The Bills dominated the Dolphins, scoring 48 points on Sunday behind a monster day from Diggs, who caught three touchdown passes.
Xavien Howard said he wanted to cover Stefon Diggs. “It’s a mentality for me. I want to go at the best. Let me make my money on the top guy. You pay me this money to go do what I do. But it’s a new defense. A new scheme. I just have to control the stuff I can control.”
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) October 1, 2023
It seems like Howard was just playing within new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme, but it didn’t allow him to shadow Diggs across the field.
Diggs finished Sunday’s game with six catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns on just seven targets. He and Josh Allen torched the Dolphins on multiple occasions to keep the Bills up big for most of the game.
Howard finished the day with three tackles and one pass defended. The Dolphins did not register an interception against Allen, who threw for 320 yards and four scores on Sunday.
It’s hard to discredit Fangio and his scheme since he has so much NFL experience, but it didn’t work against Buffalo in Week 4.
Fangio came to Miami with loads of experience as an NFL defensive coordinator. He spent time with the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers as a defensive coordinator from the 1995 season through the 2018 campaign.
He was then hired by the Denver Broncos as their head coach ahead of the 2019 season. Fangio led Denver for three seasons, posting a 19-30 career record.
The Dolphins made a major trade this past offseason, acquiring star cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Los Angeles Rams. He and Howard were expected to lock down receivers on the outside this season, but Ramsey suffered a knee injury in the offseason and has not played in the 2023 campaign.
Without Ramsey on the field, quarterbacks like Allen can avoid targeting receivers guarded by Howard and try to pick on lesser players in the Dolphins’ secondary.
Dolphins fans have to love that Howard wants the challenge of guarding the best players in the NFL, but it appears that he and Fangio will have to talk things out for that to happen this season.
For now, Howard and the Dolphins need to shift their focus to Week 5 of the season against the New York Giants where they’ll look to get back in the win column.