Halftime adjustments helped Patriots turn a close one into a rout
FOXBOROUGH — Quick hit thoughts from the Patriots’ 41-13 win over the Dolphins on Sunday:
■ Credit Bill Belichick for making the necessary halftime adjustments, because the Dolphins dominated the first half. It’s about time they went with Jonas Gray over LeGarrette Blount to start the second half — he hits the hole harder and gains more yards after contact. And then the play-action passes to Rob Gronkowski were devastating.
■ Brandon Browner was busted for three penalties in the first half, bringing his team-high total to 15. But he got away with one in the second half when he hit Lamar Miller early but wasn’t flagged. The pass was tipped, Patrick Chung had an easy interception, and Brady hit Gronk on a big touchdown on the next play. Browner’s penalties aren’t great, but I think if you’re Belichick, you can live with them, given the physicality and intimidation he brings to the defense.
■ Was impressed by the Dolphins’ offense in the first half. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor did a great job of confusing the Patriots’ defense with a lot of pre-snap movement. The Patriots used a lot of man coverage in the first half, and the Dolphins created separation and space on the crossing routes. But the Patriots switched to more zone defense in the second half, negating the pre-snap movement.
■ Welcome back, Chandler Jones. Interesting to see the Patriots use him on about half the snaps and move him all over the formation. He finished with 1.5 sacks and seven tackles. They’re going to need his pass-rushing ability in the playoffs.
■ Rob Ninkovich is such an underrated player. Not only did he pick up his team-high eighth sack — his third straight season with eight sacks — but he has been excellent dropping into zone coverage the last few games.
■ Brady was sloppy with his throws and uncomfortable behind the line of scrimmage in the first half, but he picked it up with the play-action passes and quick hitters to Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman in the second half. And he continues to show very little touch on the deep ball.
■ The offensive line should be a real cause for concern. Three straight games now they’ve been pushed around up front. Brady had three passes tipped at the line of scrimmage and was hit five times. The offensive line is only effective when Brady can get the play-action game going.