In order for Buffalo Bills fans to get an idea of how Miami Dolphins view their current team, I was able to chat with Oscar Hazell, of @TheMiamiPod. He’s a knowledgeable fan and was kind enough to answer a few questions surrounding this weekend’s AFC East divisional matchup.
Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter at @OscarHazell
The firing of Joe Philbin seems to have provided the Dolphins with a spark of energy that shows on the field. What has been the biggest difference (play-calling, scheme change, etc.) that’s occurred since Dan Campbell took over?
Schematically, there hasn’t been much change in terms of “X’s and O’s” since the firing of Joe Philbin and Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle. The biggest difference over the first two weeks under Dan Campbell was becoming a more balanced offense, as the Dolphins were on pace to be the most pass-heavy offense in NFL history.
Miami’s defense didn’t change much, as they still primarily run their Cover 3 based zone scheme.
Personnel wise, there’s been less rotation at the wide receiver position. Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry play about every snap, with Kenny Stills coming in with 11 personnel packages. Under Philbin, the snaps were more evenly distributed with lower-caliber players such as Greg Jennings and rookie Devante Parker saw more time than they probably should’ve.
The biggest impact Dan Campbell has made is that he’s gotten the players to seemingly buy in, which is expected from a former player who understands how to communicate with these pro athletes. But, how long his “rah rah” physical practices with tug o’ wars and Oklahoma drills last will be interesting to watch, particularly if the team hits a rough stretch.
The level of competition needs to be noted as well, as Miami beat up on a Tennessee Titans team led by an injured Marcus Mariota, followed by a beat-down of an awful Texans team before crashing back to earth against the Patriots.
For me the book is out on Campbell if he can keep the reigns on Lazor and force him to operate a more balanced offense, he may put himself in the permanent role conversation
Buffalo’s defensive line has wreaked havoc on Miami’s offensive line for the last three seasons. How has the unit performed in recent weeks, and how do you think Lazor will game-plan against them?
Hopefully Campbell is some-what responsible for the game-planning and will commit to the run game, as well as utilizing play action to slow the pass rush, and make that front four think about something other than killing Tannehill as they’ve done for the last three years.
Miami will use condensed route combinations, with Jarvis Landry’s short underneath routes serving as an extension of the run game. Getting the ball out quickly is key. With RT Ju’Wuan James out, either Jason Fox or LG Dallas Thomas will start in his place, which is less than ideal. Branden Albert was at his worst on Thursday’s return from injury and hopefully the extra rest helps him get back to a baseline of his previous play.
If Albert can just be competent, it will assist in allowing the rest of the offensive line to slide protect and provide help. The communication will be the biggest issue with so many new faces in new spots, but it’s been a problem regardless of the combo.
What is the Dolphins’ biggest strength on each side of the ball?
On offense, the versatility of the weapons on hand is their biggest strength—now whether they’re used to their strengths is another question. They have a legit running back in Lamar Miller who’s shown to have great vision and has become reliable. They have multi-dimensional weapons at wideout and tight end as well that have the tools to beat you if the offensive line can match up.
Defensively, the left side of the defensive line with Suh eating and defeating double teams while Cameron Wake was a terror off the edge was really fun to watch. Now, with Wake’s loss it’s on the linebackers to emerge as a strong unit. The defense is designed to funnel plays to WLB Jelani Jenkins,
Perhaps the Corp down the middle of the Feild of Suh. Jelani Jenkins WLB albeit they try and funnel to him, with Reshad Jones flying around in the secondary.
Which player on O/D that Bills fans may not be aware of should they look out for on Sunday?
Bobby McCain rookie cb out of Memphis has been playing great since Brice McCain went down with an injury. Playing mainly in the slot he has been really solid, with the occasional odd hiccup that’s expected from a rookie. He’s a very willing run defender carrying on from his college days. He’s the only rookie to be playing any meaningful snaps under Campbell.