I wanted to put together a few thoughts on what to look for and expect from the Miami Dolphins offense on Sunday, but first off, a little background on who plays how much for the Dolphins on offense.
OL: Jake Long, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Jerry Martin. Unlike the Pats, Miami has had no injuries to the offensive line this year; those five have played virtually every offensive snap.
TE: Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay. Fasano was on the field for 49 out of 59 snaps against Seattle, and has been on the field for close to 90% of the offensive plats this year. Clay was out there for 37 snaps, almost double his season average. There is also Jeron Mustard, who got 3 snaps.
WR: For both this game as well as this season Miami typically uses a 2-WR formation, with Davone Bess and Brian Hartline on the field about 90% of the time. It has been a revolving door for the third WR, as the Dolphins have used (and since released) Legedu Naanee, Anthony Armstrong and Jabar Gaffney at that spot. Latest applicant is Rishard Mathews, who was on the field for 22 snaps last week.
RB: A near-equal split between Reggie Bush (30) and Daniel Thomas (29) for snaps last week.
FB: Miami utilizes this position fairly often, with Javorskie Lane getting 14 snaps last week and has been on the field for 35% of the snaps this season.
Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin said after the Seattle game that “everything that we do is predicated on the success of being able to run the football.” His philosophy is that it is better to get two or three yards than none, and to do what he can to avoid third and long. Even though the Patriots’ defense ranks 30th with 289 passing yards per game, 28th with 7.9 yards per pass attempt, and has allowed a league-worst 55 pass plays of 20+ yards, don’t expect Miami to put the ball up in the air 40 times. Instead Miami will plan on running the ball, even though the Pats are allowing only 3.9 yards per rush (8th best) and have not allowed a single run of more than 20 yards this year, also a league best.
The offensive line of Miami did a good job in run blocking against a solid Seattle defense last week, with Jake Long and Mike Pouncey in particular doing a good job of getting out to set up blocks for Reggie Bush. With Chandler Jones hobbled and Jermaine Cunningham suspended, the Patriots will have their hands full limiting the Miami running game. Bush and Thomas give Miami different types of looks, and also allow for both to remain fresh for the full 60 minutes. Look for Brandon Spikes shooting the gap to do exactly what Philbin is attempting to avoid – offensive plays for no gain, or for a loss.
The Miami offensive line was equally adept in pass protection last week, keeping Red Bryant and crew away from Ryan Tannehill. If Tannehill has time he will complete passes against any NFL team, like he did last week (18-26-253); it becomes more of an issue against this New England pass defense. Davone Bess is a player to keep an eye on not just because he had seven receptions for 129 yards last week, but also because some fans in New England are openly speculating that he could be a possible replacement in Foxboro for Wes Welker in 2012. Although Brian Hartline was quiet last week, he is the type of taller deep threat that has given the pats secondary fits in the past; he has 55 receptions for 807 yards so far this year.
If Miami gets the same production from their offensive line as they did last week against the Seahawks, this game is going to be at minimum very close. The biggest thing to me when I go on NFL Game Rewind and look at their play is that they have been inconsistent game to game – but when they play well, as they did last week, they can be very tough to beat. There are several valid reasons why the Patriots are favored to win, but this game is by no means a pushover.
This Day In Patriots History
November 30, 1962:
Boston Patriots 24, New York Titans 17 at Nickerson Field
Tom Yewcic ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the Pats improved to 8-3-1 while eliminating New York from playoff contention.
Yewcic’s 27-yard TD tied the score at 10 in the 3rd quarter, but the Titans recovered a fumble in the end zone to regain the lead. In the 4th quarter Yewcic scored again from four yards out, then hit Jim Colclough on a game-winning 75-yard touchdown.
November 30, 1969:
Boston Patriots 38, Miami Dolphins 23 at the Orange Bowl
Down by one entering the 4th quarter, Jim Nance scored two touchdowns as the Patriots rallied to win.
Miami led 16-6 early, with the Pats only points coming on a 46-yard pass from Mike Taliaferro to Ron Sellers. In the 2nd quarter Ezell Jones tackled Mercury Morris in the end zone for a safety, and then Taliaferro threw touchdown passes of 50 yards to Charley Frazier and 14 yards to Bill Rademacher to give the Patriots a 22-16 lead. Miami regained the lead in the 3rd quarter when they recovered a fumble in the end zone before the Pats outscored the Dolphins 16-0 in the 4th quarter for the comeback victory.
November 30, 1980:
San Francisco 49ers 21, New England Patriots 17 at Candlestick Park
Despite the 49ers picking Steve Grogan off four times the Patriots nearly rallied for an upset win. Joe Montana threw three short touchdown passes but the Pats defense limited him to just 123 yards passing, and intercepted the all-time great once. Down 21-3 the Pats scored on a pair of runs by Mosi Tatupu to close the deficit to four points, but could not get the final score to take the lead. Stanley Morgan finished with 142 yards receiving.
