MIA-BUF Grades: Bills back on track with Taylor’s return

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Bills’ 33-17 victory over the Dolphins.

| 2 years ago
Tyrod Taylor

(AP Photo/David Richard)

MIA-BUF Grades: Bills back on track with Taylor’s return

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Buffalo Bills’ 33-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Miami Dolphins

– The Dolphins have two of the league’s most explosive offensive playmakers in Lamar Miller (+1.7) and Jarvis Landry (+4.1). They both played well against the Bills, especially in the passing game. Miller was particularly effective on screens, as the Dolphins generated a few big plays with misdirection. Overall he caught all seven targets for 97 yards. On the outside, Landry caught 11-of-13 targets for 69 yards and broke a tackle, although he had a drop. He also recorded a +1.4 rushing grade, and added another broken tackle, as he was able to get to the edge on a couple of end-arounds. As a whole, the Dolphins offense functioned fairly efficiently against the Bills—it was their defense that let them down.

– The young Dolphins’ interior offensive line showed some skill against the Bills, as Dallas Thomas (+3.7) and Billy Turner (+2.7) recorded the best performances of their careers. However, the loss of Ja’Wuan James to injury has exposed them at right tackle. Jason Fox (-6.6) was an absolute disaster against the Bills and Jerry Hughes. He was called for a pair of holding penalties when he was beaten in pass protection, and gave up a sack-forced fumble to go with two hurries. He already ranks in the bottom 10 in pass protection amongst tackles, despite taking just 220 pass blocking snaps. With Branden Albert (-5.3) not performing as well as he has in the past, the Dolphins look vulnerable on the edge at the moment.

– Ndamukong Suh (-0.3) had a mixed game against Buffalo. It looked like the Bills tried to nullify him in the run game by using his aggression against him. Suh was held without a stop or even tackle against the run, as he was frequently lured too far upfield on traps and draws. That culminated in a -1.9 run defense grade, his worst of the season in that facet of play. Despite a quiet game against the run, Suh was his usual disruptive self as a pass rusher. He recorded a sack and hurry in just 21 rushes, and his QB takedown was quite the play, as he exploded into the backfield and gave Tyrod Taylor no chance to escape. The Dolphins will hope for more complete performances from Suh in the future, but pass rushers earn the big dollars, which is why the former Lion was such a valuable commodity in free agency.

Top Performers:

WR Jarvis Landry (+4.1)
LG Dallas Thomas (+3.7)
RG Billy Turner (+2.7)
QB Ryan Tannehill (+2.3)
HB Lamar Miller (+1.7)
C Mike Pouncey (+1.7)


Buffalo Bills

– The return of Tyrod Taylor (+4.4) injected some life back into the Bills offense. He recorded his best grade of the season, and easily his best passing grade. The Bills are likely to win any game in which he passes only 12 times, especially when he completes 11 of them for 181 yards and a score. It wasn’t all dink-and-dunk, either, as Taylor capitalized on a couple of opportunities to Sammy Watkins down the field for two big plays. Taylor has completed 12 of 25 attempts downfield (20+ yards) for six touchdowns and two interceptions this season, numbers which place him amongst the league’s best. His running ability is an added bonus. Taylor was perhaps a little eager to take off on occasion, but he has the elusiveness to make it work, picking up 44 yards on 10 rushes with 43 yards after contact. Almost any quarterback would be an upgrade over E.J. Manuel, but Taylor is now hovering just outside our top 10 at the position this season.

– The left side of the Bills’ line, including C Eric Wood (+1.2), has combined for just four negatively graded games all year. The combination of Cordy Glenn (+4.0) and Richie Incognito (+3.4) is downright nasty. Glenn is our fifth-ranked tackle, Incognito is our second-ranked guard, and Wood is our fifth-ranked center. They played almost perfect games against the Dolphins, recording perfect games in pass protection and a combined +8.4 grade in the ground game. There will be more difficult tests than the Dolphins, but this was quite a performance by the trio of veterans.

– As promising as the performance of the offensive line might be, the linebackers are a huge concern. Over the season, Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, and Manny Lawson have a combined -35.1 grade. Bradham is ranked 33rd of 34 qualifying 4-3 OLBs, while Brown is 51st of 55 amongst ILBs. Both played poorly against Miami. Brown (-3.9) struggled in coverage, allowing all five targets to be complete for 65 yards. He struggled against the aforementioned screens, in particular, and finished with three missed tackles. Bradham (-2.6) had a tough time in run defense, especially, often finding himself sealed by offensive lineman at the second level.

Top Performers:

QB Tyrod Taylor (+4.4)
LT Cordy Glenn (+4.0)
WR Sammy Watkins (+3.9)
LG Richie Incognito (+3.4)
DE Jerry Hughes (+2.5)
SCB Nickell Robey (+2.5)

| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • Bond, David Bond

    Bench Tannehill stupid! He is the problem. Will he be allowed to muckup a 4th season!

