Week 2 Preview: Patriots at Dolphins

The Patriots look to improve to 2-0 on the season after a dominating 33-3 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team will travel to Miami to square off against rookie head coach and former defensive play caller Brian Flores. The Dolphins suffered an embarrassing 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 and will try to bounce back against the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Outside the Numbers
Antonio Brown’s Potential Debut:
Antonio Brown participated in his first practice as a Patriot on Wednesday. [Credit: Boston Globe]

The newly acquired wide receiver is buried in a myriad of controversy. Based on Bill Belichick’s abrupt press conference on Wednesday, the team’s “day by day” approach implies a chance that he sees the field on Sunday. Antonio Brown’s impact on the field could create an offensive attack reminiscent of the ’07 Randy Moss era Patriots. The combination of Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and James White could cause nightmares for a depleted Miami Dolphins defense.

Tom Brady’s Promise:

Tom Brady was humble in his postgame press conference after dicing the Steelers for 300+ passing yards and three touchdowns. He responded to questions in typical fashion about “leaving plays on the field” and “leaving points off the board.” Additionally, he made a promise hidden in the comments of an Instagram Post from Julian Edelman:

It’s hard to imagine “being better” than his performance against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s not to doubt Tom Brady at his word.

Dolphins Quarterback Situation:

Brian Flores announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the starting quarterback against the Patriots. Currently, the Dolphins have both Fitzpatrick and 2nd year quarterback Josh Rosen on the roster. Rosen saw time in the blowout loss to the Ravens last Sunday. If the Dolphins get off to a rough start against the Patriots, Flores may have to make the switch earlier in the game. The Dolphins cannot afford to have two major blowout losses to begin their season under a new coaching staff.

Belichick vs. Former Staff:
Matt Patricia [left], Brian Flores [center], Bill Belichick [right] shared the sidelines as coaches for the Patriots [Credit: Providence Journal]

Flores was a well-respected member of Belichick’s staff before leaving for Miami. Matt Patricia held similar rank before leaving for Detroit in 2018. The Patriots were heavy favorites against the Detroit Lions in Week 3 of the 2018 season as Patricia was already on the hot seat after starting 0-2. The situation with Flores seems all too familiar. After a disastrous blowout loss in Week 1, rumors have swirled about players demanding trades and Flores’s future in Miami. Could Bill have given Patricia his first career win as a head coach in 2018? Could he do the same for Flores in 2019? It seems unlikely, but the parallels are undeniable.

Patriots Offense

Tom Brady and the passing attack were almost perfect against the Steelers. The offense received contributions from their top four WR on the depth chart (Edelman, Gordon, Dorsett, Meyers). This week against Miami, look for the offense to have a similar performance. As of Wednesday’s injury report, the Dolphins had two of their top defensive backs held out practice with injuries. Regardless of personnel, the Patriots air attack should be firing on all cylinders against a defense that allowed 59 points, 300+ yards and 5 TDs to Lamar Jackson.

The one weak spot in the Steelers game was Sony Michel. Michel rushed 15 times for only 14 yards. The Dolphins defense allowed 250+ rushing yards against the Ravens. This bodes well for Michel, as it should be a great opportunity to bounce back and re-establish himself. Look for Rex Burkhead and James White to also get their fair share of carries in this game.

Patriots Defense
The Patriots defense was dominant in the 33-3 win over the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. [Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

A theme for this season may be how stifling the Patriots defense will be. It’s impressive to hold a team to three points in today’s NFL; it’s even more impressive how the Patriots did it. The defense’s strength lies in the secondary. The unit is 5-6 players deep allowing the Patriots to play significantly more in dime, quarter, and dollar packages against the pass. With Miami’s uncertainty on offense, look for this unit to have another dominating performance.

The Patriots take on the Dolphins at 1 pm at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Sunday.

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