Dicing the Division: How Miami Matches Up Against the Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills could be the most improved team in the AFC East, with Rex Ryan brought in to take the team’s defensive unit from good to great. The team was also able to add some pieces on offense, including ex-Miami Dolphin Charles Clay.
Football is a game of matchups. It’s often as simple as being able to beat the man across from you. That being said, I find it useful to break down each positional unit and see how Miami stacks up against the competition heading into each game. This is the first edition of Dicing the Division, which will examine how Miami matches up with each team in the AFC East in terms of personnel. First up, the Bills.
Miami Pass Catchers vs. Buffalo Defensive Backs:
The Bills’ defensive backs are a group that Miami should be able to take advantage of, not because of a lack of talented starters, but due to a general lack of depth. Miami has plenty of pass catchers to rotate in, with Stills, Landry, Jennings, Parker, Matthews, Sims, and Cameron. That means that the goal will be to test the depth of Buffalo’s secondary, with many inexperienced players or aging vets.
DeVante Parker VS. Stephon Gilmore:
Stephon Gilmore will give Miami trouble. He is one of the league’s young, blossoming cornerbacks. He has the ability to keep up with most receivers down the field, and tenaciously attacks the football. One of the more interesting one-on-one battles will when Miami squares of with Buffalo will be Gilmore and DeVante Parker. The two both have a physical style of play, and it will make for an entertaining matchup.
Robey should be targeting plenty when Miami plays Buffalo, as Landry will look to attack the young cornerback using his route running ability, and will attempt to wear him down with pure will power. Robey has struggled in his career against stronger receivers, and while Landry does not possess elite size, he is deceptively powerful, and can edge out defensive backs to make plays on the ball.
Miami Pass Defense vs. Buffalo Pass Catchers:
Safeties and Linebackers VS. Charles Clay:
The Miami Dolphins’ secondary and linebacker ground will have their hands full, as Charles Clay will be featured heavily in Buffalo’s passing offense. When the QB is bad, look for the tight end to become a security blanket. It will be important for Kevin Coyle to get creative when deciding how to stop Charles Clay on third downs, and up the seam.
Miami’s Linebackers VS. Lesean McCoy Out of the Backfield:
I foresee this sinking Miami in one of their games against Buffalo. McCoy is incredibly shifty, and will give Miami’s unproven linebackers fits. He could very well rip up the team on the ground and through the air. McCoy will have plenty of screens and check downs when the Bills play against Miami, so it will be crucial for the team to stop him from producing through the air as well as on the ground.
Brent Grimes VS. Sammy Watkins:
This will be fun- a young gun receiver against a savvy veteran, both with immense athletic ability. Last season, Miami lost the battle with Watkins in the first game, giving up over 100 yards to the rookie in his second start. By week 11, the magic faded, and Grimes was able to hold him down for 3 receptions, and less than 40 yards. I think that this matchup will be very enticing this season, and it will be pivotal in deciding who takes home the win when these two teams meet.
Miami OL vs. Buffalo DL:
LOLOLOLOLOL. Yeah, this one will be ugly. Not even worth breaking down personnel. But I’ll do it anyway. Because I’m just that nice of a guy.
Ja’Wuan James VS. Mario Williams:
James will have quite a test facing Williams twice a year. As a rookie, injuries forced James out of position, so we really didn’t see a full season of matchups between he and Williams. Expect him to hold his own occasionally, but he will get beat. Badly. Multiple times. Mario Williams has haunted Ryan Tannehill’s nightmares up to this point in his career, and I don’t expect that to end in 2015.
Mike Pouncey VS. Marcell Dareus:
This one will actually be good. Really good. Dareus and Pouncey are two of the best at their relative positions, so it will be fun to see them fight it out in the trenches. Marcell Dareus is very dangerous on a bull rush, but Mike Pouncey is one of the NFL’s few centers with the ability to stand him up at the line of scrimmage. If you like tough, hard-nosed football, keep your eyes on this matchup when Miami and Buffalo square off.
Miami will be getting wrecked by Buffalo’s defensive line as a whole, but not specifically by these tackles. Rex Ryan is smart enough to know that he can rush Kyle Williams inside to wreak havoc in the Dolphins’ backfield. Miami will struggle mightily in these games not only with Kyle Williams, but also with the threat of a Mario Williams inside move. If Buffalo starts sending linebackers and defensive ends inside on top of Kyle Williams, they will be able to overwhelm Miami,and create huge problems for the Dolphins’ offense.
Miami Defensive Line vs. Buffalo Offensive Line
Olivier Vernon VS. Cordy Glenn*
*this could end up being Seantrel Henderson or Cyrus Kouandijo
Regardless of which lineman is starting against Olivier Vernon, this is all Vernon, all day. I believe that Vernon is one of the more underrated pieces of Miami’s defense heading into 2015, and this will be a matchup Miami will have to exploit to slow down Buffalo’s running game. No, I am not worried about slowing down the passing game. EJ Manuel will do that for us.
Olivier Vernon should theoretically win this matchup in both games. Buffalo has to double team either Suh or Wake. If they decide to double-team Vernon, even better. I expect for Olivier Vernon to produce for the defense in this game because Buffalo’s left tackle candidates will not be bale to block him one–on-one. This will be a hugely important matchup for Miami to exploit if they want to generate pressure on Buffalo’s quarterback, or be able to stop Lesean McCoy from gashing the defense for big gains once he reaches the second level.
Cameron Wake VS. Seantrel Henderson:
Seantrel Henderson actually had surprisingly impressive moments as a rookie, and managed to hold his own against Wake at times. The key phrase there is “at times”. Hence, italicizing it. If Miami wants to consistently hold Lesean McCoy on third downs and out of the backfield, Wake will have to lock down his side of the field, and be disruptive. Also as a note, if Rex Ryan tries to get cute and block Wake with Charles Clay, it will end very badly for Buffalo. And there will likely be a GIF of it. And I will treasure it.
Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell, & Jordan Phillips VS. Buffalo Interior Line:
Outside of Eric Woods, Buffalo’s interior line is very similar to Miami’s, with unproven players who are looking to jump from a backup role to that of a starter. Except for the one Incognito guy. He can be nasty.
Miami should be able to exploit Buffalo’s guards, which will help the team slow down what is projected to be a very potent Bills running game. Also, Ndamukong Suh going up against Richie Incognito. Does it get better? Really, I want to know because I don’t think it does. If those two get into any sort of confrontation, I recommend the stadium be evacuated and we all retreat to Canada.
Miami and Buffalo are actually somewhat similar teams in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Realistically, this matchup could feature two of the top 5 defensive lines in the NFL. In terms of the secondary, Brent Grimes will have his hands full with Sammy Watkins, as will Stephon Gilmore with another young wide receiver whose name rhymes with Lavonte Barker. Miami has an edge over the Bills in terms of offensive tackles, but Buffalo probably has better guards. Overall, these matchups would indicate that these would be two closely contested, and incredibly pivotal games. If Miami wants to make it to the playoffs in 2015, they will have to find a way to consistently challenge the Bills, and win some of the matchups highlighted in this article.