Bills 19, Dolphins 0

Grading the Miami Dolphins against the Buffalo Bills

 

ssalguero@MiamiHerald.com

Quarterback

Ryan Tannehill was hot in December, but Buffalo cooled him off and it had nothing to do with weather. The Bills chased Tannehill and sacked him seven times. They came after him from every angle and he had little time to get the ball downfield. When he did throw it, he was rarely accurate. His knee injury also didn’t help as Tannehill went 0-for-6 on passes after sustaining the injury in the fourth quarter. GRADE: D.

Receivers/tight ends

Brian Hartline dropped three passes, including what might have turned into a long TD catch and run had he held on. Mike Wallace wasn’t open as often as he usually is but got a team-high 11 targets, mostly out of desperation. He converted those to four catches and a 9.5-yard per catch average. Rishard Matthews was an afterthought and Charles Clay also was limited. GRADE: F.

Running backs

Lamar Miller started this game and was basically not seen again after the opening series until the fourth quarter. Amazingly, Miller gained eight yards on three tries and he was Miami’s leading rusher. That’s because Daniel Thomas found no running room and wasn’t able to create any yardage on his own with six yards on nine carries. And the worst part? Neither Miller nor Thomas could help in pass protection as both struggled. GRADE: F.

Offensive line

FThe fact the Dolphins have given up more sacks than any team in franchise history speaks to the offensive line, but obviously has something to do with the pass protection offered by running backs and the timing Tannehill has in getting rid of the ball. But it remains mostly the offensive line’s doing. The poor running game is also a shared issue but, again, the holes simply were not there and that’s on the offensive line. Starting left guard Sam Brenner was pulled from the game for Nate Garner. GRADE: F.

Defensive line

The Bills gained 203 rushing yards. Paul Soliai and Randy Starks and Jared Odrick had perhaps their worst combined games of the year. The fact the Bills were getting yards up the gut as well as on the edge suggests no one on the offensive was able to do their job. And when Thad Lewis threw the ball, the pressure on him was minimal. GRADE: F.

Linebackers

Phillip Wheeler, already on notice because of his high salary and the improved play of rookie Jelani Jenkins, gave up a couple of completions to tight end Scott Chandler and then committed a terrible hands to the face penalty that turned a failed third-down play into a first down. The Bills then drove for a field goal. Dannell Ellerbe had 10 tackles and Koa Misi had six but only one of those was for a loss — that one made by Misi. GRADE: D.

Secondary

The Dolphins turned Reshad Jones into a glorified linebacker to help with the run defense and he responded with 10 tackles, but it simply wasn’t enough. Chris Clemons had a potential game-changing interception, but the Miami offense could offer no momentum after the turnover. Nolan Carroll and Brent Grimes both survived this game after struggling with injuries last week. Neither was a problem for the Dolphins, but neither did either make a game defining play. GRADE: B-minus.

Special teams

Brandon Fields was busy with 10 punts. Caleb Sturgis basically got the day off except for a kickoff duty. Marcus Thigpen had a nice day on kickoff returns but was ineffective on punt returns, with ineffective defined as zero yards on three returns. GRADE: C-minus.

Coaching

Terrible game plan on offense. No answer for a running team on defense. The Dolphins showed no spark or urgency. That’s all on the coaching staff. GRADE: D.

Overall

In a game demanding a full-throated effort, the Dolphins went mute. GRADE: F.

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