Wed, 23 Sep 2020

Dolphins Patriots Week 1 Inside The Numbers

Miami Dolphins
15 Sep 2020, 08:05 GMT+10

Travis Wingfield

Every Monday (and on Friday following the Week 3 game on TNF in Jacksonville), we'll go inside the numbers from the previous game. We'll take a look at the snap counts, cumulative team stats for the season, and advanced metrics from a variety of analytics sites such as Pro Football Focus, NFL Next Gen Stats and Pro Football Reference.

Dolphins-Patriots Team Stats

(The four teams from Monday Night Football - Tennessee, Denver, Pittsburgh and N.Y. Giants - are not included).

The Miami-New England tilt was the shortest game of the weekend by a considerable margin with a swift two hours and 45 minutes from bell to bell. Without the benefit of an offseason program and full preseason, Brian Flores acknowledged that the team would likely be even more rotational than usual; this coming from a team that utilized more players in Flores' rookie year than any club in NFL history.

Collecting team stats in the first week is a volatile exercise. Sample size is king and all these rankings are based off 60 - give or take - snaps both offensively and defensively.

With one-sixteenth of the season in the books, the Dolphins have the 25th ranked offense and 13th-ranked defense, both in total yardage.

Those rankings bear out in the scoring category as well. The Dolphins allowed the 12th fewest points from the weekend and rank 27th in scoring offense.

Miami's 87 yards on the ground ranks 21st and the 217 rushing yards allowed ranks 28th in the NFL. The Dolphins passing offense ranks 24th and the pass defense allowed the fewest yards in the league on Sunday.

The Dolphins allowed a 50 percent conversation rate on third down, 21st in the NFL. The offense converted 36.4 percent of the time on third down - 19th in the league. Going 1-for-2 in the red zone ranks the Dolphins offense 17th while the red zone defense ranks tied for 17th.

The Dolphins ran the majority of the offense through 11-personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) on Sunday with 36 snaps. From there, it was a veritable use of different packages. The Dolphins called on 12-personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WRs) and 20-personnel (2 RB, 0 TE, 3 WR) six times each with five snaps from 21-personnel (2 RB, 1 TE, 2 WR). Four snaps came from 22-personnel (2 RB, 2 TE) with two of the four coming in heavy personnel (extra offensive lineman), including the touchdown.

After committing the fourth-fewest penalties in the NFL (fourth fewest yardage assessed, too), the Dolphins concluded play Sunday with the fifth-fewest penalties and penalty yardage assessed.

Offense Snap Counts

When kept clean from pressure, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 16-of-24 passes for 166 yards. His most productive area to attack was the short area to the right of the formation - he completed 4-of-5 passes for 39 yards on such throws.

According to Next Gen Stats, Fitzpatrick completed 8.5 percent passes above the expected completion rate, which accounts for separation downfield.

Fitzpatrick averaged 2.57 seconds to pass. The offensive line allowed only two hits on the quarterback (one sack, one hit) and five total pressures. Rookie Austin Jackson pitched clean sheet in pass protection with no pressures allowed in his NFL debut.

Fellow rookie Solomon Kindley surrendered only one pressure (a hurry) and had the second-best run blocking grade (PFF) behind Ted Karras, who also allowed just one hurry.

Running back Myles Gaskin rushed for 40 yards with 32 coming after initial contact. He averaged 3.56 yards after contact on Sunday bringing his career total up to 3.33 YCO/A. He led the team in that category, rushing yards (40), 10-plus-yard runs (1), and tied for the team lead in rushing first downs (2, Fitzpatrick and Breida).

Matt Breida tied for the team lead in average yards per rush with Gaskin at 4.4.

Gesicki led the team in PFF's run-blocking grade (88.2).

Defense Snap Counts

Christian Wilkins took the honor for highest-graded Dolphins defender from PFF. The 13th pick in the 2019 draft kicked off his second season with six tackles (two for loss), a sack and two batted passes.

Kyle Van Noy was the only player with multiple quarterback pressures - he had two hurries. He earned the third-highest grade from PFF with five tackles and no misses.

Bobby McCain was the second-highest graded player. He broke up the lone pass targeted in his coverage area and made four tackles without a miss.

Jerome Baker led the team with 16 tackles and did it without missing an attempt, per PFF. Baker also had a sack and a forced fumble.

Rookie safety Brandon Jones made 10 tackles without a failed attempt. Only four other NFL players have had double-digit tackle numbers in their first NFL game since 2016: Xavien Howard, Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin, San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner and Pittsburgh linebacker Devin Bush.

The Dolphins only missed two tackles in the game leading to the highest PFF grade in tackling at 87.7.

Davon Godchaux picked up three more tackles Sunday, giving him 166 in his career. Since he entered the league in 2017, Miami's man in the middle is fourth among all NFL defensive tackles and 14th among defensive linemen over that span.

Jason Sanders made his only attempt on Sunday (46 yards) improving his franchise-best 82.4 career field goal percentage (42-of-51).

Rules, technique and fundamentals

Last week, Brian Flores stressed the importance of the team sticking to their rules. Fundamentals, technique and quickly and accurately reading keys would be crucial to the team's result on Sunday.

"In football, there is a lot of different schemes, concepts, defensive structures and eventually you'll see something that you haven't seen before and you'll have to rely on your rules and your keys," Flores said Friday. "If you do that, you should be okay. That part of it I like. That unknown is something that a lot of players, they need to feel that. I think coaches need to feel that also and how we respond to that will help us moving forward."

Sunday, Flores offered his thoughts post-game with how he felt the team performed in that area.

"I felt like overall the tackling could have been better," Flores said. "The conditioning could have been better. We can improve the tackling. We can improve the run defense. We can improve the conditioning. We'll work on those things over the course of the week and we've got a tough opponent next week and we'll get back to it."

The co-host of the Audible podcast and Dolphins multi-media host John Congemi offered similar thought in his three takeaways piece post-game.

Cam Newton 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.

The Patriots are no stranger to adapting on the fly. After signing the 2015 NFL MVP in Cam Newton in July, with only two months to install the run-heavy offense we saw Sunday, Newton and the Patriots unveiled several wrinkles.

The Dolphins have a week to get it buttoned up for Buffalo next Sunday for the home opener at Hard Rock Stadium. Quarterback Josh Allen rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries in the Bills 2020 opening 27-17 win over the Jets.

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