Since then, both teams have made some serious changes both on the field and sidelines.
The following 30 players all played at least one snap in the most recent matchup against the Dolphins and will be on the Patriots’ 53-man roster come Sunday:
QB Mac Jones, RB Damien Harris, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, TE Hunter Henry, TE Jonnu Smith, OT Trent Brown, OT Isaiah Wynn, OT Justin Herron, OG Michael Onwenu, C David Andrews, SS Adrian Phillips. FS Devin McCourty, CB Jalen Mills, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB Matthew Judon, DL Lawrence Guy, DL Davon Godchaux, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., DL Christian Barmore, DL Carl Davis Jr., LB Josh Uche, LB Jahlani Tavai, K Nick Folk, P Jake Bailey, ST Matthew Slater, ST Cody Davis, S Joe Cardona
Offense: The offense returns 13 players who saw snaps in the January clash. Most of the skill position players are the same, but the Patriots did add running backs Ty Montgomery and Pierre Strong Jr. They also added former Dolphins starting wide receiver DeVante Parker to the fold and he figures to see a lot of reps against his former team. The real shuffle comes on the offensive line as the only player who will be playing the same position is center David Andrews: Trent Brown flips over to left tackle and Isaiah Wynn will be playing right tackle; rookie Cole Strange will be handling the left guard duties while Michael Onwenu shifts to right guard.
Defense: The defense returns 12 players who saw action in the previous contest. Those 12 do not include Myles Bryant, Kyle Dugger and Jonathan Jones who will all play this week after missing the previous division matchup. New England also figures to feature linebackers Anfernee Jennings, Mack Wilson, and Raekwon McMillan in their front seven as they try to stop Miami’s offensive attack. The secondary also may see players like Jabrill Peppers, Jack Jones, and Marcus Jones play in rotational roles. The defense has definitely gotten faster over the offseason in an attempt to stop explosive offenses like the Dolphins’.
Special Teams: The special teams aspect of the game is something that figures to be consistent in this series as the Patriots return pretty much every player on their coverage team besides Justin Bethel. Among those helping to replace him will be undrafted rookie Brenden Schooler, who had some massive hits on punt and kickoff coverage this preseason. In terms of the return game Gunner Olszewski is gone and the Patriots figure to rotate punt and kick returners to start the year. We could see M. Jones, Strong Jr., Bryant, and maybe even Peppers return some kicks in week one.
Coaching: The Patriots’ coaching staff has some major changes since the last matchup. While Bill Belichick, Nick Sunseri, Troy Brown, Nick Caley, and Billy Yates all return to their same roles on offense, Josh McDaniels has jumped over to be the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders and took several assistants with him. Ivan Fears has retired. Matt Patricia now is senior football advisor/offensive line coach and Joe Judge returned to New England as the offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach. The defense and special teams are identical from last season retaining Demarcus Covington, Jerod Mayo, Steve Belichick, Brian Belichick, Mike Pellegrino, Cam Achord and Joe Houston. The play calling and system as a whole on offense will look quite different this time around.
The Dolphins had some roster turnover and return the 23 following players that played in the most recent contest against the Patriots:
QB Tua Tagovailoa, RB Myles Gaskin, WR Jaylen Waddle, TE Mike Gesicki, TE Durham Smythe, G Liam Eichenberg, G Robert Hunt, OT Austin Jackson, OL Michael Deiter, DL Christian Wilkins, DT Raekwon Davis, DT Emmanuel Ogbah, DE Zach Sieler, DT John Jenkins, LB Elandon Roberts, LB Jerome Baker, LB Jaelen Phillips, CB Xavien Howard, CB Nik Needham, S Jevon Holland, S Eric Rowe, K Jason Sanders, LS Blake Ferguson
Offense: Miami’s offense is what has changed the most since the last meeting. They still have starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa but the running back room is very different. The Dolphins brought in Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert to get a majority of the carries moving Gaskin to third on the depth chart. They also added Alec Ingold to play fullback to block for their new backs. The only receiver that is back from last year is Jaylen Waddle, as they made a major splash this offseason trading for Tyreek Hill and signing Cedrick Wilson Jr. in free agency. The tight ends are the same, but Mike Gesicki is expected to be more of an in-line blocker this season. The offensive line has three starters returning, all playing the same spots as last season. However, Miami did sign all pro tackle Terron Armstead to man the left side and brought in Connor Williams to play center.
Defense: The Dolphins defense returns 12 players, with most of them being starters. Byron Jones will not be playing this week as he is injured which will force some other players in the secondary like Keion Crossen to step up. Miami also added edge rushers Melvin Ingram and Trey Flowers to get after the quarterback. Most of the defense is the same, but we could see a guy like Ingram make an impact.
Special Teams: The special teams unit is another area in which Miami has had some turnover. The Dolphins bring back their kicker (Sanders) and long snapper (Ferguson) but other than that it is all different. Thomas Morstead will be doing the punting and they added old friend Justin Bethel to be one of his gunners on the outside. Hill, Mostert, and Waddle are all extremely explosive and figure to handle most of the returning duties in this one.
Coaching: Mike McDaniel has taken over as Miami’s head coach this season, and brought in a staff with a lot of experience. Frank Smith will be the offensive coordinator with Darrell Bevell right by his side as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. The Dolphins also brought in former Patriot Wes Welker, who was previously with McDaniel in San Fransisco, as their wide revivers coach. They got cornerbacks coach and passing game specialist Sam Madison from Kansas City, who was a four-time Pro Bowler with the Dolphins himself. Their safeties and outside linebackers coaches are other former Patriots: Steve Gregory, who was a coaching assistant with the team in 2021, and Tyrone McKenzie, who came over from Detroit.