Patriots @ Dolphins
Final Score: Dolphins 31, Patriots 17
Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)
The Dolphins were without key defenders Xavien Howard and Javon Holland on Sunday, however, Jalen Ramsey returned from a torn miniscus he suffered in training camp to make his Dolphins debut. And Ramsey made his presence known in a big way. Ramsey made a huge hit on Ezekiel Elliot to force a fumble (it remained with the Patriots), announcing his return to the league. He later intercepted Mac Jones and returned it to Patriots territory, setting up the Dolphins with a chance to score points before the half. He made a big difference in this game.
Meanwhile, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle did what they do, and Tua Tagovailoa did a great job of getting the ball to them consistently. The run game on both sides was lackluster, but Miami had no problem driving the ball down the field through the air against a banged up Patriots defense. Once defensive leader Ja’Whaun Bentley went down with a hamstring injury in the 2nd quarter, Miami’s offense really started to get going. Miami was 3/3 on 4th down conversions in the first half, and if the Patriots had gotten a stop on any of them it might have been a different game.
- Miami’s Big Three – Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle lit up the Patriots’ ailing secondary
- Kyle Dugger – Intercepted Tua early, giving Patriots fans hope for a win. Played like a man looking for a new contract
- The Ground Game – All of the RBs struggled to earn yards on the ground. Thankfully, Raheem Mostert found the end zone to salvage an otherwise lackluster effort by both groups
- Any New England receiver not named Demario Douglas – Stink, stank, stunk
- Mac Jones – This just isn’t fun anymore
New England Patriots
Mac Jones: 19/29, 161 yards, 2 TD, INT, 3 sacks | 1 carry, -2 yards
In true Halloween fashion, Trick or Treat Mac Jones continues to show flashes of competency followed by complete ineptness. Case in point – Mac did a great job of driving the Patriots down the field to Miami’s 23 yard line at the two minute warning. Down 14-7, a score in this spot would have put New England in very good position to take a shot at winning this game. Instead, Mac stared down Kendrick Bourne on the sideline and threw a cupcake his way, and Jalen Ramsey stepped up to take the ball away and give Miami the ball. It led to a field goal for the Dolphins.
This team needed someone to step up and lead them on offense, and Mac just wasn’t capable of doing that on a consistent basis. He drove them down the field on a 13 play, 81 yard drive late in the 2nd half to give the Patriots a fighting chance, but it was too little too late as the Dolphins went right down the field and scored on their next drive. Mac continues to throw the ball off his back foot and crumble to the ground anytime a defender breathes on him. He doesn’t play with authority and doesn’t look comfortable in this offense despite it being his third year in the league. He lacks elite weapons but even if he had them he wouldn’t be able to get the ball to them consistently.
- Avoided a free rusher and completed a short dump off to Stevenson.
- With time and protection in front of him, Mac stands in and fires the ball downfield. With pressure in his face, Mac curdles and throws up prayers off his back foot. Jekyll/Hyde
- Telegraphed a throw to Kendrick Bourne out of the two minute warning, picked off by Ramsey. All Mac’s fault after doing a nice job of driving NE down the field
Rhamondre Stevenson: 10 carries, 39 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards
Rhamondre didn’t have many opportunities in this one but boy did he run with authority today. He had one run that will likely show up on Kyle Brandt’s Angry Runs segment, running through two defenders and staying on his feet to earn more yards. He did the same thing later in the game and came up just a couple yards short of a touchdown, and New England eventually ended up scoring through the air. Stevenson did get a little work in the passing game but it still wasn’t enough to salvage his day for fantasy purposes. He’s looking like a bust for your fantasy team this season, unfortunately.
Ezekiel Elliot: 7 carries, 36 yards, fumble
Zeke continues to look fresh, though the ground game was an afterthought today. Zeke did have a fumble that was forced on a great play by Jalen Ramsey. Instead of giving up on the play, Zeke hustled and was able to knock the ball out of a defender’s hands just as he was picking it up for the scoop and score. Nobody would have stopped him. Instead, Zeke’s effort resulted in the ball bouncing out of bounds and the Patriots retained posession. Normally, Bill Belichick would relegate the fumbler to the bench for the rest of the game, but Zeke took the carry on the very next play and his effort will not go unnoticed. Unfortunately, he was not involved enough to matter for fantasy purposes, as this continues to be a split backfield in favor of Rhamondre Stevenson.
