Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

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Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:55 pm

So I tried something different tonight...writing the 'game thoughts' as I watched the game live. As a result, I can post immediately after the game. Here we go...



Despite stumbling out to a 5-7 record and looking like one of the NFL’s worst teams for much of the season, the Miami Dolphins entered tonight’s game against the Patriots controlling their own playoff destiny: win out, and they’re in.

For the first quarter of the game, it was “Opposite Night” in Miami, with the Dolphins looking like a top dog and the Patriots playing like garbage. The Dolphins dominated the first half with almost-perfect football, controlling the offensive and defensive line and catching the Pats off-guard with some creative playcalling. The coaches designed a stellar gameplan, showing formations and plays they haven’t used all season to keep the Pats confused. The defense applied consistent pressure and completely shut down Tom Brady and the New England offense, limiting them to just two yards (!!!) in the opening quarter. The Miami offense marched up and down the field and looked almost unstoppable. Repeat: almost.

The problem with the Dolphins in the first quarter? Despite their dominance, the Phins managed just 6 points against the New England bend-but-don’t-break defense. It’s been said time and time again, and it always rings true: you cannot beat the New England Patriots with field goals.

Sure enough, by the middle of the second quarter, the Patriots took the lead 7-6. But remember…it’s “Opposite Night”. The Dolphins regained the lead by actually scoring a TD after the Patriots’ score, on another brilliantly called and executed drive highlighted by a long Kenyan Drake reception and some great plays by Jay Cutler. The Phins took a 13-10 lead into the half.

I can’t stress enough how good Miami played in the first half. The defense held the Pats to just 120 yards, and the offense was in high gear and made play after play. Again, the missed scoring opportunities on the first two drives were very disappointing, but fortunately they did not come back to haunt the Phins, and as it turned out the Dolphins as a team looked better than they have at any time in the Adam Gase era.

“Opposite Night” continued in the second half, as Xavien Howard picked off his second pass of the night on the New England opening drive. The Dolphins then marched downfield on their next possession, culminating in a TD by none other than Jakeem Grant! As Jon Gruden said after the TD, “Jay Cutler is on fire!” He played as good a game as any QB could play. (Grant later dropped a perfect Cutler pass that would have been another TD.)

Before you knew it, Jarvis Landry had his second TD of the night and the score was 27-10, with the Phins shredding (and embarrassing) the patchwork New England defense. That drive was again highlighted by some outstanding running by Drake.

The Patriots had an impressive TD drive early in the fourth to get within 10, and followed that by forcing a Dolphins’ three and out - but it didn’t matter as the Phins forced a three and out of their own on the ensuing drive. The game was essentially over at that point, although the Pats made it interesting by getting to the half-yard line late in the game. That drive was stalled by penalties (and more great Dolphin defense), and led to a FG. The Patriots failed to recover the onsides kick, and the Phins went into victory formation to win 27-20 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate.

As mentioned earlier, the Phins’ pass rush was completely relentless. The pass coverage was simply amazing, no doubt benefiting from that pass rush. The DL was absolutely exc ellent, the LBs weren’t always great but held their own, and the secondary was better than they’ve been all season. Can’t ask for more than that. The key stat: The Patriots did not convert a third down opportunity, unbelievably going 0 for 11, and had 7 three and outs. SHOCKING…but true! Seeing Tom Brady sitting by himself on the bench with his head down as time expired…priceless!

On offense, the Phins pretty much did anything they wanted to do…everything worked. Tonight I saw a stout OL, a confident and focused Cutler, a fired up WR corps and stellar running by Drake – and brilliant playcalling from Gase. I haven’t seen all those things in one game all season.

Tonight, the usually lifeless, zombie-esque Dolphins looked like they were on a mission. They played with confidence and a fire in their gut, and they literally kicked the crap out of the Patriots. It was great to see the Phins wearing the uniforms from the Perfect Season, and I have no doubt that some of that old magic rubbed off on them.

So here we are, with a once-dead team that has risen up like a phoenix from the ashes. At 6-7, all of a sudden a 9-7 finish is within reach – and because of tiebreakers that just might be enough to make the playoffs. Hold on tight, because this thing ain’t over yet! I’m shocked to be saying those words – but it’s true. No one has killed this team more than I have, and I’ll gladly eat some crow.

Hero of the Game:
Kenyan Drake. Last week I said I thought Drake was nothing more than a third-down back. For the second week in a row, he proved me wrong, displaying speed, power and elusiveness and proving that he could be a lead back.
Honorable mention to Adam Gase and his staff, for the best playcalling I’ve seen in Miami in many years, Jay Cutler for playing lights out, and Xavien Howard for stepping up and FINALLY showing that he can be a #1 cornerback.

Goat of the Game:
None! Everyone played a role in this victory, as the Phins dominated in all three phases. I could nitpick and point out a couple of negatives, but there’s really no need to. This was the most complete – and most impressive – Dolphins’ win I’ve seen in a long time.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by Degarmo on Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:03 am

Second honorable mention hero - throwback uniforms. Very Happy
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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:12 am

Degarmo wrote:Second honorable mention hero - throwback uniforms.  Very Happy

Hell yeah. What a pleasure to not have to look at thosee hideous "new" unis for a change. Seeing the throwbacks just makes the current ones look even worse.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by Degarmo on Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:29 am

I can't remember if it was here or elsewhere, but someone called it "swimming pool blue", and ever since then, that's all I see with the new unis.
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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by DolFan 316 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:26 am

WHAT THE?!?! HOW DID...I DON'T EVEN...

Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by DolFan 316 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:27 am

Also, best game thoughts ever!!! cheers cheers cheers Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by DolFan 316 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:41 am


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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by CarsonChris on Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:39 am

Dolphins need to stick to man. We blow zone coverage. Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, and Jarvis Landry get game balls. Cutler is Cutler, not sure if it was him or the receiver but he had a lot of throws on the opposite side of the direction the receiver zigged. Drake is making me feel somewhat better about trading away Ajai. Drake is explosive and has great moves. Why hasn’t Miami used him more up to this point? All in all a solid effort last night!

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by white1 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:47 am

Dolphins need to stick to man. We blow zone coverage. Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, and Jarvis Landry get game balls.

Agree on this. The one catch Cooks finally caught came against zone, and it looked like a busted coverage of some sort. Howard in man coverage looks like Deion Sanders.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by mercury22nathan on Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:16 am

wow, i was utterly amazed and entertained by the Phins. i actually cared while watching the game. but why now - what the hell took so long to play like this? where was this team in the Tampa Bay game, against Oakland or the first Jets matchup? i've been burned so many time before by this team, i'm still too afraid to believe. this is what they do. they pull out the most improbably victory against a superior opponent when the season has already been lost. too little, too late. they offer just enough to rekindle that flicker of hope and if the script goes like it has in the past, they will go to Buffalo and lay a zombie like turd just to mock me. i will not believe. i can not believe.

nonetheless. Cutler played lights out. perhaps its because his o-line gave him tons of time. perhaps its because Bushrod and James weren't playing. maybe it was because the Patriots were missing key players. maybe its because Drake ran like a man on fire - despite Pouncey getting shoved into the backfield multiple times. maybe it was all of the above.

Howard came to play...and ball he did - as long as the Phins played tight man. the D-line had Brady feeling the rush even when it wasn't there.

and because i can't just let go and believe, there are areas the need improvement...

settling for FGs instead of TDs early in the game must stop.
Wake should be the best pass rushing threat. stop dropping him into coverage (unless of course Alonso is so bad at it that is the only option).
Parker contributed 4 helpful catches, but also continued with 2 almost very costly drops.
is Julius Thomas giving full effort or is he just done at this point. turning the wrong way on an out fade and fumbling while switching the ball?

in the end, i loved this game. from the throwbacks to the throws down field. but i can't help but keep asking - where was this all season long?

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by white1 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:26 am

To be fair, this is the 2nd good game in a row for Miami.

Overlook Denver and Siemian all you want, and then check on that Jets game two days ago. Yeah. Shutout to the tune of 23-0 and they lost their QB. Think they respect Denver now? I get we played in Miami while the Jets had to go to Denver, but that should be more like a 6 point swing. Not blowout victory vs blowout loss.

It could be that the offense finally "clicked". Cutler missed some time with that concussion, but it looks to me like finally he is in total command of this offense and knows his receivers.

On defense, it's possible that we are seeing TJ McDonald shake off the rust while Howard grows into the 2nd year player he now truly is, given all the time he missed last year as a rookie. I don't know what's happening on the defensive line, but I saw Phillips, Godchaux, Branch all getting pressure and making plays. Oh and Suh also, who simply ripped Brady to the ground like a flimsy film screen in the second half.

Something looks wrong in New England, I can't put my finger on it. They really struggled against Buffalo last week also, and that was with Gronkowski. I was shocked at some of the passes Brady flat out missed, and there were times he had to get rid of the ball due to unchecked rushers coming free. Do we dare hope, did they peak too early?

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:04 am

white1 wrote:

Something looks wrong in New England, I can't put my finger on it.

It's actually pretty simple: missing players. They're using a 3rd string RT, and Gronk was out last night, with Hogan not back to form after missing multiple weeks. That combo created a "perfect storm" that really limited their offense, especially with the energy the Miami D brought. The New England defense has backups and new players all over the place, and their only legit pass rusher (Trey Flowers) is out. Really, this type of game was bound to happen for the Pats.

