Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is 0-3 in his games against the New England Patriots, dating to the start of the 2016 season. The Patriots won those games 31-24, 35-14, and 35-17. New England also built up halftime leads of 24-3, 20-7, and 21-10 and scored touchdowns on their first drives of the third quarter.
A combination of the strong start and the score after the break put the Dolphins out of contention before the fourth quarter and Gase knows what needs to change if Miami is to have a chance to beat the Patriots on Monday.
“We’ve started slow in all three games,” Gase said. “I think it’s really hard to challenge them the way you need to challenge them if you’re down 21, 14, 20 (points) before you even get going. They’re a hard enough team to play when it’s close; and now all of a sudden you give them a big lead and you’re trying to say ‘Hey, we’ve got to score every drive and then we have to stop them.’ That’s a tough thing to do.
“We need to do a better job of being competitive early and try to see how long we stay tight with them. That’s when you have to go try and win in the fourth quarter. There’s not too many times where you see teams get a lead and keep a lead for the entirety of the game. To beat them, it’s going to be close; and you’ve got to keep it close and then in the fourth quarter you have to make plays to beat them.”
In those three games, the Dolphins average two turnovers over the first three quarters, a surefire way to allow the Patriots to build up a multi-score lead. And once New England has the advantage they can dictate the pace of the game and take advantage of the Dolphins’ need to throw the ball.
Gase acknowledges that the Dolphins seem to make huge mistakes early in the game before settling in to compete with the Patriots in the second half. That opinion seems to be mostly rooted in his very first game against the Patriots, where Miami finished the day with three touchdowns and a field goal over their final six drives, and the other two drives ended in turnovers inside field goal range.
But other than that first game, the Dolphins haven’t done much in the second half against the Patriots, scoring just twice (both touchdowns) on 13 drives.
Miami will always have a chance to beat the Patriots, winning roughly a third of the games since Bill Belichick was named New England’s head coach in 2000. The Patriots had also lost their previous three games in Miami, prior to Gase becoming the Dolphins head coach, so Hard Rock Stadium isn’t the most friendly for New England.
If the Dolphins are going to compete with the Patriots, they’re going to need a better start- and Belichick and the Patriots are going to do everything in their power to make sure New England’s early leads against Miami continue this Monday night.