6 Players the Miami Dolphins Must Lean on for Victory against the Patriots
However, we now have an entirely new wave of Dolphins players in the fold, and contrary to many of those past matchups, the Patriots are notably superior. So, we must now turn our eyes to the likes of Reggie Bush and Cameron Wake to propel this team to victory over a contending New England squad.
Who else must the Dolphins rely on during their Monday night debut?
Here are six players in the spotlight.
Even though the Patriots secondary ranked 30th in the NFL last season, they do have one of the league's brightest young cornerbacks in Devin McCourty. But while McCourty might be able to limit Brandon Marshall, Miami's other wide receivers will all have very favorable matchups against this spotty secondary.
Davone Bess is Chad Henne's most trusted target and should be targeted early and often on Monday night.
Bess might be matched up with New England's second-round draft pick Ras-I Dowling, and he could have a field day on this rookie.
With Daniel Thomas' health up in the air (and his overall effectiveness in great question as well), Miami will rely on a healthy dose of Reggie Bush against the Pats on Monday night.
Bush is clearly motivated to prove the doubters wrong and fulfill his once infinite potential, but it's still impossible to gauge his ability to serve as an every-down back (especially with five-carry, minus-one yard preseason performances).
However, under the Monday night lights in a new city, Bush could be in line for a huge game. The Dolphins will give Reggie every opportunity to carry the offense, and they need him to succeed if they wish to topple the Patriots.
Bill Belichick's speciality is exposing oppositions' weaknesses, and that's exactly what we should expect him to do on Monday night.
There aren't many shortcomings for Belichick to expose against the Dolphins defense, but there are a handful—namely at nickelback.
Because Will Allen never managed to fully recover from a pair of lingering lower-body injuries, Miami has entrusted nickelback duties to Benny Sapp. In all likelihood, Sapp will be forced to cover Wes Welker, a matchup that tilts heavily in New England's favor.
If, however, Sapp can hold his own, the Dolphins should be able to shut down the Patriots' aerial attack.
Cameron Wake & Jason Taylor
Teams have failed to decipher the mystique surrounding the Patriots, but they do have one well-documented Achilles' heel: a good pass rush.
As evident in Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady struggles when teams generate pressure and force him to rush passes or take hits.
The Dolphins will rely on Cam Wake and Jason Taylor—a lethal duo of rush outside linebackers—to put Tom Brady on his back and keep New England's offense off of the field. Taylor has famously dominated the Patriots in years past, and Wake registered a sack and three quarterback hits on Brady during last year's Monday Night match-up.
Plus, Wake will get a chance to match-up against rookie tackle Nate Solder.
In other words, Brady has reason to be afraid.
Although Channing Crowder provided invaluable leadership, his athleticism had deteriorated to an unacceptable degree. A replacement was long overdue, but the Dolphins may have finally discovered one: Kevin Burnett.
Burnett is only 27 and just completed a breakout, 98-tackle season with the Chargers. Unlike Crowder, Burnett is very athletic and will not be a liability in pass coverage, namely against tight ends.
The Dolphins have been grossly susceptible to opposing tight in recent years, and a duo like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez pose a nightmare for this defense. However, Burnett has the athleticism to cover either player, and he needs to do so on Monday night.