Patriots vs Jaguars Recap: Playoffs?? Playoffs!

With the outcomes of Sunday’s games, the Patriots locked up their 18th playoff appearance under Belichick. For context on how incredible this is; the Lions have made the playoffs 17 times since 1934. The Patriots would come along 26 years later. Whether this season ends with a 7th Lombardi being hoisted by the franchise or not,

New England Patriots Playoffs
Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Patriots got back to winning on Sunday, blowing out the Jaguars 50-10. The win snapped a two-game skid and punched a ticket to the postseason. The win was a much-needed remedy for a team that seemed to be getting caught up in the headlines. From the get-go, it was a “get right” game for New England. The Patriots played the part.

If you’ve been following along on Twitter (@patriots_atb), I put together a list of five things to watch for in the game. Putting together the usual “who has the advantage when…” game preview didn’t seem like a time-worthy endeavor, as New England would’ve had a clean sweep in all departments. Instead, a short list of what the team needed to do to get back on track was a more prudent exercise.

The areas to watch I identified were the Patriots getting out to a fast start, making it appear as if only one rookie quarterback had taken the field Sunday, playing complementary football, staying healthy, and figuring out what the hell N’Keal Harry is to this team. The Patriots answered all five on Sunday.

Patriots Must Get Out to a Fast Start

The last two weeks the Patriots have dug themselves a hole to climb out of for the rest of the game. While they’ve gotten close both times, they had been unable to get on the right side of it either time.

The easiest way to remedy this problem?

Don’t give yourself a hole to climb out of.

The Patriots won the toss and deferred to the Jaguars. To get off to a fast start the Pats would need to make a stand on defense to open the game. They did just that. The Jags gained 7 yards on first down before Dont’a Hightower came bursting through the line to drop rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence for a sack and 9 yard loss.

The Patriots would tackle Jaguars wide receiver Laquon Treadwell well short of the sticks to force a three and out on the first defensive series of the game.

The Patriots offense would match the defense fast start by marching 70 yards on eleven plays to open the scoring. The drive featured an efficient mix of run and pass, ultimately being capped off by the first of two Damien Harris touchdowns.

The Pats offense stayed hot, scoring touchdowns on their next four drives before finally being forced to punt. A week after struggling to move the ball consistently, New England was nearly impossible to stop.

Make it Appear Only Rookie QB is on the Field

The success Belichick has against rookie signal callers is well known in these parts. On Sunday, the Patriots needed to make it apparent Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence was a rookie while also making it look like Mac was a seasoned vet. The box score tells the story on this one.

Lawrence: 17/27 for 193 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 2 sacks

Jones: 22/30 for 227 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks

Mac consistently took what the defense gave him and kept the ball out of harm’s way. He put his team in a position to succeed and sprinkled in some splash plays while leading an efficient attack. Mac and the offense have greater success when he is well protected, as he was Sunday. He was his normal safe and consistent self while also showing some wow throws.

Lawrence looked unsure of himself throughout the game. The Patriots didn’t show many exotic looks pre-snap, but did a good job of rotating coverages after. This led to Lawrence holding the ball a tick longer, which allowed defensive players to break on the throw with ease.

The Patriots probably won’t see another rookie quarterback this year. Getting a feel-good game on defense may get them rolling in the most important month of the calendar: January.

Play Complementary Football

This was the most complete game the Patriots have played in over a month. The defense consistently put the offense in good spots. The offense didn’t turn the ball over and maintained a 36:46 to 23:14 advantage in time of possession.

Often the best way to measure complementary football is in third down success. Is the defense getting stops when possible? Is the offense converting and keeping the ball? The past two weeks the Pats simply have not been getting the job done on the “money down.” Against the Jaguars, the Patriots converted 8 of 10 third down attempts on offense while holding the visitors to 3 of 9. Maintaining this level of success will go a long way in winning games in the playoffs.

