4 matchups to look at for throughout Patriots vs. Dolphins


The Patriots’ banged-up offensive line might trigger points each in go safety and the run sport on Sunday.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) is defended by New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass.
Jonathan Jones can have his palms full towards Tyreek Hill on Sunday evening. AP Photograph/Greg M. Cooper

After developing simply quick towards the Eagles throughout their season opener at Gillette Stadium, Mac Jones and the Patriots will look to get within the win column on Sunday evening towards the Dolphins.

Kick-off is ready for 8:20 p.m.

There have been some positives to remove from New England’s loss to Philadelphia, however the highway gained’t get any simpler on Sunday towards a high-powered Miami offense.

Listed here are 4 matchups to maintain tabs on throughout Sunday’s AFC East showdown.

New England’s O-line vs. the damage report

The Dolphins’ go rush isn’t as formidable because the Eagles, which led the NFL final season with 70.0 sacks — 15.0 greater than the second-place Steelers.

However given the decimated personnel that New England might need to roll out in entrance of Mac Jones on Sunday, even a pedestrian go rush stands an opportunity to utterly thwart Invoice O’Brien’s gameplan on offense.

The Patriots have been dealt a significant blow final Sunday towards the Eagles, with their two beginning guards in Mike Onwenu (ankle) and Cole Unusual (knee) dominated out attributable to damage.

The damage report this week has been much more dour. Each Onwenu and Unusual are nonetheless restricted attributable to their illnesses, with beginning heart David Andrews becoming a member of them as a restricted participant attributable to a hamstring difficulty.

To make issues worse, beginning left sort out Trent Brown and reserve guard Sidy Sow didn’t follow each Wednesday and Thursday attributable to concussions.

The Patriots offensive line did handle to carry up towards the Eagles’ go rush final week, with Jones solely sacked twice — each coming late within the fourth quarter.

But when Brown and Sow will not be obtainable towards Miami, New England might need to fit veteran Calvin Anderson over to left sort out and push a lately acquired sort out like Vederian Lowe or Tyrone Wheatley Jr. into one other beginning spot on the fitting facet.

Rookie Jake Andrews may very well be pressed into service at heart if David Andrews isn’t cleared to play, whereas the opposite vacant guard spot is likely to be stuffed by a carousel of depth items, together with the odd man out of the Wheatley/Lowe rotation at sort out. A practice-squad candidate like James Ferentz is also elevated for Sunday’s sport.

Though Jones managed to maintain himself off the gridiron for a majority of Sunday’s sport towards Philadelphia, even a split-second of additional time within the pocket can go a great distance towards preserving the Patriots QB locked in on offense.

As famous by Nicole Yang of The Boston Globewhen Jones is stored clear within the pocket, he has accomplished 73.7 % of his throws with a mean of 6.3 yards. When pressured, he has accomplished 43.8 % of his passes with a mean of 4.8 yards per try.

In response to NextGen Stats, Jones’s common time to throw was 2.52 seconds towards the Eagles, twenty eighth within the league in Week 1.

That point may very well be restricted even additional if the Dolphins handle to hurry previous no matter sort out depth New England rolls out on Sunday.

Jonathan Jones vs. Tyreek Hill 

If the Patriots wish to squish the fish on Sunday, they’re going to must discover a method to restrict Tua Tagovailoa and an explosive Miami offense that posted 36 factors and 17 performs of 15+ yards in Week 1 towards the Chargers.

And in relation to explosive expertise, Miami’s offense is anchored by arguably probably the most gifted receiver within the NFL, Tyreek Hill.

With Hill’s straight-line acceleration, the Dolphins can stretch the sphere and burn defenses with ease. Hill reeled in 11 catches for 215 yards and two scores towards Los Angeles final weekend.

However New England does have a possible equalizer in speedy nook Jonathan Jones.

As famous by Mark Daniels of MassLive.com, Jones has matched up towards Hill six occasions in his profession. In these video games, Hill has seven catches on 16 targets for 88 yards towards Jones. Opposing QBs have a 35.4 passer score when focusing on Hill with the Patriots’ defensive again in protection.

As he’s performed towards most NFL groups, Hill burned Belichick and the Patriots in his first few matchups towards New England.

In 2017, Hill caught seven passes for 133 yards and a landing towards the Patriots. The next yr, Hill had seven passes for 142 yards with three touchdowns towards New England.

However issues shifted after Belichick opted to place the fleet-footed Jones in protection towards Hill, counting on Jones’ velocity to try to decelerate the star wideout.

