When the New England Patriots open their season Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, they know it’s going to be a hot day. But offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reminds his players that both teams will have to deal with the heat.
“Well, we’ll all be sweating like that, I’m sure,” McDaniels said on a conference call Tuesday. “I know this: It’s probably not going to affect [us] once we get in the game and we begin to play the game.
“Ultimately we have to play the Dolphins and beat the Dolphins, and they’re going to be doing the same thing. We’re all going to be hot. We’re all going to play the guys that are active -- maybe different numbers of plays per person depending on who may or may not need it the most.”
Aside from the weather, McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are preparing for the challenge of facing a tough divisional opponent.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a good defense, and I think their front definitely gives you a lot of cause for concern,” McDaniels said. “They definitely created some negative situations for us last season. It’s a very active front.
“They do a good job of getting in gaps and creating penetration in the running game on early downs. They stunt and use their packages aggressively when they pressure. And those guys move, and it’s hard to get a beat on them when they do that, too. And then you get into some of those longer-yardage situations, whichever four of them are in there rushing the passer at the same time, everyone has got a difficult matchup because they can all be productive as pass rushers.
“We’re definitely going to have to do a good job of taking care of the line of scrimmage and eliminate those opportunities for them, but we know it’s going to be a great challenge for us on Sunday.”
While McDaniels' challenge is dealing with Miami’s defensive front, Patricia sees the Dolphins’ improvement at skill positions as his defense’s biggest challenge.
“Certainly, obviously what I think they’ve done a great job of this year through the preseason is the quarterback position,” Patricia said. “With Ryan Tannehill being able to control and run the offense and do a good job with the different looks and the different problems that they set up with this type of offense and really trying to do a great job of being good decision-makers as a quarterback and get the ball distributed to a lot of their skill players, obviously with [Mike] Wallace and [Brian] Hartline and [Brandon] Gibson, [Jarvis] Landry and [Rishard] Matthews at the receiver position.
“They have excellent talent out there along with [Charles] Clay at the tight end position, who is a very good skill player for them, a very multiple type player. And then through the preseason you get to see their other tight end, [Dion] Sims, and the different positions he’s kind of been in and moved around at. I think they’ve done a good job to implement the system that Coach [Bill] Lazor has brought with him and done a good job through the preseason of efficiently running that offense.”
Patricia and the Patriots' defense will try to slow down Miami’s new quick, Chip Kelly-style of attack on offense, led by third-year quarterback Tannehill.
“I think they’re trying to do a great job and they’ve done a great job of making quick decisions, getting the ball distributed, getting it out, the accuracy increase as far as the passing game is concerned,” Patricia said. “So they’re definitely spreading the ball around with good, smart, accurate passing games and concepts, and it has definitely benefited the quarterbacks in a positive way.”