Stay Healthy

Damien Harris and Adrian Phillips did not finish the game, but both were available for post-game press conferences, a sign their injuries were minor. The feeling here is both would’ve finished the game had it been a closer affair. The NFL season has long been a battle of attrition, and with a 17th game added it has never been more true. Maintaining health down the stretch is often the most important factor to a team’s championship aspirations.

What’s up With N’Keal?

Before inactives were announced, it was expected Harry would be in line for another complete game of work. Harry had played a career high 61 snaps last week against the Bills and finished with two catches for 15 yards. Harry was listed on the injury report throughout the week with a hip condition, but was removed Friday, meaning his inactive status comes as a true healthy scratch. Harry’s replacement was practice squad call-up Kristian Wilkerson.

Unfortunately for Harry, Wilkerson made himself quite an introduction to the NFL. Wilkerson had four receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Harry’s career high for touchdown catches in a season is two. In a time when confidence has been waning in the former first rounder, Sunday may prove to be the nail in the coffin for his Patriots career.

Harry has often mixed incredible playmaking ability with an incredible ability to completely disappear on the playing field. Wilkerson probably isn’t the next Davante Adams but the early returns say he is a very viable number 3 or 4 receiver. It isn’t tough to see where Belichick may go with that one.

With the outcomes of Sunday’s games, the Patriots locked up their 18th playoff appearance under Belichick. For context on how incredible this is; the Lions have made the playoffs 17 times since 1934. The Patriots would come along 26 years later. Whether this season ends with a 7th Lombardi being hoisted by the franchise or not, the Belichick era is one that may never be matched.

Week One Review: Jaguars at Texans

@HindenburgScout reviews the Jacksonville Jaguars loss to the Houston Texans.

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

They came, they saw, they got conquered. So rarely do teams get the opportunity to start a new era with as much optimism as the Jacksonville Jaguars were given. So rarely do teams coming off of fifteen straight losses have a chance to open the season against a team with as much turmoil and uncertainty as the Texans. Simply put, most expected the Urban Meyer/Trevor Lawrence tandem to start their respective NFL careers with a win. But, that’s why they play the games, right?

What Went Wrong?

In short, pretty much everything at one point or another. Procedural penalties, dropped passes, miscommunication and a forced abandonment of the run game put the offense and Trevor Lawrence in an impossible situation. Defensively, this team misses Tre Herndon.

Tyson Campbell may yet end up a fantastic player, but right now he’s not. Andrew Wingard playing vital snaps over rookie Andre Cisco was a predictable gaffe for the coaching staff. The pass rush actually had an impressive day generating pressure and harassing All-Pro journeyman starter Tyrod Taylor, but the veteran was able to escape and extend play after play.

The list could go on and on discussing what went wrong. Let’s look at some critical plays early in the game.

Damien Wilson and Tyson Campbell look uncomfortable and out of place here with a zone responsibility. Campbell must improve in this area, and several others, if he is to be the contributor he was drafted to be.

Communication simply has to better on the back end. Giving up easy completions like this to the Texans isn’t something this team can afford to do. Urban Meyer has already spoke of how narrow the margin of error is the NFL, and the Jaguars have less than most any.

This is the risk you run in a man heavy scheme against a mobile quarterback. Pressure is great, but if the pass rush doesn’t get home and the play is extended it really stresses a secondary playing man coverage. Griffin and Henderson are a fine starting duo, but they won’t hold up forever.

Will The Real DJ Chark Please Stand Up?

Dj Chark gets his own section in this week one review as a result of his play in the Jaguars match up against the Texans, and it’s for all the wrong reasons. Chark is absolutely vital to the success of the offense. His speed, big play ability and (usually) reliable hands are unmatched by anyone else on the roster.

Holding penalties that stall drives, dropped passes on third downs and getting handled by the likes of Vernon Hargreaves III cannot happen to Chark. In a year where strong play could earn him a lucrative extension in an offense that will challenges defenses vertically with balls thrown by Trevor Lawrence, he just has to better than he was Sunday.

