Lawson Looks for Bounce-Back Game Against Former Team
Shaq Lawson's debut with the Miami Dolphins didn't exactly go as planned for him or the defense, but he's looking to bounce back against a familiar opponent.
Lawson will play his first game Sunday in the Dolphins' home opener against the team with which he spent his first four NFL seasons before coming to Miami as a free agent in the offseason.
After being the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Lawson started 17 games over four seasons for the Buffalo Bills and remains friends with several players on that team.
“I’m excited to go against those guys," Lawson said. "I’m excited to go against those guys. I talk to those guys every week — some of them — about every week, so I still keep a good relationship with those guys and even the people around. I’m looking forward to this game going against my former team, a place I’d been there for four years out of my whole career and get the chance to play. But it’s great.”
One of those players with whom Lawson has kept in touch is quarterback Josh Allen, who obviously is a focal point of the Buffalo offense.
Allen has been a threat as a runner since he entered the league as a top 10 pick in 2018, but his passing has been erratic. The thing, though, is that Allen has made strides in that area and he's coming off his first career 300-yard passing game in the Bills' 27-17 victory against the New York Jets in Week 1.
"That guy got better every year and I saw that develop his first two years as a player," Lawson said of Allen. "He’s a dog. I said that when I was there. The guy is a dog and that’s what you need at quarterback and things like that. He’s grown a lot. Just watching his film now, he looks a lot better than he was last year — 10 times better. Throwing the ball ... the guy can already run, and just a strong, physical guy and just a dog. I respect Josh Allen (since) Day 1, since he came in there. We know the challenge that we’ve got to face this week.
"It’s the same thing we had to do with Cam (Newton). It’s another similar type player. Pretty much out of the pocket, Josh Allen is probably a little faster than Cam. We’ve just got to be ready for the challenge and stop the run. If you stop the run, the whole game takes care of itself.”
Of course, the Dolphins didn't stop the run against New England in their opener Sunday, and that was the biggest factor in the 21-11 loss.
As an edge defender who played 60 of the 64 defensive snaps, Lawson shares responsibility in the shortcomings in run defense, especially losing containment on the outside on a couple of option runs.
Lawson's stat sheet showed one tackle, one assist and one quarterback hit, but there's no getting around the biggest stat in the game: 217 rushing yards for New England.
“I was hard on myself," Lawson said. "As a leader, as a defensive line, period, it starts up front and all the guys on the D-line, we took full responsibility of that for not stopping the run. We just hold ourselves accountable and we’ve just got to continue to do better and stop it this week because that’s what the NFL is going to try to do. It starts with the run and things like that.”