Three things on my mind as the Bills make their annual trip to South Florida…
Run The Dang Ball
The Dolphins aren’t much good at anything (still), but they have held the last two opponents to less than 110 yards rushing and won both games. Miami has only done that one other time this season.
Sure, some of that is because Miami was trailing teams by so much that opponents ran the ball until the clock hit zero and everyone could go home.
The Bills shouldn’t wait for the big lead. Run it early.
This can’t be a game where we are discussing Devin Singletary’s carries in one digit. He is showing an ability to be a workhorse back and Frank Gore has been plenty fine most of the season.
The Bills need an offensive identity. No knock on Josh Allen, but Singletary pulling the train has the best ceiling in the short term. Let’s give it another try.
I thought one of the reasons Miami was such a pain in Orchard Park was because Ryan Fitzpatrick had plenty of time to throw. He’s not a legend, but Fitz is a professional QB. He’ll take you apart if you let him.
This is easier said than done. The Bills don’t exactly have the pass rush horses right this second. Buffalo has 22 sacks so far this year (20th in the NFL) and only one player has at least three (more on him in a minute).
A repeat performance of the October pass rush against Fitz will produce a repeat of the nervy finish for Bills fans. At best.
Jordan The Juice Man
Jordan Phillips will tell you he’s past the hurt from being cut by the Dolphins in midseason last year. He’s happy to be in Buffalo and just wants to do his best for the Bills.
I will tell you that Phillips is absolutely going to have a little extra for this game and it’s exactly what the Bills need.
Buffalo’s confidence wasn’t shaken by the loss to Cleveland, but there’s certainly a swagger deficit at the moment. Though, not with Phillips. His swagger is always operating at 110%.
Big plays early and some attitude to go with it would go a long way towards righting the Buffalo ship. If Jerry Hughes is out or compromised with the groin injury he, apparently, suffered in practice this week, Phillips will become the D-Line’s emotional leader.
His six sacks also make him the only member of the pass rush producing at a significant rate. The Bills need him to be big (and loud) against Miami.
Recency bias makes this game feel closer than it should be. The Bills are coming off their ugliest loss of the year while Miami has won two straight and are the most confident 2-7 group you’ve ever seen.
The facts say this is a lesser Miami team than the one most of us thought Buffalo would walk over a month ago. WR Preston Williams (injury), RB Kenyan Drake (trade) and RB Mark Walton (suspension) are all out this time after accounting for 198 of Miami’s 391 yards against the Bills in the first meeting.
The Bills are still better and by a significant margin. They should be able to do almost anything they want on both sides of the ball. I’m a bit leery of the “play fearless” message from Sean McDermott to the offense because multiple Josh Allen picks is always a scenario on the table to ruin a Buffalo afternoon. I don’t think it happens. Give me the Bills getting right and getting their playoff march back in step with a 24-14 win.