NFL Nation: Nolan Carroll

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 NFL Nation's Phil Sheridan examines the three biggest issues facing the Philadelphia Eagles heading into training camp.

Can Nick Foles repeat, even improve on, his 2013 success? A year ago, Foles went into camp trailing Michael Vick in the starting quarterback competition that Vick eventually won. After leading the NFL in passer rating, throwing 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions, Foles has a pretty high bar to clear in his first full season as a starter. It is perfectly reasonable to expect Foles to be further from perfect than he was in 2013. But Foles can do that while still being very productive. If he throws a few more interceptions by taking some risks that also produce more touchdowns or big plays, the Eagles can live with that. Foles could even raise his game to an even higher level. It won't be easy, but with a coach like Chip Kelly, it's not out of the question, either. Foles looked very sharp -- accurate and confident -- during June practices. He seems buoyed, not intimidated or cowed, by being the clear No. 1 QB ahead of Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. Training camp and the preseason will give everyone a chance to see whether he's making progress or heading toward a major regression. Best guess: Foles will be fine. Not otherworldly, but just fine.

Who will replace DeSean Jackson's production? That became the Eagles' most urgent question after Kelly decided to part ways with the guy who caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Since we have no evidence Kelly is a madman, we have to conclude the coach had reason to believe he could get Jackson's production from other players. Jeremy Maclin was never the big-play guy that Jackson was, but he is a solid receiver who is hugely motivated to prove he can excel after a second ACL tear. Riley Cooper may come back to the pack a bit after his breakout 2013 season, but he also might rise to the occasion after experiencing success. The Eagles' additions are intriguing. Darren Sproles figures to be as versatile and unpredictable under Kelly as he was in New Orleans for Sean Payton. Second-round draft pick Jordan Matthews had people at organized team activities comparing his physique to that of Terrell Owens and could be a star in the future. Meanwhile, tight end Zach Ertz is expected to take that key second-season leap in production and reliability. Would the Eagles have been better with Jackson? Probably. Can they be as successful with strong seasons from Maclin, Sproles, Matthews, Cooper and Ertz? Kelly clearly thinks so.

Did the Eagles do enough to improve their defense? Looked at one way, the answer seems like a big "no." The Eagles didn't go out and sign a star defensive back or draft an elite, quarterback-eating pass-rusher. It would be easier to sell this defense if they had. What the Eagles are counting on is an across-the-board rise in experience and comfort in Bill Davis' defense. That isn't as glittery as marquee free agents or high draft picks, but it may prove to be more reliable than either of those. And there is some foundation for hope. The Eagles' defense really did improve over the course of the 2013 season. It looked a lot better in December than in September, and that is why the Eagles may have more new starters on offense than on defense. The front seven looks like it will be the same as it was at the end of 2013. First-round pick Marcus Smith will play as he proves he's ready, but there is no reason to rush him when Trent Cole is playing as well as he did last season. Malcolm Jenkins is a smart and reliable safety, and that should help the secondary immeasurably. The best guess is the starting cornerbacks return. If not, it will be because Nolan Carroll shows that he is better than one of them.

Overall, the Eagles added a bunch of players who will push last year's starters. If they're better, they'll see the field. If not, it will mean the incumbents have fended off the challenge. Either way, the defense should be better.

Eagles offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
May 22
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With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Philadelphia Eagles' offseason moves.

Best move: The Eagles have lacked a hard-hitting safety since Brian Dawkins left via free agency after the 2008 season. They went out and signed free agent Malcolm Jenkins from the New Orleans Saints. Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward were available, but Jenkins looks to be a perfect fit in the Eagles’ defensive scheme. Jenkins can cover speedy wide receivers, intercept passes and make the big hit. Jenkins’ skills will allow the cornerbacks more freedom, and the entire defense will reap the benefits.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Smith
Matt Slocum/AP PhotoTeam president Don Smolenski (left) and coach Chip Kelly present the Eagles' newest LB, Marcus Smith.
Riskiest move: Drafting Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith with the No. 26 pick in the first round has to be questioned. The Eagles easily could have gotten Smith in the second round and possibly later. Smith is a quality pass-rusher who registered 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a senior. Can he become a dangerous player in the NFL? Was he worth a first-round pick? Those questions will soon be answered. This much is known: The Eagles needed another quality pass-rusher.

