They finished with the win, a 9-8 record.
But it must be asked: How much bigger would this game be if they played it this way last Sunday in Tennessee?
It’s a game with no consequences. The Dolphins season still ended after beating New England, 33-24. The Patriots still went to the knockout stages with their 10-7 record.
Here are 10 thoughts on the game:
1. Statistics of the game: The Dolphins had a 195-yard javelin season with 43 carries. They averaged 85.8 yards of rush Sunday, placing 31st in the league. Duke Johnson (see number 6) dashed 24 times with 117 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins changed the attack with rookie Robert Jones, starting in place of Jesse Davis on the right. The Patriots don’t have a great rush defense, placing 21st at 119.3 yards a game on Sunday. However, the total rush there?
2. Jaylen Waddle breaks Anquan Boldin’s record for 101 rookie entertainment with his third catch on the first drive. His fourth catch was for aa TD. Bill Belichick took care of him afterward, changing coverage so that Waddle had a catch for the rest of the day, ending with five catches in 27 yards. The NFL has never been big at determining numbers the way baseball has been, so going from a 16 to a 17-game season isn’t the one to give me an asterisk for the numbers. Waddle, by all accounts, had a great rookie year. Now for the advanced conversation: Is he the #1 recipient? And, yes, it matters when you pick him number 6 in the draft. Boldin is a great pass receiver, but Larry Fitzgerald is the number 1 collector. Waddle can be a great positional receiver – an important one. But the number 1 classical receiver is the one who opens up the offenses. Ja’Marr Chase is a rookie in Cincinnati with the right midfield position. We’ll have to see how Waddle’s career plays out to see if that’s who he is in the years to come.
3. Statistics of the game II: Tua had 54 yards of passing in the opening touchdown, completing 7/7 passes. For the rest of the game, he completed eight of 15 55-yard passes. The good news is that the Patriots dropped the two interceptions he was going to throw. Bad news: Waddle dropped an 85-yard touchdown on a fast ramp. However, Tua ran in two crucial first downs, including in third and eighth with a game time of less than two minutes.
4. Patriots defender Mac Jones’ first pass Sunday became the 6th pick for Xavien Howard. That extended the Dolphins’ lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter. It also adds to why Howard is my pick for the team’s MVP. Waddle won. Once again, he’s had a great season. But Howard consistently used top receivers one-on-one, allowing the rest of the defense to do positive things. Sure, he beat some. Every angle is available. But he won the Patriots’ first game by getting past Damien Harris at the 9-yard line and falling over when they could have shot on goal to win. He also had five interceptions and another required search and recovery (a big play in the win over Baltimore).
5. Easy decisions this season: Choose a defensive solution to settle on Christian Wilkins’ five-year contract while working on a long-term contract. He has been praised this year. It’s not enough. He had seven tackles, a sack and a side pass on Sunday. But here’s the question: When was the last time a defensive save nearly led the team on tackles? He finished second with 89 tackles. That is remarkable. Come on, a defensive phase? Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald finished fourth on the Los Angeles Rams entering Sunday with 77 tackles. Wilkins has made strides every year, and he has come a long way this season to become a force in attack. Give the man some money.
6. Good story about Duke Johnson answer both for how reruns can make a difference and why teams don’t overinvest in them. He ran 24 yards with 117 yards and one touchdown on Sunday, including a 27 yard run. That has earned him two more than 100 games in the past four – that is, since he started for Miami. He had 70 attempts in 330 yards. That’s a 4.7-yard average. Myles Gaskin, who started most of the season, averaged 3.6 yards. Does anyone think that blocking is much better for Johnson? That’s the difference a good back end can make. It also shows how bad staffing decisions have been over the past few years. Ultimately, it explains why teams don’t invest so much in running backwards. Out of the top five defenders of this year’s tournament, only Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris was selected in the first round. Last week, Tennessee’s D’onta Foreman ran 132 yards with the Dolphins after being signed in November. Johnson, a Cleveland third-round pick in 2015, was cut by Houston this year. He was included in the Dolphins’ practice team in November. Now his best of them is running again.
7. Fast forward to Mac Jones. This is one of the interesting stories in this season. It is not yet known exactly who will be who. Tassel, finishing his sophomore year, finished on Sunday. Jones made a big mistake in the game with Howard’s six pick and completed 20 of 30 261-yard passes and a touchdown. Here’s the Sunday comparison:
* Tua played 12 games, threw 2,544 yards with an average of 7.0 yards, a completion rate of 67.8 and 15 touchdowns to 10 interceptions;
*Jones played 16 games, throwing 3,540 yards with an average of 7.2 yards, a completion rate of 67.6 and 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
8. Quick Shots on a Weird Last Sunday of the regular games of the season:
* Mike Gesicki entered Sunday needing three catches and 34 yards to set a team record for a tight finish in a season. He had two catches for 22 yards. His usage of up and down is one of this year’s mysteries;
* The biggest consequence of Sunday’s game for New England was that Christian Barmore tackled the defense and had to leave the field at the last minute with an obvious leg injury;
* Indianapolis blew their playoff berth with a loss at lowly Jacksonville in a game that said the Colts were no threat to anyone with Carson Wentz in midfield;
* Buffalo won the AFC East title thanks to a win over the Jets. But will they be reliable in the playoffs?
9. My Sunday Category above Patriots Teach Dolphins About Rebuilding brought some unexpected reactions. One of the most popular is the Patriots not rebuilding, because they had eight players who opted out of COVID last season and just re-inserted them this year.
Let’s say what happened. Only two of the players who opted out returned to the Patriots: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, a star, and Brandon Boldin, a third-string replayer and special team player. The Patriots have two starting players on the team in 2019 – defender David Andrews and defender Shaq Mason (I don’t count Ted Karras, the center back in 2019 when Andrews was injured. He played for the Dolphins in 2020 and back again. with The Patriots as this year’s defender).
Also: Some people start as re-run Damien Harris (out Sunday) and recipient Jakobi Meyers is the backup later. In terms of defense, the Patriots have two starting in 2019: Tall and safe Devin McCourty. If you want, you can add linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who was the Dolphins in 2020 and is listed as fallback to the Patriots now.
The bottom line: The Patriots have undergone extensive rebuilding like the Dolphins, but didn’t trade off talent for draft picks. They really don’t have a lot of talent to trade when you look at it. However, they haven’t made it to the knockouts for a year and have attended two Super Bowls (won two) since the Dolphins last made it to the knockouts in 2016.
10. Next week: Dolphins are on the draft clock.
https://www.twincities.com/2022/01/09/hyde10-ten-thoughts-on-dolphins-season-ending-33-24-win-over-patriots/ Ten thoughts on the Dolphins’ 33-24 season-end win over the Patriots – Twin Cities