The Miami Dolphins will be looking to get things back on track when they open the home portion of their schedule on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Miami is coming off a disheartening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and is dealing with several injuries to starting players.
It’s much too early in the season to call a game ‘must win’ but a victory over Buffalo would go a long way towards easing the fears of another average-at-best season for the Dolphins and their fans. Based on the first two weeks of the season, some would say that a Miami win on Sunday would be as improbable as a Jaguars win the previous weekend, but we all know how that ended up going.
The Dolphins defense was expected to be one of the best in the league prior to the season but those expectations have yet to be realized as the unit has struggled both against the run and the pass. As for the offense, while Ryan Tannehill has looked good (he’s got a 101.7 passer rating through two games) the Dolphins have yet to show any resemblance of a solid running game. We’ll see how much they can improve in one week when they face Buffalo at Sun Life Stadium. Here are the top questions heading into Miami’s Week 3 matchup with the Bills.
Can the Dolphins get the running game going?
The first two weeks of the season have not been pretty for the Dolphins run game. Lamar Miller has yet to break out, but his offensive line isn’t giving him much help. The Dolphins are 30th in the league averaging just 58 rushing yards per game, and are tied for 26th with a 3.4 yards per carry average. Miller looked better than ever during training camp and the preseason so it would be wise for offensive coordinator Bill Lazor not to abandon the run if things don’t go well during the first few attempts of the game, which he has admittedly done during the first two weeks of the season.
How will the offensive line handle Buffalo’s scary defensive front?
Through two games the Dolphins offensive line has been what most people feared they would be…just not good enough. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked five times and Miami is one of the worst rushing teams in the league so far. Aside from the injuries to left tackle Branden Albert keeping him from playing consistently at the level he’s accustomed to, much of the blame falls on the guards, Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas. Pro Football Focus ranks Thomas 74th and Douglas 72nd out of 84 guards in the NFL.
Is this the week Miami’s defensive line starts to reach its potential?
Coming into the season the Dolphins defensive line, featuring Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Ndamukong Suh, would be one of the best in the NFL. After two games they haven’t even been close to that and the best players on Miami’s defensive line haven’t been either of those three. Last week they faced Blake Bortles, the NFL’s most sacked QB last season who was sacked five times during Week 1, and didn’t get a single one. The Fins defense has just one sack on the season, coming from rookie Jordan Phillips, though there have been at least two sacks that were negated by penalties in the secondary.
Speaking of penalties, can the Dolphins get them back under control this week?
Last week in Jacksonville the Dolphins were called for 13 penalties which resulted in 112 yards, something that is very unlike Joe Philbin’s squad. It’s likely that it was just an isolated incident but now Miami will face one of the toughest teams in the league in the Bills. Buffalo leads the NFL in penalties (25) and yards (253) this season, thanks to them playing with an edge that saw the 15-yard penalties pile up last week against the Patriots.
When will 1st round pick DeVante Parker be let off the leash?
When Miami drafted Parker in the 1st round of this year’s draft it looked like they had finally gotten the big-bodied wideout they had been lacking since letting Brandon Marshall go. A June foot surgery kept him sidelined for the majority of the preseason but he’s been a full participant in practice for weeks, leading many to wonder why he played just one snap in Week 1 and a mere 17 in Week 2, catching one pass for three yards. Whoopie.
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Watch Miami take on the Buffalo Bills this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on CBS4, your official Dolphins station!
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