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.
– 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.
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)
– 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.
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)