Behind Enemy Lines: Week 8 Dolphins @ Bills

Welcome to the next instalment of our 2021 series, Behind Enemy Lines: Buffalo Bills Edition.

I’ve been talking to fans from all the teams we’ve faced over this season, and there seems to be a theme, all of them, just like we did, expected more from the Miami Dolphins this season. It has been bleak for us, and it has caused rifts and sides to form within our own fanbase, leading to last weeks article where I asked if we were in fact our own worst enemies. The last two weeks have been winnable, yet we didn’t get it done on either occasion and now we go into our second Buffalo game and the task seems impossible.

The last time I spoke to a Bills fan, we were 1-0 while they were 0-1. Now we sit here 1-6 while they are 4-2, and rested after their bye week. You can probably tell by now that I feel rather pessimistic about this weeks match up. Yet I still pushed on with this series and spoke with Greg Tompsett (@GregTompsett) of the Cover 1 Buffalo podcast (@Cover1) to get the Buffalo perspective on this weekend…

Afternoon Greg, appreciate your time mate. This is absolutely a licking our wounds edition for me. Last time I spoke to a Buffalo fan, we were had won our first game and you had lost, and I sat here confident of improvement and of victory. Obviously things didnt go down that way, so consider me well and truly humbled. But enough about me, introduce yourself to the fanbase, and tell us how you became a fan of the Bills.

Afternoon JMR, for those who don’t follow me, I’m Greg and I’m a life long Bills fan, born & raised in Western New York. I’ve moved all around the country since college, but have followed the Bills every step of the way. I’m now the host of the Cover 1 Buffalo Podcast and delighted with how our franchise looks after years of struggles.

Well you are certainly not struggling any more! At 4-2 you are looking dominant with our division and a very solid contender for a deep playoff run. Many people expected this outcome but were you expecting it to be quite this straight forward?

Yeah, I think 4-2 at the bye is pretty close to what I expected, although with a couple of surprising results thrown in. I probably didn’t expect a win in Kansas City against Andy Reid‘s Chief’s nor would I have expected to lose vs. Mike Tomlin‘s Steelers. I knew this was a talented team coming into the year, and I knew we had the talent to beat people, so some of the dominant performances have been nice, but not shocking.

Dominant isnt the word. You have completely blown out and annihilated two teams, including ourselves. You have well beaten the Chiefs and Washington and ran the Titans real close too, you look like youre approaching that peak opportunity right now. Would you say you have been more ruthless this year within the way you have dominated games?

I don’t know about ruthless but I definitely like to see that the team doesn’t take their foot off the gas. Whether that’s not letting up and piling on a ton of 2nd half points in blowouts vs. yourselves, Washington & the Texans, or if it’s going for it on 4th & inches on the 2 with 13 seconds left against the Titans when only down 3 points. I like that aggression and it’s a mentality that is becoming the backbone of our season.

Mate, dont bring up fourth and inches, PLEASE. That fourth and inches play in London haunts me to this day having seen the non conversion live and in person against the Jags, what a kick in the guts. So yeah, less said about that the better. But you guys seem like a serious contender this year. Do you guys within the fanbase feel that too or is their more caution? Does it feel like youre a better team and what would you say the biggest difference is?

Well yeah, it’s exciting, I mean, t’s obviously a foreign feeling after SO many years of mediocrity, but this has been a steady build over the past 3-4 years that we are now seeing the rewards from. Getting to this point now is obviously awesome, but the entire journey has been great… now they need to finish.

Oh stop! Its like you are trying to find ways that you guys one-upped us! Your build has been going on 3 or 4 years, while ours is still in its infancy. Your build is looking like it is working, whereas our rebuild seems to cause more stress than enjoyment. One of those stressed is the Buffalo Bills who have had our number for a while now. McDermott seems to know how to beat us, and how to do it well. What do you think that comes down to? What has made you so dominant in these match ups.

Seam McDermott is a fantastic coach, he’s obviously a very prepared and organized coach, with great attention to detail. To this point, it’s been the ability to key into specific areas to exploit, and that has been the driving force of our games against you. Whether passing heavily vs. man concepts or attacking your Dolphin O-line with more blitzes than usual. They’re not afraid to heavily lean into tendencies, even if you know it’s coming, to exploit a match-up.

Well it is certainly working, you made a mockery of our Offensive Line last time out, and the time before Diggs and Allen were just playing back and forth with each other, made it look so effortless. So coming from a fan base who is used to putting us in our place the last few match ups, were you surprised at our season so far? Were you expecting us to have issues of what this a shock to you as much as it was to us.

