A little less than a week from now there will be Tuesday Morning Quarterback sessions going on around the New England area as we get set for New England’s first game against the Dolphins next Monday night. Sports radio and other media outlets will be talking about the play calling, play making, and of course the final outcome.
Each player on this roster has a “job” to do, and the quality of their work will vastly determine whether there is a number one in the win column for your New England Patriots next Tuesday morning. In the meantime here’s a look at some of the upcoming positional battles between the Pats and the Phins and see who presumably will come out on top.
Brady will finally see his first meaningful action of the 2011 season next Monday night in Miami. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Quarterbacks – When you think of the word quarterback and the NFL, Tom Brady is probably the first one that comes to mind. If you are living in the New England area, he is most likely the only one. The reigning league MVP typically struggles down in Miami Gardens. Brady will see his first action that counts with an offense that put up the most points in the NFL last season, and a new wide receiver in Chad Ochocinco. Look for Brady to get into a rhythm early to potentially help set up the run late in the game to wear down the Miami defense.
Last year our special teams and defense made the game a lot more lopsided than it really was. Old nemesis Jason Taylor is back in orange and green so that may pose a threat to Brady. Chad Henne was booed early in training camp and is thought of more as a game manager than a game winner.
Historically these quarterbacks give the Patriots issues, especially over the last couple of seasons. Think of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, Colt McCoy, among others. You have to give the edge to the Patriots here due to experience and most importantly, talent.
Advantage – PATRIOTS
Running Backs – Reggie Bush took his talents to South Beach in the off season and has sworn his injury woes were left behind in New Orleans. Look for Bush to play a big role in the screen game and running outside the tackles to help set up the play action. Rookie running back Daniel Thomas will also play a big role, assuming he has picked up the offense, as he struggled late in camp. Bush is still a game changer and playmaker with breakaway speed and evasive moves.
The Patriots yet again will be going with a running back by committee. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, and the two rookies should see spots in the rotation. Woodhead will be a third down option due to his pass blocking ability and getting open quickly out of the backfield. With Bush playing most off his games indoors and on turf during his career, it will be interesting to see how he does in the Miami humidity and natural field. I give a slight edge to Miami here, due to the playmaking ability and breakaway speed. One missed tackle and Reggie is gone.
Advantage – DOLPHINS
Wide Receivers – Is Ochocinco picking up the offense? Will Wes Welker be more reliable than last year after being one year removed from his knee injury after battling a year where he dropped passes? Is Taylor Price going to emerge as a threat when the Patriots go into their spread package? Outside of the pass rush, this is the one area I think raises the most questions going into the season.
The release of Brandon Tate came of no surprise to folks here, especially with the new kickoff rules, and returners being expendable. Look for a lot of underneath stuff from Brady with quick hitches, slants, and crossing routes. Vontae Davis will most likely be locked on Ochocinco and he typically plays great games against Brady and the Patriots.
Brandon Marshall perhaps underachieved from a touchdown perspective last year, but between the numbers, this guy is one of the best in the game. His height may cause issues for Devin McCourty or Leigh Bodden, however if they frustrate him early and make him a non factor, he has been known to tank it in the second half of games.
Brian Hartline is a streaky receiver on the outside, and Davone Bess typically puts up good numbers against the Patriots. However a receiver is typically made by the guy throwing him the ball, so I give this edge to the Patriots.
Advantage – PATRIOTS
Tomorrow we will continue with the tight ends, line of scrimmage, and the linebackers.