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Other Week 15 Game Recaps

Week 15 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 16, Buffalo Bills 24

What you need to know

Miami Dolphins

A week after their biggest win of the season against the Patriots, the Dolphins let a win and their playoff hopes slip with their 24-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Jay Cutler reverted back to the Jay Cutler of old, completing 28 of 49 passes for no touchdowns and three interceptions. Running back Kenyan Drake was spectacular once again, rushing 16 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, while also catching six passes for 35 yards. Jarvis Landry led the Dolphins in targets, receptions and yards, totaling 10 catches for 99 yards. DeVante Parker had his most productive game of the season, catching six passes for 89 yards. Parkerís big game came at the expense of Kenny Stills who was all but absent, catching only one pass for eight yards. Julius Thomas played his usual role, which is to say a minimal one, catching only two passes for 15 yards.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins and continue to hold onto the six seed in the AFC. Buffalo's defense played well the offense was able to get in positive game script after getting an early score. Buffalo's offense works well with positive game script where they can feed LeSean McCoy and rely on Tyrod Taylor's rushing ability while limiting mistakes. Tyrod Taylor threw the ball well to Charles Clay and had key completions to LeSean McCoy including a red zone touchdown. LeSean McCoy had limited running room, but managed to score a receiving and a rushing touchdown.

Miami Dolphins

QB Jay Cutler, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 49 - 274 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0
Jay Cutler completed 28 of 49 passes for 274 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions against the Bills on Sunday. I had heard it mentioned several times that Cutler did not like playing in cold weather, which is interesting considering his former teams were the Broncos and the Bears, but nevertheless, Cutler played really poorly when the Dolphins needed him most. A week after carving up the Patriots, Cutler showed why prior to being offered a cool 10 million dollars for a yearís worth of work, he was working in the boothÖand not as a coach, but as a broadcaster. The 274 yards were more of a combination of his total passing volume (49 attempts) than it was Cutler creating big plays. In fact, Cutlerís longest pass of those of 49 attempts went for 36 yards, and it was DeVante Parker who made a great catch on the play because it was not an accurate pass on Cutlerís part. Some credit goes to the Bills defense, who were in Cutlerís face the entire game and did very well in containing the Dolphins receivers. The Dolphins did a great job of making this a game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, converting a 26 field goal to cut the Buffalo lead to eight. Then they recovered an onside kick and had the ball with 39 seconds left at the Buffalo 37 yard line. Then, Jay Cutler struck again, throwing a game sealing interception that was not even close to a Miami receiver. It was one thing to watch a rookie like Browns quarterback Deshone Kizer try to make a play in overtime and throw a bad interception, it is something completely else to see a veteran like Cutler make that mistake with the Dolphins season literally on the line. Unfortunately for him, that will end up being his career legacy. He has the arm strength of a Hall of Famer quarterback, but it always seemed like he didnít care enough to will his team to victory. That is easy to say sitting at home watching the games on television, but for 10 million, youíd think the Dolphins could have done a lot better for the money.

RB Kenyan Drake, 72 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 78 - 1, Rec: 6 - 35 - 0 (11 targets)
Kenyan Drake rushed 16 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, while also catching six passes for 35 yards against the Bills. Drake was the lone bright spot for the Dolphins, continually churning out yardage and really keeping Miami in the game when the rest of the offense was stagnant. Drakeís longest play of the game came on a 31 yard play where he was supposed to run off-tackle right, but he saw that his hole had closed up so he bounced the run outside and just outran the Buffalo linebackers. It was the type of play that only a few running backs in the league can make because it took not only the foresight and vision to see that the original hole had closed up, but also to have the speed to beat the rest of the defenders to the edge and break off 31 yards. If it werenít for Drake, the Dolphins offense would be in serious trouble, because his ability to generate big plays have set up nearly all of the Dolphins touchdowns since heís become the starter. With Damien Williams expected back in full health next week, it will be interesting to see whether Adam Gase gives Drake his just due, and allows him to be the unquestioned bell-cow back for the Dolphins final two games.

WR Jarvis Landry, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 99 - 0 (13 targets)
Jarvis Landry caught 10 of 13 targets for 99 yards on a day when the Dolphins offense struggled to move the ball outside of Landry and Kenyan Drake. One a night when Jay Cutler was consistently inaccurate, Landry came up with several nice catches, including one in traffic where he ran a crossing route and Cutler delivered the ball in a tight window. Landry made the catch, but was nearly sandwiched by two defenders right at the point of making the catch. This happens at least once a week, and it is a true testament to Landryís toughness, because Cutler has left him out to dry so many times this year and Landry continues to not only make the catch, but continue to stay in the game.

