This is what we learned from the Patriots 31-24 victory over the Dolphins.
Jimmy Garoppolo looks like the real deal
The third-year quarterback went 18 for 27 for 234 yards and three touchdowns in less than a half of play. He was outstanding and he is the real deal. His shoulder injury isn’t a broken bone, so hopefully he can come back for Thurday’s game against the Texans.
He’s needed because Jacoby Brissett wasn’t able to generate much offense on his own.
LeGarrette Blount is so much more effective to the outside
Blount picked up 123 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, but his most important effort came on the Patriots final drive when he ground out first down after first down and drained the clock. He was clutch and everything the Patriots needed after Garoppolo went down.
Martellus Bennett is going to have a big impact
Bennett picked up 114 yards and a touchdown on 5 receptions and added some solid blocking. He’s been better-than-advertised since the Patriots acquired him and he was dominant against the Dolphins. He was making plays in the open field and we just have to wonder how great this offense can and will be when Rob Gronkowski returns
The defense just vanished in the second half
The defense was outstanding in the first half, but just stopped caring in the second half. Ryan Tannehill completed almost every single pass in the second half until the final interception as the cornerbacks weren’t even competitive in the passing game. The pass rush was non-existent, too. The coaching staff will have to find a way to get both units on the same page against the Texans.
Special teams had a lousy day
Ryan Allen had a lackluster day with a 32 yard per punt average, and Stephen Gostkowski missed what could have been a game-icing field goal. The Patriots need these two to be reliable because every advantage helps with Tom Brady off the field.
The Patriots are 2-0 without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski
And this is what is important. The Patriots are 2-0 against an NFC Championship team and a division rival without their two best players. What more can you ask for?