important thing to be good at.”
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