Week two of the NFL season for the Miami Dolphins led to another tough loss to a division rival in the Buffalo Bills. But what was most surprising was Miami’s ability to hang in the game and keep it a one-possession thriller against a predictably strong playoff contender.
The Dolphins put up 28 points against one of the better defenses in the NFL, but on the other side of the ball, did not do much to stop Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
Let’s face it, he had an aerial assault on the Miami secondary.
Josh Allen Combines With Stefon Diggs for Big Days
Buffalo had a great two-man game going between Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, finishing with eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Byron Jones Leaves With Knee Injury
This was due in part to new key addition to the defense, cornerback Byron Jones (knee), leaving the game after playing just four snaps with a groin injury. ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe reported earlier today that Jones is expected to miss a few weeks with the injury.
With no Jones in the secondary Allen and the Buffalo receivers had an easy time completing passes to eight different receivers. Three of them even recorded more than 50 yards on the day. They took turns abusing rookie CB Noah Igbinoghene and CBs Jamal Perry and Nik Needham who rotated in and out of the game to help in coverage.
“We have a next-man-up mentality. You know, during this time, COVID, there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Dolphins CB Xavien Howard said about the impact of Jones leaving Sunday. “You never know who will be playing, who won’t be playing. We go with the next-man-up mentality and we just got to keep going.”
Igbinoghene, Perry, Needham: Rotate in Jones Absence
Igbinoghene, Perry and Needham saw many more snaps as a result of Jones going down. Needham took advantage of the opportunity and led the Dolphins in total tackles with 12, but regardless of who was lining up on the defensive side of the ball, nobody had an answer for slowing down Allen. The confusion in the rotating secondary allowed Allen to record his first 400-yard passing day of his career.
“Yeah, we struggled to cover them. Look, they’ve got good receivers, they got open. They had time to — they had time to throw it,” Miami head coach Brian Flores said. “We didn’t get enough pressure on the quarterback. I don’t want to put it all on the coverage guys (though).”
Fitzpatrick Posts 300-Yard Game in Loss
Thankfully for Flores and the Dolphins, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick thoroughly improved from the season opener to Sunday. He completed 31 passes for 328 yards while tossing two TDs and zero interceptions.
Gesicki: Miami’s Receiving Leader
Fitzpatrick was spreading the love on offense, hitting nine different receivers, most notably tight end Mike Gesicki. Miami also matched Buffalo’s three WRs of more than 50 yards with three of their own, led by its TE. Gesicki finished with 130 yards on eight catches (11 targets) and a TD, while WR Isaiah Ford (76) and Mr. Game-time decision WR DeVante Parker (55) each eclipsed the mark.
“I think a lot of it for him has been confidence. It’s been going out there and working hard in practice and seeing results in the games,” Fitzpatrick said of Gesicki. I think all you guys saw that the last half of last year with how much better and more confident he was playing. But this year, he has taken another step and you know, he came out of that first game and I thought, I needed to get him some more targets.”
Offense Beginning to Pick Up Speed
Miami’s offense as a whole looked a lot better on Sunday, even after a lightning delay.
“We got into a better rhythm in the second half, and I think some of that was some of the adjustments that we made and some of it is just comfort level with the guys that we’re playing with right now,” Fitzpatrick said.
Jacksonville on Tap for Thursday Night Football
After tough losses in the first two weeks against division rivals New England and Buffalo, Miami will be looking to bounce back in a short week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars have surprised most people by taking down the Indianapolis Colts in week one and fighting with the Tennessee Titans down to the final two minutes only to lose by a field goal in week two.
Week three will be anything but easy against a hard-nosed Jaguars team and the Dolphins need a win in the short week to keep pace with their division opponents. While Jacksonville is easily Miami’s easiest opponent in the next stretch of its schedule with teams like Seattle and San Francisco on the horizon, the Dolphins cannot play defense the way they did in the first two weeks if they want any type of chance to walk away from a Florida rival with a win.
Editor’s Note: Jamal Perry does not have a player profile on profootballreference.com, the site FPC Dolphins uses to highlight players.