- Ball knocked out by Jalen Ramsey on a textbook play, Zeke then scrambled for the ball and prevented a scoop and score by knocking the ball out of the defender’s hands before it bounced out of bounds. Took the next carry rather than being relegated to the bench. The effort to not give up on the play after coughing up the ball will not go unnoticed.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Kendrick Bourne: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 36 yards, TD
New England’s number one receiver scored a touchdown on his first catch of the game, but wasn’t featured much after that. He injured his right leg late in the game on a comebacker and did not return. It did not look good. I’m no doctor but I would expect Bourne to miss some time.
#Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne, who has really impressed this season, has an MRI tomorrow to evaluate his knee injury. Based on the initial diagnosis, the hope is it’s an MCL injury. But the MRI will tell all.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 29, 2023
UPDATE: According to multiple reports, Bourne has torn his ACL and will miss the rest of the season
- Scored a TD on his first target of the game following Kyle Dugger’s INT deep in Miami territory. The safety came down to cover Demario Douglas, leaving Justin Bethel on an island to cover Bourne one-on-one.
- Injured his right leg after catching a comebacker on 3rd down to begin the 4th quarter
Demario Douglas: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 25 yards | 1 carry, 4 yards
Demario “Pop” Douglas led the team in targets in this game. He is their most electric player on offense and can get open at any time. I will let the GIFs do the talking for this analysis. If Bourne misses time, I expect Douglas to become a legitimate PPR consideration because this offense doesn’t have anyone else they can throw the ball to reliably. This offense needs to start running through him.
For fantasy purposes, Demario Douglas will be the biggest beneficiary if Kendrick Bourne is forced to miss time pic.twitter.com/MaPtdXjgAy
— Ben Brown ? (@BenBrownPL) October 29, 2023
This cut by Demario Douglas is disgusting pic.twitter.com/nbjwF8qXZH
— Ben Brown ? (@BenBrownPL) October 29, 2023
We need more of these calls to get Demario Douglas wide open for a chunk gain pic.twitter.com/6mc1XraQBp
— Ben Brown ? (@BenBrownPL) October 29, 2023
DeVante Parker: 2 targets, 1 reception, 14 yards
Parker was knocked out of the game with a head injury after taking a helmet to helmet hit that was not flagged. Monitor his status but don’t worry about him for fantasy purposes, he is being phased out of this offense.
- Knocked out of the game after taking a helmet to helmet hit
Jalen Reagor: 2 targets
Reagor was signed to the 53 man roster earlier this week in a full time capacity. He beat out 2nd year WR Tyquan Thornton on the active roster Sunday, but didn’t contribute anything to the losing effort.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards, TD
If Kendrick Bourne misses time, many of you might jump on the JuJu train during waivers this week. I’m here to tell you NO. JuJu only played in this game because Bourne got hurt. He has missed a ton of practice time due to injury, and he’s not the player he once was. His touchdown only came because he was left uncovered out of the backfield.
- Did not take the field until Kendrick Bourne’s injury
- Wide open for the TD on fourth and goal. Basically uncovered
Hunter Henry: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards
- Wasn’t a factor until Kendrick Bourne went down. Might lead to an expanded role moving forward if Bourne has a significant injury.
Mike Gesicki: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards
Pharoah Brown: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 33 yards
Pharoah Brown continues to find ways to get involved in this offense. Mac Jones likes him and he was more productive than both Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki. He’s not fantasy relevant, but keep an eye on him.
