Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bills to focus on Dolphins' inside passing game


As Mario Williams and the Buffalo defense scramble to prepare for Thursday's matchup against against the Miami Dolphins, one piece of the gameplan may get pushed to the wayside: accumulating sacks.

Williams told reporters Tuesday the biggest thing he's noticed in his tape study of Dolphins' quarterback Ryan Tannehill is his quick release, a particular trait that can frustrate a pass rusher all game.

“Watching the film, he gets the ball off quick,” Williams said. “They're going to protect him with being able to get safe, sure routes, get the ball out of his hand so he's not getting hit so he doesn't have to make the first, second and third read.

"A key for us this week is getting batted passes because that's going to be just as good as a sack.”

Buffalo's defense sits in the middle of the pack in sacks and pass deflections, and it has struggled particularly on third down in those categories, allowing teams to keep a lot of drives alive. Miami's quick, slant-and-screen passing game (similar to Buffalo's) involves a slew of receivers and running backs, a quality that not only keeps defenses guessing but leaves Tannehill with a number of options.

“It's priceless,” Miami receiver Brian Hartline told the Finsiders Monday regarding the importance of a deep receiving corps. “It's very important because any quality team you see in the NFL have three, four guys. We have some guys that are capable, we just need to take that next step.”

Bills coach Chan Gailey mirrored Williams's comments about Tannehill's ability on Tuesday, saying the rookie has played extremely well this season despite the three picks he threw in last Sunday's 37-3 loss. Gailey also made sure to mention the troubles a team can face trying to defend a passing attack like Miami's, where timing and speed are crucial.

“You have to tighten your coverage up and then when you do that you take the chance of them max protecting and throwing the ball down the field," Gailey said. "That is the balance you try to strive for — when to play tight, when to play a little softer, and how smart to play out there on the edges. Then you have to take care of those inside guys.”

As far as the inside is concerned, fullback Charles Clay has done well for the 'Phins, as well as tight end Anthony Fasano, who leads all Miami receivers in touchdowns. Hartline and Davone Bess been solid options on the deep route, but the duo has struggled to find the end zone, with only one touchdown combined.

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