The New England Patriots hosted the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. It was a close-fought battle that resulted in the Dolphins swimming away with a W, and the lead in the East. However, this game was educational on a few fronts for both sides.
- The Defenses: Sure, we lost, but the Defense still made a lot of good plays. Josh Uche had a monster sack, Kyle Van Noy got in on the sack game aswell, Matt Judon could not stay out of the backfield, and Jonathan Jones had a good pick. Some silence on the front line though, wanted to see more out of Christian Barmore. And as per usual, Devin McCourty was all over the field in tackling. Over in sunny Miami, they also showed a lot of strength on defense. Despite their front failing to prevent the run, they did snag two tackles for a loss and forced 3 fumbles, recovering two. It’s clear that Brian Flores is orchestrating a very hard hitting and durably defense.
- Alabama Quarterbacks: Today was a good sign for Alabama Alumni, and former teammates, Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jalen Hurts. There seems to be some upside to Tua, though he made some bad decisions along the way, this could be an early sign of his coming out party. Ending the game with 202 yards, a 59 complition percentage on 27 attempts, a touchdown and a pick isn’t terrible for a first game. They got the win, Tua can learn from his mistakes this game and hopfully he will improve. On the other side, Mac Jones came out rusty but quickly found some comfort in the offense. He was kept on a short leash to start the game, a lot of short throws and check downs. He still ended the game with a 74 complition percentage on 39 attempts for 281 yards and a touchdown. Once Mac found his rhythm, he was making veteran level plays. A loss is still a loss though and based on his attitude, I believe he will improve. A lot of the negatives on both of their games came down to ball control, but we can get into that later.
- The Patriot’s Running Backs: This one was almost in the good, but too many mistakes held it back. Damien Harris showed up with 100 yards on 23 attempts, averaging 4.3 yards a carry. He established that he is the clear cut RB1 and can become a work horse. James White did his thing in the passing game, getting 6 receptions for 49 yards, including a huge catch on a wheel route. There is a lot that needs to be worked on in the Running Back room, but this game showed a lot of promise aswell.
- Jaylen Waddle: A very commendable debut for the Alabama alum. He had 4 receptions on 6 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. Why does he fall to meh? He missed a few really big plays stretching the field. He did solid at WR2, but for as high a pick as he was you expect a bit more. Still a 36 yard catch is a good way to start the season.
- Patriot’s Ball Control: Four fumbles. Four. The fourth came late in the fourth quarter with under 2 minutes to play and the Patriots in field goal range. Even worse it came from Damien Harris, who was having a monster game. Rhamondre Stevenson, Mac Jones, Jonnu Smith, and Harris all put the ball on the ground. I have faith that Belichick can work out this kink, but it’s not a good start to the season.
- Tua’s Decision making: A very solid game for the potential face of the franchise, as stated earlier. However, his interception and pocket presence tell a cautionary tale. The raw talent that Tagovailoa has in unquestionable, but in order to take that next step he needs to be able to make smart decisions. The late game interception almost cost them a win here and escaping the pocket to extend the play needs be perfected more.
The New England Patriots are looking to bounce back next week as they visit the New York Jets at 1:00 PM EST on Sunday, September 19th.
The Miami Dolphins are home next week as they host the Buffalo Bills at 1:00 PM EST on Sunday, September 19th.