Forget about Randy Moss and Wes Welker, the Dolphins have steadily improved at keeping them out of the game and in the case of Moss, get into his head and you can bet he will simply quit. While Tom Brady still loves his receivers the New England Patriots best hope of winning on Monday night against the Dolphins lies with two rookie TE’s. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Update: This snipped it from ESPN courtesy of Rotoworld regarding the fantasy aspect of this game:
The Dolphins are on pace to surrender 69 receptions for 1,099 yards and 11 touchdowns against opposing tight ends this season.
The Dolphins got shredded by tight ends last year, and they’re even worse this year. Patriots rookie Aaron Hernandez, fourth among NFL tight ends in receiving yards, is an elite fantasy option this week.
The Patriots have been lacking in the TE department for sometime and this past off-season said good-bye to long time Patriot Ben Watson and brought in veteran Alge Crumpler. Then the team spent two high draft picks to bring in the rooks. And so far, they have been exceptional.
While Gronkoski has found the end-zone twice to Hernandez’s nil, it has been Hernandez who has been racking up the receptions totally 211 yards on 13 receptions for a 14 yard average per catch. And guess what? The Miami Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the NFL defending the TE. An ongoing plague that has infected the team for almost 4 years now. So when the two sides line up on Monday night, it will be the TE’s that may just be the key to the Patriots offensive success.
The Patriots are running a bit low on running backs. Converted WR Danny Woodhead had a solid game in his first appearance of the season last week against Buffalo and scored his first TD. The Patriots use a committee of names to handle the ground game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Fred Taylor handle most of the rushing duties and together have amassed just over 200 yards. Sammy Morris also will be mixed into the game as well. Kevin Faulk is done for the year and Lawrence Maroney was traded to the Broncos two weeks ago. Conversely, Miami’s top two runners have accounted for 319 yards on the ground.
It’s a safe assumption that Miami’s run defense will be able to handle what the Patriots toss out to them and it’s likely that they may simply try and stop the pass and let the Patriots beat them by running the ball. But for that plan to work, the Phins need to stop the duo at TE or all bets are off.
The easiest way to beat the Patriots passing attack is with constant pressure. If the Phins can mix up their blitz schemes and disguise them well, the Patriots may be forced to keep a TE in to help the RB block. If they don’t get pressure on Brady, Hernandez and his fellow rookie will find plenty of space down-field to work in. It’s not like the Dolphins will suddenly wake up and know how to stop that aspect of the offensive opponent.
The Dolphins may possess a couple of “edges” in this game, offensively they should be able to make positive yards on a struggling defensive unit that struggled last week, and defensively they should be able to keep the Patriots running game in check. While it’s always up in the air about Moss and Welker, the real question and in this case, “Key” to the game, will be how the Dolphins will handle the TE’s. Or if they will at all.