Learning From the Patriots’ Success


As haunting as it is for most Miami Dolphin’s fans to watch the New England Patriots win another Super Bowl, looking at how the Patriots got there may provide some tips on how the Dolphins can improve.

The Patriots miraculous Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks had the sports world buzzing, and for a variety of reasons. Tom Brady was able to grab his fourth Super Bowl ring, along with Bill Belichick. The Brady/Belichick era has been alive and well since the turn of the century and has reasonably taken over the AFC East in subsequent years. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins have had  seven coaches since Belichick took the helm with the Patriots, causing me to realize the dominance led by Brady and Belichick.

Comparing Tannehill’s and Brady’s first year starting for their respective teams contrasts slightly with an advantage towards Brady’s season, seeing as though he brought the Patriots to 11-3 and also threw for 18 touchdowns (2001) compared to Tannehill’s 12 touchdowns and 7-9 record (2012).

Looking at their second years however, proves to be slightly more similar. Brady led the Patriots to 9-7 in his second year as starter with the Patriots meanwhile Tannehill brought the Dolphins up to 8-8 in 2013. Both quarterbacks threw 20+ touchdowns (Brady-28, Tannehill-24) and Brady also slightly edged Tannehill in interceptions thrown (Brady-14, Tannehill 17).

Looking at their third year’s as starting quarterbacks gets a little more interesting. Last season Tannehill threw for just over 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Meanwhile in 2003 Brady threw for 3,620 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as well, giving Tannehill a slight edge; the only difference? Brady had two Super Bowl rings at this point in his career and Tannehill hasn’t made the playoffs.

Am I saying that Ryan Tannehill is going to be statistically better than Tom Brady in the future? Not my intention. My intention is to show if Brady/Belichick can improve from year to year, maybe Tannehill/Philbin can eventually get us to the promise land as well. Maybe owner Stephen Ross has modeled his quarterback/head coach from their conference foe and realized the difficulty to win games with little faith in your coach and quarterback.

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Secondly a player that brought buzz to the Super Bowl was Malcolm Butler, a rookie safety for the Patriots who saved the game from a second straight Seattle Super Bowl. Butler is a typical success story for the Patriots, stepping up in the team’s time of need.

Once again I was astonished by how the Patriots could pull players out of nowhere and get production at critical moments. Looking at how Butler was undrafted out of West Alabama where he was a superstar, it does not surprise me the rookie has play-making abilities and was able to put the crown back on the Patriots.

One interesting feature being brought to the NFL this offseason may help the Dolphins do just that, find potential from players who were not given enough chances. This feature is being regarded as a “veteran free agent combine” coming in March. The combine will consist of roughly 100 veteran free agents who may have fallen through a previous teams’ radars due to depth at the position and were forcibly cut. With another shot to show coaches their skill sets and rejuvenate their NFL career, hopefully the Dolphins will be able seek out talent and put it to use in critical situations like the Patriots.

Lastly, one big takeaway from the Patriots’ season that the Dolphin’s need to improve is their ability to win at home. When looking at the Patriots playing at home in the past few seasons, the Patriots play like they have a real home field advantage. This season the Patriots went 7-1 at Gillette Stadium and were 2-1 in conference at home. Meanwhile the Dolphins were only 4-4 at home overall and 2-1 in conference.

If the Dolphins want to be elite like the Patriots, they need to continue to take games away from them. In the previous two seasons we have seen the Dolphins beat the Patriots at Sun Life Stadium, but couldn’t keep the trend going once they got to Gillette Stadium. If the Dolphins want to put an end to the Patriots franchise, we have to begin by playing better in Foxboro.