By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are back in action on Sunday to face the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.
1. Can the Patriots offensive line protect Tom Brady in this game? The offensive line was a key last week, and unfortunately they did a poor job against the Jets. The Patriots face a tough Dolphins defense that has 17 sacks already this season. Defensive end Cameron Wake, and defensive tackle Randy Starks are two players to watch in this game. If the line cannot protect Brady, it could be a long day for the offense.
2. Can Tom Brady spread the ball to all of his receivers? I know when you have a weapon like Rob Gronkowski, you are going to want to get him the ball, but I think he actually targeted him way too much in this last game.
The presence of Gronkowski should open up space for young receivers like Aaron Dobson, and Kenbrell Thompkins. This offense needs to go back to Brady finding the open man, and spreading the ball around to all of his targets. I think if he does that in the game, you will see the Pats put up a good amount of points.
3. Can the Patriots run the ball more with running back Stevan Ridley? Ridley has the ability to carry much more than eleven times in a game, which was the amount of carries he had in the last game. He still ran for 50 yards, and a 4.5 yards per carry average which is pretty good.
The Patriots need to get back to being a balanced offense, and they cannot get away from running the ball with Ridley throughout the game. If you run Ridley more, I think you are going to see the play action passing be more effective as well.
4. Can the Patriots contain tight end Charles Clay? The Patriots continue to struggle in covering the tight end, so it is vital to defend well against Clay.
He is a decent tight end who has caught 26 passes, and also has three touchdown passes. If linebacker Dont’a Hightower is asked to cover Clay, I hope he does a better job than he did last week against Jeff Cumberland of the Jets.
5. Can the Patriots defense get after quarterback Ryan Tannehill? The Dolphins have given up 26 sacks so far this season, so there is an opportunity to put serious pressure on the Dolphins quarterback. The Patriots defense needs to be aggressive against this offense.
The Dolphins do have some weapons in the passing game like Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, and Mike Wallace. The Patriots needs to get after Tannehill, so he does not have time to find his receivers.
Now, on to the game, I am always wary of every AFC East Divisional game. However, the Dolphins have not played well lately, so I have a feeling the Patriots will pull away in the second half.
If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.