WR DeVante Parker, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 89 - 0 (12 targets)
DeVante Parker caught six of 12 targets for 89 yards against the Bills. On the plus side, Parker did catch his second most passes in a game, and the 89 yards was a season high for him. On the downside, Parker was only able to reel in half of his targets, and he was once again, on the wrong end of a Jay Cutler interception. Parkerís long gain of the game on a 36 yard catch where Cutler threw the ball up and let Parker make a play, which he did. Outside of that catch, Parkerís other five catches went for 53 yards, and most of them came on short slants, crossing and comeback routes. He was targeted down the field, but Cutler routinely overthrew him or could not put the ball in a place where Parker could make a play for his team.

WR Kenny Stills, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (6 targets)
Kenny Stills caught only one pass for eight yards on six targets against the Bills on Sunday. Stillís lack of production came at the expense of DeVante Parker being more involved in the game plan, as one of the two of these receivers will suffer from week to week with Jarvis Landry seeing the lionís share of targets from Jay Cutler. Stills has outplayed Parker for most of the season, but with the Dolphins now out of the playoffs, it will make sense for Adam Gase to get Parker more involved so that he can see whether they have a true #1 wide receiver on their team for the future.

TE Julius Thomas, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (4 targets)
Julius Thomas caught two of four targets for 15 yards against the Bills on Sunday. Thomas is usually given one or two isolation plays where he lines up on the outside and has a chance to make a play down the field, he has only been able to take advantage of those plays once this season, while also drawing one pass interference call. Cutler likes to look his way in the red zone, but the Dolphins have not been down there nearly enough to make him a viable fantasy starter, and in this game, Thomas dropped what should have been an easy touchdown catch. Even worse, it looks as though he will be an off-season cap casualty, so the Dolphins coaching staff could be looking at some of the other younger tight ends on the roster in the last two games.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 29 - 224 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 42 - 1
Tyrod Taylor played well against Miami. He had two big throws to Charles Clay where he showed touch and precision in tight coverage. Taylor was able to create more time in the pocket and extend plays for key conversions. Taylor struggled in the deep passing game, unable to hit Zay Jones and Deonte Thompson on multiple deep throws. He did throw an on target ball to Jones that was dropped. Taylor accounted for two touchdowns in the game. His passing touchdown was a wheel route to LeSean McCoy out of the slot that was opened up by a Charles Clay rub technique. Taylor also rushed for a score on a designed QB draw. The play was set up well by motioning to an empty set where there were four receivers to the right side that drew the defensive attention away left side of the field where Taylor ran the draw.

RB LeSean McCoy, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 50 - 1, Rec: 4 - 46 - 1 (5 targets)
LeSean McCoy had a high-volume but low efficiency day against the Dolphins. He touched the ball 24 times with 20 rushes and 4 receptions, but only totaled 96 yards. McCoy scored two touchdowns which buoyed his fantasy day. His first was a rushing touchdown on a red zone carry up the middle. The second was a pass where McCoy was split into the slot. He ran a wheel route with the benefit of a rub from Charles Clay to get him open for the score. McCoy was shaken up in the first half and he needed the trainers to help him off the field, but he returned a play later and saw no limitation. McCoy struggled to find running room as the Miami front overmatched the Buffalo line for the better part of the game.

RB Travaris Cadet, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 24 - 0, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets)
Travaris Cadet ran as the clear second back behind LeSean McCoy. He saw brief opportunities spelling McCoy, but was limited to only five touches. Cadet is a dependable player in the offense but operates solely as a backup. When he does enter the game, he is used in similar ways as McCoy.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (2 targets)
Kelvin Benjamin had limited involvement in the Buffalo passing game with only two catches. Benjamin had success in recent games when Nathan Peterman was under center, but is not a good fit with Tyrod Taylor's passing style. Benjamin is best as an intermediate middle of the field route runner or along the deep perimeter, two places where Taylor does not show comfort throwing the ball which hurts Benjamin's production. Benjamin missed snaps for a portion of the game as a result of his continued knee problems.

WR Deonte Thompson, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (4 targets)
Deonte Thompson was limited to only one catch on a crossing route against Miami. Thompson was targeted twice deep but both throws by Taylor were off target. Thompson operated as the preferred deep threat in the Buffalo offense despite being unable to convert on his targets.

WR Zay Jones, 44 offensive snaps (2 targets)
Zay Jones had minimal involvement in the Buffalo offense. He had two deep targets, one that was overthrown, and another that was dropped in contested coverage. Jones has struggled throughout the season to create separation and make difficult catches. He has fallen in the order of priority behind Deonte Thompson in the offense.

TE Charles Clay, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 68 - 0 (9 targets)
Charles Clay had a solid day against his former team. Clay had two chunk plays across the middle of the field. He was the most dependable pass catcher in the Buffalo offense and look healthy despite his earlier struggles with injuries. The rest of Clay's day was spent in the short passing game. Clay did have a drop, but is the most dependable passing option outside of LeSean McCoy.