Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

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    Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

         There was alot to like for Pats' fans, in the Patriots' 38-24 win over the Miami Dolphins. But, before discussing the superlatives, I'll touch on the downers. Pats' center Dan Koppen suffered a broken left ankle tonight. An MRI will be done tomorrow, to determine whether he also has ligament damage. If so, he'll be gone for the season. But, the early prognosis is that it appears to be a clean break...which means that Koppen could be back within a couple of months: 

         The other negative was the Patriots' pass defense...which still leaves much to be desired. But...on to the good stuff! Here are my grades:

    I. OFFENSE: Outstanding performance by the offense, against a pretty good defense. The "O" was unstoppable in the second half. By the time the fourth quarter came along, the Dolphin defenders were noticeably winded. This seemed to be a theme throughout the the players don't yet appear to be in shape to play a full 60 minutes. This is part of the reason why offenses appear to be ahead of the defensive units, thus far.

    1.) QB: The "Terrific One" remained in his 2010 MVP form, tonight. Tom completed 32 of 48 passes, for an incredible 517 yards, four TDs, and one odd pick, which came on a WR screen. It cost the Patriots a TD. But, credit Brady for dusting himself off, and answering the score on the Pats' next possession. Folks, when Brady gets' time to throw, as he did tonight, he cannot be stopped. Some of Brady's highlights were a 46 yard rope to Matthew Slater, and another of the same distance, which clanged off Slater's hands. There was the collaboration with his TEs, a solid dose of Deion Branch in the 3rd quarter, and, of course, that gorgeous 99.5 yard strike to Wes Welker, which sealed the deal:
    GRADE: A+;

    2.) RBs: 
    Although BJGE and Danny Woodhead seemingly appeared in cameo roles in tonight's Tom Brady Show, they were effective when called upon. Great effort by the Law Firm on the Pats' initial TD. He willed his way 5 yards, and into the endzone, after initially being hit at the line of scrimmage. Danny Woodhead was his usual effective self, especially on shot-gun draw plays. He and BJGE rushed for a combined 21 times for 103 yards, averaging a nifty 4.9 yards per carry:
    GRADE: B+;

    3.) OL: The Big Uglies responded to their poor play in the pre-season, and to the injury bug, in a big way. But for a couple of late second quarter speed rushes by Cameron Wake, Brady was hardly endangered. Rookie RT Nate Solder, in relief of the injured Sebastien Vollmer, was beaten by Wake on those  aforementioned plays. Aside from those, he appeared to completely neutralize, and at times dominate, Wake. That's pretty heady stuff for a rookie making his first NFL start. RG Bryan Waters played every snap out of necessity, and blended into the OL mix seemlessly. Nice job by Dan Connolly in relief of the injured Dan Koppen:
    GRADE: A+;

    4.) TEs: The Patriots may have the best set of TEs in the game. Rob Gronkowski continued on the path to a pro-bowl selection, finishing with 6 receptions for 86 yards, and a TD. He also hooked up with Brady on a beautiful 40 yard play, that was called back due to an illegal formation penalty against Chad Ochocinco. Aaron Hernandez was equally impressive, with 7 catches for 103 yards, and a TD.:
    GRADE: A+

    5.) WRs: As mentioned above, Deion Branch got hot in the 3rd quarter, and finished with 7 catches for 93 yards. There was a Matthew Slater sighting, as the Patriots continue their search for that elusive deep threat, who can stretch the field.  Though Slater hauled in a 46 yard lazar, he dropped one of equal distance in the 4th quarter.
         Ocho continued to be a no-show. Questions must be raised whether his difficulties center on "learning the system"...or whether, at age 33, his skills have vastly diminished.
         Last, but certainly not least, Wes Welker led all receivers with 8 catchers for 160 yards. But, that 160 yards is somewhat misleading, considering that 99 of them came on one play. Nonetheless, that one play effectively closed the show:
    GRADE: A-;

