Miami Dolphins begin their 2020 season tonight against the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Things are a little different to the last time the Fins played the Patriots in December 2019.
Miami Dolphins will be playing New England without Tom Brady, who joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 off-season.
Cam Newton was the man to replace Brady in New England and he faces the Miami Dolphins for just the third time in his NFL career.
The former MVP has won both of his games against the Dolphins, winning 20-16 in Miami back in 2013 and 45-21 in Carolina during the 2017 season.
How Will This New Patriots Offense Look?
Newton will now face the Miami Dolphins twice a season. Newton is the polar opposite to Brady both on and off the field. It will be interesting to see how head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels plan their offense for a very mobile quarterback.
Newton also hasn’t been the same since the Super Bowl 50 loss to the Denver Broncos in San Francisco. He has had his injury problems and has lost his last eight NFL games he has played.
Tom Brady grew extremely frustrated at the lack of receiving options at the end of his time with the Patriots, which has not been addressed in the off season by the Patriots.
The lack of receiving options may see a lack of deep balls, which may limit the production in this game for Xavien Howard or Miami’s other cornerback Byron Jones, who came to the Dolphins through free agency.
It would not be a shock if Bill Belichick use alot of the run game and play action plays along with the mobility of Newton.
Miami Dolphins need to stop the run
The Miami Dolphins will need to be prepared for this. Miami struggled last season stopping the run. Brian Flores’ team were ranked 27th in rushing yards allowed per game (135.4). To flip that around, that made them the sixth worst team in 2019 for stopping the run.
Newton will likely use plenty of his running backs as well as the read option play to his advantage against a team that cannot stop the run.
Miami Dolphins fans will hope the additions of former Patriot linebackers Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy will help stop the run along with former Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Shaq Lawson.
The defensive line will also have a big part to play with the second year defensive lineman Christian Wilkins hoping to build on his promising rookie year alongside Super Bowl 54 champion Emmanuel Ogbah, who came to South Beach through free agency.
Alternatively, New England were the eighth best team in 2019 for rushing yards allowed per game (101.7). New running back off season additions Matt Breida and Jordan Howard will hope to change that under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
Elsewhere on the field, wide receiver Devante Parker will hope to get the better of corner Stephon Gilmore just as he did in week 17 of the 2019 season. The 2019 defensive player of the year had a rare off day against the wideout. Parker will want to prove that his breakout year last season was not a one hit wonder.
The Patriots have lost alot of personnel in defense during the off season whether that be through free agency, trades or COVID-19 opt-outs.
The Miami Dolphins and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will hope to pounce on this, along with the defense looking to make the most against a Patriots offense taking time to get used to a new system.
If there is any time for Miami to secure a win in New England, then this is the chance.
The Miami Dolphins won in week 17 at the Gillette Stadium was the first win for Miami on the road against the Patriots since 2008. The last time Miami Dolphins won back to back games in Foxborough was on the 24th December 2000.
However, 2000 was also the year Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots. As good as Newton has been in his career and how good he could be for New England, he is not Tom Brady. Miami Dolphins players will get confidence from this in their bid to beat their division rivals.