This is a historical game for the 2018 Miami Dolphins. You have to go back to September 21, 2008 (The Wildcat Game) to find a Dolphins victory in Foxboro in the last decade. Win this game and remain undefeated, and put some legitimate space between them and the New England Patriots, who were/are the favorite to capture the division crown, as per usghe. On the other hand, it’s game 4, and coaches prefer to break up seasons into quarters, and starting off 3-1, even after a loss to the Patriots, while it would be disappointing, it’s playing .750 ball, and a nice start. There are so many perspectives to view this matchup through, and all the same, I think it’s important to keep perspective. If the Dolphins win this game, the Patriots are not dead and buried, and we don’t get the division crown. If we lose this game, it doesn’t put a black cloud on the season and cause us to spiral into a 3-13 season. 12 regular season games still remain
The way I choose to look at this game is I would like the Dolphins to look like they belong on the same field as the Patriots, that Adam Gase is a match for Bill Belichick, that Ryan Tannehill can be competitive in a big game against Tom Brady. Play a solid football game, fight till the end, and if you don’t win, at least you didn’t look unprepared or outmatched. We’re a touchdown plus underdogs for a reason, this is not a game we usually win.
We all prayed for no injuries this season after last year, and early on we were granted good fortune. However, in the last couple of weeks, we lost our Pro-Bowl LG, Josh Sitton for the season with a torn rotator cuff, and this past week, we lost a valuable member of the D-line, DE/DT William Hayes to an ACL injury. We have to overcome those injuries, we must persevere. The best teams always do, and we can’t let it drag us down. The Sitton injury affected us, we couldn’t run the ball against the Raiders. Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins with 26 yards rushing on 3 carries, while Gore and Drake combined for 25 yards on 11 carries. The Dolphins did a great job of masking that deficiency last week, but we all know we have to run the ball much more effectively to stay relevant this season.
Last week with William Hayes out, and of course losing DT Akeem Spence to an ejection, really hurt our run defense. The remaining players played well in a much shorter rotation, but it will be great to have Spence for 4 quarters, along with whichever DE we choose to promote to the 46 man gameday roster. The 2018 Patriots don’t really have a feature back, they use a combination of RB/FB Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel and James White, with Burkhead the closest one to resembling Marshawn Lynch, who really ran over us last week. If not for some timely trickeration, we may have come up short last week. Not sure how you feel, but I thought if they never took Marshawn out for a breather, he might have had 200 yards.
Sooooo, on to New England. Brady gets a new receiver, and this guy is a very talented one at that. Don’t short Josh Gordon talent wise. Judgement wise, maturity wise, you can kill the guy, but this guy has top 10 receiver talent. The Patriots offense has been easy to defend this year, and the Lions gave one effective blueprint last week on how to tame the Pats offense, double Gronk, and see if the other guys can beat you. Last week they did not, but adding Josh Gordon changes that somewhat. I don’t know how much of the playbook Gordon can absorb, or if he cares to absorb it, but when he’s on the field, he has to be respected. Julian Edelman remains suspended for this game, so we have to cover 7/11 Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and occasionally Cordarrelle Patterson. I think the Patriots will use James White a lot in the passing game. He and Dion Lewis used to take turns ripping off big chunks against us, so we have to be disciplined. White, incidentally leads the Patriots in receptions with 14.
Ted Larsen has go to play better, and this O-line in general needs to be more physical. We need to give Drake and Gore running lanes, we didn’t give them anything last week. Don’t expect those trick plays this week to bail us out. We’re going have to play them better straight up, so that might mean Devante Parker getting a little more involved, as well as TE Mike Gesicki. Dont’a Hightower is a very good LB, but he can’t run with Gesicki. I think it’s time for Gesicki to get more involved.
On defense, we need to stay focused on James White, and Phillip Dorsett. They will use Dorsett kind of like how we’re using Albert Wilson, in space, near the LOS, and letting him use his speed to get yardage. Of course Gronk is main focal point, and we;ve yet to find the right personnel to limit him, but my hopes are that Minkah Fitzpatrick helps in that regard. It would be great to have Reshad Jones back this week, he’s questionable at the moment with a shoulder injury. This would be an ideal game to have 3 safeties in there, so here’s hoping Reshad can go on Sunday.
Remember the date, September 30, 2018. The day the Dolphins started a new streak of Dolphins victories in Foxboro. I think the Dolphins are going to win this game, in a closely fought, back and forth battle. We really show our mettle here, and the rookie kicker, Jason Sanders, after being iced by Belichick, puts through a 40-something yard kick for the game winner and huge fist-pump.
MIA 27 – NE 24