It's week three of the NFL season, and so far the Miami Dolphins have managed to only Dolphin their way into a 1-1 record, after struggling to beat the crappy Washington Redskins and losing to the arguably crappier Jacksonville Jaguars. Now is when things start to get interesting. And by "interesting," we mean "this team finally finds itself and starts playing to its potential" or "inevitable circling into the proverbial drain of sorrow and despair that is every Dolphins season since the Clinton administration."
The Buffalo Bills are coming to town and, as young as the season is, the stakes are high. The winner of this game moves to 2-1 and stays within reach of the first-place New England Patriots and New York Jets. The loser will be at the bottom of the AFC East.
So what do the Dolphins need to do to not end up in that familiar place? Well, for one thing, they need to not suck so much. But also, they need a lot of improvement in a lot of places. The Bills have a stout defense and are coached by a maniac. But they also don't have a quarterback. But then again, the Dolphins just got beaten by Blake Bortles. Football is a twisted maze of confusion and bewilderment.
Here are four things that the Dolphins MUST do to beat Buffalo and convince everyone not to be all....
1. The Offensive Line Must Not Allow the Bills' Pass Rush to Murder Ryan Tannehill in the Face
One of the bright spots to this season has been the play of Ryan Tannehill. OK, he was a sock filled with possum turdlettes against Washington. But he's done pretty well when it comes to quarterback rating — if that's something you value (LOL). He's also been turnover-free, which is a bonus. What we're saying is he's been mostly harmless, and he's shown flashes of brilliance as long as he doesn't have to throw the ball more than 20 yards. Moreover, the offensive line has slowly been deteriorating before him like wet newspaper — and yet he's managed to survive and even thrive at times. It helps that Tannehill is athletically gifted and has some nifty footwork. He's also shown an ability to improvise while on the run, which manages to be simultaneously awesome and terrifying. But the Dolphins are facing a ferocious Bills pass rush Sunday, and that makes everyone dissolve into a puddle of urine right in our collective pants. Miami can't rush for crap and gave up a key sack to Jacksonville last week that almost ended up in a safety. In two games, Tannehill has been sacked five times, and it appears that the o-line will be without Branden Albert this week, meaning Tannehill's life is in the hands of Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas and O MY GAWD RYAN TANNEHILL IS GOING TO TOTALLY DIE. We hope the ghost of Ryan Tannehill can throw the deep ball.
2. Ndamukong Suh and the Defensive Line Must...
The strength of this team was supposed to be the defensive line. The Dolphins gave Ndamukong Suh all of the money so that the d-line could become a quarterback-devouring hydra made up of Suh, Cameron Wake, and Olivier Vernon. Instead, they've been a massive sad trombone sound. It doesn't help that Wake was dealing with hamstring issues. But the arrival of Suh meant that he would demand double-teams, freeing up Wake and Vernon to maul opposing
Following Sunday's loss to Jacksonville, a report surfaced that Suh had ignored coaches and freelanced some plays, which in turn caused some havoc on the field. Suh and the Dolphins have kind of denied the report, and Suh this week told the media that the defense's crap play has been "unacceptable." The Dolphins have a chance to get their mojo when they face Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor this week. We fully expect Taylor to throw for 400 yards and eight touchdowns.
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3. It Would Be Nice to Let DeVante Parker Play a Little IF IT'S NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE
The dynamic and talented DeVante Parker was the Dolphins' big first-round draft pick this season. And while rookie wide receivers traditionally get off to slow starts, it seems that Miami has gone out their way to avoid throwing him the ball. And that's fine when you have Jarvis Landry murdering fools out there. But Parker is the kind of talent that the Dolphins should be trying to exploit as much as possible. To be fair, Parker comes off surgery on his foot and has said it's been limiting his reps. But he also says his foot is 100 percent now, and he's been a participant in every Dolphins practice since the season started and has been on the field. Maybe it's a question of chemistry (Tannehill does love him some Landry — who doesn't?). Maybe it's a question of inexperience. Maybe it's because Tannehill is playing behind an offensive line made of peanut brittle and cobwebs. Whatever it is, the Dolphins need to find a way to get the ball to Parker. And we don't mean dumb tricky end-arounds that end up losing eight yards and blowing his knee cartilage to smithereens.
4. All We Ask for Is World Peace, the End of Poverty, and for the Dolphins' Running Game to Get Going
Man, the Dolphins' running game is trash. TRASH. Lamar Miller has appeared more like that old guy who gets a cannonball shot into his stomach than an actual NFL running back. Again, this goes back to the offensive line's woes. Miami ranks 30th in running the ball — that's an average of 58 yards a game, which has to be a mistake, because it feels like seven yards a game. That comes down to 3.4 yards per carry, which is all manner of sad. Last week against Jacksonville, the Dolphins failed to run for a single first down. Of course, it also helps if the defense doesn't start games by allowing the other team to jump to a 10-0 lead. But still, the Dolphins must figure out a way to get Miller going. And they must do it against a stout Bulls front seven. And they must do it this week, lest the season starts spiraling out of control in September. We don't know exactly how this will be accomplished. Maybe wizardry.
Sunday's game kicks off at 4:25.