Coming off their biggest win of the season against the Saints, the New England Patriots did the exact opposite of what they needed to do, and laid an egg versus the rival New York Jets. It was an ugly game, and while the Patriots may have had a loss handed to them by a badly timed call, they really lost the game with some terrible second half play. This week they have another division rival in the Miami Dolphins, so they again can’t get caught napping like they did last week. The Dolphins are more talented than the Jets, but hold the same burning passion to knock off the king of the mountain in the AFC East. So without anymore further wait, let’s look at what the Patriots have to do to grab a win from the Dolphins (Patriots tickets still available here.)
1. Run the Damn Ball
Last week we saw the play calling go to hell in the second half, and the Patriots who had a pretty balanced attack of rushing and passing in the first half, turned to all out passing attack in the second half, and that loss of balance pretty much cost them the game. The Miami Dolphins are a worse rush defense team, in fact they are ranked 15th in the league compared to the Jets 2nd rank, so you have got to take advantage of that, and take the pressure off of Brady and his weapons. Stevan Ridley has continued to look good since his breakout game versus the Saints, and I would expect a big game this week if the Patriots stay true to him. He’s the best back on the roster, not Blount, not Bolden, stay consistent with Ridley. The Dolphins have a good defense, but the Patriots will want to control them as much as possible, and the best way to do that is to impose your way through the running game.
2. Ryan Tannehill WILL Make Mistakes, Take Advantage When They Happen
Ryan Tannehill has had a rough go of things over the past few weeks, and has turned the ball over five times over the past three losses, compared to just two in the Dolphins three wins to start the season. He will make a couple big mistakes here and there, and the Patriots are going to have to take advantage of them when they do happen. Whether it’s turning an interception into a pick six, or a fumble recovery into a touchdown, or even just getting some points off a turnover, it needs to be exploited. Creating turnovers is nice and all but they mean nothing if you can’t capitalize on them.
3. Keep Feeding The Gronk
Rob Gronkowski had a huge day back last Sunday catching eight passes for 117 yards, but it still didn’t seem like he was all there. He dropped what would’ve been a great one-handed catch, which he normally does catch when healthy, and he also lost a ball in the sun, so there was some bad luck as well. So keep feeding the big man, as he’s bound to break out even more. Brady loves Gronk so this is going to probably happen, and versus the 25th ranked team against the pass, some good things will happen. #FeedTheGronk
4. Some Consistent Play Calling
This was the reason the Patriots lost last week. Playcalling went to hell, and the Patriots had no balance. They ran the ball only 10 times in the second half, a half they entered with a lead, and instead of trying to control the Jets, they seemed to get a bit more reckless, and it cost the Patriots dearly. Brady passed the ball 46 times and only managed 22 completions, most of the incompletions coming in the second half, and when you’re constantly giving the other ball after three and outs, you’re going to struggle, and have a tough time winning. The Patriots don’t face as stiff of a defense in the Dolphins, but they’re going to have to tone things down a bit, and be more conservative. Instead of trying to get big plays, try to control the football, make the defense really work. It’s tough to convert when you’re faced with a 3rd and 12 on your own side of the field.
The Patriots took the Jets lightly last week and they paid for it. The Dolphins are struggling through this part of the season after winning their first three games. But again this isn’t a game to look past. Ryan Tannehill was very good in the first three games, and the last thing the Patriots want to do is be the team that gave him confidence again. Be consistent, play to win the game instead of looking for stats, and #FeedTheGronk. These division games are so important, and you don’t want to drop two in a row.