    II. DEFENSE: There was some good redzone defense...and the pass-rush looked improved over last year. But, there were annoying issues in pass coverage, as the "D" had trouble closing out this game. They allowed the Dolphins to convert on 4th down four out of 5 times, including a 4th and 5, 4th and 7, and a 4th and 10.
    1.) DL: I really liked what I saw out of Albert Haynesworth. When he was in there, he was a force against what little running game the Dolphins brought to the table. He was also able to get push up the middle on pass plays. Myron Pryor also played effectively. Vince Wilfolk "Tysoned" Chad Henne on a rush, while Mark Anderson and Andre Carter chipped in with a sack each. Once Wilfolk and Haynesworth get into top playing shape, watch out:
    GRADE: B;

    2.) LBs: Jarod Mayo didn't have one of his better games. He badly whiffed on a tackle on WR Brandon Marshall, and was completely fooled on the 'Fins' QB draw call, on which they scored their first TD. None of the LBs distinguished themselves in coverage, tackling, or when blitzing:
    GRADE: C-;

    3.) SECONDARY:
    Rookie CB Ras-I Dowling made one of the key plays of the  game, by maintaining tight coverage on a fade route, on a 4th and goal from the one in the 4th quarter. His play prevented the Dolphins from cutting a 14 point Patriots' lead in half. After the subsequent turnover on downs, Brady hit Welker on the 99.5 yarder, effectively putting this game to rest.
         Devin McCourty did some nice things tonight, but dropped what should have been a sure interception in the 3rd quarter. Folks, it's never good when a DB is the team leader in tackles. Tonight, McCourty finished with 11 tackles, 10 solos...while Patrick Chung was second with 9 tackles, all solos. This was the by-product of Miami's Chad Henne passing for 416 yards, and two TDs. The Pats had particular trouble with 'Fins TE, Anthony Fasano (5 catches, 82 yards), and star WR Brandon Marshall (7 catches for 139 yards). Got to be concerned with the coverage issues the Patriots' safeties appear to be having:
    GRADE: C-;

    Got to start wondering out loud about PK Stephen Gostkowski. Though his kickoffs usually lead to touch-backs, he leaves something to be desired as a FG kicker. I'm never confident when he lines one up outside of 35 yards. Tonight, in near perfect conditions, he missed a 48 yarder. Granted, a 48 yarder is no gimme, but...the guy simply isn't dependable outside of 35 yards. Though that sort of thing rarely matters against the Miamis of the could bite the Pats when they play the better teams.
         KR Julian Edelman turned in another solid job tonight. Zolton "The Magnificent" wasn't so magnificent tonight. He averaged just 38 yards per punt, and appeared to almost have one blocked. Solid kick coverage by the Patriots, as usual:
    GRADE: B;

    IV: COACHING: Great job by BB and Bill O'Brien, who have their offense running to mid-season form. Good second half coaching adjustments. The decision to isolate and attack Dolphins' DB Nolan Carroll with Deion Branch brought huge dividends. Great use of their TEs, although Aaron Hernandez is, in reality, a big WR. 
         The Pats' "D", as is the case with most teams, is clearly behind the offense. The pass-rush is still a work in progress...and the overall LB play needs to improve, especially in pass coverage. Got to figure out what's going on at safety...especially FS. The Pats' badly need a better alternative in centerfield, to help their over-burdened CBs. Stay out of that damn "prevent defense"!! It almost allowed the 'Fins to make a late comeback. What's going on with Brandon Spikes, and Jermaine Cunningham?
    GRADE: B

    The 99.5 yard lazar from Brady to Welker, which put the 'Fins on ice. Here's a video of the play:;

    VI: PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tom Brady;

         Here are the game stats:

         I invite you to post your comments, and/or opinions.             

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from BabeParilli. Show BabeParilli's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Well done. I agree 100%.

    Two thoughts: Dowling looked great for a rookie; 85 is a liability at this point.
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from Quagmire3. Show Quagmire3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Awesome review! I agree with almost every one of your points. I have faith in Gostkowski and over his career he has been pretty relibale from 50 and in. He just missed this particular kick badly. And although Zoltan didnt have great stats, I thought he had a very good game dropping one punt inside the 5, and another inside the 20.
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from McFEETers. Show McFEETers's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    mccourty is competitive and after watching butler and others i'm glad to see it-
    but i do think his recovery speed is way down compared to last year. he is side-by-side, but once the ball is in the air and he turns to look for it, he slows. i think he is probably just getting up to speed
    ras-i looked pretty good considering he missed most of camp

    I can't believe that the pats got gronk and herndo2.0 in the 2nd and 4th rounds of the draft and the major impact it has had on the pats offense- awesome
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    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Regarding Gostkowski... perception is a funny thing.  In this case, yours is completely off.

    Ghost is 7th all time in career field goal percentage.  He is 18/27 (67%) all time on kicks from 40+ yards.  That is an excellent percentage.

    Nate Kaeding, the NFL all-time leader in FG%, is 46/65 (71%)

    Old friend Adam Vinatieri is 102/149 (68%)

    Mike Vanderjagt appears to be #1 all time at field goals from 40+ yards at 81/107 (75%)
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from ATJ. Show ATJ's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Nice job TP3. My only point of real disagreement is also regarding Gostkowski. He's coming off a torn quad and a little slack may be in order here.
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    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    It looks like the Pats will have a pass rush this year.  Wilfork and Haynesworth are going to be a handful up the middle.  Containment may be a problem.

    This is about the most accurate I've ever seen Henne.  He didn't have a lot of time and got rid of the ball very quickly.  The pocket seemed always on the verge of collapse.  Even though I scratched my head on what was going on in the defensive backfield Henne was very much on his game making things perhaps look a lot worse than they actually were.  I'm encouraged.
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from jcour382. Show jcour382's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    obviously....  i was not haunted watching pats last night... but its early and the defense is still feeling things out...thought fletcher looked great... and albert after not playing last year had some good push... chung looked good as well...

    dowling seems to be able to hold his own... it looks like waters is a rock on the right side as well.....things look promising...
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    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    First off, I don't care if it is Game 1, this is a huge win.

    It's an AFC win.
    It's a division win on the road.

    Obviously TB was immense.  The OL was solid.  I loved Waters all night.
    In my mind, the top 5,6, or 7 Pats were all on the O-side of the ball.

    This team will go as far as O'Brien can take it.  There are still times when he leaves me scratching my head.  Like the INT where he has Branch "blocking" (and whiffing) on a screen for Edelman.  I will harp on this all year - if they can't execute RB and WR screens they will still come up short when it counts in the playoffs.

    Lowest grade of the night goes to ESPN, where replays of controversial calls were as difficult to find as missing frames from the Zapruder film.
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from tompenny. Show tompenny's posts

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    Defense has a long way to go. 
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from NoahJustin. Show NoahJustin's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Did you see how Miami players were sucking air late in the game? How can Miami field so many players out of condition? Got to love the hurry up offense.
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from AFL_Pat. Show AFL_Pat's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    TP - great summary as usual.
    I've never seen Brady as acurate as he was tonite, especially on long throws.
    Of course he generally had a ridiculous amount of time to sit in the pocket
    and find the open receiver. Waters was very impressive for a guy who's been with the team for 8 days. After Koppen went out,  the right side of the offense
    played super for a group who had never played together and were all basically playing a  new position. Hopefully, the OL is upgraded this year and will continue to give Brady great protection. I realize the OL is thin depth wise but as long as those guys play like that, it'll be a great season.

      I agree with another poster about McCourty's lack of recovery speed being a concern. He had excellent recovery time last season. Is he playing with an injury.
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from zbellino. Show zbellino's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    By my count, NE only sent extra rushers ten times the entire game. They had four sacks. 

    They got four sacks last season like once ... and it was the result of many unsuccessful blitzes.

