The Day After: What We Learned About the Miami Dolphins in Week 2
For a second consecutive game, the Miami Dolphins found themselves with a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter when they faced the Buffalo Bills in their home opener.
But they again came up short.
The inability to get a defensive stop when needed again was a problem for the Dolphins in Week 2, though this time it was the pass defense that was the culprit.
And the most painful thing we learned about the Miami Dolphins in that Week 2 loss against the Buffalo Bills is that the pass defense, despite all the offseason acquisitions just isn't good enough at this time.
Yes, it made a big difference that Byron Jones had to leave the game because of a groin injury four plays into the game, but we sadly saw Sunday that rookie first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene has a ways to go because he can be relied upon in coverage.
Much has been made of the Dolphins' decision to have Igbinoghene stick with Stefon Diggs instead of having Xavien Howard take over that assignment, but do we honestly believe that Igbinoghene would have fared better against John Brown.
The John Brown who burned the Dolphins for 14 catches for 220 yards and three touchdowns in two games in 2019? The John Brown who got behind Howard and Bobby McCain for a 46-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter?
Yeah, probably not.
And on that topic, just saying, but Howard still doesn't look like the same guy who made the Pro Bowl in 2018, who actually had emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
Even on the play before Brown got behind him for the long touchdown, Howard was beaten by Brown on a deep crossing route, but Allen instead threw it down the middle of the field in an apparent mix-up with his receiver. But receivers getting behind Howard like this just didn't happen in 2018.
At some point, we have to start wondering about the cumulative effects of all the knee issues Howard has had over the past few years.
Then again, it didn't help either Howard, Igbinoghene or any of the defensive backs that the Dolphins pass rush still can't get the job done.
The Dolphins had one sack against Josh Allen, and that came on a play where he held the ball in the pocket because he couldn't find a receiver.
Finding an effective pass rusher was a priority in the offseason, but we're still not seeing it. Not from Emmanuel Ogbah, not from Shaq Lawson, not from anybody.
That is a major problem.
Yes, the run defense was better in Week 2, but that was mainly because Buffalo didn't run as much. The Dolphins still allowed the Bills to average 4.8 yards per carry, which is down from the 5.2 against the Patriots but still not a winning proposition.
On offense, what we learned is that Mike Gesicki needs to be made an important part of the game plan every week because he's just making tough catch after catch.
We learned that Week 1 wasn't an aberration and that Myles Gaskin clearly has emerged as the Dolphins' No. 1 running back, which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the offseason acquisitions of Jordan Howard and Matt Breida.
The reality is the Dolphins still can't produce big plays offensively — their longest run against Buffalo was 14 yards and their longest pass play was a 27-yard hook-up between Fitzpatrick and Gesicki.
We learned the offensive line moves of the offseason actually look good because it was a second strong effort, with a solid rushing average, overall good pass protection and only one penalty.
The Buffalo game also reinforced the belief the Dolphins are in great hands (feet?) in the kicking game with Jason Sanders and Matt Haack.
So, yes, there were good things we saw in that loss against the Buffalo Bills, but more than anything what we learned from the three-point loss is that the Dolphins are more competitive than they were in 2019 but still not there yet.