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The Spy: Miami Dolphins in Distress 

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In this edition of Bills-Dolphins, what sort of game should we expect? More of the same fare (historically speaking) or an anomaly perhaps? This 2021 Miami Dolphins team is the epitome of an anomaly in every sense of the word.

Earlier in the season, myself and others pegged Miami as an up-and-coming team. Following their week one win against New England, I expected more from the Dolphins. Since week two, when the Bills wiped the decks with them, the proverbial boat in Miami has taken on water and is sinking fast. Everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong. In every conceivable way, the Buffalo Bills are the better team.

Given the way this season has developed for Miami, it is near impossible to brainstorm a way in which Miami can win this matchup. Nevertheless, it is important to discuss how and why this team has ended up where it is now.

First, as is tradition when covering the Dolphins, I would like to offer the Fanatics the expertise of Kevin Guerard.

A Phinsider’s Perspective: 2021 Miami Dolphins

This year has been the most disappointing season in all my years of being a fan of this team. Expectations were to at least repeat last year’s 10-win season. The Playoffs were our goal. Struggles were to be expected when you lose you starting QB for four games, but Miami has been abysmal in all three phases this year. All the hallmarks of Flores’ tenure have gone by the wayside. Miami has been a team that does not turn the ball over or commit penalties. In short, they do not beat themselves. They accompany this with a top defense and great special teams. Each unit has been a colossal failure. 

Biggest Strength: Defensive Line. Miami’s defensive line has played well in spurts. Wilkins has taken a step this year. Ogbah has continued to play at an extremely high level. Zach Sieler and Raekwon Davis are also playing at an elevated level. Jaelan Phillips has come on after a slow start and has an impressive pass rush win rate.

Weakness: Offensive Line. It is offensive. The biggest mishandling on the whole team was the decision to enter the season with a first year OL coach and five key linemen who had less than 16 career starts. The lack of experience is crippling the line and the whole offense.

The elephant in the room: The whole specter of the Watson trade has been killing this team for months. Miami has done nothing to quell these rumors and do nothing to support Tua, who has been particularly good since returning to action. The ripple effect will follow the team for years.

SPY 1: Offensive Inefficiency

For those unaware, the Miami Dolphins offense is helmed by co-offensive coordinators commanding the pass and run game, respectively. When you are operating with this type of foundation underfoot, it is hard to establish a clear strategy, identity, and proper flow. Moreover, the Dolphins OL is coached by a first-time coach at the NFL level. Given that, it is not surprising that the Dolphins have struggled mightily in the trenches. For a team with so many weapons and so much potential, the results are just not there. This is indicative of an inherent dysfunction. Miami is the fifth-worst offense in the NFL. They cannot consistently sustain drives, form a balanced attack, or score enough points to be competitive in this era of hyper-aggressive offense.

SPY 2: Defensive Denominator

The main factor here is complex in its effect, but can be explained simply. The Dolphins defense has an obsessive compulsion with playing man defense in the secondary. Regardless of game flow, 1st vs. 2nd half adjustments (by both teams), and personnel, the Dolphins do not deviate from man defense. Anything done long enough and consistently enough will become a “tell”, and that is exactly the position this Miami defense is in.

The NFL’s most prolific and dynamic QBs, including Josh Allen, can utterly torch man coverage. This overuse of man coverage has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the defense. The front seven is affected by the play of the secondary. If a QB knows that man coverage can be exploited, he can then treat the pass rush and linebacking corps much differently. If the Dolphins maintain their lack of tactical adjustments, they will incur more of the same heavy losses and punishments. 

DARKHORSE BONUS POINT: Deshaun Watson

I will not presume to understand the Deshaun Watson situation. Furthermore, I will offer no speculation as to the circumstances or outcome of the situation. What I will say, considering the reported HOU-MIA trade talks concerning Watson, is this: It is utterly inexplicable to me, how the Dolphins front office and team leadership could justify this trade from a PR and ethics standpoint.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important in the current social climate. As far as Watson playing or not playing, the NFL and its teams have their own rules, codes of conduct, and protocols. The decision rests in their collective hands. Above all, Deshaun Watson is entitled to his constitutional rights, chief among them (relevant to this situation) is his right to due process and to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty.

Lastly, I believe that the speculation regarding Watson needs to end. Covering and discussing this issue is one thing, but issuing judgment is quite another. Endless hearsay, rumor-milling, and even slander does no good for anyone. Would we not be better off dedicating time to remedying the overarching issues relating to “sex-crime” in a grassroots manner?

THREAT RATING

*Each opponent will be ranked on a 1-10 scale. The higher the number = The greater the threat to the Bills.

The Miami Dolphins are a team embroiled in turmoil and permeated by fractured morale. To add insult to injury, the team generally performs extremely poorly against the Bills. Moreover, the Bills are 4-0 immediately following the bye week, under Sean McDermott. Early in the season, Miami was rated as a much higher threat. However, the ebbs of this season have greatly diminished the threat that Miami poses.

Threat Rating = 2

In closing, please follow The Buffalo Fanatics on all platforms, trust the process and go Bills.

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