The Miami Dolphins will open the season at home this Monday against the Patriots, and I wanted to share with you guys five keys that I think will be crucial if the Dolphins want to beat New England in prime time.
I'm going to keep the introduction short because I have a more in-depth talk about the game scheduled for Sunday, so be sure to come back on Sunday and check that out. Here's what I have for now, though:
1. Pressure Tom Brady
This is the most important thing for Miami to worry about on Monday. If the Dolphins can pressure Brady to make mistakes, then they have a great shot at winning. Remember Super Bowl XLII? Remember how the Giants pressured Tom Brady and forced him out of his comfort zone that he had established during the Patriots 18 previous wins that season? Remember how the Giants won that game in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NFL? I sure do, and I want Miami to try and duplicate that performance. Yes, it will be on a little bit smaller stage, but it is still a huge game and it would be an upset of similar proportions.
2. Chad Henne must control the offense
This is a close second in terms of importance. Henne needs to completely take over his offense and be prepared for whatever New England throws his way. He controls the outcome of this game more than anyone else on the Dolphins. If he plays good, mistake-free football like he has done so far this year then Miami can come out with a win. If he reverts to how he played last season and makes multiple big mistakes, then there is no way the Dolphins can win. He has to play his best if Miami wants a chance to win. It is that simple.
3. The Offensive Line had better hold up
I hate that we still have to worry about this. Miami's offensive line should be much better by now, but the right side of the line has just been a problem. Marc Colombo and Vernon Carey haven't played great this offseason, and it has me worried. They need to hold up their side of the line or the Patriots will be pressuring Henne all day, and that will result in a lot of problems.
4. Reggie Bush needs to be a factor
I don't know if most people realize how important Reggie Bush is to the Miami Dolphins offense. I really do think that Miami's playcalling and schemes will revolve around Bush's ability to catch the ball and to take a man out of the play because that man will be covering Bush. Is he great at running between the tackles? Not especially, but that is why the Dolphins drafted Daniel Thomas (instead of Ryan Mallett I might add) and added Larry Johnson. Bush will be used primarily as a receiver and as a distraction, not as a pound-it-out back.
5. Keep special teams out of the focus
I'm sure that you guys remember last year when Miami's special teams absolutely fell apart against New England. That cannot happen again if the Dolphins want any chance at all to win. What would be ideal is if we didn't hear anything at all about special teams during the game. They just need to do their jobs and allow Miami's offense and defense to win the game.
Thanks for reading, and please share your own keys to beating New England below.