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Patriots vs. Dolphins: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 33-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Well that sucked.

A whole offseason, tons of hype, everything in the world to be excited about, and the Pats came out and lost their season opener - a rarity in the Tom Brady Era. At the end of the day, it's really not that big a deal, but when it has been over a decade since New England started a season 0-1, it's a lot easier for everyone to panic regarding what transpired yesterday. But I promise you: as bad as yesterday sucked, there's no reason to panic. Lot of games to play yet.

Still, this taste in my mouth is no fun, so let's just get to the Fan Notes so we can all start forgetting about this one.

  • First Fan Note of the season!
  • Wow - that was a really lame Fan Note to start the season. And this one isn't much better.
  • Helloooooo Dolphins cheerleaders.
  • If Rob Gronkowski puts any more braces on his body they are going to need a Wizard of Oz style oil can to keep him mobile when it starts raining.
  • As of this note, we're exactly one minute into the season, and no Stevan Ridley fumbles. Progress!
  • Sure is a good thing we cut that long snapper, eh?
  • Don't know how you can possibly start a season any better for the Miami Dolphins than the way they started this one. Maybe if Brady and Gronk had both been lost for the season on that first third down miss, but other than that, a three and out, a blocked punt, and an easy touchdown to get a ton of momentum and instill some confidence is about as sweet as you can get.
  • New England, on the other hand...
  • To say that I'm not happy with the O-line play overall is the equivalent of saying that I'm not really a fan of paying a little extra for organic vegetables. The offensive line was flat-out awful yesterday. It's important to give credit where credit is due and give the Dolphins rush the praise that it deserves, but when you only rush four and the pocket starts to collapse literally the second the ball is snapped, you know there are other factors at play besides a sold pass rush. I'm sure there are Dolphins fans everywhere talking about how Pats fans aren't giving any credit to the Fins D and instead are blaming it all on the offensive line, but the fact of the matter is this is the NFL, and NO LINE should collapse that quickly - not even for the '85 Bears.
  • New England's first scoring drive relied heavily on quick releases and a lot of hitch routes by the receivers. Time will tell if that strategy was game-plan specific or because Belichick knows that Tommy B is going to spend the next 16 weeks running for his life.
  • Maybe they should just blast this all day, every day during practice.
  • The Red Zone Channel on NFL Network showed WAAAAY more coverage of the Steelers/Browns game than they had any business showing. Guys, chill. Johnny Manziel isn't even playing.
  • A few bright spots from yesterday, and one of them was Jamie Collins. He had a very good game overall, including laying that monster hit on Mike Wallace to knock the ball loose for New England's first quarter fumble recovery. Good thing, too, because if the Patriots coaching staff has any sense at all, New England will be playing with one less linebacker in their base formation.
  • I'm not going to spend too much time harping on the offensive line; today is overreaction Monday, and I have a funny feeling that we'll be hearing plenty about the line over the next...oh, I don't know...twelve years or so.
  • Tommy B definitely forced a few to Gronk yesterday. You figure with all this time playing without him, he would have gotten over that hump. He was also inaccurate at times even when he wasn't under pressure. One pass to a wide open Julian Edelman that sailed over his head on 3rd down comes immediately to mind. It's likely because Brady was never able to get into a rhythm and feel truly comfortable back there, but you need to hold Tommy B accountable for his mistakes as well.
  • Dolphins stadium looked half full all day. What the hell, Miami? You live in South Florida, it's a beautiful day, your team is opening up their season against a heated division rival and hoping to make a statement to the rest of the NFL, and the most orange I see in the stands is from all the empty seats. Poor form.
  • Anybody know if Chandler Jones started yesterday? I saw a guy in a 95 jersey, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't Jones.
  • In his defense, he was (for some crazy reason) asked to shift semi-regularly between 4 and 5 technique. Jones is best at rushing in of the edge and using his length to get to the quarterback from the 5. He isn't built to eat up blocks. He should leave that to Vince Wilfork and me when I see a tray of cheese cubes.
  • Another bright spot yesterday was secondary play. There was a lot to like all over the field from the secondary, not in the least the Alfonzo Dennard pick. Dennard has a knack for attacking the ball at it's highest point, which is something I wish New England's receivers were a little better at. Dont'a Hightower gets credit for the pick as well; he read the RB spy and came in on the delay blitz to rush Tannehill's throw.
  • The Dolphins only punted once all game. New England didn't get a third down stop until two minutes to go in the first half. I don't care how many turnovers you generate, those stats don't equal wins.
  • How do you let Cameron Wake come through completely unblocked when you're backed up in your own end zone?
  • Trent Green made the observation that the Patriots were very conservative with the long ball just before Julian Edelman made the catch of his career. Feel free to keep blathering, Trent.
  • I would love to apply the term "questionable" to everyday life. It's like this beautiful word that lets you answer a question to everybody's satisfaction, despite the fact that you haven't said anything worthwhile, and forces no follow-up whatsoever.