November 30, 1986:
New England Patriots 21, New Orleans Saints 20 at the Superdome
The Pats scored twice in the 4th quarter on returns to rally for a comeback and hold on to beat the Saints. The Pats won despite gaining just two yards rushing, while the Saints’ Reuben Mayes rushed for 157 yards, thanks to the Pats’ defense recovering five New Orleans’ fumbles.
The first half was scoreless, and the Pats were down 13-7 early in the 4th quarter with their only points coming on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Tony Eason to Stephen Starring. Mosi Tatupu recovered a blocked punt and ran it in from the 17 to give the Pats a one-point lead, and then Brent Williams recovered a fumble and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown to put the Patriots up by 8. The Saints scored to cut the lead to one, but the Pats held on for the win.
November 30, 1997:
New England Patriots 20, Indianapolis Colts 17 at Foxboro Stadium
The Patriots stopped ‘Captain Comeback‘, Jim Harbaugh, in the 4th quarter and held on to win despite being outplayed statistically
With seven minutes to play Indy had a second-and-1 on New England’s 21. The Pats twice stuffed Zack Crockett and after some confusion on the Colts’ sideline and in their huddle, Harbaugh’s desperation pass hit Chris Hetherington in the back and fell to the ground.
Near the end of the half the Colts missed a 42-yard field goal, and a few moments later Adam Vinatieri connected from 48 yards out to give the Patriots a 13-3 halftime lead.
In the 4th quarter Drew Bledsoe hit Troy Brown on an 18-yard TD to put the pats up by ten; Harbaugh would come back with his second TD pass of the game, but the Pats held on for the win. The Pats sacked Harbaugh four times: two by Henry Thomas, and one each by Willie McGinest and Mike Jones.
November 30, 2003:
New England Patriots 38, Indianapolis Colts 34 at the RCA Dome
On a 4th and one from the one yard with 14 seconds left to play, Willie McGinest shot through from the left side and stonewalled Edgerrin James for no gain, sealing a victory for the Patriots before a stunned crowd in Indianapolis.
The Pats were up 17-0 early on a 4run by Mike Cloud and a 31-yard pass from Tom Brady to Dedric Ward, but the Colts closed to within 7 points with twelve seconds left in the half; Bethel Johnson then returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and the Pats held a 24-10 halftime lead.
Cloud scored his second touchdown of the game mid way through the third quarter to put the pats up by 21, but Peyton Manning responded with touchdown passes to Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Troy Walters to tie the score with 10:21 still left to play. Deion Branch scored on a 13-yard toss from Brady less than two minutes later to give the Pats a seven-point lead. The Pats defense forced a Mike Vanderjagt field goal with 3:27 left to play, so the Pats still clung to a 4-point lead before the climactic ending.
November 30, 2008:
Pittsburgh Steelers 33, New England Patriots 10 at Gillette Stadium
The Steelers defense forced five turnovers as Pittsburgh got a monkey off their back with just their second win in the last eight meetings between the two teams.
The Pats led 10-3 early but a wide open Randy Moss dropped what would have been a sure touchdown just before halftime, and then Stephen Gostkowski missed the 27-yard field goal attempt; at halftime the score was tied at ten.
Matthew Slater fumbled a kickoff to set up a Pittsburgh touchdown which gave them a 20-10 lead, and a Troy Polamalu interception mid way through the 4th quarter set up a field goal that put the game out of reach at 26-10. Lawrence Timmons picked Matt Cassel off again and Pittsburgh scored with under three minutes left for the final tally. The game was also noteworthy for being the one that Ryan Clark laid out Wes Welker with a vicious hit, but got away with it because the pass had been tipped.
November 30, 2009:
New Orleans Saints 38, New England Patriots 17 at the Superdome
In front of a national audience on Monday Night Football the Saints trounced the Pats, improving to a perfect 11-0. Drew Brees threw touchdown passes to five different players while the New Orleans pass rush hit or knocked down Tom Brady only nearly every drop back, inducing two interceptions; it was just the fourth time in his career that Brady threw multiple picks and also threw no touchdowns. Laurence Maroney had two touchdown runs for the Pats.
November 30, 1924:
Comedian-singer Allan Sherman was born
November 30, 1929:
American Bandstand host Dick Clark was born
November 30, 1945:
Deep Purple bass player Roger Glover was born
November 30, 1955:
Billy Idol (William Broad) was born
November 30, 1982:
Michael Jackson‘s album Thriller was released; it would go on to become the number one selling album of all time, with over 50 million copies sold.
November 30, 1994:
Tupac Shakur was shot five times
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