The New England Patriots (10-2) will be taking their talents to South Beach for a Week 14 matchup with the Miami Dolphins (5-7) on Monday Night Football.
Are you ready for some football?? The Full Press Coverage team sure is.
As Michael Corleone once said, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” This week, we decided to put that statement to the test.
Before tonight’s matchup, the Managing Editors of both the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots had the pleasure of sitting down to discuss the game, and a bit of background on both teams.
Isaih Battiste is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Dolphins and is also a National Contributor for Full Press NFL. Isaih brings a unique writing style, that is entertaining, informative and always spot on.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at his insight for this AFC East “Monday Night War.’
1.) The Dolphins are coming off of their most impressive win of the year. How can they keep the momentum going against the Patriots on Monday night?
Battiste: I think this Dolphins team has felt as though they have been so close to putting it all together for a while now. They have had strong games on offense, and strong ones on defense on separate occasions. Week 13 was the first time where they put together an excellent game on offense, defense and special teams for the entire 60 minutes. After such a strong performance where they got a huge confidence boost I think it’ll be easy for them to find the motivation for this matchup. They’re coming off of a huge win, they’re playing at home, on Monday Night Football, and it’s against New England. They lost the matchup earlier this season so they’ll see this as a chance for sweet revenge.
2.) To put it more mildly than he did, Ndamukong Suh said it was his job to frustrate Tom Brady. In your assessment, can Suh rattle Brady enough to force bad decisions and hurried throws?
Battiste: I sure wish it was possible to force Tom Brady to make bad decisions, but I just don’t think that’s possible. However, he can certainly cause some hurried throws. In the last matchup, the Dolphins were able to hit and hurry Brady constantly. However, they only recorded one sack. If the Dolphins hope to win this matchup they will not only have to hit and hurry Brady but also sack him. With a quarterback that good, hitting and hurrying just won’t cut it. Suh certainly does have the potential to ring Brady’s bell so I’d expect a ton of check-downs and anti-blitz passing strategies in order to mitigate that risk.
3.) The Dolphins seemed to have difficulty controlling their discipline when the teams met a couple of weeks ago in Foxboro. Do you foresee a more disciplined Miami team at home this week?
Battiste: I can see more discipline and focus coming from the defense and special teams for sure. These guys know how important this matchup is. However, I just wouldn’t bet on Miami’s offense to be more disciplined. Although the game is in Miami, I still expect drive-killing false starts to occur. Miami has had trouble all season dealing with drive killing penalties and I don’t expect them to end this Monday night.
4.) The preseason loss of Ryan Tannehill absolutely affected this Dolphins team. In your professional opinion, would they be a playoff team with Tannehill under center (as opposed to Cutler)?
Battiste: I don’t think so. I thought this team would make it to the playoffs for a second consecutive season largely based on the prediction that Jay Ajayi was going to have a better season than last year. During the six-game winning streak to end last season, the Dolphins rode Ajayi all the way. They were a power-running team that controlled the pace of the game. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, Ajayi and head coach Adam Gase could not get along. Gase felt as though Ajayi was freelancing and that he did not fit the offensive scheme well due to his inability to be effective as a pass-catcher. This limited what the offense could do with Ajayi on the field, as he posed nearly no threat as a pass-catcher despite having success as one during his time as a Boise State Bronco. I don’t believe that there has been a huge drop-off between Tannehill to Cutler. If Tannehill were out there right now (without Ajayi) I don’t think they would be all that different than if they had Cutler out there. I would say that the reason that this team has put themselves in the long-shot position of making the playoffs this year would be due to a variety of factors. The Dolphins have dealt with many injuries at key positions, a Hurricane, a game in London, a coach being let go mid-season due to shenanigans, and the list goes on and on. To put it short, it just hasn’t been their year. If Tannehill was under center the entire time while dealing with all of those issues I doubt that Miami would be in a much better position than they are currently in.
5.) What is the most important thing that the Dolphins must accomplish in order to pull off the upset on Monday night?
Battiste: I would say execution. If Miami can play fast and loose, with confidence and swagger while still playing smart they’ll have a chance in this game. They must trust their coaches and execute the gameplan to perfection. There can be no freelancing or costly penalties that kill drives. The matchup between Miami and New England won’t be decided on which team is more athletic. I truly believe that Miami has the athletes to hang with any team. The issue comes down to discipline and executing the gameplan. It is a total team effort. The coaches need to come up with a gameplan that puts their players in position to succeed. The players need to follow that gameplan. They will also have to be adaptable, as the game plan can change on the fly depending on what the coaches are seeing out there. As long as the Dolphins can remain focused and commit to doing their jobs right on each and every play then they will have a chance to pull the upset. They have the home crowd by their side, let’s see if they can take advantage of that.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Content Writer for Full Press Sports Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC