Like you, my first instinct is to go drink a beer and punch a wall when I see this face. It seems like ever since I can remember, I see Massholes guaranteeing their prominence and parading through the streets in victory and Dolphins fans, well, we've been sitting on the couch for weeks now because we aren't relevant when it comes playoff time. We get to listen to ESPN and other media outlets glorify them in every sense, even when they don't deserve it. Even when they LOSE in the playoffs, their draft picks are heralded, ours are questionable, and no matter the state of their roster, they ALWAYS have a chance when this guy above is under center. Belicheck is always a genius, their rotating carousel of coordinators is never a concern because, hey, they've got Brady and Belicheck. Here's my argument for why we take them down, not down the road sometime, but RIGHT NOW.
THE LOSS OF WES WELKER
Ever since he left our team, we have not been able to match up with Wes Welker with anybody on our roster. The Monday Night game where he caught a 99-yd TD still haunts my dreams and elicits instant vomit-in-the-mouth. Brady and Welker had an ESP-like connection and it was irritating to see them get in 3rd and 13 and still be able to consistently get 1st downs against us. I could call the play half-drunk (ridiculously drunk) from the bar, and yet, we still would not be able to stop it. But, hey, that's OK because they signed Danny Amendola - and just about every media expert has LOVED this move (shocking). But let's take a glance, shall we? First of all, he had 666 yards receiving last year. 666? Not a coincidence! He's never had more than 689 yards and/or 3 TD's in a season...but by all means, he is perfectly capable of replacing a perennial 100-catch, 1,300 yd, ~6 TD per year kind of receiver. Oh, and I forgot to mention that only once in 4 years has Amendola played a full 16-game season. But hey, they both went to Texas Tech (Welker and Amendola), so obviously this has GOT to work in the Patriots favor...
WE HAVE AN OFFENSE THAT CAN CAPITALIZE ON THEIR DEFENSE
Specifically, their pass defense. But the teams that beat them last year, beat them with BALANCE. I'm still not ready to get into an aerial assault and expect us to win, but with balance, we will win. The 1st game we played: 321 to 277 total yards. The 2nd game we played: 443 to 256. What was the difference? RUNNING THE BALL. In the 1st game we had over 100 - SF, Baltimore, and (almost) Seattle had over a 100 yards running, each team beating NE in the regular season. And yet, despite running the ball that 1st game admirably, we couldn't get over the hump if simply because we couldn't exploit them through the air. Now it's different. Dustin Keller had 2 TD's last year. Who did he have them against? New England. Both of them. Add Mike Wallace, Hartline, Bess, and Gibson (and possibly a rookie) to the mix, and we finally have a WR and TE corps that can take advantage of their most glaring weakness. We can spread the field, which will help us run, and also capitalize on 1-on1 match-ups that favor us (which most of them will). When we can run the ball with speed and vision (Lamar Miller) and pass the ball against favorable 1-on-1 match-ups and keep them off-balance with play-action, we keep their offense on the sideline and impede any flow or momentum that they have created up to that point. In a nutshell, we frustrate them.
