Miami Passing Offense vs New England Passing Defense
The Dolphins passing attack took a step backwards in the season opener in Seattle as the mighty Seahawks defense shut down Ryan Tannehill much of the game. Tannehill showed great fortitude leading the Dolphins on a fourth quarter scoring drive to put them in position to win before Russell Wilson did what Russell Wilson does and drove the Seahawks down the field to victory.
Tannehill again is short on weapons. Jarvis Landry remains the team’s top receiving option. He currently has got to 200 receptions quicker than any receiver in NFL history (though Odell Beckham should challenge that record). Miami traded for Kenny Still from New Orleans but he has failed to develop into a consistent threat and rookie Leonte Carroo has showed promise but needs to work out the kinks of adapting to the NFL.
Miami traded for Kenny Stills from New Orleans but he has failed to develop into a consistent threat last year and had a terrible, game-changing drop last week. Why New Orleans gave up on Stills becomes more apparent the more he struggles with consistency with the Dolphins. Miami added DeVante Parker in the first round of the NFL Draft last year and he busted out with 22 catches for 445 yards (an impressive 20.2 yards per catch) with three touchdowns in his last six games after finally getting healthy last year. Parker missed much of the preseason with hamstring issues and missed the opener in Seattle though he should play Sunday.
Disappointing tight end Jordan Cameron had just two catches for six yards last week and Stills finished with one reception despite being targeted five times. Cameron was a bust being signed away from Cleveland in free agency and has done little to justify his large contract in Miami. Short of a couple of big plays on receptions out of the backfield, it was all Landry as he had seven catches on ten targets for 59 yards as he garnered almost all off the attention of the Seattle secondary.
For the Patriots, getting to Tannehill is going to be a big question mark. While the Dolphins offensive line is far from superior, Belichick has been overly conservative playing Tannehill and devotes too much attention to his running ability. Rather than pressuring from the edge and blitzing, the Patriots tend to get overly conservative and pin Tannehill in the pocket like he was Michael Vick in his prime. Yes, Tannehill can run the ball, but he also falls apart when he gets knocked down and battered by the pass rush.
Last week the Patriots left Logan Ryan in single coverage far too often on Larry Fitzgerald and paid the price. Ryan was not terrible, but he needed help over the top at times and asking any cornerback to match-up with the future Hall-of-Fame receiver in single coverage is not smart. Ryan will likely draw coverage on DeVante Parker and/or Kenny Stills on the outside in coverage this week.
The Patriots would be wise to match their number one cornerback on Landry throughout the game. Landry often works outside and inside from the slot (similar to Julian Edelman in New England) and leaving him covered by Justin Coleman or rookie Cyrus Jones is a mismatch that the Dolphins can exploit all afternoon in Foxboro on Sunday. Landry is the one legitimate receiving threat in Miami and should be the focus of the defense.his drop of a wide open pass last week in Seattle was an abomination as he was literally so open no one was within 10 yards of him.
Miami added DeVante Parker in the first round and he had 22 catches for 445 yards (over 20 yards per catch) with three touchdowns when he finally got on the field last year. However, Parker is again on the sidelines as he has been sidelined all summer with hamstring issues. He missed the Seattle opener and is still questionable for Sunday’s matchup although his impact may be small where he has missed so much time.
Again, it leaves Miami leaning heavily on Landry in the passing game. Disappointing tight end Jordan Cameron had just two catches for six yards last week and Stills finished with one reception despite being targeted five times. Short of a couple of big plays on receptions out of the backfield, it was all Landry as he had seven catches on ten targets for 59 yards as he garnered almost all off the attention of the Seattle secondary.
For the Patriots, it will be interesting to see how they cover Landry. It appeared to be a tactical mistake last week leaving Logan Ryan on wily veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Ryan was not terrible, but he needed help over the top at times and asking any cornerback to match-up with him in single coverage is not smart. Ryan will likely draw DeVante Parker and/or Kenny Stills on the outside in coverage.
The Patriots should just simply put Malcolm Butler on Landry and follow him around the formation throughout the game. Landry often works outside and inside from the slot (similar to the usage of Julian Edelman by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) and having Landry covered by Justin Coleman is a mismatch in favor of the Dolphins. Coleman should cover the rookie Carroo or Stills, never Landry.
Even without linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) the Patriots should be able to slow tight end Jordan Cameron with linebacker Jamie Collins and safety Patrick Chung. That duo will also be keeping an eye on the running backs out of the backfield as Arian Foster and Damien Williams had the two longest receptions last week.
The Dolphins struggle at times to get their offense in gear and the Patriots need to get their pass rush in gear early and get Tannehill to the ground a few times early in the game. Keeping Landry under wraps (as Seattle showed last week) goes a long way to getting the offense off the field. For New England, they are in a strong position on defense to shut down the Dolphins passing attack.