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Bills bring sacks, Dolphins offer improved protection

The enduring picture the Dolphins should have of their first meeting with the Buffalo Bills this year is of defensive end Mario Williams beating offensive tackle Tyson Clabo for a sack, stripping the football, and having it recovered by teammate Kevin Williams at the Dolphins 34 yard line.

A few plays later the Bills kicked a game winning field goal.

The sack sticks in the memory for both teams. The sack also speaks to that which has at times defined both teams.

The Dolphins have allowed an NFL high 51 sacks this season. Those sacks have accounted for 353 lost yards, multiple fumbles and something far more lasting: Those sacks have put the Dolphins on the verge of breaking the franchise record for sacks allowed in one season.

That number is 53 sacks allowed in 1969.

The Bills' defense, on the other hand, leads the NFL with 49 sacks. Buffalo has four players with at least eight sacks and Mario Williams leads that charge with 12. He is merely 2.5 sacks short of setting his own career best in tormenting of the quarterback.

So that's where the Dolphins offensive line and Buffalo defensive line will find themselves initially on Sunday. Buffalo's strength against Miami's weakness.

Bad, right?

But there is hope for the Dolphins. The offensive line the Bills faced in that first game Oct. 6 is gone. Changed. Kaput.

The left guard is different. The left tackle is different. And while the right tackle remains the same, he's playing like a different guy. The Dolphins were allowing 4.4 sacks per game on average before, with Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin and the early-season Tyson Clabo in the lineup.

They are allowing 2.6 sacks on average with Sam Brenner/Nate Garner and Bryant McKinnie and a resurrected Clabo in the lineup.

So has quarterback Ryan Tannehill noticed? Does he feel more comfortable in the pocket now?

“Yes, I think so," he said Wednesday. " It’s natural I think when you’re being protected more, being given a little more time. Building that confidence, receivers knowing that I’m going to have an extra half second, second, whatever it may be. Myself, feeling comfortable to go through second and third read, maybe not having to force it to that first guy. It plays a big part in our offense.”

There has been no better change in direction than Clabo. He yielded eight sacks and 19 hurries his first six games this season. Then the Dolphins traded for McKinnie who moved in as the left tackle and Martin moved over to right tackle for one week.

Clabo was benched in the first meeting against New England.

Well, a week later Martin was AWOL and the Dolphins turned back to Clabo. And in the seven games since going back in the lineup, Clabo has yielded three sacks and nine hurries -- meaning he's basically cut his sacks and hurries allowed by more than half.

"He’s not getting beat obviously and he’s run blocking well to go along with good pass blocking," Tannehill said. " Obviously, I don’t know O-line fundamentals but he’s keeping guys away from me and he’s doing a great job of that."

So what does this all mean?

The Bills will undoubtedly be the most difficult opponent the Miami offensive line faces this year if they want to keep Tannehill upright. But it also means the Bills would be mistaken if they think they'll be facing the same Miami offensive line they faced last time.


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We should be able to beat Buffalo and if we can't we don't deserve to be in the playoffs, in the first meeting all we had to do was run the ball at the end of the game and we would have come out with the win. Sherman has got better as well, he still needs to improve and I hate the 5 wide formation it is a waste, spread 5 guys out to throw a one yard pass all time and get now where. But I am happy Dolphins should continue to roll 27-10

that should be nowhere , i type to fast

Clabo, Tannehill and the entire offense have all helped each other…they have matured together over this season, and it's been a lot of fun to watch!

This weekend and next, they need to stay focused, play to win and not to loose, then prepare for the postseason! NICE RING TO THAT!!

Unfortunately, for all of us on the outside - the best thing to happen to this team was Martin/Incognito and all the media attention! The organization pulled together internally at every level…we now see the results on the field. Keep it rolling!

Maybe another reason the O-Line is playing better is because T-Hill is getting smarter and more comfortable with navigating the pocket. And maybe the running backs have gotten a bit better at picking up blitzers.

