So, the Dolphins have won their last two games and all of a sudden they’re a real threat to the Patriots?
Fine, we’ll play along just for the sake of argument.
Miami, which had lost three straight to the Jaguars, Bills, and Jets, has rebounded nicely after firing Joe Philbin and hiring their tight ends coach, Dan Campbell, to replace him.
Since Philbin's ousting there has been a 38-10 win over the Titans and a 44-26 win over Bill O’Brien’s Texans.
But that win over the Texans could say more about the Texans than it does the Dolphins. And the Patriots are not the Texans, folks. The Patriots aren’t going into Miami, either.
This is a Dolphins team heading into Foxboro for a Thursday night game (8:25 p.m., CBS and NFL Network). Tom Brady has yet to lose on a Thursday in his career (8-0). He’s also never lost a meaningful home game to the Dolphins (he was pulled after the first quarter of the team’s 2005 Week 17 game, in which the Pats lost).
So yes, the Dolphins are playing well over their last two weeks – and for that reason the Patriots must take them seriously. But it shouldn’t take long to see the gap between the two teams.
Why Miami’s playing better
It sure sounds like the team just enjoys playing for Campbell over Philbin. The personnel is the same, but listening to these Dolphins players the last couple of weeks you can sense an attitude change within. And according to Bill Belichick, they’ve “simplified” the playbook.
“The number of the things they’re running, like the number of calls that they have, it appears to be definitely a lot less than what it was before,” Belichick said. “And so they’re trying to, I’d say it looks like they’re doing fewer things than they’ve done, they’re doing them better, they’re playing faster, they’re more aggressive, and so it looks like they’ve cut back the scheme a little bit defensively for higher execution.”
Watch Suh and Co.
From one dangerous defensive line to the next. Brady and the Patriots' offensive line survived the Jets, but the Dolphins won’t prove to be any easier. And don’t forget cheap-shot artist Ndamukong Suh - ready to pounce at any moment.
“Yeah, those guys are great at what they do, and they really cut those guys loose to get after the quarterback and they've done it,” Brady said. “They can really tee off on the quarterback, and they were certainly teeing off the other day.”
Jump out to a lead
Miami QB Ryan Tannehill is 40-for-48 with six touchdowns and two interceptions over the last two games. That includes 18-for-19 and four touchdowns last week. The trick? Don’t allow him to play with a lead. The Dolphins would like balance between the pass and run, but if the Pats jump out quickly, that’ll put the ball in Tannehill’s hands and out of running back Lamar Miller’s hands (298 rushing yards last two weeks).