The Miami Dolphins fell to 0-2 after a 31-28 loss to the Buffalo Bills, and it was eye-opening to see how Bills QB Josh Allen exposed what was supposed to be the strength of this team: pass defense. The biggest takeaway is that while the Dolphins continue to show fight and improvement, they have gaping holes that prove they are still a rebuilding team rather than a unit truly competing for the AFC East.
Despite a valiant comeback effort from Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins offense, the defense didn't hold up its end of the bargain Sunday. In Year 2 under coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins have yet to find a way to consistently win close ball games.
Young rebuilding teams make the mistakes the Dolphins did, like the crucial Preston Williams drop on fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter or how they kept getting beat with crossing routes on defense.
Troubling trend: Last week, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton torched the Dolphins with his legs. This week, it was Allen's arm. He threw for a career-high 417 yards and four touchdowns, consistently burning the Dolphins defensive backs -- particularly on crossing routes.
The Dolphins put a lot of money in fixing this defense via free agency, but they haven't got much return on their investment so far. New additions Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy and Emmanuel Ogbah struggled to get pressure on Allen while cornerback Byron Jones suffered a groin injury early in the first quarter.
"We struggled to cover them. Look, they've got good receivers," Flores said. "They got open. They had time to throw it. We couldn't get pressure on the quarterback. I don't want to put it all on the coverage guys."
Biggest hole in the game plan: It was clear that losing Jones severely impacted how the Dolphins defended the Bills' strong receiver trio of Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley. But it was puzzling why even after Jones left that it was rookie Noah Igbinoghene covering Diggs, an All-Pro, rather than their other top cornerback Xavien Howard.
Diggs had five catches for 123 yards and a touchdown on nine targets with Igbinoghene as the nearest defender. Igbinoghene, the Dolphins' first-round pick and youngest player in the NFL, has shown promise, but he wasn't ready for this assignment. It seemed like Howard should have been given this task after Jones' absence rather than covering the speedy Brown.
QB breakdown: Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins back from a 17-7 deficit to take a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter, showing his grit and ability to rally the team. There were plenty of calls for the Dolphins to turn to Tua Tagovailoa after Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions in Week 1, but there shouldn't be any this week after he totaled 328 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and led the team to 28 points.
Buy/sell on a breakout performance: Buying tight end Mike Gesicki as a breakout weapon in the Dolphins' offense. Gesicki had the first 100-yard receiving game of his career Sunday, totaling 130 yards and a touchdown on eight catches including a one-handed grab that deserves love for play of the day. After a solid Year 2, Gesicki is showing he can join DeVante Parker and Williams among the Dolphins' top receiving weapons.