I wanted to apologize to all my buddies and Fin Fans here. I was at the game yesterday and was SO looking forward to discussing the game throughout the day. At about 10am, my phone started to malfunction. I have to go to Verizon today and get a new one...great timing, eh. Anyways, these were my observations from yesterday and after looking at the box score.
* 3rd down conversions on offense. 8 of 17 is an improved number from previous games.
* Line Play. It was turned out to be the right decision to start Bryant McKinnie. The pass protection was good until the game got away from the team late in the game. The run game was even better. The team gashed the Patriots defense for 156 yards for 5 yards a pop.
* Lamar Miller. Showed great explosiveness. The Patriots consistently lost contain on the outside because they did not respect his speed.
* Charles Clay was consistently open and the Pats did not have much of answer for him.
* Smoke screen to Mike Wallace in the 4th on 3rd and very long.
* Brandon Gibson getting open for a TD and just in general.
* Bryant McKinnie. On a short week, he came in with a few practices and dominated Chandler Jones.
* Mike Pouncey is as athletic as they come for a Center. Had a great game.
* The defensive effort vs. Tom Brady. Held Brady to 116 yards, 1 TD and 1 Int. They sacked him 3 times. Held the Pats offense to 252 total yards.
* 3rd down defense. Held New England to 2 of 10 on the money down.
* Jared Odrick whipped Logan Mankins all game. Got great penetration in the run game and had two sacks.
* Dion Jordan on Rob Gronkowski. Gronk had NO WHERE to run against him.
* Dimitri Patterson. Had nice anticipation on his interception. He also had nice coverage through the game. He played through some tough calls.
* While it did not count as a sack because of a penalty, Jimmy Wilson lit up Tom Brady.
* 2nd Half Collapse. The team showed terrible mental toughness. Mike Wallace on a 2nd down play in the Red Zone drops a pass that would have been a first down from inside the five...next play sack, pushing the FG further back...then a missed FG. Miami wilts like a flower in the dessert.
* The block field goal. From being there in person, there was a Chinese Fire Drill happening on the sideline as the special teams rushed out on to the field. A timeout should have been taken. Losing the TO would have been a killer, but the confusion was over the top. Everything was rushed.
* Lost Turnover Differential 3 to 1. It was the difference in the game.
* Ryan Tannehill getting smoked on a CB blitz and fumbling while the Pats already had momentum. Not sure if that was on the QB or it was a protection design at this point. Bottom line, it was a huge turnover.
* The sacks at the end of the game were on RT. He held the ball trying to find something deep.
* RT's pick down the right sideline. It was an obvious Cover 2. RT starred down the sideline and forced it to Mike Wallace. Bad throw and bad mechanics. The throw had no chance.
* Tannehill's completion percentage was around 50%. Not good and is declining each week.
* Mike Wallace drops.
* Rush defense. 152 yards.
* A third down scramble by Tom Brady where he looked like he was running in slow motion yet picked up a 3rd down.
* Cam Wake is totally ineffective. Going against a bad back up, he got nothing going.
* The Patriots should not complain about ref calls for the next decade. All I heard was about how they got screwed vs. the Jets on the missed FG attempt. I am not convinced that O.V. batted the ball intentionally. Only the Patriots can get rocked for a sack and pick up 10 yards and 1st down. Also, Jimmy Wilson did not interfere with Gronk. He was going for the ball and barely made contact anyways. Rishard Matthews was in. Not sure why it was not challenged, but the call should have been made on the field. Also, a Dimitri Patterson holding call was made as Tom Brady was out of the pocket and was not even looking to Patterson's side.
* Marcus Thigpen made premature fair catch calls.
* Brandon Gibson injury. The offense slow thereafter.
* With the running game working, Mike Sherman went away from the run...again.
* Coaching. Joe Philbin's team collapsed after a great first half. He did not manage the game well or have a sense of urgency to destroy an overrated opponent in the 2nd half.
* I went to my first game in person in many years. I can say this: fans do not want to go until the stadium gives the at home feel for the game. The stadium was late with replays, they sometimes gave one look. they showed the Pats replays multiple times, but Fins close calls maybe once. The Matthews ball was never shown again. It makes you want to stay home. Mix in a bad team with what I experienced yesterday, you wonder why Sun Life is half filled.
* This Dolphins team is mentally weak. The coach is not tough. The QB is not mentally strong. The team in general is drowned when any momentum tide its it. It is the biggest weakness on the team. A Chad Pennington led team routs that Pats team yesterday. A team reflects their HC and Joe Philbin needs to feel the heat today.
* This is the worst Patriots team since the 2000 season. I totally overrated them coming into this week. My bad. They were low lying fruit to pick and the Fins failed to get it. So disappointing.
* Ryan Tannehill is regressing. He needs to go back to managing the game and not turning the ball over. The last two weeks his turnovers have led to loses. His sacks he is taking on 3rd down are killing this team. He needs to know the time and score.
* I wonder how angry the line is that RT took a ton of sacks at the end of the game. The line played well yesterday yet the stats are ugly again.
* With that said, he needs to stay in as QB. He needs to improve and find his way. It is frustrating in so many ways, but RT must start to help his team by improving his play.
* The Brandon Gibson injury is a tough loss. He was Miami's best target and demonstrated to be an excellent pick up. More will be expected of Clay and Hartline. Matthews will help. Mike Wallace needs to be a man and step up. What a major disappointment he has been.
* Starting Bryant McKinnie was the right move. I thought he should sit, but I was dead wrong. He was excellent in pass pro esp. for not having many practices under his belt. BTW, he is a bid dude.
* Two straight weeks and the team has shown an improved run game. Running the ball is one of the best ways to prop up pass protection as well. The running game always protects a QB.
* Two pretty good defensive performances the last two weeks...progress?
* For the indefinite future, Rob Gronkowski will never be a major factor against the Dolphins. Folks, it was amazing watching Dion Jordan run with him...dare I say toy with him. Gronk looked like he was lumbering versus the graceful Jordan. Nonsensical that Jordan was not on him 24/7.
* The team has NO difference makers. Who is the guy that will step up when momentum is charging in the team's face and make a play to silence the crowd and garner momentum back for his team? It is not on the roster.
* Caleb Sturgis has hit the rookie wall. He has started to miss and his KO's are now being returned. He had a great start to the year, but it is the concern I had at the start of the year...I like a veteran kicker. He should stay...no question, but he is not Mr. Automatic that people made him to be.
* Patriots fans are spoiled brats. They were so whiny in the first half. The organization has been so blessed for more than a decade. With a great coach, QB, some character players, and historic referee calls that have gone their way, they have had a great run. Yet, these fans think they are entitled to the Super Bowl every year. I would take a sliver of what they have had for my team. I wish nothing, but to ruin their year and build a team to dominate them.
* The season comes down to Thursday night against the Bengals. Win...4-4 and chance the second half of the year. Lose, 3-5 and the season is lost and major changes could be argued. Two roads diverged in major different directions.