Pats Vs. Dolphins

Bust Off The Rust.


7-Things For Saturday Part 2


Greetings Pats Fans,

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5. Patriots Defense- The Patriots defense is really going to have to win this game. The KC defense has the talent to slow down the Pats offense. And if they are rusty the first half it could get real ugly real fast, like last season against the Ravens. "You can learn something from every game," BB said. "I mean every game we see on them, you learn something. But our game will be different. We'll have to play our game the way our game plays. Part of the preparation is watching them play everybody, especially the last one. There is definitely a benefit from it, but our game is going to be our game, so that's what it is." So it is up to the defense to stuff the KC offense in the 1st Quarter, and set a brutal, physical, and smart pace for the rest of the game.

The Pats can't allow the last three weeks to hurt them, and you have to worry that they have too much rust to bust off. "No, I just look at this week and you look at Green Bay, who I mean the stats show I think they lost their last two regular season games, they were terrible on third down, and then I mean you could argue and say they looked [like] the best offensively out of all those teams [on Wildcard Weekend]," McCourty said. "It's tough. I think the regular season is obviously important to see what teams are doing, but when you turn the page and you go into the playoffs you’ve got to win that night, that day, go out there and beat another team. I think obviously for Kansas City coming off the 10-game winning streak in the regular season, they looked just as good against Houston playing good football, and I think that’s more important than the so-called momentum is. We’ve got to make sure that we go out there and play good football and not let them come out there and out-play us. You have to watch the regular season to learn about a team and prepare, but I’m not a big believer in you played last week and because you play well it just happens again. I think they’ve done a good job preparing and playing their brand of football and imposing that on the other team each week." Hopefully they have learned enough the past three weeks to be able to impose their will on KC early in the game.

But one thing about the Pats defense is that they can stop the run when they really focus on them. They have to keep their cool, and be the most physical and brutal team on the field. "Definitely, I mean that's important in the regular season and it's very important now because that's the difference between your season being over and you coming out of a tough game with a win and pushing forward and having another day to go out there and win the next round." McCourty said about the lessons learn in the Cincy game. "I think the good thing about this team is that’s always very important. It’s always that choice of putting yourself first or putting your team first or what might hurt your team but make you happy at the moment. I think Coach Belichick talks about that all the way back in the preseason, and I think guys understand that’s not really acceptable of whether it’s a personal foul or just a stupid play out there on the field. I think obviously everyone sees it in a bigger moment in the playoffs, but I think that’s always an important part of how this team is built." This is where there experience from last year gives them a huge advantage.

They have built up their D-line with big guys who can stop the run like Malcom Brown. "Malcom has really done a good job," BB said. "Very mature kid for as young as he is, first year. He obviously comes from a good program and in Texas a place where football is very important and all that, but he's a solid learner, doesn't make very many mistakes, and certainly doesn't repeat very many of them, so he's really taken advantage of his opportunities and continues to get better each week and every day." He has to stuff the run.

They also have the three inside giants: Siliga, Branch, and Hicks. Those three guys have to stop the Dives, and constant inside runs KC will unleash behind their huge O-line to take pressure off of Smith. "[KC has] a great running team, a great team philosophy, West-Coast offense," Hicks said. "I just feel like there’s 32 teams in the NFL and I feel like anybody can run the ball if you give them the opportunity to. So as a defense you’ve just got to go out there and do your best to slow that down." Stop the Dives, win the game.

The Pats defense has to come out and stuff the run from the get go. Smith is very efficient on 3rd and short, after a couple of runs put him in that position. Their running game is geared in every way to punish the defense, and help Smith in the passing game.

KC is not going to win this game through the air. They are going to this game with defense and on the ground. "Right. Yeah. They do a lot of things in their running game," BB said. "They have a lot of different schemes. Again, not uncommon to other teams that we've seen that have all the shotgun and read-option quarterback-type plays, along with some conventional plays and wide receiver sweeps and things like that, get those other guys involved in the running game, too. They do a great job of it. They have a unique way of doing it and they use it to obviously emphasize the skills of certain players and skills that their individual players have, but that's again, pretty common to what we see every week. Not every week, but in a lot of other weeks and teams with similar type of overall run philosophies. It's a lot to defend. You have to defend a lot of different things and a lot of good players there and if they catch on something they have a chance for a big play." Then, maybe, through the air after the defense is soften up a little by the run game.

