Three Keys to the game vs Patriots
It’s week 17 as the Miami Dolphins head over to Foxborough. Let’s dive into the keys to the game: Dolphins vs Patriots, part two.
Three Keys vs Patriots
Running the ball effectively
Miami can’t seem to consistently commit to running the football, but when it does it generally has some success. Mostert leads the team with 791 yards with a 4.9-yard average while Wilson adds 275 yards at a healthy 5.2-yard clip.
The Patriots have a good run defense, ranks ninth in the league, allowing 109.8 yards per game on the ground. They are also the 10th ranked rushing defense in EPA/play. Furthermore when looking into third and fourth down rushing plays the Patriots are the 4th best rush defense in EPA/Play.
On the other hand, Miami is the 17th best rush offense in EPA/Play but the third worst in third and fourth in EPA/Play partly as they pass more often than run.
While we know that Mike McDaniel is a pass happy play caller, the Dolphins run the ball efficiently on early downs. They are 6th best in the league in EPA/Rush on first and second down. Conversely, the Patriot’s rush defense is ranked 16th on early downs.
Thus, calls for an effective and efficient run game
It’s key knowing WHEN to run the ball
Dolphins were successful in getting yards on 1st/2nd down. .4 EPA/P and 55% success rate
22 runs, 21 passes
Compared to .2 EPA/P and 43% success rate passing on early downs
— Hussam Patel (@HussamPatel) December 18, 2022
It will come down to moving the ball by running early and efficiently to get into manageable third and short situations and convert. The Dolphins rank 9th in third down conversion EPA. Certainly a factor to watch in Dolphins vs Patriots.
Getting three and outs
The Dolphins defense has not been that bad late in the season compared to the start of the season. They have been and elite run defense.
However, with the injuries in the secondary their strength has turned into a weakness. Getting the Defense off the field on third downs will be key in Dolphins vs Patriots.
Defensive side of the ball pic.twitter.com/j6gn3P5pKE
— Timo Riske (@PFF_Moo) December 20, 2022
They Dolphins are the 5th worst defense in passing yards allowed per game (245), and 4th worst over their last three games. Also, they are the 12th worst dropback passing defense in EPA.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is the fourth worst passer in EPA/Play and the offense overall passes the football 6% over expected than what they should on third and shorts.
Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer will have to be aggressive in getting after Mac Jones and limiting third down conversion so the Patriots do not sustain drives.
The Dolphins defense ranks sixth worse in EPA given up on third downs, it will be intriguing if defensive coordinator Josh Boyer gets aggressive and gets after Mac Jones to limit third down conversions.
Jason Sanders will have to be special
This season Jason Sanders has been in a funk. Sanders, who was once deemed to be automatic is 1-4 from the 50 yard yard line and out. He has an 82% extra point percentage which is 24th in the league.
Not to mention he had a “missed kick” on a 93 yard kickoff return against the Packers last Sunday.
Dolphins ST coordinator Danny Crossman said Jason Sanders had a “miss kick,” not a squib kick, after the special teams unit allowed a 93-yard kickoff return vs. the Packers
— Daniel Oyefusi (@DanielOyefusi) December 29, 2022
Sanders will have to be reliable for the Dolphins special teams unit, especially if the Dolphins offense can’t score in the redzone. Especially as the Dolphins rank sixth worse in red zone touchdown percentage since week 12.
***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Hussam Patel***
Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel
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