It’s official. The sixth championship banner has been dropped. And unlike the last time the Patriots opened up at home following their championship (they got blown out at home vs KC 42-27) the Patriots sent a message to the rest of the league: we are back and better than ever. Okay, well maybe not better than ever. That is too early to say. But, there is a lot to be positive about regarding this season. However, it’s time to put that win behind them and as Belichick has stated famously with other opponents “We’re on to Miami.”
1st Down: There has been a lot of talk in recent years about “Patriots South” or “Patriots West” in the past in regards to Houston, Tennessee, and other destinations that have featured former players and coaches. However, there may be no team that has more ties to the Patriots than the Dolphins. Everyone knows head coach Brian Flores, who was the de facto defensive coordinator last year for the Patriots, but the ties do not stop there. Here is the full list of coaches and players who were on the Patriots before and are now coaching or playing for Miami:
- Brian Flores, HC (also played at Boston College)
- Patrick Graham, DC
- Chad O’Shea, OC
- Josh Boyer, Defensive Pass Game Coordinator, CB coach
- Dave DeGuglielmo, OL coach
- George Godsey, TE coach
- Jerry Schuplinski, Assistant QB coach
- Tiquan Underwood, Quality Control coach
- Trent Harris, LB (in training camp with Patriots)
- Ken Webster, CB (drafted by NE this year; in training camp with Patriots)
- Johnson Bademosi, CB
- Eric Rowe, CB
2nd Down: Well it was a rough start for Brian Flores, a coach that Bill Belichick no doubt admires and likes. Flores and the Dolphins lost 59-10 last week at home against the Dolphins, and soon after that, a report stated that there were a large chunk of players calling their agents to request trades. On Sunday, Flores gets a shot at the man whom he worked under for 15 seasons after spending his college career playing at Boston College.
Unfortunately, former coaches have not fared too well against The Hoody. Former coaches are just 9-14 against Belichick in his career, and even worse, only one of Belichick’s former coaches (Al Groh who took over the Jets when Belichick abruptly left for New England; Groh was there just one season and went 9-7) has a career record above .500 for their coaching career.
3rd Down: On Sunday the Patriots face potentially the worst team in the NFL, and the spread that started at New England -18.5 (giving 18.5 points on the road?!?!?) and has only climbed since, certainly proves that. That being said, don’t forget the Patriots have really struggled against Miami in his career. In his career Miami is the only team Brady has double digit losses against as he has gone a still very successful 22-11 against them. The team with the next most wins against Brady in his career is the Jets, who he is 27-7 against. (Even more absurd is he is 30-3 against the Bills in his career) Despite those impressive numbers, one number that really hits home is that Brady is just 7-10 in Miami in his career. In those games in Miami, Brady has 33 touchdowns against 15 interceptions and three fumbles. He also only has four games where has surpassed the 300 yard mark in Miami, but one of them he torched them for 517 yards, while in another he tossed six touchdown passes.
Even with some of those numbers not looking bad, some of the issues are not on Brady. He has notoriously faced the Miami humidity, but also had to deal with a less than ideal performance from his offensive line, as Brady has been sacked 61 times in his career against the Dolphins. His second most against any franchise (Bills are first with 62) and of the 61 sacks, 36 have come in Miami, including just two games where Brady wasn’t sacked at all. Neither of the two games have come this decade either.
4th Down: With Antonio Brown now in the fold the Patriots no doubt have one of the top receiving units in the NFL, provided Brown stays active and on the field with all the sexual assault allegations facing him. Brown is a unique talent and a very gifted and explosive route runner who can get open on any route against any cornerback. However don’t expect him to have a big role in Miami and he may not even be active. Compare his situation to Josh Gordon’s last season, Gordon was acquired during the run up to week three’s matchup in Detroit, but Gordon didn’t play in that game and wasn’t heavily involved in the offensive game plan until week six against Kansas City. Now some things are different in that Brown has had a little longer to learn the playbook, isn’t hurt (Gordon had a hamstring problem at the time), and is supposedly staying with Brady at the moment. Either way, I wouldn’t bank on big snaps or targets his way, if he even is active.
Prediction: Patriots 41, Dolphins 10
The Patriots should have no problem moving the ball against a defense that lacks top end talent and gave up the most rushing yards and passing yards in the NFL in week one. One would think this is an ideal game to get Brown a few snaps once they separate a little, but it is also a good time to focus on the run game, which produced a yard per carry average of just 3.4. Either way this game has blowout written all over it. The Dolphins will likely be forced into a few turnovers with the erratic play of Ryan Fitzpatrick as Belichick knows having played him as a starter for every other AFC East team at this point. Look for Belichick to step on the gas early, separate and then coast to take it easy on old friend Brian Flores.
-David Albiani is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @david_albiani