(Disclaimer:  Some of this information is also on the DolphinsTalk.com 9/29 podcast where I join Mike for a conversation on this upcoming game)

The New England Patriots, Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick.  Mention any of those names to a football fan, or non-football fan for that matter, and you’ll get responses all over the board: “greatest of all time,” “Super Bowls,” “cheaters,” just to name a few.

One thing nobody can argue with, however, is that they win and win often.  For over a decade they have dominated the AFC East. Dolphin fans, as well as the media in general, have grown so accustomed to it, they just assume it will happen regardless of the circumstances.  The mystique and intrigue that circles around the Patriots is profound, and deservedly so.

But consider this… it has to change some time.  And whether that’s this year, next year, or in the future, as it begins to change, few will believe it at the time.  Whenever it begins to happen, before anyone knows for sure, Vegas and media “experts” will continue to have them as big time favorites regardless of the circumstances.  As you’re hearing from many people now, statements like “It’s the Patriots, you know they’ll rebound and win the division,” or “So they’ve lost a couple of games, they’ll turn it on and still make a run in the playoffs,” or “It’s Brady and Belichick, they’ll be fine.”  That certainly is the “safe” way to go in terms of an analysis.

Let me point to some reasons on why I think it’s different this season, and why this may be the “beginning of the end” of their dynasty.  Then let me explain why Miami will win this game Sunday.

Let’s start with their tumultuous offseason.  Gase is getting a lot of praise, and deservedly so, for bringing in players that have changed our culture despite losing “star” power guys like Landry and Suh.  We now have “team players” like Amendola and Wilson. What about the Patriots? The lost very valuable players like Amendola, Cooks, Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Malcom Butler, etc.  Their offseason was filled with drama and negativity: Brady vs Belichick power struggle, Brady’s trainer, the attempt to trade Gronk. All these guys who’ve left New England talk about the negativity and “tough culture” up there and I believe it’s begun to wear thin on their players.  Watch Brady’s demeanor. He’s always been serious, but now he just looks downright unhappy. And who can blame him? There is a severe lack of weapons around him and he’s now over 40 years old.

Let’s now talk about their “slow” start to the season.  The New England Patriots have sometimes had single games where people wonder if “the end is near,” but it’s not been like what we’re seeing this season…  Let me explain by going back and seeing how they’ve started the last 5 seasons:

New England Patriots

2013 – Started 3-0, went 12-4 went to the AFC Championship game

2014 – Started 2-1, went 12-4 and won the Super Bowl

2015 – Started 3-0, went 12-4 and went to AFC championship game

2016 – Started 3-0, went 14-2 and won the Super Bowl

2017 – Started 2-1, went 13-3 and lost in the Super Bowl

That’s a combined record of 13-2 in their first 3 games of the last 5 seasons.  And yes, in most of those seasons they did have a certain loss where it was questioned “is this the end of the dynasty?”  But it was after hot starts and just didn’t feel like this does:

2018 – Started 1-2:

– have only beaten the Texans (could’ve lost) who are 0-3 and don’t look very good at all (they just lost to the Giants, giving that bad New York team their first win)

– Whipped by the Jaguars, who appear to be a good team but somehow just lost to the Titans

– Whipped by the Lions who somehow got pounded by the Jets

The Patriots are NOT a team that starts slow, and they could EASILY be 0-3 right now.  Not only have they started off far worse than in years past, but this New England team just feels and looks different.  Watch their tape and see. They just don’t appear to be very good. Their defense sucked last year and its sucked so far this year, I don’t see how that changes.  On offense, per usual, they have Brady and Gronk but what else? Combine this with all the off-season drama and it just seems like they could potentially be on a decline this time.

Having said all that, it’s still Brady and the Patriots and all the mystique and intrigue that comes with those names and all those Super Bowls like I mentioned above.  And yes, playing IN Foxborough sucks and they’re gonna be pissed off with their backs against the wall which is never a good thing for their opponents (except the Lions last week).

But I still ask you, where are they better than us?  QB and TE is all I can really think of. Maybe the OL?

Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but I really think this could be the start of a new regime in our division.

Let’s breakdown the game:



First off, and so you know, I don’t like quoting stats based off total rushing or passing yards allowed as I believe these are misleading due to teams running more when they’re ahead and passing more when they’re behind.  I prefer yards per run and pass.

The key for us on offense is cliché but true; keep Brady off the field.  In last week’s butt-kicking, the Lions had TWICE as much time of possession as the Patriots.  Twice as much!

