As a Dolphin fan, the majority of us can safely say that we a have strong hatred for the New England Patriots, and to be 100% honest, it’s completely justified. The unfortunate news is that the Patriots have been the cream of the crop for the past decade. 10 years of dominance in the AFC, allows the hatred to marinate and develop, stronger and stronger each year.
Last week loss sucked, similar to week one against the Seahawks, we have an opportunity to win the game. The Miami Dolphins lost the game in the first half. That was the turning point, it’s hard for any team to come back from a deficit of 24 points, especially when the Patriots easily marched down the field for three straight possessions.
Which leads to the following question – how can a defence that contained the Seattle Seahawks for close to four quarters collapse and render 21 points before halftime?
The answer is quite simple – Bill Bellichick. If I was Bellichick, and re-watched the Seattle game, he noticed a vicious front four that was able to rattle Russell Wilson all game, thereby disrupting his 5 and 7 step reads.
Let’s back up for a second, the Miami Dolphins strength for their defence is not their secondary or linebackers, it’s their front 4. Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Ndamukong Suh, and Jordan Philips eat up over 30 million of cap space. As such, it makes sense for opposing team to game plan against them.
Billichick mastered this approach this past Sunday. The game plan was easy, ensure every pass that our quarterback takes was less than 3 seconds. Actually, reviewing the game tape, every throw that Jimmy Garoppolo took was less than 2 seconds. This was actually a discussion point for the CBS announcers during the first half 4 times by my count. For your curiosity, the team with the largest amount of time before a quarterback throw are the Colts with a 4.5 second lag.
By implementing a schema that eliminated the Dolphins best asset on the field, the Patriots were able to run over the defence, which was evident by their three straight touchdown performance before half time.
How does one counter a quarterback quick release, the answer, theoretically is a press man coverage. Wait a minute, isn’t the base philosophy for Vance Joseph defence a cover 3 press, similar to what the Seattle Seahawks run. The answer is you are 100% right.
What Josh McDaniel, the Patriots Offensive Coordinator, game planned was a ton of motion. If you re-watch the game, 91% of offensive plays ran in the first quarter had at least one player running motion to break the press coverage. The crazy observation about the 91%, was the motion was used for both running and passing plays. This saturation caused confusion and disguised every similar formation.
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Basically, Josh McDaniel and Bill Bellichick outcoached the entire Dolphins front office, in the first half, by taking away their best assets. The reason I only mention the first half is that the Dolphins were playing against a third string quarterback at the end of the second quarter and the game plan that the Patriots defined took a slight detour.
I’ll give Joseph some credit, as he did move away from the press coverage and roll into soft and hard press zone coverages, the only problem with that is the Dolphins don’t have enough athleticism on the defensive side of the ball to handle those types of formations. To be honest, Gase used his entire draft selection on building his offence, making a few statements stating this upcoming year draft selection, will focus on the defensive side bar.
The NFL is a copycat league. Dolphins fans know this first hand, when they introduced the Wildcat a few years ago. Vance Joseph knows that McDaniels and Billicheck exposed his defence last week, and opposing team will implement the same game plan until Joseph implements a new schema that will “stop the bleeding.”
It’s on Joseph to not only to put the Band-Aid on the exposed wound, but surgically repair his defensive philosophy, as Josh and Billy Boy laid the foundation and the blueprint needs a second look.