Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

Patriots vs. Dolphins Preview

The Patriots dropped a surprisingly tight game against the Eagles on opening weekend. The offense looked like a real offense. The defense started the year at an insanely high level, limiting the defending NFC champs to effectively 16 points. The Dolphins secured their first win of the season after beating the Chargers on the road in a thriller. The Dolphins’ offense looked explosive, while the Dolphins’ defense looked very timid under Fangio’s lead. So what does all that mean for the Week 2 matchup between the Patriots and Dolphins? Let’s see!

Patriots vs Dolphins in 2022
Photo Credit: Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Series Record

Dolphins 60 wins; Patriots 55 wins

Patriots Offense vs. Dolphins Defense

The Patriots’ offense started the season with a first quarter that looked like Matt Patricia, not Bill O’Brien, calling the plays. However, the remaining three quarters resulted in some high-quality football, and a brief stretch where Mac Jones was perhaps the hottest quarterback on the planet. However, they topped out at 20 points and couldn’t convert when it was needed most.

The Dolphins played an unusually conservative brand of defense against Justin Herbert and the Chargers to start the year. The Patriots should not expect that to continue on Sunday. The Dolphins will be able to show more of their true identity on defense, as they probably do not fear Jones as they do Herbert.

The Patriots will want to play a possession game against the explosive Miami offense, starting with long, grueling drives on offense. The team would like to grind away the clock and ride running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott. Unfortunately, the big boys up front responsible for clearing the way are dealing with myriad injuries.

The Patriots started two backup guards last week, and, while they kept Mac clean, they could not generate much push against a lighter defensive interior. The return of Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu would go a long way to helping the Patriots secure their first victory on Sunday night.

The passing game will be able to find success again in the short middle of the field. Mac was cooking last week against a very talented secondary. He should build off that performance against a depleted Miami secondary. Kendrick Bourne should continue his resurgence Sunday night, while the return of Devante Parker will be an upgrade over Kayshon Boutte. Hunter Henry should again provide a consistent security blanket for Jones and will be busy.

Patriots Defense vs. Dolphins Offense

If the Patriots allow it, the Dolphins will look to turn Sunday night into a track meet. The key to the game will be to force the Dolphins to play a brand of football they don’t seem to want to play: running the ball. The Patriots should play a conservative brand of defense, reminiscent of their “bend but don’t break” days, inviting the Dolphins to run. Making the Dolphins drive the field will shorten the game and play into the overall game plan.

However, the Pats will still pick and choose their spots to pressure Tua. They will try to simulate pressures, in hopes of getting any of their premier pass rushers one-on-one. The Pats have a host of pass rushers who should win their fair share of one-on-one situations with the Dolphins’ offensive line. The more they can confuse and pressure Tua, the more likely they will be to secure a couple of important takeaways.

Watching how the Patriots defend the Dolphins receiving corps will be interesting. They have successfully stuck Jonathan Jones on Tyreek Hill in the past, with or without help. Unfortunately, Jones has been hobbled with an ankle injury this week, and the Patriots probably don’t want to feed rookie Christian Gonzalez to the wolves. This doesn’t account for Jaylen Waddle either, who is Tyreek Hill lite. This might be a game where the Pats miss a sticky man coverage player in Jack Jones.

Just for fun, try to watch Keion White when he’s on the field this week. He is a STUD.

Special Teams

Rookie punter Bryce Baringer was everything the Pats hoped for last week and more. He had one slight hiccup when he bombed a 75-yard punt and outkicked his coverage. That’ll happen with 75-yard punts, though.

Rookie kicker Chase Ryland didn’t get much of an opportunity to showcase his strong leg, but he nailed both PATs and consistently sent the ball through the end zone on kickoffs.

The Dolphins feature ex-Pat Jake Bailey as punter and sound veteran Jason Sanders as kicker. The Pats will be happy if this turns into a “Jake Bailey revenge game,” as it means the explosive Miami offense is stuck in neutral.


The Patriots will need to keep this game close to have a chance. This game will turn ugly if the Pats fall behind early by double digits again this week. This might be a lower-scoring affair, as the Pats will want long, clock-burning drives on both sides of the ball. Additionally, the weather may favor the Patriots after Hurricane Lee blows through.

