The Dolphins game was just uninspired in both coaching and in execution. The Patriots approached it like a preseason game, with atypical goals for establishing the run and draining the clock. And just like the preseason, the Patriots will use the film to see how and where they can improve.
"We're just kind of getting through finishing up the Miami game," head coach Bill Belichick said on Monday. "And then we'll talk about what we feel is the best way to use our time, most productive way to use it as a staff and as our team, whether it be individual players or different units, but how to get the most out of the time that we have available."
Since the Patriots don't know their next opponent, they need to work on what they can control. The running game was all sorts of ugly due to poor blocking by the offensive line and the coaches can work on a fix over the bye week.
"[We're going to review] things that we need to work on regardless of who we play," Belichick said.
Here's a quick list of what the Patriots can work on without knowing their divisional round opponent:
Whether it's for the run game or the passing game, the Patriots really failed to excel on a consistent basis. Linemen were late to their lanes, or were just physically overpowered by the Dolphins veterans. The general inexperience can't be fixed over the bye week, and neither can the physical capabilities of these players. But the Patriots can use this time to work on the little communications errors that can go a long way in protecting Tom Brady and opening up rushing lanes.
2) Setting the edge
The Dolphins attacked Rob Ninkovich around the edge because the Patriots veteran was battling a leg injury. The edge was also weak because of injuries at both the linebacker and the safety levels of the defense, allowing the Dolphins offensive line to capitalize. Other teams have focused their rushing attack towards the outside because of the Patriots' injuries. Hopefully Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Patrick Chung, and Devin McCourty will play at 100%, or else the coaches will need to design a way for Jerod Mayo to be more of a playmaker.
3) Develop another receiver
Sure, the Patriots will likely have Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola back on the field in the divisional round, but the Patriots need to examine how and why the Dolphins were able to completely shut down the offense. Brandon LaFell needs to spend time in the film room to see how he can be more effective.