I’m not one into big games in week 4 because it’s still early in the season and still a lot of football left to be played. Having said that the Miami Dolphins are 3-0 going up to New England to play the team that has owned the AFC East for the last 18 years. The Patriots are 1-2 and are struggling, but the truth is the Patriots always seem to struggle in September and are able to turn things around. Just a few years ago the Patriots started out 2-2 and were coming off an embarrassing Monday night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and there was talk the Patriots dynasty was over. Well the Pats went on to win 11 of their next 12 games and won the Super Bowl. Here we are a few years later and the Pats are coming off a bad Sunday night loss to the Detroit Lions and with the team being 1-2 and having two bad outing questions are arising again. This game is in New England and the Dolphins haven’t won up there since the Wildcat game 10 years ago. It seems like every couple of years the Dolphins go up to New England looking like they can knock off the Patriots only to get embarrassed or choke away the game.
As much as I hate the Patriots as a Dolphins fan, I do admire what they have done the last 17 to 18 years with their dominance of the AFC East and the conference as a whole it’s something I want to see the Dolphins do. True they have a great quarterback in Tom Brady and maybe if the Dolphins didn’t let pass on Drew Brees twice maybe things would be different. Brady always finds a way without a great receiver or even a workhorse running back. Sure, he had Randy Moss for a few years and he has Rob Gronkowski, but he didn’t win a Super Bowl with Moss and the great comeback in the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons he didn’t have Gronkowski. When I hear people say he doesn’t have big play receiver and it will catch up to him, I just laugh because he’s been doing it his whole career pretty much without a deep threat receiver. The question I ask myself going into this game is why is this season different for the Patriots when they have been down this road time and time again stumbling in September and figure things out as the season goes along?
As a Dolphins fan, I ask how is this team different and why should I believe this is the year the team potentially can dethrone the Patriots? For starters, the Dolphins have their quarterback Ryan Tannehill back and healthy. Plus, he is a much better quarterback than the last time he played the Patriots two years ago and he and head coach Adam Gase are 10-1 in their last 11 games together after a 1-4 start. The second reason I’m optimistic is the team speed on this Dolphins team has on both sides of the ball. Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson add another dimension on offense to go along with Kenyan Drake, who had a big game last year against the Pats. The defense has Jerome Baker and Minkah Fitzpatrick, they both have been positive additions to the defense and are smart football players. Now having said that the Patriots have never been a fast team and have relied on size, intelligence, and instincts. The speed can help win one on one match up and it could be a good week to get Drake going running or catching passes out of the backfield and getting him into space. The third reason is the pass rush with Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake. Wake has always done well against Brady and Quinn has been a welcome addition playing opposite of Wake. It could also be a game that Charles Harris plays more with the injuries to Andre Branch and William Hayes so maybe he could have a breakout game. The injuries could be a blessing in disguise giving Harris more opportunities. The fourth reason is the Dolphins have always played well against Brady. As much as the Patriots have beaten the Dolphins in New England, Brady seems to have problems against the Dolphins for whatever reason. Maybe the Dolphins frustrate Brady again enough to eek out a win.
The Dolphins are going to have to come out with a sense of urgency. The bottom line despite the Patriots start they are still the Patriots and I expect them to come out strong with intensity and the Dolphins have to match that intensity. If they fall behind early they have to stay the course of the game and not mentally be like here we go again. This is a chance for the Dolphins to show the Patriots and the rest of the NFL that they are for real and are a legitimate contender. Starting 3-0 is great but beating the Patriots in their backyard would show these aren’t the same Dolphins. This game Sunday will be a test of where this team stands.
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