They need to stop the run, which sets up Smith so well. "I mean, he’s been a great quarterback ever since his days in San Francisco," Hicks said. "So I’ve always had a lot of respect for him and I look forward to playing him." But making him throw on 3rd and longs is going to put pressure on him that they spend a lot of time and scheming trying to keep off his shoulders. Plus, it makes the play actions a lot less effective. Smith will kill you with play action, and then throw over the top.

There is no way to think that the Pats offense can be anything other than rusty to start the game. So the Defense has to come out and play at their highest level. "I think the team is excited about getting ready for the game." BB said. "Obviously a big game against a great team, a team that's playing very well. We have a lot of respect for Andy and the job that he and his staff do. Everything is pointing to us being at our best, optimum performance on Saturday afternoon, so that's what we're all pointing towards, that's what we're all working towards, and that's where we hope to be. We've got a little over two days, a little over 48 hours to pull it together here, so that's kind of where we are. We've had a good week of preparation and now we need to tie up some loose ends, some situational stuff and be ready to go." The defense has to be ready to go on 1st and 2nd down when the KC O-line is going to punch them in the mouth early and often.

The best news is that when Hightower, Collins, and Jones are on the field together this defense is a top four defense. "He's my partner in crime," Hightower said about Collins. "But it's going to be good to have everybody out there. It's been a good week and we're just getting ready to go." They have to show that in this game.

The Pats also have a huge advantage from the experience they garnered in last year's Playoff. "Experience definitely helps," Hightower said. "But it's a different year and a different team. In the end it's going to come down to executing the game plan. Again, we've had a pretty good week of practice, we're definitely on those guys, guys are watching extra film, so it's just going to have to come down to execution on Saturday." Plus they are at home, and that always helps the defense, especially in a weather game. If the Pats win this game, it is because the defense covers the offense's asses as they bust off the rust.

6. Julian Edelman and Gronk- When these two guys are in the lineup together the Pats are the best offense in the NFL. "I just think the more dependable, consistent players are out there, the better the offense is going to be," TB12 said about the flying squirrel. "He’s been one of them for as long as he’s been here, and depending on what he can do, we’ll try to find ways to integrate him. Whoever’s out there we have to have confidence in. Like I said, there’s no next week so you just got to do whatever you can do to be out on the field, help us win, play your role, do the job coach asks you to do and then try to figure out how to score some points." Gronk is their Number One, but Edelman is Brady's number one option on 3rd down.

They really need Edelman to be ready after his long layoff. "Jules, like all of our injured guys, try to do everything they can to take care of their bodies and heal themselves and rehab appropriately and hopefully be back as soon as they can," Josh said. "But Julian's attitude has always been very impressive to me. He's got a great work ethic. He's a guy who wants to be as good as he can be at everything that we ask of him, so we'll see how it goes this week. But I know those guys who haven't been out there or have missed time, they're all trying to do whatever they can to get healthy and be back as soon as they're able to." With Gronk messed up this week, they are going to need the Flying Squirrel to take over as the Number One.

The good news is that the KC defense is vulnerable to the short underneath patterns that Edelman, Amendola, and LaFell run with more precision than any group in the NFL. "I mean every time of the year is really important because you’re always trying to build to something," Brady said about offensive precision. "Like I said, you work really hard to get to this point and I don’t think you just start working hard last week. I think you’ve just got to work hard with the opportunities that you have. I don’t care if it’s an offseason, non-practice day, what are you trying to do to help our team win and become a better player? If you get that opportunity then you try to go out and take advantage of it, and if you finally make it to this point it’s not like you’re going to do anything different because it’s the playoffs now. You’re just going to do more of the same, but at the same time you know if you lose there’s nothing to figure out the following week." The Pats can move the ball on this defense with short passes underneath, especially when they go Zone.

