Tom Brady, Patriots Crush Dolphins 43-0 in Antonio Brown's Debut

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 15, 2019

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) wide receiver Antonio Brown (17) after Brown scored a touchdown, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The New England Patriots cruised to their second win of the year with a 43-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.  

Antonio Brown made his presence felt in his first game with his new team, finishing with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Tom Brady totaled 264 passing yards and three total touchdowns in the win.

Adding two defensive touchdowns to a 13-0 game at halftime quickly became a rout for the visiting team at Hard Rock Stadium.

For the second week in a row, the Dolphins couldn't muster much offensively while managing just 184 yards from scrimmage. Ryan Fitzpatrick ended the day with 89 passing yards and three interceptions in his seventh straight loss as a stater.


Patriots Offense Won't Miss Gronk in 2019

There was a point in the offseason when there was significant concern about whether the Patriots could be as dominant without Rob Gronkowski. 

Losing a Hall of Fame tight end is obviously significant, but Brady hasn't been quite as good without Gronk in the lineup in his career. Per Next Gen Stats, the quarterback has a 105.5 quarterback rating with the tight end compared to 98.3 without, plus a worse completion percentage and yards per attempt. 

However, it's clear there is more than enough talent remaining in the offense to believe this unit will remain nearly unstoppable in 2019.

Brown made his debut with New England Sunday, and the team did everything it could to get him involved early:

Judy Battista @judybattista

Patriots march easily down the field. Antonio Brown was the only targeted receiver on the drive. 3 targets, 3 receptions, 36 yards and also drew a penalty.

This eventually paid off with a touchdown in the second quarter as he remains difficult to defend:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Antonio Brown catches his first touchdown as a Patriot (via @thecheckdown) https://t.co/358oanTRM0

Brad Evans @YahooNoise

So much for Antonio Brown getting eased in. Did not anticipate him seeing this much work. He has officially arrived for New England.

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

It does not look like Tom Brady and Antonio Brown just started working together.

Brown's future with the team remains in question after sexual assault allegations from a civil lawsuit. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the league will try to complete its investigation "as quickly as possible" to determine if any punishment will be handed down.

However, he remains a game-changing player when he is on the field, and Brady didn't need much time to get comfortable with the seven-time Pro Bowler.

Meanwhile, Brown is just one of seven players who caught a pass Sunday as Brady continued to spread the ball around with no one topping 60 yards on the day.

This came after finding Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett for a combined three touchdowns in Week 1, while Brady has obvious chemistry already with Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman. Adding in James White as a checkdown option, there are no shortage of weapons for the quarterback in the passing attack.

These are all players who know how to get open and make things happen after the catch, taking even more pressure off Brady.

Gronk was great when there were limited options in the passing game, but now a tight end isn't needed.

Of course, the Patriots can also rely on the rushing attack at times this season with Sony Michel finishing with 85 rushing yards on 21 carries against the Dolphins. It means Brady doesn't need to throw 300 yards each game for the team to be successful.

The only question at this point is the offensive line, which was already without center David Andrews and lost Isaiah Wynn to a foot injury Sunday. The good news is New England has survived shuffling on the line in the past and should be able to once again. 


It's Josh Rosen Time in Miami

There are no more excuses to play Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The veteran quarterback earned the starting job out of the preseason but has been dreadful so far this season. He threw three interceptions against the Patriots, with two of them leading to touchdowns on inexplicable throws.

New England Patriots @Patriots

INTERCEPTED AND GOODBYE! @BumpNrunGilm0re | #GoPats https://t.co/AxRA4l44Lz

New England Patriots @Patriots

.@j_collins91 takes the ball then takes it to the house! #GoPats | #NEvsMIA https://t.co/qqhKoVUYiU

The interceptions were the only drives that didn't end in punts for the Dolphins.

This terrible performance came after struggling against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 while completing less than half his passes.

The Dolphins know what they have in Fitzpatrick. It's time to see what they have in Josh Rosen.

Judy Battista @judybattista

Not sure what else would have to happen for the Dolphins to consider a switch to Josh Rosen. They had 33 passing yards in the first half. 55 yards total. Why not?

Miami spent two draft picks to acquire the 2018 first-round pick in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals, buying low on a high-upside prospect. If the team is truly tanking—as it appears to be—the squad might as well find out if it has a franchise quarterback already on the roster. 

Rosen did eventually come in after the game was well in hand, going 7-of-18 for 97 yards and an interception. Although the numbers don't exactly stand out, he did at least have two extended drives while leading the squad into the red zone for the first time all game.

He's also yet to have a full week working with the first-team offense, which could eventually improve his familiarity with the offense and his chemistry with receivers.

Even if Rosen struggles, the Dolphins will at least know he's not a fit for the future and will be one step closer to getting their man in the draft.

The only downside is the team around him won't provide much help. After trading away Laremy Tunsil, the offensive line is full of question marks. The team allowed seven sacks on the day:

Kevin Duffy @KevinRDuffy

It's like the Dolphins are playing with three offensive linemen.

He will likely remain under pressure all season long, preventing scouts from seeing what Rosen can do in a normal offense.

Still, the rebuilding team needs to assess all its young players to see who should be a part of the roster in 2020 and beyond. Rosen is no exception.


What's Next?

Things don't get too much easier for the Dolphins, who will go on the road to face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. The Patriots will stay within the division with a home matchup against the New York Jets.