DOLPHINS HANG ON

Week 1 Game Review

To coin a phrase ‘A win is a win’ that’s what the opening game of the season was. Miami travelled to New England to kick off their 2021 campaign and came away with a victory, which against the Patriots, is always a good result. Let’s not get too downhearted, it was a win after all, but how many came away from the game wondering how they won? If it wasn’t for the resilience of the defense it could have been a totally different story.

There were no surprises from the Dolphins, it was thought that the offensive line would struggle against a complex Patriot pass rush and the defense would have a problem with a heavy dose of the Patriot running attack. Both of those scenario’s played out for all to see but as with last year, the defense baled the team out with timely plays. If they weren’t stopping the Mac Jones led offense on critical 3rd downs they were forcing fumbles to reverse the direction of play.

What was a surprise is how well Jones played against the Dolphins secondary. In true New England fashion, he dinked his way down the field with an annoying efficiency. He showed great poise and command of the Josh McDaniels offense, he wasn’t asked to be that aggressive, generally settling for mid-range quick passes, but then if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. He was helped along by a consistent running attack that kept grinding out the yards. The problem was that for as good as it was, it was one of the reasons they lost the game.

Miami created four fumbles on the day, coming away with two, they saved the best for last when it looked like all was lost. The Patriots were driving late in the fourth quarter to what seemed like an inevitable score to take the lead, but All Pro cornerback Xavien Howard stripped and recovered the ball from Damien Harris and the offense managed to run out the clock to keep their nose ahead until the final whistle.

You look at the stats and have to wonder, New England had a huge advantage in time of possession, almost 14 minutes. They converted 69% of their first downs compared to Miam’s 36% and outgained the visitors by 134 yards. For all their dominance the thing that really mattered the most they couldn’t do often enough. Apart from the Nelson Agholor touchdown they had to settle for field goals as the Dolphins D stiffened time and again in the red zone.

On the offensive side of the ball Tua did enough, the first drive of the day was well orchestrated, 10 plays, 80 yards and Tua ran in from 3 yards out, it looked so easy, after that however it was anything but. There were flashes of what can be, Tua hit Parker for a number of big plays, and he connected with his old Alabama teammate who showed great effort to bag his first NFL score, there just wasn’t enough consistency. What happened to Mike Gesicki you ask, well he didn’t get a high snap count because Dyrham Smythe was used to provide extra blocking up front, the line sure needed it the help.

It wasn’t just pass protection that was an issue, the run blocking was left wanting against a re-built Patriot front. As with the passing attack there were flashes, but you couldn’t call it dependable. Put it another way, it isn’t going to give Buffalo sleepless nights. The offense is going to have to play better next week, seventeen points against an upset Josh Allen won’t cut it. Luckily for Miami they will see the return of Will Fuller and possibly Preston Williams, they will need as many weapons as possible to spread the field and create space for the offense to operate. For this week let’s just savour the fact that they beat New England in their back yard and it is a win against a division foe, happy days!