Most surprising move: It has to be the release of three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The Eagles must find a way to replace Jackson’s 82 receptions, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns, not to mention his downfield speed. While the Eagles selected Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews in the second round and Oregon’s Josh Huff in the third round, they’re not at Jackson’s level. If the Eagles get off to a slow start, the decision to cut Jackson will become even more magnified.

Under-the-radar move: Special teams was a problem area last season, but the Eagles recognized it with a number of moves in the offseason. Adding cornerback Nolan Carroll, safety Chris Maragos and linebacker Bryan Braman didn’t light up the headlines, but they’re all quality special-teams players who will automatically enhance that unit. The Eagles’ draft class is unique because the players all have special-teams skills. Look for the Eagles to be much-improved on special teams in 2014.

CB Nolan Carroll could impact secondary

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
The secondary became one of the most-improved units for the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin jelled quite nicely by the end of the season.

With the addition of free agent cornerback Nolan Carroll, the group should be even better in 2014. Carroll’s signing was a little bit under the radar, but these are the types of quiet moves that can really benefit a team.

Carroll, 27, can play on special teams and will certainly compete for a starting job.

“I’m coming in and doing whatever role is needed from me,” Carroll told reporters soon after signing a two-year contract. “If I come in and compete and I don’t get the job, then I just have to find my role on the team to help us win. I’m not going to be frustrated or disappointed. As long as I go out and do the things that I need to do to help the team out, that’s all I’m worried about. It’s not about individual success right now, it’s about the team’s success, and that’s what I’m here to do, help the team win.”

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Carroll is a four-year veteran who has started 26 games, including a career-high 12 with the Miami Dolphins last season. He had three interceptions and two sacks last season. More than that, he’ll give the Eagles another option on special teams.

The Eagles allowed more passing yards than any team in the league, so the addition of a player like Carroll is a plus.

Several teams were reportedly interested in adding Carroll before the Eagles stepped in and completed the deal.

“I like the atmosphere that is here with (coach) Chip Kelly and what his philosophy is for this team, and I’m excited,” Carroll told reporters. “They’ve got me excited. Just being around here in this building, listening to everybody around here, meeting different people, I’m happy to be a part of this organization.”

In four career seasons with the Dolphins, Carroll compiled 135 total tackles, 22 deflected passes, five interceptions and one forced fumble.

If Carroll does provide a lift, this signing could wind up being huge.
The Philadelphia Eagles were active in keeping their own players, such as Jeremy Maclin, Jason Kelce and Riley Cooper. They were active in signing free agents, such as safety Malcolm Jenkins, and trading for running back Darren Sproles.

But the biggest move was cutting wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who stayed in the NFC East by signing with the Washington Redskins.

In ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's Grade A draft, he plays general manager for the Eagles, not Howie Roseman or Chip Kelly. What would Mel do as GM?

Find out here. Insider

So far the Philadelphia Eagles have re-signed key their own players, such as Jason Kelce, Riley Cooper, Jeremy Maclin and Nate Allen, and added pieces like Malcolm Jenkins and Nolan Carroll.

They have not, however, added any pieces to help the pass rush.

[+] EnlargeTrent Cole
AP Photo/Michael PerezTrent Cole led the Eagles in sacks last season, but the team's pass rush could use reinforcements.
The Eagles recorded 37 sacks in 2013, which ranked 20th in the NFL. Trent Cole led the team with eight sacks. Connor Barwin had five and three players -- DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry -- had four apiece.

"It's hard to find pass rushers, especially on the open market," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in this Philadelphia Daily News story. "There aren't a lot of teams letting them go. And then you look at the draft and where those guys go, they go high.

"Certainly, you want to continue to add pass rushers. But we feel we have some guys we think can rush the passer and fit what we're doing at the outside linebacker position."

