Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- There is some serious injury uncertainty with the Dolphins this week, with Tyreek Hill (hip) and Raheem Mostert (ankle) missing practice on Wednesday.
- Five cornerbacks were limited on Wednesday for the Dolphins, but it appears as if all five are in line to play this weekend.
- WR Jaylen Waddle managed a limited session on Wednesday after departing Week 7 with a back injury. He ultimately returned to the game but missed over a quarter of play.
- UPDATE: Tyreek Hill and Raheem Mostert managed limited sessions on Thursday.
How new england Will Try To Win ::
The best way to visualize how the Patriots have been forced to try and win games is by looking at their pace of play compared to the number of offensive plays they can run per game. New England runs the fastest offense in the league from a seconds-per-play perspective (26.4) but has averaged just 62.1 plays per game, which ranks 19th in the league. They also average just 14.4 points per game, good for 31st in the league. In other words, the Patriots have been highly inefficient on offense and have largely relied on their defensive prowess to put them in position to win games. At a 2-5 record, that hasn’t happened often. Even so, the Patriots will rarely be blown out of the water, with five of seven games decided by seven points or less (they had a rough stretch in Week 4 and Week 5, where they were outscored by a combined 69 points in a two-game stretch). Most weeks, against most opponents, this team should find a way to keep things close into the fourth quarter, in typical Bill Belichick fashion.
The Patriots very clearly want to be a team that can control the clock at greater frequency than they have to this point in the season, ranking top 10 in rush rate over expectation. Negative game scripts and poor offensive volume have meant they have averaged only 24.4 rush attempts per game through seven weeks, which is 22nd in the league. But the fact remains that they would otherwise like to subject their defense to less beating, and a lot of that would be lessened by a more successful run game (because, quite frankly, the Patriots do not have the tools to be able to win consistently through the air). The major problem with that design is a one-dimensional offensive scheme that lacks many forward-thinking principles, leaving the offense vanilla and straightforward. Until that changes (remains questionable), New England could continue to struggle to control game environments for the remainder of the season. Rhamondre Stevenson has settled into a 60-65 percent snap rate and opportunity share in recent weeks, backed up by change-of-pace grinder Ezekiel Elliott. Stevenson has managed just 3.1 yards per carry and 3.9 yards per touch, with Zeke putting up 3.7 yards per carry and 3.9 yards per touch. The offensive line has blocked to just 1.27 yards before contact, right in line with the 1.26 yards before contact allowed by the Miami defense. Nothing here points to higher levels of efficiency than what they’ve managed to this point in the season.
Demario Douglas returned from a missed game to immediately eat into DeVante Parker’s role in the offense, which makes sense considering how poorly Parker has played through the first half of the season. Taking into account a split tight end corps and elevated 12-personnel rates left only Kendrick Bourne as an every-down pass-catcher in Week 7. Juju Smith-Schuster should return from two missed games due to a concussion after not being listed on the team’s injury report Wednesday, which is likeliest to eat into Douglas’ growing role in the offense in addition to the 25 offensive snaps from Jalen Reagor as opposed to sap Bourne’s established role. As such, we will likely see a similar snap breakdown to what we saw last week, with Smith-Schuster, Parker, and Douglas sharing the 150-160 percent available snap rate for two players induced by the 40 percent 12-personnel rates from the offense. Vic Fangio’s 2-high base defense hasn’t performed up to expectations to this point in the season. Still, a heavy zone base requires additional communication, which will likely improve as the season progresses. Kendrick Bourne and Demario Douglas are the team’s top two pass-catchers against zone coverage this season, with Smith-Schuster seeing the highest target rate against man.