This isn’t to say he didn’t make plays against the Texans or that I expect his target share to dry up. He caught a beautiful touchdown. He ran a good dig on third and long to extend a drive. His route running is crisp, and he has all the ability to be The Guy for Trevor Lawrence moving forward.

Sunday’s game was a rough start for DJ Chark. He resembled the guy who struggled mightily last year more than the 2019 version who posted a 1000 yard season. Tyron Johnson is going to be given the chance to be the recipient of some dep shots. Moving forward, Chark must play like the talent the team believes he is.

Is There Reason For Hope?

Absolutely. Trevor Lawrence is going to be the best quarterback in franchise history. Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell flashed some creativity with play calling, especially on first down. James Robinson is still a stud at running back, and one would believe holding penalties won’t completely dismantle the running game every week.

The run defense gave up less than four yards per carry to the Texans running backs. CJ Henderson and Shaq Griffin played well, excellent at times. Tyrod Taylor was pressured on a consistent basis and plenty of quarterbacks on the Jaguars schedule won’t be able to escape as often. Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson looked like a viable pass rush tandem for maybe the first time together, though the latter still has a long way to go.

Laviska Shenault is going to get his touches in this offense. Tunnel screens were called frequently on first down, and the play above was a great play call.

Using Trevor Lawrence’s mobility and comfort on these concepts is something the team must do more frequently. Lawrence said as much post game. Here, Lawrence reads the Cover 3 concept and puts the ball exactly where it needed to be.

DaVon Hamilton is going to be really, really good in this defense y’all.

Overall

If you won’t believe me, believe someone smarter than me. Lawrence made a litany of rookie mistakes Sunday. Three turnovers is a bad day at the office for anyone. Despite the struggles, he showed exactly why he’s been considered the best quarterback prospect in perhaps a decade.

He’s only going to get better with experience. He has the ability to elevate this Jacksonville Jaguars team beyond it’s perceived ceiling. Sunday was tough. Guess what? There are going to be weeks that worse. But there’s also going to be weeks that are so much better. Yes, there’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the Jaguars.

Let me know what you think, Duval. I’m here for y’all. I want to be where you come for all things Jacksonville Jaguars. So, if there’s a specific player or part of the game you want a film breakdown of, just let me know!

Jacksonville Jaguars Camp and Preview: Offense

@HindenburgScout gives a preview of the Jacksonville Jaguars offense and what to watch for throughout training camp and predicts who makes the cut.
#DUUUVAL

Kam Nedd/Jaguars.com

August 3rd will be the biggest test yet for the Trevor Lawrence lead Jacksonville Jaguar offense. Reports out of Jacksonville have been nothing short of glowing regarding the first #1 overall pick in franchise history. Last week, the secondary was exclusively in off coverage, a cautious approach as a result of some hefty fines levied against the team and Coach Meyer. Lawrence took full advantage and had stellar moments each day. Monday, Lawrence struggled a bit as the secondary was allowed to play press. Tuesday, all the training wheels come off as full pads and contact return to the practice field. While all eyes will be (rightfully) on Trevor Lawrence, let’s break down the current roster and decisions to be made in the coming weeks across the rest of the offense.

Quarterbacks:

Current: Trevor Lawrence, Gardner Minshew, CJ Beathard, Jake Luton.

2021 Jaguars Training Camp - Day 5
Courtesy of Kam Nedd via jaguars.com

The Jacksonville Jaguars have yet to name a starting quarterback through 5 training camp practices. It is entirely possible that Coach Meyer doesn’t name Lawrence the starter for quite some time. However, he will absolutely be under center against the Houston Texans in the season opener. The intrigue at the quarterback position revolves around local icon Gardner Minshew. Minshew has produced enough quality performances that he expects to compete for playing time. While not likely to happen in Jacksonville, the former 6th round pick is among the absolute best back ups in the league and could start for a few teams. So far, Minshew has been clearly better than free agent acquisition CJ Beathard. Barring a trade offer better than a day 3 pick, the thought here is that Minshew will back up Lawrence this fall. Carrying 3 quarterbacks wouldn’t make much sense given the talent at wideout and the rotation desired along the defensive front. Look for Luton to be back on the practice squad.

