Everyone OK? Has everyone had enough time to recover?
Yesterday’s game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins was unlike anythig I have seen in my 31 years of watching professional football. It was over before it began, it looked little more complicated than a scrimmage, and the Patriots just stomped all over the Fins in a six touchdown win that could easily have been eight or nine had their brand new receiver had more than a few days to acclimate himself to the offense. It may come out today that the Dolphins actually dressed 53 cardboard cutouts and there weren’t actually people out there yesterday and I wouldn’t even bat an eye.
I don’t know about any of you, but I’ll take 43-0 over a last-minute nailbiter any day of the week.
- I’ll be honest - I didn’t buy into all the “Miami is tanking” talk. Yes, they traded away all their assets to build for the future, but I didn’t think a team in the NFL would straight up punt on the season after Week 1. But after yesterday’s game, I’m officially retracting that statement. There were 46 players in white jerseys on that field that had absolutely no desire to be there.
- Tanking works in the NBA; individual players can still have a solid season, showcase their wares for other teams or bigger contracts. But what’s the motivation of an interior lineman getting into the equivalent of three car accidents per game for a team deliberately trying to lose?
- Also - the NBA draft is much more of an exact science than the NFL draft is, and one player really can turn a basketball team around. I know that the Fins aren’t banking on all of their stockpiled picks to be hits and will likely be trading them for established talent...but if you’re a player in a contract year, and you’re looking at the Dolphins right now, how high would your price tag be to go play for them?
- On the plus side, it was a 1 PM game, in which the Pats deferred to the second half. Enjoy these while you can, because there are precious few of them this year.
- I realized pretty quickly that this game was little more than a glorified practice. Sure, New England only scored a TD in the first quarter, but Miami only had one drive gain double digit yards for the entire first half. So I tried to focus on the little things instead of big-picture stuff, as I don’t know how much the Patriots actually gameplanned for this one.
- One thing I did notice is that Ted Karras is getting better at the snap out of shotgun. It’s still not where it needs to be - sails high and slow - but it’s miles better than it was yesterday.
- When the game got to the point were 3/5th of the offensive line were backups, I tried to pay attention to the size of the pocket when the pass rush came...but then I realized that there’s just no reason to take anything about this game seriously or use it as any kind of benchmark for anything at all. So I mostly just relaxed and enjoyed my first trip of the season to Paddy’s of Park Slope, which was especially rowdy yesterday: there were a bunch of soccer hooligans that had been there since Sunday morning cheering on Arsenal, and when they drew with Watford a number of them stayed to drink aggressively as a coping mechanism.
- I’d also like to take a moment to say thanks to Dan and Jordie, two Patriots fans who flew all the way from Australia just to meet me and watch the game at Paddy’s. In no way whatsoever are Dan and Jordie two Australians who move to NYC a while ago and live and work here as professionals who decided to make the trip from Manhattan. Nope. Not even close. All the way from Australia just to hang out with yours truly.
- Did Antonio Brown play yesterday? Anybody see him? Whoever the camera crew is really should have done a better job zeroing in on him every 45 seconds.
- As for Brown’s day: four catches for 56 yards and a TD that should have been two scores if he had been with the team for longer than a week and him and Tommy B were on the same page on that 2nd half in-cut route that got broken up in the end zone. More importantly though, in his first drive as a Patriot, Brown converted two first downs and drew a hold that led to a Sony Michel TD. Not a horrible start, I guess.
- Brown spent most of his day on the left as the X receiver, but lined up in the slot and the Z spot a few times. I saw him run a crossing route, a dig route, a Go, a comeback, and a jet sweep. That’s a solid a first game in a complicated offense as you can ask for.
- As far as regular season offensive gameplans go, New England’s was as basic as it got yesterday. I’d like to think it was called the “We’re a lot better than you and we know it” package. They just put a talented player on a significantly less talented player and let the magic weave itself.
- The lone bright spot for Miami was Xavien Howard, who broke up the only pass thrown his way. He’s been a thorn in Tommy B’s side since he cam into the league. Maybe when the Miami fire sale is complete and everyone is demanding to get the hell out of there Bill Belichick can get him on the cheap.
- Actually, I take that back; Brian Flores successfully won an OPI challenge on a Josh Gordon pick play. I think that’s the time it has ever happened. Store that in your memory banks for pub trivia.
- Another fun bit of pub trivia: when was the last time Phillip Dorsett didn’t catch a pass thrown his way?
- I’m just gonna go ahead and call it now: Philip Dorsett will be the 2019 Patriots MVP. Take it to the high risk, high interest loan shark office.
- Is there anything more of a mortal lock than the Patriots allowing Miami to hang around in Miami? This game was 13-0 at halftime.
- Sony Michel continues to have one of the best second pushes in the league. And as someone who eats a lot of dairy, I’m well aware of the importance of getting a strong second push.
- I’m sure there will be plenty of takes regarding Isaiah Wynn’s foot this morning, which I’m hearing could be turf toe. If ever there was a time to hire Rex Ryan as a special assistant, this is it.