The Phins played amazing and I'm not taking anything away from them, but these last two games they really beat up on two short-handed teams. Now, if only they can carry this type of play through the next three games...


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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by white1 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:56 pm

Well speaking of short handed, who does Buffalo have at QB this week? Taylor is still nursing the knee (I think) and their backup QB is in the concussion protocol.

I'm sorry, but if we are going to beat the Pats, we HAVE TO follow up with a beat down of a wounded Bills offense. Granted, McCoy is worlds better than any of the Patriots versa-backs they throw on the field, but still - that's one weapon you have to worry about not a whole offense.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by DolFan 316 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:22 pm

JMP wrote:It's actually pretty simple: missing players.  They're using a 3rd string RT, and Gronk was out last night, with Hogan not back to form after missing multiple weeks.  That combo created a "perfect storm" that really limited their offense, especially with the energy the Miami D brought.  The New England defense has backups and new players all over the place, and their only legit pass rusher (Trey Flowers) is out.  Really, this type of game was bound to happen for the Pats.

Oh come on now Jmp Rolling Eyes The Pats came in 10-2 without Edelman all season and the same injuries on D, went 3-0 without Gronk last postseason while trading away Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones, and are annually one of the league's most injury-riddled teams. It just never seems to matter with them, though. Now if you'd said this would affect them *before* the game then I could give you some credit, but like the rest of us you knew the Fins would get run out of the stadium Razz

My dream scenario is for the Pats to somehow lose to the Steelers (who just happen to be missing their two best players on D) and then for the Bills to get some revenge for Gronkgate. Because believe it or not if the Pats lose this next one and the jags win out, they will not even get a bye Shocked And the Belichick-Brady Era Pats have NEVER advanced to the Super Bowl without a bye.


Last edited by DolFan 316 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by DolFan 316 on Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:24 pm

white1 wrote:Well speaking of short handed, who does Buffalo have at QB this week? Taylor is still nursing the knee (I think) and their backup QB is in the concussion protocol.

I'm sorry, but if we are going to beat the Pats, we HAVE TO follow up with a beat down of a wounded Bills offense.  Granted, McCoy is worlds better than any of the Patriots versa-backs they throw on the field, but still - that's one weapon you have to worry about not a whole offense.

There really is no excuse for the Fins not to win this game. Even the Colts (who are now officially the new "worse than the Browns" team) only lost to them by 6 in the snow. Which of course is a guarantee they'll get murked.


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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:52 pm

DolFan 316 wrote:
JMP wrote:It's actually pretty simple: missing players.  They're using a 3rd string RT, and Gronk was out last night, with Hogan not back to form after missing multiple weeks.  That combo created a "perfect storm" that really limited their offense, especially with the energy the Miami D brought.  The New England defense has backups and new players all over the place, and their only legit pass rusher (Trey Flowers) is out.  Really, this type of game was bound to happen for the Pats.

Oh come on now Jmp Rolling Eyes The Pats came in 10-2 without Edelman all season and the same injuries on D, went 3-0 without Gronk last postseason while trading away Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones, and are annually one of the league's most injury-riddled teams. It just never seems to matter with them, though. Now if you'd said this would affect them *before* the game then I could give you some credit, but like the rest of us you knew the Fins would get run out of the stadium Razz

It's one thing to not have Edelman...it's another to not have Edelman, Gronk or your starting OL, and having Hogan coming off a significant injury. And the defense...damn. Like Gruden pointed out last night, he didn't even know half of the players on that side of the ball. It's not an excuse, but it certainly does show why the Pats have looked "mortal" the last few games.

And no, I would not have predicted a Dolphin win - but I did think it could be a close game. I actually took the Phins +11 on my weekly card.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by Degarmo on Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:03 pm

I'm just happy a bunch of cocksuckers up in New England are all pissed off right now.

"Can't believe we gawt beat by Jay Cutlah."
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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by mercury22nathan on Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:09 am

mercury22nathan wrote:...despite Pouncey getting shoved into the backfield multiple times.

because i can't seem to let this go...

The offensive line struggled in its run-blocking... Pouncey has struggled all season in run-blocking, with a 40.5 grade, which is 34th out of 35 qualifying centers.

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/armando-salguero/article189478589.html

notice how the o-line has seemingly improved once Bushrod and James went out. would run blocking improve even more if Brendel took Pouncey's place in the lineup?

and why can't the coaches see that the replacements are better than the originally intended starters? why does it take an injury to force the improvement? how much you wanna bet that once Bushrod is healthy again he is re-inserted into the lineup?

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by white1 on Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:26 am

Great point. And more importantly, will we actually KEEP Pouncey this offseason?

