Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- Jaylen Waddle cleared the concussion protocol and was removed from the team’s injury report.
- River Cracraft and Erik Ezukanma did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, likely leaving the bulk of the WR3 role to Braxton Berrios.
- These two defenses have combined to allow just five total touchdowns through the air through three weeks of play, well below the league average.
- The Bills run the bulk of their defensive snaps from nickel, split between Cover-2 and Cover-3 alignments, while the Dolphins new defensive coordinator effectively set the league on its current trajectory of two-high base alignments (Vic Fangio). Both of those schemes force opponents to march the field through efficiency while aiming to take away splash plays.
How Miami will try to Win ::
By going for the jugular, that’s how. The Dolphins rank 12th in second per play (27.7) and, discounting their extreme run-heavy ways in their Week 3 dismantling of the Broncos, operate via a highly concentrated, pass-balanced offense. Tyreek Hill leads the league in targets per route run at a ridiculous 40.7 percent and ranks second in team target market share. He also leads the league in red zone targets, deep targets, air yards, and air yards share. The new piece of the puzzle this year is defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who is largely responsible for the near league-wide shift to a two-high base defense. His 3-4, 4-3 under hybrid front asks a lot of the linebackers because they are typically employed closer to the line of scrimmage than in other defensive schemes around the league. It requires them to be athletic, instinctive, and capable in coverage through the passing game. When you look at this defense on paper, the injury to Jaelan Phillips and the inconsistent play of Jerome Baker have been the weakest links in this defensive chain. The Dolphins have also, almost inexplicably for a two-high base, allowed their opposition to average a 9.1 aDOT against them, which ranks seventh deepest in the league. Yeah, sorry for taking so much time on this defense, but the offense more or less remains static from last year until now, meaning more insight can likely be gained by looking at how the changes on defense influence their game plan. As for the offense, we know head coach Mike McDaniel hails from the Gary Kubiak and Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. He has taken those layered route concepts and outside zone run scheme principles and tweaked things ever so slightly to create an offense the league quite simply has not seen before.
One of those offensive tweaks is the inclusion of inside zone run concepts in conjunction with the standard Shanahan outside zone concepts. We’ve seen that misdirection spring three touchdowns already this season, one by Raheem Mostert in Week 2, one by Mostert in Week 3, and one by De’Von Achane (de Vaughn Ay-chan, apparently) in Week 3. Now teams have to have the idea in the back of their minds that this team could throw zone gap run-blocking principles over the guard and between the tackles in addition to off-tackle work, which is #notfair. Oh, I guess this is a good time to mention that this team has accounted for all six of the top speeds in the NFL this year – two by Tyreek Hill, two by Mostert, and two by Achane. Oh, and Jaylen Waddle is no slouch in the speed department. That puts egregious amounts of strain on an opposing defense, and when you think you have the edge, they just run off guard with a pulling opposite guard. It’s silly the things this man has drawn up. By DVOA, the Bills are no slouches against the run, but they are currently allowing a robust 5.9 yards per carry to opposing backs this season and are no longer stout in the linebacking corps as they have been in seasons past.
The passing game is Tyreek Hill, a fairly large gap, Jaylen Waddle, an even bigger gap, the running backs, a massive gap, and then everyone else. The “everyone else” is likely to include tight end Durham Smythe and wide receiver Braxton Berrios this week with River Cracraft and Erik Ezukanma appearing unlikely to play (both missed practice Wednesday and Thursday). As was covered above, Tyreek Hill leads the league in numerous pass-catching categories through three weeks and is currently on pace to best Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving record of 1,964 yards (to be fair, Hill is one of three players currently on pace to eclipse Megatron this year, joined by Justin Jefferson and Keenan Allen). But yeah, historic-level alpha stuff going on in Miami. The Bills have held opponents to just 4.9 net yards pre-pass attempt this season, sixth best in the league, introducing a strength-on-strength matchup for us in Week 4.