When completely healthy, the Buffalo Bills have one of the safest pairs in the NFL with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. As of Saturday, however, the Bills will be forced to play without one of them for an entire season.
Hyde is placed on the injured bench and will likely miss the rest of the season due to a neck injury he sustained in Monday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. While it was not expected that Hyde would play this Sunday after being sent off in the fourth half of Monday’s game, missing out for the rest of the season came as a surprise. Hurt kept piling up for Bills.
While the team’s attack was one of the best in the league, Buffalo’s defense was soon their strongest point. When you hold the defending Super Bowl champion and the defending No. 1 seed AFC to 17 aggregate points, I don’t care how good your attack is, it’s the strength of the team. . However, Sunday could see some of the Bills’ brightest defensive stars restricted to the sidelines. Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips, Dane Jackson, and apparently Micah Hyde were absent. Poyer is also listed as having problems. While it looks like he will be playing for now, he will likely play injured.
So, to recap, two defensive tackles, a cornerback, and two of the best safeties in the NFL will be out or playing hobbled for the Bills. They play the Dolphins tomorrow, who have two of the fastest receivers in the NFL. The Bills’ interior pass rush is shot to shit and they won’t have their best options over the top. If anyone has an opportunity to knock the Bills off their pedestal, it’s the Dolphins right now.
Keep in mind, Hyde has only missed two games since taking over the Bills’ full-time safety job in 2017. The Bills won both those games, but they were against Marcus Mariota and 2020 Cam Newton — not exactly the best competition. Tagovailoa has looked better thus far in 2022 than he ever has before, and thus, this could be the Bills’ first real test without their All-Pro safety since he joined the squad. Not to mention, Hyde has some of the greatest DB instincts in the game, without him, Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel should have a much easier time getting Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle open deep. The moment that Hyde’s replacement Jaquan Johnson takes a step in, Tua will be ready to hit Hill on the deep post.
I’m not saying the Bills are screwed. Poyer, even if injured, has incredible instincts as well and should be able to cover his side of the field very well, even if he’s a step slower than he normally would be. Also, despite the absence of both Oliver and Phillips, the Bills’ two best pass rushers — Gregory Rousseau and Von Miller — are fully healthy. While the two of them have done well getting to the quarterback (four combined sacks), they only have six pressures between the two of them, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
Dolphins’ attack line ranks 9th in sack ratio adjustment for two weeks. Without the same passing capacity from Oliver (73.7 pass in 2021) and Phillips (82.5 pass so far in 2022) on the inside, it would be even more difficult. more difficult for Miller, Rousseau and perhaps AJ Epenesa to get to Tua. That lack of pressure could allow deeper routes to develop, and giving any quarterback too much time with Hill and Waddle is a spell for disaster.
The Bills’ offense is more likely to lead the team to victory, but this game could be more like a shootout than we initially thought. That said, the pressure is huge for Tua. How can he back up his Six-TD game? If he struggles against a Bills minor, doubts will begin to creep into fans’ minds once again. This will be a great gauge to see if Tua can sustain his early season success.