Bill Lazor gets a game ball. Kevin Coyle gets a game ball.
Joe Philbin? You, too.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, a billionaire several times over, can probably afford shelling out the bucks for the extra pigskins. And he should because the Dolphins’ coaching staff, the same one under fire and supposedly on the line Thursday night, did a heck of a job this week.
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The Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills 22-9.
Miami snapped a three-game losing skid against the dreaded and mediocre Bills. The victory keeps the Miami season alive because the team is still in the playoff chase.
And certainly fine performances by running back Lamar Miller and a makeshift offensive line and cornerback Brent Grimes, and a defense that didn’t give up a touchdown are obvious reasons for the victory.
But these Dolphins had a chance to succeed and were able to win after a short week of preparation because the game plan from Lazor for his offense and the aggressiveness from Coyle with his defense put the Dolphins in a great position to succeed.
Joe Philbin and his staff did something they have not done against the Bills dating to 2012: They out-coached the Buffalo staff.
This amid an atmosphere that makes me wonder why anyone would want to get into coaching.
Dolphins coaches, you see, have become a crew fans don’t necessarily love. Fans don’t love the timeout calls. They don’t love the record of the past two seasons. They didn’t love last week, either.
But those same coaches engineered this victory in the most improbable way.
Lazor, for example, took an offense that was reeling and got it to produce against a nemesis defense despite the fact Miami was without its best offensive lineman, despite the fact the running back was running around with a separated shoulder, with a rookie taking over for Branden Albert at left tackle and former guard Dallas Thomas moving to right tackle.
Did I mention starting left guard Daryn Colledge also didn’t play, as he hasn’t the past two weeks, because of a back issue?
That wasn’t all.
Lazor brought together a unit that has one or two players who are willing to whisper anonymous criticisms about the way things are done when things aren’t going well.
And following a bad outing against Detroit last week, things were not going well at the beginning of this week, and at least one player complained about Lazor to the NFL Network.
Yet the Dolphins successfully used a Lazor game plan that rolled out quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They utilized Miller as well as he’s been used all season. They relied on quick passing to move the football and keep quarterback Ryan Tannehill from getting plowed time and again.
The Bills, dominant on defense against Miami the past year, had no answer.
The Bills also had no offense to speak of.
Having beaten the Dolphins the past three times with backup-caliber quarterbacks, which is what Thad Lewis was last year and E.J. Manuel is now after beating Miami earlier this year, the Bills no doubt came in confident against the Dolphins.
Correction: The Bills came in disrespecting the Dolphins.
It was easy to see the Bills don’t fear the Dolphins and don’t even seem to respect the Dolphins before this game. That’s why cornerback Leodis McKelvin told reporters the Bills were gong to “beat their [butts],” meaning the Dolphins, following Buffalo’s loss last Sunday.
LACK OF RESPECT
Think of that. Following a loss, a Bills player who fumbled a punt and basically helped author that loss called out the Dolphins.
That’s not boldness.
That’s lack of respect.
And think what you will of Leodis McKelvin’s wisdom, his tact speaks to the Dolphins standing in Buffalo’s eyes after three consecutive losses.
The Miami defense played an inconspicuous role in those losses.
While the Buffalo defense dominated in those games, Dolphins defenders obviously didn’t. They lost to quarterbacks not even in the league anymore, for goodness sake.
But Coyle wasn’t having his defense play a secondary role to Mario Williams and Marcel Dareus this night. Coyle blitzed. He matched up his best cornerback Grimes on Buffalo No.1 receiver Sammy Watkins.
Watkins, slowed by a groin injury, was basically erased by Grimes.
And while Chris Hogan had success against the Dolphins’ zone defense, any day the other team’s most productive player is a bottom-of-the-roster reserve receiver, you’re having a good day on defense.
The Buffalo running game? That was a non-factor. Yes, I know Fred Jackson could not play. Yes, I know C.J. Spiller is injured and also was not available.
Cry me a river, if you wish.
The Dolphins did not let the Bills cross the goal line.
Good job, Kevin Coyle. High five Bill Lazor and Joe Philbin.
You all did very well.