This right here is pretty telling about why so many teams around the league seem to freak themselves out and/or momentarily black out when they play the Patriots especially at home:
The entire Miami Dolphins defense knew exactly what the Patriots were going to run on offense, because they’d practiced those exact plays.
They practiced well. The Dolphins took written tests (plural!), and graded out well.
Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke called his defense accordingly.
The Dolphins spent “much of the offseason” preparing for their two games in Week 12 AND Week 14 - and still got embarrassed when the Patriots outscored them in both halves, and as John Madden would surely be happy to tell you, “The team that scores the most points is going to win this game!”
That’s all according to a report in the Miami Herald on Thursday afternoon on how Miami’s Monday film study went, and the title really says it all:
You hear a lot of talk about how making mistakes against Tom Brady is something TB12 will absolutely barbecue you every time - here’s how it goes down in real life.
New England ran 67 plays on offense.
Monday’s film sesh revealed that the Dolphins committed 20 “mental errors or busts”.
Which, of course, is giving the most productive offense in football a chance to make you pay approximately every three plays.
If you’re like most folks in New England that’ve watched Miami brag about stealing tapes of New England’s play-calling, spend on the league’s biggest free agents every year trying to catch up to the Patriots with star power, and of course, heard Don Shula trash Bill Belichick like Bill stole his girl or something, then some of these defensive breakdowns are just what you need to head into this weekend with a big old smirk on your face.
Here’s just a few (and you really owe it to yourself to read the entire thing):
I’m told Burke went through each and every one of those busts Monday morning — explaining what went wrong, asking culprits to talk through why they blew assignments and trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Sounds kind of like Bill’s “Johnny from Foxborough High”, right?
Head coach Adam Gase, who normally doesn’t participate in these defensive meetings, sat in for the beginning of the 90-minute affair. He left after about 15 minutes and later asked Burke if the whole session was as harsh as the first 15 minutes.
The answer: Yes, it was.
Welcome to the NFL, rookie:
(Cordrea) Tankersley dropped a coverage on that opening drive because he thought his assignment called for him to pick up Brandin Cooks running a deep post. He was instead supposed to stay with Phillip Dorsett, who was running a crossing route.
That, of course, turned into a 39-yard catch-and-run for Dorsett.
Another round, please!
Reshad Jones had to account for losing leverage on one Rob Gronkowski touchdown and making a check [a new coverage call] that leads to a wide open pass to Gronkowski for another touchdown.
Both (TJ) McDonald and (Kiko) Alonso rallied to Gronkowski who was a check-down option 4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. That left the field behind those two defenders wide open for Cooks to exploit.
“We are playing zone coverage there, and the underneath defenders got aggressive on short routes that they don’t need to be covering on third-and-14,” Burke said, “and that opened up the window for the deep throw behind.”
Let’s do some 101 analysis on that last one. Without knowing what the actual play-call was, Miami’s in a zone defense on 3rd and 14. First of all, this is the exact same type of play-calling that’s allowed Tom Brady to shred Pittsburgh’s defense for, what, 10 years now? Even if they stick with a zone, though, it’s still 3rd and 14, and the underneath defenders are jumping in front of guys running short routes.
Now, admittedly, your faithful writer here has never played defense at the NFL level. Or the college level. Or anything beyond the neighborhood level, really. That being said, though: playing zone on third-and-forever, and your guys are either selling out trying to make the big play and leaving wide open spaces behind them, or....well, actually, that sounds like pretty much exactly what happened.
If New England wants to run quick slants or crossing routes or whatever on 3rd and 14, I don’t know, maybe don’t worry about a 3-yard completion and just play to make the tackle well in advance of the sticks?
Make fun of Belichick’s “Do Your Job” all you want - this kind of puking-in-public-level embarrassment is what happens when you don’t.
Which, to be fair, the Patriots defense would know a bit about that this year too.