KC has excellent edgerushers who are great at setting the edge and forcing guys inside. "First of all, they all haven't been healthy a lot, so whichever two are in there, those are the two that are in there," BB said. "Hali plays on our left, Houston plays on our right, Ford, if he's in for one or the other, plays one or the other. It's not 100 percent. There is a little bit of variety there, but for the most part, that's where they are. It'd be kind of like the corners." However, if you get a guy outside of their edgerushers it really hurts their defense for big chunks of yards.

I think White can have a big day on the edges. "I think there are different tools at different times for different players," TB12 said. "Some guys may think I’m being really hard on them but I’m not being hard on them at all. I just think ultimately we’re all trying to get to the same place and you’ve got to have different leadership styles with different players. I think there is always a sense of urgency and every day you’re trying to create some urgency so you can realize the importance of what we’re trying to do for ourselves, for our team, because everyone puts in a lot of work. There are a lot of people that sacrifice a lot to get to this point. This is not a one-week event. This is a year-round event that you commit to, to play in moments like this and this is when you need to be at your best, and if you haven’t weeded out the guys that you don’t count on anymore, then those guys, they’re not playing. The guys that you count on, those are the guys that you’re kind of I would say in a foxhole with so to speak, and you’ve got to know who to count on and how to anticipate and know that you’re doing the right things ultimately to get productive plays and score points." The Pats are the most mentally tough team in the NFL, and now is the time to show that or die trying.

7. 1st Half Game- If Maclin is out, I think the KC offense will be too severely limited to win this game. But, he did make a miracle comeback (boarding on faking an injury), already this season. He hurt his knee and looked like was done for the season, and then impossibly played the next game. I watched that game, and saw him flop around like a cannon ball just blasted his leg in half, and then played the next week.

It looks like this is another fake the severity injury move by him. I mean, when he was weeping on the field as he was carted off, and they took him to the bench (and not the locker room?) than it started to stink like a con job. Then it's a high ankle sprain? He sprained his ankle, seriously? If he plays he is a diva-faker, who put on a show for attention. I think he plays.

Which is imperative for this team. "Yeah, I mean, obviously we'll see," Smith said about the faker. "It would hurt to lose a player of his caliber. Definitely, all of us need to pick up the slack and make up for that. So we'll just see as the week goes on and we'll get a better feel for what the situation's going to be." Their offense is limited with him on the field. Without him they are too limited to really test the Pats defense.

The only legit weapon they would have left is Kelce. "Yeah, I would like to take a lot of credit for that but he's a unique player," Smith said. "As far as skill set goes, unique for a tight end. But he's worked really hard I think to be that guy, to be out there and to be able to handle all of those situations not just the pass game but to be in the run game and pass protection. Understand you're going to find out how teams are playing him and trying to take him away, especially when you become a feature guy. You know, recognizing how teams are playing him differently. Different tactics that they can use to try and slow him down and how to combat that. So he deserves all of that credit." But like I said I ain't buyin' it. I think they have Maclin on the field, which means the offense has to start playing together earlier than in last year's Divisional Game.

Now, my biggest worry is that in the 1st half the Pats offense is too discombobulated to test the KC defense. So the defense has to step up. "You hear about a lot of these defenses, and I don't think they get enough recognition for what they've done," Reid said. "They play hard, aggressive, played a lot of guys in there. They're getting some guys back here that didn't play in the Miami game. It's a good group." And they are going to have to show it in the 1st Half.

I think this game is really in the defense's hands, really on both sides. "It's great," McCourty said. "You can't take these games for granted. You don't know if you're going to be in the postseason every year. Like I always say, I have a brother who plays in the NFL, [but has] yet to be in the postseason. He talks to me about it all the time, so that always gives me perspective of preparing and being ready to go and trying to earn the right to come back here and prepare and get ready for next week. So we've got to go out there and earn it on Saturday." The Pats defense has to earn the win for the Pats, certainly in the 1st half.

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