Tom Brady and the New England Patriots square off against the Miami Dolphins next Monday night in Game 1 of the 2011 NFL regular season. Brady started his career poorly in games played in Miami, however, since New England’s record-breaking 2007 season, No. 12 has figured out a way to break the dry spell. He and the Pats hope to continue the trend by starting this season off right—with an offensive explosion at the hands of their disorganized division rival.
The Fins haven’t had the easiest offseason. They lost both of their starting running backs—Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams—and they were at the center of an ugly quarterback controversy between incumbent starter Chad Henne, recently acquired Matt Moore and Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton.
However bad the Miami offense may be next Monday, their defense remains one of the NFL’s best at getting after the quarterback.
Judging by the Patriots’ complete meltdown against the Detroit Lions pass rush in Week 3 of the preseason (I know, it’s just the preseason), it doesn’t look like such a sure bet that the offensive line is quite ready for the onslaught of pressure sure to be brought by the Dolphins in prime time.
Brady will have to get rid of the ball quickly, and the running game will need to prove effective in order to offset Miami’s speed.
That means a lot of Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead.
Miami’s entire defensive game plan will center around their relentless linebacking corps. Anchored in the middle by Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, who combined for 190 tackles, nine sacks, and four forced fumbles last year (Burnett did his damage as a member of the San Diego Chargers), the outside is opened up for Defensive Player of the Year candidate Cameron Wake (14 sacks) and talented second-year player Koa Misi (five sacks).
Patriots offensive tackles Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer will have their hands full, and Bill Belichick will get a good feel for what veteran offensive guard Brian Waters is capable of.
Waters was just signed by the Pats, and he is most likely the starter at right guard going forward.
The fate of New England’s offense against Miami lies in the hands of the offensive line. If they play like they did against Detroit two weeks ago, this contest will be a lot closer than people expect.
If they hang tough and push back against the merciless Dolphins attack? This game could end in a blow out.
Here are five ways Tom Brady and the New England offense should attack the underrated Dolphins defense next week.