The Buffalo Bills (2-0) have their first divisional matchup against the Miami Dolphins (2-0) on Sunday, September 25, and the defense has a big job to do, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his top two wide receivers, Jaylen Waddle, turn off and Tyreek Hill.
While Tagovailoa and Waddle are used to being beaten against their AFC East rivals, Buffalo have beaten Miami in the last seven straight matchups, Hill, who recently joined the Dolphins after six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, has quite a different view of the bills .
The six-time Pro Bowler, who had 20 receptions for 322 yards in the Chiefs’ last two postseason games against Buffalo, sent a powerful message to his team on Friday, Sept. 23, as reported by Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman.
“I wouldn’t say they fear the Bills, more likely out of respect,” Hill said Friday of his teammates’ mood toward Buffalo. “For me, my message to them is, ‘It’s just another football game. Let’s just get out there, do what we’ve been doing all our lives, and just play ball. Let’s have fun with it, do what we’re coached to do and just play fast.”
“The best should want to play the best,” Hill continued. “You shouldn’t run away from any challenge… We just have to come out with the same mentality that we have. Dominate, conquer and be as deliberate as you can with every ball we touch.”
The 28-year-old receiver must have seen the Bills for a long time too injury report on Friday, which listed cornerback Dane Jackson, safety Micah Hyde, and defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips as out. While Pro Bowler Tre’Davious is still recovering from a cruciate ligament rupture, Jordan Poyer was ruled questionable, as were Tim Settle and Mitch Morse.
“The absence of Tre’Davious, really, I have a feeling they’re slowing down, but those guys over there, [Bills head coach] Sean McDermott, he’s got the next man, next cornerback mentality,” Hill said. “These guys fill that defense well.”
McDermott knows the Bills face a big challenge when they face Hill. So far this season he has caught 19 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while Waddle has recorded 15 catches for three touchdowns.
“He’s a one-of-a-kind player with his speed and his ability to fight for the contested catches and everything,” McDermott said of Hill during a game press conference. “They’ve got tremendous pace going forward, they’ve got a lot of points… It’s going to be a big challenge for us,” and as Hill predicted, “We believe in the next man.”
The Bills will likely have to rely on rookie cornerbacks Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam, as well as multiple backups and elevated members from the practice team, to bolster defense in Week 3. Meanwhile, Hill, who signed a four-year, $120 million extension with the Dolphins this offseason, has been trying to capitalize where he can.
“One thing NFL defensemen fear is speed, so let’s just be us,” Hill told his teammates of the Bills confrontation. “Control what we can control.”
While the Bills’ defense won’t be at full strength, they still have eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller leading the roster and he’s ready to battle their explosive offense.
“I’ve been a Tua fan for a long time,” says Miller said on Thursday. “He’s got everything it takes to be a great quarterback in this league.” As for stopping Dolphins receivers, “It’s going to be one hell of a challenge, man. I’m looking forward to playing these guys, they’re on fire right now.”
As for Hill, “He’s one of the best receivers in the league. He’s undoubtedly the fastest,” said Miller.