I feel like there are two camps of thought around Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry: you either love him, or you hate him.
Landry is tied with former college teammate Odell Beckham Jr. for the most receptions in the first three seasons of a career in NFL history (288 catches). He has averaged 1,017 yards per season. He’s one of the top two or three slot receivers in the league from a production standpoint.
But Landry is also viewed as overrated by some because of the sheer volume of opportunities he receives in the Dolphins offense, and will note that he is less efficient than other slot players like Doug Baldwin and Cole Beasley.
And then there are Landry’s brutal decisions on the field:
This hit to the back of Chung's head by Landry can't be allowed either, right? pic.twitter.com/KiHa2AfgTK— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) September 19, 2016
So you can either love him or hate him; odds are pretty good that your feelings about Landry are closely aligned with how much you support the Dolphins.
And those odds also match up with how you will feel about Landry’s recent comments during a promotional tour of the NFL in the UK, as shared by MMQB’s Peter King.
“Some will leap to a headline based on what Landry told a London audience Monday night,” King writes. “Landry predicted the Dolphins would beat New England twice this season, and that doing it with Tom Brady still in his prime would add to the satisfaction of his predicted sweep.”
Landry says the Dolphins will beat the New England Patriots twice? And that to-be 40-year-old Tom Brady is still in his prime? Let’s check the numbers, shall we?
Fact: the Patriots have not been swept by an AFC East opponent since 2000, when both the Dolphins and the New York Jets managed the feat.
Fact: Brady has never been swept by an AFC East opponent while as a starter.
Fact: the Patriots have swept an AFC East opponent 27 times since 2000, including the Dolphins in 2016.
Fact: King notes that the Patriots led the Dolphins by a combined score of 44-0 at the two-minute warning before halftime in their 2016 games.
Fact: the term “prime” no longer applies to Brady; players thriving after their 30th birthday are now said to be “Bradying.”
Will the Dolphins sweep the Patriots in 2017?
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So what has led Landry to make these claims?
“If you’re a competitor, that’s the way you should feel, and I don’t mind saying it,” Landry said a day later. “It’s time for a change. I have all the respect in the world for the Patriots, and I respect Tom Brady tremendously. But they’re not our big brother anymore.”
“Coach Gase,” Landry said [when asked why he felt so confident], riding the bus back from Tuesday night’s event in a suburb of Liverpool. “He’s flipped the switch with us. New England’s won the division 14 of the last 16 years, something like that? It’s ridiculous. It’s a problem. We cannot let that happen anymore. What I’ve seen is, when we play that game, sometimes we focus on the guys on the other side of the line instead of just focusing on us. And I want to be part of that change. I want to go into the games against New England expecting to win—that’s something we need to do.”
“I love playing in Miami. I want to play my career there,” he said. “When I was 8, 9 years old, playing with 14, 15-year-olds, I didn’t care how old they were, I just grew to hate second place. Losing, sometimes I need to just get lost after a game because it hurts so much. I just live for winning. If we sat down right now and played Connect Four, I’d be pissed off if you beat me. It’s in me. It’s a still a hill to climb with New England, but we need to expect to win. That’s it.”
Landry is 100% correct here. Teams can’t beat the Patriots if they’re worried about what the Patriots are going to do; that’s how teams overthink in the game and get washed away. There have only been a few teams that just don’t care what the Patriots do and they have given New England the most trouble: the Ravens, the recent Broncos, the Giants, and the Seahawks are four teams that come to mind.
Unfortunately for Landry, those four teams that give the Patriots the biggest problems have done so with great defensive performances, which is kind of out of Landry’s control.
The Patriots care about the opposing team as far as it comes to the initial game plan. Do they have a good run defense? Okay, we’ll pass the ball. Does their best receiver require double coverage? Okay, we’ll give that cornerback safety help. Once the game starts, the Patriots shift their focus to executing their game plan and not worrying about the other team.
New England has gone 6-0 against the AFC East just twice under head coach Bill Belichick, so it’s not like the Patriots are invincible. The Dolphins have 12 wins over the Patriots during that time, the most of all AFC opponents, and are 9-8 while playing at home. If any AFC East team were to sweep the Patriots in 2017, it would be the Dolphins.
But the only way I see the Dolphins sweeping the Patriots would be if the league schedules a hot weather 1:00 PM game at humid Miami early in September or the Dolphins get to use their December homefield magic where they have a 4-1 record against the Patriot, and then pairs the two teams in week 17 while the Patriots already have their playoff seed locked up.
Landry has certainly made a lofty prediction for 2017. Let’s see if it comes true.