By Jay Skurski
NEWS SPORTS REPORTER
1. They’ll be desperate for a win. Coming into the season, the Dolphins were expected to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC. A 1-1 start by no means takes them out of the race, but it’s how the Dolphins have arrived at that record that is concerning. The Dolphins squeaked out a victory over Washington in Week One and lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars on a last-minute field goal Sunday. Neither of those teams are expected to finish the season in the playoff race. The Dolphins have had a tendency to have late-season collapses under coach Joe Philbin, so a hot start was thought to be critical to their playoff chances this year. So far, they haven’t gotten it.
2. The offensive line is an issue. The Dolphins have rushed for an average of just 58 yards in their first two games. Also, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked five times and pressured on several other dropbacks. Making matters worse up front, left tackle Branden Albert left Sunday’s game against the Jaguars with a hamstring injury and did not return. Albert’s 2014 season ended early because of a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. He’s arguably the Dolphins’ best offensive lineman and potentially a huge loss against a Bills defensive line that has consistently tormented Tannehill in their meetings.
3. They’re also taking too many penalties. The Bills won’t be the only team on the field Sunday looking to cut down on the number of flags against them. Miami committed 13 penalties Sunday against Jacksonville, including a late hit by defensive end Olivier Vernon that pushed the Jaguars well into field-goal range on their game-winning drive. Miami’s 19 penalties through two weeks ranks sixth in the NFL heading into Sunday night’s game. The Bills lead the league with 25.
4. Jarvis Landry is turning into a big-time playmaker. The Dolphins’ second-year receiver out of LSU had eight catches for 110 yards Sunday against the Jaguars. That comes on the heels of an eight-catch, 54-yard effort against Washington in Week One that also included a 69-yard punt-return touchdown that gave the Dolphins the go-ahead points. Landry operates mostly out of the slot and will be a huge challenge for Bills cornerback Nickell Robey.
5. There has been no pass rush to speak of. Stud defensive end Cameron Wake started but didn’t play much because of a hamstring injury Sunday. In his absence, the Dolphins weren’t able to sack Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles – who took an NFL-leading 71 of them last year. In two games, Miami has just one sack. New defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has just three tackles in two games.