1. Dan Campbell seems to have changed the culture and level of play on the field. What makes him so different from Joe Philbin?
Emotions. Philbin is a good guy, and he seems very knowledgeable about the game. His biggest problem was just trying to get the team ready to play. There was never any fire in him. I am not someone who believes a coach has to be screaming on the sideline for him to be effective, but with Philbin, there just never seemed to be any kind of emotion. Campbell has brought that to the team, and, right now, the players are buying into it and it is working.
2. Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh had quiet starts to the season, but they just cranked up their level of production. Is there anything from the first four games that the Patriots can use to their advantage?
I think the biggest issue with telling you how to slow them down is trying to figure out why they were slow at the beginning of the year. It really does not make sense. Wake was dealing with a hamstring issue, so that could be a big part of why he was having an issue, but it does not explain why Suh was so slow as well. Teams were double- and triple-teaming Suh, plus he was constantly being cut blocked, and he was not being effective. Against the Titans and Texans, they were double- and triple-teaming Suh, plus he was getting cut blocked, and he was shedding the blocks and tearing up the offensive lines.
It may just come down to chemistry. Wake and Suh are getting on the same page now, and their play is showing it. Other than the injury, that would really be the only thing that would make sense, because the team really did not change that much when they swapped defensive coordinators after Joe Philbin was fired.
3. Jarvis Landry is one of the most exciting wide receivers in the entire league; have any teams been able to limit him on the field?
I think Landry would be a perfect fit on the Patriots - but you can't Wes Welker him from us this time. Landry is a master of taking the short pass, making some people miss, and getting extra yards that he has no business adding. The funny thing is, he actually has only been targeted nine total times in the combined Week 6 and 7 boxscores for Miami, after being target double digit times in every one of Miami's first four games. He is doing more with less right now, and the Dolphins are loving the benefits.
Landry just seems to have an ability to get open, even when he is double teamed. He did not put up his first receiving touchdown until last week, when he scored from 50-yards away on a play in which he just made the Houston defense look silly. He then backed it up with another score, this one from inside the redzone.
He's not a massive redzone threat, being among the league worst in touchdowns per redzone play for wide receivers, but he is a threat to take it all the way any time he gets his hands on it. I do not think any team has really been able to limit him, at least not in terms of just shutting him out completely. He will get his hands on the ball. From there, the Patriots have to make sure they are solid on their tackling - that's the best way to stop Landry.
4. Ryan Tannehill just set the NFL record for consecutive completions. How has his game changed since Campbell took over?
I think the biggest change in Tannehill's game has been the return of the running game. Tannehill was averaging over 42 pass attempts per game in the first four contests. He threw 29 passes two weeks ago and 19 last week. Having the running game back in the offense has allowed Tannehill to buy some time with the play action and has made teams at least have to respect the possibility of the run, something they were not doing the first four games, when Miami passed a league high 73-percent of the time.
Tannehill seems comfortable in the offense now, and he is making smart decisions with the ball. He has only reached 300 yards passing once this year, but he is playing much better over the past two weeks, with a 97.8 passer rating and a perfect 158.3. The run game has to be a large reason why.
5. Lamar Miller is a great running back, but Patriots fans might want to know more about his back-up. How has Jonas Gray been as a runner this season?
He has 29 carries for 121 yards on the year. When the Dolphins brought Gray back to South Florida, there was a lot of expectation among fans that he would be the answer to the lack of a power running game, especially with rookie Jay Ajayi on the IR/Designated for Return list. The return of the running game the last two weeks, weeks in which Miller ran for 113 and 175 yards, really has not done much for Gray though.
The Dolphins seem to like Damien Williams more than Gray, so he typically gets the first shot at touches after Miller. Williams did fumble against the Texans, leading to their first touchdown, so Gray could see more playing time if the coaches want to send a signal to Williams.
It's really hard to say exactly how Gray has been for Miami since getting back. When he runs, he seems to do decently, averaging a little above four yards per carry. He just does not seem to get as many touches - especially in short yardage situations - as many would have hoped.
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