The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins both have head coaches that come from defensive backgrounds. However, one defense finished as the second-best defense in the league, while the other finished dead last. Both teams made many significant moves to improve their defenses, but who has the better defense? This week’s Thursday Thought: Team Battle Edition: Bills Defense versus the Dolphins Defense.
The Dolphins drafted Christian Wilkins in the first round of the 2019 draft. He had a solid rookie season but is a player with tremendous upside. Devon Godchaux is a solid starter and 2020 second-round pick Raekwon Davis from Alabama is an intriguing prospect. In comparison to the Bills, the Dolphins have good starters but their depth is not at the same level as the Bills. The Bills have four to five defensive tackles who could start on most teams. This is not to say that the Dolphins have bad defensive tackles, because they don’t, but rather the Bills may have the best defensive tackle group in the NFL.
One of the biggest areas that the Dolphins addressed this offseason was defensive end. Miami added several players including Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, and fifth-round pick Curtis Weaver. Although none of these players truly are “game changers” who can flip a game on its head at any moment, Miami’s defensive ends are all solid and reliable players. The Bills defensive ends are very similar to Miami’s, but Buffalo has more depth. Just like at defensive tackle, the Bills have four or five solid defensive ends who could be starters for other teams. The Dolphins have a solid defensive ends, but Buffalo may have the deepest defensive line in football.
Miami has a very deep linebacker core following the many moves they made this offseason. Jerome Baker, Vince Biegel, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Raekwon McMillian, Elandor Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy are all solid contributing linebackers. Whether on special teams or defense, these players all bring something to the table. Similar to when I compared the Bills linebackers to the Jets linebackers, the Bills have the higher-end players, but the other team has better depth. The Bills depth a linebacker is great for special teams, but not ideal for defense. That being said, Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are two of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL who are vital for the Bills success on defense. On top of that, the Dolphins don’t have a player, like C.J. Mosley, which gave the Jets the slight nod over the Bills at linebacker.
The biggest move the Dolphins made this offseason outside of drafting Tua Tagovailoa, was signing former Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, making him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. The Dolphins also added Noah Igbinoghene in the first round to man the slot. Along with Xavien Howard the Dolphins cornerbacks may be the most impressive in the NFL. The Bills have their All-Pro in Tre’Davious White, but Miami has three cornerbacks that are not just starting caliber, but big-time players.
The Dolphins safety tandem of Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain is rock solid, but unspectacular. Both players are good veterans who don’t make many mistakes but they also don’t make many game-changing plays. Third-round pick Brandon Jones could be an exciting young player for Miami to develop. Meanwhile, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are one of the best safety duos in the NFL. They’re a huge reason why the Bills defense has been a top-five unit in the NFL for back to back seasons. Along with what appears to be a steal in 2019 sixth-round pick Jaquan Johnson and Dean Marlowe, the Bills safety’s are the amongst best in the AFC.
The Dolphins made several impressive moves on defense over the offseason, and behind the leadership of Brian Flores, they should be a formidable and a much-improved unit. However, the Bills depth at the defensive line is incredibly strong and is a proven commodity in the NFL. This one is closer than some might think, but due to the continuity and proven production I have to lean towards the Bills.
Overall advantage: Bills
What do you think? Who has the better defense on paper for the 2020 season? Let me know in the comment section below or on Twitter.
Mitch Broder is a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mitchell_broder