ReFo: Dolphins @ Bills, Week 16
A long time ago, before I realized I was a Dan Marino fan, not a Dolphins fan, games like this seemed to be a staple of my life. Just as you believed you were getting somewhere as a team, the Bills appeared as “dead meat” on the horizon and then proceeded to take the food off your kids’ table. I wondered if this time Miami could overcome their most hated of rivals and change what appears to be an deeply embedded trend but not only was it not to be, Buffalo destroyed them in just about every facet of play.
However, much as they shouldn’t be, the Dolphins are still in control of their destiny. All they have to do is beat the Jets at home. That other nemesis that just keeps on deciding to play when it least suits the Dolphins.
Miami – Three Performances of Note
As a rookie free agent you don’t draw much tougher assignments than Kyle Williams. That’s what left guard, Sam Brenner (-4.8) had to contend with in this game so after 20 plays, a hit and two hurries allowed, a penalty given up and some poor work in the run game maybe a benching was to be expected. Nate Garner (-0.2) came in and although his play run blocking wasn’t substantially better, at least his work in pass protection was good, not allowing any pressure at all.
Although I knew the Dolphins had paid too much for Dannell Ellerbe (-5.5), he showed a nose for the ball that suggested significant upside. After he became a full-time starter for Baltimore in 2012 (Week 7) he had played very well but, unfortunately, one half season does not a career make.
This year, he started slowly (which was possibly to be expected) but then began to find his feet. It looked as if Jeff Ireland might have a decent, if over-priced, find. However, since Week 10, it’s been all downhill and at an alarming rate. His last seven games have brought a -19.6 grade with this game his worst of the year.
He did nothing particularly well; his six tackles were all uncontested and he didn’t once get the better of a blocker to any benefit. In addition, his work covering Scott Chandler was poor and the way he got into no-man’s land with 1:59 left in the third quarter a vignette of his work in coverage all year.
Looking For a Light
If there was anything here at all for Miami fans it was once more the play of Brent Grimes (+1.1). He was one of only four Dolphins grading green (with no one better than +1.8) and at least did his job. Of 29 snaps in coverage he was targeted six times and allowed three catches for only 17 yards.
Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
Nickell by Name
Nickell Robey (+4.8) the undrafted free agent out of USC has been having himself something of a season for the Bills. Quarterback’s throwing at him are netting only a 71.5 rating and he didn’t give up anything in this game. However, more remarkable here were his pass rushing stats from the slot. On six blitzes he registered two sacks and three hurries.
Kraig Urbik (+6.1) is perhaps the best guard no one’s ever heard of. Every year he’s played he’s graded green and, while he has had a few bad games, he generally plays well without too much commotion. Well maybe this was his coming out party. A perfect game in pass protection, good screen blocking and high quality work in the running game at both the point of attack and second level all combined to make for the best game of his career.
The sack and four additional hurries may sound decent enough reward but Mario Williams (-3.2) had a very anonymous day. Three of those four hurries were of the zero-graded, pursuit variety and only once did he come close to beating someone; on one occasion pushing Tyson Clabo back into the throwing lane of Ryan Tannehill. Even his sack was the result of Kyle Williams flushing the quarterback into him. Add to this not a single play in the running game and it makes for one very lackluster game.
– Ryan Tannehill was pressured on 50% of his 34 drop-backs and he only completed one of his 10 passes over 10 yards.
– The Dolphins never had a run of over 3 yards all game.
– Elvis Dumervil continues to lead all 3-4 OLBS in Pass Rushing Productivity but the margin between him and second place Jerry Hughes is a now mere 0.1 after Hughes’s sack, hit and three hurries in this game.
PFF Game Ball
While the defense set the tone, you still need to get yards and scores on offense and no one did this more effectively than Fred Jackson.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil