The Patriots host the Miami Dolphins tonight on Sunday Night Football. On paper this is a tough match up for the Patriots, especially on defense. The Dolphins offense presents a lot of problems. The Patriots will have to be creative with their defensive plan if they want to slow this offense down.
Offensively, the Patriots should be able to move the football. Miami’s front seven is good but there are match ups New England can exploit in the passing game.
From A special teams standpoint, field position will be key tonight. The Patriots kicking game must force Miami to have to drive the majority of the field to score. The Patriots can ill-afford to give them a short field with their big play ability.
Here are seven scheme keys for the Patriots.
1. Man-Gap Run Game: The Patriots need to set a physical tone with their running game and the best way to do it is by utilizing man gap blocking schemes. Double teaming at the point of attack and leading through or kicking out can wear a front down. Don’t just run inside or outside zone. Run power, counter and toss and give the offensive an angular advantage.
2. Screen on early downs: Slow down the Miami pass rush with some early down screen calls. The Patriots have to find a way to protect the offensive line and Mac Jones in this game. Slowing things down and taking advantage of their aggressiveness with screens is one way to do it. Look for H-Screens, perimeter screens and throwback screens to be a part of the plan tonight.
3. Leveled passing attack: The Patriots passing game is at its best when Bill O’Brien attacks areas of the field. Attacking the middle of the field using leveled routes is one way to do that. It gets the tight ends involved in the passing game and it plays into the receivers strengths as well. Look for dig, crosser concepts, curl-flat and 10-12 out cut combos to be a prominent part of the plan.
1. Mix zone and man coverage: The Patriots have to blend coverages tonight. I would expect a fair amount of zone but also some combination coverages and some Cover 2 Man as well to protect the corners. Miami’s speed is a problem. Being aggressive and playing pure man or match up coverages is not smart against the Dolphins. The Patriots have to mix up their coverages and vary the alignment of their secondary. Disguising will be key.
2. Light boxes: I do not expect the Patriots to play a lot of six man boxes tonight unless the formation and personnel dictates it. I expect mostly four and five boxes with an emphasis on coverage. The defensive line is going to have to hold the fort along the line of scrimmage. I don’t fear Miami’s running game and neither do the Patriots. The only way they can hurt the Patriots is if Miami marries it to their motion game and runs the ball off it. Then it could be an issue.
3. Zone Blitz & Sim Pressure: Worked last week against Jalen Hurts. The Patriots need to be smart with their pressure packages tonight. I would bring four, five and on occasion six guys but I would not be reckless if I were Bill Belichick and the defensive staff. You want to cloud Tua’s reads. Best way to do it? Zone blitzes and sim pressure. Show and drop late. The Patriots have to force him to hold the ball as long as possible.
1. Make them drive it: Both Bryce Baringer and Chad Ryland are going to be an integral part of the game tonight. They need to be accurate with their kick placement, specifically Baringer. Forcing Miami to drive the ball is important. The Patriots cannot give Miami short fields to work with offensively.