Three weeks ago, I stressed how urgent the Ravens game was. But that game in Baltimore is almost meaningless in comparison the next game against the Buffalo Bills.
The same things are on the line: a playoff berth. Confidence and swagger. Team identity and toughness. Only now, it’s all magnified tremendously. Now it’s even closer to crunch time.
The environment in Baltimore was nothing compared to how it will be in Buffalo. 80,000 fans will be there in the bitter, snowy cold. They hate the Dolphins with a passion far more than any Baltimore fan ever could. These nuts brave the elements for their beloved Bills no matter what weather. No matter how many painful losses and terrible losing seasons the Bills put them through, those fans show up and love to torture the Dolphins. You would think fans would give up on a team when they lose the Super Bowl every single year, four times in a row, but it’s not the case.
So the Bills have the fans as their 12th man and their inhuman weather as their 13th. It’s a lot for the Dolphins to overcome. So can they do it? Yes.
The first thing to correct is our goal line offense. It’s been awful. We’ve squeaked by 2 weeks in a row, but it won’t happen again if we don’t correct it. Early in the Cardinal game, we had first and goal. Tannehill fumbled the snap, Cardinals ball. Later at the end of the game we had first and goal, and Damien Williams was stuffed. On 2nd down, Matt Moore tripped and then Damien Williams got stuffed again, almost running out the clock with him. Jump ahead to the Jets game. First and goal again, and two more runs were stuffed before a short TD pass to Dion Sims. Then later, the EXACT same scenario: First and goal again, and two more runs were stuffed before a short TD pass to Dion Sims.
That is SEVEN rushing plays from the one-yardline and ZERO touchdowns. ZERO yards gained in seven attempts. Things aren’t right. The o-line has no answer to the opponent stuffing the box. The line isn’t giving enough effort. As Doug Flutie pointed out the other night, the Jet defenders were simply pushing our linemen out of the way.
Speaking of which, even when it’s NOT a first-and-goal situation, the line has no answers to the defense stuffing the box. Adam Gase MUST know that opponents are going to defend against the run, but he doesn’t seem to have answers for it. Getting a little pass-happy last week worked great, but the Bills’ defense is far more formidable than the Jets. But if it comes down to it, I’m trusting Matt Moore and his instincts. He might be slower than Ryan Tannehill, but his instincts and escapability are superior.
On defense, the Dolphins absolutely must toughen up against the Bills running game, including the threat of Tyrod Taylor rushing the ball. Last week, the Bills had 4 different rushers top 30 yards. The Dolphins struggle to have one. Running the ball is their bread and butter, and we have to contain that. Rex Ryan has no problem running the ball 50 times and passing it 10. He will run it down our throat until we prove we can stop it, and then the advantage turns to us.