Bills defense stays hot despite injuries, but Dolphins pose stiff challenge – Buffalo Bills Blog

BUFFALO, NY — After two defensive tackles against the Tennessee Titans and 2020 rushing champion Derrick Henry, the Buffalo Bills looked like they could take on a challenge. A season earlier, the Bills defense had given up 143 yards and three touchdowns to Henry in a 34-31 loss.

But this time it was different. The Bills defense showed for the second straight week how good this group can be, limiting Henry to 25 yards and the Titans offense to 187 in all in a 41-7 win.

The Bills offense understandably gets a lot of attention during the first two weeks of this season. Quarterback Josh Allen receives early MVP buzz and leads the league in a total of QBR (87.1). But the defense does a fair share of the job, ranking in the top three in nearly every major defensive statistic category, including #2 in total defense (215 yards per game). The unit did not allow points in the second half despite being without multiple starters.

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“I thought [defensive coordinator] Leslie Frazier and the defensive staff have come up with a great plan [against the Titans]said coach Sean McDermott. “The players have executed. Just fundamentally strong, really more than anything.”

Henry had just 7 rushing yards before coming in contact with the Bills, his least since being held against 5 in Denver in 2019. He was contacted on or behind the line of scrimmage on five of his 13 rushes. Not only did the Bills prevent the Titans from scoring after their first run, the Titans only made it into Buffalo territory one more time throughout the game.

That was without defensive tackle Ed Oliver (ankle) and rotating defensive tackle Tim Settle (calf) up front, in addition to losing cornerback Dane Jackson (neck), who had to be taken off the field in an ambulance at the end of the game. second quarter. Practice squad defensive tackles Brandin Bryant and CJ Brewer were asked to contribute, alongside veteran Jordan Phillips, who leads the team in pressure percentage (15.4%). Phillips (hamstring) and safety Micah Hyde (neck) did not train on Wednesday.

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“You have to trust that the guys who can potentially step into roles, if someone can’t play, can handle the game plan,” Frazier said.

With Jackson’s injury and cornerback Tre’Davious White still in reserve/PUP as he recovers from a torn ACL in his left knee, rookies Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam will likely be asked to play many more snaps, with both expected to start after running in the number 2 corner spot the first two weeks.

“It ultimately comes down to communication alone,” said safety Jordan Poyer. “You just have to make sure we’re all on the same page at the back. [The rookie corners], I trust them. I know if I get a call, I can give them a call and they can make it happen.”

The rookies are challenged in a big way against the Dolphins passing attack led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Tagovailoa passed for 469 yards on Sunday in a win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Since early 2021, the Bills have been the best in the league at taking the deep ball away. They rank first in opponent’s QBR and have not given up touchdowns on passes from 20 or more yards downfield. In five games against Hill, the Bills have managed to limit the former Chiefs receiver to 12.05 yards per reception and score one touchdown.

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“[Hill] is an outstanding receiver and one of the best in our industry,” said Frazier. “But for us, the way we defend, it’s a collective effort between our secondary and our rush and our linebackers.”

That’s in part due to the Bills’ ability to go after the quarterback without blitzing (5.2%, second lowest in the NFL), while second in the league in sacks (9.0) and fifth in quarterback contact percentage (28.7%). It helps that one of the newest Bills, Von Miller, is second in the league in pass rush win rate (46.4%).

“We have a dominant attitude,” Miller said. “We don’t play the game just to win the game, we play the game to dominate the game. And we have a squad full of killers.”

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