The Miami Dolphins injury report didn’t officially rule anyone out for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills but it appears the team will be without a key member of their offensive line. Branden Albert, the team’s starting left tackle, was listed as doubtful for the AFC East battle. There have been few cases where someone has been listed as doubtful and played for their respective team. Look for Albert to be on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury. In his place, Jason Fox would be making his first career start at left tackle.
That news is Hughes, er… huge for Jerry Hughes and the Bills.
Fox has been in the NFL since 2010. He spent the first four years of his career with the Detroit Lions. Over that time, Fox didn’t see much playing time on the offensive side of the ball. As a rookie, he appeared in one game, Week 17, and struggled in run blocking. Pro Football Focus gave Fox a -3.9 for his 26 snap debut at right tackle as a rookie. Over the next two years, Fox didn’t see any snaps as an offensive lineman.
In 2013, Fox finally saw some snaps with regularity in Detroit. He started in three games and appeared in eight games overall, all at right tackle. Fox actually performed respectably in pass protection (+3.1). He allowed one sack, one quarterback hit and two quarterback hurries in 116 passing snaps. It was run blocking in which Fox was a liability in 2013. PFF gave him a -6.3 rating in 89 run blocking snaps.
Last year, Fox’s first with Miami, the offensive lineman finally appeared in two games as a left tackle, but his final three appearances, two starts, came at right tackle. Overall, it wasn’t a very strong season for Fox. He was a liability in pass protection (-4.6), allowing eight quarterback hits and three hurries in 138 passing snaps. In 80 run blocking snaps, Fox was given a -2.0. His worst game of the season came in Week 17 against Rex Ryan and the Jets defense. Fox was given a -5.0 overall grade for that game and a -2.6 rating in pass protection. Against the Jets, Fox was called for two penalties and allowed two quarterback hits and three quarterback hurries. Ryan and Dennis Thurman’s defense got the best of Fox in 2014.
Last week, Fox played 49 snaps at left tackle after replacing Albert. He allowed a sack, hit and hurry during that time and finished the game with a -4.1 rating at PFF. Jacksonville’s defense got the best of Fox and tomorrow could be even worse.
This week, Fox said the following about his likely start on Sunday:
"I?feel like I?have to play my best for the guys in this room," Fox said. "I think that's all I've got to prove and I think that's all anybody's gotta do. At the end of the day, all that matters is us winning. So I'm here just to contribute to that."
When asked about Buffalo’s front four, Fox said, “They do a lot to try to confuse offenses and cause miscommunication. We've got to be ready for that."
Against the Bills, Fox is likely going to be lined up across from Hughes. Even without any additional pressure, that’s a matchup that heavily favors Buffalo’s defensive end. The defensive end is dealing with a wrist injury, but his speed and power should give Fox fits. Among 4-3 defensive ends, Hughes finished tied for third in sacks and tied for fifth in terms of quarterback pressures at PFF in 2014. Since joining Buffalo, Hughes has been credited with 79 hurries and 18 quarterback hits. Just entering his prime, Hughes is a handful for any left tackle, let alone one who is making his first career start at the position. On Sunday, Fox is going to have to play the best game of his career or else it could be a long day for the Dolphins offense. As for Buffalo’s defensive end, don’t be surprised if Hughes comes up huge for the Bills.