The Pats get it done and keep it close, finally getting a signature walk-off win in the Mac Jones era with a late, game-securing drive. Patriots win 20-19.

Five Things We Learned in Week One of the NFL Season

The NFL season has officially begun, and football is back in full force with week one in the books. As it is every year, the first weekend back wasn’t without surprises and chaos causing turmoil among fanbases and analysts alike. With 17 more weeks of regular season football left ahead, there is still a lot to be determined with every team. However, we can look back at this week one and learn a little bit about each team after their first game that can help show us how their season may turn out. Here are five things that we learned from the NFL’s opening kickoff weekend.

What We Learned #1

Detroit’s Running Back Room Is More Of A Committee Than We Thought

Detroit picked up a huge win at Arrowhead in Kansas City Thursday night. Jared Goff had a turnover-free game, Amon-Ra St.Brown continued to show he is a budding star at the receiver position, and the defense held a Patrick Mahomes offense to 20 points. One interesting stat that had a lot of fantasy owners confused was the running back snap count total.

Jahmyr Gibbs, who the Lions took inside the top half of the first round in the 2023 NFL draft, was super explosive in his debut, but he only saw 19 of the 70 offensive snaps. Meanwhile, free agent acquisition David Montgomery, who came over from the Chicago Bears, saw 55 of those 70 offensive snaps in the season debut.

This could be simply because Dan Campbell and the Lions coaching staff want to slowly get Gibbs acclimated to the NFL and to the offense, but Detroit also clearly has great trust in the veteran Montgomery to run this offense effectively. Gibbs will become more involved as the season progresses, but for now the Lions could be leaning on Montgomery to take the bulk of the workload.

What We Learned #2:

Deshaun Watson Is Still Rusty

The main takeaway across this entire game is that the Cincinnati Bengals are in trouble. Joe Burrow and company played their worst game together as a group, and everything is falling apart. R-E-L-A-X as Aaron Rodgers would say, the Bengals are going to be fine.

The takeaway after this game should be concerning for Browns fans and their offense. In a 24-3 rainy weather game there were a lot of positives for Cleveland, many about their run game and their front seven. But the one concern should be about their quarterback play.

Deshaun Watson went 16-29 for 154 yards, albeit in the rain, but it was clear that he was struggling to make throws all afternoon. Watson had just a 40% completion percentage on non play-action throws and averaged just 2.5 yards on such completions on Sunday, both of which were the worst percentage on such throws among all quarterbacks (minus Aaron Rodgers) over the weekend.

We will see how Watson adjusts in a game where the climate and weather are more favorable — and the expectation is he plays better — but it is definitely something to take note of that Watson was visibly not the player we saw in Houston this past weekend.

What We Learned #3:

Tennessee Needs A New Quarterback

This game was ugly and not a fun one to watch. A game that featured a singular touchdown and EIGHT field goals was easily the least exciting game of the NFL’s opening weekend. If it was not on everybody’s minds before the season, it definitely is now; the Tennessee Titans don’t have a franchise quarterback on their roster.

Ryan Tannehill was a nice story a few seasons ago; leading Tennessee to the playoffs and playing solid football along the way after some rough seasons in Miami. However, the past two seasons were less than stellar for the veteran and already his 2023-2024 campaign is off to a very bad start. Completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing three interceptions, Tannehill struggled to make plays to get the Titans. in the end zone.

With Malik Willis and rookie Will Levis the other quarterbacks on the roster, it would not come as a shock if head coach Mike Vrabel turned to either of the two young men to take over as signal caller at some point during the season, simply to see what the Titans have on their roster. Even with Willis and Levis on the team, the team does not seem sold on either one after they both failed to compete for the starting job in the offseason.

Now, after Tannehill’s performance in week one it is clear as day the Titans do not have a long-term plan at the position.

What We Learned #4:

Miami Is Going To Throw It Around

Seems like an obvious statement right? After a 466-yard performance from Tua Tagovailoa and a 215-yard performance from Tyreek Hill, of course the takeaway is they’re going to throw the ball around. Tua looked like a completely different quarterback this weekend. He looked confident, motivated, and incredibly comfortable and poised, making plays both inside and outside the pocket.