- This entire game was completely forgettable, but it did produce what is currently the frontrunner on what will be my countdown of the Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2019. With 1:24 left in the first half, the Patriots lined up Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, Phillip Dorsett, and James White on the field. Brady stood in shotgun and motioned White out wide, which forced the Dolphins to call a time out. They had absolutely no clue what they were supposed to do or how they could possibly cover that, so they needed a minute. When play resumed, the Patriots just came out of the in the exact same formation, having not made a single adjustment, and Brady hit Brown on the back shoulder for the score. If there’s an NFL equivalent of dunking on a guy from the foul line while you simultaneously smear your sweat-soaked jock strap right across his face as you stuff it in, that two play sequence was it.
- Somebody who is more motivated and less lazy than me, please research Stephen Gostkowski’s kick percentage in hot weather. I’m sure everyone is crapping all over him today, but I feel like he doesn’t kick well in humidity nor does he kick well early in the year. He’ll be absolutely fine.
- You know who might not be, though...Adam Vinatieri. If we all got an announcement later on today saying he’s hanging them up for good, I wouldn’t be surprised. Vinny is 46 years old. He’s scored the most points, ever, and won Super Bowls for the Patriots and nobody else nope no way just the Patriots. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer. That’s going to be tough news for me to take, even though he’s been off this team for over a decade now.
- Anybody else notice Tommy B taking a knee to close out the first half by kneeling forward instead of dropping back so as not to take away his career rush yards?
- Have you ever been home, excited for a quiet night in, when your friend calls you and tells you to come out because it’s crazy at the club and you’re missing all the fun if you don’t show up, so you get all dressed up and showered and you head out and when you get to the club there’s nobody there and your friend is like 15 drinks deep and has no clue what’s going on and he’s maybe 10 minutes from getting thrown out? No? That’s just me and my friends? Well anyway, that’s exactly how Ryan Fitzpatrick must be feeling right now. I legit feel bad for that guy.
- I blissfully didn’t listen to the Dan Fouts broadcast of this game - it was tough enough to get through as it is - but to those poor saps who had the Fouts audio on, I have to ask?
- Did he see a blatant penalty where there was clearly no penalty?
- Did he state a “fact” from last season or a few seasons ago that isn’t even remotely true?
- Did he analyze a completed pass by making the contention that when you catch a ball, it helps you work towards the first down?
- I sure hope so; if any or all of these happened, Fouts is in midseason form already.
- Matthew Slater seems to be an integral part of goal line packages in 2019. What exactly his role is or will ever be in anybody’s guess.
- There’s an interesting 21 set the Patriots ran yesterday with Burkhead flexed out wide and James Develin in the backfield. Tommy B literally had a bodyguard yesterday and I love it.
- Congrats to Stephon Gilmore for his first pick six ever in the NFL. I just wish more people were around to actually see it.
- Gilmore’s pick six also gained more yards than the entire Dolphins offense.
- As did Jamie Collins’s. Between the two of them they accumulated 123 yards, which is only 19 yards less than Fitz and Rosen combined.
- Somebody is going to set the Benny Hill theme song to the Dolphins offense and get three million pageviews in 15 minutes. But one of the pageviews won’t be me, as I swear to Tebow if I have to sit through five seconds of that goddam VRBO commercial song again I’m going to end up in a mental hospital.
- There were a few negatives to take away from this game, other than the WR miscommunications that will for sure get cleared up soon. The offensive line’s health is an obvious one, which in turn raises questions about a consistent rushing attack. But what has happened in two straight games now is that quarterbacks have been finding receivers open and deep along the sidelines. Luckily, both Steeler and Dolphin receivers have been treating balls like the Orchids of Asia Day Spa as of a few months ago, but if not for a number of drops, this defense would have been gashed deep.
- That said...this defense has now allowed six points over their last three games with five interceptions and two pick sixes. This offense has scored 89 points over the last three gamnes
- I was worried about Pat Chung, who went down and was writing in agony late in the 3rd quarter, but it looks like he’ll be fine. I think that Chung just took a shot to the Chungs.
- If you want to knock all the points the Patriots left on the board yesterday, go right ahead; I certainly can’t stop you. But I will never, at any point, pooh-pooh a win in Miami no matter how it shakes out. That place is New England’s Bermuda Triangle.
- And if you want to trash the Patriots for going five wide and throwing it late in the fourth with Tom Brady still in the game, you can do that as well. But if you don’t like it, stop it. And what happened the last time the Patriots didn’t go hard for the full 60 minutes down in Miami?
- It takes about 75 seconds of research to debunk the “Patriots only win because the AFC East stinks” talk. But let’s be honest here; in 2019, the Jets and Fin STINK. The Bills could make some noise, but the jury is still out. If the Patriots don’t sweep the division this year, or at least go 5-1, I’m going to slap Rich Hill right in his big fat face the next time we meet up. Nobody wants that.
- Monday Night Football: Browns vs. Jets. Thursday Night Football: Titans vs. Jaguars. NFL really delivering the goods.
The Jets and Trevor Siemian are coming to town, assuming nobody else on that team gets mono and has to forfeit. I’m never one to relax before a divisional matchup regardless of opponent, but if things keep trending the way they have been for these two teams...
You know what? Nope. Not gonna jinx it. We’re on to the Jets.