Running Backs:

Current: James Robinson, Travis Etienne, Carlos Hyde, Devine Ozigbo, Dare Ogunbowale, Nathan Cottrell

2021 Jaguars Training Camp - Day 5
Courtesy of Kam Nedd via jaguars.com

Robinson, Etienne and Hyde are all more than capable of being the primary back on game day. Given the roles planned for Etienne, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 4th back kept on the roster. Nathan Cottrell is a special teams stand out who made it to the active roster near the end of last season. Extremely athletic and versatile, he’ll be back on the practice squad if cut.

Tight Ends:

Current: Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Tim Tebow, Tyler Davis, Ben Ellefson, Luke Farrell

Plenty of observers thought the circus had come to town when Tim Tebow was signed. As it turns out, he’s just a bottom of the depth chart type player. Manhertz and O’Shaughnessy are looking the part and are likely entrenched at the top of the depth chart. Farrell likely earns a spot on the active roster. Look for the team to stash Tyler Davis on the practice squad if they add another veteran or keep Ellefson. I’ll believe that a roster spot will be wasted on Tebow when I see it. With full contact should come the end of the experiment.

Wide Receivers:

Current: DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones, Collin Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Laquon Treadwell, Jamal Agnew, Pharoh Cooper, Tim Jones, Josh Imatorbhebhe, Josh Hammond, Jalen Camp

The Jacksonville Jaguars have quite the variety and a ton of talent at the position. The top 3 are written in stone with Chark, Jones and Shenault. There’s a ton of competition after those for two or three roster spots. Agnew was signed for his return ability, and Cooper has shown he can be dangerous with the ball in space as well. Collin Johnson flashed as a rookie at times and is a big target who can be very friendly to a young quarterback. Treadwell is playing his ass off trying to get his once promising career back on track. Dorsett has the big play ability and speed that Meyer loves having around. Imatorbhebhe has had some strong moments already, and Jalen Camp has been a pleasant surprise when given the opportunity as well. Given the talent and style of offense being built, it’s a safe bet the team will keep six. Best guess? Chark, Jones, Shenault, Dorsett, Johnson and Agnew. Look for the team to try and get Camp and Imatorbhebhe on the practice squad.

Offensive Line:

Current: Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, AJ Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Walker Little, Ben Bartch, Tyler Shatley, Will Richardson, Derwin Gray, KC McDermott, Garrett McGhin, Austen Pleasants, Tre’Vour Wallace-Sims

2021 Jaguars Training Camp - Day 5
Courtesy of Kam Nedd via jaguars.com

Many observers expected the organization to overhaul the position group between free agency and the draft. Instead it’s more of the same. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, as the team was pretty transparent about liking the group they had and they retained Coach Warhop from the previous regime. While the assumption is the starters from last season will keep their roles, Coach Meyer has instructed the staff to evaluate everyone with the intent of pure competition.

Much offensive success will hinge on the continued development of Jawaan Taylor and Cam Robinson. Walker Little could push either for a job if they struggle. Ben Bartch could also push AJ Cann for the RG spot and it’s something I’ll be watching intently as camp progresses. The addition of Little could mean Will Richardson will be on the outside looking in. More on that later. Tyler Shatley has filled in admirably for Linder in past seasons and will be on the roster for that reason.

There’s a ton of excitement and buzz around the offense and it’s potential to be vastly improved with the addition of Trevor Lawrence and the talent at the skill positions. All the bells and whistles in the world won’t matter if this group isn’t rock solid week in and week out. Offensive line is the most important component for success, that’s true no matter how much the game changes.

Projected Offense

  1. Trevor Lawrence
  2. Gardner Minshew
  3. James Robinson
  4. Travis Etienne
  5. Carlos Hyde
  6. DJ Chark
  7. Marvin Jones
  8. Laviska Shenault
  9. Phillip Dorsett
  10. Collin Johnson
  11. Jamal Agnew
  12. Chris Manhertz
  13. James O’Shaughnessy
  14. Luke Farrell
  15. Tyler Davis
  16. Cam Robinson
  17. Andrew Norwell
  18. Brandon Linder
  19. AJ Cann
  20. Jawaan Taylor
  21. Walker Little
  22. Ben Bartch
  23. Tyler Shatley
  24. Will Richardson

But What If? TRADE MACHINE

The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the unique position of having a few players that other teams may be willing to part with draft capital to acquire, particularly as injuries take their inevitable toll as camp progresses into the pre season. I don’t like throwing out trade candidates because the NFL isn’t Madden. However, this offseason is slightly different due to the personnel and coaching changes.

Gardner Minshew

As I mentioned earlier, Minshew has shown the ability to win football games at the NFL level. There’s a few teams he could start for right now to be quite honest. The signing of CJ Beathard is what makes this trade possible, albeit unlikely. Minshew is on a rookie contract, respected by his teammates and outperforming the other quarterbacks on the roster- #1 overall pick and generational talents not included. It would likely take a Day 2 draft pick for the Jaguars to part with Minshew.

Will Richardson

Richardson has been used inside and out by the Jacksonville Jaguars in recent seasons, and even started a pair of games at Left Tackle in the place of injured Cam Robinson last season. That kind of versatility and experience could make Richardson an attractive option for a team hit with a rash of offensive line injuries. The addition of Walker Little simply make Richardson expendable through no fault of his own. An early Day 3 draft selection in what looks to be a very good 2022 draft class could outweigh having a ninth lineman on the final roster.

Final Thoughts…

Here’s hoping the talk of open competition is more than just motivational coach speak in the hot summer sun. The offense should absolutely be improved over recent seasons, even with a rookie quarterback at the helm. One of the more exciting things to see is the inclusion of more modern schemes and route concepts that have been missing from passing game. The offensive line has to gel, and the best five need to be on the field. How the coaching staff chooses to use players such as Travis Etienne, Laviska Shenault and the mixed bag at the tight end position are going to be critical. Here’s hoping to a productive and healthy training camp. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Or just yell at me on Twitter, @HindenburgScout! Stay tuned for my defensive preview.

By the way… I am thrilled to be a part of the ATB Network, and hope you’ll give me a chance when it comes to coverage of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I’m excited! #DUUUVAL

Dolphins All Over the World

Despite what can only be described as a trying past two decades for the Miami Dolphins, the expansion of the NFL overseas has resulted in the fan base growing astronomically. While the Dolphins may not be one of the most supported teams in terms of numbers in the US, internationally they have generated a substantial fan base, all full of die hard Dolphins fans who can not get enough of the aqua and orange.

Despite what can only be described as a trying past two decades for the Miami Dolphins, the expansion of the NFL overseas has resulted in the fan base growing astronomically. While the Dolphins may not be one of the most supported teams in terms of numbers in the US, internationally they have generated a substantial fan base, all full of die hard Dolphins fans who can not get enough of the aqua and orange.

With the introduction of the new 17 game regular season beginning in 2021, NFL owners have also approved a new format for the International Series games. Starting in 2022, atleast four games will be played internationally. The new system will see four of the 16 new AFC-NFC extra gameweek matchups moved to to overseas venues. The new approach will ensure that the NFL’s objectives of tapping into markets outside of the US are fulfilled, while ensuring that teams and fans do not lose home games as a result.

Unfortunately, there is a very small part of the US fan base for the Dolphins and the NFL in general, who sit there on their high horse looking down at international fans. Fans of which maybe haven’t supported the team since the 70s, are new to the sport, or those who have not been to games at Hard Rock and are therefore unworthy of the true Dolfan status and are presumed to not know what they are talking about. As an international fan myself, I take deep offense to such assumptions. It may therefore be a surprise to some, as to how passionate and committed us fans are. Let us not forget the Super Bowl kicks of at 11:30pm, the first pick in the Draft is not until 1 am in the UK, while even later in continental Europe.

