Patriots: Why 2021 matchups with Dolphins will be different
Miami’s front office mainly focused on offense in free agency
The Dolphins front office sustained some serious losses in the offseason. For one, Van Noy returned to the Patriots after Miami released him. Van Noy took Godchaux with him to further add insult to injury. Godchaux went on IR with a torn pectoral muscle in 2020, but in 2019, he had 75 tackles, which is a freakishly high number for a nose tackle.
Edge rusher Shaq Lawson went to the Texans in return for McKinney. Was that really a smart move for Miami? While Lawson only had four sacks last year, he recorded 18 quarterback hits. He was outstanding on a pressure-based defense. A pass-rushing defensive end can generally be more valuable than a linebacker. The Dolphins may have felt deeper along their defensive line than at linebacker last season, but not after losing three major linemen this offseason. They signed Adam Butler and John Jenkins to replace them. With all due respect, they do not equal the players who left. The Dolphins lost more than they got back.
However, specifically against the Patriots and their run-first offense, if not the rest of the NFL, McKinney could come up big. The Dolphins are going to need all the run-stoppers they can find.
At cornerback, Miami added Justin Coleman from the Lions and Jason McCourty from the Pats, both of whom seem slated for backup duty.
To summarize the defensive moves, the D-line lost three major piece and replaced them with two free agents who are not quite as good while adding solid linebacker and secondary depth.
Now for the offense…
On the offensive line, the Dolphins lost guard Ereck Flowers to Washington in a salary cap move as well as Ted Karras to the Patriots, while adding Skura from Baltimore. They lost more than they gained on the offensive line.
At quarterback, they replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick with old friend Jacoby Brissett, who is there to stop the bleeding if something goes wrong with Tagovailoa, and it just might.
Where they made a huge gain was at wide receiver, where they added Fuller. In five years, Fuller has played in only 53 games, but has 3,110 receiving yards. If he ever played 16 games, he would easily be a 1,000-yard receiver.
Nevertheless, Fuller is the main reason for saying that the Dolphins made net gains on offense via free agency.