After making a big splash in free agency in the offseason, the Miami Dolphins got off to a 3-0 start in 2013. The Dolphins' play has dropped off since then, with the team losing to New Orleans and Baltimore in their last two games.
Miami will look to get back on track coming off its bye week when the Dolphins host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Buffalo and Miami split their games in 2012, with the Bills winning 19-14 in week 11 and the Dolphins winning 24-10 in week 16.
The Daily Messenger asked Andrew Abramson, the NFL reporter for the Palm Beach Post, some questions about this year's Dolphins.
Q: Miami made a big splash in the offseason, how are those signings working out so far?
A: It's been a mixed bag. Cornerback Brent Grimes signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins after tearing his achilles last year when he was with Atlanta. He's emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the AFC this season and has been a steal. Receiver Mike Wallace, who was paid a hefty sum to be Ryan Tannehill's deep threat, has shown flashes of promise but is also struggling to hold on to the ball. The Dolphins wanted quicker, more athletic linebackers so they replaced veterans Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett with Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. Ellerbe is among the league leaders in tackles but has often given up yards before bringing his man down. Wheeler has struggled in pass coverage but appears to be improving.
Q: Despite the early bye week, Ryan Tannehill is the most-sacked quarterback in the league. Why is Miami struggling to protect him?
A: That's the million-dollar question in Miami. Left guard Richie Incognito has played well this season while center Mike Pouncey and left tackle Jonathan Martin have been adequate. But right tackle Tyson Clabo, who was signed in the offseason, and right guard John Jerry have really struggled in protection. Tannehill has been guilty at times of holding on to the ball too long which has resulted in some of the sacks, but the offensive line completely collapsed in Miami's week five loss to Baltimore.
Q: How has Tannehill improved since coming into the NFL?
A: Tannehill's accuracy and demeanor have improved since his rookie season. He seems to have command of the huddle and he's been cool under pressure, including a beautifully-executed game winning drive against Atlanta in week three. However, his deep ball still needs work and his pocket presence has not been impressive.
Q: Miami's run game seems to be struggling; do they miss Reggie Bush?
A: Absolutely. The Dolphins are averaging just 69.6 rushing yards per game, which is the least in a season in Dolphins history — and this is a team that did not run the ball well for most of the Dan Marino era. Starter Lamar Miller has shown some flashes of speed and elusiveness, but he hasn't shown an ability to grind it out for the extra yards. The Dolphins have also abandoned the run early in games so attempts for Miller and backup Daniel Thomas have been relatively minimal.
Page 2 of 2 - Q: Who is a player on the Dolphins that Bills fans may not have heard of, but will have a big impact on Sunday's game?
A: Charles Clay was supposed to play more of an H-back role for Miami this season but was elevated to starting tight end after offseason signee Dustin Keller tore his ACL in the preseason. Clay is turning into a gifted pass-catching tight end although his blocking still needs some work. He is already on pace to break Miami's single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end.
Q: The Dolphins come away with a win on Sunday if …
A: Tannehill can return to the form that we saw in the first three games when Miami started out 3-0. The Dolphins also need defensive end Cam Wake to return from a mild knee sprain and put the pressure on Thad Lewis.
Follow Andrew Abramson on Twitter at AbramsonPBP and Dan Goldman at MPN_DanGoldman.