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MORSE: Week 8 Preview of the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins Rematch

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
1 month ago at 8:55 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Week 8 Preview of the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins RematchBrian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

What’s different between the Dolphins team we played at home in September and the one we will face Sunday.  Let’s look at the graphic for Team Rankings.  There is no question the Dolphins have the #1 Offense in the league.  We knew before the season they were going to be good, and they have delivered on that promise so far.

Miami Team Rankings (2023)

RANKINGS Offense Defense
Yds/Game 462.3 (1st) 345.3 (21st)
Rush Yds/Game 162.3 (1st) 112.3 (19th)
Pass Yds/Game 300.0 (1st) 233.0 (20th)
Pts/Game 34.3 (1st) 26.7 (27th


Offense 3WR 1TE
QB Tua Tagovailoa Mike White Skylar Thompson
RB Raheem Mostert Jeff Wilson Jr Salvon Ahmed De’Von Achane IR
WR Tyreek Hill Braxton Berrios River Cracraft IR
WR Jaylen Waddle Chase Claypool Erik Ezukanma O
WR Cedrick Wilson Robbie Chosen
TE Durham Smythe Julian Hill Tyler Kroft
FB Alec Ingold
LT Kendall Lamm Terron Armstead IR
LG Liam Eichenberg Isaiah Wynn IR
C Connor Williams Q Liam Eichenberg
RG Robert Hunt Robert Jones Lester Cotton
RT Austin Jackson Kion Smith


There are some chinks in the armor of the Dolphins Offense.  They have two starting O-lineman on IR in Terron Armsted and Isaiah Wynn.  Starting Center Conor Williams is listed as questionable.  This means that Kendall Lamm and Liam Eichenberg will be thrust into the starting lineup.  Eichenberg is also the backup Center and if Williams can’t go that will further deplete the line with Robert Jones probably switching over to Left Guard.  We know all too well the benefit of having a good offensive line in front of the Quarterback.

The Dolphins put speedy De’Von Achane on IR.  He was a non-factor in the first meeting with the Patriots.  It was Raheem Mostert that torched the Patriots for 121 yards on 18 carries (6.7 YPC).  Backup runningback Jeff Wilson was out for the first contest.  Both he and Mostert are former San Francisco 49’ers backs that played for Head Coach Mike McDaniels when he was the Offensive Coordinator in the Bay area.

The Wide receivers are the best pair of wideouts in the league, Jalen Waddle and Tyreek Hill make it nearly impossible to shut them down.  However, the Patriots Defense (Ranked #9 in yards allowed) found a way to slow them down and keep the score a one score game.  The Patriots had the opportunity to tie the game in the 4th quarter, despite poor play of the Offensive Line in that game.   The Defense held the Phins to 24 points, significantly below the 34.3 points they are averaging per game.  In particular, the Patriots front four of Deatrich Wise, Devon Godchaux, Christian Barmore and Anfernee Jennings have played the best recently.  They contained the extremely mobile Josh Allen last week and they will have another challenge in Tua Tagovailoa.  Hill was contained by the Patriots and held to 40 yuards receiving.  He currently has 902 yards receiving for the year.  Both Mostert and Hill were listed as DNP with Hip and Ankle injuries respectively, and that may keep them both out of Sunday’s game.  With Hill out, could the Patriots secondary shut down Waddle?  If Hill can’t go, Braxton Berrios is next in line with 17 catches and Cedrick Wilson has 7 on the season.

The defense must contain Tagovailoa in the pocket.  The Patriots blitzed from various unusual positions last week.  Barmore was a monster in the Bills game.  Can they repeat this in the heat of Miami?   I have always felt that the Dolphins get an unfair advantage if the Patriots home game is played early in the season, and we must play in Miami mid-season or after.   Patriots’ teams traditionally melt in the heat of South Florida.  Tagovailoa is averaging 300-yard per game passing.  He has completed 163 of 229 for 2,092 yards, and a 71.2% completion percentage.

The Dolphins use a lot of pre-snap motion and just before the ball is hiked.  They like to put TE Durham Smythe in motion late in the count and then snap the ball as soon as he goes in motion. Usually, defenses are late to make the adjustment.  However, the Patriots saw this in the 1st meeting, and are aware of it.  They will practice against it and be prepared.


