Are Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer’s blitzes becoming too predictable?
A staple for Boyer’s defenses since he began coordinating the entire unit in 2020, he has had back-to-back opponents figure the blitzes out for critical conversions and scores.
In the first half of Sunday’s 21-19 win over the Buffalo Bills, twice Allen identified an open area vacated by an extra pass rusher for an easy touchdown pass. First, it was a fourth-down throw to Devin Singletary to cap the opening drive. The next time, it was Singletary picking up a blitzing Jevon Holland as receiver Isaiah McKenzie was wide open on a crosser.
This after the Ravens were overwhelmingly prepared for Dolphins blitzes, which were so effective the previous time they faced quarterback Lamar Jackson, in building a three-touchdown lead on Sept. 18 in Baltimore.
“I mean, you almost have 200 snaps of it over the last couple years on tape,” Boyer said in a Tuesday web conference with reporters. “People have done a lot of different things. We have different adjustments that we use, and I think it’s an evolving chess match as it goes. You got to prepare for it all.
“You’re not quite sure how people are going to approach it, but you have good ideas going in. Sometimes, people will copycat what other teams have done. Sometimes, teams will do what they’ve done in the past. And then, sometimes, we see new stuff. That’s just kind of the ebb and flow of probably all coverages, fronts, blitzes in general.”
While Buffalo and Baltimore entered with counters to Miami’s early blitzes the past two weeks, the Dolphins must also be credited for adjusting in the second half of those games. The Bills were entirely kept out of the end zone after halftime on Sunday, and the previous week, the Ravens only had the long Jackson touchdown run in the second half.
The Dolphins, which blitzed second-most frequently in 2021, actually rank toward the middle of the league in blitz percentage, at 25.5 percent, according to Pro Football Reference.
Over 90 offensive plays for Buffalo on Sunday, the Dolphins had four sacks, one which turned the Bills over for a fumble forced by Jevon Holland and recovered by Melvin Ingram. Ingram had two sacks and forced another fumble. Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah had four of Miami’s 10 quarterback hits overall.
‘Butt punt’ not amusing
Many from wide receiver Trent Sherfield to teammate Tyreek Hill and others from outside the Dolphins got a kick — no pun intended — out of Miami’s “butt punt” late in the win over the Bills, when punter Thomas Morstead booted a punt off Sherfield’s backside. The ricochet caused the ball to go through the back of the end zone for a safety.
One person who doesn’t find it humorous: Dolphins special teams coordinator Danny Crossman.
“Absolutely zero amusement, and 100 percent critical,” Crossman said on Tuesday of his reaction to the blunder. “A mistake that has an opportunity to possibly lose the football game. It never will get a smile from me.”
On Monday, linebacker Duke Riley, who was on the field for the play, tried to make a case that it actually helped Miami. Although giving up 2 points, Riley argued for the difference in field position before Buffalo ultimately ran out of time on its final drive.
Crossman didn’t agree, noting it results in similar yardage to defend but with the opponent only needing a field goal to win instead of a touchdown.
“It’s a momentum play, also, which you don’t ever want to give up,” Crossman said.
He did say it was “good to see” the special teams bounce back on that free kick where Morstead’s 74-yard boot with hangtime got the Bills to start at their own 23-yard line with 1:25 to play.
Crossman said the Dolphins never considered an intentional safety in the situation. He also said that Ogbah got a piece of Bills kicker Tyler Bass’ low missed field goal earlier, and the Dolphins are sending that in to the league for a stat correction.
This story will be updated.