By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s only April 12, and players are already taking shots at the Patriots. The first material of 2017 comes from the mouth of Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry.
It appears that Landry went to bed once the Falcons went up 28-3 in the Super Bowl, and then went off the grid for the next two months. He has essentially Mark Wahlberg’d the whole offseason so far. Because that’s the only way you could explain what he recently said about the Dolphins’ chances of winning the AFC East next season.
Speaking to The MMQB’s Peter King at an event for the NFL UK in Liverpool, Landry made one of the boldest predictions possible for a Patriots opponent: a season sweep.
To put the boldness of Landry’s claim in perspective, that has literally never happened in Tom Brady’s career as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. Brady has never gone 0-2 against an AFC East opponent in any given season. It’s never happened. Not even one time. The last time it happened was in 2000, when the Dolphins and Jets both swept the 5-11 Patriots and Brady spent the whole season on the sidelines.
But hey, Brady isn’t going to play forever, and something has to give in the AFC East at some point, right? That’s essentially the root of Landry’s predictions.
You certainly can’t begrudge Landry for his confidence. You need to exude supreme confidence in yourself to even have a chance against the Patriots, or else you’ve already lost. Landry appears to genuinely believe that the Dolphins are ready to give the Pats a serious run for the division.
“If you’re a competitor, that’s the way you should feel, and I don’t mind saying it,” said Landry. “It’s time for a change. I have all the respect in the world for the Patriots, and I respect Tom Brady tremendously. But they’re not our big brother anymore.”
To be fair to Landry, he’s not necessarily trying to disrespect the Patriots with his comments. He believes the Dolphins can do it even if Brady is still playing some of the best football of his career, like he has for the past three seasons. He’s just confident that his own team can pull it off.
Landry was also one of the only Dolphins who showed up against the Patriots last season. In their two regular season matchups, he made a combined 19 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown. It also appears that new head coach Adam Gase has turned the team’s culture around, based on Landry’s comments.
“He’s flipped the switch with us,” Landry said of the Dolphins coach. “New England’s won the division 14 of the last 16 years, something like that? It’s ridiculous. It’s a problem. We cannot let that happen anymore.
“What I’ve seen is, when we play that game, sometimes we focus on the guys on the other side of the line instead of just focusing on us. And I want to be part of that change. I want to go into the games against New England expecting to win—that’s something we need to do.”
Landry has a point. The only teams that have had consistent success against the Brady-led Patriots are teams like the Ray Lewis-era Ravens, who showed no fear and went into games against the Patriots expecting to win – even in Foxboro. But Landry is still getting a little big for his britches with these comments.
It’s OK for Landry to be confident in his team, but these comments border on unearned arrogance. It’s a little too bold to claim your team is about to do something that’s never been done to Brady. They couldn’t even do it to Matt Cassel in 2008. There’s really nothing to gain from these remarks.
The Dolphins did go 10-6 and make the playoffs last season, however, and Landry has emerged as one of the league’s most dynamic slot receivers. He will almost certainly show up when the Dolphins play the Patriots next season – but the question is whether the rest of the team will. Also, those same Dolphins lost their playoff game by 18 points to the Steelers, who went on to lose by 19 to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Someone makes comments like these every single year. Someone will be right some day. But until Brady falls off the proverbial cliff, there’s virtually no reason to believe Landry’s prediction is even remotely possible. Until the Patriots show real cracks in the armor, there’s little reason to doubt that Brady will once again put little brother in his place.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.