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Patriots-Dolphins Week 1 What To Watch For: Can Pats defend Mac from Miami’s cross rush?

BOSTON — Week 1 of the NFL season is right here and shortly sufficient, all of these questions and considerations individuals have voiced in regards to the 2022 New England Patriots shall be answered and/or allayed. Or we’ll simply have much more questions and extra considerations pop up throughout their Week 1 conflict towards the Dolphins in Miami. 

There’s a whole lot of uncertainty surrounding the Patriots, even after they ended a one-year postseason absence with a 10-7 season in 2021. Mac Jones has a greater crop of receivers, however he not has Josh McDaniels to show to on the sideline. As an alternative, Invoice Belichick opted for a tag-team effort from Matt Patricia and Joe Decide (neither of whom maintain the official title of Offensive Coordinator), all whereas putting in some new wrinkles on offense. It was not fairly all through the preseason.

The protection has gone via some modifications as effectively, from the secondary to the linebacking corps. There’s much more youth and pace on the roster, however they’re pretty quick at expertise with a number of gamers taking part in new positions. 

It may be a course of to start out the season, and sadly the Patriots kick 2022 off in a spot that hasn’t been very form to them over time. A visit to Miami has at all times given New England points, even when it was the Belichick-Brady combo. The Patriots have gained simply two of their final 9 visits to South Seaside, and total, they’ve misplaced three straight to the Dolphins and 6 of their final 9 conferences. 

Not one of the best ways to kick off that course of, however this is what we’ll be expecting when the Patriots and the Dolphins sq. off on Sunday afternoon.

Defending Mac towards the Miami cross rush

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones throws a cross below stress from Jerome Baker of the Miami Dolphins. (Picture by Maddie Meyer/Getty Pictures)

Brian Flores is gone, however the protection that he put in in Miami stays. That would spell hassle for Mac Jones and the Patriots’ extremely questionable offensive line when the Dolphins ship some severe stress the quarterback’s method.

The Dolphins have been fifth within the NFL with 48 sacks final season, although solely three of these sacks have been towards the Patriots. Jones was solely sacked as soon as in his NFL debut in Week 1, which got here on his first NFL drive when he regarded like a child on his first NFL drive. Jones “fumbled” — should you can actually name it that — however the Patriots recovered, although they needed to punt the ball away a number of performs later.

The rookie would have appreciated to neglect about that one, however he by some means nonetheless remembered it after being hit 9 instances by the Dolphins within the 17-16 loss. Jones was sacked twice in Week 17, however at the very least Miami’s QB hits have been down to simply three. The outcomes, nonetheless, have been the identical (or worse) because the Patriots misplaced 33-24.

Nearly all of Miami’s cross rushers are again, together with the staff’s sack chief the final two seasons, Emmanuel Ogbah — who had 9 sacks in every 2020 and 2021, and second-year linebacker Jaelan Phillips (8.5 sacks final season). Security Brandon Jones is not afraid to cost on the quarterback (5 sacks final season), and there are two newcomers who know a factor or two about attending to the quarterback in Melvin Ingram and outdated good friend Trey Flowers. 

Jones’ targets have to get open in a rush on Sunday, and operating backs want to carry their blocks. We need not see the franchise QB in fixed peril and fearing for his life in Week 1.

The Dolphins do not have that one man that groups have to give attention to within the cross rush. They’ve a complete staff of men that want consideration, which shall be a large problem for the New England offensive line. Mac’s protectors didn’t look nice within the preseason, and he regarded frazzled within the pocket throughout his temporary time on the sector. Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn are reportedly miffed at their place change, and each look like an harm ready to occur. Shedding both — Wynn has been restricted all week main as much as Sunday’s recreation — would additional take a look at the depth of the road, which can be counting on a rookie in Cole Unusual at left guard. 

It is all a bit worrisome. If the offensive line crumbles, the entire operation often falls aside. That unit is without doubt one of the largest query marks heading into the 2022 season, and they’ll be examined proper out of the gate.

Can the Patriots set up the run?

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Patriots operating again Rhamondre Stevenson sheds a deal with towards the Las Vegas Raiders in the course of the 2022 preseason.

Chris Unger / Getty Pictures

One other concern with the offensive line: The New England rush assault went nowhere when starters have been on the sector within the preseason. They went largely backwards after they tried going exterior within the new zone-block scheme. Now they’re out of form video games and need to do it in an actual recreation that counts for the standings.

Miami was a center of the pack run protection final season, and the Patriots did have some success towards them on the bottom. New England rushers picked up 125 dashing yards in Week 1, and 134 yards whereas averaging 5.0 yards per carry in Week 18. However they have been by no means actually in that Week 18 matchup final season, and Damien Harris fumbled away their shot at a comeback win in Week 1. 

Harris continues to be the lead again on the depth chart, however Rhamondre Stevenson is primed to take over out of the backfield this season, each on the bottom and within the air. We’ll see if each backs can get it occurring Sunday. 

Can the Patriots cease the run?

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots
Dolphins operating again Myles Gaskin breaks a deal with towards the New England Patriots in the course of the 2020 season.

Cooper Neill / Getty Pictures

After which there may be the flip facet of the equation. The Patriots protection has had some huge our bodies alongside the road, however they have not been in a position to cease the run for years. Now they’re going to face a staff led by Mike McDaniel, who coached a number of the league’s finest operating groups whereas in San Francisco. The 49ers have been second within the NFL in dashing yards in 2019 when McDaniel served because the staff’s run recreation coordinator. 

The Patriots will look to gradual, or at the very least cease, Miami’s three-headed monster of operating backs in Chase Edmonds, Myles Gaskin, and Raheem Mostert. Edmonds and Gaskin are each dual-threat backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield, whereas Mostert (who missed all however one recreation for the 49ers final season) had his finest season in 2019 in McDaniel’s system in San Fran.

That’s what the Patriots’ D-line and new crop of youthful, speedier linebackers have to fret about Sunday in Miami. However it’s not essentially the most regarding half in regards to the Miami offense. Not by a longshot.

Patriots secondary vs. Miami’s dynamic receiving duo

Philadelphia Eagles v Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

Megan Briggs / Getty Pictures

The Dolphins already had a fairly proficient pass-catcher in Jaylen Waddle, who had 9 receptions and a pair of touchdowns as a rookie in his two video games towards the Patriots final season. Now dynamic speedster Tyreek Hill is a part of Tua Tagovailoa’s arsenal, and that can current some huge points for the New England secondary.

Hill isn’t any stranger to burning Patriots defensive backs. He is scored 5 touchdowns in his 4 regular-season conferences with New England, averaging six receptions and simply over 100 yards per recreation. And that was when the New England secondary included guys like Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson.

Now the secondary has Jalen Mills atop the depth chart with Jonathan Jones transferring from the slot to the surface. Myles Bryant obtained some run within the slot in the course of the preseason, with Shaun Wade and rookies Jack and Marcus Jones rounding out the depth chart.

Jones was the man to cowl Hill prior to now, so he’ll seemingly have these honors once more on Sunday. Jones is as strong as they get, however this isn’t a simple activity for a man taking part in his first recreation since final October.

Can this group include probably the most dynamic receivers within the recreation, whereas additionally containing among the finest younger receivers within the recreation? It is not going to be straightforward, and if both of these burners can get behind the protection, it’ll result in an enormous play. Or a number of huge performs.

One of the simplest ways to fight this shall be attending to Tua and making him get out of his consolation zone. And lot of security assist. Tons and many security assist.

BONUS: Conditioning

An enormous deal has been made about Belichick taking his staff to Florida on Tuesday for every week of apply on the, let’s say, considerably fascinating setup at Palm Seaside Atlantic College in West Palm Seaside — a faculty that doesn’t have a soccer staff. 

The largest issue, nonetheless, is working towards in and acclimating to the humid situations in Florida. Whereas their journey to Vegas within the preseason was scorching, the Patriots shall be coping with an absolute blanket of humidity on Sunday. It is smart to provide your staff as a lot time as attainable to adapt to these situations forward of their first full soccer recreation in eight months. (Matthew Judon will nonetheless be in his lengthy sleeves, in fact.)

Some are calling it a determined transfer, however given the historical past of the Patriots in Miami (no have to revisit that nightmare), is it actually a foul factor to vary it up a bit? Happening on the Friday or Saturday forward of the sport hasn’t labored, with the staff trying gassed a variety of instances late in video games in current historical past. Perhaps three days of apply within the mugginess will do the trick.

We’ll discover out Sunday afternoon.

Tune in to Patriots-Dolphins on WBZ-TV — the tv residence of the New England Patriots! Protection continues Friday night time on WBZ-TV at 7 p.m. with Patriots All Entry. Sunday’s protection kicks off at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, the Patriots and the Dolphins get underway at 1 p.m., and after the sport change over to Patriots fifth Quarter on TV38 for full response and evaluation!



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