Dolphins vs. Bills: How Ryan Tannehill and Miami can Attack Buffalo
The rookie quarterback suffered through his worst performance since Week 1 last week against the Tennessee Titans, throwing three interceptions and failing to lead a single touchdown drive.
So, what can Tannehill and the Dolphins do to right the ship against the Bills and put points on the board?
Establish the Run Early and Often
File this in the "Duh" category.
The Dolphins have abandoned the running game the past two weeks, and wouldn't you know it, the team lost both games. During this stretch of two games, Tannehill has attempted 77 passes and the Dolphins have executed a total of 33 rushing plays.
Now, I'm no Bill Walsh, but it doesn't take a football genius to figure out this ratio is a recipe for losing with a rookie quarterback. Establishing a running game is the most important thing the Dolphins can to to improve offensive production.
Besides, it's not like Tannehill has a bunch of Pro-Bowl receivers out there on the field with him. Brian Hartline, Davon Bess, Jabar Gaffney and Anthony Fasano need defenses to have some doubt about what the offense is running because the skill to win one-on-one battles just isn't there most of the time.
It's not rocket science.
Give Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller at least 30 chances to run the ball, and the Dolphins have an excellent chance to win the game.
Take Shots Downfield On Play-Action Passes
Jarius Byrd and George Wilson are two excellent safeties, but if the Dolphins can get the running game going, the Bills will be forced to commit extra men into the box to try and stop the bleeding.
Once the back of the Bills defense is no longer committed to defending the deep middle, Tannehill will surely have opportunities to take shots downfield.
This strategy only works well with a legitimate rushing attack, though. Play-action passes are only as effective as the team's running game.
Attack the Corners
While the Bills feature a couple of the league's best safeties, their cornerbacks can be abused.
Pro Football Focus (subscription required) grades every player on every play, and out of a possible 106 cornerbacks graded, who played enough snaps to warrant mentioning, this is how the Bills cornerbacks fare:
- Stephon Gilmore: No. 84 with a rating of -5.2, allowing a passer rating of 104.6 (615 snaps).
- Justin Rogers: No. 96 with a rating of -7.6, allowing a passer rating of 99.7 (305 snaps).
- Aaron Williams: No. 96 with a rating of -7.6, allowing a passer rating of 136.9 (389 snaps).
Tannehill and his receivers can win on the outside with quick outs, quick slants and comebacks (provided they do take some shots downfield from time to time). The Bills cornerbacks are easily fooled, and given the way they've been abused all season long, their confidence is at an all-time low.
In addition to the quick hits, Tannehill and his receivers can score against these corners. The Bills defense is also terrible at defending crossing patterns, short and deep.
There will be plenty of opportunities for easy completions, as long as Tannehill doesn't try to challenge the safeties when they're in position.
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