THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
Last week: 35-9 win over Broncos
Previous three: Lost at New England and Carolina, lost to Tampa
2016 record: 10-6
Coach: Adam Gase
Offensive coordinator: Clyde Christensen
Defensive coordinator: Matt Burke
Their season was harpooned by the five-game losing streak they just ended Sunday against the even-more disappointing Broncos. Jay Cutler was back for that one and had two TDs and two picks while the Dolphins got a big game on the ground from Kenyan Drake (120 yards on 23 carries). The Patriots took it to Miami pretty good even though they handed the Dolphins a touchdown on a bad snap in the first half. The Dolphins committed to putting Tom Brady down and putting him down hard. It’s the weekly little brother thing we see in the AFC East and the chippiness was a big factor.
Well, allowing nine points after allowing an average of 34.1 in their previous six games was a stride for Miami. They do have some competent skill-position players in Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas. Drake is a long-ball hitter (three touchdown runs of 40 or more yards) and while everybody gets that Jay Cutler is a mope’s mope confusing him with the quarterbacking dreck at the bottom of the NFL barrel is lazy. He can get hot and make plays. Landry’s got 80 catches but has a measly 8.7 YPC average.
They are just not a disciplined, focused team and they went in the tank once Ryan Tannehill got hurt, their offensive line coach was taped doing lines off a table and they went to London and got waxed by Baltimore, 40-0. There’s talent there. But the persistent stupidity with penalties that just kneecaps games for them is an indication the culture change is slow in coming. Until Gase can get through to the leaders of that team – and having Ndamukong Suh as a leader makes that hard – the Dolphins will tread water at average to slightly above.
It’s often a pain in the ass for the Pats at SunLife, Hard Rock, Land Shark, Pro Player, Joe Robbie Stadium. The heat, the turf and a Dolphins team with enough pass rush to agitate Brady adds up to making these games competitive. Last season was the first time in four years the Patriots won their at Miami matchup.