Better results with red zone offense needed: The Patriots scored one touchdown in four red zone trips and they obviously missed tight end Rob Gronkowski's size and unique skill set when the space got tight. Since 2011, quarterback Tom Brady is 21-of-34 when throwing to Gronkowski in the end zone. On passes in the end zone to other targets over that span, Brady is 26-of-97 with four interceptions. One would expect the Patriots to be working on more creative solutions inside the red zone this week, and it might help to get 6-foot-3 rookie receiver Aaron Dobson back; he's missed the last three games with a foot injury but appears close to a return.
Defense has stopped producing turnovers: After losing core players Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly to season-ending injuries, the Patriots have looked vulnerable on defense. The ability to create turnovers has been a key to overcoming personnel losses, but there have been none of them in each of the past two games. The defense had its moments against the Dolphins, but when the unit couldn't come up with the stops on third-and-16 and fourth-and-5 during the Dolphins' game-winning drive, do they really deserve to win the game?
Solder's head injury and Boyce's limp: On the injury front, starting left tackle Nate Solder left the game in the second half with a head injury (presumably another concussion) and receiver Josh Boyce was seen limping out of the locker room. With Solder out, the Patriots kicked left guard Logan Mankins out to tackle and inserted rookie Josh Kline at left guard. Mankins held up well. Overall, there has to be some concern with Solder's health as he was on the injury report last week with a concussion, and his status, along with Boyce's, bears watching.
Defining this team: After 15 weeks, the identity of teams come into sharper focus and our view of the Patriots is clear-cut. They can beat any team ... and lose to any team as well. They get the most out of their talent, and in this case, some days it just won't be good enough because of some of the personnel losses. Most of the team's games are coming down to one or two plays in the fourth quarter and it's a dangerous way to live. So basically, here's the outlook for the remainder of the season: Hang on for what could be a wild ride.