Scouting the Enemy: What the Bills are Saying about the Dolphins

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Sporting News reporter Jay Skurski says defensive tackle Marcell Dareus shouldn’t be judged on his stats alone.  He only has 3.5 sacks and 26 takcles, but Dareus is commanding double teams along the offensive line which frees up other play-makers on the Bills defense. “A force to be reckoned with,” is how linebacker Chris Kelsay has described him. “We’re fortunate that he’s on our side.”

Stevie Johnson isn’t sure if he will play agains the Dolphins tomorrow.  “Right now, I don’t feel 100 percent confident in my shoulder,” Johnson said before practice. “It’s feeling better already. We’ll just see what happens when game day comes.”  Johnson was hurt in the fourth quarter last week against the Dallas Cowboys last week, but has so far caught 44 balls for 531 yards. has not been doing their homework, asking if Buffalo can exploit the Dolphins Banged-Up Secondary?  The only Dolphins defensive back listed on this week’s injury report is Nolan Carroll, a dime cornerback who is probable.  Yet, Brian Galliford quotes Kevin Nogle of who says Miami’s secondary is a “mess”.  If this were 2 or 3 weeks ago, I’d tend to agree, but with Vontae Davis healthy, and the defensive backfield playing better with Tyrone Culver at free safety, Miami hasn’t given up a touchdown in two games.  Both SBNation writers claim the Dolphins have not done well with zone coverages, but are much better at playing man.  Ryan Fitzpatrick apparently has struggled in the last two games against man coverage, so where are they making this connection?

Buffalo’s local NBC affiliate, WGRZ, admits the Bills offense is slowing down.  After scoring 133 points and converting 93 first downs over the first four games of the season, the Bills have scored only 96, and converted only 89 first downs over the past five.  The trend line is clearly heading downward as the Bills are looking highly reminiscent of the 2008 team who started off hot at 5-1, and ended up finishing 7-9 and last in the AFC East.

“I think that we have not been able to go on the field and get in a rhythm offensively and it’s because we’re not consistent when we’re on the field,” said Bills head coach Chan Gailey. “We’re having a few more mental errors than we’ve had in times past.”

Fitzpatrick, who was likely the NFL’s most surprising player at the beginning of the season, has only managed to throw 2 touchdowns in the past two blowout losses to the New York Jets and Cowboys (coupled with 5 interceptions).

“There have been a lot of plays we should have made the last few games that we haven’t. Whether it’s not making the throw, not reading it correctly or not breaking a tackle. Whatever it is just hasn’t happened,” said Fitzpatrick.

Buffalo News reports that third downs are plaguing the Bills offense, plummeting during the past two games.  Converting just 5 of 18 tries on third down (28%) in the last two weeks, it is a stark contrast to their start of 47% conversions.  “We didn’t execute at all,” coach Chan Gailey said. “And you have to stay away from those third-and-14 and third-and-12s. You can’t expect to be very good when you keep them in that category. We [also] missed way too many third-and-4s and third-and-5s this past week.”

Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, seems to blame the Bills’ recent woes on the good defenses they have played, “We’ve played some good defenses, and they’ve just played better than us. From a protection standpoint I think we’ve done a decent job. It’s throwing and catching. It is that simple. It’s just something we’ve got to get back to.”

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