    It is hard to take this one as gospel. NE looked terrible on the first drive, and it wasn't until garbage time prevent defense that Henne started racking up yards. 

    Chung didn't let a single play get past him. He looked great. A sack and two players injured because of his hits. 

    Barrett? Well, it must be tough getting your name called twice on national TV in your debut. He looked lost, and bit on a couple PA fakes. 

    The thing that is most promising is how good Haynesworth looked on the short few snaps he was in there. One holding, one TFL, and a pressure. Plus Wilfork looks a lot more dangerous in the passing game when he is playing as an interior tackle. Mark Anderson looked great. 

    McCourty had a rough night. He needed some help out there, and NE was playing one deep. He did make a nice play at the goal line to stop that drive. 

    Ras-I looked great for a rookie. He made one mistake, but was largely covering well. 

    Dane Fletcher made a few mistakes. Fasano ran right past him a couple times. He is great heading forward ... but he is slow and mechanical in his drops and doesn't get back in time to get set and recover to run with a TE or move on a crossing route. 

    The offense? I can't wait to see what it looks like with a healthy Ridley and Vereen or (perhaps more important) a healthy Price. Taylor Price looked bigger and faster than anyone NE put on the field tonight. Hernandez looks truly special ... though I wish he would stop flirting with fumbles. He is a HUGE key to this 2TE offense working. He is too big for a CB, so you can run into nickel, and no S or LB has been able to cover this cat ... so going that route opens things up in the passning game. He is devastaingly quick, even running past corners with his burst. Wes Welker looked off all last season ... he looks better than he has ever looked now though. 

    Tom Brady is the MVP again. Book it. 
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from darwk. Show darwk's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    What a great start to the season. Thanks for posting the videos of Wes and TB icing on the cake TD. How sweet it is.
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    Good job as usual Tex.  I will give the secondary a bit of a pass, as its early and week 1 usually is a track meet...not many offenses were stopped this w/e, but I like the potential of this secondary unit and so far the Barret/Brown combo has done ok, and w/Brown playing SS on early downs and Brown playing FS on passing downs, they may have found an answer short term at least, lets keep our eyes opne to any pickups after week 1 where contracts arent garuanteed

  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

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    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD:
    Nice job TP3. My only point of real disagreement is also regarding Gostkowski. He's coming off a torn quad and a little slack may be in order here.
    Posted by ATJ

         Not buying the injury excuse on "The Ghost". His outside of 35 problems go back as far as the SB 42 loss to the Giants. Do you remember when, late in the second quarter in that game, that BB passed on having Gostkowski attempt a 48 yard FG...and instead went for it on 4th and 13?

         I thought that was very telling. Don't forget, that game was played in a ideal conditions, in a dome. How big would an extra 3 points have been in that game?

         In the Jets win over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night, they won a tight game on a 48 yard FG, in the closing minute. The Patriots' don't have a kicker who can be counted on to make such kicks.  
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    In Response to Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD:
    Regarding Gostkowski... perception is a funny thing.  In this case, yours is completely off. Ghost is 7th all time in career field goal percentage.  He is 18/27 (67%) all time on kicks from 40+ yards.  That is an excellent percentage. Nate Kaeding, the NFL all-time leader in FG%, is 46/65 (71%) Old friend Adam Vinatieri is 102/149 (68%) Mike Vanderjagt appears to be #1 all time at field goals from 40+ yards at 81/107 (75%)
    Posted by MattC05

    MattC05.... Thanks for bringing the stats in here... I Know perception has been such that Vinatieri is a god (I love him don't get me wrong but) Ghost I believe is ahead of Adams pace or was before his injury anyway in FG's made and Overall accuracy % and points. 
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from rainbowroosie. Show rainbowroosie's posts

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    I was at the game in the end zone where the Pats held on fourth and half a yard. This was THE turning point as Wes' catch followed. My point is that Wilfolk and Haynesworth lined up side by side and it was clear the Dolphins were not even thinking about a run. Somebody ask Vince what he thinks about Albert. Together these two could stop a truck.
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from PatsLifer. Show PatsLifer's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Good point by ZB on the defense. We basically got pressure on Henne without sending any extra defenders. I thought Mayo would be blitzing a bit more like we saw in preseason, but he didn't. you think this is because Spikes is out, or just gameplanning?

