MIA-NE Grades: Tom Brady with masterful display of quick-release football

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Patriots’ 36-7 win at home against the Dolphins.

| 12 months ago
(Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

(Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

MIA-NE Grades: Tom Brady with masterful display of quick-release football

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Patriots’ 36-7 victory over the Dolphins:

New England Patriots

– The Patriots entered this game with an ailing offensive line against a revved up defensive front, and their quarterback put on a masterful display of quick release football to blunt the Miami pass rush. While his offensive tackles, in particular, struggled to contain the rush, Tom Brady (+7.6) was quickly finding open receivers and using quick play action plays to exploit the Dolphins’ linebackers, collecting a passer rating of 149.7 on passes released in 2.5 seconds or less—155.8 on his nine pass attempts off of play action. If the Dolphins could have forced Brady to hold the ball a beat longer, they would have had him in trouble, but you could probably count the number of times they managed to do that on one hand.

– After playing only nine snaps in the victory over Dallas in Week 5, Dont’a Hightower (+4.2) has returned to the Patriots’ lineup in the last two weeks with an expanded role as a pass rusher, converting 36 pass rushes into an unbelievable 15 pressures. Deploying Hightower in combination with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich gives the Patriots a variety of weapons in sub packages to go with Dominique Easley (+1.7), who recorded multiple pressures for the third straight game last night.

– Patrick Chung (+3.3) put in another stellar display last night, earning his highest single-game grade since Week 9 last season against the Broncos, to cap off the best four-game stretch of his career to date (+11.0). Chung has nine stops in the last four weeks, having surrendered only 94 yards on 15 targets with four pass defenses, including another last night in coverage on Jordan Cameron (-1.0).

Top performers

QB Tom Brady (+7.6)

WR Julian Edelman (+4.3)

SLB Dont’a Hightower (+4.2)

SS Patrick Chung (+3.3)

FS Duron Harmon (+2.5)


Miami Dolphins

– This was a bizarre performance from Ryan Tannehill (-0.6) at the helm of the Dolphins’ offense, with an unexpected split on his performance under pressure last night against the Patriots. Pressured on 22 of his 49 dropbacks, Tannehill went 11-for-17 for 168 yards and a PFF grade of +4.8 when the Patriots got pressure on him. That would have set him up for a big night were it not for him going 17-for-27 for 132 yards—and both of his interceptions—to earn a PFF grade of -5.6 when the Patriots didn’t pressure him.

– The story of this game for the Dolphins’ defense is told concisely by the pass rush grade of their starting defensive line, and the coverage grade of their starting linebackers and cornerbacks. While their quartet up front recorded a combined 21 pressures on Tom Brady, their linebackers all earned coverage grades of -2.0 or below, with their starting corners earning coverage grades of -1.5 or worse. As quickly as the Dolphins’ defensive line was pressuring Tom Brady, he was getting the ball out quicker to open receivers to nullify that pressure.

– Though the Dolphins kept the game within two scores until early in the fourth quarter, this was a return to Lamar Miller’s (0.0) early season workload, with only nine carries for 15 yards as the Dolphins failed to open running lanes for him—or show any commitment to giving him the ball. Miller was the only Dolphins’ offensive player not to earn a negative overall grade last night, doing his best to maximize what little yardage there was for him to gain on his 14 touches.

Top performers

DE Olivier Vernon (+4.9)

DT Ndamukong Suh (+3.8)

S Reshad Jones (+1.2)

DT Earl Mitchell (++1.2)

S Michael Thomas (+1.0)

DK Deal

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Riffle,Rod&Fly

    The Dolphins had a great show of Defense to hold Brady back for as long as they did. That offense did them NO favors.

    • Matt

      It wasn’t entirely Philbin.

      • Riffle,Rod&Fly

        :::gasp::: You aren’t insinuating that Tannehill isn’t the second coming of Dan Marino, are you?!

    • gllmiaspr

      Because the Patriots had 10 men on the box.

    • Engaged Reader

      Pats front 7 is a tough group to run on consistently, and the DBs tackle well. Trying to spend all day running isn’t how you need to beat that team. Need to try to win by isolating the corners, who are vulnerable. It’s counterintuitive for a playing a team with a good offense, but you have to assume if you win, it will be 30-28 type of game.

      • Chris from the Cape

        The Patriots don’t have much depth at DE, but Silgia and Branch are monsters to push around to go along with the two first rounders who are getting constant productivity. It makes much more sense to go after the corners, though non-elite QBs will eventually end up making a crucial error under pressure in trying to match Brady.

  • Vitor

    Curious to know what was Brady’s average relase time yesterday

  • Devin

    Sad how the dolphins top performers are all on defense even though they gave up 36 points.

    • Cant FixStupid

      Like he said, the DL played well, pressuring Brady almost 50% of the time, but because of how bad the LBs n CBs were in coverage, it didn’t help. Defensive line can’t cover for them too.

      • Devin

        It doesn’t hurt when Brady gets the ball out in just around 2 seconds either, but yeah I see what you’re saying.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      that is crazy tho, just shows how it takes all 11 guys together

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  • Jared

    Beautiful game by Brady. As always his quick passes were on point and he was even able to break pressure a few times and deliver beauties. Like the one that he perfectly threw to Gronk’s one available hand

    • Chris from the Cape

      Great point, Jared: As far as incompletions go, it was a thing of beauty-

  • Scott West

    Brady’s calm in a quickly collapsing pocket is just awesome; he delivered so many passes a bit earlier than he would have liked to, with perfect anticipation, once he got a sense of exactly how much (little) time his line was affording him.

  • Joe

    Hard to believe that Suh graded so high- 2 assisted tackles, period. No sacks, pressures? Sure, I guess so. Tackled For Loss, Hurries, Hits?- Nada, nada, nada… He’s a bum.

  • Robert Anasi

    Wondering what the reason was for Tannehill’s bad numbers when unpressured. Did he not go through his progressions well, or were his receivers just not getting open? The Pats DB’s are underrated but still only average+ (McCourty aside).