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).
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)
– 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.
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)