    I wasn't overly impressed with Fletcher or Guyton's coverage skills. They got burnt several times by Fasano. Surprising given how fast Guyton is. I'm wonderingn if Edds is good in coverage?

    Nice summary Tex. Agree on all point. Do we IR Koppen and bring in another OL?
    I thought Ocho looked lost last night. I think this offense much better with Price in for Ocho. if we can count on Slater to give us a bit of what he did last night, that is just a bonus. Adding in Ridley and Vereen just adds another dimension to the rubix cube. I was surprised to see Woodhead lining up seems we have endless formations using similar/same personnel. Sky the limit on Offense. Defense will catch up as they start to gel.
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from sam0377. Show sam0377's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    I thought the defence played decent given the conditions. It was warm and very very humid here yesterday.

    Dolphis were 2/19 for 3rd down which is pretty good. Out of 4 the 2 4th downs came in when the game was out of hands anyway. 
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from socca10. Show socca10's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    It looked to me like the game plan coming in was to limit Reggie Bush and force Henne to beat the Pats in the air. Sure Henne played fairly well and racked up a lot of yards, but after watching BB work for years, it looked to me like it was deliberate. "If we get in a shooting match, you won't win."

    The D looked great stuffing the run; still some work to do on pass defense, but overall they were decent. Henne played out of his shorts, I'd be surprised to see him repeat that on a consistent basis. Having said that, Marshall is a beast while Bess and Fassano are good playmakers.

    Re: Gostkowski, I think he's an excellent kicker. I can tell you for sure as someone who has played a lot of soccer (and everyone kicks the football "soccer style" now) that every now and then, you shank one off the outside of the foot, and that's what Ghost did on that FG - plenty of distance, just blew the technique.

    But boy isn't it great to have the Fall upon us again?! Football is on, the Pats look good, and the B's are in camp this weekend. :)
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from socca10. Show socca10's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Also, it was a tough game for the officials and the ESPN crew. Hard enough to listen to John Gruden's constant suckups, but the video crew was bad, no replays on several plays that were controversial, and poor Jaworski dropping the S-bomb on the national audience.

    Officials blew a bunch of "makeable" calls, including a clear pass interference against Miami when the corner grabbed Ochocinco's (I think) shirt to break up a pass. One apparent unintended consequence of the video replay era is that officials seem reluctant to make tough calls, even when they are right in front of their faces. Since they know the play will likely get reviewed anyway, they either hesitate or make the "safe" call. It can be frustrating!
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from TexasPat3. Show TexasPat3's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

         Here are some "thoughts" on the game from Dolphin fans, with my comments interlaced therein, in bold black:

    1.) The "D" looked real bad. All the hype about (it) being the strongest link on the team turned out to be...HYPE!  The secondary looked lost the entire game. The offense looked okay, but I question the play calling down on the goal line, especially on 4th and goal. Why not run the ball instead of throwing it? (because the 'Fins lack a power RB to cash in on short-yardage plays)If Nolan (Miami DC, Dick Nolan) and the secondary don't get it together quick, the Fins can start planning for next year's draft;

    2.) The Dolphins have graduated from terrible to mediocre. Whoop de doo!;

    3.)  Incredible that (Larry) Johnson wasn't used on the goal line (agreed).  And secondary is terrible, but was made even MORE terrible by ZERO pass rush. Wake was on the ground half the night with a rookie on top of him (Amen! Solder had a great game). This isn't going to get better fellas, the team is short on talent. Way short;

    4.) Miami Dolphins are an embarassment. Last place. Horrible defense. No run game. Same old pathetic excuses. We are a joke. I am rooting for us to lose and lose until every last one of the coaches and personell staff is fired. Our fee agent signings? Horrible. Our draft choices? Lousy. Game planning? Missing (other than this, the state of the Miami franchise is just fine...LOL!!). I want to seek out Bill Parcells and beat him down with a golf club. Then I'd like to tar and feather Sparano and Ireland. They have made being a dolfan a painful experience.