Go back a couple posts Armando and tie this thing together... The reason the Dolphins were playing poorly on the offensive line was clearly caused by lack of chemistry. That probably stemmed from the acrimonious relationship between Martin and his line mates. Richie was probably the ring leader, but with the reaction in the locker room afterward it is obvious Martin did not belong and that is what goes unsaid.

The change in the line is probably more due to removing the bad chemistry... Why doesn't the media pick up on that? Because you're sensationalists and the feel good part doesn't sell.

Its use of the TE's that is different. Sherman wasnt using them before.

Thomas should get the carrying load after how well he played in pittsburg...

I think they should run the read option a few times early. That should slow down the defensive line and keep them guessing.

Tannehill did not play to his own standards in the first meeting with the Bills even when he had time to throw. Being that he usually doesn't do well passing under pressure, the Bills also helped themselves by keeping him under duress a large percentage of that game.

Since the passing offense is catalyst for the entire Miami offense, the OL performance will be critical this Sunday. But the OL and Tannehill are playing better since the OL shakeup and that gives cause for faith.

In the last 3 games Tannehill has been able to find better opportunities when passing under pressure and receivers have stepped up their game, also, responding with critical catches, extending drives and scoring TDs. I look for the trend to continue in Buffalo.

I agree Patrick. Incognito was good (not great) and Martin was not even good. The Dolphins can boast having some of the greatest o-lines over their history,but it has been far too long since we have had a GREAT o-line. The part that really is sad is that Sparano and Philbin are supposed to be o-line guru's,huh?

The weather should be a non-factor in Buffalo this Sumday. Mid forties, maybe a little rain and wet snow. I would really love to see Baltimore beat the Cheatriots and lose to the Bengals. The Dolphins win their last two, and Buffalo also beats the Cheatriots (although not likely). Miami wins the division, and I think this would also knock the Cheatriots out of the playoffs. Is this correct? I think the Bengals own the tie breaker over NE.

weather could be big factor if its raining. turnovers


I think we should use the outlet pass as a remedy for an aggressive defense. The RBs aren't good blockers, so let them chip block, then roll out for the quick screen in case the QB is hurried. WRs are blocking better up the field, maybe we can neutralize their weapons up front that way.

Also, I believe they have a fair amount of INTs too. So Tannehill needs to be careful with the football. If he can have zero picks this game, I believe we win.

The safest bet for the dolphins is for the Ravens and Bengals to lose. In this way, Miami will clinch a playoff berth this weekend if they defeat Buffalo. The key to a dolphins victory hence forth is to score as many points as possible in the first half. So, it is Wallace deep and short passes to the runningbacks out of the backfield. This will discourage all of that bullrushing and blitzing by the Bills defense. (Thigpen anyone)

Mark Schlereth picked the Fins to win on NFL Live. It had to be hard for the turd head, I can't remember him ever saying anything good about us.

It will be interesting to see Berman's pick Sunday. I don't see the Bills "circling the wagons" this year.

I agree with you DC I also think Tannehill needs to run this week.When that pressure comes, take off and run to the hills. I think this game will be close in the first half, then I see the Dolphins exploding and the Bills will give up, since they are only playing for pride.

First half score 13-10 Phins

Final Score 30-16 Phins

Mario Williams should not be blocked one on one this entire game. He needs to be chipped every play. If he makes game changing sacks the entire coaching staff should be fired. Run at him, chip him, double him, tire him out. you contain him, spiller and Jackson and you win the game.

rick most everyone is taking bills, they seem to always beat us there and have played many good teams at home and beat some and barely lost to others. this is a tough tough game


I think Omar said Mckinnie doesnt need help and most of the TE and RB help, goes to Clabo's side.

I keep calling for Tanny to run more as well, specifically rolling out in short yardage situations.

You have to give Sherman credit though, Tannehill has stayed healthy and hasn't missed time.

