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Patriots 2016 Opponents, 5 First Impressions of the Dolphins

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
September 13, 2016 at 11:50 am ET

Patriots 2016 Opponents, 5 First Impressions of the Dolphins(PHOTO: usa today - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Miami Finds the right guy to lead the team in Gase

The Patriots 2016 season returns to Foxboro for the first time in 2016 and they face their divisional rival Miami.

The Dolphins have been in turmoil for several years at the top despite being big spenders in free agency. No more. They seem to have finally found the right guy to lead the team in Adam Gase, we’ll have more on him below but they get high marks with his hiring.

The Dolphins lost a tough heartbreaker to the Seahawks on a Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin pass with just 31 seconds left. The 12-10 loss stings because Miami felt and rightfully so, that they left some points on the board.

Miami has some talent on both sides of the ball, the question is, is it enough to compete for a playoff spot and how quickly will Gase turn things around.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Dolphins:

Gase Was the Best Move Made in Offseason: When Miami landed Gase this offseason, it was perhaps the best move the franchise has made in many years and arguably one of the best that any team had done this spring.

The acquisition of the Nick Saban disciple in Gase, was a much needed and smart move by Miami who has had a coaching carousel for far too long. Gase worked well with Peyton Manning and now will try to turn the fortunes around for Ryan Tannehill who hasn’t had a stable coaching staff in his career.

Gase is going to a simpler offense that plays to the strengths of his QB and his talented skill players. Instead of the deep play offense that didn’t work, but more of a methodical approach that the Patriots employ.

The youngest coach (38) in the NFL got a ringing endorsement from Manning, who called him, “the smartest man I know.”

Tannehill Should Benefit from the Hiring: If there is a coach that can bring out the best in Ryan Tannehill it is Gase and while the Dolphins are paying him like a franchise QB, he’s yet to produce like one.

While his numbers were pedestrian against Seattle on Sunday, 16-29, 186 yards and no touchdowns, that isn’t exactly an uncommon result from teams that play in Seattle against the Seahawks defense. Tannehill did have a deep pass to Kenny Stills that should have went for a deep 71-yard touchdown but Stills dropped it while all alone behind the defense.

Tannehill didn’t dwell on it, determined to move on, “I don’t know what happened on his end, but that’s football. We just moved on from it and kept playing. We had other opportunities other than that to make plays,… I saw a lot of good things from our guys.”

Dolphins Defensive Line Strong, Disruptive in Opener: Miami spent a ton of money on the defensive line in recent years, and if the season opener is any judge on how the rest of the season is going to go, then they’re going to reap the benefits soon.

The Dolphins nearly pulled off a big upset on the road and the DL was a big reason why. Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips, Jason Jones, Mario Williams and Cameron Wake were constantly beating their opponents off the ball and causing disruptions in the Seattle backfield. They forced Russell Wilson into a couple of mistakes and were at times dominant.

Suh had four tackles, including a 13-yard sack, and three quarterback hits. He batted down a pass on third down on Seattle’s final drive, but the Seahawks were able to convert on fourth down. Jordan Phillips was very impressive and blew up a play that caused a fumble in the Seahawks backfield.

This should be another stiff test for the Patriots offensive line this week. This group can stop the run and get after the passer. Miami’s defense goes thru this front.

Arian Foster Recovers from Injury, starts in Week 1: Miami signed the former Texans running back this summer and when asked about his comeback last week, Foster bristled, stating that he was “injured not dead.”

Showing he was all the way back from his Achilles injury, he got the starting nod of incumbent Jay Ajayi and looks like the Foster of old for the most part. He managed only 38 yards on 13 carries, but that isn’t unusual for teams playing Seattle, but he did produce 62 yards on three catches including a 50-yarder.

Foster has rushed for 1200 yards or more four times in his career and the Dolphins are hoping that he can recapture some of that magic this season.

Dolphins Linebackers Still Have Questions: Miami is banking on a return to health of Kiko Alonso in 2016, the talented but oft-injured middle linebacker is a player that roam from sideline to sideline and make plays. If he can stay on the field and healthy, a big if, he’s a big upgrade from Kelvin Sheppard from a year ago.

Jelani Jenkins is another talented player but his consistency has been beset by injuries as well. Koa Misi is an athletic player but has an annoying reputation of letting the play coming to him rather than being an aggressive down-hill type player.

The depth is an issue, with the team having STs maven Spencer Paysinger, Zac Vigil, and Mike Hull as backups. That may be the reason the team is bringing in former Packer and Bengal A.J. Hawk this week for a look.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at SpecialOperations.com, 1945.com as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season Adam Gase Arian Foster Bill Belichick Jay Ajayi Jelani Jenkins Kiko Alonso Koa Misi Miami Dolphins Ndamukong Suh New England Patriots NFL Patriots Ryan Tannehill

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