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Dolphins at Patriots: Interview with Patriots Gab Editor Morgan Smith

The Dolphins were shutout in their last trip to Foxboro.

Please welcome in Morgan Smith, who covers the New England Patriots at Patriots Gab, to shed some light on the Dolphins’ rival and Week 8 opponent.

Morgan touches on Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski’s return, Aqib Talib’s injury, who she sees winning on Sunday and more.

Be sure to check out Patriots Gab and follow the site on twitter for more coverage of Sunday’s game. My interview with Morgan is below:

Dolphins Gab: In your opinion, are the Patriots still a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

Patriots Gab: With Brady at QB and Talib healthy on defense the answer is yes they are contenders, but the offensive line has to be fixed if they want to win it all. Brady has been sacked 13 times in the last 3 games, which doesn’t include all of the pressure the Bills and the first meeting with the Jets got on him. If they don’t fix this offensive line by the playoffs then they can’t beat the Chiefs, Colts, and Bengals.

DG: Do you think the return of Rob Gronkowski at tight end solves all of New England’s issues offensively?

PG: It solves the red zone issues. Amendola, Gronk, Edelman, and Collie give Brady solid options and Gronk does wonders for the red zone, but it doesn’t fix the offensive line. So it doesn’t matter who he is throwing to if he ends up on his back all the time.

DG: What is the status of cornerback Aqib Talib? Do you expect him to play on Sunday?

PG: Aqib Talib was limited today at practice which gives him a good chance to play Sunday. As the week progress, we should get a better understanding of if he’s playing.

DG: How have the injuries to Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo affected New England’s defense?

PG: They have made the run defense vulnerable for the Patriots and that also includes the Tommy Kelly injury as well. They miss their leadership on defense and there isn’t a way to fix that. But when Kelly gets back and lines up with Carter, Spikes, and the two rookies it should give the Pats a solid run defense. Maybe not a great one, but a solid one.

DG: How were the Jets able to play the Patriots so tough in Week 2 and beat them in Week 7? How can the Dolphins mirror that game plan?

PG: By hitting Tom Brady. Brady scored 14 points on the Jets in the first half and the offense looked really good but in the 2nd the Jets brought pressure and the Pats managed 6 points. The Jets also hit him a lot in the first meeting too. The Pats could only get 6 points the entire game against the Bengals because of the constant pressure so Miami’s pass rushers need to hit Brady a lot.

DG: How do you expect the Patriots’ pass rush to match up against a porous Dolphins offensive line?

PG: Truthfully, I have NO idea. The Patriots pass rush is so inconsistent. Chandler Jones is pretty good and so is Rob Ninkovich but they don’t provide consistent pass rush. With Andre Carter there, and Chris Jones providing some ability to rush, the Pats may get some pressure. But for the Pats to get pressure they usually have to blitz. They will get pressure but I doubt it will be consistent.

DG: Is the AFC East wide open in your opinion or do you expect the Patriots to pull away in the next few weeks?

PG: Right now it is still wide open but I don’t see any other teams winning more out of division games than the Patriots. That is what will probably save New England from giving up the division.

DG: Who is the Patriots’ biggest challenger in the AFC East, in your opinion?

PG: The Dolphins are. The Jets have a good defense but their offense is anything but consistent. I don’t trust the Jets and Geno Smith to play good enough on offense to compete for it. The Bills are still not there and with the injury to EJ I don’t seem them challenging. The Dolphins are better than the Jets and Bills (even though they had a hiccup and lost to the Bills). The Dolphins have the better QB and the better all around team.

DG: Who is the division’s second best quarterback after Tom Brady, in your opinion?

PG: Ryan Tannehill. He has been taking strides this season and he is more trustworthy. Plus I’m bigger on pocket passers than runners. Running QBs get hurt a lot (as you’re seeing with EJ) and I don’t think Geno is great if kept in the pocket, so they are limited if you ask me. Tannehill, once he has fully developed, will be a force in the NFL. He is miles better than the other two.

DG: Finally, which team do you see winning on Sunday? Final score?

PG: Tough Question right now. If Talib plays I think New England may scrap it out but without him they won’t be able to stop Miami’s passing attack.

I’ll operate as if he is playing and say Pats, 24 – 17

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