The Miami Dolphins (0-1) came into their first game of the 2020 NFL season with a lot of hope and the expectation they could compete. After the 21-11 loss against the New England Patriots (1-0) on Sunday in Foxborough, there are many questions.
The team surprisingly started the game running the football well. Fans saw a lot of Jordan Howard at the start until Myles Gaskin came in and took the bulk of the carries, finishing with nine rushes for 40 yards and a 4.4 yard average. Howard finished with eight rushes for just seven yards and a touchdown.
Though Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t have a great day, the loss surprisingly wasn’t his fault. The second-year Dolphins quarterback finished 20 of 30 in passing with 191 yards and three interceptions. Only one of those three could genuinely be blamed on Fitzpatrick as the other two came from a Preston Williams slip and a missed pass interference call in the end zone to end the game.
Fitzpatrick did take some blame during his press conference, saying, “…the Patriots secondary played better than I did today.”
Coach Brian Flores had this to say: “Had some spurts there where we’re moving the ball, but obviously with the turnovers, those were huge. [Fitzpatrick] put some drives together. We finished one, but too many turnovers.”
It was the Dolphins’ run defense that failed the team in today’s matchup against Foxborough’s evil empire. Consistently giving up yards to Cam Newton and not plugging the gaps on shorts runs from Sony Michel (1 TD on the day) and Rex Burkhead. The Patriots finished with 217 yards on the ground. For comparison, Newton completed 15 of 19 for 155 yards. Add in his 75 rushing yards, and he accounted for a net total 230 yards.
The team will improve as the weeks go on. As Joshua Houtz notes:
the dolphins played their first game in 258 days after adding a ton FAs, rookies, and a new offensive system. add in the unprecedented offseason and I think we should let this thing play out.
— josh houtz (@houtz) September 13, 2020
Houtz is right, the team is still young, and this process wasn’t going to happen overnight. This was a winnable game and one that Coach Flo will not be happy with, but things will improve.
There are a few highlights from this game. The 2019 first-round pick, Christian Wilkins, played a great game with six total tackles, two sacks and two balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. 2020 fifth-round pick Brandon Jones had ten total tackles and made some critical stops with increased playing time. The only linebacking starter left from the 2019 Dolphins, Jerome Baker, led the team in tackles and had a sack. Baker did make some mental mistakes with two bad penalties — but again, it’s a process.
The Dolphins (0-1) will face the Buffalo Bills (1-0) next Sunday at 1 p.m. at home in a second straight AFC East matchup after the Bills destroyed the Adam Gase led Jets (0-1) 27-17 in New York.