I wonder if Warren Buffett has any Don King in him.
Buffett, the dear owner of The Buffalo News and the backer of my pension fund, was on the Miami Dolphins’ sideline before Sunday’s game. Buffett posed for pictures while in Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s jersey and a set of shoulder pads.
Who am I to criticize America’s second-richest man about his rooting interests?
But I would love to have seen Buffett – as King would do when one of his champions got waylaid by a challenger – step over the Dolphins’ twitching carcass on his way to raise the Bills’ fist in victory.
The Bills toyed with the pitiful Miami Dolphins in a 41-14 laugher at Sun Life Stadium.
The Bills were underdogs, and rightfully so after getting sandblasted by the New England Patriots last week. But the early performances of each team revealed the Bills would have no trouble leaving South Florida feeling swell.
Miami was down by 27 points at halftime. It was the type of performance that costs people their jobs on Monday morning.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was all smiles with Buffett before the game. I wonder if Buffett told him to short sell coach Joe Philbin.
Tyrod Taylor was the MVP for the second time in three games. He went 21 of 29 for 277 yards and three touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked and didn’t have any turnovers, same as on opening day.
It’s probably no coincidence Taylor’s two spic-and-span performances have been when the Bills jumped out to comfortable leads and were in command on both sides of the ball.
Taylor needs to play this calmly when behind on the scoreboard, too. If he can do that, then the postseason will become a reality.
Is it possible we could have a running back controversy in the making?
Bills coach Rex Ryan empathized with LeSean McCoy’s bad hamstring. McCoy scored his first Bills touchdown but ran 11 times for 16 yards. He is averaging 3.4 yards a carry.
Fifth-round pick Karlos Williams, meanwhile, scored a touchdown in his third straight game. He ripped off a 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 attempts for 110 yards.
Was it worth it for the Bills to get into a free-agent bidding war against the Dolphins for tight end Charles Clay?
He sure was Sunday. Clay earned his fat paycheck on the first possession alone versus his old team. He had three catches for 58 yards and made three defenders miss on a 25-yard touchdown catch and run.
Clay’s 82 yards are the sixth-most of his 61-game career.
Big if true
Jon Zimmer of the NFL’s communications department tweeted this juicy stat: Taylor is the first Bills quarterback to have at least seven touchdown passes with at least 70 percent completions through the first three games since Jim Kelly in 1991.
Taylor had three interceptions last week against New England, but zero in the other two games. Kelly threw at least one interception in each of his first three games in 1991.
Bigger if untrue
Bills fans should hope this isn’t a mirage, and I don’t believe it is.
Holy smokes, but this team actually throws it downfield. Fans begged Chan Gailey and Doug Marrone to at least try it, but you’d have had an easier time getting preschoolers to eat steamed broccoli.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman clearly isn’t afraid.
Deep passes didn’t work against New England because Buffalo was playing from way behind. Taylor chucked too many into bad spots where defensive backs awaited. But when a defense can be kept honest, Buffalo has been effective.
Taylor connected with Chris Hogan in stride up the left sideline for a 38-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Taylor and Sammy Watkins teamed up for a 39-yard gain in the first quarter.
Buffalo had a third-and-9 on its own 41-yard line less than four minutes before halftime. Rather than dink it for a few yards and maybe waste some clock, Taylor let one fly up the left sideline for Percy Harvin. The pass fell to the turf, but the attempt was refreshing.
Seven passes into the game, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill broke Dan Marino’s club record for consecutive attempts without an interception. Tannehill then extended the record to 160.
Then Jarvis Landry bobbled attempt No. 161, and linebacker Preston Brown pounced on it.
Tannehill ran his new streak to eight attempts before Brown came up with a mess of a pass into the middle of the line and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown.
Tannehill’s next streak ended at four, when rookie Ronald Darby snagged a deep ball before halftime.
Tannehill didn’t throw any interceptions in the second half. So he’s got that going for him.
Buffalo surrendered eight sacks last week, but none Sunday.
Suh was blocked and blocked and blocked again. He had four tackles, two of them for losses. But he didn’t make his six-year, $114-million presence felt. True, the Bills’ offensive line double- and triple-teamed him all afternoon, but that should free up somebody else to make a play.
The Dolphins seemed to have put only seven defenders on the field because that’s how small Suh’s 10 teammates played. Four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake recorded zero solo tackles, one assist and one quarterback hit.
Top receiver Sammy Watkins hurt his calf in the second quarter and didn’t return. He watched the second half in his civvies.
Many were worried when Watkins didn’t have a catch in the season opener, but with McCoy injured Watkins is Buffalo’s biggest game-breaking threat. In Watkins’ last five fully healthy quarters, he had seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
All the Bills fans who don’t care that Matt Cassel got traded last week because Taylor had another good game must understand it’s OK to think Taylor will be terrific and still value insurance at the NFL’s most critical position.
The Bills could have had both. Let’s hope they don’t need to dip into their reserves, but insurance is a commodity.
Taylor certainly had Bills management and the coaching staff gasping when he seemed to hurt his leg while scrambling in the first half. He slammed his helmet in disgust as trainers looked him over. Taylor turned out to be fine and didn’t miss a snap.
Sure, quality quarterback depth is a luxury. But the Bills look like a playoff-caliber team, and playoff teams seek out luxuries. A fifth-round draft pick two years from now does nothing to help this year’s (or next year’s) Bills make the playoffs.
It also doesn’t matter if there’s little difference between EJ Manuel or Cassel as stand-ins. I would choose Manuel over Cassel in general. The coaches obviously preferred Cassel because they scratched Manuel the first two games.
But if Manuel and Cassel truly were a coin-flip proposition, then why not have both to rely on for insurance if Taylor gets hurt?
Buffalo now has one fewer experienced quarterback at a time it finally has a team to break North America’s longest postseason drought. What a shame it would be if somebody like Jeff Tuel had to start in November.
We good here?
The Bills couldn’t be feeling any better. They were dominant, nearly perfect. They are 2-1 and tied with the New York Jets for second place. The Jets’ offense finally looked like a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led team and couldn’t hang with the previously winless Philadelphia Eagles.
So the Bills are lurking one game behind the Patriots with the mercurial New York Giants coming to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Quiet confidence is in order.