The 2021 NFL season kicked off this week with an offensive extravaganza between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. I don’t think that’ll be the case when the Miami Dolphins travel north to take on the New England Patriots at 4:25 pm on Sunday.
There will be a lot of eyes on this game nationally as it seems anyone with a microphone in the sports media has weighed in on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Let’s face it, not much of it has been positive.
If I’m going to be honest, Tua does have to prove he’s going to be Miami’s future. I also want to be clear though; while he played last year and played fairly well for a rookie quarterback, this year is when the real assessment starts.
Today we are going to look at the matchup between the Miami Dolphins offense versus the Patriots defense.
I mentioned the Cowboys Buccaneers game because I think Miami could learn something from that game. Dallas came out with an obvious game plan. Stay away from the middle of the Buccaneers defense, especially their defensive line. They also made a concerted effort to throw the ball at Jamel Dean every chance they got because they liked the matchup no matter who he was covering. They wore that poor guy out. I think Miami should do something similar.
Keep the game on the edge – George Godsey and Eric Studesville should take a page out of the Cowboys game plan and keep the ball on the outside, away from the middle of the Patriots defense. That’s where the Patriots are the strongest. Good defenses tend to be strong in the middle and the Patriots are no different. Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Dont’a Hightower fit the bill. Miami brought in speed for a reason, this will be a good game to use it. The Patriots have good linebackers in Hightower, Judon and Van Noy but anytime the Dolphins can manipulate a matchup to get Hightower or Van Noy out in coverage then they have to exploit that, especially on the outside where Miami’s athletes have more space to work.
Exploit the backups – The Patriots are going to be without their top cornerback, Stephon Gilmore on Sunday and to a surprise, Gilmore’s replacement Jalen Mills showed up on the injury report on Thursday and is listed as questionable. Whether Mills plays or if it’s Joejuan Williams the Dolphins should exploit that matchup early and often. Dallas effectively did this all night on Thursday, abusing Jamel Dean, over and over and over no matter who he was matched up against. Miami should do the same. In 2019 they did it against the Eagles when Mills was there as DeVante Parker made Jalen Mills’ head spin for 60 minutes. That needs to happen again. This year I think Miami has even more skill on the outside to make that happen against what will inevitably be New England’s 3rd, 4th and sometimes 5th corners.
Be creative in the play calling – In years past this would mean throwing a lot of screens. I’m talking about jet sweeps/passes to Waddle, a reverse or two, option, rb pass. Don’t save anything! Play to win the game. Do whatever it takes. I’ve watched a lot of college and pro football and have seen a whole lot of creativity, I want that infused into the Dolphins offense.
There are a few different equations to beat the Patriots; inject a couple of the variables above and Dolphins fans will start the week in a good mood!