    • Jack

      Did you even watch a game this season? It has clearly not been Tannehill’s fault. If you want to blame someone then blame Jason Fox, Kelvin Sheppard, Jamar Taylor, Brice Mccain, or Walt Aikens.

    • McGeorge

      As a Jets fan, for Tannehill I’ll trade you all of:

      1st round pick plus

      Quenten Coples (1st round pick) plus

      Geno Smith (2nd round pick) plus

      Antonio Cromartie plus

      a ham sandwhich

      • Bond, David Bond

        I will give you tannehill free; but if you will give me all of those players , i will take them. I predicted that if tannehill started this season that we would be 5-11 or 6-10 at the end of the season. If Matt Moore or Logan Thomas does not start next week onward; once again i will be correct.

        • Tim Edell

          Please sir do not bring up Logan Thomas. He was a bad college QB, a bad 4th round reach, and even lost a starting job in practice last year.

        • Jason V

          If you think Moore or Thomas are the answer this season then you are sorely mistaken. Tannehill may not be the best, but he’s far from the worst. He’s not the reason we are losing this year. However, I do say we need to draft a young QB next year and try to replace him. Thankfully with a new regime coming in, we won’t have the loyalty to him. That said, his new contract means he’ll probably be the starter next year, but after next year we have an out where we can get out from under that contract.

        • McGeorge

          Tannehill may be just average, but a young just average is not so easy to get at QB. The Jets have watsed a #1 (Mark Sanchez) and a #2 (Geno Smith) and 6 years. I’m fine with “paying up” by giving up a mid #1 for an average QB.

      • Bassyman

        Make it a turkey sandwich and we have deal !!

    • Brute Force Games

      Tannehill is definitely not your problem. He’s not a top 10 QB, obviously, but he’s definitely not holding you back. What is holding you back, then? Right this second it’s the fact that you fired your coach.

      I’m not saying Philbin was doing a good job. He wasn’t. I’m saying the Dolphins need to find HC they are comfortable sticking with for a long haul. That means 5+ years or more. That means enduring losing seasons. Continuity is so incredibly undervalued in the league- especially among perennially bad teams.

      Case in point: The Patriots. Tom Brady isn’t the only reason the Patriots are in a class of their own. I don’t even think he’s the primary reason. Nor is it specifically Bill Belichick. The reason the Pats are amazing is because of *everything*. Go and find any documentary that gives you a behind the scenes glance at how they operate. It’s really interesting to watch (even if you’re a Bills fan, like myself)- they are so insanely systematic. BB has had over a decade to refine (and refine and refine and refine) his process, season after season, and it’s the sum of those refinements that have made them who they are today. From rookie camp all the way to the end of training camp, from how they handle short weeks to how they handle the bye, their process is, by now, entirely systematic and expected.

      How do we scout our next opponent? How much rest do we give our players? When do we install wrinkles to our blocking schemes? When do we introduce player X and throw our upcoming defensive coordinators off our trail. What information do we expect from our opponent scouts? How is that information presented to us? How do we integrate that information into our weekly preparation? How much new information can we expect our players to reliably absorb? What’s the best way to maximize that? On and on and on.

      The problem with newer coaches and their staffs is that they have make a lot of this stuff up as they go or rely on the disjointed and varied experiences of their staff experiences to come up with a plan. They have no consistent empirical data to drive their decisions as to how they should run their operation top to bottom. What’s the result? Inconsistency. It’s dominating one week, and then crapping the bed for the next two weeks and having virtually zero idea why.

      NFL owners, staffs, and fans need to learn the critical importance of iteration. If you roll 1000 dice at once you’re virtually never going to get all 6’s. Do how do you get to 1000 6’s? By rerolling over and over and over? Or do you do it by systematically turning one dice to a 6 at a time?

      That’s the problem with the Dolphins. But don’t take it too badly, because that’s the problem with virtually every other team as well. This offseason find a coach that you don’t hate and from then on the best help you can offer as a fan is to argue against and and all fans who suggest that it’s time for a clean sweep.

      • McGeorge

        As good as Brady is, Belichick is what makes the difference.
        Brady on another above average team still has a super bowl ring, but not 4.
        Belichick with an OK QB will still have at least 1 ring.
        Look what he got out of Matt Cassel.
        Give him an upgrade and he would still be a threat to contend for the super bowl.

        Give Belichick Peyton Manning and he’d have quite a few rings.

  • Jack

    WOW! We actually had good guard play this game. This is surprising since Buffalo has a really good defensive line.

  • Thomas W

    Taylor and Incognito are among the year’s best FA signings. Darby and K.Williams are among the best value draft picks. If only the Bills would forego splashy moves.