New England Patriots Roundtable Discussion: Week 2
Listen in on a few of the Musket Fire fellas talk New England Patriots Week 2. It will make your Friday go by a bit faster.
Connor Fulton: Tell me which rookie you think will contribute the most for the Patriots in Week 2: Malcolm Mitchell, Joe Thuney, Cyrus Jones, or Vincent Valentine.
Hal Bent: The rookie who will have to contribute the most in week two is definitely left guard Joe Thuney. The Dolphins have three excellent interior defensive linemen in Ndamukong Suh (arguably the best player in the NFL at his position), Earl Mitchell, and Jordan Phillips.
New England is fortunate the Mitchell was placed on injured reserve this week as he has given the offensive line fits over the years. Phillips was dinged up in week one but is expected to play Sunday despite an ankle injury. Phillips is uber-athletic for a player his size (six-foot-six and 335 pounds–think of Akiem Hicks for a comparable player) and with Suh next him they will present a problem for Thuney, center David Andrews, and whoever ends up at right guard.
If Thuney can hold his own, it is a huge win for the Patriots’ offensive line.
Hal Bent: Jimmy Garoppolo had a solid game in week one against Arizona on the road in primetime. However, his week two match-up is no cakewalk as the Patriots face a Miami defense which shut down Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Dolphins went into a hostile environment and held Seattle to just 352 net yards and 12 points. What does Garoppolo have to do on offense to prevent Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, and the rest of the defense from teeing off on him after battering the most elusive quarterback in the league last week?
Connor Fulton: Good question, Hal. I’m going to go with what I said prior to Week 1 against the Cardinals, and that is for the Patriots to establish the run early in the game. Yes, LeGarrette Blount fumbled the ball, but for the most part, he was excellent; his touchdown run was jaw-dropping. The Patriots must get Blount going in the first quarter and sustain that ground success throughout the game, or else this star-studded front seven of the Dolphins could force Jimmy G into making some questionable and costly decisions with the football.
Zac Blackerby: With New England having success running the ball with LeGarrette Blount and moving the ball with James White, which running back do you think is most effective in attacking the Dolphins defense?
Connor Fulton: Echoing my previous point, I’m going to say Blount. Without a doubt, the Dolphins boast a powerful defensive front, and the best way to counter that strength is by fighting power with power. The Patriots must run the ball directly at the heart of the Dolphins’ defense. It won’t work every time, but the Patriots have a bunch of solid run blocker in the trenches these days (rookies Joe Thuney and Ted Karras come to mind), so it’s at least worth a try. In turn, the more success Blount has running the ball north-south, the more open White will be in the flat on play-action throws.
Hal Bent: I’m of the opinion to say that Blount should stay off the field unless the offense is inside the five yard line or are facing and third or fourth-and-one. Last year in week 17 the Patriots went run-heavy to protect Tom Brady and paid the price by having to go to Denver in the AFC Championship game (trust me, crowd noise played a key role in that pass rush that game).
As I mentioned above, the Dolphins have Suh and Jordan Phillips inside. Blount will have nowhere to run if the Patriots try the ground-and-pound game plan yet again. Keep it simple: put Jimmy Garoppolo in the shotgun with James White in the backfield next to him with three wide receivers and Martellus Bennett to spread the Dolphins out and attack their weak cornerback depth. The Patriots can disrupt the pass rush with White capitalizing on screen passes and running draws.
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