Football is a staff sport, however in terms of the Dolphins’ current struggles in opposition to the Buffalo Bills, one participant — quarterback Josh Allen — has been extra accountable than anybody else for Miami’s shortcomings.
The correlation is easy: In eight video games since Allen entered the league because the No. 7 total decide within the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dolphins are 1-7 in opposition to the Bills, with Buffalo successful seven in a row.
When the Dolphins host the Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, the protection will as soon as once more search to restrict — if not utterly stifle — the star quarterback, an goal that has been fruitless in recent times.
In eight video games in opposition to the Dolphins, Allen has accounted for two,410 yards and 25 touchdowns with simply 5 interceptions.
“I think we’ve all been witnesses to he’s steadily become one of the best players in the National Football League,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel stated. “[You could] easily argue he’s the best one. And it’s not because he’s God’s gift. It’s because he’s unbelievably talented. But it’s because you can tell more than that, it’s because he works at his craft. He’s developing every time he’s on the field. He’s a really, really good player that you’ll never, I don’t think, see him stopped necessarily. It’s about minimizing and containing all together.”
As the Bills, betting favorites to win the Super Bowl, have cruised to a 2-0 begin, Allen has led Buffalo with play that has strengthened him as the favourite to win league Most Valuable Player honors. Allen has accomplished 75 p.c of his passes for 614 yards, and his seven landing passes are tied for the league lead.
A Dolphins protection that opened the season with a dominant efficiency in opposition to the New England Patriots was a blended bag within the staff’s Week 2 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Through three quarters, the Dolphins gave up 35 factors as quarterback Lamar Jackson simply discovered solutions for his or her Cover 0 appears. In the fourth quarter, when the Dolphins outscored Baltimore 28-3 to mount a historic comeback, the protection allowed simply three first downs and made a key fourth-down cease.
“I feel like we can do better,” cornerback Xavien Howard stated. “I feel like we’re going to have to play better and we’re also going to have to make more plays on this side of the ball this game.”
In Week 2, all three of Jackson’s landing passes got here in opposition to the blitz, in accordance with the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Pressuring the quarterback has been an issue for the Dolphins protection, which didn’t register a sack or hit on Jackson. Through two video games, the Dolphins have the third-highest strain price at 44.3 p.c, in accordance with Next Gen Stats, however their 16.3 p.c strain price ranks fourth-lowest.
In final yr’s conferences, Allen fared worse when the Dolphins blitzed — 14 of 29 passes for 131 yards — however he has been top-of-the-line quarterbacks this season when dealing with further rushers this season. When groups deliver greater than 4 move rushers, Allen has accomplished 10 of 16 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dolphins have sacked Allen simply eight occasions in eight conferences, however defensive gamers stated that simply as necessary as bringing Allen down is making certain they’re aren’t clear lanes for him to go away the pocket. It’s a pressure on not solely the move rushers however the defensive backs who must chase pass-catchers throughout the sector.
“It’s more of a contain thing,” inside linebacker Jerome Baker stated. “You don’t want him rolling out and just having free access to look down the field or have that option of throwing it down the field or just running the ball. You really have to contain him. Even when you have free shots at him, you have to be under control because he can easily make that first guy miss and now you’re leaving a big gap. It’s really a team effort, a defensive effort, and I think we’re up for the challenge.”
Daniel Oyefusi covers the Dolphins for the Miami Herald. A local of Towson, Maryland, he graduated from the University of Maryland: College Park. Previously, he lined the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.
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