The Dolphins have set their sights on taking down the Patriots. Coach Adam Gase embraces the challenge, since it provides the ultimate measuring stick for any NFL team.
Gase’s team’s new quarterback has faced that ultimate measuring stick three prior times. And the stick routinely has been stuck in places where sticks don’t normally go.
In 2008, with starter Tom Brady injured and Matt Cassel under center, the Patriots blew out Jay Cutler’s Broncos, 41-7. Cutler completed 17 of 26 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Two years later, Cutler’s Bears fell to the Patriots by the score of 36-7. He completed 12 of 26 passes for 152 yards, no touchdowns, and two picks.
In 2014, the Patriots blew out Cutler again, winning 51-23 after leading 45-7. Cutler completed 20 of 30 passes for 277 yards and three scores, two of which came in garbage time.
And while I have no issue at all with Gase’s decision to opt for known entity over Colin Kaepernick, it’s worth noting that Kaepernick has performed fairly well against Bill Belichick’s defense.
On a Sunday night in 2012, Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 31-3 lead over the Patriots in Foxborough. The Patriots erased the deficit, but Kaepernick delivered the win with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, finishing the game with 25 passes, 14 completions, 221 yards, four touchdown passes, one interception, and a passer rating of 108.5.
Last year, during Kaepernick’s supposedly substandard season that rendered him unfit for NFL employment, he completed 16 of 30 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns, no picks, and a 97.4 passer rating. Though the Patriots won 30-17, the 49ers trailed only 13-10 at the half.
Think about that one for a second. The 2-14 49ers gave the 14-2 Patriots a stiff challenge for 30 minutes. And Kaepernick was the quarterback.
Again, Cutler made more sense for the Dolphins. But Kaepernick’s performances against the Patriots makes the decision of the Jets to ignore him even more curious.