- Run defense was much improved
In last week’s game, Miami allowed 234 rushing yards on 5.9 yards per carry. Against the Patriots, the Dolphins allowed 88 rushing yards on 3.5 yards per carry. Raekwon Davis, Christian Wilkins, and Zach Seiler all deserve credit for bouncing back after a rough Week 1 performance. By doing so, they put Miami’s defense in a position to consistently get off the field. In Vic Fangio’s scheme, stopping the run is a key element required to succeed; more performances like this are needed.
- The rushing attack was also improved
On the other side of the ball, Miami also made improvements in the run game. Against the Chargers, Miami totaled 70 rushing yards on 3.5 yards per carry, and against New England, they ran for 145 yards on 4.8 yards per carry. With the Patriots taking away Miami’s deep ball opportunities, the offense did a good job pivoting and is displaying their versatility as they ran the ball more efficiently and consistently. Despite flirting with Jonathan Taylor & Dalvin Cook in the offseason, Raheem Mostert put in the work and delivered Miami’s best individual rushing performance since Jay Ajayi in 2016.
- Bradley Chubb made an impact
Chubb had become an easy target for Dolphins fans, as he was acquired for a 1st round pick and immediately given a high-priced extension. On Sunday, the pass-rusher had his most productive game for the Dolphins as he forced a fumble, recorded a sack, and registered two TFLs. Before the season, I wrote about Bradley Chubb needing to prove himself this season, and more performances like this should help that cause.
- Self-Inflicted Mistakes
Early on in the game, it was evident that New England’s game plan was daring Miami to take what the defense gave them, forcing them to play a less exciting brand of offense without deep shots down the field. At times, Miami did just that, and they moved down the field with ease; however, some self-inflicted mistakes caused Miami’s drives to stall and allowed New England back into the game.
The ones I identified were:
- A low snap on 3rd & Goal caused Tua’s footing to be disrupted, and he had to throw the ball away to avoid a sack. The drive resulted in a Field Goal.
- Holding penalty on 2nd & 5 that cost them a first down. The drive resulted in a blocked Field Goal.
- Drop by Jaylen Waddle on the 1st & 10. A catch would have given him the first down and potentially more. The drive resulted in a punt two plays later.
- An interception by Tua on a forced deep shot on 1st & 10.
- A mishandled snap on 3rd & 1. The drive resulted in a missed Field Goal.
Obviously, no team will be perfect, and drops and penalties will always happen, but five drives stalling due to mistakes in a lack of execution could prove costly against a better opponent.
- Special Teams may be a problem
This goes hand in hand with the previous takeaway, as Special Teams issues have plagued the Dolphins for two weeks, specifically the kicking department. Over the past two seasons, Jason Sanders has stopped being reliable from over 50 yards, and he’s now gone back-to-back weeks missing kicks in clutch situations late in the fourth quarter. His first missed kick was blocked, which was directly due to the Patriots’ special teams unit being better prepared, and that’s something Miami can’t allow to keep happening.