Five Keys To Beating The Patriots

Posted Dec 14, 2013

Finsiders analyst John Congemi breaks down what the Dolphins must do in order to defeat the Patriots on Sunday.

Let me start by saying it's been along time since the Miami Dolphins have defeated the New England Patriots. The date was December 6th, 2009 when the Dolphins won a one-point game 22-21 at home, and there's no better time then Sunday to replicate that outcome. Miami is coming off of back-to-back wins for the first time since early September, and stringing three wins in a row will match the season high, and keep this team heading towards the sixth and final playoff spot. Here are my keys to victory this week against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

1) Take Advantage Of Pressure - In the first meeting in Foxboro, the New England front seven turned up the heat on the Dolphins offensive line in the second half and found a way to pressure the pocket on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. That pressure resulted in six sacks and zero points scored in the second half, allowing the Patriots to dig themselves out of a 17-3 deficit and rally to win 27-17. It turned the momentum of the game and that cannot happen this Sunday. Tannehill and company must strike for chunk yardage plays and turn the pressure into points. This re-built offensive line needs to identify and give Tannehill a chance to locate the best match-up to attack in the secondary. New England has only registered four sacks in the last three games so the big fellas up front need to be solid this week and not take a step backwards!

2) Mix It Up - The balance in the offense has been terrific over the last couple of games and it's just not run to pass ratio that I'm talking about. It's great to see the football spread around to multiple wide receivers and getting the outside and inside screen game involved in the game plan. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's timing in the pass offense has been better and a big part of that is a direct result of the running game. Both Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have found success on the ground and it's allowed the play action passing game to take effect. It puts pressure on a defense when they cannot predict where the big plays are going to be coming from and what match-up Miami feels like they can take advantage of on Sunday.

3) No Holiday Gifts - This is the time of year for giving but if the Dolphins are going to continue to win, Miami must protect the football and win the turnover margin against the Patriots. Both teams are on the plus side of the ledger (Miami is at plus two and New England is plus six) so creating turnovers and protecting the football will definitely play a major role in the outcome of the game. Changing field position always gives a team confidence and more importantly the percentages go way up turning those gifts into points!

4) Number 12 Verses Front 7 - Coaches and players always say if you can if you can make a quarterback feel uncomfortable in the pocket, you can affect his rhythm and timing in the passing game. Defensive units have been trying to accomplish those plans for years against quarterback Tom Brady and there's a huge list of players and coaches that have come up short! In saying that, the Miami Dolphins defense has had more success at slowing down the machine that is Tom Brady and it's because of the push the interior lineman get in the lap of the future Hall of Famer. Paul Soliai, Jared Odrick and Randy Starks play a significant role because they can move the pocket backwards, and that doesn't allow Brady a consistent lane to step through to buy himself extra time and protection. Edge rushers like Cam Wake and Olivier Vernon also help the push from the middle because of their speed. If they can collapse the edge quickly, it makes Brady move a step or two closer to the line of scrimmage where the big traffic hopefully is waiting!

5) Start Fast And Finish - I don't know about you but I'll take another chance with a 17-3 lead at halftime at home against New England! Only difference being that this time the Dolphins need to finish what they started and close out the football game. I'm sure that will be a big part of the message that head coach Joe Philbin tried to push this week to his football team. Momentum can change quickly in sports and it sometimes only takes a play or two to feel like you're in control. Scoring first or answering quickly in the first quarter to a score can set the tone for the entire game, but winning the last four minutes of the half or of the game for the Dolphins just might keep their playoff hopes alive!

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