The New England Patriots lost as expected in Miami as they were outplayed by the Miami Dolphins and lost 20-7 in the first game of the 2022 season, not that they haven’t been beaten there in the past. Miami in September has been a House of Horrors for the Patriots.
Things started badly, then improved a bit, but ultimately the Patriots didn’t have enough answers for a better Dolphins team.
The team was shut out in the first half with a lackluster offense and generally couldn’t convert on too many third-down chances with questionable play-calling. Not having an Offensive Coordinator may have been costly. Scoring seven points isn’t going to get the job done most of the time.
The defense from which not much was expected in this space actually performed decently. There’s just not enough talent there to beat a good NFL team. There’s Christian Barmore, Matt Judon, Dev McCourty, and emerging star Kyle Dugger and that’s about it.
Let’s take a look at what went right and wrong in the first effort of a season and just why this team started by flopping as they often do in Miami.
The New England Patriots: The Good and the bad
If Bill Belichick is seeking to work his way out of Foxborough with his bizarre coaching staffing decisions and questionable personnel decision-making, he did a decent job of it against the Dolphins. The future Hall of Fame coach may be on the hot seat.
First, let’s look at what went right. One thing was the play of emerging star Kyle Dugger. He made plays, the essence of a good defense, and Dugger showed he’s emerging as a bonafide star. Matt Judon had his expected sack. He’s a dependable player.
Other than that, there really wasn’t very much to feel good about on defense. Even Christian Barmore from whom much is expected was a non-factor. Barmore is at his best right on the center as a nose tackle, yet the Patriots persist in using him primarily in a gap. It’s not working.
On offense, the deconstruction of the offensive line (losing both starting guards), wasting a first-round pick and reaching on a guard and other poor offseason personnel decisions hurt this team. The offensive line had too many early breakdowns helping put the Patriots in a 17-0 hole.
The running game and Damian Harris from which a lot was expected started well and played OK. Jakobi Meyers, still the Patriots best receiver (who can’t get a contract extension) continues to just catch the ball.
Second-year quarterback Mac Jones was solid (though he missed some easy targets) and finally got the Patriots on the scoreboard at 4:44 left in the third quarter on a pass to Ty Montgomery, cutting the Dolphins lead to 17-7. At that point, the game hung in the balance.
The New England Patriots: The ugly
The ugly included a missed blocking assignment on the left side of the offensive line resulting in a strip sack of Mac Jones and a Dolphins touchdown midway through the second quarter. That began the demise of the Patriots.
Poor coaching results in poor execution. Whether Trent Brown, their best offensive lineman missed, or tight end Hunter Henry, who was on that side should have chipped Dolphins’ blitzer, Brandon Jones, that missed block allowed a free hit on Jones, a fumble, and a touchdown.
A fumble by Nelson Agholor after a pass completion with 4:55 minutes left in the game (the Patriots third turnover) sealed the deal for New England. Agholor continues to prove the team made a monstrous gaffe in giving him a huge salary in 2021. He’s been a complete bust.
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The Patriots’ defense just couldn’t contain Miami’s quick-strike offense. As should have been expected, the run defense remains porous. Why shouldn’t it, no players of consequence were added in the off-season to either the defensive line or the linebacking corps to help out.
That fact falls smack on the shoulders of whoever is making the personnel decisions. That would be Bill Belichick, Matt Groh, whoever.
This ain’t rocket science. If your offense can’t score points and is prone to big-time mistakes, your defense can’t stop the opposing team, and you fail to make big plays when they are available (e.g Jack Jones missing an interception chance in the first half and Myles Bryant in the second) the result is predictable … you’ll lose.
This space has been consistent in saying that good teams, and championship teams are built in the offseason. The New England Patriots failed miserably in their offseason and the results were eminently predictable and were predicted here.
Strap in for long cold winter, New England Patriot fans, this is unlikely to get a whole lot better. This team isn’t good enough and the only redeeming factor this season may be to deliver a high draft pick next April. It is what it is.