This Sunday, the Miami Dolphins are facing their arch nemesis New England Patriots. It will surely be the biggest game of the Dolphins season and a deciding factor in the development of Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins playoff hopes hang in the balance.
In order to capture what’s happening on the other sideline, we at Phins Phocus had a chance to chat with Ricky Keeler of Foxboro Blog (Foxboroblog.com) in order to get a feel of what the Dolphins are up against!
1. What adjustments have been made to shore up the offensive line especially at the vulnerable tackle position?
- The Patriots, you can say, are still weak at the offensive line considering that both Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer have been banged up for a part of this season. I think the adjustments have been made in terms of the balance of the offense. The Patriots, last year, were a team that live and died by the arm of Tom Brady. This year, Brady is having a MVP kind of season, but its been the running game of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen that have made the 3rd downs more manageable and keep the defense from pinning their ears back on third and long.
2. Who has this biggest standout been on the Patriots defense? Who should Ryan Tannehill fear the most?
- The biggest standout on this defense is rookie Chandler Jones. The Pats traded up in the draft back in April for him and they made the right decision so far. Jones has six sacks and three forced fumbles on the season. He has played a vital part in the run defense, which has been top ten for most of the year. Plus, he has even drawn double teams from opposing offensive lines when they line up for a passing play. He has been hurt and probably won't play on Sunday, but I love what he has brought to the table on the front 4.
As far as who should Ryan Tannehill fear, I think it is Aqib Talib. With the presence of Talib in the last two games, the Patriots have been able to get more pressure on the quarterback which has led intomore turnovers. Talib had an interception for a touchdown against Andrew Luck and the Colts as well. The Patriots have had their injuries and inefficiencies in the secondary this season, but I think Talib brings a different element and a level of creativity to the pass rush that New England hasn't had in a long time. That being said, I don't think Tannehill will make a stupid mistake like running into the butt of his offensive lineman.
3. Are the Patriots just another team? Are they the best in the AFC? What makes the Patriots so good year in and year out?
- The thing that makes the Patriots good year in and year out is the QB-coach connection between Brady and Belichick. With those two at the helm, it exemplifies great leadership that doesn't allow the Patriots to lose 2-3 games in a row by any means. They don't draft 1st round picks usually, but they find great value towards the end of the draft (Ridley + Vereen, Alfonzo Dennard in the last two drafts). As far as this season goes, the Patriots are number two in the AFC behind Houston. I am a believer in the Texans because of their defense. Yes, they have had struggles the last two games, but every defense goes through these stages. I need to see the Patriots' D continuing to progress against better quarterbacks likea Matt Schaub, Peyton Manning in January, and even Joe Flacco (300+ yards last 2 times vs. NE). New England is elite, but I don't think they are the greatest in the AFC ust yet. We will find out who is next Monday night in Foxboro.
4. What has the addition of Josh McDaniels meant to Bill Belichik's coaching staff? What are some of the intangibles he brings on offense?
- In the beginning of the season, a lot of people had a problem with McDaniels' playcalling especiallylate in games. New England was having a trouble finishing out opponents like the Cardinals, Ravens, and Seahawks. Since those games, McDaniels has found a running attack like I mentioned with Ridley and Vereen to help his quarterback out. McDaniels, in 2007, gave Brady a different perspective he never had with Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator. Those set of eyes and the running game have helped the Patriots' offense become one of the best in the NFL.
5. Tom Brady cannot play forever: Presumably is there a plan in place to groom the Pats next QB. Is it Mallet?
- I find it hard to believe that it will be Ryan Mallett. I loved the pick when they took him in last year's draft because of his pocket presence and the ability to hit players downfield. However, in these blowout games, Mallett has not attempted one pass. Now, could that be because the Patriots just want to run out the clock up by 28? Probably. However, I think this is something Belichick will address in the next couple of years in the draft. It might be more logical to see Mallett get traded for draft picks unlike Brian Hoyer, who struggled in training camp and was later cut earlier this year.
So there you have it. We thank Ricky and Foxboroblog.com for agreeing to conduct this interview. This surely proves to be a tight contest given the Dolphins history with the Patriots, but someone will win this game, we all hope it's close and it's a contest that proves the Dolphins are moving forwards and not backwards!
Feel free to follow @Foxboroblog for the latest on the Patriots and the rest of the Know Your Enemy Interview as I share my thoughts on the Dolphins on their site!
Thanks for following @Phins_Phocus and please head back this weekend for the latest in Dolphins News!