Week 1 Dolphins at Patriots Recap

As expected, going into this game, Brian Flores and crew knew that Josh McDaniels was going to change the type of offense the Patriots ran with his new quarterback Cam Newton under center. There was no idea on whether the Dolphins would see MVP Cam Newton or the Cam Newton that was injured in the last two seasons. They got the former.

Although Miami recorded 2 sacks and 6 tackles for loss, they were just unable to figure out how to slow down the Patriots running game, where Cam Newton was most effective. Belichick and McDaniels knew that with the turnover on Miami’s roster, that they wanted to make sure that they attacked Miami’s front seven.

The results? Cam Newton carrying it 15 times for 75 yards (averaging 5 YPC). Passing was for 155, 0 TD’s 0 INT’s. Outside of Newton, the rest of the Patriots had 27 carries 142 yards (average of 5.2 yards). Newton’s success with running the football had the Dolphins defense on their toes all day. Not knowing whether Cam was going to keep the ball or hand it off.

The result of New England’s success running the ball well? Dominating the time of possession, having the ball for 34:49 (58% of the time) out of 60 minutes. This kept Miami’s offense on the sideline.

What else kept Miami offense on the sideline was Miami’s receiver’s inability to separate on New England’s secondary and Fitzpatrick throwing into tight windows, resulting in 3 interceptions.

Through all the troubles if Miami had stopped the run, they still had a chance to win this game. As time was winding down in the third quarter, Patriots WR N’keal Harry caught a ball for 9 yards, then fumbled at the 1-yard line, and the ball went through the end zone for a touchback. That mistake by Harry gave Miami new life as they went from possibly being down 21-3, to eventually being down by 3, as Miami marched down the field and scored a touchdown on their next drive.

On that next drive, on 4th and 2 at the Miami 42, Flores decided to go for it on 4th down. On that play, Fitzpatrick had a pass intended for Preston Williams, only for New England to be called for Defensive Pass Interference on CB Stephon Gillmore. Miami eventually marched down the field and ran it in for a 1-yard touchdown by new Miami Dolphins RB Jordan Howard, who was mostly a non-factor in this game, averaging less than a yard a carry.

It was hard to judge a Miami offense that was not on the field much today. However, the offensive line was the unit to watch as they started 2 rookies on the line. A team who gave up the most amount of sacks last season only gave up one on the day, which did not come until the 4th quarter. Running the ball in 2019, Miami averaged 3.3 yards a carry. It is a small sample size for 2020, but running the ball was an issue once again. As a team, they rushed for 87 yards on 27 attempts (3.2 YPC), something they are hoping to improve on as they go up against a tough Buffalo defense in Week 2.

Something to watch this week is whether Devante Parker will practice. Earlier this week, Parker was on the injury report for a hamstring injury but reaggravated it in Week 1’s 21-11 loss against New England. Whether he will practice this week or even play is up in the air.

Biggest adjustment the Dolphins need to make? Miami has got to buckle it down on the run defense as they will be facing yet another running quarterback next week as Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills will be making a trip down to Miami, where the Dolphins will have a maximum capacity of 13,000 fans in the stands. Buffalo in week 1 handled their business against the New York Jets as they won by a score of 27-17. Entering this season, Buffalo is a favorite to win the AFC East, let’s see if Miami can spoil their run to a division title and even make a run of their own in the process.