The Miami Dolphins are taking on the New England Patriots Thursday night in what is being billed as Dan Campbell’s biggest game of his short career as head coach. The Dolphins need to start the game fast like they have the last two weeks and that is a lot to ask of a team but it’s a necessity. The Patriots are a quick scoring team and have so many wrinkles they can throw at the Dolphins.
Miami’s season doesn’t end with the Patriots and it won’t begin with a victory either. Miami has to prepare as well as they can and the players need to execute on every play if the Dolphins will have a shot at upsetting New England. Let’s not take my word on it however. I recently spoke with Connor Fulton of MusketFire.com and he and I exchanged questions. You can read my questions and his answers below. You can read my answers to his questions on MusketFire.com.
PhinPhanatic: There is a lot of talk of this years Patriots being better than the one in 2007. How are the teams similar?
"CF: The teams are similar in that the offense is explosive and the defense is also a force to be reckoned with, the latter fact separating this Patriots’ team from other seasons in which they had dominant offenses and “bend but don’t break” defenses. The young core of front seven players, led by Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones, speaks for itself. However, I try to avoid comparisons to 2007. I would rather put this team on the same pedestal as the 2004 Patriots, as both the 2004 Pats and this year’s squad are defending a Super Bowl title. 2004 was the first time in the Brady/Belichick era in which the Pats started 6-0."
PhinPhanatic: Tom Brady has looked ageless the last couple of years. Why is he playing so well? Perhaps maybe years of deflating footballs haven’t forced early stages of arthritis?
"CF: Ah, very funny Brian! Brady’s outstanding play stems not just from his isolationist anger toward the league, but also his dedicated preparation on a daily basis. The guy goes to bed early, doesn’t drink much and is extremely deliberate about what he puts in his body. In addition, his new conditioning regiment has made Brady more mobile at age 38 than he did as a pudgy rookie back in 2000. Lastly, Brady continues to dominate because of the sheer number of defenses he has faced over the years. Not much surprises him these days."
PhinPhanatic: We know that Brady, Gronkowski, and Edeleman are the top players to stop on the Patriots offense. Who are the two best players that get no media play?
"CF: The two best offensive players that go largely under the national spotlight are wide receiver Danny Amendola and rookie center David Andrews. In the past two weeks, Amendola has been the best wideout for the Pats, working his tail off to get open for Brady and catching everything thrown his way, which Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell can’t say after both committed multiple drops last week. Andrews has gone completely under the radar, and that’s a testament to his ability; if Andrews was struggling at center, Brady would be getting tossed around more and the national attention would focus on the interior offensive line’s deficiencies, but that has not been the case. Filling-in for the severely concussed Bryan Stork, Andrews has played like a seasoned veteran."
PhinPhanatic: For as good as the offense is, the defense isn’t that bad either but they still need a high potent offense to win. What’s the biggest problem on defense?
"CF: Without a doubt, the cornerback position. He has his moments, but Logan Ryan can be a huge liability at the No. 2 cornerback spot. And while he’s played well for the most part since that Super Bowl XLIX interception, Malcolm Butler has struggled at times against big No. 1 wide receivers (Eric Decker had his way with Butler in Week 7). It’s not rocket science; the way to attack the Patriots’ defense is to hold-off the potent pass rush and expose the inexperienced pair of starting cornerbacks."
PhinPhanatic: Looking at the schedule for the Patriots moving forward, who is the one team that stands the best chance of keeping the Patriots from going undefeated in the regular season for a 2nd time?
"CF: I don’t like to underestimate the opponent at hand, so my answer to this question is the Dolphins tonight. If they come out and punch the Pats in the mouth, the Dolphins could hand the Pats their first loss. Looking down the road, the November 29th date against the Denver Broncos a mile up in the sky is the biggest threat to the Patriots’ undefeated status, and it’s because of that terrorizing defense. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller are easily the scariest one-two pass rushing punch in the NFL, and the Broncos have one heck of a secondary playing behind that ferocious front seven. It’s an old truth, but true nonetheless: the way to beat Brady is to bruise him, and that’s something the Broncos are very good at. And the Dolphins, to connect back to the first part of my answer."
Thanks for having me on the site, Brian! You guys do good work here on Phin Phanatic.
It’s always a pleasure to have Connor talk with us about the Patriots and we will talk again when the seasons final games approach.