With all three of the AFC’s top teams (Kansas City, Buffalo, and Cincinnati) from a year ago losing in various fashions, Miami looked like the new dominating offense in the AFC. This offense is going to move fast, they’re going to do a lot of creative route concepts, mixed personnel packages and stunts to get both Hill and Jaylen Waddle open in space and let them do what they do best: catch the ball in the open field and take off.

Tougher defensive matchups are ahead, but every team should be put on notice for what is happening in Miami.

What We Learned #5:

It Is Zach Wilson’s Team Once Again

The New York Jets got a huge win Monday Night in their season opener against the Buffalo Bills, causing four turnovers from Josh Allen and walking the game off in an electric way with a punt return touchdown in overtime. But the story of the evening is the biggest story in the NFL: Aaron Rodgers is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

Obviously, it’s devastating news for Jets fans and an organization who, for the first time in 25 years, had high expectations coming into the season because of the off-season acquisition of the man who formerly wore No.12. The fairytale would live just four plays before Jets fans and players hearts dropped as Rodgers would exit the game and the season with an injury.

So now we circle back to the former second overall pick, Zach Wilson, who once again will have to lead this Jets team. Coach Saleh has been very adamant that Wilson is the guy moving forward throughout the season. However adding a quarterback to give depth is not out of the question, especially a veteran who can mentor Wilson during the season with Rodgers now gone for the year.

Expectations for the Jets may have been altered slightly after the loss of their newly beloved QB, but Zach Wilson has the chance to completely change the trajectory of his career this season.

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Thomas in the team's last postseason win

Is it the Miami Dolphins Turn for Postseason Success?

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Thomas in the team's last postseason win
Photo Credit: Roberto Schmidt/Getty Images

Sports in South Florida are experiencing their day in the sun right now. Back in March, both the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic men’s basketball teams made improbable Final Four runs. The Miami Heat just made the NBA Finals as an 8-seed. The Florida Panthers just made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, also as an 8-seed. One of the biggest soccer players in the world, Lionel Messi, signed with Inter Miami. With all the recent success, it’s only fair for Miami Dolphins fans to ask when it’s their turn for postseason success.

The Miami Dolphins have a rich and storied history of postseason success. Don Shula is in the top 5 all-time for playoff wins. The Dolphins dominated the playoff landscape in the early 70s, making three Super Bowls and winning two. The 80s were less successful, but the decade still saw the team making two more Super Bowls. All-time great Dan Marino shattered records on his way to Super Bowl 19, giving fans everywhere renewed hope for the future.

However, that was the last Super Bowl this once-proud franchise would make.

A Rise Out of (Relative) Obscurity?

It’s been a long and painful stretch of obscurity for Dolphins fans over the past 40-something years. For much of the recent past, the team hasn’t been close to a playoff contender, let alone a Super Bowl contender. But fortunes may be changing in South Beach. There are reasons for optimism surrounding the Dolphins. After all the moves they’ve made the last two years, it has fans asking themselves, “If not now, when?”

It’s a fair question to ask. In my 30-plus years of watching this team, I’m hard-pressed to remember a team that was as talented – on paper, at least – as the team that heads into the 2023 NFL season. When you look at the roster, particularly on offense, you have to think that if there’s ever a team that will turn the Miami Dolphins into a postseason contender again, it’s this one.

Is This the Team to End the Miami Dolphins Postseason Win Drought?

This Miami Dolphins offense currently has one of the best wide receiver tandems in the entire league in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. Last season, both Waddle and Hill surpassed 75 receptions, each had over 1,000 yards and 7 or more touchdowns, and Hill was named to the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro. All this in a season where their starting quarterback missed four starts and was knocked out of several others. These stats also came in a season where the Dolphins’ offense, yet again, had no real running game to speak of.

And therein lies the problem(s) with getting too excited about the postseason potential of the 2023 Miami Dolphins. There are still a whole lot of “what ifs” that surround this offense. Some of those questions, however, could be mitigated by a defense that should be much improved over its 2022 counterpart.

