Despite a rally that turned a 10-point first-half deficit into a fourth-quarter lead, the Dolphins came up short in the home opener versus division rival Buffalo. The message from the Dolphins coaching staff was in lockstep – they've got to coach it better and execute better.
Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores was asked about the areas the defense has to improve to turn around the 0-2 start.
"Communication, run defense, pass defense – we've got a lot of corrections to make," Flores said. "There were some bright spots, some improvements in a few areas; but too many big plays and getting off the field on third down. Look, there are critical moments in the game where there are plays to be made, communication that has to be made and we've got to make them, and we didn't do that yesterday."
The Buffalo passing game spread each of the four touchdowns to different targets, but it was the newest member of the receiving corps – Stefon Diggs, who's coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with Minnesota – that led Buffalo with 153 receiving yards.
The Dolphins lost premier cover corner Byron Jones on the fourth snap of the game to a groin injury. Jones matched up with Diggs on those four snaps, but his absence forced the Dolphins to adjust. Flores addressed Jones' injury Monday, saying there's no update at this time.
Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer broke down the adjustment to try to get a handle on Diggs and what goes into the decisions behind certain matchups.
"The routes they run, the type of receivers they are and the type of movement they do within their scheme," Boyer said. "We put guys in spots we feel will be best for them."
It was a tall task for rookie cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, in his second game, to be matched up with one of the league's best. Flores praised Igbinoghene's mental toughness, a trait that is required to play under the Miami head coach.
"Noah is a mentally tough kid," Flores said. "I think playing against a receiver of that caliber the entire day after an injury, getting put in that position, he had some instances where he covered him well and then he had a lot of instances where (Stefon) Diggs was able to get open against him. I think it's a good experience for him. I think he'll learn from it."
The Miami offense scored a touchdown on its second possession of the game, but would not score again until the sixth time with the football, the final possession of the first half. From that point, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins offense scored 21 points and mounted drives of 48, 85, 44 and 75 yards.
Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey talked Monday about the adjustments his unit made to kick start the offense's production.
"We had a couple of passes that we felt we could take advantage of since they had everybody up near the ball," Gailey said. We were able to get guys in behind the linebackers and make some plays and we were able to get that done."
Gailey continued to divulge on the offensive plan, particularly the looks the Buffalo defense gave that made running the ball difficult.
"A lot of times defenses dictate your running game," Gailey said. "The reason we were able to hit so many play-action passes is because they played the defender up in the box. You can hand it off with the extra defender but you might only gain one or two yards. The biggest thing is to be efficient when you do run it."
Preston Williams is 10 months removed from reconstructive knee surgery. After a sterling camp that saw the speedy, shifty 6-foot-5 receiving picking up where he left off at the end of his rookie campaign, Williams has three catches through the first two games.
Asked about the production and the offense's attempts to get the ball to the lengthy, athletic receiver, Gailey reminded the media which player on the Dolphins' offense is garnering attention from the opposition's best cover guys.
"They put their number one corner on Preston most of the game yesterday," Gailey said. "That shows a lot of respect for who they think Preston is. That's part of it. We've got to continue to find out the things he's doing well and make sure we're incorporating those things he does well."
The road doesn't get easier for Miami. Facing a pair of 2019 playoff teams to kick off the season, the Dolphins go on the road on a short week with a trip to Jacksonville.
"We want to turn the page after a tough loss and we have an opportunity to do that," Flores said. "At the same time, we want to make the corrections from the game yesterday and get focused on Jacksonville. They're a tough competitive team, they are playing well and this will be a tough game for us. We've got to prepare for that in a short amount of time."
Thursday marks the 10th meeting between the in-state rivals since the Jaguars inaugural season in 1995. Jacksonville has the advantage 5-4 courtesy of the one playoff meeting between the two. Kickoff is at 8:20 EDT on NFL Network.