Chris Perkins: Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead might already be Most Valuable Lineman

We’ve seen impressive stuff at times from the Dolphins’ offensive line through two games. They haven’t been flawless. But they’ve given winning efforts, kept the sacks low and opened a few holes in the running games. And the way the Dolphins tell the story, a lot of credit goes to left tackle Terron Armstead.

“You’re talking about a pro’s pro,” Dolphins offensive line coach Matt Applebaum said.

Yes, general manager Chris Grier and his staff, coach Mike McDaniel, offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Applebaum and lots of others, led by the linemen themselves, deserve credit for the offensive line’s performance.

But Armstead, the nine-year veteran, three-time Pro Bowl selection and free agent signee from New Orleans, has been crucial in the early-season development process. It even goes beyond the offensive line.

“I think he has a ripple effect on the team,” Applebaum said. “I think it’s been like that since the day he joined the team.”

In the game-winning drive in last week’s 42-38 victory at Baltimore, there are snapshots of Armstead talking to the offense with calming words.

“I saw that little clip,” Applebaum said. “I think that was a cool moment, but that’s something that he brings to the table every day.”

Armstead, who was questionable last week with a toe injury and has been limited this week due to the same ailment, leads the offensive line’s charge against an army of Buffalo Bills pass rushers this week, led by Von Miller and Greg Rosseau and backed by Boogie Basham and A.J. Epenesa.

The Dolphins’ offensive line, which also includes center Connor Williams, left guard Liam Eichenberg, right guard Robert Hunt and right tackle Greg Little, will be the underdogs in a battle against Buffalo’s front seven.

The Bills’ front, led by tackles Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones, Miller, Rousseau and linebackers Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano and Terrel Bernard, is fierce. They spearhead a defense that ranks second in the league with 9.0 sacks, second in yards allowed per game (149.0) and second in points allowed per game (8.5). And they generate a strong pass rush while rarely blitzing. They’re 31st in the 32-team NFL in blitz frequency (7.8%).

The Dolphins will count on Armstead handling whoever the Bills put in front of him, one-on-one.

Applebaum said Armstead is “a very smart, articulate man [who] knows not only what he needs to do, but what everyone needs to be doing in terms of scheme, technique and just like behavior stuff.”

Armstead, for now, might be the single biggest factor to on-field success for the offensive line. Keep an eye on him Sunday against Buffalo and Miller.

More kudos for Kohou

Kader Kohou, the undrafted rookie cornerback from Texas A&M-Commerce, is among the Dolphins’ most pleasant early-season surprises. He made an impact in the opener against New England with a forced fumble and tackle for a loss, and he started the second half last week at Baltimore.

Sam Madison, the Dolphins’ cornerbacks/defensive pass game specialist, said he likes Kohou’s mindset.

“He goes out there and he just works,” Madison said. “So it’s just fun to be able to watch the things that he’s been able to do since he’s been here. Just being able to talk through some things with him and then goes out there and applies them. But he’s a hard-nosed, tough, little, young corner, and we try to get him in when we can.”

Look for Kohou, who has five tackles, and, yes, is the league’s highest-rated cornerback by Pro Football Focus despite only playing 43 snaps, to be a major contributor against Buffalo.

Playing smart with Hill and Waddle

Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, perhaps the NFL’s most dangerous duo, have each had double-digit targets in at least one of the opening games. Hill had 13 targets against Baltimore and 12 against New England while Waddle had 19 targets against Baltimore and five against New England.

Although it’s tempting to get the ball to one or the other as often as possible, wide receivers coach Wes Welker said don’t necessarily expect one of them to have double-digit targets each game.

“We still want to give them the ball, but we also don’t want to be dumb about it,” Welker said. “If they’re giving us opportunities to be able to run the football and do those different things, we definitely want to take advantage of whatever the defense is going to be able to give us, and they understand that.”

To help illustrate how the Dolphins use Hill, consider he has six targets of 20 or more yards upfield and five targets behind the line of scrimmage, according to Pro Football Focus.

They’re all heart

Miami’s defense began the week 21st in pass defense (372 yards per game) and 17th in rush defense (116.5 yards per game). Those aren’t favorable numbers when facing Buffalo, which ranks fourth in passing offense (302.5 ypg) and 14th in rush offense (111.0 ypg).

Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer said what they lack in statistics, they make up for with heart.

“I think it’s a credit to our players that they really defend every blade of grass that’s out there,” said Boyer, whose defense is sixth in blitz frequency at 39.1%. “Now, it doesn’t always work in our favor. But we’re going to get that effort and I think they know and understand what we’re trying to defend while we’re out there.”

The air show

You already know Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (739 yards, seven touchdowns, two interceptions, 116.5 passer rating) and Bills quarterback Josh Allen (614 yards, seven touchdowns, two interceptions, 123.7 passer rating) have similarly gaudy numbers.

But a few other measurables indicate Sunday might be a pass-happy game.

The Dolphins are sixth in yards gained per completion (12.5) and the Bills are ninth (11.8). Both teams have seven receiving touchdowns, tied for the league lead.

Beyond that, Dolphins wide receivers Hill (25 targets, tied for second most in NFL) and Waddle (24 targets, fifth) and Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (23 targets, seventh) have been utilized heavily in their first two games.