There weren’t many moves in the offseason to bolster the Miami Dolphins’ defense, but the ones that were made, they made them count. Namely, the Dolphins making a deal with the Los Angeles Rams to acquire cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Pairing Ramsey with standout cornerback Xavien Howard, soon-to-be star safety Jevon Holland, and 2022 surprise rookie stud Kader Kohou gives the Dolphins a defensive backfield that will give any offensive coordinator nightmares.

Pair that defensive backfield with the pass-rushing tandem of Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb, and you have the makings of one of the best defenses in the league. Miami’s linebacker group is still somewhat suspect, but the idea is that there’s enough talent around them to mask any deficiencies that show up. And if anyone is going to be able to put all that talent in a position to succeed, it’s new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Is 2023 the Year for the Miami Dolphins Postseason Hopes?

In the past two seasons, the Miami Dolphins have made great strides in once again becoming a postseason stalwart. But it all hinges on the arm – and, more importantly, the health – of their starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tua has not been able to have a completely healthy season since he came into the league. Even before then, actually, as his final season at Alabama was cut short by a severe hip/leg injury.

The 2023 Miami Dolphins will only go as far as Tua Tagovailoa can take them. If he can stay out on the field and duplicate – and expand upon – his successes from 2022, the sky’s the limit for this team. However, should Tua falter yet again and the Dolphins are once again relying on backup quarterbacks for multiple games, 2023 may be yet another lost season. Yet another year where the Miami Dolphins are on the sidelines during the postseason asking themselves, “Why can’t that be us?”

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Erik Ezukanma and the Miami Dolphins Most Underrated Need

The Miami Dolphins are heading into one of the most pivotal off-seasons in quite some time. 2022 was a step in the right direction, but going into what is likely year two of Miami’s three-year Super Bowl window, the time is now to fill their remaining needs.

Throughout last season, the needs were obvious: linebacker, offensive line, tight end, and some secondary depth.

While each of those will need to be filled this spring to reach the next level, there is another position that could use some help: Wide receiver.

At first glance, that idea makes no sense. Miami has arguably the best receiving duo in the league in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. They also spent capital on Cedrick Wilson, Erik Ezukanma, and Trent Sherfield. The group looks deep, but there’s a role that must be filled. That role being the versatile possession receiver who can be used in either the slot or in contested catch situations downfield.

Sure, Sherfield did a fine job there in spurts, but it was clear that he was never the long-term solution. Miami went out of their way to draft Erik Ezukanma, whose skillset was acquired to complement Waddle and Hill.

On The Roster

Ezukanma is clearly the wild card here. He only appeared in one game all season, which is a bit concerning for someone who looks to step into a big role. It was clear in college that his tape matched what Miami was looking for. However, they opted not to play him until Week 18.

If he can elevate his game into someone who is not only a contributor, but a plus player, then this conversation goes out the window. However, if he doesn’t, Miami maintains this need for a versatile receiver with a knack for contested catch situations.

This need is even more prevalent if Miami loses Mike Gesicki. Miami’s number one tight end and jump ball threat has likely played his last snap as a Dolphin after posting some of the lowest numbers of his career. This leaves little to no options for jump ball opportunities, as well as a void as a big slot. When you really look at it, it becomes obvious this has to be on the Miami Dolphins’ list of roster needs heading into the offseason.

Miami will have options when it comes to filling this void, although they may be limited. The free agency pool is barren at receiver, and with Miami already spending big money last year, they may opt out this time around.

The first is staying pat. Miami clearly had faith in the aforementioned Ezukanma when he was drafted, and the athletic profile is there.

The Rookie Route

However, if they feel they need another draft pick to fill the role, there are several intriguing options. Xavier Hutchinson of Iowa State was at the Senior Bowl, and combines the size and technique needed to play both outside and inside as a big slot.

Purdue’s Charlie Jones is also intriguing. Another natural fit in the slot, who also has hands made of glue. On top of that, he is expected to run in the 4.3 second range in the 40-yard dash. This would be an added bonus to Miami’s already fast offense.

Even later on in the NFL draft, Puka Nacua from BYU is certainly intriguing. His 6’1″ 210 pound frame is certainly big enough for the slot and his knack for finding soft spots in zones could be crucial in this offense.

