Sunday’s stakes for the Patriots are clear.
If the Pats lose to Miami, they are going to be 0-2. Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, fewer than 10% of groups that began 0-2 later made the playoffs. The Patriots would additionally fall to 0-1 within the AFC East and open the door to at an 0-2 division begin with their first street recreation scheduled for subsequent week on the Jets.
If the Pats intend to shock this season with a ten or 11-win marketing campaign, Sunday is the right, and maybe solely, place to start out.
All they need to do to upset the favored Dolphins is restrict probably the most explosive offense within the league and out-flank a protection taking child steps in its new system. Sounds straightforward sufficient, proper?
Either manner, the stress’s on. As far as Week 2 video games go, Sunday’s shall be as huge as they get.
When the Patriots run
The Patriots’ best recreation plan begins with a clock-killing run recreation. The bother is, nothing has been best concerning the state of their offensive line.
Left sort out Trent Brown and rookie guard/sort out Sidy Sow, who each began the season opener, missed follow all week with concussions. Starting guards Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu had been restricted after sitting out the season opener. Center David Andrews endured a brand new hamstring harm, and proper sort out Calvin Anderson was already Plan B at his place after the lack of Riley Reiff.
Fortunately for the Pats, the Dolphins allowed greater than six yards per carry to the Chargers in Week 1. If Strange and Onwenu can return, they need to be capable of pound the center of Miami’s defensive entrance. Last yr, Onwenu ranked among the many finest run-blockers within the league, and Strange would supply an improve over rookie Atonio Mafi.
Last week, Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott mixed for simply 54 yards on 19 carries. But over his profession, Stevenson has averaged 4.9 yards per rush in opposition to the Dolphins.
When the Patriots go
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could be new to Miami, however his scheme will look awfully acquainted to the Patriots after going through one in every of his disciples, Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai, final week.
Therefore, anticipate the Pats to once more assault the center of the sector, with the Dolphins preferring to remain in disguised two-deep coverages. Tight ends Hunter Henry (5 catches, 56 yards final week) and Mike Gesicki may thrive between the hashes, significantly with Gesicki going through his former crew. The Patriots may also choose to go up-tempo, one thing Mac Jones presumably hinted at when discussing find out how to sift by means of Fangio’s disguises.
“If I’m supposed to hand it off, hand it off. If I’m throwing quick, throw quick really well. If there’s a shot, take the shot. So, it kind of falls into those buckets,” Jones mentioned this week. “They do a good job with disguise and a lot of teams will do that against us, and from there you just have to play fast.”
A no-huddle method would additionally tire out edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb, who ought to have main matchup benefits versus the Patriots’ backup offensive tackles.
Can Mac Jones take subsequent step for Patriots in Week 2 vs. Dolphins?
When the Dolphins run
Like the Patriots, Miami may get pleasure from a serious increase from the return of their finest offensive lineman: left sort out Terron Armstead. The All-Pro was listed as questionable with a number of accidents that saved him out of Week 1.
Whether Armstead returns or not, the Dolphins will work to get speedy operating again Raheem Mostert in house. Mostert solely rushed for 37 yards final week, however stays a home-run risk every time he touches the ball. Rookie De’Von Achane is one other identify to observe.
While Achane was inactive final week, he has 4.3 velocity. Against the Chargers, veteran Salvon Ahmed and receiver Erik Ezukanma noticed probably the most carries after Mostert. Ezukanma instructed Miami reporters this week he is been watching movie of 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, an all-purpose weapon who performed beneath Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel when McDaniel was a San Francisco assistant.
When the Dolphins go
It all begins with Tyreek Hill.
Hill set fireplace to the Chargers’ secondary final week, racking up 215 receiving yards. Miami maximizes the hazard he poses by giving Hill a operating head begin with pre-snap movement everywhere in the formation. The Pats have largely contained Hill in latest matchups, however he is averaged greater than 100 yards per recreation since he was traded to the Dolphins.
Because Miami strikes Hill so regularly and makes use of him as a decoy to spring one other dynamite receiver in Jaylen Waddle (1,356 yards, 8 TDs final yr), the Patriots cannot merely maintain a security excessive of him. They might, nonetheless, shadow him with cornerback Jonathan Jones, supplied Jones is wholesome. The speedy veteran, who’s adopted Hill in earlier matchups, is coping with a brand new ankle harm.
Whether the Patriots are in man or zone, anticipate them to maintain their safeties again deep to disclaim huge performs. They efficiently restricted the Eagles to 1 achieve of greater than 20 yards final week. Then the ultimate step is tackling.
Miami’s offense is designed to maximise yards after the catch, and the Dolphins rank second within the NFL in that class for Week 1. Pats defenders whiffed simply 5 occasions versus Philadelphia, an encouraging quantity, although getting Hill and Waddle to the bottom shall be a wholly completely different problem.
“When you look at this offense, you see a lot of speed. It’s made for a street-ball kind of a game,” Patriots linebacker Matt Judon mentioned this week. “It’s kind of playing a game of freeze-tag with these guys. You try to get your hands on them but they are so quick, so athletic.”
One remaining word: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is 4-0 in profession begins in opposition to the Patriots, however Miami has averaged simply 18 offensive factors per recreation in these conferences.
Patriots 20, Dolphins 19
Devin McCourty unsurprised however impressed with how Patriots changed him at free security