United Kingdom

The UK has been the pinnacle of the NFL’s efforts to expand overseas. Since the beginning of the International Series in 2007, the NFL has achieved consistent growth, and now has more than 13 million fans in the UK. The game has expanded from showing around 10 minutes of highlights per week in the early 80s, to now having is own dedicated channel on Sky Sports showing around the clock coverage of the league. A total of 31 of the 32 teams have featured in London over 28 games, played across three different stadiums, hosting 2,226,356 total fans for an average attendance of 80,941 (all sell out games). In comparison, the average attendance of a game hosted in the US is only 67,042.

In the UK, the fan base has changed drastically. In the early 80s, many thanks to Dan Marino, the Dolphins were able to begin to establish a solid fan base, along with Washington, Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. Fans are reminded of these days regularly as the vintage fashion trends that sweep the nation, see the return on 90s Starter jackets, spellouts and the customary vintage jerseys. The Dolphins remain in the top 3 or 4 most supported clubs in the UK which is constantly growing following the rise in popularity of the sport, and the fact that the Dolphins have been a consistent presence in the International Series games.

The Dolphins first came to London in 1988 in American Bowl pre-season game against the 49ers, featuring Marino, Montana, and Young in front of a capacity crowd of 70,000 in the old Wembley stadium. The fins emerged victorious 27-21. The Dolphins returned in 2007 for the first regular season game to played outside the US. Miami lost 13-10 to start the season 0-8, the rest of the season we will not mention. However, all can be forgiven as the Giants later went on to end the Patriots hopes at the perfect season in Super Bowl XLII.

It would then be seven years before the Dolphins would return to London in 2014, where they defeated the Oakland Raiders 38-14, a game of which I was unable to get tickets. Rather it seems that the powers above wished for me to endure a 27-14 loss against the Jets in 2015, whereby Ryan Fitzpatrick proceeded to torch the Dolphins secondary on one of the first plays of the game. Unfortunately for me that game was the highlight of my experiences of watching the Dolphins in London, as what followed was a 20-0 shutout against the Saints in 2017, a game that solidified my true feelings towards Jay Cutler. It is hoped that the Dolphins fare better in London this season in the week 6 matchup against Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Before the International Series games, in good British fashion fans meet up in the pubs and bars surrounding Wembley for charity meet ups organised by Fins Nation UK Fan Club, where over 400 fans descend from across the world. The UK fan club organise annual weekends where fans travel across the pond to attend a pre-arranged game, along with huge organised parties throughout the weekend with other fan clubs. On their last trip in 2019, 35 fans made the trip to South Beach making them the second biggest fan club behind only the Mexicans. Despite living 4500 miles away from Miami, many fans feel closer to the Dolphins than any other team or sport. The community of Dolphins fans across the world is something you just dont get from other sports in the UK.

Fins Nation UK Fan Club Boasts over 1700 members

Charity is a major focus of the UK fan club and since 2017 they have raised an outstanding £30,000 for various charities. Most recently the two founding members walked 160 miles in 6 days (equivalent to a marathon a day) from Somerset to Brighton for their fan club weekend.

“The greatest thing about the Miami Dolphins is NOT the team, it’s the FANS of the Dolphins community. It is without doubt the best in the NFL. In the 4 short years since Fins Nation UK was created I have made many friends for life, not only in the UK or USA, but worldwide. We have affiliate fan clubs in Germany, France, Italy and Mexico. Although I have met many of the Dolphins players past and present, give me a tailgate with the fans at East 12 outside Hard Rock Stadium anytime!”

