After a disappointing Week 1 against the NFL team named after Steely Dan, the Buffalo Bills looked to rebound against their old adversary, the Miami Dolphins. The Bills vs. Dolphins rivalry is a special one for those of us who grew up during the heyday of Dan Marino’s high-flying offense, Jim Kelly’s innovative K-gun attack, and the inspiring wisdom of two of the NFL’s greatest coaches: Don Shula and Marv Levy.
Sunday marked the most recent installment of this classic AFC East rivalry. The Dolphins were fresh off a win vs. hated team and Mac n’ Cheese enthusiasts in New England. Meanwhile, the Bills were reeling after a disappointing showing in front of their home crowd. Could the offense rebound? What happened to the offensive line? Is the defense legit? Is it Mitch Trubisky’s time to shine? Week 2 would answer all of these questions.
For those sad individuals out there who somehow missed Sunday’s game in South Beach, here are some highlights:
Now, with all that out of the way, here are 10 things I think I think …
1.) The Problem of Josh Allen
So, the glaring issue this week (as last) was the performance of the offense, and the new quarter-billionaire on the block is in everyone’s sights. Josh looked rough last week, and this week, though he flashed some beautiful stuff, he struggled much of this game. How the Bills won 35-0 feels like a mystery to me and to much of Bills Mafia. Josh is struggling with his placement, and he seems (as my girlfriend Candice put it) like he’s got the yips. Hell, Brissett had arguably better stats than Josh in the first half, and Brissett is just smoked beef shoulder (which is not bbq, by the way).
Josh has had a number of passes batted down, which is odd for a giant man to do, but it tells me he’s focusing too much on some receivers. For me, he seems to be locking in on Sanders too much, trying to force a connection. This young man has pressure on him this season, to be sure, but he needs to simplify, get back to what works, and take the open receiver. The coming weeks will tell us a lot about Josh Allen’s headspace, and, despite the ridiculous gap in the score, we were lucky to walk away with a win this week.
2.) The Return of Ground & Pound
“Devin Singletary isn’t a home run hitter!” they said.
Singletary goes yard by running past a talented Miami defense for 46 yards and a dinger. Singletary looked fabulous this game, picking up 83 rushing yards at 6.3 yards per tote. Zack Moss returned to the Bills sideline and showed what a powerful running back he can be by smashing in two TDs the hard way. Moss fumbled early but bashed and spun his way back into McDermott’s good graces. In the end, the Bills rushed for 143 yards on 30 carries with 3 TDs, and it was the rushing game that sparked this team, not the passing attack. Maybe this would be something worth remembering …
3.) The Offensive Line is … back?
The offensive line had moments this game where they bullied the front line of the Miami defense. But … it also struggled in pass protection. Now, to be fair, Josh sometimes left the pocket early and seemed to struggle trusting the pocket (reasonable after last week), but this is a unit that still needs work. Miami only had one sack against Allen, and the run game hummed, but too many times it seemed that Allen ran for his life. Was it better than last week? Well, anything is better than last week. Could it be better? Well, as a high school teacher says to a struggling student … You have so much potential.
4.) Whoa! Gregory Rousseau!
Damn, son! Rousseau is surpassed everyone’s expectations so far this season, and, yes, I’m including you, Steve! Rousseau finished the game with five tackles and two sacks, one of which came while he was dropping into coverage. You can’t stop this man! He’s using his superb length and physicality to dominate his opponents. Now, he struggled a couple of times at setting the edge in the run game, but overall, his play was exemplary, and I am keen to see what this mammoth man has planned next. Maybe, defensive rookie of the year?
5.) A.J. Epenesa is a rude dude with attitude
I don’t know about you, but this Bills defense looks like it’s playing with more edge than it has the past few years. And one of the baddest dudes out there is A.J. Epenesa. He’s coming after QBs like they jilted his mom, and he remembers. While he’s not lighting up the stat sheet this week, the pressure he supplied and his impact on the game was felt throughout. I like his aggressive style, and I’m feeling much better about our DEs with Rousseau and Epenesa tearing up the quarterback.
6.) Ed Oliver went full Captain Insano on Sunday: he shows no mercy
Much like Epenesa, Oliver’s true impact does not show up on the stat sheet, but for anyone watching the game on Sunday, Oliver was a force. He consistently filled run gaps, penetrated, and blew up the interior of the Miami offensive line. He looks ferocious out there, setting up his teammates for easy wins.
7.) Tremaine Edmunds and Levi Wallace missed much of Sunday’s game with injury … did you notice?
This Buffalo defense was stellar against Miami on Sunday, and for much of the game, Dane Jackson and A.J. Klein were taking the snaps on defense. Even without the Kaiju and Wallace, the Bills defense swarmed and strangled a whimpering Miami attack. Of course, it will be good to have Wallace and Edmunds back out there next week (*Adam knocks on wood*), but it’s good to know that this team can thrive with their depth. Thus far this season, it has been the defense that has been the shining side of the ball.
8.) Damn, Tre Day. What did the Dolphins ever do to you?
I feel like Tre White had one of his better games as a pro on Sunday, which is saying something. He led the team with 9 tackles and a fabulous run-stuffing tackle for loss. White was all over the field, making big stops in big spots. While he did not get any fancy pants plays like interceptions, White manned his spot brilliantly and showed why he was McDermott’s first pick. While I miss the dancing, this young man has turned into one of the wise graybeards of the team, and his play speaks to his commitment.
9.) I’m gonna say it: this far, Isaiah McKenzie is a better return man than Andre Roberts.
I know a statement like this is going to upset some Buffalo Bills pundits, like maybe a certain guy who is not-at-all a rogue Yahoo server who has become self aware who uses Bills coverage in his greater scheme to destroy all hu-mons, whose name rhymes with Druce Molan …
But the thing is, McKenzie has that juice. While Roberts is smart and dependable, McKenzie thus far this season has been more of a spark on special teams, and no, I’m not going by the numbers here. I’m going off my proclivity to rise of the couch, my hands trembling, saying “Go! Go! Go!” as he returns the ball. McKenzie looks good so far this season, one of the consistent bright spots on this team, and I wonder if maybe he’s found a role for himself going forward.
10.) Did we actually find the next Kyle Williams?
So, the next Kyle Williams was supposed to be lovable giant, Horrible Harrison Phillips. And while Phillips has looked solid, another has risen into that coveted #95 mantle: Justin Zimmer. I have not been a believer in Zimmer. I’m honestly surprised he is still on the team, but this young man has heart. I love his drive, and I’m consistently impressed by his play. I’m not sure exactly what his ceiling is, but when you watch this young man play, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player on the field who “tries harder”. Yeah, he is a try hard guy. But you want that in an NFL player. Just saying …
Well, thanks y’all for reading! If you’d like to find a place to submit your complaints, questions, or charming conspiracy theories, you can find me on Twitter at @adamnannini.
It’s awesome to get a win in the books. Where else would you rather be …