John Congemi 1) Couldn't Control Cam
The Dolphins defense had no answers for the downhill rushing attack of Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. Whether it was a zone-read scheme or a run-pass option, Newton made the correct decisions. He consistently gained positive yards, rushing for 75 yards on 15 carries and averaging five yards per attempt. It was against a defense that had tried to make adjustments by adding defenders close to the line of scrimmage, but it had little to no effect against the highly motivated veteran quarterback. Dolphin defenders were hesitant, and most of the time gave Newton too much time and space to manipulate the edge defender. This allowed little or no contact behind or at the line of scrimmage, and first contact on the 10-year veteran usually didn't occur until he entered into the second level of the Dolphins defense. Also, the Miami defenders had difficulty getting off of blocks which gave Newton plenty of momentum to get his 6'5" frame moving downhill.
2) Lack of Explosive Plays
Miami's new look offense didn't provide enough chunk yardage plays to ever threaten closing the gap on the scoreboard. In a game that was there for the taking, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and company never really stacked enough positive plays together to gain and steal momentum away from New England. The Dolphins receivers had trouble creating separation to allow Fitzpatrick consistent throwing windows down field. The revamped offensive line wasn't dominant, but did provide enough pass protection to give the passing game a chance for success. However, the Patriots defense made it difficult for Miami to gain any confidence. Miami only managed three plays over 15 yards in 60 minutes of play, and that's probably to be expected with a new offensive scheme and zero preseason games to iron out what works for your skill players.
3) Too Many Turnovers
Most teams at any level of play usually end up on the short side of the scoreboard when you lose the turnover margin. Three interceptions by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick weren't all on the veteran signal caller, but it will usually end up falling on the guy that throws the ball! Fitzpatrick can't control receivers falling out of a break, trying to anticipate the throwing lane. Yet, Fitz needs to be cleaner in his decision making and locating the football with better consistency. This is a very young football team that should get better as they gain more experience. The effort that third-year linebacker Jerome Baker gave in creating the touchback should be contagious not only on defense, but provide a spark to the offensive side of the ball. It was a great response to get points on the ensuing drive after that play, but those types of plays needed to flash more frequently in a game that was in reach of winning.