The key to victory might rest right here for both teams. The Dolphins and Bills both feature a surplus of talent in the backfield, and we should see a concentrated effort from both to get the running game going early and often.
Obviously the Dolphins possess one of the best duo’s in the league with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, a.k.a. the R&R Express. The Bills, however, are a little more tricky. The talent is there, three deep I might add, but it’s still somewhat a mystery how each will be used, especially considering we don’t know how healthy Fred Jackson is yet.
Bills running game vs. Dolphins run defense
I mentioned it’s still not definite how much action Fred Jackson is going to get with that broken hand. I’m not saying he’s not a very solid back-he is. The guy surpassed the 1,000 yard milestone for the first time last season. I’m just saying anytime C.J. Spiller isn’t on the field, it will be a little easier to relax.
Yes, the preseason is just the preseason, but C.J. Spiller looked the part of the next Chris Johnson- always a threat to take it to the house. Combine that with the fact Miami has struggled to set the edge and have really looked like a overall slow defense at times, and this division’s first impression of Spiller could be a scary one.
The Dolphins can’t get caught over-pursuing any angles, or it could be cut back and off to the races. We could also see a lot of Ikaika Alama-Francis on early downs, because Koa Misi didn’t do a great job of setting the edge in the preseason. While Ike projects better in the department, I still have my concerns if he can set the edge quick enough against the world class speed of Spiller.
The Bills may have taken a little scrutiny for drafting Spiller in the first round, but I think the Dolphins are wishing they would have picked up an offensive tackle or quarterback right about now. I think that’s exactly what Buddy Nix had in mind. Marshawn Lynch is also expected to get some touches, but considering the Dolphins have looked pretty stout up the middle, I’m less concerned about a bruiser type back like Lynch.
Dolphins running game vs. Bills run defense
It’s no secret that the Bills struggled pretty heavily against the run a year ago, while the Dolphins put together the fourth best ground attack in football. The Bills switched to the 3-4 defense for a reason.
Will they improve in the area? In the long term I would say yes. But in the short term, and more specifically this Sunday, I expect to see some bumps in the road as they attempt to make the transition.
This isn’t taking into account how shaky Miami’s interior offensive line looked in the preseason, though. I’m not going to get concerned until we see the Dolphins struggle to run the ball in a real game, but if they don’t get something going against a presumably mediocre at best run defense, it may be panic time after all.
But we really didn’t see them pound the rock like they will in the regular season. There really was no reason to add any more wear and tear on Ronnie and Ricky. Expect the Dolphins to establish the run early and make the Bill’s new look front seven prove they can stop it.