This is what the season has come down to, Week 15, Brian Flores’s Dolphins at 8-5 fighting for a playoff spot against Bill Belichick’s Patriots. Earlier this year, the Patriots embarrassed the Dolphins 21-11 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Cam Newton and the RPO time and time again fooled the Dolphins defenders to the tune of 15 carries for 75 yards and 2 TD’s by the NE QB. Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was abysmal that day completing 23 passes of 30 attempts, except 3 of those completions were to NE defenders. We just looked unprepared and overmatched by Bill Belichick’s gameplan and Cam Newton’s execution of it. We guessed wrong so many times on that RPO and it was one of the more frustrating things to watch. Brian Flores will have to design a better gameplan this time.
So many things have changed since then. Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer our starting QB, it’s now rookie Tua Tagovailoa. Neither Jordan Howard (Released) or Myles Gaskin (COVID-19 list) are playing this Sunday. RB DeAndre Washington will get the start and returning to the backfield is Matt Breida. Salvon Ahmed is a longshot to play as well. WR DeVante Parker is limited with a hamstring injury but will likely play, but Preston Williams who played Week 1 is still out. TE Mike Gesicki is also likely out with a dislocated shoulder. Patriots WR Julian Edelman is on IR/R which means he’s eligible to play should the Patriots decide to activate him but this is his first week of practice and he’s been out since October 31st when he elected to have surgery on his knee. He is unlikely to play.
Cam Newton is tenuously holding on to the starting job in NE as he has struggled in his last 3 games throwing for only 272 yards with 1 TD against 3 INT’s and that includes the 45-0 walloping of the LA Chargers. He did rush for 2 TD’s against the woeful Chargers. If I know Brian Flores, Cam Newton won’t be running all over us Sunday. We’ll be on him like white on rice. The Patriots are on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs concerned, even if they win out 9-7 is not going to be good enough to get in in the fiercely competitive AFC. There are 4 division winners and 3 wild card berths. The Chiefs are the AFC West Champs at 12-1. The Colts and Titans are tied at 9-4 in the AFC South and the Steelers (11-2) are holding a 2 game edge on the Browns (9-4) who are now surging and looking to grab the AFC North division crown. Our Dolphins currently have the #7 seed at 8-5. 10 wins is the only chance the Dolphins will be in the playoffs, so in essence, our last 3 games are essentially playoff games. First one is at home against a very familiar opponent.
There are always ebbs and flows in the long 16 game season, and despite the loss last week, I think our team is performing very well. The injuries are adding up, and I’d really love to have Kyle Van Noy back this week along with good Ole Bobby McCain. I’d love to have thumper Elandon Roberts back at LB too, he was missed last week. I wouldn’t mind having Ereck Flowers back either but only if he’s ready, I think Mt. Kindley has done well in his stead. It’s possible that Isaiah Ford could suit up for us this week, depending on how Jakeem Grant is doing with his hamstring injury. Lynn Bowden kind of exploded last week getting lots of action. Bowden was targeted 9 times and caught 7 passes for 82 yards. He also rushed once and the previous week against Cincy, Bowden caught 4 for 41 yards. Safe to say he’s part of the offense now.
As the pictures above portray, this game is the Mentor against his former Student. I don’t have to explain to all of you that Bill Belichick has always been a great coach and a master of making adjustments before the game, during the game and after the game. People will say look at him w/o Brady but Belichick created Brady. He tailored the offense to work with Tom Brady’s strengths and mask his weaknesses. In my opinion, only people who don’t really understand the game look at Tom Brady with his 30 TD’s and 11 INT’s and think that Brady was the reason for the Patriots success. The Buccaneers are just loaded with talent, there is no comparing the Bucs roster with the Patriots roster. RB Ronald Jones has come of age having his best season. WR’s Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown along with TE’s Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. The Patriots, besides having an inept passer at QB (Newton), the Patriots WR’s are Jakobi Myers, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd along with RB’s Damien Harris and James White. The Bucs also have loads more talent on defense with LB’s Lavonte David and Devin White, DE’s Shaq Barrett and JPP and DT Ndamukong Suh. Folks, it’s not even close. I’m loathe to agree with Belichick himself when he said they sold out to win previous years and have left the cupboard somewhat bare this season. I’d say he speaks true.
My point in the last paragraph is we are basically trying to knock off Bill Belichick’s team, and although they might be outmanned, they have the football mind to keep them in this one. We have a disciple of that football mind, and if there was ever a time for the student to teach the teacher something, this is it. We need a strong gameplan from Brian Flores. We can’t allow Cam Newton and the RPO or whatever they employ to beat us. We have to be the better team Sunday. The NFL season is a game of attrition, no one knows who will be available at the end of the season and if we make it far enough that we’re in the playoffs, maybe we get Preston Williams back, Gaskin with fresh legs, maybe we get TE Mike Gesicki back as well. We MUST win this game, and then we move on to the next playoff game against the Las Vegas Raiders in their new house. Win this one, I like our chances against Da Raiders.