The Dolphins know they need to improve and are moving ahead to the Buffalo game. Following a 21-11 loss in the opener, Brian Flores addressed some of the areas the team needs to tweak for a tough Buffalo team next Sunday.
"As a team, we've got to be better across the board," Flores said. "Offense, defense, special teams, there were some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of after watching the film. That includes the quarterback position; but it includes all of the positions. We need better play from everybody, we need better coaching and that starts with me. There is a little bit to go around at every position. Every position, every position coach, we all have to be better."
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24 hours later
One upshot of Miami's trip to Foxborough was the marked improvement in pass protection from a year ago. With two rookies, two free agent signings and one incumbent, Ryan Fitzpatrick had room to operate for four quarters.
"I thought that the protection was solid. We had room to step up and time to throw it," Flores said. "Obviously we can always improve in that area. We're going to need similar protection this week against a really good front, a good defense. I think those young guys got off to a solid start, but it's about consistency in this league."
Fitzpatrick assessed the play of his offensive line post-game Sunday, particularly the demeanor of the two rookies in Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley.
"I didn't really get touched a whole lot back there and just in terms of their mood and mentality and the way they were in the huddle, I thought that was all really good to see," Fitzpatrick said. "Definitely a different vibe out there with no fans, but those guys were into it. And from what I can tell I thought they did a nice job."
Jackson and Kindley combined to allow only one pressure (a hurry on Kindley) according to Pro Football Focus.
Jackson, the NFL's third-youngest player (behind cornerback Noah Igbinoghene and Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen) pitched a clean sheet in his first career game (zero quarterback pressures). He spoke about the performance on Monday.
"I expect to show up and compete every day, but there's still a lot of things I need to work on and get better at," Jackson said. "Just keep doing the things I'm doing well but keep working to get better every day."
He continued with some praise for the anchor in the middle in Ted Karras.
"(Karras) is the head honcho of the offensive line," Jackson said. "The big brains, those guys see everything. He's been a great leader for the young guys, me and Solomon. He's put his hand out and helped us every step of the way."
Karras is one of two captains on that front (Jesse Davis the other). Karras addressed the play of his positional companions in the season opener.
"(The Patriots) have a very unique rush," Karras said. "I think we did a good job, but obviously not good enough to win. We want to rush the ball a little bit better and hold onto it for our defense a little bit more. (There are) a lot of things we have to work on. We're going to watch the film and get better."
He followed up with his thoughts on the performance with the two rookies.
"They did great. I told them I was proud of them," Karras said. "They fought very hard like the rest of us, and it was a game and a hard-fought battle. We just didn't come out on top today."
Rookie Brandon Jones also made his NFL debut Sunday in New England for the Dolphins defense and contributed with 10 combined tackles. Monday, Jones talked about what it is about his game that led to that production in the opener.
"Just my preparation, the type of guy I am," Jones said. "I am a firm believer in relentless effort and that's a pillar in our program. Doing whatever I can to get to the ball. The play's not dead until the whistle's dead, that's my mindset and how I'm wired. Being able to read your keys, see what you need to see and not see too much."
Turning the page
The draw of the NFL is the unrivaled competition. Each week pits two teams full of the world's greatest athletes for electrifying action and unparalleled drama every Sunday. Six days from now, the Dolphins will re-open Hard Rock Stadium for the first home game since December 23 and that wild overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The 1-0 Buffalo Bills and third-year quarterback Josh Allen are making the trip to South Florida.
"Josh Allen is big, strong, fast. He had something like 60 yards rushing yesterday," Flores said "Some similarities to what we saw yesterday. Obviously we're trying to get a lot of that fixed now – from an edge-setting standpoint, from a tackling standpoint – schematically. We'll work on that over the course of the week, just from a technique, fundamentals and practice standpoint. Hopefully it helps us on Sunday next week."
Dolphins safety and captain Bobby McCain has seen Allen four times in his career, registering a sack in Miami's 2018 win over Allen and the Bills. He spoke postgame about the challenges of another big, athletic quarterback.
"We know Josh Allen is a good quarterback in this league," McCain said. "He's got a strong arm and he is a good runner. We have to be prepared and we have to do a better job of keeping him in his pocket and keeping the quarterback runs to a minimum and try to make them one-dimensional. They're a good team. We'll get the scouting report this week and we'll get started on the week, have a good week of practice and be prepared."
McCain also offered praise for Jones in his first game, crediting his instincts and play speed for the production Jones put forth on Sunday.
Rookie offensive lineman Austin Jackson discussed his early preparations for Week 2 and his second NFL game.
"I looked at their game against the Jets, working on the defense early, identifying their guys," Jackson said. "They run a different defense than the Patriots do so it'll be fun to get a look at a different defense."