Philadelphia had interest in DeMarcus Ware, and the Cowboys were not keen on possibly seeing their all-time leader in sacks twice a year, but the Denver Broncos swooped in with an offer Ware could not refuse ($20 million guaranteed).

In free agency, Shaun Phillips has 3-4 experience from his time with the San Diego Chargers, but the pickings are thin.

As the Eagles move into their second year in the 3-4 scheme, they will have a better feel for what they want in an outside linebacker. Projecting a college defensive end to outside linebacker in a 3-4 is never easy, but it is something the Pittsburgh Steelers have excelled at for years.

The two best in this year's draft, Buffalo's Khalil Mack and UCLA's Anthony Barr, figure to be gone by the time the Eagles pick in the first round.

In a division with quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III, finding pass rushers is more important than pass defenders.

Free-agency review: Eagles

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
Most significant signing: Considering the struggles at safety the past couple of seasons, Malcolm Jenkins has to be the most significant signing. Jenkins is coming off a strong season, but has been inconsistent in the past. He might not be a Pro Bowler, but he's a definite upgrade over what Philadelphia has had of late. His versatility -- he's a former college corner -- is a big plus.

Most significant loss: The Eagles haven't had a significant loss. One free agent who left was backup defensive end Clifton Geathers, who signed with Washington. But that's hardly significant -- for either team. Quarterback Michael Vick hasn't drawn a lot of attention in free agency, which suggests many teams agree with the Eagles that his career is at, or very near, the end.

Biggest surprise: The trade for running back Darren Sproles. Had New Orleans just cut Sproles, it's possible the Eagles would have lost out on him. And it's not as if he was a strong need. But Sproles was a terrific weapon to add for this offense because of his versatility -- he can line up anywhere and catch passes. His presence also means the Eagles could be creative in how they deal with other players -- a trade to recoup some draft picks perhaps? Or it could just mean they have another player defenses must worry about. He might not be the same as he was three years ago, but the Eagles don't need Sproles to be that dynamic given who else they have on the roster.

What's next? The Eagles still need more help on defense, even after also signing cornerback Nolan Carroll. The secondary in particular could be strengthened more -- perhaps with strong safety Calvin Pryor in the draft? The Eagles have added depth and key special teams players. They need to find a few players to develop into starters in the draft.
The Miami Dolphins have made several quality moves already in free agency. But there remains a gaping hole at cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes.

Can a pair of 2013 draft picks fill that void?

Former second-round pick Jamar Taylor and third-round pick Will Davis will be provided a chance to fill significant roles with the Dolphins in 2014. Both had redshirt rookie years last season. Taylor and Davis both battled various injuries early in the season and couldn’t work their way into the rotation.

But the Dolphins, via their recent roster moves, are making it clear that Taylor and Davis will be provided a clean slate this season. Miami cut veteran starter Dimitri Patterson last week to save $5 million on its salary cap. The Dolphins also allowed veteran Nolan Carroll to walk in free agency. Carroll signed Thursday with the Philadelphia Eagles. Between Patterson and Carroll, Miami lost seven total interceptions from last season.

Taylor and Davis were highly-touted players entering last year’s draft who have potential. Taylor was a playmaker at Boise State who was considered by many to be a first-round prospect. But health issues leading up to the draft dropped Taylor to the second round. Miami felt it got value in Taylor, but his issues and injuries carried into training camp and the early portion of the season. Taylor got playing time sparingly late in the season, but he didn't get enough reps to show what he can do.

Davis is a ballhawk who showed flashes in training camp. He unofficially led the Dolphins in interceptions during training camp practices. As a member of the scout defense, Davis picked off Miami starting cornerback Ryan Tannehill three times in summer practices, which opened some eyes. Davis also had an interception in the preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But a toe injury late in the preseason put him behind and he never found a consistent spot in the rotation.

Miami is hosting veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan Friday. That is a sign the team is looking for another veteran presence to add to the mix. But the Dolphins also are hoping one -- or both -- of their young cornerbacks steps up this year.
IRVING, Texas -- About three days into free agency and the Dallas Cowboys are not a better team today than they were on Monday.

