Dolphins Catching Up To New England?

Jun 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (left) talks with quarterback Tim Tebow (right) during minicamp at the practice fields of Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins don’t have Tom Brady but Tom Brady doesn’t have Mike Wallace and questions surround the availability of top TE Rob Gronkowski.  Now word is filtering out of New England that Aaron Hernandez is in some hot water stemming from a close associates death and a shooting in Florida that Hernandez was involved with.  While both TE’s are huge parts of the New England Patriots offense, it’s the Miami offense that may have experts scratching their heads over who will ultimately sit atop the AFC East version of “Game of Thrones“.

For years the Patriots have ruled supreme, a minor hiccup in Bill Parcells first year in Miami saw the Patriots drop to second place albeit by tie-breakers and no Tom Brady but they have since returned and lost in the Super Bowl since.  The Patriots are the perennial favorites to win it all when it comes to the division and for the most part the entire AFC.  The Dolphins are not there and it would not be a stretch to argue they are far from being there.  No matter what a team does in the off-season, until they perform on the field, nothing really matters.

Still, you can compare two teams and call it what it is.  An early comparison.  The chips will lie where they fall once the season begins.  Ryan Tannehill has not yet had the meteoric rise that Tom Brady had and it’s hard to imagine he will but the Dolphins have improved the team around him.  Michael Wallace is a deep threat option which on paper should free Brian Hartline on the other side.  Include Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller into the equation and the Dolphins have a formidable offense.  You can’t compare apples to apples here.  The Dolphins offense will not play against the Patriots offense.

The Pat’s defense has been good but they haven’t been great and questions continue to linger especially in the secondary.  The Patriots haven’t been able to lock down the positions as well as they hoped and while they have received great play from their LB’s they have not nearly enough from their front line and that front line will be asked to collapse the pocket on Tannehill and stop the Dolphins faster paced offense.  The Dolphins have been unable for their part to stop the Patriots offense at all as well.  Unfortunately, it may be for a lack of play makers on the Patriots than anything else if it happens this year.

With Wes Welker gone the Patriots are hoping that Danny Amendola will step into the number one target role.  Amendola can handle the slot and the outside but he also can be brittle.  Last season he missed considerable time twice with broken clavicles.  Injury is a serious concern for the Patriots.   Not his talent.  From Amendola the Patriots are relying on six year journeyman WR Michael Jenkins and Lavelle Hawkins to go with a couple of freshman as they enter the last month before training camp begins.

With the injury problems to Gronkowski and possible legal problems for Hernandez the Patriots could become thinner very quickly.  Where they do have talent is at the RB position and they may be forced to move towards a running attack that they were not planning for.  While power back Legaratte Blount has not impressed in OTA’s, Stevan Ridley and Branden Bolden are returning after having solid years.  The problem is the Patriots are a passing team and rely on high scoring affairs to mask their defensive inequities.  It’s an opening that a good training camp could give the Dolphins an opportunity to expose.

Every year is a battle but the Patriots have found every year that the battle resides after the season has ended, this year, that battle may rage from start to finish.  The Dolphins have gotten stronger…on paper.  The Patriots not so much.  On paper as well.

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  • Paul V. Suffriti

    With the amount of money the Dolphins spent on FAs, they probably have a two year window to win before the salary cap catches up to them and creates dire straits.
    The added talent does not mean instant success, chemistry is everything…..just ask the Buffalo Bills.

    The Pats will still be a top offense with or without key moving parts (they always find a way to score). Do not underestimate their much improved defense from past years. They have good defensive backs with Talib and Dennard and have added strong safety Adrian Wilson to the mix. The defensive line will look much different this year. They got rid of dead weight DTs in the middle of the line and signed aggressive pass rushers Kelly and Armstead to bust the pocket from inside. The Pats will have a formidable defense this year.

    The Dolphins will have a successful year…..not sure if they can dethrone the Pats this year, but they could make a run for a playoff spot.

    • matthew

      Your right Paul, chemistry is everything. So considering Tannehill took it upon his self to get together with his previously and newly required receivers before the ota camps, the mini camp and there’s still training camp and since we have 5 pre-season games I think the dolphins will have the chemistry that your talking about soon enough!!!

    • John Gallup

      Take a look at most of the contracts and most of the money is paid in the first 2 years. After that the cap hits decrease because those contracts had guaranteed years. The cap hit for these guys will peak next year as other contracts (starks, solia, incognito and grimes) expire. Add to that the 10 plus million under the cap this year. If you look at the design both talent and salary cap are designed to replace people as they age or fail on the field.
      As far as winning you are right, chemistry will be the key also pass and route timing. Defensively, the phins will be much better than the pats as they have more of everything. If Jordan pans out or Vernon’s light comes on or both then even the pats will have trouble because rushing four and getting pressure is Brady’s achilles heel. Just ask the Giants.

  • Mark Doyle

    Brady got to sit for a least a year behind Bledsoe. Only got in because of an injury. Tannehill may not look meteoric yet but year 1 was way better than Brady’s rookie year.

    • Paul V. Suffriti

      I hope you are not insinuating that Tannehill is on the fast track to surpass Brady and all that he has accomplished…..big reach.