With Reshad Jones’ season ending injury the Miami Dolphins must figure out a way to defeat the red hot Buffalo Bills in order to stay relevant in their division. This will not be easy considering Miami’s defense has been struggling all season and they just lost their best defensive player. Buffalo is on a roll and has won 4 straight. Miami is currently 3rd in their division. This is a MUST win divisional game for the Dolphins.
1. Defensive Line
Just as it did last Sunday against the Steelers the Dolphins’ defensive line must show up and contain Tyrod Taylor. The Dolphins will get a big break heading into Sunday’s game if Lesean McCoy the NFL’s second leading rusher is out with a hamstring injury. It will be a game time decision. Cameron Wake received a season high of snaps last game and Miami’s defensive line was able to put pressure on Big Ben, slow down their rushing attack, and put on their best performance of the season. Ndamukong Suh is bigger than life, but he needs help on the defensive line. They must get after Tyrod Taylor early, hit him hard, and contain him.
2. Offensive Line
Brandon Albert, Mike Pouncey, and Ju’waun James must continue to stay healthy and provide a wall for Ryan Tannehill. Miami’s offensive line which has been under heavy scrutiny allowed zero sacks last Sunday for the first time this season. It also allowed Jay Ajayi to have a career high of 204 rushing yards. Expect Buffalo’s Rex Ryan to throw everything they have at Miami’s struggling front with their familiar aggressive attack on defense up front. Ryan Tannehill has struggled heavily against Buffalo over the years producing only 1 win against the Bills. The offensive line has its biggest test of the season this Sunday. Expect lots of blitzes from all angles of the field because Rex Ryan knows Tannehill’s weakness: pocket presence. The offensive line must protect Tannehill and open up all holes for Miami’s running game which will keep the Bills’ in your face defense off balance.
3. Running Game
Last Sunday , Jay Ajayi had the best game of his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The offensive line was able to open up holes for Ajayi and he took advantage. Not only did Ajayi show speed, but he finally showed us the power back he really is as he would fight for extra yardage on all his opportunities. Against the Steelers Ajayi had a career day with 204 rushing yards and 2 TD’s. Miami fed him the ball 25 times (the highest amount of carries for any Miami RB this year). This is no different from last year. If Miami stays true to the ground game they have a much better chance of winning.
With last Sunday’s victory we learned many things. The most telling of all is how important the offensive line and run game is to Ryan Tannehill. Ryan Tannehill needs this offensive line to stay healthy and produce. Tannehill works best off of play action. This only works if the ground game is being established. Adam Gase must get the running game going early. If they struggle with the run they cannot abandon the run game. Gase is slowly learning the Dolphin offense flows through the running game as its done for years. But will Gase stay faithful to the running if it doesn’t work early on and surrender to Miami’s all too familiar pass game? If that happens expect a loss in Miami this Sunday.