I’m not generally superstitious, but the last time New England lost on opening day was to the Buffalo Bills way back in 2003. They got destroyed 31-0. The Bills were coming off an 8-8 season and things were looking mighty rosy after that convincing win. Buffalo finished 6–10 and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, while you guessed it… New England went on to win the Super Bowl.
I wrote that paragraph on the off chance a Miami Dolphin player might catch a glimpse of it. You see, as recently as last season the Dolphins started 3-0 only to lose 4 consecutive games before righting the ship in advance of a late season collapse that found them out of the playoffs.
So what’s my point? You undoubtedly think Negative Nancy is writing this article...
The point is, winning the first game even against a rival like New England does not mean a thing as Buffalo showed us way back in 2003. I find it interesting Miami plays Buffalo right on the heels of mirroring such an emotional victory. The same Buffalo team that beat Miami 19-0 when a victory would lead to a winning season and playoff berth a year ago.
The Bills are not the pushover they seemed in the pre-season. They beat the Chicago Bears 23-20 in overtime and are primed to take the wind out of Miami’s sails. Things are in flux in Buffalo where a new owner is about to take over from the Wilson family and excitement pervades years of decline. Not a whole hell-of-a-lot goes on up on Lake Erie these days. A victory over Miami would make the chicken wings a little spicier and the brew a little colder.
Buffalo won three out of the last four contests against Miami and did it twice with a QB named Thaddeus who is no longer in the league. They're a physical team, with two very good backs in CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson. They drafted Sammy Watkins whom many thought was the best WR in the country, but there are chinks in the Bills’ offensive armor…
E.J. Manuel is starting his second season and had his share of rough outings last year. Pressure can rattle Manuel and this is where Miami must take advantage using one of best defensive lines in the NFL.
Prior to the draft, the Dolphins took a long look at UM offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, but his weight and attitude issues caused him to fall to Buffalo in the 7th round. Guess who will attempt to block Cameron Wake on Sunday? Yup - Seantrel Henderson - after 2nd round pick Cyrus Kouandjio failed to beat him out.
I imagine Henderson has a few butterflies in his belly just thinking about it. With Watkins nursing sore ribs, the Dolphins should be looking at a full frontal attack. The Bills are going to test the Dolphin run defense to the fullest and with the LB situation dire in Miami; it should be interesting to watch.
The Dolphins used some curious schemes to make up for the deficiency at LB. There was talk of the old Buddy Ryan 4-6 and even a 5-2. The reality was closer to a 3-4 with Wake and Vernon playing OLB while Starks, Mitchell and Odrick played a traditional 3-man front. These schemes work much better with the element of surprise, but Buffalo will have the tape. Miami needs to beat the Bills with a base defense if they expect to shut down the running game.
I suspect a safety will be creeping in the box all day with Grimes shadowing Watkins, leaving E.J. Manual with the ball in his hands. No doubt, Miami will want to force Manuel to win the game while attempting to blow up the Bills’ rushing attack.
Seantrel Henderson, really? If you have Wake on your fantasy team you might want to start him, I’m just saying…
Now comes the fun part, predicting the Miami offense. Buffalo handed it to the Dolphin OL in that fateful game last year, but it was a unit in complete disarray and ripe for the raping (I had to throw in something Richie would say)! Buffalo actually showed the Jets what New England failed to capitalize on; the Dolphin line could not stop an all-out jailbreak attack. The Bills simply overwhelmed a depleted Miami line, leaving Tannehill and the backs - sitting ducks.
The Buffalo defense will be no less potent, but they will be facing a vastly improved Miami offensive front. The Bills will take the same approach as the Dolphins, shut down the run and force Tannehill to win the game…
Unfortunately for Miami, Buffalo has the defensive front to make life miserable for the Dolphin rushing attack. Tannehill will need to take over the game if the rushing attack falters and it is difficult to predict how he will perform. The loss of Jairus Byrd from the Bills secondary helps Miami when the outcome could very well hinge on the success of the passing game.
Miami has an excellent corps of WRs and the new scheme under Bill Lazor will have the Bills wary of a quick strike passing attack. Buffalo coaches have seen the tape and have little fear of Miami’s deep passing ability. Judging but the attacking style last season, the Bills will force Tannehill to complete some long throws before backing off. Buffalo will press the line of scrimmage attempting to take away both rushing and short passing unless Tannehill dictates otherwise.
A few deep completions will dramatically change the game in Miami’s favor. The Bills will creep closer and closer each time Miami fails to connect on open deep passing routes. The vertical passing game may very well be the key to beating the Bills. Bill Lazor knows this and is certain Buffalo knows it as well. The feeling here is, Lazor will attempt to lengthen the field early for Tannehill.
Knowshon Moreno was the spark that lit Miami’s offensive fire against NE. If Moreno can gain the tough yards again, it will take a lot of the burden off Tannehill, but the Bills will be loading up for Knowshon.
Everyone hates it when I put too much on Tannehill… It won’t be me putting it on our boy Ryan, I fully expect the Bills to make Tannehill win this football game. Miami can still win as they proved against NE, but the team needs to duplicate the same passion they played with against the Patriots.
Indeed - emotion is the fuel that rules football any given Sunday…
Play with reckless abandon every week and there will be no need to worry about schemes or quarterbacks. If the Dolphins play with the same passion, they showed against New England, few teams will beat them.
Seattle showed the formula, passion rules and they have the shiny rings to prove it…