Tua Tagovailoa: 30/45, 324 yards, 3 TD, INT, 2 sacks, fumble (lost) | 6 carries, 8 yards
Tua’s first mistake of the day, an early interception over the middle of the field to Kyle Dugger, led to seven points for the Patriots and made it a competitive game early. However, Tua played very well in a game where the Dolphins had a much easier time moving the ball downfield through the air than they did on the ground. The Patriots’ defense consistently left the duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle open downfield, and they made them pay. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but those players simply found gaps in coverage and made plays to get open consistently. Tua did a good job of avoiding pressure on multiple occasions and getting the ball downfield to his playmakers. He faced some pressure but didn’t let it frazzle him. Those who roster Tua should be very happy with these results.
- Intercepted on Miami’s second drive by Kyle Dugger. Must have just not seen Dugger across the middle of the field, was targeting Tyreek on an in cut. Dugger barely had to move. Very poor throw.
- Threw a gorgeous deep ball to Hill for the score
- Fumble on first play of 2nd half deep in their own territory. Handoff to Mostert was too high, Tua’s fault
Raheem Mostert: 13 carries, 46 yards, TD
New England did a good job of containing Mostert in their first matchup of the season in Week 2 besides one long touchdown run, and they did an equally good job containing Mostert this week and even prevented the big play on the ground. Mostert did score a TD from the one yard line, but he struggled to find much running room against a stout Patriots defensive front. Miami did a great job of moving the ball downfield through the air, and Jeff Wilson Jr. was effective with his touches, so Mostert didn’t need to have a stellar day for Miami to pull out this win. As someone who rosters Mostert in multiple leagues, I’m concerned that Wilson may start taking away more touches from him as the weeks wear on. Wilson passed the eye test today. I wouldn’t be too worried but it’s something to monitor.
- TD from 1st and goal at the one yard line, walked in thanks to a great block by Tyreek Hill
Jeff Wilson Jr.: 5 carries, 23 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards
Mostert may have scored the touchdown, but Jeff Wilson Jr. was better all around in this one. As I mentioned in Mostert’s blurb, Wilson passed the eye test in this game. Most of his touches were taken outside around the edge and his speed really flashed on those plays. As Wilson gets healthier he may start working his way into this offense more and more.
Salvon Ahmed: 2 carries, 1 yard | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 16 yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tyreek Hill: 13 targets, 8 receptions, 112 yards, TD
Tyreek does what Tyreek does. The Patriots didn’t let him burn them in their first matchup, but he beat them for a 42 yard touchdown on an elite play by an elite playmaker. The Patriots struggled to contain the speed of Hill and Waddle in this game, but they also struggled in basic coverage. J.C. Jackson was especially bad in this game, getting burnt on the TD by Hill as well as on the TD by Cedrick Wilson Jr. Tyreek even made a great block on Mostert’s touchdown run. This was an all around stellar game by one of the league’s elite players.
- Burned J.C. Jackson in zone coverage for a deep score
- First WR in league history with 1000 receiving yards in first eight games
Jaylen Waddle: 12 targets, 7 receptions, 121 yards, TD
Jaylen Waddle is back, folks. Waddle was all over the field today. He made an incredibly athletic diving catch at one point, and later was left uncovered for a 31 yard touchdown to ice the game. Tyreek Hill went in motion, drew two defenders and the Patriots left Waddle wide open for an easy score. His big day was a result of an elite playmaker feasting on a poor secondary.
- Dolphins’ opening drive, went up to make the catch on 4th down to extend it
- Made a great block on the edge to help spring Jeff Wilson Jr. for a nice gain
- Dropped a 20+ yard catch down the sideline early in the 2nd half. Converted 3rd and nine on the very next play, breaking J.C. Jackson’s ankles
Braxton Berrios: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards
- Stiff armed into the shadow realm by Kyle Dugger on an interception return
Cedrick Wilson Jr.: 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard, TD
- Caught J.C. Jackson sleeping on his heels, beat him with a quick in cut from the one yard line for the TD catch
Durham Smythe: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards
- Caught a pass across the middle on Miami’s second drive, was tackled awkwardly. Came up limping a bit.
- Still walking gingerly late in the 4th quarter
Chase Claypool: 2 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards
Julian Hill: 2 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards