The Miami Dolphins will take on the New England Patriots in Foxboro this weekend and the Dolphins should look at this as a statement game.
For the Miami Dolphins it better be one game at a time. So far that is what Adam Gase is telling his players but this Sunday is special. This Sunday is a lot different. This Sunday is the Patriots.
The Miami Dolphins have played nine games in Foxboro since their last road win against the Patriots. That came in 2008 when the Dolphins shocked not only the Patriots but the NFL when then head coach Tony Sparano rolled out the Wild Cat formation and beat their rivals 38-13. In fact, the Dolphins are only 2-15 in the last 17 games in New England.
This weeks match-up is another game on the schedule, the next game on the schedule but the Dolphins could shake-up the AFC East and in the process thumb their nose to the national doubters.
Playing in Miami’s favor is not the 1-2 record of the Patriots or the 3-0 record of the Dolphins. It’s team unity. The Dolphins are playing the same kind of team-first game as they did in 2016 when Adam Gase took over the team. Ryan Tannehill has become a leader and the Dolphins are in a position to have the confidence within themselves to play a team that one paper may or may not be better than they are.
Miami must be physical at the point of attack. No one knows how the Patriots are going to approach this game strategically. Will they try to run the ball with rookie Sony Michel or will they focus on the Dolphins extremely poor mid-field pass defense?
For the Patriots and Brady testing the Dolphins linebackers coverage skills could break open the game and put Miami in a hole early just like the Raiders did last Sunday. The Patriots are not the Raiders however and Tom Brady is head and shoulders above Derek Carr.
What we do know is that the Patriots are going to use extremely quick pass routes with high completion percentages. This will be their effort to counter the Dolphins speed off the edges and the push from the defensive line. Miami’s linebackers are young so it is imperative that help comes from Reshad Jones if he is active and rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Taking away Rob Gronkowski isn’t enough. The Dolphins have to prepare for Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as well as newly acquired Josh Gordon who may make his debut. In fact, Bill Belichick will likely activate Gordon regardless of whether he is ready or not simply to make Miami game plan differently. Welcome to the chess match.
Offensively Miami should be able to exploit weaknesses in the Patriots game but this game will come down to how well the Dolphins can push at the line of scrimmage. Miami is not going to win a shootout so they need to control the ball and you do that by controlling the area between the tackles. This will be a major key for the games outcome.
Going into New England and beating the Patriots is not an easy task for any NFL team but for the Dolphins it’s a game that they almost have to win. It puts them effectively 3.5 games up on their division rival and paves the way for a chance at the AFC East title.
Forget about the doubters and forget about making a statement to the national media that the Dolphins are for real. This statement sends a bigger message, one that will resonate through the locker room and into subsequent weeks. A victory says “we can” it says “we did”.
No game in the NFL is an easy one but beating the reigning AFC champions on their home field is a monumental undertaking that will provide the youth of this team something to grab a hold of. It will erase any doubts that may linger. It’s beating the one team that no one has written off by any measure. If the Dolphins leave Foxboro with a 4-0 record, other teams will need to take notice that these Miami Dolphins are not who everyone thinks they are.