The last time the Dolphins played the Patriots, Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards. Dolphins defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan said it was the worst game defensive game he’s EVER coached. That was a long time ago. That was September 12th. The Dolphins are a much different team, primarily because their defense has gotten progressively better as the season has gone on. The BIG question is, are they up for the challenge of the Patriots this time?
The Patriots enter tomorrow’s matchup with the #2 Offense in the NFL (total yards), second only to the New Orleans Saints. The Patriots are 3rd best in the NFL in terms of points scored per game, averaging 31.2 points per contest. Tom Brady leads that Patriots offense and can put up points on any defense, and they can do so in a hurry.
The Dolphins defense, by contrast, is ranked #5 in the NFL in points allowed (19.2). The Dolphins defense has played MUCH better of late and have been forcing opponents to turn the ball over….something that was severely lacking during their 0-7 start to 2011. Vontae Davis has pulled down 4 INTs this season and will need to be on his game to keep the Patriots receivers in check. Even more, the focus of the Patriots passing game has been the middle of the field. Whether it’s Wes Welker, Rob Gronkoswki, or Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady has gotten the ball to his receivers, utilizing the middle of the field. Gronkowski and Hernandez are two young Tight Ends that are formidable weapons in the Patriots attack. It will be up to Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett to help contain them. But that’s easier said than done.
So what CAN the Dolphins do to slow down the Patriots offense? Simply put, keep them off the football field. The Dolphins should focus on running the ball with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas and controlling the clock. They MUST be effective on third down opportunities and move the chains. Limiting the amount of opportunities the Patriots have will keep the Dolphins defense fresh and keep the pass rushers ready to harass Brady. Matt Moore should have open receivers and Dolphins RBs should have room to run as the Patriots have given up more yards than ANY other NFL team. By the total defensive yards allowed measure, they are the worst in the NFL. The Patriots! Bill Belichick’s defensive acumen be darned, the Patriots defense is terrible. The Dolphins must take advantage and control the football if they hope to beat the Pats.