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                Over the last 17 years I’ve had one season where I sat back and enjoyed the ride. That was 2008. There was something special about Pennington and I had this nagging gut feeling that he was going to lead Miami to the playoffs.  I’m having that feeling again but this time it isn’t about a QB. Dan Campbell has the type of fire in his veins that has been lacking for a long time. Yes it is a little premature to hype it too much.  But just like 2008 I saw something special in that team. I kept nervously expecting it to end. It never did. They won the division title that year and despite an ugly end in the playoffs, it will remain a loan bright spot in a decade of futility. Campbell’s Team has that same spark. They’re playing with renewed passion. It doesn’t mean they’re going to win every week but it means they’re going to be tough to beat. NE better bring their game tonight because if they don’t, this Dolphins Team will beat them in their own back yard. What a special night that would be.  There’s a  funny thread going on in our forums.  It is Dan Campbell as Chuck Norris.

     When NE has the ball, there’s no question its Brady and a trio of very good players. Edelmen, Amendola and Gronk are all dangerous. Brady will feed the hot hand the ball and keep going there. The Jets did a beautiful job of shutting it down with press coverage in the first 3 quarters but inexplicably went to a zone- blitz scheme in the 2nd half with the DBs playing off. I watched Coyle fail at this approach to games the very same way. Brady flourished with this approach. They blitzed, he took a 3 step drop and hit Edelmen or Amendola. Since the DBs were off they marched down the field at a 5-7yd clip. Then, Brady would find the occasional blown coverage and grab a larger chunk. He was even sacked a few times but not enough to make a big difference. The jets should have stayed with the man coverage on the WRs because it allowed the DL time to get to Brady. The blitzing in the 2nd half would’ve been much more effective with WRs being jammed at the LOS. Ultimately the Jets did prove one thing: they could hang with the Patriots until the end in Foxboro. That also tells me Miami can do the same thing.

     When Miami has the ball NE’s defense will do the same thing they did last week in Q1 against the Jets. They’ll stack the box with 8-9 guys early in the game and blitz trying to create a big play. Miami’s interior line isn’t as good as the Jets.  If they play a single safety  Miami’s going to have to attack with the TE in the seam and the WRs on slants. Just like the Jets, Miami is going to have to force the running game. While the Jets average per carry was really bad, they put themselves in 3rd and 3-4 yds which proved manageable most of the game. This made for long, time consuming drives which kept Brady on the sideline. The Jets don’t have the offensive weaponry that Miami has. RT and company are going to have to carry their weight in this game by scoring 30 points. NE’s secondary is terrible. They were committing penalties all evening that weren’t being called. Miami should test them deep… a lot.

                Overall, it is hard to predict a win here. Even though my gut is saying they’ll do it this is still the NE Patriots and they’re still the defending super bowl champs.   So win or lose, I’m going to watch the defense and offense open a can of Campbells Cream of Whoopazz Soup. 

Go Tannehill


Dan…be the man.

Addendum – I had that artcle cued up and ready to go when I realized Tony Simmons had already posted a pregame post. But some of the insights I offered were keys to why they lost. DBs in zone, 10yds off the ball. Terrible. Offensive play calling, they didn’t force the run and when they did it wasn’t a direct, right at them approach it was cutsey off-tackle, pull the guard stuff. The same plays NY Jets failed at last week that they quickly abandoned in favor of a more between the tackles approach. Finally, one more point. About Ryan Tannehill. He followed his best game ever with what could be close to his worst. Miami needed him to lead. They needed him to come out passionate about winning and trying everything he could to make that happen. He was listless. He was unenthusiastic. He was about as distant as a QB could be from the game. At one point staring off to the right as the ball was snapped. It was mind boggling to watch. A guy in his 5th season who looked like a new rookie out there. It really damaged my faith in him. Instead of anticipating, creating time… he looked for a place to fall at the first sign of pressure. Instead of attacking downfield…he was checking off to the back on 3rd and 18 down by 22. It was if he just didn’t care. The OL held up its end of the bargain. They gave him a lot of time to throw on most occasions and when the plays were between the tackles they were gritting out 3-4 yards.

          Just one more observation: Bill Lazor still doesn’t have an effective audible system in place. At one point in the first half the patriots had a DE lined up on Lamar Miller who was split wide left. This should be a no brainer. As a matter of fact there was confusion on the Patriots side of the ball as the DE scrambled out late to line up on Miller. Any veteran QB would’ve seen the mismatch immediately and exploited it.  Not RT and Lazor…. Stick with the play. The play lost 4 yards. In order for this offense to be successful, Lazor is going to have to be less creative and more basic. He needs to simplify the offense like they did the defense. Give RT the ability to audible.

Enough said. 

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Bye Week. December 12

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