The season is finally upon us. The day where we no longer have to watch games that don’t count are finally here! While we have to wait an extra day to see our Dolphins kick off the season, seeing Miami on primetime television is worth it everytime.
But for the Dolphins to not embarrass themselves on Monday Night Football, they will have to perform the little things right, plus force seemingly perfect Tom Brady, to play at an imperfect level. So let’s delve into this preview and see what the Fins need to do to compete in this game, and potentially win.
3. Get Pressure On Tom Brady From All Angles:
To give the offense a chance at keeping up with Brady and his historically high-scoring offenses, the Fins are going to have to dial up pressure whenever possible. Forcing Brady to make different audibles at the line, and giving him different looks all night will keep him off balance, thus not allowing him to dictate the tempo of the game. The Patriots will look to run a no-huddle offense, but a couple of Miami sacks early on could deter New England’s want to continue that fast pace.
The Dolphins historically have a good pass rush against Brady, as Jason Taylor is always around Brady during the game, and Cameron Wake has put in some solid performances in his brief part of the rivalry. But in order to get a consistent rush on Brady, the pressure will have to come from all 11 men on the field at some point. The front seven should do a comendable job in getting the initial pressure on Brady, but it will be the extra blitzer coming from the secondary that will get the job done and confuse Brady. Keeping him uncomfortable and forcing him out of the pocket when all possible will be the key to giving the team a chance to win this game.
2. Make Space For Reggie:
All pre-season long the number one concern for this team was the offensive line. Granted, we did not have our franchise left tackle Jake Long suit up in any of those games, but the rest of the lines play still caused reason for worry throughout the pre-season. And without a solid line performance in Monday’s game, we really don’t have much of a chance. The Dolphins cannot become one dimensional and air it out all night. While attacking the Patriots secondary may work for parts of the game, it will be the running game and giving Chad Henne the chance to make his reads, that make the difference on offense. It will be our running backs ability to run between the tackles that gives the Dolphins the edge here, and without a line paving those running lanes for Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, our backs don’t have much of a shot on their own. I’m looking particularly for the Dolphins right side of the line to step up, with Vernon Carey and Marc Colombo putting in less than stellar performances in the pre-season.
1. Let Chad Henne Have Control:
As well as the poor play of the offensive line, there was also the play of quarterback Chad Henne that stood out. Usually when a Miami fan says that, it does not bode well for Henne, as it usually means he put in a poor performance. But all pre-season long, I noticed the progress that Henne made during the off-season, and this could be the year that Henne breaks through and leads this team to a record over .500. A solid performance against the Pats would go a long way in gaining the confidence of the fan base, and also will put the Dolphins in a spot to win the game.
Let’s not kid ourselves here, our chances at winning this game soley rely on how Henne plays. Yes, our defense could hold Brady and the Pats offense to 10 points, and make it a game regardless of how bad Miami could play, and yes, the run game and special teams could put some points on the board to keep the score close, but in order to WIN the game, it will have to be the play of Henne that gets us there. He does not have to outplay Brady, no, he simply will have to put in a solid performance, and limit the turnovers, to garner a solid grade for the game. A plus grade against the Patriots on primetime television, in the season opener could go a long way in Henne gaining more and more confidence as the season goes on.
Final Result: Like I said in my season preview, I see the Dolphins getting the big win here, 24-20 over New England. The game is a sellout, and the fans always come out in large quantities for primetime games. If the Dolphins can perform well in the keys that I gave above, the game will be a close one, with what I see as a Dolphins win coming in the 4th quarter of this rivalry game.