The Patriots South

Slow Start

As disappointing as the season has started, looking at this team from the Patriots South prism has helped me accept a lot of the decisions this franchise has made in the last 3 years. Now to accept it does not mean I agree with it. It just means I think I understand what Flores and Grier are doing. And I think Ross will give them the time to do it. It helped me so perhaps it can help other fans.

Tua vs Herbert

Some fans wanted Tua. A smaller group of fans wanted Herbert. In hindsight, Herbert seems like he would have been the better choice. He's off to a hot start, has a canon for an arm and has enough mobility to extend drives and make off schedule plays. Tua's arm is not at strong, he's not as mobile and does not make a lot of plays off schedule. You know who else doesn't? 7 time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Unlike Herbert, Tua was very accurate on short to intermediate throws when he played in college and he fits what the Dolphins want to do schematically on offense. And that leads me to another Dolphins decision.

Two 1st Round picks for Jaylen Waddle

I would have probably stopped when the Dolphins traded down from 3 to 12 for the 49ers 1st round picks in 2022 and 2023. But Grier traded up to draft Waddle, the number 1 receiver on his board at pick number 6. That might seem surprising for most that had Ja'Maar Chase and DeVonta Smith higher. But for this regime Waddle is worth trading up because he'll be the centerpiece of this offense. The pre-draft comparisons to Tyreek Hill gave fans the impression that Waddle would be used similarly. But after 6 games, its clear that the team intends to deploy him more like Wes Welker or Julian Edelman but with more speed. He'll get peppered with targets all season long and the plan is he'll be the primary target for the foreseeable future.

Mike Gesicki's diminished snap rates

At first, I expected Gesicki to be used like Jimmy Graham and was excited when he was drafted by the team. Not since Keith Jackson did the Dolphins have a TE that could be a weapon in the middle of the field. So why isn't he on the field for more than about 65% off the offensive snaps? Because this regime views him as the 1B TE on the team. Similar to Aaron Hernandez, Gesicki is a more talented pass catcher than blocker. He is a dynamic weapon in the passing game, but Hunter Long profiles as a more complete TE like Rob Gronkowski. He has yet to be active for a regular season game, but TE's typically start to make an impact in year 3.

No Najee Harris

While the Patriots have spent 1st round picks to draft RBs Sony Michel and Laurence Maroney and 3rd round picks on Damien Harris and Stevan Ridley some of the best production from the position (in a particular season, not career) has come from discarded RBs from other teams such as Corey Dillon and Legarrette Blount. Guys like BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Brandon Bolden types have made the team as UDFAs. The Dolphins could have used a RB like Najee Harris, but it seems like team rather hit on discarded RBs Jordan Howard, Matt Breida or Malcom Brown.

Why doesn't Miami run the ball more?

It's sort of the follow-up to the Najee decision. Running the ball will not be the team's offensive identity. Sure, they want to run the ball to convert short yardage and run the clock out at the end of games. But make no mistake, this is a pass first team. The Dolphins are number one in the NFL with a 68.75 pass play percentage (number two is Tampa Bay with 67.55%). Even in games with neutral game scripts against the Raiders (65.38%) and Jaguars (70.59%), the Dolphins threw more than 65% of the time. So what gives? It's not that the Dolphins cannot run (Gaskin is over 4.5 ypc on the season), they choose not to.

Amoeba Defense

The Patriots in recent years have adopted an amoeba type defense predicated on confusing the opposing QB. Players are expected to be "position-less" with the idea that they can all play zone, cover or rush the passer. It's important to cross train players at multiple positions to unlock the potential for this style of defense. Players must also seal the edge and undersized players will be expected to fill gaps that bigger players usually fill. Guys like Christian Wilkins, Jaelen Phillips and others will have to be able to go from DT/DE or DE/LB depending on the play. It's not an easy defense to learn or execute, but if done well can be extremely hard for a QB to figure out. Even Tom Brady struggled against this defense when Tampa travelled to New England.

Coordinator Carousel

No team has changed coordinators or assistant coaches the last 3 years like the Dolphins. And no regime has turned over coordinators the last 20+ like the Patriots. Because of the Patriots success, coordinators and assistants come and go virtually every year. And despite the exiting of Charlie Weiss, Romeo Crenel, Josh McDaniels, Bill O'Brien, etc., the Patriot machine chugged along with Brady and Belichick at the helm. As fans, its fair to question the high turnover rate of the coaching staff as it relates to consistency. But to Flores and Grier, every season is a brand new start and what happened last year means nothing. That means the players, coaches and assistants are all subject to change on an annual basis


There are more decisions that I question, but these are some that has been discussed among the fanbase and even the national media during this opening part of the season. Bottom-line is, it appears the Dolphins are trying to create the Patriots South. I think it's what Ross wants and it looks like what the brain trust is building. Year 2 of the rebuild was an anomaly in that Fitzpatrick and Gailey helped prop up a rebuilding team. But Gailey's offense was never the vision for Tua long term. The Dolphins want to build an offense that runs through the slot, supported by TEs and RBs with WRs sprinkled in. It will just take more time for these decisions to bear fruit.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.