The Patriots (10-4) dropped a tough one in Miami today to the Dolphins (8-6) 24-20.
Although the Patriots lost this game, there are a lot of positive to take away from this game. For starters the offense looked in sync, and that was without Dobson and Thompkins. Add the rookie WR combo into the mix and I believe the Patriots would of won today.
The absence of Gronk was felt today, as the Patriots had to settle for two field goals inside the red zone today. Their is no doubt that Gronk was the Patriots most deadly red zone target and he will be impossible to replace. But Thompkins and Dobson can be red zones weapons as well, and I think if they played today, the Patriots would of scored more touchdowns in the red zone and would not of had to settle for as many field goals. At the very least Brady would of had someone to toss one up to a slot receiver at the end of the game and would not of been forced to throw one up to Austin Collie in double coverage on their final play of the game.
That being said, the fact the offense looked the way it did today is very promising. Edelman finished the game with 13 receptions for 139 yards at 1 touchdown. Amendola finished the game with 10 receptions for 131 yards and almost came down with what would of been the game winning touchdown. Michael Hoomanawanui, Gronks replacement, came down with one of the more impressive catches you will see this Sunday.
The defense was able to stop the run and only allowed 89 total rushing yards to the Dolphins. That being said, they let Tannehill throw for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. At this point, I feel its almost like the Patriots defensive strategy is to pick their poison. They can either stop the run or the pass, but not both, which is troubling to say the least.
Mike Wallace had a big game receiving for the Dolphins and finished with 6 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Brian Hartline finished with 5 catches for 70 yards.
The Dolphins shut down Vereen today, only allowing him 3 receptions for 8 yards and 2 rushes for 17 yards. I would like to see the Patriots run Blount a lot more in the final two weeks of the season. He has been great this year, and today he ran 11 times for 47 yards, a 4 yard average. He is an absolute beast and every time he gets the ball he gains positive yards.
Ridley carried the ball 8 times for 34 yards. Look for him to see an increased number of touches as the weeks go on and Bellichick starts to regain some trust with the fumble prone running back.
If it was not for an errant kick by Gostkowski to set the Dolphins up on the 40 yard line on what would be their game winning touchdown drive, the Patriots could of very well of won this game. But Gostkowski has come up time and time again this season and is arguably the best kicker this year. He has hit 30-32 field goals this year (93.8%). So today, I will give him a pass.
Overall the offense seemed to still click today without Gronk, Dobson, and Thompkins, which is a good sign. Brady essentially had 3 slot receivers to throw today and no real deep threat besides Josh Boyce, who did not see too many snaps towards the end of the game. If Edelman and Amendola can have games like they did today when they were really the only two wide receivers the Dolphins had to focus on, just imagine what they will be doing once the defense has to worry about the big play against this Patriots offense. The two rookie wideouts should hopefully be back next week when the Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens. Tough loss for the Patriots, but there are some positives to take out of this game. I still believe this team is a Super Bowl contender and I expect them to prove that next week vs. the Ravens.