Now you’d THINK we do this by running the ball since we have Drake/Gore and New England is giving up 4.7 yards per carry, which is a dismal 24th in the league.

But consider this… and I do realize we have a pretty small sample size here:  Before losing Josh Sitton, Drake/Gore averaged 4.7 yards per carry on the ground.  Since losing him, those two have dropped to 3.3 yards per carry and that includes averaging 1.4 yards per carry last week against the Raiders who were DEAD last against the rush going into that game at a horrific 5.7 yards per carry.  I watched the film and Oakland was not stacking the box, our boys up front, particularly our interior OL, got handled pretty good against the run.

Am I saying we abandoned the run? Of course not.  But last week we had to and it worked out well because A) Our offensive line really is built to pass protect more than run the ball and B) we have a ton of weapons in the passing game, including Drake/Gore.

Again, don’t mishear me…  we need to try and establish the run EVERY GAME, but don’t be surprised if we end up resorting to passing more than running as the season moves on.  We may just need to accept our offensive line for what they currently are: good pass blockers and average-at-best run blockers.

This brings me back to my point about keeping Brady on the sideline.  I know they get a player or two back on defense this week, but these guys aren’t that talented on that side of the ball, in fact they’re ranked 28th in total defense.  In watching their film, one thing becomes quickly evident: the Patriots linebackers are ssssslllllooooowwwwww.

I’d love to see us run the ball outside the tackles more in general, like with quick tosses or sweeps,  since the strength of our OL are our tackles (and I feel like we try to force our runs up the middle at times, and that’s where our line really struggles), but it’s especially important this week due to the lack of speed the Patriots have in their front 7.  If we DO end up struggling again on the ground, we need to turn to a short-to-intermediate passing game and take advantage of our quick WRs/RBs/TEs in high percentage throws that will keep the clock moving and precious Tom Brady stewing on the sideline. An effective short passing game can almost be the same as a running game in terms of ball control, and I think we can have success in this area against those slower LBs, especially if we can get Drake/Gore involved more in the passing game.



Defensively we need to do what any team does to slow down arguably the greatest quarterback of all time:  Get pressure with just our front 4.

Fortunately, I think we have the perfect recipe for this on Sunday.  The strength of the Patriots offensive line lies at the C and G positions, those guys have been mainstays for quite a while there.  Where they’re weak is at the Tackle position. I can see Quinn/Wake feasting on Brady this weekend, especially if we can get them in passing situations.

I’m not as concerned about the Patriots ability to run on us.  Don’t mistake me, losing William Hayes is BIG, that guy was a beast against the run.  Having said that, I have been excited about what I’ve seen from Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, and Jordan Phillips… I even uploaded a little highlight reel of these guys.  I also think Cam Wake is better against the run then he gets credit for. Throw in the fact that the Patriots aren’t real good running the ball anyway and I’m not sure this will be much of a problem.

Here IS what concerns me about our defense on Sunday:  Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are arguably the greatest QB/coach combo this league has ever seen.  When Brady peers over the center he’s going to see 3 rookies on our side of the field; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jerome Baker, and Raekwon McMillan. Yes, I do consider Raekwon a rookie, I don’t know how anyone can argue otherwise.  All three have had their ups and downs this year, with Minkah obviously being the most consistent. I can almost guarantee that Belichick, McDaniels, and Brady will be salivating at this and scheming different plays to take advantage of their inexperience (think misdirection’s and false keys).  These three will need to be at the top of their game.

Going back to my main key, getting pressure with our only our front 4 can go a long way in terms of masking this inexperience and is the key for us defensively on Sunday.

I should note that since it’s typically dumb of anyone to blitz or play zone against Brady, you can expect a lot of man-to-man from the Phins.  I also expect and hope to double Gronk and blanket their mediocre WRs (hopefully Josh Gordon is a non-factor), which leaves James White as the ultimate x-factor this weekend.  That guy can be tough to guard 1 on 1.



Unless we completely lay an egg, which happens, we’re going to win game.  We’re a lot more talented than they are and Brady, although great, can’t do it by himself.

I also think this could be Gesicki’s “coming out party” and I think Gase has been saving some plays for this kid and expect to see them this week.

Don’t be surprised by any fakes by our punt team and keep an eye on Albert Wilson as our personal protector near the punter back there!

Final Score: Dolphins 30 Patriots 20


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