Yes, I said victory. In the past two weeks I have stated my 5 keys to success. On my Tuesday night broadcast of On the Fin Side, I made the claim. The Miami Dolphins will get their first victory this weekend. Hey, I am not Joey Porter and if the New England Patriots want to wrap this little article on a bulletin board in their locker room…well I’m honored.
This game sets up as nice opportunity. Coming off an embarrassing performance at Arizona, head coach Tony Sparano would do well to make that the in-flight movie on their way to Foxborough.
You can read my game predictions here.
5 Keys to Dolphins Victory:
Key 5: Randy Moss – The Dolphins need to follow the New York Jets example of closing down Randy Moss. Moss can be a tough act to handle but the timing between he and QB Matt Cassel is still likely off a bit. Double coverage with a rolling safety should keep Moss out of the end-zone leaving Cassel to look at Wes Welker more often. Not a good thing, but Welker won’t beat you deep often where Moss can make a 3rd and long a touchdown. Something they will try and do off the Arizona game film. Stopping Moss is the first step in obtaining defensive supremacy against the New England offense.
Key 4: Wes Welker – Putting Randy Moss in check will leave Welker one on one with a safety or a LB. He will get his looks and his catches, but the key is to keep him occupied on 3rd down, forcing Cassel to instead try and thread the ball to Randy Moss in coverage…provided the Phins successfully contain him. Welker is a monster underneath and the Dolphins will likely use a scheme that matches a safety on him or run with an extra corner. Let Welker have the underneath on 2nd down, contain him to 5 yards and put the Patriots in 3rd and 5 and Moss will become the primary target if the Phins can hide the coverage package to cover Welker on 3rd.
Key 3: Stopping the Run: The New England Patriots have some running back issues as both their 1st and 2nd team backs have missed practice time. The job could fall to RB Sammy Morris is more than capable of handling the load. The Phins are ranked 12th in the league in run defense and they will need to clog the middle while their LB’s make quick reads to determine if the play is run or pass. Biting on the play action could be devastating to the Dolphins secondary and New England will try and get the safeties to bite. If the front 7 can hold the running game in check, the safeties will be able to stay in their zones.
Key 2: Mental errors – There is no way that the Dolphins can afford to beat themselves. 12 men on the field, pass interference, defensive holding on failed 3rd down attempts. This team can not give the Patriots any extra chances. The Dolphins offensive line will be faced with constant pass rush and Pennington will need to get rid of the ball quick so the lineman must be aware that holding will cause more problems for the team. Take the sack, hold on to the ball, and move to the next play.
Key 1: Matt Cassel – Unlike the Jets, the Dolphins should have enough game film on the QB and be able to design a scheme that keeps Cassel guessing. The Dolphins need to force him into audible changes on the line as often as possible and when he changes, the Phins should change. Pressure will force Cassel to think quick and the Dolphins need to disguise their blitzes to keep him guessing. Channing Crowder and Matt Roth need to rotate their blitz and coverage assignments to keep the TE and Wes Welker in check.
IF the Dolphins can do all of these things, they will be able to hold New England to under 20. A crisp methodical offensive game plan that utilizes both the TE’s and the WR’s will open up the Phins running game allowing Miami to eat time and yardage.