By Shawn Lealos
The Miami Dolphins head to Foxborough to battle the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football this week. Early in the season, this looked like yet another blow out opportunity for the Patriots, but the Dolphins have since fired their head coach and have looked better than ever since plugging Dan Campbell into the starting role. However, their opponents are still the undefeated Patriots, and this will be a tough game to win for Miami.
The Miami Dolphins Rebounding With New Head Coach
One of the biggest surprises over the past two weeks had to be watching the Miami Dolphins blow out the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans. Now, neither of those teams were really tough and both are disappointing this season, but the Dolphins just fired their head coach after starting the season off with three losses in four games. Now with a new head coach in Dan Campbell, the Dolphins are not only winning, but winning big. After scoring a total of 65 points in the first four games of the season, the Dolphins have scored 82 in the last two.
Dolphins Running Game Back On Track
One of the big reasons why the Miami Dolphins were losing early in the season was because they were relying too much on the passing game, putting too much pressure on Ryan Tannehill. In the first four games of the season, lead Dolphins running back Lamar Miller only carried the ball 37 times for a total of 131 yards. Campbell promised more of the running game and delivered. Miller ran the ball 33 times in the last two games for a total of 288 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. That dominates the clock and helps both Tannehill and the defense.
Ryan Tannehill’s Improvement
To prove how much Miller helps Tannehill, look at the stats. In the first four games of the season, he threw the ball over 40 times in three games and 34 times in the other contest. The one game he threw under 40 attempts was the only one of the four that Miami won. In Campbell’s first win as head coach, Tannehill only attempted 29 passes and then only attempted 19 passes this past weekend. He completed 83 percent of those passes for six touchdowns and two interceptions. His numbers are better with fewer passes, and with a running game he is throwing more touchdowns by attempting fewer passes.
Tom Brady’s MVP Season
Of course, while Tannehill and the Dolphins look great right now, it is the New England Patriots that are the best team in the NFL and Tom Brady is having an MVP season. Brady ranks fifth in the NFL in completion percentage, but is more successful winning games this season than anyone above him. He ranks second in passing yards and fourth in yards per game. He has thrown the most touchdowns of any quarterback in the NFL right now (16) and only has one interception for an amazing 113.2 quarterback rating. No one is playing better than Brady right now at any position.
Is New England The Best In The NFL?
Just months after undergoing heavy scrutiny for having employees cheat by deflating footballs to help the Patriots win in the playoffs, New England came into the offseason with a lot to prove. While cheating has been the norm for New England over the years, the fact is that they are good enough to win fairly. This season, they are proving it. New England is 6-0, one of five undefeated teams in the NFL. They have scored 213 points in six games, one of only two teams to have broken the 200 point mark. They rank eighth in total offense and fourth in passing. They rank 13th in total defense. The Patriots will be tough to beat this season.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.