Dolphins shut down playmaker Shane Vereen
With star tight end Rob Gronkowski out for the year after an ACL/MCL tear last week against the Browns, many assumed the focus of the offense would turn to runnin gback Shane Vereen.
And why not?
Vereen was the player of the game last week, sparking the team with a 50 yard catch, a rushing touchdown and 12 total receptions on the day. He's still one of the team's most talented playmakers left.
So, where was he today?
Right or wrong, this will be a talking point #Patriots had 78 snaps... Vereen had 2 carries and 7 targets ... 9 out of 78— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) December 15, 2013
At first glance it looked like the Dolphins were doubling Vereen a lot, and it seemed obvious that part of their gameplan was to not let him beat them.
Vereen only had 3 catches on the day for a mere eight yards.
The Patriots were able to make do without him though, as they moved the ball well all game. The Pats owned the time of possession battle, weren't terrible on third down (52.9%), and still put up 364 yards through the air.
So, the Patriots were still able to make due with their roster of slot receivers (Edelman, Amendola, Collie and Boyce) as two of those guys went over 100 yards on the day.
That doesn't mean the team can keep surviving without Vereen, as perhaps a few more plays from that runningback core and the Pats come away with the win.
Still, many will point fingers at Vereen's lack of production, or McDaniels playcalling not getting him involved, but the team was able to do well enough without him. The blame for this loss largely falls upon the defense.