I would be a major bummer to finally make the playoffs and be without our QB.

I predict a shut out for the Fins.. led by Ellerbe and Grimes whom know what it takes to get hot making and going into the playoffs.

man I don't give a damn what omar says. Mario Williams moves all over the line. Mckinnie is giving up one sack a game since hes been here. Is he an upgrade over jmartin. Hell yea but at this point in his career he is not match for Mario Williams.

All im saying is don't even take the chance of leaving him singled up. They only have 3 impact players on the team. Don't let any one of those guys beat u.


I think Mckinnie can keep Mario contained. I am not saying Mario will be a non factor, but he shouldnt kill us like he did last game.

Why take a chance rdubs? The game winning sack fumble came on clabos side..what then?

Posted by: Dolfan Rck | December 19, 2013 at 09:12 AM

You know you just put mouth on the team (that's Caribbean for jinxed). If Tannehill goes down, I will blame you DR.

Dusty I hear what your saying but you can't discount how well we are playing either.

The game isn't a sellout, the Bills have serious injury issues and the only thing they have to play for is the spoiler factor.

I'm actually beginning to feel fairly confident for a change.

Nice post slam, you are dead on.

Sorry about that DC. I take it back lol. I was only trying to say that their strategy of not over exposing Tanny to the run has paid off.


I am not saying to let Mario run free. I am saying the gameplan will probably neutralize Mario. You cant solely focus on him, they have multiple pass rushers who can get to the QB and having Mckinnie over JFart will make a difference. On a side note Mario Williams only has 2 sacks in his last 7 games.

yes rick, game is gonna come down to 4th qt like most games. fins 20-16

Weather is actually quite pleasant compared to the weather we've been getting recently. 37 degrees, the snow banked up on the side of teh roads is melting, supposed to be even warmer tomorrow. It looks like it will turn down for teh weekend but as long as it's not drastic, conditions should be fine.

Miami SHOULD win their remaining games. If they do not, then what real chance would they have in the playoffs anyway? If Miami gets in, I want to see them storming into the postseason on a win streak, hot as hell!!! That is how Superbowls are won! I want NE to LOSE their last two games, no matter what Miami does. Knock those crybabies out with two Miami wins and two New England losses!

Just checked the forecast. No snow for Sunday and a very warm 46 degrees. Will get a bit of rain that day though 15-20 mm over the 24 hour period.

you can solely focus on him. That's what good coaching does. Bellicheat wanted clay outta the game and they pretty much did that. The other guys stepped up and balled out. Now if you take Mario out the game and their other de's step up and win the game for them you shake their hand and say good game.

It was just a dumb play call that lost us the last game. As said yesterday it won't be repeated this time. At least hopefully.
With a rookie the best game plan is to make him beat you. Throw in a couple of surprises and get him to think panic. It would be nice of Wake to have a little coming out party but we could also use a sack or two by Jordan.
Go Phins

I feel like Mark with the stats.

So Mario Williams has 2 sacks in 7 games

and 4.5 of sacks came in one game against Carolina in week 2. Their o-line was a patchwork in week 2 and were horrible. Their line is better now, now that they have had time to gel

His last sack was 3 games ago

You guide Williams to where you aren't going to be to be. Simply use leverage or double team. Tannehill has to call the adjustments at the line. Little chip here a good block there and short crisp passes and runs. Bang, we win.

I think Slam's approach is valid. Gameplan for Williams and the running game. They don't have anything else.

I'm actually beginning to feel fairly confident for a change.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | December 19, 2013 at 09:19 AM


Of course its only Thursday. I'll get more nervous as the game gets closer.

That is some awesome analysis Rdubs, well done!

Its supposed to be in the 40s, but it looks like winds of 20+ mph. That and the rain scares me a bit. Still, we have to win games like this. I like Tannehill vs Thad.

rain can cause turnovers, we have to protect the ball

NeMo, i saw winds of 15mph on the weather network. It's always windy in Buffalo tho. But 15-20 should be manageable.

