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Scouting Report - Week 7

Posted Oct 18, 2013

An in-depth look at the Bills-Dolphins game

Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Erik Pears vs. Cameron Wake –
Wake may still not be quite 100 percent healthy coming off a sprained MCL, but his speed off the edge will be a challenge in a road atmosphere.

2 – Mario Williams vs. Tyson Clabo – It’s a battle of two veterans. Williams will line up on both sides of the formation, but has seen more time at left end than right. Clabo has struggled at times. He’s surrendered five sacks in the team’s first five games.

3 – Nickell Robey vs. Brandon Gibson – The Dolphins new slot receiver has been a frequent target for Ryan Tannehill. He’s second on the team in receptions and third in receiving yards. It might be one of the more physical matchups for Robey this season.

Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Punt return –
With Leodis McKelvin back on punt return full time and the Dolphins giving up better than a first down in coverage (10.4 avg. against) the Bills could get a leg up in field position Sunday.

Best advantage – Run game – Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are still not 100 percent healthy, but Tashard Choice has proven to be a nice complement to a run game that has produced against some of the better defensive fronts in the league so far this season.

Bills Number 1 Must
Red zone conversions –
The Bills are 5-for-9 in their last three games in the red zone when it comes to touchdown efficiency (55.5%). Buffalo should be able to find the end zone against a Dolphins red zone defense that is ranked in the middle of the pack in the NFL (15th).

Scouting Eye
Under sack attack
The Dolphins offense has not been good when it comes to protecting QB Ryan Tannehill. Sacked 24 times in the team’s first give games, Miami is on pace to set a franchise mark for sacks allowed in a season. They are currently tied for second-most sacks allowed in the league, but they’re the only team in the top five that has played only five games. Tannehill has held onto the ball too long at times and there have also been protection issues. During their bye week Miami worked on fundamentals with their offensive linemen and also are reportedly adding swing passes and receiver screens into their passing attack to get the ball out sooner.

Running nowhere
Miami’s run game has been remarkably anemic through their first five games. Managing less than 70 yards rushing per game, the Dolphins rank 29th in rushing. Part of the problem is they don’t even attempt to run the ball all that much. Having played one less game they’re last in the league in rushing attempts with just 95, but Miami runs the ball just over 31 percent of the time (31.6%). That’s less than once every three plays. Their run percentage is third-lowest in the NFL.

Red zone roll
One area where the Dolphins have been remarkably efficient is inside their opponent’s 20-yard line. Miami stands second in the league in red zone touchdown efficiency punching it into the end zone more than 70 percent of the time (71.4%). One of the main reasons for their success is they lead the league in yards per play in the red zone (4.14 yards) and they’re third in the NFL in third down conversions in the red zone. Miami converts third downs 50 percent of the time inside their opponent’s 20-yard line. It’s why 10 of the Dolphins 12 touchdowns this season have come in the red zone.

Ellerbe unlikely to play
One of Miami’s bigger free agent acquisitions was MLB Dannell Ellerbe from Baltimore. In the Dolphins Week 5 game he sustained a shoulder injury against the Ravens and left the game. He did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday and is a major question mark for Sunday’s game. If he can’t play Miami is expected to use veteran reserve Jason Trusnik and rookie Jelani Jenkins to spell Ellerbe in the middle of their defense.

Not seeing yellow
Penalties have been a problem for the Bills, who rank second in the league for infractions with 46 in their first six games. The Dolphins however, have been the most law-abiding team in the league. In their five games they’ve committed a total of 21 penalties. In fact in their last game against Baltimore they were not called for a single penalty. Miami has less than half the penalty yardage this season (180) than Buffalo (399).

Tight end trouble
The Dolphins have had their share of problems defending the pass so far this season. One of the bigger trouble spots is defending the tight end. So far this season opposing tight ends have turned in big plays against Miami. Over the first five games tight ends have 25 receptions for 358 yards (14.3 avg.) and six touchdowns. Scott Chandler in his career vs. Miami has nine catches for 134 yards (14.9 avg.).

Buffalo Chips
Quote of the Week
“He has always been preparing for this to happen and that’s what you have to do. That’s what it means to be a pro and he’s done a great job. A lot of people that haven’t been around Thad Lewis were surprised maybe by that performance. I don’t think anyone on the team who was really surprised by the way he went out there and went about his business. He’s been that way since he’s been on board.”
--Doug Marrone

Stat of the Week
The Bills have rushed for 120 yards or more in each of their first six games this season. It’s the longest streak since a seven-game stretch spanning the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

Milestones in reach
Fred Jackson needs 82 receiving yards to join Thurman Thomas as the only players in team history with with 4,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards.

Leodis McKelvin needs 26 punt return yards to move into fourth in team history (Kevin Williams – 700).

Mario Williams needs two sacks to post the fourth double-digit sack season of his career.

Final Note
In his last three games against the Dolphins, C.J. Spiller has rushed for 320 yards on 56 carries (5.7 avg.).