They cut DeMarcus Ware. They cut Miles Austin. They have signed two defensive linemen in Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain that figure to be rotation parts, not cornerstone pieces.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the NFC East …

The Philadelphia Eagles have added Malcom Jenkins and Noland Carroll and traded for Darren Sproles. The Eagles also did some nice special teams' shopping with Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman and also re-signed their punter, Donnie Jones.

The New York Giants added a piece to their offensive line in Geoff Schwartz and brought in running back Rashad Jennings. The key move, however, was re-signing linebacker Jon Beason. They backed out of a deal with O'Brien Schofield.

The Washington Redskins have added wide receiver Andre Roberts, guard Shawn Lauvao and linebacker/special teamer Adam Hayward. Bruce Campbell is a low-risk help to the offensive line.

Too often we get caught up in the splashes in free agency only to see them not live up to the billing down the road.

Before free agency started Stephen Jones said the Cowboys would be efficient with their spending in free agency. To see them sit back and wait should not be surprising, but that doesn't mean fans can't be aggravated.

There are good players still to be had. The Cowboys could still re-sign Jason Hatcher or add Henry Melton. While they can afford both, I don't think signing both would make sense. They could keep Anthony Spencer and hope his repaired knee comes around. They could take fliers on some of the bigger names you want if those prices come down as free agency rolls along.

As maddening as the 8-8 finishes have been, the Cowboys have been the only team in the NFC East to compete for a division title the last three years. It's a hollow accomplishment for sure, especially when stacked up against the franchise's history, but spending for spending sake is not the best solution.

There is a plan and it has to be more than Mincey and McClain, right?
The Philadelphia Eagles have reached an agreement with free-agent cornerback Nolan Carroll on Thursday, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

I covered Carroll during his tenure with the Miami Dolphins. Here is my scouting report on what he brings to the Eagles:
  • Carroll
    Carroll, 27, has always been a bit of an enigma. He has good size and runs well. However, he was never able to completely put it all together at cornerback during his four seasons in Miami. Carroll had the best year of his career statistically as a part-time starter for the Dolphins in 2013. But flashes of good plays were sometimes followed by bad plays. Opposing quarterbacks picked on Carroll while opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes -- and the quarterbacks won many of those battles. That was a primary reason the Dolphins were willing to let him walk.
  • In 2013 Carroll became more of a playmaker, which is good news for the Eagles. He set career highs in interceptions (three), pass defensed (12) and sacks (two) last season. Carroll’s biggest weakness is his inconsistency. But if the Eagles can fix that aspect of his game, he could be productive.
  • Carroll has good character and will fit in well in Philadelphia’s locker room. He’s a hard worker who doesn’t complain. He’s willing to fill whatever role is asked of him. Miami’s coaching staff used Carroll outside as a cornerback, occasionally as a nickel, when needed, and he also was a backup kickoff returner. Carroll was a fifth-round pick in 2010 and lasted four seasons in Miami because he was a team-first player.
MINNEAPOLIS -- For as much as the first day of free agency was marked by the Vikings' ability to add a critical piece to their defense in former New York Giants tackle Linval Joseph, it ended with several cornerbacks finding other teams. Indianapolis' Vontae Davis re-signed with the Colts for $39 million over the next four years, New England's Aqib Talib got $57 million over six years from Denver, while Tennessee's Alterraun Verner -- in whom the Vikings had expressed interest on Saturday -- signed not to play with his old defensive coordinator (new Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray) in Minnesota, but with former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier in Tampa Bay.

Verner only got $26 million over four years (with $14 million guaranteed), which might reflect some teams' apprehension about putting him in a man coverage scheme. The Titans had used man coverage more often early last season, but Verner's best work there had been as a zone corner, and teams that plan to play a good chunk of man coverage -- like the Vikings now do -- might have decided Verner wasn't their best fit. That won't be a problem in Tampa, where the Buccaneers will lean heavily on the Cover-2 scheme used by Frazier and head coach Lovie Smith in their previous stops. But it does leave the Vikings still looking elsewhere for a corner.

