Patriots Insider Jon Scott asked Dolphin Digest Editor Alain Poupart for his take on the Pats - Fins matchup in Week Eight. Here's what Poupart had to share about the Dolphins.,
1) The Dolphins front seven seems to improve every year (in
recent years). How accurate a statement considering the team
was ranked 21st overall in 2012?
Alain Poupart: The strength of the
Dolphins defense for the last several years has been its defensive
line, in particular the defensive tackles. It's especially true this
year with Randy Starks, Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick all playing really
good football and forming a tremendous three-man rotation. An issue up
front this year has been the injury to Cameron Wake, who has played 22
snaps the last three games. As for the linebackers, newcomers Dannell
Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler were supposed to help produce more big plays
because of their speed but they have yet to really make an imnpact.
2) Who will he Dolphins assign to cover Rob
gronkowski in this game, or will they use some type of zone coverage?
AP: The Dolphins don't tend to do a lot of
matching up, so I'm guessing you're going to see different players
taking turns covering Gronk. When the Dolphins are in man coverage, you
could expect to see Reshad Jones or Chris Clemons in coverage, but
there'll be a lot of zone coverage as well. The one thing that's clear,
the Dolphins need to do a better job against Gronkowski than they did
against Jimmy Graham in the Monday night game at New Orleans.
3) The Dolphins secondary seems to be about where they were in 2012.
Llast year's group yielded 248 yards per game (27th overall) while in
2013 they're giving up more yards (269/game. What's different about
this year's group?
AP: More playmaking. This year's secondary
has given up its share of big plays, which also happened last year, but
they've also done a better job of creating turnovers. Miami already has
gotten seven interceptions from its defensive backs this season, as
opposed to nine for all of 2012. And that''s despite playing four games
without cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who had two picks in the opener
at Cleveland. The other big change is the presence of Brent Grimes, who
is the best cornerback the Dolphins have had in a decade, if not longer.
4) How is the Ryan Tannehill development
going? Better or worse to compared to the struggles we've
seen from other QBs in his Draft class? Though he may not be Andre Luck
or RGIII, was he worth they first round pick the team used on him (so
AP: Ryan Tannehill is making some
progress, but there still are bouts of inconsistency and some finer
points he needs to get better at, such as pocket presence and avoiding
staring down his receivers. He has, however, been accurate more
consistently than he was last season. Of course, any talk about
Tannehill needs to include the fact that he's not getting much help
from the offensive line. As for the big question of whether he was
worth the first-round pick the Dolphins used on him, I'd be inclined to
wait until the end of the season to make that call.
5) The Dolphins are 3-3 so far. Are they about where you
expected them to be at this point of the year?
AP: The Dolphins are about where I expected them to
be in terms of record, but not in terms of how they got there. It's
been a weird year, really. The truth is the Dolphins have had a lot of
injuries on defense, their offensive line has been really bad, so in
that sense they should be happy to be 3-3, especially considering they
were outgained in each of their first five games. Four of Miami's first
six games came down to the wire, and they split those four games. So
they're about where they should be. The troubling aspect for the
Dolphins and their fans is they're heading in the right direction.
6) The Dolphins paid a ton of money to sign Mike Wallace in
the offseason, yet he's only third on the team in receptions and has
made more news for negative reasons than big plays. Has he been a
AP: In the sense that there was an
expectation — mostly by fans and some media members — that Wallace
would be catching a 50-yard touchdown pass every game, yes, Wallace's
production has been disappointing. He and Ryan Tannehill are still
working on establishing a rapport, the kind of rapport Tannehill has
with fellow starting wideout Brian Hartline. Wallace also has dropped
his share of passes. That all said, there's no question the Dolphins
have benefited from Wallace's presence on the field because opponents
clearly respect his speed and that's opened things up underneath for
Hartline and the third wide receiver, Brandon Gibson, who has proven to
be a very good free agent acquisition.
Be sure to check out Part 2 on the Patriots