Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ defensive struggles continue in loss to Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins Brice McCain fails to stop Buffalo Bills Charles Clay as he score early in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, September 27, 2015.
Miami Dolphins Brice McCain fails to stop Buffalo Bills Charles Clay as he score early in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, September 27, 2015. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Brice McCain’s juggling interception against the Redskins was one of the top plays during the Dolphins’ Week 1 victory in Washington.

There’s hardly been anything noteworthy from McCain or the Dolphins’ secondary since.

For the second consecutive week, the Dolphins did not sack the opposing quarterback nor intercept a pass.

More importantly, their cornerbacks could barely keep up with opposing receivers.

A week after Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson torched the Dolphins for 155 yards and two touchdowns on six catches, Bills’ first-year starter Tyrod Taylor found his targets uncovered and in open space throughout the game.

Taylor completed 21 of 29 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns and finished with a 136.7 passer rating. This followed Blake Bortles’ 273-yard, two-touchdown effort in Jacksonville (102.2 passer rating).

Adding frustration to the Dolphins in their defeat, the combination of former Dolphins Charles Clay and Chris Hogan combined for eight catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

Clay made two big catches on the Bills’ opening series, culminating with a 25-yard touchdown catch and run in which he easily slipped past two lackluster tackle attempts by McCain and Michael Thomas on the way to the end zone.

“We can’t blame because everybody made mistakes, myself included,” Thomas said. “On the first drive, I missed a tackle that ended up becoming a touchdown so we can start with me.”

McCain was beaten early and often by Buffalo receivers and eventually benched in favor of Jamar Taylor in the third quarter of the Dolphins’ 41-14 loss. McCain struggled in one-on-one coverage as well last week against the Jaguars.

Percy Harvin finished with seven catches for 66 yards and hurt the Dolphins corners as McCain often gave plenty of room off the snap that allowed the Bills to complete plenty of underneath passes and keep drives going.

Safety Walt Aikens gave one of the Bills’ late third quarter drives new life by running into the punter.

On a busted coverage in the secondary, Aikens and Taylor had a miscommunication and Hogan surged down the sideline to catch a 38-yard touchdown pass that extended the Bills lead to 34-8 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

While McCain was an easy target for blame during Sunday’s debacle, he was not solely responsible for the team’s woes.

So what has happened to a defense that played a solid second half against the Redskins two weeks ago to salvage the Dolphins’ lone victory so far this season?

A couple of Dolphins’ defensive backs had no answers.

“It’s shocking just because we know what we are capable of,” Thomas said. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers. We know we can play better than this. So, we just have to get back to work. That’s it.”

It didn’t help that the Dolphins put very little pressure on Tyrod Taylor. And even when they did flush him out of the pocket, Taylor found an open receiver.

“We have a lot to fix and we have to fix it quick,” Thomas said. “We’re all busting our butts to the ball, but [Buffalo] made way more plays than we did today.”

With another division game next week against the Jets in London, the Dolphins will face an opposing quarterback in Jets’ starter Ryan Fitzpatrick with more starting experience than Bortles or Taylor.

“I don’t know what it is right now,” safety Reshad Jones said. “We just have to watch the film and figure out how to get better from it. We have to focus on the Jets, another tough division opponent. This is a pretty tough loss against a division team at home. They made more plays than we did.”

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