So where might they look? Denver's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be an option, especially now that the Broncos spent their money on Talib. He's 6-foot-2, is only 28 and was compared to Terence Newman (a Mike Zimmer favorite in Dallas and Cincinnati) when entering the draft in 2008. Miami's Nolan Carroll is another big corner who has essentially played in Zimmer's scheme; Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was Zimmer's defensive backs coach in Cincinnati before going to Miami, and Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards was brought to town in part because he'd been working in the same scheme as the Dolphins' linebackers coach. Carroll would be cheaper than Rodgers-Cromartie, and he's a couple years younger, too. Cincinnati's Brandon Ghee could fit, for obvious reasons. And if the Vikings are looking for a slot corner after Josh Robinson struggled there last year, Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn could be an option, as Andrew Krammer of points out.

One thing I don't see happening -- and the thing I probably got more questions about today than anything else -- is Darrelle Revis coming to Minnesota. Revis is only 28, and might be the best man coverage corner in the game when he's on, but he's had lots of contract squabbles, and will probably have more interest from teams closer to a championship than the Vikings.

Lastly, it's important to remember what Zimmer said last week about how he wanted to build his defense. "My thing has always been play good team defense, not just be great players, but be good as a team," he said. "I do believe you can be real good, if you get the correct guys in there that buy into the system, that want to play for one another, that want to take ownership in something bigger than themselves. Everybody sees that Maserati and they want to go buy it and you know you probably shouldn’t. You should probably buy a Ford F-150 like I got. Because if you get the F-150, you can keep building the pieces you need. So I think we have to be smart about it."

The Vikings could still draft a corner like Justin Gilbert in the first round. They could sign someone like Rodgers-Cromartie or Carroll, or possibly take a look at Seattle's Brandon Browner (who will be suspended for the first four games of the season). The position remains at or near the top of the Vikings' list of needs, but it might not get fixed with a $40 million investment on the free-agent market.

We'll see how things develop over the next few days, but options still remain for the Vikings at corner.
With questions at cornerback, the San Francisco 49ers are bringing back veteran Eric Wright.

He tweeted a photo of the contract Wednesday afternoon. The Sacramento Bee reported he is signing a one-year deal. He signed a one-year deal with the 49ers last summer.

The San Francisco native has ability and he made some plays in a limited role. However, his playing time dipped severely in the playoffs and he ended up being inactive.

Still, the front office likes him. Wright will need to prove to the coaching staff that he is prepared to play this season. That was the issue late in the year. He could play nickel. The 49ers cornerback position is a work in progress. They cut Carlos Rogers on Wednesday, as expected, and Tarell Brown is a free agent.

The team has been talking to Miami free agent Nolan Carroll. If Brown doesn’t come back, the 49ers will add, at least, one cornerback is free agency. They are also expected to use an early pick on the position.
PITTSBURGH -- Free agency started Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET with a flurry of signings, and the Steelers, as they normally do at the start of the league's new year, staying on the sidelines.

That does not mean the Steelers are sitting out free agency -- just the first frenzied part of it.

The Steelers have inquired about a handful of free agents, and they are one of two teams -- the Lions are the other one -- interested in Dolphins safety Chris Clemons, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Clemons, 28, has played all five of his NFL seasons in Miami, and in 2013, the 6-1, 214-pounder recorded 92 tackles and intercepted a pass while breaking up eight others.

Clemons saved the Dolphins' 34-28 win over the Steelers last December when he got just enough of a push on Antonio Brown to force him to step on the sidelines and negate a miracle touchdown on the final play of the game.

The Steelers have a need at safety even with Troy Polamalu returning next season, and they may not add to the position solely through the draft.

They are also thin at cornerback and inquired about at least three of them during the period in which teams were allowed to talk to agents of prospective free agents.

Tennessee's Alterraun Verner will probably be too pricey for the Steelers, making Carolina's Captain Munnerlyn and Miami's Nolan Carroll more realistic targets for Pittsburgh.

Carroll flew to Buffalo on Tuesday, and there is a possibility that he visits the Steelers, though nothing has been scheduled yet, a source told
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers are targeting cornerbacks in free agency, having reached out to representatives for at least three of them during the period that teams and agents of prospective free agents are allowed to talk but not consummate any deals.