  • Hey Alec, you coming to work today? I think I'm Questionable.
  • Oh my Lord that smells horrible! Alec, was that you? Questionable
  • Have you been sitting there on the couch watching football all day? Questionable.
  • The possibilities are endless.
  • "11 plays, 94 yards, Gronkowski with the touchdown catch." Here's to exactly eleventy-billion more calls just like that one from Gumbell.
  • The play of that long scoring drive was hands down the Shane Vereen touchdown run on 3rd and 10. What was obviously a conservative playcall to give Ryan Allen a little more of a cushion became a new set of downs on a long scoring drive thanks to Vereen's shiftiness and some good blocking from Kenbrell Thompkins.
  • Can you imagine what this game would have been like if Vereen hadn't gotten that first down? Would the Patriots have done anything at all of note in this one?
  • I can guarantee you that every single time a kicker sends a kickoff out of the end zone and through the uprights, there are at least 50 shoemakers nationwide who throw their hands up and yell "It's good!" thinking that nobody else has ever done that before.
  • The thought of having children gives me hives - but I'm almost tempted to rethink my opinion based on that commercial with the little girl who can't reach the moon.
  • If the Patriots front four has trouble bringing Knowshon Moreno down, I'm going to be very sad going forward.
  • I wonder what the Vegas odds were on Darrelle Revis's first turnover as a Patriot was a fumble recovery...
  • I got pretty despondent for a minute on that Lamar Miller fumble, as I was sure that there was a flag thrown. Luckily for me, it was just Miller literally getting knocked out of his shoes by Logan Ryan.
  • How about we just put a flag on the entire class of quarterbacks and just call it a day. You know that's where it's going.
  • It's never a good thing when you completely forget that your first round draft pick is even in the game until he gets flagged for Encroachment.
  • Malcolm Butler on Brian Hartline shows a tremendous amount of confidence in an undrafted rookie.
  • Einstein once defined insanity the act of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I guess by starting Stevan Ridley this week in my fantasy league, I'm insane.
  • I looked out my window at halftime of this game and saw what an unbelievably gorgeous day it was outside. I then looked down at my (shirtless) gut, my (pantsless) legs, and my (pasty) hands, and found myself wishing for the first time for it to be cold and grey outside so I feel a little less worthless spending half of my weekend indoors for the next five months.
  • For all this talk about how the Patriots are boasting the best defense in years and how much trouble offenses are going to have moving the ball against them, what I saw yesterday was a defense that lived and died off turnovers, allowed teams to move the ball and will between the 20s, and stiffened up in the red zone. You could take that description and apply it to literally any unit since about 2009 or so. Absolutely zero change whatsoever from years past.
  • What would you do if you saw Bob Kraft attending a game in a stained tank top and a pair of cargo shorts?
  • Remember how the Patriots were the best in the league at halftime adjustments? Any way we can get back to being those guys again? Waddaya say?
  • If your strategy is to let Moreno have a field day so the quarterback doesn't get into a rhythm throwing the ball, I have zero problem with it - if that quarterback's name is Peyton Manning. But when it's Ryan Tannehill, you have to wonder what the hell is going on.
  • Oh good -Vollmer is hurt. This O-Line is playing great, they don't need him anyway.
  • Anybody who wants to blame the offensive line's dismal, dismal, dismal day on the Logan Mankins trade needs to remember that this is a five man unit, and literally every single one of them took a massive, steaming dump out there yesterday.
  • First - and only - New England sack of the day wasn't until the 4th quarter, a Jerod Mayo delayed blitz has had a fair amount of success over the years against Tannehill.
  • Anybody know what the Thursday Night game is this week? I have absolutely no idea, CBS wasn't advertising it.
  • Think yesterday's game has anything to do with Brady's beard? I can almost guarantee you that he rage-shaved it this morning, hopefully with a dull machete by a mountain stream.
  • I'm thinking about just sticking to the Pulpit this week for my sports news. Boston sports media is bad enough when the Pats win, and I don't even want to know what they're going to say today.
  • When Miami iced the game with just over three minutes left to play, I honestly almost breathed a sigh of relief. It's like I spent the entire second half just waiting for Miami to break open the game, and when it finally happened I got to begin the grieving process.
  • I'll tell you what scares me most about this game: Moreno isn't a big back. He's not a bruiser. He's not a guy known to break through tackles and get huge yards after the carry. He completely bowled over the Patriots yesterday and there wasn't a damn thing anybody could do about it. On the plus side, I don't even know who Minnesota's running back is, so there's no way we'll have any trouble stopping the run next week.

Absolutely nobody listened to me all offseason, but there was just something about this game that didn't sit well with me the day the schedule came out. This game meant WAY more to Miami than it did New England, and that was glaringly obvious from the start. But you know what? That's OK. The Packers and Saints lost as well, and the Broncos almost got upset at home. Lots of football left to play. Time to use this opportunity to fix the fixable, correct the correctable, and get this season back on track.

And welcome to all the Fins fans who have come to our site this morning to read these articles and bathe in our tears. Enjoy it.