In fact, Jones will probably want some assist, with Belichick and Co. commonly doubling Hill by placing a security excessive as added insurance coverage in case Hill sprints previous Jones.

Jones did land on the damage report Thursday attributable to an ankle difficulty and reportedly wasn’t seen at follow on Friday. But when he’s on the market on Sunday, anticipate loads of protection snaps towards the Dolphins’ prime offensive weapon. If he’s not, New England might need to considerably overhaul its whole defensive sport plan.

Granted, Hill is much from the one dominant receiver that Tagovailoa can throw to. Speedy slot receiver Jaylen Waddle has additionally burned New England previously, together with a landing towards New England on fourth down in 2022’s season opener.

With Jonathan Jones probably preserving tabs on Hill, it may very well be a giant sport for Marcus Jones and Myles Bryant within the slot towards Waddle.

Rhamondre Stevenson/Ezekiel Elliott vs. Miami’s rush protection

Shutting down Hill and placing stress on Tagovailoa will assist New England hamper Miami’s offense in Week 2.

However one of the simplest ways to maintain the Dolphins’ offense contained is likely to be to easily maintain them off the sphere.

New England has the personnel in place to achieve constant yardage on the bottom and drain the clock with each Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott within the backfield.

And if there’s one space for the Patriots to take advantage of towards Vic Fangio’s protection, it’s within the trenches.

Towards the Chargers, Miami relinquished a league-high 234 speeding yards in Week 1.

Fairly than danger damage to Jones or depend on him to throw the ball 50+ occasions as he did towards Philly, the Patriots QB ought to be capable of do loads of harm by simply handing the ball off to Stevenson and Elliott.

However New England’s offensive line woes loom massive right here. With the inside of their O-line decimated in Week 1, the Patriots struggled to ascertain the run sport, gaining simply 76 speeding yards on 22 makes an attempt (3.5 yards per carry).

“I feel that’s one thing we are able to actually enhance on this week,” David Andrews stated of the speeding assault on Wednesday. “Miami, I feel they’ve a extremely good entrance, so it’s going to be a extremely huge problem. Christian Wilkins leads the league in tackles yearly from the sort out place. He’s a extremely good run participant. They simply have a extremely good entrance.”

If the Patriots’ offensive line can’t create holes up the center for Stevenson and Elliott to run by means of, Invoice O’Brien might need to get artistic together with his formations to be able to discover methods for that duo to achieve chunk yardage off of outdoor runs.

This may very well be one other matchup the place the Patriots dial up the “pony” formation, the place each Stevenson and Elliott line up on the sphere subsequent to Jones.

“I feel it’s powerful on the protection once we’re on the sphere collectively,” Elliott stated Thursday of the unorthodox formation. “They don’t know what’s going to occur. One in every of us may very well be blocking, considered one of us may very well be releasing for a route, considered one of us may very well be operating.

“There’s so many alternative issues we might do once we’re on the sphere collectively. It causes a bit little bit of headache for the protection.”

Mac Jones vs. Vic Fangio’s protection

Regardless of a sluggish begin and lackluster end in Week 1, Mac Jones and the Patriots offense was a lot improved from the simplified, dysfunctional offense run by Matt Patricia and Joe Choose in 2022.

Jones completed with a career-high in accomplished passes (35) whereas throwing for 316 passing yards and three touchdowns. Even with a number of blemishes, together with his excessive throw that resulted in a 70-yard pick-6 from Eagles CB Darius Slay, there’s a lot for Jones and Invoice O’Brien to construct off of in Week 2.

However Jones and New England ought to face loads of challenges towards Miami and their new defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio, who is among the extra revered defensive minds within the NFL.

“Defensively, clearly it’s been a giant overhaul for them, with Vic coming in,” Belichick stated on Wednesday. “I’ve a ton of respect for Vic as a coach and what he’s performed within the a number of occasions we’ve confronted him and simply watching his groups through the years, very disciplined, sound and intensely well-coached, well-prepared protection.”

Fangio’s protection normally options loads of Cowl-2, with the scheme centered on taking away huge performs for the opposing offense. Granted, Jones and the Patriots aren’t precisely a big-play offense, with Jones normally at his greatest when counting on screens, quick passes, and explosive performs generated by yards after the catch.

This may very well be a sport the place the Patriots do loads of harm with choices out of the slot. JuJu Smith-Schuster may very well be in line to bounce again from a lackluster debut towards Philly.

However this is also a possible breakout sport for rookie Demario Douglas, who performed 33 snaps and reeled in 4 catches towards the Eagles.