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Three Keys

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Three Keys | John Congemi Previews Dolphins vs. Patriots

1) Get it going early

The Dolphins need to flip the script this week against the defending world champs if they're going to have a chance to win at Hard Rock Stadium. Last week, Baltimore hit the Miami defense from the opening play of the game and never looked back. Defensively, the Dolphins must find a way to play sound and disciplined early, that doesn't allow for the explosive play over the top of the defense. Those types of play are just devastating. On offense, they must stack positive plays together and stay away from the negative runs or early interceptions that cuts the field in half for quarterback Tom Brady and company. Playing efficient, complementary football early will be critical for a young team facing the Patriots because they rarely make mistakes that beat themselves.

2) Limit explosive plays

It was bombs away last week for the Ravens offense as it totaled at least 8 plays of 20 yards or more, most of them coming in the first 30 minutes of play. The Dolphins must find a way to keep the ball in front of them and then tackle well in space. New England has the talent to throw the football over any secondary in the NFL, but what really scares you is the run after catch talent the Patriots possess on offense. Brady will get the ball out quickly, allowing his play makers like Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon the ability to make yards after the catch. It's sometimes a short throw or a check-down to the backs out of the backfield that applies stress to a defensive coverage. Players like James White and Rex Burkhead totaled 10 receptions for 97 yards last week against a good Steeler defense. The Miami defenders must be sound with their fundamentals, not only on the deep ball, but not letting a five yard reception turn into a 50-yard score.

3) Get off the field

This is usually where the New England offense can really be difficult to stop. Third down chances that keep drives alive is usually what separates the Patriots from everyone in the AFC. Last week against a good Steelers defense, Brady and the offense was 7 of 14 on third down and that type of success will stress your pass rush and coverage to the max. The Dolphins defense must create some type of pressure in the pocket that effects the timing and accuracy of the future hall of fame quarterback. Offensively, the Dolphins must identify the pressure the Pats will certainly bring on third down. Identify and allow quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a clean window to deliver the ball without having to avoid consistent pressure. The Miami offense must match or come close to matching the Patriots when it come to converting on third down, and try to keep Brady on the sidelines as much as possible.

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