Wayne Collard- Founder of Fins Nation UK

Germany

Just like the UK, Germany also hosted an American Bowl game in 1992 in a 31-27 win against the Denver Broncos in Berlin, featuring both Marino and Elway. Since then, football in Germany has been constantly growing. NFL metrics classify 3.5 million Germans as “avid fans”, with a total fan base of 19-20 million, rivaling that of the UK. Weekly television viewership has grown by more than 20% annually since 2017.

Like in many other European countries, soccer is still by far the biggest of sports, meaning that football fans remain in the minority. The German fan base for the Dolphins ranks top 5 in number of fans, with the Seahawks and Packers battling it out for the top spot. Following their success over the past 20 years, the Patriots have also grown in numbers, as many fans sought to jump on the bandwagon. However, the Patriots fans lack a centralized organization of hardcore fans like the Dolphins and other top teams have within Germany. Miami Dolfans Germany are a very active Facebook community including Fans from Austria and Switzerland, reaching almost 2000 fans and the active community group exceeds 1100 members.

More than 250 German Dolphins fans attend the London games, as since the American Bowl days, there have been no more games outside of London other than in Mexico. That may soon change, with the possibility of games in Germany becoming ever more likely. As it stands there are currently three locations in mind including, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, with expectation that Germany will be able to host an annual game as soon as 2022. It is speculated that the NFL is hoping to exploit the tourism generated from Oktoberfest, the famous annual beer festival, for which Germany is renowned. I for one, as I am sure many Brits would happily make the trip across the continent.

“We think that football is family, especially with Dolfans, no matter where they live”

Marcus Merten- Founder of Miami Dolfans Germany

France

In comparison with the UK and Germany, the NFL has evolved much slower in France. There is not a huge football community in the nation as a whole, as it seems there are quite stark cultural differences between the two countries. However, French Dolphins fans are numerous and active through social media and are popular within the general NFL fan community within the country. The Miami Dolphins French Fan Club is relatively new and ambitious fan club. Despite facing difficulties in language barriers, they are still well motivated and keen to express themselves when they make the trip to London for the games.

At this time it seems that there is not a comparable level of following in France to warrant the expansion of the International Series, nor is there the appropriate infrastructure to be able to host such an event. Nevertheless, French Dolphins fans remain hopeful that things will continue to grow, to enable their fortunes to change in the future.

Mexico

The Dolphins have featured once in Mexico in 1997 in front of over 104,000 fans, which at the time was the third highest attendance at a game in NFL history. In an American Bowl matchup against the Denver Broncos, the Dolphins emerged victorious 38-19. Winning however did come at a cost with Zach Thomas sustaining injury to his left fibula causing him to miss the start of the season. The Dolphins are a top 7 team in terms of fans in Mexico with the Raiders being the most popular, along with the Cowboys, 49ers and the Patriots.

Since 2016, the NFL has scheduled a regular season game to increase the overall popularity of the sport. Mexico currently boasts the largest NFL fan base outside of the US and has become Mexico’s second most popular sport. Following the introduction of NFL Sunday Ticket, the game has continued to grow over the last 15 years.

Much to the dismay of the Mexican fans, their games over the past 3 seasons have all been cancelled as a result of poor field conditions and of course the coronavirus pandemic. However, looking towards opportunities for the future, it appears that as a consumer market, Mexico does not appear to be as valuable to the NFL as what the UK is. This may help to explain why the expansion of the International Series has been predominantly focused on giving more games in Europe, rather than to increase the number of games held in Mexico.

Conclusion

While the criticism of the International Series is understandable from a fans perspective, with the prospect of potentially losing the chance to see their team at Hard Rock, the new changes brought in by the NFL benefit everybody. When the Dolphins travel to London week 6 @ Jacksonville (technically), the roar of the European fans (including myself) will infact create a tenth home game for Miami, giving them a huge advantage over their rivals. The Miami Dolphins are now an internationally recognized brand, a premier brand, with a loyal and passionate fan base across the globe. Here is to hoping that fans across the world will be celebrating a successful 2021 campaign together. Fins Up!

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