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Mailbag: Week 1 Dolphins vs Patriots

The season is on the horizon and that means the return of the weekly mailbag. Each Thursday, we will put out the call for questions (@WingfieldNFL) and answer three of them on the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield and three more here on the written mailbag.

Question from @sethAfisher: In order for Miami to come away with the win, what do you think the most important positional matchup will be?

A: Taking the quarterback position is such a chalky pick, but I'm taking both Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones against the opposing defenses, particularly the safety position. Both Miami and New England had deep, versatile safety groups that serve as the crux of the flexibility of both systems. For Jones, accounting for Jevon Holland, Brandon Jones and Eric Rowe could be the difference between correctly identifying his pre-snap read or not, with the consequences potentially providing the Miami defense with a big play. It's the same for Tagovailoa as New England's Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and Jabrill Peppers allow that defense to disguise as well as any.

Question from @caribbean5hark: I know we are all confident about how good our team approaches to the beginning of the season but, what would be your take if we started off to a disastrous week 1 performance? I've been a fan for 40 years and I have seen everything.

A: Mike McDaniel surmised it as perfectly concisely as he could earlier this week. "Either we're crowned or we suck. Either way, we have a Week 2," he said. 

Win or lose, I think it's best to avoid over-reaction. You mentioned watching this team for 40 years – that 2003 squad was one of the more-talented Dolphins teams of this century, and they lost at home to the previously 4-12 expansion Texans on opening day before winning eight of the next 11 games. Football seasons are long and while a 1-0 start is great, no t-shirts or trophies have ever been awarded in Week 1.

Question from @ryanlowe34: Have you seen enough from the scheme and personnel that you believe Miami can effectively run the ball on Sunday?

A: I thought the preseason finale was a nice step in the right direction. Ideally, the team improves each week – each day, really – and we see them putting together their best foot forward by the end of the season. I do believe the marriage of the passing game with the run game will benefit each in a complementary fashion, especially with all the speed the offense has to keep defenses honest. And, finally, I think this system is extremely beneficial to the skill sets of the offensive line. It's an athletic group and this offense accentuates that trait.

For more, check out the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available five days a week on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. The Twitter mailbag thread will go up every Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

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