There’s two ways to look at the possibility of the Dolphins using cornerback Xavien Howard to shadow Buffalo wide receiver Stefon Diggs in Sunday’s AFC East showdown.
The attention-getting, headline-grabbing point of view is that it sets up a titanic matchup between Howard, an All Pro, and Diggs, a fellow All Pro, a matchup that could be as good as the game itself.
“I want to go against the best because I consider myself the best,” Howard said. “I like the one-on-one matchup. That’s what I’m into doing.”
Howard vs. Diggs is a matchup we saw last season.
It’s not necessarily a game-deciding matchup. Buffalo beat the Dolphins twice last season and Howard, arguably the best cornerback in the league, was shadowing Diggs both times.
However, it’s an incredibly sexy matchup. It’s two of the game’s best going at it one-on-one, head-to-head, face-to-face. And, according to Howard, there’s no yapping.
“Nobody is talking when we play,” said Howard, who leads the NFL with 27 interceptions over the last five seasons, “because I’m not saying anything to nobody.”
There’s also the other side of the matchup story where Nik Needham, presumably the Dolphins’ starting cornerback opposite Howard, can expect to get lots of action.
Needham said he’s ready.
“Coach has always been saying, ‘Just be ready because the quarterback is definitely gonna try you sometimes,’” Needham said. “And you’ve just got to be ready to make those plays.”
Fortunately for Needham and the Dolphins, the Bills don’t have a set of wide receivers as good as the Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. So the Dolphins can feel comfortable with Needham on Bills wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie (four receptions, 56 yards, one touchdown) or Gabe Davis (four receptions, 88 yards, one touchdown).
The Dolphins also have other cornerbacks such as Keion Crossen and Kader Kohou, so it won’t all be on Needham. It’s a difficult challenge, having such a target on your back opposite Howard. You know the quarterback wants to go your way. It boils the game down to basics.
“It’s a game of man-to-man,” Crossen said. “Simple football.”
The same is true for Howard-Diggs.
Buffalo won’t shy away from going to Diggs because he’s their best receiver, and one of the best players. Teams don’t usually go away from their strength. It’ll be up to Howard to take away their strength.
Howard shadowed New England wide receiver DeVante Parker in the opener, holding him to one reception for nine yards on two targets.
Diggs, however, is in a different class.
Diggs (20 receptions, 274 yards, four touchdowns), to borrow a phrase Dolphins quarterback TuaTagovailoa used to describe Bills quarterback Josh Allen, is a beast.
And Allen will throw him the ball his way often.
Diggs has more than twice as many receptions (20 to 8) and targets (24 to11) than his two fellow starting wide receivers, McKenzie and Davis, combined.
Diggs, one of the NFL’s top receivers, is second in the league in receiving behind Hill (25 receptions, 284 yards, two touchdowns).
In last year’s Dolphins-Bills game in Buffalo on Halloween, a 26-11 Bills victory, their seventh consecutive victory over …read more
Source:: The Mercury News