Bills Ice Dolphins


The Miami Dolphins are on a three game losing streak.  It started in San Francisco and continued to L.A.  The Dolphins hoped to get back to right tonight, but they fell short.  So, what is the issue?  Why have they dropped three in a row?  Terron Armstead didn’t play on the west coast tour so perhaps that is the cause.  Yet, he played tonight, and the Dolphins still lost.  Is it the weather?  Perhaps it’s the play calling?  Are the Bills just better?  I think it’s a combination of all three.


An Even Match

Believe it or not, the Dolphins and the Bills are evenly matched.  They both sport outstanding defensive lines.  Their wide receiver corps are well stocked.  Miami’s secondary is one of the best in the league, while Josh Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.  Miami has a very effective run game and the Bill’s run defense is one of the best in the league.  It’s no surprise that the score remained close thru out the game.


Coach McDaniel Must Improve

The loss lies squarely at the feet of Coach Mike McDaniel.  Ultimately, he is the play caller on offense.  He has to understand the moment and make the right calls on a consistent basis.  It is a difficult job to do coupled with the fact that you are also the head coach.  Only a few Coaches have managed to successfully pull this feat off.  The Dolphins lost this game on third down.  They only converted five out of fourteen attempts, while the Bill’s converted eight out of fourteen attempts.  Miami did manage to convert a fourth down conversion.  Still, that leaves eight opportunities left on the field to continue a drive and score points.


A Series of 3rd Down Failures

Miami’s first 3rd down failure was on their first drive.  It was third and six, but a lineman false started making it third and eleven and the subsequent pass play was incomplete.  Miami’s next third down failure was rectified by their fourth down conversion, and they went on to kick a field goal.  Next, Miami was third and goal with three yards to go.  Raheem Mostert had just toasted the Bill’s defense for 67 yards a few plays earlier.  Coach McDaniel’s calls a pass, and it was incomplete.  Given Mostert’s explosive run, it is a head scratcher that a pass play was called.


Waddling in the End Zone

Miami’s next three third down conversions were converted on pass plays, one of which was a touchdown.  The Dolphins defense had just forced a Bill’s three and out and three plays later, the Dolphins were sitting at third and four on their own 33-yard line.  Jaylen Waddle lines up in the slot on the right side.  The ball is snapped and Waddle blows by the linebacker guarding him and stems into a post where he is wide open.  Tua Tagovailoa’s pass was slightly off the mark, but Waddle was able to secure it and slash the Bills defense for 67 yards and a touchdown.  The Dolphins might have lost the game on the next play depending on your perspective.  Coach McDaniel called for a two-point play.  The Bill’s smothered the Dolphin’s back field and Tua’s pass to Waddle was way off the mark.


Sack, Forced Fumble!

On Miami’s next drive, a third and four situation arises six plays in.  Coach McDaniel calls a pass play which falls incomplete.  The Bills go three and out and then the Dolphins manage to complete a touchdown drive on strength of a 20-yard pass play to Tyreek Hill.  The Miami defense force the Bills to punt the ball back to them.  On a third and three Tua’s pass to Tyreek Hill was well defensed and the Dolphins had to punt.  Thankfully for the Dolphins, on the Bill’s next offensive play Josh Allen was sacked by Jaelan Phillips.  As Phillips took Allen down, his hit was so forceful that it knocked the ball out of Allen’s hands and Christian Wilkins secured the fumble.


The Third and One Pass Play….

Miami used the short field to get kick a field goal, adding to their lead.  Miami was forced to kick a field goal because on third and one, Coach McDaniel called another pass play.  This play call was one of the most curious of all.  The Bills were not doing a great job of stopping the run.  Mostert was running wild on the Bills defense.  Salvon Ahmed had several explosive runs.  Yet, the play call was a pass.  Durham Smythe caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and was immediately tackled forcing the field goal attempt.

During their next possession, the Bills finally came alive.  Josh Allen rumbled 44 yards down to the Dolphin 13-yard line.  A few plays later they scored and successfully attempted a two-point conversion bringing the score to a tie.  The Bills force Miami into a 3rd and 12 situation, forcing Miami to throw unsuccessfully.  The Bills went on a six-minute drive and kicked the winning field goal as the seconds ticked off the clock.


3rd Down Breakdown

Miami did not use one running play on all of the 3rd downplays they failed.  They didn’t even attempt a running play on third and one.  The play calls on 3rd down puzzled me.  Raheem Mostert was averaging ten yards a carry in the first half the game.  The Bills were having significant difficulty defending the run, yet Coach McDaniel chose to abandon the run at curious times in the game.  Abandoning the run and lack of execution on 3rd down led to this loss.


Shortcomings of the Quarterback

Tua is not a dynamic quarterback.  At times he displays accuracy of the elites.  At other times he looks like a rookie.  Tua lacks consistency which is required to be successful at the highest levels in the NFL.  Earlier I described a third and four play that was an incomplete to Jaylen Waddle.  That series of plays is frustrating.  Earlier in that third quarter drive, on second and nine, Tua pulled the ball down and attempted to run for the first down.  First, he did a beautiful sidestep to avoid a sack and then he started barreling down to the first yard line.  Then he did a curious thing, he attempted to juke a player that was not there, tripped over himself and fell short of the line to make.  The refs called it third and four, but the ball was spotted only two yards from the line of scrimmage.  The play call should have been a run.  In fact, Tua should have recognized the chains, checked into a run play and earned the easy first down.  Tua is a capable quarterback.  Given time, he is usually accurate.  However he requires protection.  Coach McDaniel must protect his quarterback with how he calls plays.  Not every pass play needs to be deep pass.  It’s ok to dump it off.  Finally, emphasis on the run game is the key to the  Dolphin passing attack working.


A Little Raheem Mostert Background

Sometimes football is as simple as do what works.  Raheem Mostert single handedly won the 49ers a victory over the Packers in the 2019-20 play offs.  He ran for 220 yards and Jimmy Garoppolo only passed the ball eight times.  Mostert and Ahmed were running well this evening.  They should have carried the rock more and it was a mistake to call so many pass plays for a quarterback playing in the cold who at times is questionable at throwing the football.


A Meh Defense…

The defense played ok.  They still allowed 32 points, which ultimately led to the loss.  They lack consistent pressure on opposing offensive lines and are susceptible to the run.  The Bills put over 150 rushing yards on the defense, 77 of which are Josh Allen’s.  They managed to sack him twice and forced him to turn the football over once.  Yet, that is not enough against a quarterback as talented as Josh Allen.   The Bills young superstar keeps his team in the fight.  He threw for over 300 yards, and four touchdowns against one of the tougher defense’s in the NFL.  Allen’s success highlights that the Dolphins defense still needs to improve at the linebacker corps in particular.  Additionally the Dolphins need depth at the defensive line.  These things take time so we will all have to be patient.


It is what it is…

Ultimately, the Dolphins were just not good enough.  The cold, and the crowd didn’t have any effect on their play.  They had a 100-yard rusher, a 100-yard pass catcher and a quarterback that threw two touchdowns to no interceptions.  The team needs to make better decisions on and off the field if they wish to see post season success.  They head home to host the Green Bay Packers.  Hopefully we will get to see what they have learned.



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