The Steelers have inquired about Tennessee’s Alterraun Verner, Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn and Miami’s Nolan Carroll, according to multiple sources, and it looks like they are serious about replenishing one of the thinnest positions on their roster through free agency as well as the draft.

Pittsburgh has only three cornerbacks on the roster with meaningful NFL experience. And Ike Taylor’s future is uncertain with the 11th-year veteran scheduled to make $7 million in base salary in 2014.

Verner is one of the top cornerbacks in the free-agent class, and the fourth-year veteran is set to cash in after intercepting five passes and making the Pro Bowl last season. Verner, who has ties to Steelers assistant coaches Mike Munchak and Carnell Lake, will probably be too pricey for the Steelers, who are less than $4 million under the cap but can create more room by releasing Taylor.

Munnerlyn and Carroll may be the more realistic options for the Steelers from an economic standpoint, as neither is among the cornerbacks who will command top dollar on the open market.

The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Munnerlyn, who turns 26 next month, recorded 73 tackles and three sacks while also intercepting two passes last season for Carolina. The 6-1, 205-pound Carroll recorded 47 tackles and intercepted three passes last season for the Dolphins, and he is young, having turned 26 in January.

The Steelers are familiar with Carroll having hosted him for a pre-draft visit in 2010. The Dolphins picked Carroll in the fifth round that year while Munnerlyn was a seventh-round pick by the Panthers in 2009.

The free-agent signing period starts Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, and that is when teams are also allowed to host free agents for visits.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

December, 22, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 19-0 loss against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

What it means: After a landmark win over the New England Patriots last week, the Dolphins (8-7) were shut out for the first time this season and blew a golden opportunity by getting swept by Buffalo. The Bills treated this game like their Super Bowl and the Dolphins showed little urgency. Miami controlled their playoff fate entering the weekend but now may need some help in Week 17. A lot will depend on what the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) and San Diego Chargers (7-7) do in their 4 p.m. ET games.

Stock Watch: As far as stock down, Miami’s pass protection is becoming an issue again. The Dolphins allowed seven sacks to the Bills. At one point Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was briefly knocked out of the game with a knee injury. Tannehill returned but he was pressured nearly the entire game. Miami has allowed 11 sacks in the past two games, and Tannehill is the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL this season.

There weren’t many players to provide a stock up. Miami cornerback Nolan Carroll allowed some plays, but also had a sack and an interception.

No excuses: This was a no-excuse game for Miami. The Dolphins were playing against a Buffalo team without its starting quarterback (EJ Manuel) and a starting receiver (Steve Johnson). In addition, Buffalo rookie receiver Robert Woods also got ejected after throwing a punch at Miami safety Reshad Jones in the third quarter. Fellow rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin injured his knee in the second quarter and didn’t return. Still, the Dolphins were not able to take advantage.

What’s next: The Dolphins will complete their 2013 regular-season schedule with a home game against the New York Jets. Miami will be looking for the season sweep. The Dolphins beat the Jets 23-3 in New York on Dec. 1.

Dolphins halftime notes: Sack attack

December, 22, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills lead the Miami Dolphins, 10-0, at halftime.

Here are some notes at intermission:
  • Buffalo’s defensive line is making life tough for Miami’s offense. The Dolphins struggled to get any offense going early. They had just one first down in the first quarter, and four in the first half. Bills defensive linemen Kyle Williams and Mario Williams have been difficult to block.
  • The Dolphins’ pass protection has suddenly become an issue again. Miami went nearly a month with solid pass blocking for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But the Dolphins allowed four sacks in the first half. Miami has now allowed eight sacks in the past six quarters.
  • Buffalo is not afraid to go deep in this December game. Bills quarterback Thad Lewis has taken several shots in the first half. Lewis’ best pass was a 58-yard completion to receiver Robert Woods, who beat Miami corner Nolan Carroll. However, Carroll bounced back with an interception of Lewis in the second quarter.

This is an important second half for the Dolphins. They controlled their own destiny entering this game, but could relinquish that control if they can't come back and beat the Bills.