The Miami Dolphins (0-5) are rolling with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday in Buffalo after he nearly lead a full comeback last week against the Washington Redskins. The Dolphins awarded the Redskins their first win of the season, 17-16, after a failed two-point conversion for the lead with :06 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The game wasn’t anywhere near competitive until the arrival of Fitzpatrick toward the end of the third quarter, and now, head coach Brian Flores believes he will give them the best chance to win against the 4-1 Buffalo Bills. This decision also comes one week after Flores named Josh Rosen the starting QB for the rest of the season; a choice that quickly turned within one week.
“I’m excited. I told you guys earlier, I just enjoy playing football. I like being out there. It’s a lot more fun for me – whether it’s throughout the week or on Sunday in the game – to be out there and to be playing,” Fitzpatrick said postgame. “Preparation is a lot more fun when you’re the guy. I’ll be a lot happier day-to-day knowing that I’ll be out there and I’ll just try to go out there and be myself.”
For the Dolphins to try and go out and secure a victory against the Bills, Fitzpatrick will have to perform like he did when he came in the fourth quarter against the Redskins. His 12-for-18 passing, 132 yards and one TD to wideout DeVante Parker, was good enough through one quarter to bring Miami all the way back. He would have had a chance to win it in overtime, but Flores elected to go for the win with his club, a move Fitzpatrick supported.
“I felt like giving arguably our best guy the ball and giving him a chance to win it for us, those are the types of situations that I think everybody on the team wants to be in. Kenyan (Drake) is one of our best playmakers,” Fitzpatrick said postgame.
However, switching back and forth between QBs makes it hard for a successful scheme to develop for the Dolphins week after week. It makes the road to the team’s first victory, and those thereafter, that much harder.
Shaky rushing game heading to Buffalo
Miami goes into Sunday’s contest ranking dead last overall in total offense with the rushing attack ranked 31st and the passing attack ranked 32nd. With the news resurfacing again that the team is still shopping running back Kenyan Drake, the running game could take a significant blow.
It may not be evident tomorrow, as the Dolphins have struggled running the ball all season, but it is clear that Miami is trying new tactics with its run game. It showed third-string RB Mark Walton moving up into the back-up role and splitting time with Drake just last week.
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With Drake possibly on the move, be on the lookout for Walton to split time again, with the possibility of getting the most carries on the team.
Dolphins defense improving week-by-week, but not on paper
Miami’s defense isn’t much better as it ranks near the bottom on total defense. For the Bills, they’ll look to attack early and often, and then let their defense do the rest. Buffalo’s rushing attack ranks sixth in the league with an average of 139.6 yards per game with Frank Gore, who also played for the Dolphins just last season.
Miami gets another blow in the run game, as rookie RB Devin Singletary will play after missing three games with a pulled hamstring. Singletary has 127 yards on the ground on 10 carries this season, with 70 yards against the Jets in week one and 57 yards and a TD against the Giants in week two before exiting.
Buffalo’s defense and QB Josh Allen
The toughest part of the game for the Dolphins will be able to move the ball against the Bills who rank 3rd in total defense. The Bills give up an average of just 275 yards per game. The passing game of Miami, that has struggled all season long, will have to figure out a way to get rolling through the air against a Buffalo team who gives up 187 yards on average.
Bills QB Josh Allen hasn’t exactly played well this season, but with a young Miami secondary, Allen should be able to have a better attack game through the air.
“He’s definitely standing in the pocket, reading the defense, going through his progression and he’s got a big strong arm and he’s making some really good throws. That’s – I would say – more so than he did a year ago,” Flores said. “He would kind of take off and run when he had maybe a little bit more time, and now he’s sitting in the pocket and making those tough throws. He’s still a major threat running the football. That’s something that any team that plays against him has to kind of deal with. I think he’s a good quarterback.”
Miami faces Buffalo at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the Dolphins’ second division matchup of the season.