The defenses of the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are still trying to meet the high expectations they faced heading into the season.
The AFC East rivals meet Sunday trying to find some consistency at the other's expense while looking to avoid falling into last place in the division.
For all the talk of how Rex Ryan wanted to transform the Bills (1-1) into a "bully" this offseason, New England served notice it's still the biggest, baddest team in this division after the reigning Super Bowl champions shredded his defense in a 40-32 victory at Buffalo last Sunday. Ryan watched Tom Brady throw for 466 yards - the most allowed in franchise history - as New England finished with 507 overall.
''The plan has to be better on defense," said Ryan, whose team had only four passes defended after recording 12 in beating Indianapolis. "You can't give up 500 yards and beat anyone.''
In addition to game-plan adjustments, improved discipline would help immensely in a bid to avoid dropping their first two division games. The Bills have been called for a league-high 25 penalties, including 14 last week that resulted in 140 yards.
"We want to be as physical a football team as there is in the league. We've always said that, but we want to do it within the confinement of the rules," Ryan said Monday. "I think we've got to learn from that and make it where the penalties are in our favor, not the other way."
Buffalo has recorded three of its four sacks on blitzes, putting the onus on defensive linemen Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus to generate more pressure since opposing quarterbacks are 21 for 38 with three TD passes in those situations, and 18 of those completions have resulted in first downs.
The Dolphins' defensive struggles, meanwhile, have come against the run - an area they expected to be a strength following the $114 million signing of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. While coach Joe Philbin quickly dismissed a report Suh was "freelancing" on plays, Miami (1-1) clearly needs more than the two tackles he's provided since opponents aren't afraid to run on the Dolphins, who have yielded 284 rushing yards and must be wary of LeSean McCoy after his 89-yard, 15-carry effort against New England.
''It's unacceptable,'' Suh said. ''Obviously if we don't stop the run, we're not going to have many opportunities to pass rush. You've got to go back to the drawing table and figure out how we can stop the run and become dominant.''
McCoy will be looking for holes created by guard Richie Incognito, whose matchup against the mercurial Suh along the interior provides an intriguing subplot. It's Incognito's first game in Miami since being cut by the Dolphins in 2014 after his team-imposed eight-game suspension the previous season for bullying and harassing offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.
"I've been through a lot since I've been down there," Incognito told the Bills' official website. "I would hope that we can move past all this, but I definitely understand that it's going to be prevalent probably through the end of this year.
"I don't think it's personal. ... This one just has a little more meaning kind of and there are obviously bigger things at play here, but for me it's about focusing and playing physical and playing tough football."
Tyrod Taylor is trying to bounce back after his fourth-quarter comeback bid against New England ended with his third interception. Still, the job is his to lose after the Bills dealt Matt Cassel to Dallas on Monday, and Taylor - who has completed 75.5 percent of his passes - did wind up throwing for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
"The execution just wasn't as good as we wanted it to be in the game," Taylor said. "We have to clean that up and learn from it. It wasn't a winning performance in all phases, but it starts of course with me. And we have to get better."
Dolphins counterpart Ryan Tannehill may not be in the same class as Brady and Andrew Luck yet, but the fourth-year QB appears to be coming into his own. He threw for 359 yards in last week's 23-20 loss to Jacksonville, with second-year wideout Jarvis Landry continuing to flourish after pulling in eight receptions for 110 yards to give him 100 catches in his brief career.
Tannehill is no stranger to Ryan's defenses from facing the New York Jets, but he has been uneven against the blitz. After performing well against Washington in Week 1 in such situations - going 4 for 5 for 80 yards and a touchdown - Tannehill was 2 for 7 for 13 yards and took a sack versus the Jaguars.
"They did a good job in stopping the run and then put pressure on us in the second half," Tannehill said. "A close game like that in the second half, you've got to make plays and we didn't make them.''
Tannehill is 2-4 against the Bills with both wins coming in Miami, including last year's 22-9 victory in which he threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns.