And so… our final Behind Enemy Lines of the season. Just as I was starting to believe that I may be doing some post-season editions, as quick as that, it was all in the past. Now we find ourselves out of contention with a whimper, with all our unanswered questions back at the forefront of our fanbase’s minds and significant uncertainty about the future of our franchise. One loss shouldn’t do that to a team, but unfortunately, the manner of the loss has had that effect.

Now, we have one game left and it is barely on people’s lips. The franchise put out training videos of our boys preparing for Sunday’s matchup and it barely made a dent in the conversations taking place.

Yet play on Sunday we do, and it’s back where we started, a divisional game against the New England Patriots. Go back 12 months and if we looked at these teams and said one of them would take a leap to playoff football, led by an Alabama Quarterback who has shown signs of transitioning to a strong NFL quarterback, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that would be the Dolphins. Alas no.

But as the fins reflect Game 1 in their final game, so do I. I have reinvited Gary Beeson (@UK_Patriots), who was my guest in the first-ever Behind Enemy Lines, and he will join me again to preview a match-up of significantly different importance…


Hello again mate, thanks for re-joining me. For those who don’t remember, we have talked already this year in preview of Week 1. What a bizarre few months it has been since then, especially for us. Runs of defeats, runs of wins, monster trade rumors that never were, yet still may be. One heck of a season that’s led ultimately nowhere. But what’s new over there? What’s changed in New England since we last spoke?

Hey matey, yeah – odd season really. Both our teams went on unbeaten runs before crashing back down to earth. Thankfully, the Pats have limped into the playoffs.

The team has impressed me overall, a lot of positives for sure. Matt Judon and JC Jackson have had good seasons. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson have also been bright spots.

I have been impressed with Mac, but he is still experiencing some growing pains, the game against the Jags was needed for him – he needed to get some confidence back.

Yeah Mac has had a lot of praise, yet sometimes has looked like the rookie he is. But like you say, limping in or not, the playoffs are beckoning for your boys. What are your chances? How far can you go? How far WILL you go?

If you would have asked me 3 weeks ago, I would have said we were definitely contenders. This was because the team was playing well in all 3 phases, and the AFC appeared to be wide open. At the start of the season, I said the Pats success hinged on the rushing attack and defense. That really has not changed. Since coming off the bye, the rushing attack has been good, not great (mostly due to the health of the backfield) and the defense has looked fallible, not being able to stop the Colts or the Bills in back-to-back weeks.

In those same weeks, the Bengals, Bills, and Chiefs have improved and emerged as stronger teams in my opinion and seemed to have separated themselves from the pack.

Overall, it’s a mixed bag – sometimes I think this team can make some noise in late Jan, other times I think a first-round exit is likely. It’s all down to the matchups and how we start the game. The Pats are a team that always play better in a leading situation, where the run game can get going, and less pressure is on Mac and the defense.

Yeah, I think from the outside looking in, Mac has played best when the pressure wasn’t on him to drag the team through. Like you say, once they get ahead and he can play more free with other areas factoring in more definitively, he has looked better.

So what HAS been your greatest strength this year? Obviously, there will be multiple factors, but what would you say has been the biggest contributor to your success this year?

If I look at the season as a whole, my argument is the run game is our biggest strength. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson have been consistently great, and each time either has missed games due to injury, it’s had a significant impact on the success of the team. Brandon Bolden has also complemented the passing game well, particularly on third down, although James White has been sorely missed since going onto IR early in the season.

The Defence has been great, until a few weeks ago. Since coming off the bye, it seems the opportunistic approach has dropped off a little. A few dropped picks and some very soft coverage and tackling cost us dearly in the Colts and Bills game. I am trying not to read too much into the Jags game, as it was a ‘get right game’ against a struggling franchise. Miami games, in Miami, are always a test, this one is no different.

I hope you are right. But there seems a real sense of apathy around Miami since that last crushing defeat which knocked us out of contention. I hope I am wrong and the divisional bragging rights make a difference on the day and fires up our team. But in the press, in the fan base and around Miami, it seems very much like our season is over already. I just hope we don’t play like a team with nothing to play for.

But turning the attention back to your golden boy, last time we spoke we were comparing Mac Jones to Cam Newton, that situation has been put to bed. There has been a LOT of talk up around Jones this year, how far can this man take you?

I think he is the long-term solution. You can see he fits the ‘Patriots mold’. From what you read from players and writers, he seems to have the right approach, always studying film and building good relationships with players and coaches alike.

In terms of his play, he is in contention for Rookie of the Year, which is the best we could have really hoped for. His ‘bad games’ often come where the whole team are misfiring. He doesn’t have the ability to carry the team yet, but only a number of QBs in this league really do.

He has made some great plays, and a few ‘rookie’ plays. If I had to grade him, I would say a B+… with the potential to see that fly up to an A after this Sunday’s game and into the playoffs.

I had REALLY hoped our season would come down to this game. I REALLY wanted to see a Mac v Tua shootout for that playoff spot. Neither player has shown they can carry their franchise and that aspect of Tua is REALLY under scrutiny since last week. But if they were in direct competition for that last spot we would have got to see one hell of a match up for who can really step up in that way.

Alas it was not to be and therefore we are in much lower spirits. We have had ridiculous ups this year, and terribly deflating downs, finished by that sickening blow last week. So how have they viewed our season in New England?

I have really enjoyed watching Miami play this year. I said in September, I am a Pats fan, but I love American Football as a whole, and watch every game. I like how Miami play, and it is not too dissimilar to the Pats, especially on defense. You could see why the Phins went 7 games unbeaten, but the question is, how can the team expect to be in amongst the best in the league when they start 1-7. Flores is respected as a coach, and rightly so, but some of the decision-making and overall play during the first half of the season left a lot to be desired.

Agreed. The season ended with that defeat to the Titans last week, but really the playoffs were lost in the game against the Jags, the Raiders and the Falcons. Those losses in a 7 game losing streak is where we really let this season slip. The Titans game just hurt more.

So what’s the Patriot view of Miami football moving forward? What do you guys expect of us next season and beyond?

The Tua questions need to be answered. I think Sunday was a good example of that. I don’t think Tua was THE reason the playoffs were missed, but he may have been A reason. You can see his natural talent, particularly in the no-huddle, RPO setup, as that’s where his strengths lie. But it seems every time he gets going, the rug is pulled from underneath him, and he is asked to do things that do not always align with his skillset. You also need to get a solid running game. Would like to see you look at FA, or the draft to bolster that rushing attack… which would again, help Tua… if he is still there.

If he is still there. The brutal truth of the matter. He has had a season to answer that question and yet it seems louder than ever. Especially with the shadow of DeShaun Watson looming. As much as I don’t want that to happen for the moral reasons, I can’t deny the fact it could happen and that’s as much of a shame as anything. That Tua could not silence those rumours with his play. But I’m bored of hearing the Watson speculation so lets get back to this week.

Talk to me about your surprise packages this year. Who has come out of nowhere to play a major role that we may get to witness this weekend.

One nice surprise for me has been the duo of Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips. 2 safeties, who have been utility players on the defensive side of the ball. Belichick loves these types of players, as one snap they are at safety, the next at line-backer, and the next in the slot. When the Patriots defense is flying, these two would often set the tone, with big hits and clutch picks aplenty.

Safety! A position of success for us this year amongst all the doom and gloom. While you have found your two, so have we, Jevon Holland has been incredible back there and Brandon Jones ability to be a swiss army knife of defensive form is electric to watch. I love them as a safety tandem now and for the future.

Who has impressed you lot from our team? Who are you most concerned about from the Dolphins roster? Who poses the greatest threat to you on either side of the ball?

Jaylen. Waddle. End of.

What a stud receiver. In our chat earlier in the year, I was scared of Parker, Waddle seems to be the Parker I was afraid of… plus speed. JC Jackson has been a little cold over the last few weeks, Waddle will be a great test for our number 1 CB.

No arguments from me. That man has shown he was absolutely the right pick last draft. A superb player with incredible potential and multiple ways of being used. I can’t wait to see the games we can get him to stretch the field. Whether that’s because of a new OLine, a new QB or both, that is a side of Waddle’s game yet to be unleashed and I can’t wait to see that built into our game.

But the elephant in the room whenever someone talks about Miami right now is QB Tua Tagovailoa. We finished with a question about Tua last time and right now the Dolphins fanbase is awash with the same old questions whether he is the right guy or not. His failures in Tennessee raising loud alarm bells when we needed him the most. So what do you guys think of him now? Is he the guy for us, or should we be exploring our options?

I think he has the potential to be a solid starter in the NFL. The problem is, young QBs are all expected to hit the ground running, like Mahomes, Burrow and arguably Mac Jones. The difference is, the Chiefs, Bengals, and Patriots all knew what they wanted from each of these QBs from the moment they started in the NFL. I have never got that impression from the Dolphins and Tua. Staying healthy has obviously hampered Tua, but even when he is on the field, you get the sense he is so terrified of making one mistake and being pulled off the field. He was never given that space to fail, and now he is a couple of years in, and he never got the endure the growing pains like his other younger QBs.

I would love to see one season where Flores says in simple terms that this is Tua’s Team, and the Phins build an attack around what Tua does best. Alas, I cannot see that happening. I can see the Dolphins picking up trade talks again after the season, and Tua will be shipped out to somewhere like Washington or The Lions.

At the moment I can’t help thinking you are right. The Watson trade got too close at the deadline, and with nothing much changed in Miami, I can’t see why that won’t just immediately kick start again when they are able to. We have a first round this year and two next year. Immediately able to give the Texans the 3 first rounds they are looking for. There are so many more complications surrounding this but this is the NFL and deals like this still get done regardless of the moral implications.

So what’s your match prediction? How do you see this playing out?

I am going to say it’s close, too close for comfort. I hate playing Miami, a team that seems to always make life hard for us. I am hoping the Pats do enough and go into the playoffs with a nice win.

21-20 Patriots.

Would love the Jets to do us a favor against the Bills too. So for one time and one time only.



Honestly, I think for the first time this year I will predict a Dolphins loss. Such is my own deflation and the feeling of apathy I get from the Dolphins camp this week. We stink of a group of people who know their time in Miami is coming to an end, or otherwise looking towards next year instead.

I see the Patriots wanting to avenge the Week 1 defeat, Kyle Van Noy wanting to get the win in Miami, and that slim chance of uprooting the Bills gives you something to play for.

Unfortunately I feel pessimistic. 26-13 to the Pats.


I HATE that I am finishing this series with such pessimism. I absolutely hate it.

But when our season is finished with a fanbase that is fighting between each other on a daily basis, discrediting, undermining, and belittling each other over each other’s football opinions it is hard not to feel some of that negativity.

When the conversation is more about which players should NOT return, rather than players we are excited about, even with a game still to play, it does not bode well for the final game of the season.

It is going to be another tense off season for Miami and us fans. It is going to be full of controversy, split opinions, and personnel overhaul. Which on one hand at least allows us to have something to talk about in those loooooong months before the action begins.

Lets just hope that we aren’t embarrassed by the Patriots before those off season moves begin.

For the final time this year, a defiant, Fins Up!