Miami Dolphins Vs. Buffalo Bills: Week 1 Grades and Stock Report
The Miami Dolphins opened up the first week in the NFL with a win in Buffalo, where they haven't won since 2004. The Dolphins' offense had some trouble moving the ball, but the defense provided a security blanket that would ensure their victory.
Chad Henne didn't turn the ball over, and he completed 21 of 34 passes for 182 yards. His one glaring mistake came on a deep pass to Brandon Marshall, which was under-thrown and then dropped.
If you watched the game, you would have observed an average game from Henne, who seemed fairly limited by the offensive game plan.
Dan Henning, Miami's offensive coordinator, needs to do a better job of calling plays that can gain chunk yardage. Miami's longest play was 21 yards, which was a pass over the middle to Anthony Fasano.
Running Back: B
Ronnie Brown scored a touchdown to put Miami ahead 10-0 in the second quarter, but after that, the offense started sputtering.
Ricky Williams failed to average four yards per carry against an average Bills' run defense. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will need to bring their A-game against Minnesota during Week 2.
Receiver/Tight End: B-
Only two Dolphin receivers had receptions against Buffalo. Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess were those two receivers.
Bess was in rhythm with Henne in the second half, while Brandon Marshall was being targeted early in the game. Against a good BIlls' secondary, the Dolphins were unable to complete passes down the field.
Anthony Fasano had a decent game, and was the only tight end that had a reception for Miami.
Brian Hartline failed to make a reception, and needs to be a bigger part of the offense against Miami's upcoming opponents.
Offensive Line: B-
The Dolphins' offensive line played decently, but they could have been better. Chad Henne had a few bad exchanges with center Joe Berger, who stepped on Henne's foot several times once the ball was snapped.
They created enough running room for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but they failed to open up holes big enough to allow them to run freely into the second and third level of the Bills' defense.
The offensive line didn't do terrifically in pass coverage, allowing Henne to get sacked three times. Henne didn't have a ton of time to sit back in the pocket to deliver the ball down field.
Miami's only penalty of the day came on a false start by Richie Incognito.
Defensive Line: A
The entire defense played very well, but it all started up front with this group. The line was shedding blocks and pressuring Trent Edwards, while disrupting his passing lanes.
They also got enough penetration to make C.J. Spiller barely noticeable.
Randy Starks proved that he is suitable for the nose tackle position, while Jared Odrick and Kendall Langford held down their sides of the line.
Great performance from this group in Week 1.
Even with Channing Crowder absent, this corps didn’t miss a beat. Rookie Koa Misi played a stellar game, while both Misi and Cameron Wake were getting pressure on Trent Edwards from the outside.
Misi and Wake both had a sack, while Karlos Dansby added another one early in the game on a blitz from the outside.
Miami was always playing in the Bills' backfield, hurrying Edwards and disrupting running lanes. The linebackers also played well in coverage.
This group played well against the Bills, but they made a few key mistakes. One major mistake was allowing a Bills' receiver to get behind the zone to score a touchdown during the fourth quarter.
Three Dolphins players swarmed towards the same receiver, which allowed Rosco Parrish of the Bills to slip behind the coverage.
Other mistakes included dropped interceptions by Benny Sapp and Jason Allen, which both would have went for touchdowns.
Other than those mistakes, this group covered well, which was also because of great play on the rest of the defense.
Special Teams: B
Clifton Smith, the electric return man the Dolphins added last week, didn't have a lot of room to run. Blocking seemed invisible when Miami was returning kicks or punts.
Apart from blocking, the coverage teams did well, minimizing any big plays for the Bills to gain momentum.
The coaching staff did alright against Buffalo. Apart from the offensive game plan, the defensive game plan was spectacular.
Tony Sparano also knows how to fire up his players.
Miami will need to pass the ball more against Minnesota, so Dan Henning needs to be more creative and better at calling plays.
Miami played well enough to beat the Bills, but if they play like that against any of their seven upcoming opponents, they will not be so fortunate.
Pluses from this game were zero turnovers, and only one penalty.
Negatives were the passing game, zero forced turnovers, and the lack of big plays.
A win is a win, and it looks no different no matter how ugly it is.
Stock Report: Up
Mike Nolan - Mike Nolan was getting a lot of credit for revamping the Dolphins' defense, even before any games were played. Nolan showed why he was so quickly hired as defensive coordinator, as Miami's defense looked extremely fast and smart.
Apart from forcing zero turnovers, the Dolphins minimized the impact of speedster C.J. Spiller, while giving the Bills' offensive line fits.
Koa Misi - Misi was moved to second string in favor of Ike Alama-Francis starting, but when Alama-Francis getting sick, Misi was asked to step in. Not only did Misi fill in, he might have won back the starting outside linebacker spot.
Misi was all over the field in pass coverage, while effectively blitzing when they called his number. Misi showed that he should be the starter for this team.
Chris Clemons - With a lot of doubt about Miami's free safety position, Chris Clemons answered those questions with a ball-hawking mentality. Clemons was in on tackles, held his ground when he was asked to drop back into coverage, and simply didn't make mistakes.
Clemons played with great intelligence, which is a nice change of pace from Miami's previous free safety.
Stock Report: Down
Dan Henning - Dan Henning did not call a great game offensively. He held Chad Henne back from throwing the ball down field, which would have helped the offense gain a rhythm. Henning needs to be less predictable in his playcalling.
Offensive line - The Dolphins' running game gained over 100 yards, but it did so with short gains. There were also several mistakes involving center Joe Berger and Chad Henne.
Henne was also sacked three times.
Tyrone Culver - Culver's only exposure came during the Bills touchdown drive, when he let Roscoe Parrish run right past him for a touchdown. The lone dark spot of the secondary during Week 1 was Culver.
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