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Five Keys To The Patriots Game

Posted Oct 26, 2013

the Dolphins must play their most complete game of the season to come away with a victory.



The challenge for the Miami Dolphins this Sunday will be to turn around the three game slide against the first place team in the AFC East in New England. The Patriots are 24-3 at home since 2010, so the Dolphins must play their most complete game of the season to come away with a victory. This is not the most dominating Patriots team of recent years, but if the Dolphins can protect the football on Sunday, they can win their fourth game of the season. Here's what I'll be looking for as the keys to victory on Sunday afternoon.

1) Control Tom Brady - Tom Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but his supporting cast isn't striking fear in opposing defenses like they have in the past. Brady is only completing 55.8 percent of this passes, and has only eight touchdowns on the season. He's been sacked 20 times and that's where the Dolphins defense needs to excel. In past games where Brady has struggled, players like Cam Wake have affected the timing in the pocket, and made Brady move off of his spot. The push from the front seven is paramount in controlling his effectiveness, and will provide the secondary opportunities to make plays on the football. This is a game of taking away the time in the passing game and Miami needs to win the one on one battles up front to have success.

2) Get The Lead - If the Dolphins are going to win this Sunday, they must start fast and take control early in the game. That means generating some big plays on offense and getting off of the field defensively. This cannot be a game where we have multiple three and outs on offense in the first quarter! Score first and keep the pressure on the Patriots who are only averaging 21.7 points per game. If that happens, New England might abandon the running game and I like the match-ups of the Dolphins secondary against players like wide outs Kenbrell Thomkins and Aaron Dobson.

3) Keep The Rust On Gronk - Tight end Rob Gronkowski was targeted 17 times last week in this first appearance of the season, and I'm sure that number will be high again this Sunday. The big question will be how Miami decides to handle the 6-6 difference maker all over the field, especially in the red zone. Can linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe match-up against Gronkowski, or will that assignment be mixed with help from safety Reshad Jones? Either way, the Dolphins defense must limit his effectiveness of keeping drives alive and keep him in check.

4) Protect The Football And Pocket - This has been a problem that has plagued quarterback Ryan Tannehill and has limited the effectiveness of the entire offense through the first six games of the season. Even when the team has had success over the first six games of the season, protecting the football has been an issue for the second year quarterback. Ryan must find a way to still be aggressive against the Patriots defense when throwing the football, but cannot turn it over and give Tom Brady and company a short field to work on! This means the offensive line must play at a higher level and keep the amount of pressure in the pocket at a minimum. Not only limit the hits on Tannehill but also give him the space to be more efficient when throwing the football. Winning the turnover margin is paramount this week and one of the major keys to victory.

5) Martin and Possibly McKinnie - I'm not sure how the Dolphins are going to line up along the offensive line on Sunday. It's a possibility that Jonathan Martin could move to right tackle position and that means everyone is counting on veteran tackle Bryant McKinnie to hold down the left tackle spot. It's not an easy transition for either player but something had to change up front to slow down the edge pressure Miami has been under. It maybe that Martin, McKinnie and Tyson Clabo all gets playing time on Sunday trying to slow down the Patriots front seven pass rush. No matter what the combination ends up looking like, this group must find a way to play at a higher level and keep Ryan Tannehill clean!
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