The Bills travel south to take on the division rival Miami Dolphins this Sunday, October 22nd. The Dolphins’ offense has struggled for most of this season. Currently ranking only 25th, it’s safe to say the Dolphins’ offensive unit is completely underachieving under their head coach and offensive guru, Adam Gase. That being said, the Fins’ offense seemed to get on track last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning by a score of 30-15. The offense was led by running back Jay Ajayi, who ran through and over the Steelers defense en route to a career day of 204 yards. When you get to know him, you quickly realize he is a handful.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry has been a top tier WR since the moment he was taken in the 2014 draft. He isn’t the fastest, nor the strongest, but he is a fierce competitor in the slot. This is where the Fins utilize him on 76% of their snaps. He’s been targeted 43 times from the slot, of which he hauled in 33 receptions and 435 yards, good for #1 in the NFL. With how often he is aligned in the slot, fans should expect Nickell Robey-Coleman to match up with Landry for most of the afternoon. In two meetings last season, Landry corralled 4 receptions on 6 targets for 60 yards when matched up against Robey-Coleman. The key to limiting Landry is to tackle him as soon as he catches it, as he earns most of his yardage after the catch. Robey-Coleman did a phenomenal job of doing that last season, limiting Landry to a paltry 12 such yards. The Bills’ nickel corner has been one of the best in the league this season, but this will be his biggest challenge to date.
Here is what the Bills are up against:
Importantly, Miami now has a legitimate threat opposite Landry. Second-year receiver Devante Parker is a tall, lengthy target who has impressive skills. He is a physical receiver that can beat defenders with speed and route running. Gilmore and co. will have use their own physicality with him at the line of scrimmage to combat both of these strengths.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn’t had the year that he expected under QB whisperer Adam Gase, but most of his struggles can be attributed to the shoddy play of his offensive line. Tanny has only thrown 6 TDs and has completed passes to opposing defenders 7 times. His 6 TDs are the second-lowest for a starting QB, but despite this, the Dolphins’ QB is an accurate passer. In fact, Tannehill has the third-best accuracy rating (79.6%) in the league, proving he can be effective if he has the time. The lead man in Miami has had 9 batted passes, which is the most in the NFL, so if Bills’ defenders are unable to get to the QB, then they should immediately get their hands into the passing lanes.
The big question is this: should the Bills play coverage, or should they blitz? Tannehill believes Rex plans on blitzing him a lot on Sunday, and when you look at the two matchups from last year, you can see why. In two games last season, Rex blitzed Tanny 26 times, and it was an effective strategy. When Rex blitzed him, Tannehill only completed passes at 36.5%, good for one touchdown, two interceptions, and two sacks. So how defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman game planned Ryan Tannehill will be interesting come Sunday.
As mentioned earlier, the Fins’ offensive line has been shuffled around. Through six games, they are one of the worst pass blocking teams in the league. They currently rank as the 2nd-worst pass blocking efficiency unit in the NFL (72.7%). The Bills must take advantage of this weakness and attack the right side of their offensive line. Right guard Jermon Bushrod and right tackle Ja’wuan James have combined to allow 7 sacks, 3 QB hits, and 21 QB hurries. It’s safe to say they are having a tough time stopping opposing pass rushers.
Check out some of the issues that Tannehill and the offensive line have dealt with:
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