W2W4: New England Patriots (1-0) vs Miami Dolphins (0-1) in Week 2

Jimmy Garoppolo (10) New England Patriots - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmy Garoppolo (10) New England Patriots - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount will find space hard to find versus the Miami defense. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

New England Rushing Offense vs Miami Rushing Defense

The New England Patriots committed to running the football on the road against the Arizona Cardinals last week. They rushed 31 times for 106 yards with LeGarrette Blount leading the way with 22 rushes for 70 yards and a touchdown. On the road, without Tom Brady, the Patriots were able to balance their offense with 31 rushes and 33 passes.

With their play-action passing attack able to operate to keep pressure off of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the Patriots kept passing lanes open. With a running game able to churn out positive yards consistently, the Patriots kept the Cardinals’ linebackers from sitting in the middle of the field. With the run fakes keeping the linebackers close to the line of scrimmage there was space to get the ball to the receivers.

Against Miami, running the ball can be difficult. Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips are a duo capable of blowing up running plays by getting into the backfield. The Seahawks rushed for 110 yards but took 32 carries to get the yards. Seattle ran often, but struggled to make any big plays as linebackers Kiko Alonso, Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins were able to clean up the running plays. The longest run allowed was 11 yards and mobile quarterback Russell Wilson had just 16 yards on the ground.

On the defensive line, Andre Branch was one of the top run stoppers as he had three solid tackles in the running game. Another player who was solid against the run was safety Isa Abdul-Quddus who was seemingly around the ball-carrier all game long.

For the Patriots, Blount can grind out tough yards but he needs space to cutback and get into the secondary. Rookie left tackle Joe Thuney was solid against the run and while center David Andrews is not the mauler that Bryan Stork was, he is a solid technician who uses leverage to make room for the running back. Shaq Mason does a better job in the running game than Ted Karras but his broken hand limits his ability to gain power which is necessary against Miami’s interior defensive line.

New England does not need to run the ball 15 out of the first 21 plays again (like their debacle in Miami in week 17 last year), but mixing in some positive gains in the running game can only help Jimmy Garoppolo. The Dolphins will be making it hard to run the ball with their strong front four, improved linebacker play, and hard-hitting safeties and have the advantage if the Patriots are not spreading them out and getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers.