It was a poor showing. The Patriots interior line was deplorable, the defense couldn't stop a leaky faucet, and Tom Brady totally needs to shave that beard and work on his body language.
But the worst performance of the day goes directly to the Patriots coaching staff.
The pairings on the offensive line spun around more than any revolving door they could be compared to. While the starters Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, and Sebastian Vollmer were all below average, the rotation of Dan Connolly-Jordan Devey and Ryan Wendell-Dan Connolly was the low-point for the squad.
Devey proved that he has so much further to go before he's NFL starting quality. Wendell was pushing back into the back field more than anyone with a starting job should allow. Connolly was just as good as he's always been, and I'm not sure if that's a compliment.
Rookie Bryan Stork has to be licking his chops because there's no way the offensive line could be any worse that it was today. The rotation just prevented the players from generating any sort of rhythm and led to Brady getting crushed from the blindside, from the front side, and up the middle. Throw the rookie into the fray.
Beyond just the offensive line, the rest of the offensive play calling was atrocious in the second half. Rob Gronkowski saw two snaps as the Patriots 20-10 lead slipped into a 30-20 deficit. Coordinator Josh McDaniels called upon the infamous "Wheel Route just beyond Shane Vereen's finger tips" play that always seems to place the offense in a 3rd-and-long situation, and that was with the game in a manageable 23-20 situation.
However they deemed it necessary to throw bombs to Brandon LaFell with a zero percent success rate. And they gave some of Vereen's snaps to Brandon Bolden. And they gave Julian Edelman's slip screens to Danny Amendola. And they stopped throwing it to Kenbrell Thompkins, even though he was the only outside receiver to generate any sort of offense for the team.
These were just some of negative coaching decisions that led to the offense's demise. Never mind that the offensive line couldn't protect Brady for more than two seconds; McDaniels kept dialing up deep throws instead of allowing Brady to throw quick dump-off passes to move the chains.
And still, the offense's play calling was better than the defense's because at least the offense put together a quality first half.
For whatever reason, Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia thought it worthwhile to take the Patriots best pass rusher, Chandler Jones, and neuter him with a two-gapping 3-4 defensive end role. That is, they made his primary function to open up lanes for linebackers to make plays.
Add in Joe Vellano at the opposing defensive end position, and you have two ends without two-gap capability. The Dolphins rushing attack gashed the Patriots for 5 and 6 yard gains play after play after play and still the Patriots coaches didn't adjust.
Perhaps play Sealver Siliga with Vince Wilfork and Joe Vellano if you truly want to stay in the 3-4 front. Or maybe play the 4-3 front like the roster was intended.
Moving to the secondary, it wasn't a bad day by any means. Devin McCourty held court as the free safety and Pat Chung played well at strong safety. Alfonzo Dennard was benched (cramps?) for rookie Malcolm Butler, who Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline shook for more than a couple solid gains.
And then the match-ups. When they weren't in zone, the Patriots put Darrelle Revis in man coverage on speedster Mike Wallace, who found himself behind Revis in the open field more than a couple times. A better quarterback would have buried the Patriots. Kyle Arrington, who performed extremely well against Wallace last season, was nowhere to be found.
This team has spent the last few seasons defining itself as a 4-3 front with tight man coverage, but instead played the 3-4 with poor match-ups in the secondary.
Rob Gronkowski was the offense, per usual, and he spent the early part of the game shaking himself free of the rust he's gathered over the past year. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo were cleaning themselves of rust, too.
Unfortunately, it seems as if the coaching staff were content in their coat of rust and no adjustments were made over the course of the game.
While some players were clearly outmatched on the field, the coaches should shoulder the blame for the lack of adjustments to put the team in the best place to succeed.