slides: What to Watch For: Dolphins at Patriots
Sunday, September 18, 2016
New England Patriots (1-0) open Gillette Stadium on Sunday when they face the (0-1) Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m.
See What to Watch for in the Slideshow Below
The last time the Patriots faced the Dolphins was in the final game of the 2015 season when Miami won 20-10, costing the Patriots home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wasted no time reminding everyone of that game earlier this week.
“There are some new faces down there but I'd say the thing that's most etched in my mind, and I'm sure our teams, is the last time we went down there it was a pretty rough day for us,” said Belichick.
Revisiting that Game
The Patriots went into the game last December with a game plan that seemed to indicate they were just looking to get out of there healthy.
Tom Brady only threw the ball 5 times in the first half, ending the game with a total of 12 completed passes for 134 yards.
Rob Gronkowski had only two catches for 18 yards and neither came in the first half. Brady handed the ball to Steven Jackson 14 times who rushed for just 35 yards to lead the team.
“It wasn't very good; bad coaching, bad playing, just bad period,” Belichick said about the game.
However, when pressed on it, he was "on to this week's Dolphins game" in typical Belichick fashion.
Belichick said talking to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, “The 2015 review, I'm sure you did that. That was great. I'm sure you did a great job on it. We're really past it. We're on to 2016. We're playing the Dolphins.”
When pressed even further on the approach taken to that game he said, “We approach every game differently. I mean we have different players, they have different players, they have different coaches. It's obviously going to be different. Every game is going to be different. Just like a double-header in baseball is different. You've got two different pitchers pitching. Yeah, it's different.”
Belichick added, “Last time we played that team it didn't go very well, so I hope we can play them more competitively this year.”
The Patriots will look for some revenge against the Dolphins and to nail down a 2-0 start to the season.
Related Slideshow: 5 Things to Watch For: Dolphins vs Patriots
While it seems a bit early in the season for a trap game. The Patriots are in the middle of a three week stretch all involving quick turnarounds making it very easy for a team to look ahead.
Last week, they played the Sunday night game against Arizona, watched tape of that game on the flight back.
Now they play a 1 p.m. game against a division rival on Sunday and then a really quick turnaround to Thursday night when they host the Houston Texans.
The good news is, there is no travel involved in between Sunday's game and the Houston game.
Lots of interest as to how the Patriots will use tight end Martellus Bennett on a week to week basis, especially now with Rob Gronkowski sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Against Arizona, Bennett was used mostly to help out the offensive line with blocking, for both Garoppolo and the run game. Receiving wise, he pulled in 3 catches on 5 targets for 14 yards.
This week against a good Miami front line, expect to see more blocking from Bennett.
Last week, the Patriots secondary held up against one of the better down field passing games in the league. This week, they face the opposite end of the spectrum.
The Dolphins top receiver is Jarvis Landry, 7 catches for 59 yards last week, but after that there is a significant drop off.
The other Dolphin receivers are Kenny Stills and Leonte Caroo, with tight end Jordan Cameron catching passes as well.
If the Patriots secondary can take Landry out of the game, the defense should be in good shape.
Ndamukong Suh/ D-line
Suh, as well as Kiko Alonso, lead a strong Miami Dolphins defensive line that racked up 3 sacks last week against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.
"They're very disruptive. The front's very disruptive. Those guys are big, they're physical, they really penetrate the line of scrimmage, they cause a lot of holding penalties. They get their share of plays, sacks, tackles for loss, all of that," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
One change to the Dolphins D-Line is that veteran Cameron Wake only plays on third downs.
When the Patriots played the Dolphins last season, New England only managed 70 rushing yards on 27 carries en route to a loss.
Miami gave up 112 yards rushing on 32 carries to Seattle last week.
Needless to say, another big challenge for the Patriots offensive line which held up last week against Arizona.
Jimmy Garoppolo got his first career win going 24 of 33 for 264 yards and a touchdown pass.
Now going into his second game, the Dolphins have film on him and also bring in a very good front line. Priority number one will be get rid of the ball quickly.
"It's going to be important. You don't want to hold it back there, especially against these guys. They're talented, they get off the ball fast and everything, so the more you hold it, the more trouble we'll be in. We just have to do a good job of playing our game," Garoppolo said earlier this week.
Like they did against Arizona, look for quick three step drops and fire.
Garoppolo had one fumble against Arizona and it cost the Patriots seven points.
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