Honestly, I find it genuinely shocking and I think a lot of Bills fans feel the same, although we aren’t complaining. The majority of Bills fans saw Miami as the top contender to Buffalo in the division and a dangerous threat to be reckoned with moving forward. This 1-6 start has been flabbergasting to Bills fans who were ready to do battle. It’s bizarre how poorly it has all come together for you guys.

You and me both mate, I still cant believe it. Granted we have been close to getting a result on a number of occasions and match ups, but when it all comes down to it we are 1-6 and, considering some of the players who have done well individually, have struggled to bring it all together to one performance. Talking about the players who have had strong starts for us, is there anyone who worries you on our current roster? Anyone of there who could maybe bring the game to you?

Every year in the NFL there are so many track speed guys like John Ross & Marquise Goodwin, who never really figure out how to translate it on the field… Jaylen Waddle is not that guy. His speed & explosiveness flash on tape and I believe you have a real playmaker on your hands there. I’ve been a bit surprised at the usage thus far and how incredibly low his average depth of target is, but he’s a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball and someone we need to shut down evidently quickly.

Yeah I think you hit the nail on the head there. He seems like a great pick. A great kid with great attitudes but who has yet to really have his training wheels taken off him. If we can find ways to unleash his potential, he could have a hell of a career out there. But what about flipping this round, where is it we can beat you? What flaws or weaknesses does this Bills team have that we could capitalise on and hopefully keep the game close this time?

The Bills offensive line can be beat on the interior so if some of your pash rushers can find a new level, they could break through. Whe run game isn’t anything special and stellar individual efforts can break big plays vs. the defense. It takes a very special talent like a Derrick Henry or Tyreek Hill, but there are opportunities to exploit. I like Raekwon Davis and him vs. the interior offensive line is a sneaky one.

Those give me some cause for optimism but also has me cringing too. Everything you say you will struggle with are all relevant to Miami. Our OLine is poor, and have no run game to speak of right now. Theres similarities there, but what sets you apart is that you convert these games into wins whereas we find ways to get beat.

But right now, I cant let you leave without talking about one man, the most talked about man on our roster, Tua Tagovailoa. What is the Buffalo view on our QB1 right now, and how will he feature in the future?

Obviously there are always going to be questions about the upper-end arm strength, but these last two games vs. the Jaguars and the Falcons have shown that the accuracy & passing ability are certainly there. There’s a lot to like about this quarterback, but there are a lot of things going wrong too. I think it’s important to remember that it’s still only 11-12 games of film we’ve had on him, so his book is far from written.

It certainly isnt finished yet. With all the rumours swirling, I cant help but wonder whether his next chapter happens in a different state and city but I remain hopeful that he continues to write that story in Miami. Lets face it, if he brings it back from here and goes on to be our QB1 for the next decade, it would make one hell of a comeback story!

But back to the game. How do you see it going, what is your prediction?

I can’t lie, everything that you are struggling with… is what we seem to be is best at. The Bills will pass first, pass second… and pass again third. Then on defense, they’ll keep everything in front of them and bring pressure with 4. I think as the game goes on, it’s going to get a little ugly.

I see it Buffalo 38, Miami 13

Man, I hate to say it but I tend to agree. Your pass rush alone could be the cause of panic amongst Miami coaching staff, lets face it, last time you guys brought the heat we were without a QB for the remainder of the game plus 3 more weeks.

However, Tua is starting to find his groove in recent weeks and I back him to grab a couple of touchdowns. Dare I say, he probably needs to keep it close with the Watson sharks circling. However, I believe you are right, the way we drop off in energy and commitment as games get away from us makes me think another dominant performance is on the cards from the Bills.

I am slightly more optimistic, but not so that it makes a difference, I can see 17 points for us, but a whole lot of issues exposed again. So here you go, my predication: Buffalo 34 – Miami 17.

Well there you go, another Behind Enemy Lines in the bag, and with our season lacking energy and execution of plays both me and Greg can only see a Buffalo win.

Now it would be frustratingly Dolphins in this situation, to go out and play so well against a top team that they pull of a result. That is so very in keeping with our Dolphins history in situations like this so when some fans shout and Tweet that this week will be our week you can understand where they get it from.

I just don’t buy it personally. For me there is one thing we need to do within this game, and that is stay as close as possible to that Buffalo score. After the last two losses in this rivalry blew us out, we need to get the monkey off our back and show people what we could do. A lot of that will come from Tua and if he can stand shoulder to shoulder with Josh Allen this week, it could help quash any of these trade discussions and leaks.

Be competitive please Miami, stay in the game and let Tua get enough time with the ball in his hands to make people take notice. This may not be our week, but we have a hell of a lot to prove. Time to start doing exactly that.

Fins Up!

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