Cleat Geeks

Patriots Preview: Aladdin, Genies and Victories

Jimmy Garoppolo has more in common with Aladdin from the Disney movie than you might think, at least that’s what it looked like Sunday Night. Besides looking exactly like Aladdin (C’mon, tell me they’re not related), Garoppolo had another Aladdin-like trait. A genie.jimmygaroppolo

Bill Belichick is literally a genie. He had to grant some wishes and do some mumbo-jumbo magic to help the Patriots pull off that win in Arizona, but hey, I’m not complaining. Neither is Tom Brady.

“Jimmy did everything he was asked to do, Brady said in an interview with Jim Gray on Westwood One. “ It was a great way to start the season for our team.”

The Brady-less Patriots led by Garoppolo entered Sunday night as underdogs. With the additional loss of Rob Gronkowski, things looked dim; however, Belichick had things under control.

In his first career start, Garoppolo went 24-33 for 257 yards, he connected with Chris Hogan for a touchdown and he did not throw any interceptions. He also had his first career reception and gained three yards.pats-vs-cards-final-696x871

The Patriots running backs as a group had 31 attempts for 106 yards and a touchdown by LeGarette Blount.

Stephen Gostkowski hit three field goals.

Overall, the offense did what it needed to do, but at times, it looked stagnant. In future games, Garoppolo and Co. will need to be more explosive, especially against their division rivals (this is me alluding to later on in the article, get excited).

The Patriots defense did their best to slow down the potent Cardinals offense, and except for the ridiculous spin move, break-three-tackles run by David Johnson, they did a great job. They removed the threat of the deep ball from the game, which meant Larry Fitzgerald had plenty of catches (two of which were touchdowns).

Even with their scheme to eliminate held the Cardinals deep threat, the Cardinals still had a chance to win the game. Luckily for Pats Nation, the kick was no good.

Thanks to some Belichick magic, the Patriots defeated one of the top teams in the NFL, but can they keep it up?

miami_dolphins_vs_new_england_patriotsIn their next match-up, the Patriots will face off against the Miami Dolphins, a division rival. In their first game, the Dolphins lost to the Seattle Seahawks 10 to 12 in a defensive struggle.

The Dolphins have a great defense, but their offense is middle-of-the-road. Against the Seahawks, the Dolphins allowed 258 yards passing and a last-minute touchdown from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin. Their defense also gave up 116 yards rushing to the league’s third best rushing team in 2015.

Offensively, the Dolphins were stagnant. Ryan Tannehill had only 186 yards passing, and the team’s leading rusher, Arian Foster, had only 38 yards rushing. Also, did you see that Kenny Stills drop? Not bashing him, but that looks like a sign that the Dolphins offense is in for a rough season.

The biggest concern the Patriots should have about their game with Miami is the Pats offensive line vs. the Dolphins defensive line.

The Patriots do not have a star running back, and the James White, Blount combo can only do so much. The Pats will have a hard time running the ball against big guys like Ndamukong Suh. Additionally, Garoppolo will deal with lots of pressure from one of the league’s best pass rushing defenses.

In 2015, Brady was sacked 38 times, tying him as the ninth most sacked quarterback in 2015. In Week 1, the Dolphins sacked the Seahawks QB three times.

jameswhiteIf Gronk is healthy enough to return, he and Martellus Bennett should be able to help keep Garoppolo safe; however, Gronk’s return is unclear. To best protect against the pass rush, look for James White to play a significant role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

So, will the Patriots be able to beat the Dolphins? Yes, and I don’t anticipate the game being very close. Just like in Arizona, the team’s genie—I mean head coach—will figure out the perfect game plan to keep the team afloat against the Dolphins stout pass rush.

I anticipate a strong showing from the Pats defense, and they should be able to produce a turnover or two, which will allow the Patriots to take an early lead that they will not give up.

After this week, the Patriots will be 2-0, and they will have reached the midway point of the Brady suspension unscathed.

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