The Miami Dolphins will play their fourth game of the season on Monday night as they look to improve upon their 1-1 divisional record and head into their bye week on a high note. The Fins are also looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season, a 31-23 defeat to the Jets last Sunday. Meanwhile, the Patriots, who like the Dolphins are 2-1, are looking to keep building after a not-that-impressive 38-30 home win over the Bills last week.
Last season, Miami and New England split their season series, with both teams winning their home games–a 27-17 Pats win in November and an exciting 22-21 victory for Miami the next month.
To get you ready for this one, our resident experts will break down some different storylines and issues. First, Keith Sims will talk about the importance of bouncing back in this divisional game; Sam Madison will let you know the best way to stop Patriots QB Tom Brady, and John Congemi will let you know what to expect from the Dolphins offense:
Well the Dolphins are coming off their first loss of the season. Players and Coaches love to say, “Take it one game at a time” and yes, the Jets game was only one game in a 16 game season, but the Dolphins have no time to waste sulking about what could have been against the Jets. The third division game out of their 1st four games is up next. And this time it’s the Patriots. You know what that means? Brady, Moss, Welker and the brain trust lead by Coach Bill Belichick. The Dolphins have a bye following this Monday night contest. Either they will enjoy their week (if they win), or it will be a very long off-week thinking about how a 2-0 start got away from them. At the start of the season, most Dolfans would have been very happy with a 2-2 record going into the bye. Now it would seem like a big letdown.
So this game is even more important than last week’s Jets game. The Dolphins can’t afford to fall into third place in the AFC East with the upcoming seven games they face. This is a must win game.
The Dolphins have a problem: Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
Here is their solution: Beat the Pats’ offensive line and make Tom Brady get up off the ground as much as possible. Giving Brady too much time in the pocket allows him to look long for Randy Moss, come back to Wes Welker across the middle, or even be able to find a running back or TE late spells big play or touchdown.
The New England offensive linemen have more Super Bowl rings than Pro Bowls between them, but since 2001 they have been playing together and protecting Tom’s backside for years. He is hit infrequently and sacked even less. Beating this O-Line and making Tom get off the ground as much as possible will give your defense a better chance of stopping this offense. You have to make him throw the ball quickly and not allow him to have target practice like its 7-on-7 versus air.
The Miami Dolphins are a tough, physical type of offense. The have made themselves into a run-first team, relying on the offensive line to provide running room for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Miami has won plenty of games by grinding it out, and that’s a good trait to possess. Against New England, it just might take a different approach to win vs. Tom Brady and company. Chad Henne showed his skills last Sunday night throwing the football and he put this team on his back, with the help of Brandon Marshall, and made this offense go through the air. You must take advantage of match ups in the NFL, and Miami’s wide receivers have the advantage over NE’s secondary. I would look for the Dolphins to take a throw-first attitude on Monday night, so that it’s easier to run the football later in the game.
So there you have it. One thing I think everyone can agree on is that this is a critical game and that we should expect to be entertained. Join us all for a special gameday edition of The Finsiders Monday at 5pm–complete with live video streaming of the show from Sun Life Stadium. The Tony Sparano show will begin at 6:30 and we’ll be back with the pre-game show at 7. You can watch and listen to everything live for free at Dolphins.com and if you’re coming to the game, tune us in on 940-WINZ or BIG 105.9FM. Enjoy the game!
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.