OPINION: Bills grades: Week 4 vs. Dolphins

Evaluating how the major elements performed in Buffalo's 48-20 win over Miami on Sunday in Orchard Park

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - It was another stellar performance from the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in a 48-20 win over their AFC East rival Miami Dolphins at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

With the win, the Bills improved to 3-1 and took back the inside track on the division in the early portion of the 2023 season.

Let’s break down how each facet of the game performed:

Josh Allen
Photo credit Gregory Fisher - USA TODAY Sports

Passing offense: A+

Like how the New York Jets have always haunted Josh Allen, the Bills quarterback continues to haunt the Miami Dolphins.

Allen was as perfect as it gets on Sunday with as many passing touchdowns as incompletions against Miami (21-of-25 passing), as well as four passing touchdowns and 320 yards in the air. The 27-year-old also put together a perfect quarterback rating on the afternoon of 158.3.

Eight different players caught a pass from Allen, but it was, once again, the Allen-to-Stefon Diggs combination that inflicted the most damage.

Diggs was just as dominant as his quarterback, reeling in six receptions for 120 yards and three of Allen’s four touchdown passes, tormenting Miami cornerback Kader Kohou all game.

Gabe Davis chipped in with an effective 60 yards and a score of his own, while running back James Cook put the game to bed with a 48-yard reception where he read Allen perfectly on a scramble.

Not to be outdone, the Buffalo offensive line has continued to gel as a unit. The Bills only gave up two sacks, both from a blitzing linebacker in Andrew Van Ginkel.

Miami defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was held in check, while defensive end Bradley Chubb was never even mentioned in this game.

James Cook
Photo credit Gregory Fisher - USA TODAY Sports

Rushing offense: B

Through the first three games of the season, Cook deserved a touchdown. In Week 4, he finally got one.

While it wasn’t Cook’s best game on the ground (2.4 yards per-carry), it was efficient. Buffalo was content with taking some free yards on the ground against Miami’s lackluster defense.

While the run game didn’t really get going, it also did not have to. Latavius Murray had a big run for 29 yards, while Damien Harris was steady with six carries for 29 yards.

Allen also added to the totals with another rushing touchdown.

Greg Rousseau
Photo credit Jamie Germano - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle via USA TODAY Sports

Passing defense: A

Don’t let Miami’s numbers fool anyone, this was a dominant performance by the Buffalo defense. After the first two drives, where a shootout between the two teams seemed imminent, the Bills defense stabilized and made it a tough game for the Dolphins to get anything done.

Without safety Jordan Poyer, the Bills still hummed along with Taylor Rapp in the secondary. Terrel Bernard and Matt Milano continue to be the best linebacker tandem in the league in coverage. Micah Hyde came up with his second interception in as many games.

Buffalo’s pass rush also sacked Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa four times and added nine hits on him, with Greg Rousseau leading the charge with two sacks.

The only reason this grade is not an A+ was the devastating injury to Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, who is done for the season with a torn Achilles. It is a harsh blow not just to the team, but also for White, who was returning to previous form after fighting back from an ACL injury in 2021.

Photo credit Gregory Fisher - USA TODAY Sports

Rushing defense: B

De’Von Achane ran for over 100 yards. However, one of his biggest runs also came when the Dolphins were down by three scores in a game that would somehow end worse for them.

The Bills did struggle in the beginning of the game with some of the reverses and some of Achane’s touchdown runs. That said, after the game’s first two drives, the run game was clamped down, which allowed the Bills to pin their ears back and start causing Miami’s offense some rare problems.

The Bills will continue to give up yards on the ground this season, as far as how the season is trending. The counter is the totals tend to inflate when the Bills have taken a game over.

Sam Martin and Tyler Bass
Photo credit Gregory Fisher - USA TODAY Sports

Special teams: A

Tyler Bass does not miss.

The reigning AFC Special Teams Player of the Month is perfect on the season, going 9-for-9 on field goals and connecting on all 16 extra point attempts. Bass hit field goals of 53 and 33 yards in this game.

Sam Martin was rarely called upon here, with two punts that didn’t see anything get run back.

Return coverage was solid, with the longest return on the day being a 27-yard kick return that didn’t help Miami in any way with field position.

Sean McDermott
Photo credit Timothy T. Ludwig - Getty Images

Coaching: A+

What a masterclass by head coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.

Typically, in play-calling, you plan out a scripted set of about two or three drives worth of plays. Both Buffalo and Miami’s offenses had their way with their scripted play sets.

It was after Miami’s second drive where the coaching of McDermott and Dorsey separated themselves. The Bills offense continued to hum along, putting up points with a dominant passing attack with some timely runs to keep the chains moving, or set up valuable 3rd-and-short layups for the likes of Diggs or tight end Dalton Kincaid.

The Bills didn’t need to blow the top off of Miami’s defense, but Diggs still made Miami pay for when they had Kohou lined up across him.

Big props to Dorsey on the play design for Davis’ touchdown, where a swing pass draws the Miami defenders up and allows Davis to run free toward the end zone. If this consistency in play-calling keeps up, Year 2 for Dorsey as the offensive coordinator will be a much brighter season with some even better numbers.

As for Buffalo’s defense, the adjustments made on the fly by McDermott turned the narrative of this game on its head. The Bills were able to deal with Miami’s speed with a mix of pressure by the defensive line, responsible coverage by Rapp and Hyde to avoid deep shots, and the range of Milano and Bernard helped limit any damage Miami could do with attacking horizontally in the passing game.

What's next:

For now, Buffalo takes the inside lane atop the AFC East. It’s a long season, but falling two games back of Miami for the division would have been subpar. The Bills made sure to avoid any problems there, and stay in front of the division.

Now? London Calling.

The Bills will be flying across the pond to play the Jacksonville Jaguars this coming Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England. Kickoff is set for 9:30 a.m. ET with pregame coverage starting at 6 a.m. ET on the radio home of the Bills - WGR Sports Radio 550.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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Featured Image Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig - Getty Images