After a disappointing Week 1 loss to the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins will turn the page and face another division foe in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills. The road to the AFC playoffs does not get any more comfortable with this matchup, as the Bills look like one of the promising, up-and-coming teams behind young dual-threat quarterback Josh Allen.
Below, I will focus on some of the more important keys to beating Buffalo and coming out of Week 2 with the team’s first victory of the 2020 season. Miami did not adhere to our keys to success last week and got beaten by a surprising Patriots’ rushing offense. Head coach Brian Flores will have this team fired up and ready for a bounce-back performance at home in front of a hungry Dolphins’ fan base.
Play contain and keep Josh Allen in the pocket.
In their Week 1 loss, the Dolphins failed to keep Cam Newton in the pocket and force him to throw to win the game. The team will need to tighten things up this week against Buffalo, as they face another strong rushing team and a mobile quarterback in Allen. The big Buffalo quarterback rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against the Jets. This running ability also helped open things up for the passing game as Allen torched the New York secondary for 312 yards and two more scores.
Allen has provided problems for the Dolphins in recent years, as the team has failed to match up well with his running ability. New acquisition Kyle Van Noy and speedy linebacker Jerome Baker will need to make this issue their top priority for Week 2. The Bills have added firepower this year with the offseason addition of Stefon Diggs so that the passing game will be enough of a challenge without the added aspect of Allen’s rushing ability. Xavien Howard and Byron Jones should be up to the task to stop the passing offense with help from the pass rush and linebackers upfront.
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Establish the run and short passing game early
One of the biggest takeaways from the Dolphins’ loss to New England in Week 1 was the inability to run the football and pick up first downs consistently. To combat these issues, the team will need to establish the short passing game early and often against the Bills. Coach Flores is very familiar with the idea of using the running backs in the passing game from his time in New England. This attack is a useful strategy, and the Dolphins started to showcase this in limited fashion last week with Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird.
Laird and Gaskin combined for six catches and 35 total yards receiving against the Patriots, but the Dolphins will need to increase that production to have a chance against the Bills in Week 2. Whether it be on slants, wheel routes, or screens, Miami will have to get the ball out quickly and let their speedier players such as Jakeem Grant and Matt Breida create big plays in the passing game. Registering some considerable yards-after-catch early in the game will help open up the running game for starter Jordan Howard to improve on his abysmal numbers last week.
Utilize Mike Gesicki and slot receivers more in the middle of the field
During Miami’s Week 1 loss to New England, third-year tight end Mike Gesicki was an afterthought in the passing game for much of the game and especially the first half. The team will need to do a better job of utilizing their big target in the potential absence of DeVante Parker against the Bills. Parker was seen practicing in full pads on Wednesday but has been hampered by a lingering hamstring injury. Against Jets’ tight end Chris Herndon, Buffalo gave up six receptions on seven targets. The Bills also surrendered seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown to slot receiver Jamison Crowder in the victory.
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Those numbers indicate the Bills have a weakness or vulnerability in the middle of the field, and the Dolphins will need to exploit that early and often. Grant and Ford split time in the slot against New England, and whoever ends up in that position in Week 2 could benefit greatly. The Bills’ strength is their secondary and outside corners, so Preston Williams will have his work cut out for him against All-Pro, Tre’Davious White.
This game will be another hard-fought battle for the Dolphins in their home opener. With another running quarterback under center, the Dolphins will be firmly tested once again in the area they struggled the most last week. However, if they can contain Josh Allen, and utilize their weapons in the passing game, the Dolphins have a great opportunity to get out of Week 2 at 1-1 with a win over the Bills.