Over the last 12 hours or so, I've seen an uproar on this forum that has, in a way, confused me and disgusted me. Our Patriots have enjoyed a 21 game regular season winning streak and still we pick them apart even when they've managed to approach the 1/4 point of the season with a winning record being led by a quarterback who is not Tom Brady. I too am perturbed by the loss. I'm right there with all of you. Not only does it hurt to get crushed, but insult to injury is added when you add on the fact that this royal ass-kicking came at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, a divisional foe and a former 1-15 team. But at the same time, you must take into account that these are not the 2007 Miami Dolphins we played yesterday. But first, let me get to our own team. Offense There is not a lot to get really excited about here. Our running backs managed a paltry 55 yards in the game. That's not including the run that Welker ripped off. For this team to be successful, we need to be able to POUND the ball. Cassel is only starting in his second game since high school and he needs all the help he can get. Pound the rock to open up passes underneath for Cassel. Then again, when you look at it, our running backs only had 16 carries to work with as well. This is where we will miss a healthy Laurence Maroney. He may dance at times, but when he is on, he is really on. Offensive line play was horrendous. Before the beginning of the season, I used to defend this line to the death. I would point out statistics as if they meant something. "Brady was able to stand in the pocket long enough to throw 50 TDs". But the reality is that Brady is a Hall of Fame quarterback whose quick release masked a lot of inconsistencies on the line itself. Cassel is relatively new to starting games and having the pressure fall on him which means that he will have a tendency to hold onto the ball a bit longer. He needs all the protection he can get. Especially when he's getting the kitchen sink thrown at him. He just didn't get that protection yesterday. I won't even get into how bad Watson and Thomas are at blocking. It's a moot point. The receivers played decently yesterday. The reason I love Welker is because he goes all out on every play. Gaffney got open for Cassel a few times as well. After that, it's downhill. I don't want to say that Moss has given up, because I don't think he has yet. But he definitely does not look inspired. We must find a way to shore up protection for Cassel so he can get Randy in the game. Our receiving corps is too good not to use. Speaking of that, what happened to Kevin Faulk yesterday? Two catches for six yards? He's too dynamic. When Faulk is involved in the game, it changes our offense. I thought the play calling by McDaniels was also lacking in a lot of areas. We were too one dimensional in the passing game. Slant here, hitch there. Maybe the occasional out. While Cassel probably cannot complete 20+ yard passes with the regularity of a Tom Brady, we should at least have him try it. At the very least, it will keep the defense honest. Last but not least, Mr. Matty Cassel. IMO, a lot of you here were saying "he needs to be Matt Cassel and not Tom Brady" but not a lot of you really believed it. We've all been spoiled rotten but the QB play over the last seven years that when someone else comes in, expectations are reasonably higher. IMO, I thought Cassel had a decent game for what he was being asked to do. He connected on over 60% of his passes and was efficient except for the interception. The fact of the matter is that Cassel had very little to back him up. As I've already pointed out, he was restricted by the play calling, the anemic running game, and poor play at the offensive line position. The fact that he even went 19/31 is impressive. However, I do not think that he should have thrown the ball 31 times. We should have pounded it up the middle a lot more often than we did. Give Cassel some time. I would say the next 3-5 games to see if he improves on the first three games. I think you'll see the playbook start to open a little more for him in each passing game. Defense After Tom went down, we all collectively said that the defense must play 100% every game in order for this team to win. Yesterday, they did not. I don't know if it was just me but this D looked completely uninspired. I, for one, don't believe they were showing their age. But they did look confused at times. The proof for that came when the Dolphins scored on three (I believe) gadget plays. First of all, our front seven was taken completely out of the play. I'll give credit to the Dolphins' offensive line for a job well done on that. Wilfork who is usually doing his job clogging up the center of the line was getting completely blown off the ball on almost every single play and Seymour and Warren were non factors at any time during the game. The linebackers were not much better either. Mayo was the one bright spot in the linebacking corps. Mayo was able to produce eight tackles and four assists but the only time that pressure came on Pennington at all was when AT blew through the front of the line only to miss the Noodle, allow him to run free, and make the same seven yard completion that he had been making all day. This brings me to my next point. Through the first two games, our secondary looked sufficient. Deltha O'Neal was looking like a steal as a pick-up a week before the season, Hobbs had done well, and the safeties did everything that could have been expected of them. Yesterday, due to the lack of pressure from our famed front seven, the secondary continuously allowed the Miami no name recievers space to catch pass after pass for first downs. I will say that the one touchdown they gave up was a blown play due to Ronnie Brown getting the direct snap then proceeding to run it down the field. That time, he did not and our safeties cheated up to stop the run. Brown found a WIDE OPEN Anthony Fasano by completing a pass that my grandpa probably could have thrown. That still doesn't excuse the fact that they allowed 200+ yards to Pennington whose reppatoire yesterday was the 11 yard pass all day long. Overview In closing, Cassel did everything that was expected of him yesterday. If you go back and bring back posts from two weeks ago, we all said from the beginning that we wanted Cassel just to be a caretacker of this offense. Well, he did that yesterday. Granted, he wasn't completely mistake free but the INT should have been something we could have overcome if the defense had held up it's end of the bargain. The running game never got off (or should I say on?) the ground. In order for this team to win, we must see a lot of Maroney, Jordan, Morris, and Faulk. Without Brady and with Cassel in his fledgling starts the only way to win is to go back to Belichickian football and pound the rock while leaning on our defense to deliver us the game. If we do not start doing that on a regular basis, we will find ourselves in similar situations to the one we were in yesterday. And I must give credit to the Dolphins even though it pains me. This is definitely not the same team that we all saw last year. That running game is very dangerous. Add a healthy Ronnie Brown and a healthy Ricky Williams to an offensive line that plays like that on a regular basis along with a mistake free quarterback in Pennington and the fish should suprise a few people this year. I know I'm shocked. And before you ask, yes I did have the day off from work and no, I didn't have anything better to do.