The Dolphins could lay claim to the title of "Best Bad Team in the League."A far cry from the 1972 edition of the Dolphins that didn't lose a game and hasn't lost a chance to remind folks of it, either. Still, it's something for Miami to hang its hat on. And for the Patriots, it's something to be wary of. Newly-installed as the AFC's No. 1 seed (after the Steelers loss to San Fran Monday night), all the Patriots have to do is rip past two AFC East opponents during the holidays to protect that seed. If they do that and win a playoff game, the AFC Championship will be staged at Gillette Stadium on January 22nd. But the Dolphins could be a Christmas Eve irritant. They got a win over Buffalo last week for interim head coach Todd Bowles, and the truth is that they never quit on Bowles' predecessor Tony Sparano. Here's a fun picture of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to look at while pondering the head coaching change. They are 5-9 but lost four of those games by a field goal or less. And those tight losses came to Denver, the Giants, Dallas and Cleveland. (Not that Cleveland's a juggernaut but I can't mention the other three that are mildly impressive and the loss that isn't . . . know what I mean?) They are 4-2 since November 13.Last January, Miami memorably quit in the season finale at Gillette. Waddling to the finish line, Miami fell 38-7 to end the season at 7-9.Neither Wes Welker nor Deion Branch played. Tom Brady played into the third quarter then sat down, yet the Patriots gained 502 yards. Even Taylor Price caught three balls. The Pats were up 38-0 before Miami narrowed that gap with two minutes left. But the pride Miami played without last season seems to be present now. And that's why, if the Patriots are going to end up the No. 1 seed, the Dolphins are a team to be wary of.
Don’t let Tom Brady hear your nonsensical takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars. This “tomato can” is packed with all the essential elements to give the Pats QB fits.
“This is the biggest challenge we've faced all year,” Brady said Tuesday during his weekly interview with Kirk and Callahan on WEEI. “We've had a good offense. They've had the best defense. And that's always a challenge when you go up against those guys. When you watch them play over the course of the whole season, you can see why. There is not a lot of time for the quarterback to throw, and I think the whole secondary knows it. The linebackers know it. And they're aggressive. They take chances. They get a lot of turnovers. They got a really good scheme, and the quarterback is just under pressure all day. Unless you get opened very quickly, there’s a lot of sacks and sacks turns into long yardage and long yardage turns into punts . . . "
Brady spent hours on Monday pouring over film to familiarize himself with a Jags team that he last saw in the preseason.
“There’s a reason why they’re in this game,” he said. “They’re the best team we’ve faced all season and if we don’t play our best, we’re not going to advance.”
That’s why Brady won’t allow himself to be distracted by all that comes with advancing to this point, or even the lingering stench of that ESPN/Seth Wickersham article. Who’s got time for that when there is so much on the line?
“This is a long time we’ve committed to each other since we came back together in April,” he said. “April, May, all those months committed to training and walkthroughs and practices and games and injuries and the emotion -- I don’t think we’re going to let anything get in the way of this week. I think the coach -- Coach [Bill] Belichick -- he does so many great things. One thing is he sets the best tone for the players because he knows what it takes to compete at this level without -- there’s more hype surrounding the game, there’s more distractions, there’s more people, there’s more people covering the game, there’s more to talk about it but we’re focused on our job . . . The hype only gets bigger from here so we just gotta stay focused on what we need to do.”
The Jags have obviously done a good job on that front as well. There is no way they’d be at this point, on this stage, without not only talent but that singular focus. Of course with some youth comes some exuberance and Jalen Ramsey’s comments to about 10,000 fans Sunday night has been a topic of conversation on sports radio and television and even in the Patriots’ locker room.
Brady doesn’t believe that’s something that would ever come out of Foxboro, but he’s not publicly shaming Ramsey either.
“What i’ve learned over a long time is it’s how you play, it’s not what you say," Brady said. "Everyone has different ways of handling things. We do what works for us.”
NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE
0:41 - Tom Curran and Albert Breer discuss some of the big takeaways from the Patriots win over the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
4:49 - Jalen Ramsey told the fans in Jacksonville that the Jaguars would be going to the Super Bowl. Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith talk about if they have a problem with what Ramsey said and if the Patriots would be using his quote as bulletin board material.
9:25 - Curran, Breer, and Giles discuss Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels likely not returning with the Patriots as Patricia seems to be headed towards the Lions while McDaniels goes to the Colts.
14:06 - Michael Hurley joins BST to preview the Jaguars/Patriots matchup and discuss the Patriots schedule and road to the Super Bowl.