The bottom line is this isn’t the Miami Dolphins’ number one need. If you were to list them out by position, it may not even be top five. Despite this, it’s needs like these that Super Bowl teams iron out. The future of the big slot may already be on the roster, or it may be filled this off-season. Either way, it will be interesting to see how Miami addresses it.

Potential Senior Bowl Draft Targets for the Miami Dolphins

The Senior Bowl brings the top collegiate talent to Mobile, Alabama for a week of practice, and more importantly, opportunity to show NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins, that they can perform under NFL coaching.

Miami may not have a first round pick, but still has five other draft selections, and will look to add depth to a team that made the playoffs last season.

Through my week in Mobile, I was able to take a look at some of the top prospects in the country, and a few stood out as potential fits for the Dolphins in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Miami Dolphins Draft Targets from the Senior Bowl

Tyjae Spears, RB Tulane

Named the Player of the Week by NFL executives, Spears was electric in practice each of the three days. His explosiveness and start-stop ability were evident in one-on-ones and team drills, having several plays that elicited oohs and aahs from those in attendance.

Spears is certainly quick enough for Mike McDaniel’s outside zone scheme, and has the versatility out of the backfield that Miami typically looks for. The Tulane product was dominant in his route-running reps vs. linebackers, including a double move that has broken #DraftTwitter over the last few days.

Tyjae Spears, known destroyer of ankles, runs a double-move route.

With incumbents Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert entering free agency, it’s possible we see Miami look to the draft to select a running back, and Spears has the traits needed to succeed as a lead back.

Jake Haener, QB Fresno State

After multiple strong performances at practice throughout the week, Fresno State’s Jake Haener won the MVP of the Senior Bowl Game on Saturday, and for good reason.

From practice to practice, Haener consistently showed that he can be a high-floor backup and spot starter from day one. His progressions are some of the best in this class, and was the most consistent in Mobile.

I spoke to Jake Haener regarding his performance in College and at the Senior Bowl.

If Miami loses Teddy Bridgewater to free agency this spring, they will certainly be in the market for a backup quarterback. Furthermore, Tua’s injury concerns may force Miami’s hand to select someone who is more pro-ready, and Haener looks to be exactly that.

Will Mallory, TE Miami

Another potential position of need, and another top performer throughout the week in Mobile. This time, however, it comes in the form of Hurricane’ tight end Will Mallory.

Will Mallory makes a nice block in practice.

Mallory had a strong last two days of practice, showing sure hands and sound technique blocking in the run game. Contested catches were the story of the week, and Mallory had several, including a diving catch up the seam.

Mike McDaniel preaches versatility, and the tight end position is no different. If Miami is looking for a tight end on day three, it’s possible we could see Mallory stay in the same stadium to start his pro career.

Jammie Robinson, S Florida State

With Vic Fangio coming to town, the Dolphins’ defensive principles have changed. Post-snap rotations are common place, and Miami is expected to run much more two-high safety coverages. Thus, the need for safety may be necessary.

Among the top performers at safety, the versatile Jammie Robinson stood out to me. At only 5’10” and 194 pounds, he plays (and hits) far bigger than his size. Box play and versatility were his strong suits at Florida State, but in Mobile, we had the chance to see some different traits.

Jammie Robinson battles with Rashee Rice.

Specifically, Robinson excelled as a high safety in red-zone situations, flying around and making plays on the football. Miami already has one ball hawk in Jevon Holland, and if Robinson continues to improve in this aspect, it’s possible he could form a dangerous duo with the Oregon product.

Mekhi Blackmon, CB USC

It is another DB who makes the last spot on the list, and Southern Cal’s Mekhi Blackmon is no slouch. He proved himself as a smart, instinctual corner who has a knack for playing the football.

While Blackmon isn’t the most athletic corner in the class, he held his own against some of the most dangerous receivers at the Senior Bowl. Namely, Jayden Reed, who named Blackmon his toughest matchup during a media breakfast interview with ATB’s own Luke Krumich.

Mekhi Blackmon wins vs Jayden Reed.

Size may be a concern for Blackmon, who is only 182 pounds, but if he’s available come day three, the Miami Dolphins could look to the Senior Bowl corner build depth on a position that saw several key injuries in 2022.