It’s amazing how much can change over the course of 60 minutes of NFL game time.
For the first 25 minutes of the game, the New England Patriots absolutely dominated the Miami Dolphins. Their offense was virtually unstoppable, and their defense held Ryan Tannehill to almost zero pass yards, and one first down. However, all of that changed when Kiko Alonso tackled Jimmy Garoppolo on a third down completion. Garoppolo landed hard on his right shoulder, and was in obvious pain from the moment he stood up. The Patriots’ team trainers ran to him immediately, and pulled him straight off the field and into the locker room. From that moment until the end of the game, the Dolphins were in control.
The Patriots offense was not nearly as hot as it had been, only scoring 10 send half points which is not horrific by any means, but not nearly the same pace they had been on. Then the defense got walked on by Tannehill. Even special teams had a number of significant blunders, including a missed 39-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. Nevertheless, some poor decision making by the Dolphins, and a good final stand by the Patriots defense sealed the victory.
Jimmy G going down was hard to watch, as the first five and a half quarters that he has played this season have proven him to have legitimate skill and potential. It’s frustrating to see, for both the team and the player. According to reports from Tom Curren and Jeff Howe of CSNNE and the Boston Herald, respectively, Garoppolo has a sprained AC joint, which generally has a recovery time of 1-2 weeks. Therefore, as of right now he will not be playing against the Texans this coming Thursday, but may be able to play against the Buffalo Bills in week four.
However, back to this game…
– Jimmy G looked like a bona fide number one starter during the first quarter and a half of the game. He commanded the offense from the very first drive, where he went 5-5, and capped it off with a 12 yard pass to Danny Amendola for the game’s first touchdown. By the time he left the game due to his injury, he accumulated 234 yards through the air, and three touchdowns. His talent level and potential are extremely high.
-Jacoby Brissett also played well in the final two and a half quarters. He managed the offense well, particularly on a number of crucial situations towards the end of the game where the Patriots needed to pick up first downs. He had a nice run on a third and five situation that was called back due to a holding penalty. The only issue seems to be his awareness, and tendency to get nervous when pressured. That is something that will come with experience, something he will be getting a lot of on Thursday against Houston.
– Martellus Bennett had the game Patriots fans had been waiting for. He played a crucial role in the run game, like he did in Arizona, and had a number of key blocks. He also showed up big in the passing game, pulling in five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. That is an exciting prospect for the future, because when Rob Gronkowski returns the Patriots will have a dangerous two headed monster.
-Despite the overall great performances by nearly all members of the Patriots offense, the MVP of the game was definitely LeGarrette Blount, who rushed the ball 29 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. All of his runs were powerful, and he churned out five and six yard gains on runs that originally were stuck at the line of scrimmage. He helped New England get a couple of key first downs in the final few minutes of the game. He also hurdled Byron Maxwell in an impressive fashion, proving he is as nimble as he is large. The Patriots will need him in a big way on Thursday.
– The biggest problem in the game was Joe Thuney, who did not have a particularly strong game. He got called for holding multiple times, including on a crucial third down where Jacoby Brissett ran for a first. That will be something Dante Scarnecchia looks to fix.
– Chris Long looks comfortable in this Patriots defense. He had another strong game, and put a lot of pressure on Ryan Tannehill. He also came up with a fumble recovery that was there purely from effort, as he had to chase the play down the field. He will be even more explosive when Rob Ninkovich returns in a few weeks and a rotation can be established that will get him, Ninkovich, and Sheard significant rest time.
– The Patriots secondary did not have a good day, giving up over 300 passing yards in the second half. Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan were both beaten by Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker on a number of occasions, with the receivers totaling 137 and 106 yards respectively. They will need to sharpen up, especially when you have a top their receiver in DeAndre Hopkins coming into Foxboro on Thursday, along with a burner in Will Fuller.
– New England’s tackling was poor for the entire 60 minutes. Throughout the game, a number of the Dolphins plays were extended because Patriots defenders could not manage to wrap up and finish their tackles. Malcolm Butler was run over by Jarvis Landry at one point, as was Justin Coleman by Ryan Tannehill. As an NFL team, you cannot give your opponent any extra yards, because those could be the difference between a win and a loss.
The Patriots managed to get another hard fought win, and start the season 2-0. They look to continue the momentum Thursday when they welcome the Houston Texans.
My record: 1-1
Until next time- B$
P.S. 15 Days until Tom Brady returns.