3TFO: Bills @ Dolphins, Week 7
The first divisional game of 2013 for the Miami Dolphins comes right after their bye week, and it’s an opportunity to bounce back from a tough loss to the Ravens at home in Week 5. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills travel to Florida without their rookie quarterback, and Thad Lewis will be the starter again with the team looking for a win after two losses in a row.
The Dolphins were one of the dark-horses in the AFC with three wins in the first three games, but they have deflated a little since. Ryan Tannehill has looked the part but that’s not enough to make it to the playoffs. Getting the Bills right now could be a turning point to get back to the good path. Buffalo’s issues at the quarterback position are making their season more complicated, but with a roster with some young playmakers you just can’t count them out.
Clabo and Martin vs. Williams and Hughes
When the Dolphins let Jake Long walk in free agency and put Jonathan Martin in as the starting left tackle many people expected him to be the weak link of the offensive line. So far he’s been having issues in run blocking (-7.2), along with some ups and downs as pass blocker, but has still managed to have a positive grade in that area (+2.8). The liability isn’t at left tackle as expected, but at right tackle where Tyson Clabo is having a rough season, to say the least. Among the worst OTs in pass blocking, he has given up 23 total pressures — 12 of them in the past two games, grading out at -5.8. After years of ranking in the Top 15, things will have to change a lot if he doesn’t want to end up in the other end of the rankings this year.
In front of the the Dolphins’ O-line will be two Top 10 3-4 outside linebackers in Pass Rush Productivity — Jerry Hughes, third at 14.3, and Mario Williams, ninth at 11.6. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bills use them, as they have moved around and rushed the passer from both sides of the line. Considering how Clabo and Martin are playing it should be expected to get more favorable matchups in the left side of the defense, where Williams has been more successful recording six sacks, two hits and 14 hurries in 138 snaps. On the other side, Hughes will provide a good challenge to Martin as he’s coming from his best games, grading at +3.3 in pass rush in the past two games.
Thaddeus Lewis vs. Dolphins Secondary
In his first game as a starter this season, Thaddeus Lewis came close to getting a win after forcing overtime with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter — but the Bills couldn’t get anything going in his only possession in extra time and the Bengals scored the winning field goal. Lewis was at his best when blitzed. It happened only five times, but he completed three passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. In the first one, on 4th-and-8, he read perfectly the zone-blitz and found Scott Chandler wide open in the middle of the field, and then, with 1:13 to go, Lewis went deep to Marquise Goodwin who had beaten Terence Newman outside.
Besides his success against the blitz, Lewis threw over 70% of his passes under 10 yards in the air, completing 15 of 22 for 82 yards. However, he graded better when going deep, +3.2 to -1.4, as Lewis made his best plays when throwing for over 10 yards. It’s just one game but Lewis and the Bills put a lot of things on film, even some read-options plays. With the Dolphins coming off their bye week they should be ready for the newest Buffalo quarterback.
This Sunday the Dolphins could get Dimitri Patterson back who’s being injured since Week 1. In the 44 snaps he played against Cleveland he was targeted five times, allowed two completions for 16 yards, intercepted two passes and defended the other — an impressive debut that could resume this week if healthy. Brent Grimes has the best grade in pass coverage of the team (+4.0) but in the past two games he has allowed 8 completions on 10 targets into his coverage, far from the 52.6% completion rate he allowed in the first three. Grimes is tied for third in passes defensed among cornerbacks, with seven. From the safety position, Chris Clemons is one of the least targeted safeties in the league — once every 26.6 snap in coverage — and has allowed the fourth-fewest Yards Per Coverage Snap at 0.26. Clemons plays deep about 80% of the time while Reshad Jones takes the strong safety role. Jones has allowed 78.9% completion and 230 in 19 targets, fifth-highest in Yards Per Cover Snap among safeties.
Dolphins Wide Receivers vs. Bills Cornerbacks
Ryan Tannehill is the fifth-most victimized QB when it comes to drops with 17, which represents 8.1% of his attempts. He also ranks second in yards in the air on those dropped passes, at 185, and sixth in percentage of passing yards coming before the catch. In this situation it’s safe to say that Tannehill could use some help from his receivers — starting with Mike Wallace, who is failing to make the impact the front office wanted. He ranks second in Drop Rate among wide receivers after dropping 6 passes in 28 catchable throws, and 42nd in Yards Per Route Run with 1.39. The other free agent signed this offseason is performing better in a different role. Brandon Gibson has run 96.4% of his routes from slot, a league-high, catching 24 of 33 targets for 282 yards. He has two drops too but ranks among the best receivers in the slot this season.
The Bills got arguably their best corner, sophomore Stephon Gilmore, back last week after missing the previous five games with an injury. He’ll be monitored so it’s unclear how much playing time he’ll get. Against Cincinnati, Gilmore allowed three completions for 78 yards so we’ll probably have to wait a little more to see the best of him. Let’s focus on Leodis McKelvin who has the highest pass coverage grade in the Bills’ secondary. He comes from his worst game of the season after surrendering two touchdowns against the Bengals, but also limited A.J. Green to four catches on eight targets for 41 yards. In the slot, Nickell Roby performing at a great level. He has allowed the second-fewest Yards Per Cover Snap (0.58) and the second-fewest total yards (77) when targeted in the slot.
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