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:37 am

mercury22nathan wrote:
and why can't the coaches see that the replacements are better than the originally intended starters?  why does it take an injury to force the improvement?  how much you wanna bet that once Bushrod is healthy again he is re-inserted into the lineup?

Great point - and it's not just the OL. Gase loves to tell everyone how great Drake and Williams are...but if he knew tha all alongt, why didn't he use either of them till Ajayi got traded??? Ideally, Ajayi would have been the early-down back and Drake the third-down back - with Williams filling in. But that's not what happened - it was almost exclusively Ajayi, with Williams getting a rare snap every now and then and Drake riding the bench.

So is Gase a genius for trading Ajayi...or an incompetent idiot for not knowing what he had in Drake???? Personally, I'm going with idiot. An Ajayi/Drake combo could have completely changed the garbage offense we ran most of the season.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by white1 on Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:15 pm

So is Gase a genius for trading Ajayi...or an incompetent idiot for not knowing what he had in Drake???? Personally, I'm going with idiot. An Ajayi/Drake combo could have completely changed the garbage offense we ran most of the season.

Interesting question. I'll accept problems that exist on the team, as long as they eventually get solved. And this one did get solved. We had a power running attack, with a back that wasn't really even an average pass catcher. Gase recognized that and decided to make the trade, because Williams and Drake fit his offense better.

Sure, he had success with Ajayi last year. But if it's not what he truly believed, and the season and offense wasn't working out for us, don't you HAVE to decide to change?

If he takes carries from Ajayi before the trade two things happen. One, he becomes less valuable in trade. Two, it kind of negates the effect of a big, power back who wears down opponents and gets better late in the game.

I will agree and concede that the outcome and use of Drake was not optimal. But I will accept that a problem was recognized, a solution implemented, and it looks to be solved. These are things that you want from your team. Things that did not happen under previous failed regimes.

It's okay to have problems, as long as they get solved.


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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by DolFan 316 on Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:48 pm

Sorry White1, I've gotta go with Jmp here. For one thing you can't assume Gase had been planning the Ajayi trade for weeks, let alone since before the season started. For another, you don't just throw games away by refusing to play somebody just because it might reduce another player's future trade value.

IF this team somehow makes the playoffs then the trade at least goes from "totally knee-jerk swindling" to "not exactly the worst Fins trade ever" IMO. But it'll never rise to brilliant. I can't give Gase that kind of credit given all his other moves or lack thereof. White1 is right about one thing though, at least Gase does eventually change even if it takes him far longer than it should to realize he has to. Philbin never even did that much.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:08 pm

white1 wrote:
Interesting question.  I'll accept problems that exist on the team, as long as they eventually get solved.  And this one did get solved.  We had a power running attack, with a back that wasn't really even an average pass catcher.  Gase recognized that and decided to make the trade, because Williams and Drake fit his offense better.

Sure, he had success with Ajayi last year.  But if it's not what he truly believed, and the season and offense wasn't working out for us, don't you HAVE to decide to change?

But again, why didn't Gase realize this sooner? It took a season and a half! Is he just not able to get a true feel for what's going until a lot of time has passed? Same thing with the OL last season...sure, it's great that he dumped Dallas Thomas and the other scrubs...but he kep them - as starters, no less - for months and well into the season. That's simply poor evaluation. And the fact that it takes him a long time to get it right is, to me, a negative. It's like that saying, "always the last to know". In the NFL, like life, being slow = death...you snooze, you lose. Are we going to be terrible at the beginning of every season because Gase has his head up his ass???

white1 wrote:If he takes carries from Ajayi before the trade two things happen.  One, he becomes less valuable in trade.  Two, it kind of negates the effect of a big, power back who wears down opponents and gets better late in the game.

Or three, Ajayi and Drake both produce at a high level and we have a great two-headed monster backfield like the Saints.





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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:28 pm

One more thing...

white1 wrote:

It's okay to have problems, as long as they get solved.


I would add: as long as they get solved in a timely matter. If you don't figure things out till the season is just about over from a playoff standpoint, that's a fail - a MAJOR fail. This Dolphins team looked like dog crap for more than 10 games this season...and now everything's OK because Gase finally figured it out in December where we need a miracle to make the postseason? Sorry, I'm not giving him credit for that...I'm calling him out for not knowing what the hell he was doing for three-quarters of the season. Same shit happened last season, so this is now heading toward becoming a pattern: putting yourself in a deep hole early on and then trying to dig yourself out just before you suffocate.

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Re: Game 13 thoughts: Patriots at Dolphins

Post by JMP on Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:39 pm

BTW - I'm not attacking you, white...just want to make that clear! Wink

I'm just pissed at another wasted season due to Gase being too clueless and stubborn to make changes before it's too late.

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