Tonight’s Monday night football game features an AFC East divisional showdown with the 2-1 New England Patriots taking on the 2-1 Miami Dolphins. Both teams already have a loss to the New York Jets, who beat the Bills yesterday to stay undefeated in divisional play, so in order to stay within reach, this is a must win game.
For the Patriots, a win will not come easy because Tom Brady has never played well in Miami, and the Patriots’ defense hasn’t been very Belichick-like this season. Thus far they are giving up more than twenty-seven points per game, so the pressure for Brady and his offense to put up four or five touchdowns has grown immensely. In order for them to outscore the Dolphins, their offensive line must give Brady some time to throw the ball and that means they must withstand the pressure from Miami’s front seven. Even without Logan Mankins, the Patriots’ o-line has been very good and allowing just two sacks through three games. When the Patriots choose to run the ball, they generally do a great job but game situations have dictated them to throw the ball because games have been so close. If the offensive line can establish the run and allow Brady some time to throw the ball, this could be a long night for Miami.
Matt Light joined WEEI in Boston to talk about whether he would rather play a game in Miami early or late in the season, how difficult the playing environment in Miami can be in addition to all of the noise, and whether the players are ready to make people shut up about their struggles on the road.
Whether he would rather play a game in Miami early or late in the season:
“It’s kind of funny; it always seemed at first that we were down there on the hottest day of the year, and then we had this transition where they came up here for the first game and we would down there when it was cooler. When you are playing down there at 1 p.m. game early in the year it can be pretty hot. I would imagine by the time it kicks off Monday night we won’t have to deal with so much of the heat, so that would be a little bit better but I would prefer to play down there when it’s not quite as sticky.”
What it is like sitting through Sunday without football for a Monday night game:
“It’s kind of brutal. I think every guy in the league would like to wake up, or most guys anyway would like to wake up on Sunday, get their early meal in and then head to the stadium and get to play a game at one o’clock. These games you are sitting about and you’re trying to get a little extra film study in and the day keeps dragging and dragging. You might have a meeting and everyone else has already played their game. It’s definitely an adjustment that you got to definitely account for.”
Whether Miami’s defensive end Jared Odrick is a full-go right now:
“You always prepare for that. You don’t fully know but you definitely prepare for that way, and you know me seeing all the rest of the guys and Cameron, the guys have been around now for you know a couple of years and the rookies this year are definitely guys that we have been focusing a lot on when it comes to film study and things like that. They are very active up front and they have some good interior guys. They’ve got some guys on the edge that can definitely get up the field, and they have a pretty good playing style. Definitely a different style in which they play this year versus last year and they have a few new license plates to understand how they do things. other than that though it’s Miami football.”
How difficult the playing environment in Miami can be in addition to all of the noise:
“I don’t think the footings ever been too much of an issue… It’s never been too much of an issue. Not for us, the really fleet footed and nimble; the very cat-like, but you know I never really noticed that issue, I’m sure the guys out there making big plays for us, whether is the defensive backs or wide receivers at the skilled positions, I’m sure they have a little issue with some of that turf. For us it is not that big of a deal but the crowd noise can definitely be a factor though.”
What the offensive line is going to do to protect Tom Brady and whether it is all about offense this week:
“It’s always about offense putting points on the board. We have the mentality, like I am sure every other team in the league, that when we take the field we are only doing it for one reason, and that is to score points… We obviously have got guys around for a long period of time, even younger guys that have contributed greatly to the cause. But for us, I think we always talk about the same things every week. We want to be able to go out there and win however it happens. People always want to talk about the run game, and are you satisfied with that? Are you throwing the ball too much, or are you not running enough? My mentality and I think most of the guys on our team have the feeling that whatever it takes to win the game, if that means we have to throw it 60 times, then so be it. So we’re going to go down there with a game plan, obviously in mind and we worked hard this week. Unfortunately we’ve got two more days of preparation before we even get to game day. We’ll continue to do the things that we think give us the best advantage of going down there. Then it comes down to executing and executing on the road which is something we have to do a lot better.”
Whether the players are ready to make people shut up about their struggles on the road:
“Listen, do we have to go out there and prove ourselves? Of course we do. We don’t have to just prove it to the fans and media and everybody else. We’ve got to prove it to ourselves. That’s a big thing when you talk about a team and the chemistry and everything else. If you haven’t done it, you’re not going to have confidence in it, and you’re definitely going to have some question marks going into any game especially if it’s a trend. Last year was last year. I don’t think the trend line needs to follow us from 2009. I definitely can tell you that we definitely felt like going down the road to New York, we should’ve won that game and we could’ve won that game, if we executed better and we don’t want that to be a mantra for the rest of the season, so, yeah, this is a big deal for us.”
On the new look of Patriots tight ends:
“Yeah it’s great for a number of reasons. We are able to do things that can cause some issues for defenses with their personnel packages. For our running game, which they probably don’t get enough credit for, but they have definitely been an impact. It’s been huge for us. Each guy has his own strengths and having a number of them that can get it done is kind of a welcome deal around here.”
Tags: AFC East showdown, Bill Belichick, Dolphins vs. Patriots, Matt Light, Monday Night Football, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins, NFL Football, Patriots Dynasty coming to an end, Patriots have had a hard time winning down in Miami, South Beach seems to be a hard place for the Patriots to win, Tom Brady, Tony Sparano