» Grading the Bills
B LeSean McCoy’s hamstring is hurting – coach Rex Ryan said the running back is playing on “one and a half legs.” His second-level acceleration lacking, McCoy averaged a meager 1.5 yards per carry. That’d seem to spell trouble. It didn’t. Rookie Karlos Williams is proving to be a fifth-round steal as he lowered his shoulder and rammed through Miami’s Ndamukong Suh-led defensive line for 110 yards on 12 attempts. Until McCoy heals, Williams should probably see the bulk of the carries.
A Ryan says Tyrod Taylor is “legit.” He’s not kidding. Taylor burnt Miami rolling outside in the first half and was then devastating from the pocket in the second with several third-down conversions – Buffalo finished 7 of 13 – and a 38-yard dagger of a touchdown to Chris Hogan in single coverage. On the road for the first time, Taylor was calm, poised and decisive where the likes of JP Losman were jittery. The result was a 136.7 passer rating and, for a change in Western New York, genuine hope.
B+ Through three games, all three opponents have refused to run the ball against Buffalo. Granted, this game was a laugher almost immediately, but speedster Lamar Miller had a whopping three carries in the first half. Seasons past, Buffalo was susceptible to monster rushing days from backs on the road. Preston Brown, Nigel Bradham and Co. swarmed Sunday.
A- Cornerback Stephon Gilmore got tied up deep on a 46-yard prayer late. Otherwise, Buffalo bounced back in a big way. Against another quarterback who relies on quick drops, quick throws, quick decisions, the Bills got pressure. Buffalo’s eight quarterback hits came from eight different players and the havoc led to turnovers, a recipe for success.
B- After a flag-filled letdown last week, the Bills were disciplined in Miami. Kicker Dan Carpenter was good from 26 and 51 yards, missing wide left from 54 yards. The Bills’ average starting field position was OK (24-yard line). All in all, it was a quiet day from Buffalo’s special teams units and coordinator Danny Crossman will take quiet.
B+ The Bills were a more measured team heading into their first road game. Rex Ryan says he challenged his team to be the least penalized in the NFL and they had only five flags in Miami. The dumb, overzealous miscues were way down after the Bills were far too hyped for their Week Two clash with the Patriots. The game plans were spot on, too. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman got Taylor on the move early and blended the run with the pass throughout to keep Miami off-balance. Defensively, Ryan and coordinator Dennis Thurman timed up blitzes perfectly. Bacarri Rambo was untouched on Brown’s pick-six.
» Grading the Dolphins
C Miller has only 30 carries through three games. An ankle injury has hindered him – and missing his left tackle doesn’t help – but he’s too good to be ignored to this degree. A year ago, Miller blistered defenses for 5.1 yards per carry in this read option-heavy attack. Why mess with a good thing? The state of affairs is so bad in Miami that Patriots castoff Jonas Gray, fresh off the practice squad, got nine carries Sunday.
D- Ryan Tannehill’s new deal in May paid him $45 million guaranteed. On Sunday, he resembled a $45 quarterback. His final stat line is woefully misleading. Tannehill had a 22.6 passer rating in the first half. He panicked on interceptions to Brown and Ronald Darby, refused to challenge Buffalo deep and never burnt Buffalo with his legs. Right when the Dolphins thought they found their long-lost successor to Dan Marino, maybe they haven’t.
C McCoy was held in check – and Suh had two tackles for loss – but there were some gaping holes out there. On the 41-yard touchdown that finished Miami, former Bills draft pick Kelvin Sheppard was completely wiped out of the play by guard Richie Incognito and defensive backs Reshad Jones and Jamar Taylor took lazy JV-like tackling angles on Williams.
F Cornerback Brice McCain was schooled by Percy Harvin (seven receptions, 66 yards) along the sideline at key moments when the game was still in reach and Miami had no answer for tight end Charles Clay. You’d think they’d have a clue after facing him every day in practice but Clay made Miami pay underneath on crossing routes. And on his 25-yard touchdown, Clay got a step on Koa Misi, then channeled his inner high school running back with a pair of highlight-reel jukes to score.
C It was an uneventful game for Miami’s special teams units as top playmaker Jarvis Landry never found a seam in the punt- or kick-return games. The Dolphins couldn’t recover an onside kick late to make this game somewhat interesting. Lethargic play contaminated the entire team.
F Talent-wise, the Dolphins were expected to contend for a playoff spot this season. Instead, two big-money moves (Tannehill, Suh) haven’t panned out through three games. The Dolphins played with a very flat-lined personality all game which, very possibly, is a result of flat-lined coaching. Joe Philbin’s seat has to be getting hotter in Miami. On the field, Miami’s spread attack operated extremely east-to-west with no shots deep and the defense was Tasered by a quarterback making his first start on the road.