Miami is a different team than the one that beat the Patriots last season in week 17. They are much improved as evident by the $237M they spent on 12 Free Agents including three former Patriots. They signed linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, along with offensive lineman, Ted Karras. All three were named captains. They also had 11 draft picks (3- 1’s, 2-2’s) in what I thought was a very good draft.
Last season the Dolphins were the youngest and most inexperienced team in the NFL. Their average age was 25.1 (The Patriots were the oldest). They signed Byron Jones and Shaq Lawson to bolster the defense.
They finished the 2nd half of the season at 5-4 and knocked the Patriots out of the #2 seed. Their Strength of schedule is right in the middle which should be an advantage for them this season.
They have an improved Offensive Line with the addition of Erick Flowers and Karras as free agents. Austin Jackson was a 1st round pick, Kilgore (another rookie) will start and Jesse Davis will man the RT spot.
They have two new veteran RBs in Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda. Devante Parker had his best year as a pro. Preston Williams was having a great rookie year as the leading receiver until he tore his ACL mid-way through the year. Parker was targeted 6.5 times a game before Williams injury, then 9.5 after that. Parker torched Stephon Gilmore for 117 yds and a TD in that final game. All three Phins starting WRs were questionable this week.
I love the addition of rookie WR/QB Lynn Bowden (Kentucky) in a trade with Las Vegas Raiders. We will see some wildcat and reverses with Bowden. I have read there was some on field/off field issues with Bowden so that bears watching. Bowden was their top receiver as a Jr and forced to play QB early in his Sr year and led them to a bowl game. He was a player I thought the Pats may be interested in.
Mike Gesecki is an up and coming TE in the league. Finally we get to the gunslinger, Ryan Fitzpatrick. I remember Fitzpatrick distinctly from the 2005 NFL Combine. He was brought in as one of the 4 extra QBs to throw to the receivers during their WR drills. This one particular drill was a long pass on a post corner route. It was meant to show the ability of the receiver to track the ball. Fitzpatrick took advantage of showing his ability in front of all the scouts and teams by dropping back in his 7 step drop. The play was going to his right, but he looked left, as if to look off the safety, then fired a perfect arching pass that the receiver caught over his shoulder.
Fitzpatrick is the ultimate Trick or Treat player. Lifetime against the Pats he is 3-10 with 20 TD’s and 21 INT’s. However in that week 17 game last year he threw the ball 41 times for a 68% completion rate, a TD and zero INT’s. He is very effective in 4 and 5 WR sets. They drafted Tua Tagovailoa but are wisely letting him sit and learn. He is also recovering from a serious hip injury from college.
The two teams will take the field Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium at 1:00pm.
NOTE: Some of the statistical analysis is credited to NBC Sports Analyst Warren Sharp. He was recently named a contributor on various NBC Sports platforms.
Posted Under: Patriots News