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5 Questions: How the Patriots can beat the Dolphins defense

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We spoke with Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider to get insight on Sunday’s game!

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are looking to get back on track against the Miami Dolphins, so we spoke with Kevin Nogle of ThePhinsider.com to get the inside scoop on Miami ahead of this week’s game!

1. Ryan Tannehill is 10-1 in his past 11 starts. What’s been the secret to his success in the offense?

Trust. Adam Gase trusts Ryan Tannehill and Tannehill trusts Gase. Gase has opened the playbook to Tannehill, has not limited him in his ability to audible or limited the plays to which he can audible. The other piece is time. The offense early in 2016 was still trying to learn Adam Gase’s system, and I think a lot of Tannehill’s success late in the 2016 season - prior to his knee injury - was because the rest of the offense were getting onto the same page. Now, after a year off, Tannehill appears to be fully indoctrinated into Gase’s system as is the rest of the offense, and they are continuing where they left off in 2017.

2. The Dolphins moved on from Jarvis Landry this offseason, yet the offense is chugging along. Who are the stars in the Dolphins offense?

The Dolphins offense has several young players who could become stars, but they may not have the star player right now. Kenyan Drake and Kenny Stills are probably the top two names that people may recognize, while Jakeem Grant could quickly join them. Mike Gesicki, the rookie tight end, should become a star - maybe not Rob Gronkowski star but a star - in the next couple of years, but rookie tight ends do not typically breakout. Albert Wilson has the potential to be a star as well, but I think Stills, Drake, and Grant are the top three players who should become known names.

3. How’s Danny Amendola doing?

He is filling the slot well with Landry’s departure. He currently leads the team in receptions and he is the typical slot receiver. Where Landry was the focus of the offense, Miami is looking this year to make sure more players get the ball as they spread it around the offense. Amendola is giving Tannehill that sure-handed receiver in the middle of the field on slants and quick routes. He has looked sharp this year and Tannehill and Amendola have shown they have really great chemistry already.

4. Teams don’t get off to 3-0 starts without complementary football. How is the Dolphins defense different this year and how are they forcing so many turnovers?

The defensive line is disrupting the line of scrimmage, both in pass rush and against the run. They are getting to the quarterback, even if they are not able to actually record the sack every time. The secondary is playing lights out right now - unless it is Jordy Nelson catching the ball - with Xavien Howard showing that he really is a shutdown cornerback.

Pro Football Focus tweeted out a stat this week that Howard has allowed 13 receptions on 43 targets with no touchdowns allowed and seven interceptions over his last nine games. The former editor of The Phinsider, Matt Infante, reworded that to say since Week 12 of 2017, 20 passes have been caught when thrown toward Howard, and 35 percent of them were caught by Howard. Reshad Jones has always been a playmaker and now he is finding more success because Howard is there as well.

5. Are there any weaknesses in the defense that Tom Brady and company might be able to exploit?

The linebackers. That is where Miami’s defense is questionable. Rob Gronkowski could make a killing across the middle if the Dolphins do not match him up with someone like safety/cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick. Attack the linebackers, on the ground and in the air, early to get the defense pushed back onto their heels. Miami will then have to press Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald up for support, and then the deep ball should be open. Exploit the linebackers and there will be success.