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You want to focus on one match-up in Sunday’s game against the Bills? Try this one: Anyone who is attempting to block Buffalo defensive lineman Mario Williams.
And believe me when I tell you this will be a team effort and a real measuring stick for an offensive line that desperately needs an injection of confidence and a nice, clean solid, uneventful performance against the Bills.
Williams is by far the most dominating defensive player on the Bills. He already has eight sacks. The rest of the team has 12 ½. He is a freak of sorts, huge enough to be mistaken for a defensive tackle yet quick enough to line up wherever he well pleases. The Dolphins have to figure out a way to contain him or, at the very least, slow him down.
If you look at the defensive stat line late Sunday afternoon and Mario Williams put up only pedestrian numbers then the Dolphins have an excellent opportunity to finish the day with an oh-so-nice 4-2 record. But if Williams dominates, if he introduces himself the Ryan Tannehill over and over again, then it could be a long, frustrating day.
“He has the ability to take over a game,” said Dolphins tackle Tyson Clabo of Williams. “It’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Under normal conditions this is an imposing challenge for any offensive line. But these aren’t normal conditions for the Dolphins. These are tough times. Twenty-four sacks in five games have left this offensive line stained with questions and doubt. Nobody is backing away from the issue. Everyone is accepting accountability. Last time we saw the Dolphins, they gave up six sacks to the Ravens. That simply can’t continue.
But accountability is one thing; productivity is another. This starting offensive line has had a week off to ponder the issues. There is no one unit on this team that faces more pressure, more uncertainty, in Sunday’s game at Sun Life Stadium.
“We realize all eyes are on us,” said guard Richie Incognito. “It’s time to get going no matter what it takes.”
And what it will take against the Bills is a unified effort to contain this giant of man – Super Mario if you will — who is finally healthy and who will try to confuse you with different looks and different moves. One play he is over the left tackle; the next over the right tackle. Then it might be the center’s turn. On some plays he is actually standing up. Bottom Line: Circle big No. 94 on your Buffalo roster. He is a player that demands your attention.
“We’ll all get a chance to see him,” Clabo said.
Added Incognito: “He’s a one-on-one nightmare.”
So then don’t just play him one-on-one. “We’ll need help,” said center Mike Pouncey. “We’ll need a chip block from the tight end or a running back to get involved. It takes a well coordinated effort to contain this guy.”
This is an important game for the Dolphins. No downplaying that. After surprising us with a 3-0 start, there have been back-to-back losses, first at New Orleans and then at home to the Ravens. It is imperative that they get things right again, that they go 1-0 in the AFC East heading into next Sunday’s game at New England. Common sense says they should win this game. But common sense doesn’t always prevail.
The bye week came at a good time. The injured, for the most part, have healed. The staff has done a lot of self-scouting. Strengths have been discussed; weaknesses underlined. But most of the questions, most of the concerns, most of the uncertainties, have justifiably centered around this offensive line.
That is expected when you give up two dozen sacks and when you’re running game has produced very little. Jonathan Martin. Incognito. Pouncey. John Jerry. Clabo. You know who they are; you know what they have to do. As promising as things look for this team, as much as we’ve seen steady improvement from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, unless the big men up front can reverse a disappointing trend, does any of the other stuff really matter?
This is the challenge facing the offensive line on Sunday. Prove that the talent is there. Find some consistency, some continuity. Quiet the skeptics. Protect Tannehill. Keep his jersey clean. Give the running backs a crease. And always keep an eye out for Mario Williams, who may be as good as any defensive lineman they will face.
“Nobody is interested in excuses,” said Incognito. “We know what we have to do.”
And Sunday against the Bills would seem like the perfect time to do it.
On Monday, AC in the AM breaks down what happened against the Bills.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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