WE HAVE A DEFENSE THAT MATCHES UP BETTER WITH THEIR OFFENSE
I won't say that we can shut them down, because no defense can. Seattle, Baltimore, and San Francisco beat them in the regular season and gave up 23, 30, and 34 points respectively - and these were some of the better defenses the NFL had to offer. Granted, on paper, New England looks a little weaker on offense, but they will still put up yards and points. We will have to outscore them. But let's at least acknowledge how we can slow them down better. Without Welker, they will undoubtedly rely more on Hernandez and Gronkowski to move the chains. In comes Philip Wheeler. I know some of us scratched our heads a bit with this move, but considering his coverage and blitzing abilities, he has helped us match up better with the Patriots. He has the speed to match up with Hernandez, but also the toughness and run-stuffing ability to match up with Gronk as a blocker. Ellerbe also enhances our run-stuffing capabilities, although it appears he is more of a liability in pass coverage than Dansby. But how does this play out against us? In game 1 against the Patriots last year, 2 people killed us: Welker and Hernandez. Welker is gone, and we have a better coverage LB and (hopefully) a better safety tandem to match up with Hernandez. It's worth mentioning that Gronk did not play. Their TE's still present a problem, but the addition of Wheeler, as well as the subtraction of Welker can help our above-average safeties in Jones and Clemons to sink more into the box and take away their short and intermediate game - their long-range game, by my estimation, is non-existent. The 2nd game against the Patriots? 3 people killed us: Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, and Hernandez. Welker and Woodhead are gone, and Hernandez has been aforementioned. Gronk had 42 yards - granted, he was hobbled. He still presents a match-up problem. 1 match-up problem I can live with, multiple match-up problems is a recipe for disaster. In addition, the best way to beat the Patriots is to get a rush from the front 4 - the 1st game we did, the 2nd game we didn't. Our DL will improve, even if we don't draft anyone. Kacy Rodgers is one (if not THE BEST) DL coach in the league and an eventual Defensive Coordinator. He will maximize the production out of the players in his group and we will only improve over last year. Just imagine if we get a pass-rush specialist to add to this corps. Rodgers will get the best out of him, and we will have a rotation of Wake, Odrick, Vernon, Soliai, Starks, and 1st round rookie to create havoc. Couple in the fact that Wheeler and Ellerbe are 2 of the best blitzing linebackers in the league, and we finally have a recipe to slow down the Patriots offense with pressure.
THE ALLURE OF PATRIOTS PAST IS DYING
Even though New England has not won a Super Bowl since 2005, they've still made the Super Bowl twice, getting beat by the Giants both times. Their clutch factor seems to have dwindled, though. The Ravens have beaten them 3 times in recent memory, 2 times in the playoffs AT FOXBOROUGH, and once at home (last year). The questions surrounding Brady's longevity and clutch factor are requisite. Teams are not scared of them anymore. We went toe-to-toe with them in our 1st game last year during one of the most prolific offensive blitzkriegs in the last decade. We are ready to play them, our coaches are ready to be aggressive, and we finally have a personnel that can match up more favorably (and will only get better through 11 draft picks). Our CB's are still a bit of a question mark, but if Grimes returns to form and/or Marshall returns to form and/or we draft early round CB's - we sit all the more prettier. We can stuff their run, we can match up with their WR's, and we can match up with Hernandez. Gronkowski is still a match-up problem, but with an aggressive coaching staff, we will find ways to minimize his damage.
OUR QB KNOWS WHAT'S AT STAKE
Anybody see the tweet-off between Tannehill and Brady? Tannehill know's what's up. To overthrow the Patriots it takes time, practice, repetition, and hard work with your teammates - all of which he is ready to do. Any coincidence that he has been throwing with his receiver and tight ends before Tom Brady? He is ready to take the quantum leap from rookie QB to legitimate, feared, respected QB. I, for one, love the dedication, leadership, and borderline cockiness that he has taken thus far, especially when you are telling a Hall-of-Famer that he has been working longer (no apologies necessary, bro!). Considering Tannehill's fervor in adapting people to the playbook last year, I can only assume he has equal tenacity in updating all newcomers to the playbook this year. He already has more chemistry with receivers and tight ends than he did with Hartline ALL OF LAST YEAR (due to his multitude of pre-season injuries and illnesses), and I think we can assume that Tannehill and Hartline had a good year together last year. I finally have confidence in a Miami QB to shrug his shoulders when it comes to a Patriots conversation and say, "So what? Now it's our time."
I think our DL can stuff the run and get pressure on Brady. I think our LB's, CB's, and S's are more equipped to stop their aerial attack (and I believe we add to this through the draft). I think we have a front 4 that can get pressure on Brady, only highlighted by excellent blitzing LB's. I think our WR's and TE's can exacerbate their pass defense issues as well as our RB's and zone-blocking scheme to establish the run. I think we have aggressive coaches who will not hesitate to go for it on 4-and-1 (unlike other coaches we've seen). I think we have a special teams unit who can outperform theirs (especially punting and kick-off and punt returns - Thigpen). We have a QB who is not scared to go toe-to-toe with Brady and an overall team attitude that is ready to take it to the next level. The Patriots will have a target on their back all season, and we will be the fleas that jump high enough to reach that big dog and bite it in the face. I'm ready to behead King Joffrey and become King of the Iron Throne. I'm ready to be the perennial AFC East champions! What say you, Dolphins fans?