Thomas should get the carrying load after how well he played in pittsburg...

Posted by: beerphin | December 19, 2013 at 07:33 AM

Really? That makes no sense, because he had one good carry through a hole that even my daughter could have run through. He had a couple of nice juke moves after he hit the hole, but except for that one carry he was no where near as good as Lamar for the game averages.

I think the Fins should let us coach dammit. We got this.

Also on defense play reshad jones in the box. Have him blitz often.

Jerry Hughes has 7 sacks in the last 7 games

Kyle Williams has 6 sacks in the last 7 games

Marcel Dareus has 3.5 sacks in the last 7 games

So looks like the sacks are coming from Hughes and the DT's

Are teams too focused on Mario Williams and double teaming him, while allowing the rest of the DL to eat?

Id also give wheeler a quarter max. If he starts missing tackles get his butt out the game.

Sure the Bills D-line has some impressive numbers, but the number that matters most is wins...and we have more.

Mando...your next blog should be on how our D-line will attack their back up QB with a vengeance of epic proportions. Our secondary will have 2 picks and we hold this inept offense to under 13 points all day.

We have the upper hand in all aspects of the game except one: Kicker.

They have Carpenter we have Sturgis...hummm Carpenter, where have I heard that name before?

Bad news for the gay logo Phins.

Thad Lewis will be starting on Sunday.

That can only mean one thing.

Another Dolphins loss.

Bills run the ball for two hundred yards.

Rdubs good stats: See if you can check this one out for me. What is buffalos record when Mario eats and whats their record when he doesn't?

I think the Fins should let us coach dammit. We got this.

Posted by: Dolfan Rick | December 19, 2013 at 09:49 AM

Sometimes it seems the coaches read what some of you guys say in here and apply it. Many of the things the bloggers have bitched about seem to be getting addressed. Am I crazy? Or does it seem that way to anybody else? Too bad it took so many games and so much bitching to see changes?

I watched the NFL Sunday Ticket Shortcut of the Packers/Cowboys game. Eddie Lacey was a beast in that game. He can pass block too. Couldn't help but think that he should have been drafted by us.

Hopefully our D-Line can do some damage as well if we can get Thad into third and long we should be able to get some big sacks and turnovers.


They have lost 5 of 7. I am not sayin Mario shouldnt be our number 1 priority on the defensive line. I am just saying, he hasnt done much, other than 4.5 sacks against Carolina. Did you know he only has one forced fumble all year? These numbers dont strike me as terrifying. I think we see his 12 sacks and how he buttraped Clabo and now we think he will be a nightmare.

I think he is an older player, who is slowing down towards the end of the season

Dolfan Rick "I can't remember him (Mark Schlereth) ever picking US."

Hilarious how you people feel like you're actually a part of it all.

Getting upset about members of the media picking against "YOU".

I guess like buying into Santa Claus, the delusion that somehow you're actually a part of the game is a part of the "fun".

You have to suspend reality.

Know that you could not possibly sound more ridiculous.

It'd be disturbing if it weren't so amusing.

Hope "you" win this weekend...Sunday couch dwellers.


I hear ya im just trying to get the facts behind the numbers. Fact is when he plays good they have a better chance of winning. The one fumble he forced was against us! You also got to take into account pressures. Wake has less sacks than Vernon this year but is still a waaaaay better player than Vernon. Everything is perspective. Numbers don't tell the whole story. Just cause omar and mando focus on numbers that doesn't mean that's the best way to analyze things. Its only a partial tool.

MassDolphan, Dashi and I were begging for Lacey. I am not sure if he would be good behind our line though. We sometimes forget that Philbin is a west coast offense guy. I don't know if Lacey fits that but Green Bay seems to think so.

I sometime wonder how long he will last with his style of play. He is tough, but the NFL is full of tough guys.

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