The New England Patriots (10-2) will travel down to South Florida for a Week 14 matchup with the Miami Dolphins (5-7) on Monday Night Football. Due to the fact that this is a division rivalry game, we here at Full Press Coverage decided to do something a bit different. Below you will find a brief, but informative interview between the Managing Editors of the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots here at Full Press Coverage.
Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor of both the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers. He has been featured on the WBLZ Sports Infusion podcast with Thomas Murphy and Pamela Michelle. Be on the lookout for him to bring you the very best information regarding the Patriots and Chargers year-round.
Five questions ahead of the AFC East matchup
IB: Brady was roughed up many times in the last game. When he fumbled he definitely got crumpled up and put himself at risk of injury. Would you say there are concerns about his safety headed into this game? If so, what adjustments do you expect New England head coach Bill Belichick to make when faced with a defensive front seven that poses a threat to Brady’s well-being?
MD: There is no question that the safety of Tom Brady is always a concern. Even though he seems to have found the fountain of youth, the reality is that he is 40 years old. The fact that he has missed practices lately proves that there are some lingering aches and pains that need some rest. Miami provides a formidable pass rush, and quick defenders that can cause Brady headaches, in addition to body aches. Bill Belichick and Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia might have to stack the offensive line a bit, especially if Marcus Cannon remains sidelined.
IB: The Patriots have had a long string of success over the years. They sit at 10-2 this season while the Dolphins are at 5-7. New England has dominated the division for so long that it never seems as though winning it is a reality for the other members. How does Belichick keep his guys focused? They never seem to fall for trap games like this.
MD: While many roll their eyes at Patriots catch-phrases such as “do your job”, “one game at a time”, and of course…”we’re on to Cincinnati”, they really are a way of life in New England. Coach Belichick’s success immediately commands that kind of respect. The players deserve a lot of the credit as well. It’s really remarkable how they have been able to avoid distraction, even when it seems impossible to do so. That being said, Miami is a divisional opponent. They always provide a tough matchup and the Patriots know that. Maybe that is the key? They never consider any game a “trap game”.
IB: The Pats are 20-5 in games where Gronkowski is a non-participant. Would you say that they typically replace his production with the reserve tight end(s) or do they find a way to spread the wealth typically? With that said, how do you see the Pats going about it this time around?
MD: Rob Gronkowski is one of the toughest players in the NFL to defend. It’s nearly impossible to replicate what he brings to the table. However, the Pats have done a decent job of playing to their strengths with Gronkowski out of the lineup. It is possible that Chris Hogan may return to the team for this matchup. If he does, its more likely than not that he will have the capability of being effective. Miami will look to contain Brandin Cooks, so Hogan, Danny Amendola and Rex Burkhead could see increased targets. This could also be a great chance for tight end Dwayne Allen to step up in Gronkowski’s absence.
IB: Belichick complimented Miami’s quarterbacks before the last game. He stated that Matt Moore was talented and a threat. How much truth would you say was in this statement? Do you feel more threatened with Jay Cutler healthy and starting or would you say Pats fans are looking past this game already, no matter who the quarterback is?
MD: As cliché as it sounds, I think there was truth in Belichick’s statement. He’s been around the league long enough to know that anyone who makes it to this level has the ability to compete. That being said, a healthy Jay Cutler is a bigger threat than Moore. I can’t speak for all fans, but I think most see this game as a tough matchup. Miami is always a tough place to play, and the Pats have had their struggles in South Beach. The Patriots cannot take this game lightly, and they won’t. The Dolphins won’t be taking it lightly. That’s for sure.
IB: Miami is 3-2 when facing the Pats at home over the last 5 seasons. Out of Buffalo, the Meadowlands and South Florida, which venue would you say that the Patriots have the least amount of success in? Which venue do fans dread seeing their guys play in the most?
MD: I would say Miami, and I don’t think it’s close. The Patriots have had a good amount of success in the Meadowlands, and Buffalo. However, for some reason, Miami has been a tough venue. The weather is often thought to be a factor, but I think Miami rises to the challenge of playing New England in their home stadium. It’s kind of a “not in our house” type of vibe. The intensity will be turned up for this one. I think fans of both sides are looking forward to this matchup.