    5.) Oh, I get it. As long as the Dolphins can play in a game without using the Defense, everything will be alright. 622 yards, a career night for Brady, and a trip to the "woodshed" for Sparano, where Belichick administered an "advanced coaching" lesson to the Dolphin "wannabe" coach. If this team doesn't get it together, we're going to be looking back at 7-9 as the "good old days".

    6.) This game was lost on the line--both our offensive and defensive line got absolutely *MANHANDLED*....Chad Henne had a *terrific* game. Not only did he have good stats and put points on the board, but HE WAS GETTING CRUSHED BY 400 POUND LINEMEN WHO WERE IN HIS FACE 1.5 SECONDS AFTER EVERY SNAP!!!  On the other hand, Brady gets to sit back there for 15 seconds with nobody near him!!...Henne showed heart...on one sack he got absolutely CRUSHED (by Vince Wilfolk)...most of our QBs in prior games would have been knocked out of the's not fair (that) the Patriots have two defensive tackles who weigh 650 pounds each (LOL!!!).  

    Our defensive line got manhandled, and the linebackers and backs got embarrassed, too. But, chill out people--we just played a team that is going to go 19-0 this season very tough.  If you have not been paying attention, please try real hard to read slowly:  BRADY IS STILL MAD AS HECK ABOUT THE FLUKE LOSS TO THE RUNT MANNING DURING THEIR PERFECT SEASON A FEW YEARS AGO.  Then he got injured the next year.  This year he is back full strength and is out to embarrass and demolish the league like has never been done before.  And you will see--the Pats will do this, and worse, to every team they play this year...Our Fins are a good team this year, but NO TEAM is in the same league with the Patriots...(who) are absolute monsters (Wow!! Hope he's right!!)

    Read more:
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from Beantowne. Show Beantowne's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Nice work Tex...

    The offense looked to be in mid season form and the kid Solder IMHO was the player of the game on offense...He pretty much manhandled Wake all night beating him one on one and thus the Pat's didn't have to chip or double him...When you "stop" a teams top pass rusher without having to double him, it opens up a lot of the playbook...

    The defense; playing the new 4-3 (which I love by the way) looks to be a work in progress...Certainly not a dominant performance but there were some very promising signs...I'd grade the overall perfromace as a C...liked what I saw from the rookie Iras-Dowling...big kid with sound technique...McCourty held his own but I'd say he lost his 1 on 1 battle, but fought as good fight. Marshall is a big physical reciever with the ability to run a tough cover 1 on 1 he did however keep him off the scoreboard. The more I see him the more I like this Fletcher kid and the DL with both Wilfork and Hayneworth is gonna be tough to run on...agree that safety is an area needing improvement Chung is solid, reminds me of a young Rodney Harrison "big hitter"

    If this defesne can shore up a few has the look of a top ten defense...
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from JayShizzle45. Show JayShizzle45's posts

    Re: Patriots @ Dolphins REPORT CARD

    Just wanted to add to that recent post about phin fans.  Lets not forget , their best Cb V.Davis was absent from this game for the most part. Not sure when he got hurt, but that was big, as Brady immediatley attacked the new guy w/good results and Branch was just coming off the line open..That wont happen w/Davis in factor that in.

    Also, have to give kudos to Aaron Hernandez for improving as an in line blocker.  On that Benny TD run, he completely blocked J.Bell (a good safety) right out the play and created a huge hole. He has looked very good in that area, and maybe looks a tad slower...either due to his hip surgery of him getting bigger to improve blocking, but he is still a matchup nigthmare for defense and is a willing blocker as well.  best Tight end tandem in the league by far!!  Gronk was not needed to block all day as the rook Solder held his own just fine..