BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bills have started the season with a 2-0 record for the second year in a row after beating Miami 31-28 in week two, but for the first time in a while, the Buffalo defense is the position group that struggled the most against the Dolphins.
Without starting linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano, who were out with shoulder and knee injuries respectively, the Bills defense allowed 328 passing yards and two touchdowns, and 99 yards rushing with another touchdown on the ground.
Even though the defense held on to come away with the win, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier saw some positives, and negatives, from his defense.
“I liked the way our guys battled. I didn’t necessarily like the points allowed, I’d like to keep the points down, but our guys battled and gave great effort, came up with a really timely goal line stand that was important for us in the course of that game,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said to reporters on Zoom. “We had key third down stops along the way, but gave up a cheap touchdown at end of the game, and points at the end of the half. In the previous two minute situation going to the next two minute situation we gave up three points, I really didn’t like to see that happen.”
That “cheap touchdown” at the end of the game came on an eight-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Mike Gesicki over Levi Wallace. The tight end was Miami’s leading receiver against the Bills, and he finished with 130 yards on eight receptions and that one TD.
Wallace, on the other hand, finished as the Bills top defender with 10 total tackles, including seven solo, and he made the huge fourth down stop in the Buffalo goal line stand to keep the Dolphins from scoring in the third, but he also had his fair share of misses when it came to defending Gesicki on Sunday.
“That second half it seemed like they really started targeting him, coming out of the half. In Levi’s case when people are doing that, you’ve got to make a play to get them off of you,” Frazier said of Wallace’s performance on Sunday. “He made a couple plays here and there, but you’ve just got to keep consistently doing that, otherwise they’re going to come at you because they’re going to rarely target Tre’Davious White for obvious reasons, so the guy who’s opposite Tre’Davious is going to get the work.”
“You have to know that going into the game and prepare mentally for that. The only way to get him off of you is to find a way to make some plays,” Frazier said.
As for the positives from the Bills defense, Frazier praised backup linebackers Tyrel Dodson and A.J. Klein for their performance against the Dolphins and how they handled coming in as starters on Sunday and commanding the defense when they stepped onto the field.
On top of the linebackers, Frazier is pleased to see the duo of Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison compliment each other by making big plays on the defensive line.
“We’re pleased with Jerry and Mario, they’re excellent pass rushers, the more time on task they have, the better they’re going to get working together, the more comfortable we’re going to be to use them at the same time, same series,” Frazier said “Without a preseason, some of this is growing and learning as we go, they’re beginning to gel a little bit, it’s still early, but we expect that combination is going to be really good for us over time.”
“When we line up a guy like Mario in a different spot, we’re trying to create a miss-match on some of those guards. Sometimes it works out for us, sometimes it doesn’t, it happened to work out for us yesterday,” Frazier said.
“We create a miss-match because of his athleticism on a guard, we’ll do that from time to time. It gives the offense a different look, it makes the offensive line have to think a little bit about how they want to handle their pass-rush when Jerry or Mario isn’t in their typical spots.”