FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Have you ever parked in a garage and become a little self-conscious about your vehicle, especially if you're in an expensive area? Sure, your car gets you from A to B and does its job, but the word "practical" is probably one of the first things that comes out of your mouth when describing it. As you look for a spot, you naturally see a few sports cars that could certainly run laps around you. And god forbid you have to park next to one of them. That direct side-by-side is a visual of two different machines entirely, even if they are designed to do the same thing.
That's sort of how I saw the Dolphins and Patriots on Sunday as Miami rode to a 24-17 win in Week 2. They're two offenses designed, of course, to try and score, but one can do it in a much faster and more impressive fashion while the other drudges forward and sometimes breaks down.
While it wasn't a full-blown offensive spectacle by the Dolphins en route to their win to move to 2-0, whenever they needed to tap on the accelerator, it was available to them. Need a slip screen at the line of scrimmage to convert a second-and-19? No problem, Jaylen Waddle can handle that. Need a back to run 21.62 mph for a back-breaking touchdown in the fourth quarter? Raheem Mostert is your guy. Heck, even their coach is fast!
Meanwhile, the Patriots -- more specifically Mac Jones -- were once again searching for a game-breaking weapon that simply doesn't exist on their roster at the moment. When they need to tap on the accelerator, the offense largely stalls out. The combination of Kendrick Bourne, JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, and others is solid -- practical, even -- but there's no clear-cut weapon that strikes fear into an opposing defense and, more importantly, garners most of the attention of the defense.
With Miami, having Tyreek Hill in the offense is a difference maker even on a night where he did not gash the Patriots on the deep ball. Because of that presence alone, safeties played back, which opened things up underneath and in the running lanes. That's something Bill Belichick doesn't have in his garage (Alright, I'm done with the car references).
The Patriots had zero explosive plays (gains of 16 yards or more) on Sunday night while the Dolphins enjoyed five such plays. On top of that, 51.8% of Miami's yardage total came after the catch (6.14) while that number was 41.6% for New England (3.1)
The one player who has shown the ability to separate from defenders, rookie Demario Douglas, fumbled in the first half and . However, the Patriots should not be relying on a sixth-round rookie to be the explosive weapon in their offense. They need a bonafide star, which is a similar situation the Dolphins found themselves in before going out and acquiring Hill a few years ago.
Tua Tagovailoa hovered around a 90.0 passer rating in the first two years of his career before emerging as a legitimate MVP candidate -- when healthy -- now that Hill is in the passing attack. The same can be said for Josh Allen in Buffalo before Stefon Diggs arrived and Jalen Hurts before A.J. Brown came to Philly last year. Over the last two seasons combined (16 games), Jones has an 85.4 passer rating.
|Quarterback (WR)||Passer rating before WR addition (year)||Passer rating after WR addition (year)|
Josh Allen (Stefon Diggs)
Tua Tagovailoa (Tyreek Hill)
Jalen Hurts (A.J. Brown)
While you'd ideally like your quarterback to elevate the wide receiver room around him, sometimes it needs to go the other way with a true No. 1 pass catcher being inserted and stabilizing everything else while helping the signal-caller's development.
Hiring Bill O'Brien to lead the offense was the correct move by Bill Belichick this offseason, but that was only one piece of the puzzle to get this Patriots offense as a feared unit in the league. The next step is to identify and bring aboard a game-breaker as Jones' running mate. Because that arguably has been the difference between what conceivably could have been a 2-0 start as opposed to the winless situation they are currently enduring through the first two weeks of the season.