Defense Base 3-4 D
LDE Christian Wilkins
NT Raekwon Davis Brandon Pili
RDE Zach Sieler Da’Shawn Hand
WLB Jaelan Phillips Emmanuel Ogbah Cameron Goode
LILB David Long Duke Riley Zeke Vandenburgh IR
RILB Jerome Baker Channing Tindall
SLB Bradley Chubb Andrew Van Ginkel
LCB Xavien Howard Q Eli Apple Justin Bethel Kelvin Joseph
SS DeShon Elliott Brandon Jones
FS Jevon Holland Elijah Campbell
RCB Kader Kohou Cam Smith Parry Nickerson Jalen Ramsey IR


It appears that both Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey will play on Sunday for the 1st time together this season.  Ramsey has been on IR and Howard has been nicked up.  Both players appeared on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s reports as Limited in Practice.  The injury reports remain an item to watch.   Free Safety Jevon Holland is out of the concussion protocol and was listed as Limited in Practice.  Backup RCB Cam Smith was Limited on Wednesday and dropped to DNP on Thursday.  Jalen Ramsey is within the 21-day window the Dolphins must activate him.  I expect him to play on Sunday.

The front 7 of the Dolphins are solid.  Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis and Zach Seiler are tough against the run.   David Long was a full participant in practice both days and you can pencil him in on Sunday.  Jaelen Phillips is a beast on the edge.  Long leads the front 7 in tackles with 51 and Jerome Baker is 2nd with 45.  Bradley Chubb has 4 sacks as does Andrew Van Ginkel who also has 4 on the season and he had one of the sacks the team had against the Patriots.

Miami’s rush defense is ranked 19th, giving up 112.3 Yards per Game.  Consequently, the Patriots are ranked a very respectful 13th, despite giving up 121 yards to Raheem Mostert in their game 2 matchup.   Passing Defense Miami is ranked 20th giving up 233 Yards Per Game while the Patriots are 12th.  This despite the Pats missing their top 4 cornerbacks.  Last week the Patriots got Jonathan Jones and Jack Jones back.  JC Jackson is playing like his old self and is a more than adequate replacement for the loss of Christian Gonzalez for the year.  Marcus Jones was declared out for the season this week.


Special Teams
PK Jason Sanders
P Jake Bailey
H Jake Bailey
PR Braxton Berrios Cedrick Wilson Tyreek Hill Jaylen Waddle
KR Braxton Berrios Raheem Mostert Salvon Ahmed Jaylen Waddle
LS Blake Ferguson


Special Teams rankings provided by

Kick Return duties belong to former Patriots Draft Pick Braxton Berrios, another player Bill made a mistake on and cut.  He has 9 Kick Off Returns for an average of 24.6 Yards Per Return.  This is one of the better return averages in the league.  On Punt Returns, Berrios is ranked 22nd.  In comparison, Pop Dougla is ranked 29th, but on his one return last week, he cranked out a 25-yard punt return.  Jason Sanders is a reliable kicker and is ranked 26th in the league.  Chad Ryland is the worst kicker statistically; however, he made two kicks in the wind last week that helped propel the Pats to victory.   It has been a learning experience for the rookie.  Two of his misses were attributed to bad snaps by Joe Cardona.

Punting chores are handled by old friend Jake Bailey.  Bailey hasn’t done much better than he did last season for the Pats where he was dead last.  This season so far Bailey is 28th.  On the bright side for the Pats is the punting of Bryce Baringer.  He is ranked #1 by PFR, due in part to his league leading 18 punts inside the 20.  He is also the league leader in lowest number of touchbacks at just 2.9%.

What will be the deciding factor … Turnovers!  In the two games the Patriots have won, Mac Jones has had a clean sheet.  If the Patriots can field the same offensive line they had last week, that will go a long way in deciding who wins and losses.  If the Patriots can run on the Dolphins and make it a long afternoon for the Phins defense, they can tire them out and keep the high-powered Miami Offense off the field.  The defense must stop the run, keep pressure on Tagovailoa and not let him escape.  The secondary is much improved, and I think they can handle the speed of Miami.  This should be a close game with the Patriots squeaking out a win.

Coming and Going

The Patriots made a few moves this week in waving QB/WR Malik Cunningham and signing WR Jalen Reagor from the Practice Squad.  Reagor had used all his free recalls from the Practice Squad with his call up last Sunday.  He had as many catches in the game as DeVante Parker did (1).  At least he attempts to block.  The former #1 selection (#21) of the Philadelphia Eagles played at Texas Christian University.

The 5’ 11”, 197 lbs. wideout ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine.  He also ran a pedestrian 7.36 3-cone drill.  He is fast, not quick.  Philly soured on Reagor after two dropped passes, one a dropped touchdown in a 13-7 loss to the Giants in week 12.  Then in the playoffs, Reagor had two muffed punts, which led to his trade to Minnesota.  He only had 8 catches last season for the Vikings and they dropped him this season.

Cunningham cleared waivers and was re-signed to the Practice Squad.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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