Michael Floyd made one heck of an introduction on Sunday, making two physical plays that caught everyone’s attention. The first was when he scored a TD bulldozing five Dolphins defenders at the goal line and the second being his soul-crushing block on Julian Edelman’s big catch and run TD. Floyd has only been in Foxboro for a little over three weeks and has played in two games. I have a feeling we’ll see these two plays on Bill Belichick’s weekly plays of the week breakdown this week.
Play #1: Michael Floyd takes the Dolphins secondary into the end zone
The first was Michael Floyd’s touchdown. The Patriots lined up in a Trips Left, Trey Formation with Julian Edelman as the inside slot receiver and Chris Hogan the outer slot receiver. The Dolphins countered with a 42 nickel with a single-high safety in the middle of the field. Tom Brady once again showed his ability to diagnose from the pre-snap phase of the game and used the formation to determine the style of defense his opponents were in. The Dolphins didn’t line up a defender across from Edelman and had two defensive backs in the box around TE Martellus Bennett, tipping zone to the Patriots QB.
The Patriots ran a run-action pass, with LG Joe Thuney pulling around to the right and picking up the Dolphins’ left end while the rest of the offensive line blocks down to their left. The Dolphins blitzed a member from the secondary while dropping five of their six zone defenders right at the sticks. After executing the run fake, that left LeGarrette Blount in a position to pick up the blitzing safety and buy Brady a half-second of time. Thuney is able to slow down the blitzer’s path and then slides down with Blount to double Cameron Wake off the edge. That gave Brady plenty of time to get rid of the ball.
The Patriots route combination to the left was Edelman running a seam route to occupy the single-high safety while Hogan (corner) and Floyd (slant) run a scissors concept underneath it. Hogan is able to get underneath the slot defender and force the defender to have to go over the top of Hogan, creating the space needed for Brady to hit Floyd. In terms of progression, it looked like Floyd was the first read for Brady as he fired the pass immediately after finishing the run fake. Brady hits Floyd out in front at the 9 yard line with a clear path to the sticks. Floyd gains the yards necessary to move the chains and isn’t touched until he reaches the 3. Floyd glances off the blow from the safety while dragging LB Spencer Paysinger and CB Tony Lippett with him to the goal line before reaching out with the ball and falling over the plane of the goal line.
Play #2: Michael Floyd commits first degree murder on a pursuing defensive back to free up Julian Edelman’s path to the end zone
Jokes aside, that was one of the more physical blocks I’ve seen from any WR. I’ve seen Julian Edelman light up some defensive backs and unsuspecting linebackers in the past, but those blocks don’t compare to what Floyd did to Tony Lippett. The Patriots needed a momentum swing after allowing consecutive TD drives to the Dolphins to shrink a 20-0 lead to 20-14. On a 3rd down and 7, the Patriots desperately needed a 3rd down conversion. Needing 7 yards, they wound up getting 77.
The Dolphins showed a potential 8-man blitz against the Patriots 7 defenders in the box. The Dolphins of all teams should know that blitzing Brady is virtually an exercise in futility. The defense was expecting Brady to target Edelman as the hot read and had 3 guys ready to make the tackle against a potential screen or no pattern route, but the Patriots outsmarted them there. Edelman runs a short 5-yard out and stops between the 3 defenders as Brady delivers the pass. The timing of the pass allows for Edelman to easily convert the 3rd down before a defender puts a hand on him. After that, that’s where the fun starts.
After making Bacarri Rambo miss, that left just Alonso and Lippett in pursuit. Alonso fails to get a hand on Edelman to slow him and down and runs himself out of the play. That left Lippett as the only defender with a play on Edelman until Michael Floyd did this.
The devastating block, which left Lippett in need of medical attention, took out the only obstacle between Edelman and the end zone. The good news is that Lippett was able to return to the game on the very next drive, which allows us to celebrate that block without guilt. While the block wasn’t unnoticed by anyone watching and eventually went viral on social media, that’s the type of play you like to see with home field advantage on the line. Hopefully Floyd continues to bring the same level of intensity to the game over the next five weeks as the Patriots are hoping for a successful Super Bowl run. Also as a side note, any Patriots fans living in Miami should check the obituaries to see if Tony Lippett ended up in there.