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From the Booth: Bills at Dolphins

Posted Oct 22, 2013

Some leftover notes from Sunday’s Bills win in Miami over the Dolphins.

-The Bills have backed off the pace very slightly on the offensive side of the ball in the last few weeks. After averaging 75 offensive plays per game for the previous four weeks (Carolina, Jets, Baltimore and Cleveland) the Bills have averaged 68 plays in each of the last two games (Bengals, Dolphins). The reason?  Maybe it’s an attempt to ease in new Quarterback Thad Lewis. Maybe it’s an effort to take some of the pressure off the Buffalo defense by burning more clock.  Ball control may be even more of an issue this Sunday with a game against the Saints high octane attack.

-I believe we are seeing the emergence of Marcell Dareus as a defensive force for the Bills, the way most people envisioned him when the team made him the third overall pick in the draft in 2011.  Dareus is coming off one of the best games of his career against the Dolphins on Sunday. Playing 79-percent of the Bills defensive snaps, Dareus finished with six total tackles against Miami. The analytics folks at Pro Football Focus credit him with four stops in the game (they define “stops” as the cumulative number of solo defensive tackles which constitute an offensive failure ((including sacks)) ). This means tackles made 7-8 yards downfield after a gain by the offense are not counted as stops. For the season, PFF ranks Dareus number one in the league among Defensive tackles with 26 stops. 

At age 23, Dareus is still a baby in the NFL. But he’s come a long way this season in terms of being physically ready to play. And he’s the beneficiary of some great mentoring from his teammates on the defensive line, especially Kyle Williams and Mario Williams. He also appears to be getting great coaching from Anthony Weaver.

-Rookie CB Nickel Robey’s pick six on the third play of the game got everyone’s attention. But if you’ve been closely following the Bills this year, you already had to know that Robey is off to a great start.

Besides the interception return for the touchdown, Robey only allowed one pass completion out of his slot corner spot against Miami.  That was a five yard Ryan Tannehill pass to Brandon Gibson.

Again, back to the PFF.com numbers—they say Robey has allowed just 0.54 yards per coverage for the snaps he’s taken in the slot corner spot, 2nd best in the NFL.  And PFF says he hasn’t given up a touchdown yet—and opposing quarterbacks have a QB rating of 35.8 when they throw into Robey’s coverage.  That’s the best in the NFL.

Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone says he has Robey in his sights as an undrafted rookie free agent after his Syracuse team went up against Robey’s USC Trojans in the Meadowlands last year.

“We knew a little bit more about him, having faced him in college, “ Marrone said Monday. The Head Coach says Robey is capable of making many more big plays. “When you start talking about that, it’s great, because you have someone that has very good instincts, someone that can make those plays.  You’re looking for him to do that more often,” Marrone said.

-It’s apparent when you sit in the radio booth at Sun Life Stadium that the Miami Dolphins have some work to do rebuilding their fan base. On an uncomfortably hot, mostly sunny Sunday, the stadium was never more than two-thirds full, despite the fact that the team announced a sellout with 60,592 fans. There’s very little noise or passion in the stadium and the fans come and go whenever they please, without much regard to the action on the field.

With a three game losing streak, and a visit to New England up next Sunday, the Dolphins may have to wait a while before their fans get excited again (if they ever do).