Mike Nolan’s defensive scheme was everything Dolphins fans dreamed it would be. Outside of a complete blown coverage by Tyrone Culver and a couple dropped pix sixes, the defense was nothing short of dominate for most of the game.
The pass rush was swarming, any deficiencies in the secondary were masked, and the run defense held Buffalo’s trio to a mere 50 yards on the ground. No, the Bills didn’t play a great game offensively, and they made a few mistakes that killed brief spurts of momentum, but that defense looked like the real deal to me.
Individually, Dansby suited the role of monumental upgrade at linebacker, Chris Clemons was flying all over the field making sure tackles, and Cameron Wake got in on his first of hopefully many sacks this season, and looked virtually unblockable on numerous other plays.
All in all, a poor mistake made by Dan Carpenter when he kicked the ball out of bounds in the second quarter, and, once again, that miserably blown coverage by Culver on fourth down, arguably prevented the Dolphins from shutting the Bills out. But, hey, holding them to only 166 yards of total offense in a season opening win will surely suffice.
Offensively, it got a little ugly in that second-half. Conservative play calling and decision making by Henne, Marshall’s dropped bomb, and lack of execution on first and second down, kept Miami’s offense in check against a projected mediocre defense.
On a positve note, they didn’t make any costly mistakes by turning the ball over, and the running game finally got going a little bit late in the game. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 127 yards, with Ronnie throwing in the Dolphins’ one and only touchdown.
Is 13 points going to cut it against playoff caliber teams? Probably not, but a win is a win, and the Dolphins are 1-0 for the first time since 2005, 1-0 for the first time under Sparano, and most importantly, 1-0 in the AFC East.
More evaluation to come tonight and tomorrow. The full box score can be found here.
Game Ball: Karlos Dansby, ILB- 8 tackles, 1 sack