Last week I wrote an article stating the Miami Dolphins had to beat the Buffalo Bills to prove they are ready to contend in the AFC East. I got some pushback saying I was overacting, and it’s just week two and only the second game of the season, and it’s too early to call it that, which were all true. However, after watching Sunday’s ugly and embarrassing 35-0 loss to the Bills, it’s clear the Dolphins at this time aren’t ready to compete for the AFC East title. Sure, there are 15 games left, and a lot can happen, but after losing to the Bills 56-26 in the season finale last year, you would think the Dolphins would have put up a much better performance than what we saw today. It was the home opener, and you would think the team would be pumped in front of their fans against the reigning AFC East Champs, especially after getting by the New England Patriots in Foxborough. However, the team came out lifeless, uninspired and looked unprepared.
It all started on offense on the opening possession, where on the first play, the offensive line allowed a free Blitzer to come in and sack quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, which started a theme all day long for the offensive line. The opening drive ended on a three and out, but then on their next possession, after getting a first down, the Dolphins had a 4th and two just across midfield, and the Dolphins decided to go for it. On the play, Tagovailoa had an open Jaylen Waddle on a quick slant, but right tackle Jesse Davis got beat by a Bills defender and got Tagovailoa hit, and the pass fell incomplete. Then Tagovailoa had to out of the game because of bruised ribs. This trend continued throughout the first half, where the Bills were sending extra rushers off the edge, and the Dolphins didn’t adjust or pick up any of the free blitzers. After coming off a reasonably good performance against the Patriots in the opener, the offensive line took a significant step back today, allowing six sacks, several other pressures, and failed to open any consistent running lanes. With all of the resources spent on the offensive line in the draft in recent years, it makes you wonder if this line will be any good with all of their inconsistency?
The line wasn’t the only issue. The Dolphins receivers didn’t help out quarterback Jacoby Brissett after coming in for an injured Tagovailoa. The Dolphins were down 14-0 and driving when Brissett threw a pass into the end zone that went off the hands of DeVante Parker that would have gotten the Dolphins back in the game. Parker is a talented player, but he is very frustrating. He is injury-prone, and it keeps him in and out of the lineup, but the biggest frustration I have with him other than that is his inconsistency on the field. One week he will have a big game, and then he disappears or has a significant drop the following week. Last week, he made a big leaping catch on the sideline that kept a drive alive to score a touchdown, and this week he lets a ball go through his hands that could have gotten the team back in the game. Parker can be a much better player, but he is so inconsistent, and it drives me crazy. I don’t want to hear about the different quarterbacks he’s had if the ball hits you in the hands, catch the ball. Albert Wilson, our training camp MVP, has been nonexistent so far, the first two-game. He had no catches last week and today had two big drops. The first one was a drop inside the Bills’ 5-yard line that would have given the Dolphins a first and goal. Then he dropped a second pass that would have gotten the Dolphins close to a first down when they were driving. Wilson has got to step up and become the playmaker he was in 2018, or is that version done? Then Jakeem Grant, an outstanding kick returner but a disappointment as a receiver and just like Parker, makes a big play and the following week a big mistake. Today, he fumbled the ball after catching a pass at the Bills’ 6-yard line that was close to a first down. Grant is a player I think the Dolphins should think about getting rid of. I know he’s an outstanding returner, but when he gets the chance at receiver, he doesn’t take advantage of his opportunities, and the Dolphins have some other guys that can return kicks. These receivers have to step up their play.
The Dolphins’ defense kept the team in the game in the first half forcing a few turnovers, but they don’t get off the hook either. For the second week in a row, the Dolphins allowed a significant gain on the run, and this time Devin Singletary took it 46 yards for a touchdown for the game’s opening score. The Dolphins’ defensive line frankly got dominated by the Bills’ offensive line, and it’s the second week in a row; the Dolphins got blocked upfront and didn’t put any pressure on the quarterback. Those two things concern me going forward the rest of the season. I know the Dolphins won’t have Raekwon Davis for at least a couple of more weeks, but the defensive line is more talented and better than what they have shown the first two games it’s got to get better. The Dolphins also need better linebacker play to come to run sideline to sideline, and honestly, I don’t know if the Dolphins have one. The Dolphins will have to make the best of what they have for the rest of the season and then find an inside linebacker who can help in run support and pass coverage. The Dolphins defense did their best to keep them in the game, but those two areas concern me.
Look, maybe this game will be a good wake-up call for the Dolphins. There are 15 games left, and a lot of areas have to improve. 1-1 isn’t the end of the world, and the Dolphins can still get better, but today’s embarrassing loss is a reminder they have ways to go if they want to contend.