It’s amazing to me how negative the media can be after a tough loss. As media journalists and analysts, everyone should have known right away that the Patriots were going to bounce back against a divisional opponent and a crucial game to the playoff positioning of the team. Sure, they’re 2-2 now, but the Pats started 2-2 last season, as well. That didn’t stop them last year, did it? Thank God for a 38-7 win over the Miami Dolphins to silence the critics for a little while.
The Patriots are still the best team in the AFC. Nobody has the caliber and number of weapons that Bill Belichick has in New England, nor the ability to find weapons like Belichick. Before we start diving into the film from this week, let’s look at the players who scored touchdowns this week:
- Running back James White (1 rushing, 1 receiving)
- Running back Sony Michel (rushing)
- Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (receiving)
- Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (receiving)
Do any of these players look like dangerous threats if they are playing for other football teams? Probably not.
Bill Belichick uses his players to their absolute strengths. It’s one of the many things that makes ‘ole Bill special. Because of that trait, it makes absolutely zero sense why the media should go after this team over a 2-2 start.
Oh yeah, and Julian Edelman returns this week.
Let’s dive into this film.
Play One: 2nd Quarter, 12:11
Patriots ball. 3rd and 6 from the New England 45. Patriots lead 3-0.
The Patriots always do their homework. Bill Belichick hires young wanna be scouts and coaches to watch tape forty hours a week, a strategy that is very well documented by the media. He knows that if he stretches the Dolphins and forces them into a nickel or dime package, he is going to have mismatches. In this case, it’s the left side of the formation (bottom of the screen).
Tom Brady knows that he has the Dolphins in man coverage. On the bottom of the screen, James White lines up wide with Cordarrelle Patterson in the slot. The rookie safety from Alabama, Minkah Fitzpatrick, is on James White while Patterson is covered by Xavien Howard.
Fitzpatrick plays free safety normally. In this case, he’s being used as the nickelback. TJ McDonald is the only safety back, as they are paying cover one to drape over the man coverage below. What the play is designed to do is set a pick at the bottom of the screen. The wide receiver slants inside and sits as a dump off option. The slot guy runs a fade pattern outside, and the unwitting man coverage will most likely let him slip by unnoticed.
Fitzpatrick did exactly what the Patriots hoped. He played White down low instead of switching to Patterson. Because the Patriots had another deep route attacking the middle of the field, McDonald over the top didn’t notice Patterson leak out. The end result? A wide open Cordarrelle Patterson with one man to beat in a thirty yard footrace.
— New Account (@ftbeard_17) September 30, 2018
This is the type of work that Belichick does so well. He finds his mismatches in the film room, finds ways to bring them onto the field, and then has a quarterback in Tom Brady who is so smart that he can make the decisions on the field.
Minkah Fitzpatrick has been a vital player on the Dolphin defense all season, and has looked very solid on the field, but Belichick knows he’s a rookie and is liable to make mistakes. Brady cashed in on that one too.
Play Two: 3rd Quarter, 6:55
Patriots ball. 3rd and 4 from the Miami 14. Patriots lead 24-0.
The Patriots really like this five wide look on third down. Now, they’re going to send a receiver to every level of the field. The Dolphins are playing a zone coverage with four deep players, and three underneath. That means that they are trying to protect against a touchdown. The Patriots know they have zone, even though it’s disguised and it looks like cover two, and the play call works perfectly into that.
There are a few certain routes that are known as “Zone Busters” that receivers run to be more effective against zone. The post and slant are both zone busting routes as they generally slip between multiple zones. An in route would be a good zone buster, too. This play is designed to penetrate through zone coverage.
When a defense is playing zone coverage, zone integrity is everything. What does that mean? Easy – Stay in your zone and read the quarterback. The double post route from the left side (bottom screen) made things very confusing for the defense. Then, they had another deep post route coming from the right (top of the screen) and that made everything worse.
Safety Maurice Smith, a second year player out of Georgia, was suppose to play the left corner of the end zone. Instead, he drifted right with the double post. James White leaked out of the backfield and was wide open, and Smith knew exactly what he had done. It was too late.
Brady took the hit and delivered a DIME to James White for the 14 yard TD!! pic.twitter.com/VzX7B9HaUN
— New Account (@ftbeard_17) September 30, 2018
What a throw by Brady to hit White in stride with a defensive player about to blow him up. That 41-year-old man keeps making the same throws we’ve seen for years!
Let’s look into the very near future
This week, the Patriots get back Julian Edelman. This offense is about to be borderline unstoppable. The addition of Josh Gordon from the Cleveland Browns is going to be explosive. He played his first game in a Patriots uniform on Sunday, and looked good in his couple of catches. Sony Michel just ran for over 100 yards. James White had over 100 yards from scrimmage. Rob Gronkowski will have Gordon as a downfield threat and Edelman as a valuable threat out of the slot.
Anyone still diving off of this bandwagon?