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Monday afternoon Dolphins update: Fins player arrested; 'monster' looming; lots of notes

We'll get to Dolphins on-field news - and plenty of it - in a minute.

First, Dolphins backup safety Jonathon Amaya was arrested for battery, early Monday morning, after allegedly trying to choke a taxi driver.

The incident happened at 4:30 a.m. outside Club Bamboo at 500 Washington Avenue.

According to the arrest report, Amaya flagged the taxi down and asked the driver, 44-year-old Jonathan Vunge, to be taken to Weston. Vunge said he didn't go that far but agreed to take him after Amaya gave him $100 cash up front.

Vunge said as he drove, Amaya became "aggressive" and Vunge drove back to the spot where he picked Amaya up, gave him his money back and asked him to get out of the cab.

Vunge told police Amaya "leaned forward and wrapped his hands around his neck and started choking him."

Two off-duty Biscayne Park police officers who were working outside the club saw Vunge driving the cab erraticly and heard him scream, "This man is trying to kill  me!"

Amaya was then arrested.

Amaya was being held on $1500 bond. Vunge reportedly wasn't injured.

The Dolphins said only: "We are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering information."

Amaya's agent did not respond to a request for comment.

Amaya has played in eight games, mostly on special teams, and has six tackles.

# # # 

There was a time, not so long ago, when the New England Patriots seemed vulnerable.

There was also was a time – very, very long ago, when the Dolphins defense actually frustrated Tom Brady.

Unfortunately for Miami, the former hasn’t been the case in five weeks, and the latter hasn’t been the case in five years.

When the steamrolling Patriots visit Sun Life Stadium on Sunday, Miami will be facing an offensive juggernaut that’s averaging 43.8 points during its ongoing five-game winning streak.

They’ll also be facing a quarterback that has tormented the Dolphins more than any other player in recent years.

And they will be a facing a team that has won 19 consecutive games in the second half of the season, dating to 2010. Two of those 19 were against the Dolphins.

“We got a monster coming in here next week,” Dolphins running back Reggie Bush said.

If there’s any consolation for Miami, it’s this: New England will be without elite tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is out for several weeks with a broken forearm.

But they’ll still have plenty of ammunition: Brady, tight end Aaron Hernandez, receiver Wes Welker and emerging running back Stevan Ridley (939 yards rushing, 4.6 per carry). What’s more, they’re plus 24 in turnover margin.

“We’re going to have to play our best game of the year to win the game,” Philbin said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for your guys. It’s going to be fun, a great opportunity to see where we are as a team. We are going to have to score points to beat this team. That puts pressure on your offense.”

The Patriots were 3-3 after early-season losses to Arizona, Baltimore and Seattle. Every team in the AFC East was 3-3 at that point, in fact. Since then, they’ve beaten the Jets twice, with wins over St. Louis, Buffalo and the Colts sandwiched in between.

So how do you defend them?

“I’m open for any suggestions,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle cracked Monday.

But seriously: “They’re not a team that uses a lot of trickery. They do a great job of working matchups. When you do things to try to negate their passing game, they’re very effective running the ball….

“Brady doesn’t make mistakes – he has three interceptions, 24 touchdowns. We didn’t great success against them in Cincinnati [when Coyle was defensive backs coach]. Hopefully we do a better job here.”

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s work against the Dolphins Sunday (21 of 27, 16 consecutive completions against the Dolphins) doesn’t bode well with Brady visiting Sunday. Nor does Brady’s mastery of the Dolphins – and many other teams, for that matter – in the past half decade.

Brady’s career against the Dolphins has followed an interesting arc.

For 10 consecutive games earlier in his career – when Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas were in their prime – the Dolphins flummoxed Brady, and he posted a quarterback rating between 52 and 78 in each of those games. The low point was a 21-0 loss in 2006, when Brady threw for just 78 yards, and Joey Harrington, Sammy Morris and Marty Booker spearheaded the offense.

In his nine games against Miami since then, Brady has consistently ranged from very good to extraordinary. Consider:

### In his past seven games against the Dolphins, Brady has completed 68 percent of his passes, averaged 315 yards and thrown 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The Patriots won six of those games, excluding the two Brady missed with an injury that cost him all but one game of the 2008 season.

### Brady’s numbers are absurd in his past four games at Sun Life Stadium: 91 of 126 (72.2 percent), with an average of 344 yards passing per game, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. His ratings in those games: 121.6, 107.1, 101.5 and a perfect 158.3.

He threw for 517 yards in the Patriots’ season-opening 38-24 win here last season, then passed for 304 in Miami’s 27-24 loss in New England on Christmas Eve.

And on Sunday, he will be facing a Dolphins secondary that is still experimenting at one corner spot. In the wake of Nolan Carroll’s four-penalty game in Buffalo, the Dolphins split time between Carroll and R.J. Stanford on Sunday. Carroll played 31 snaps, Stanford 28.

“We felt [Stanford] earn some opportunities in practice,” Philbin said. “He did some good things out there. There are still some things he has to do better.”

Should the Dolphins dial up blitzes or should they use extra defensive backs in coverage?

“It’s pick your poison,” Coyle said. “We are a pressure team to a high degree. We’re not going to change what we do. We’re going to have to do some of both. He’s not the most mobile quarterback we’ve faced. I don’t think you can cover them all day long.”

# # #


For some perspective on Ryan Tannehill’s performance Sunday, consider he had NEVER engineered a comeback from a fourth-quarter deficit of seven or less since becoming Texas A&M's fulltime quarterback midway through the 2010 season.

He had been 0-5 in that situation at A&M, 0-3 with the Dolphins. He did lead A&M to a late win against Nebraska in 2010, but in that game, the Cornhuskers were tied but never led in the fourth.

Entering Sunday, Tannehill had an 8.0 quarterback rating in the final two minutes of the first and second half (worst in the league) and had the league’s fifth-worst rating (62.5) in the fourth quarter of games with a margin of seven points or less.

Everything changed Sunday.

In the fourth quarter against Seattle, Tannehill threw for 156 yards and posted a 158.3 rating, with only two incomplete passes, one of which was on a spike to stop the clock.

He twice led the Dolphins to touchdowns that tied the score. And excluding the intentionally spiked ball (another spike was negated by an illegal motion penalty), Tannehill completed all three of his passes on the game-winning drive, for 51 yards. He also ran for 15 yards on that drive.

Asked the next step for Tannehill, Philbin mentioned “consistency” multiple times, as well as “continued improvement in decision making, continued improvement in accuracy and ball location. Those would be three things.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said the next step for Tannehill is “not to make that throw back” – the one which was intercepted in the end zone but negated by an Earl Thomas late hit.

“I doubt very much he will” do that again, Sherman said. “He’s the first one to know when he screws up. I’m glad he survived that. First step is to believe in himself.”

Before Sunday, the Dolphins had lost 49 consecutive games when trailing by seven or more in the fourth quarter, according to Elias. Their last win in that scenario: Dec. 28, 2005 against the Jets.

“Everyone offensively should look at this tape and see what we’re capable of doing,” Philbin said.

### The Patriots run their no-huddle offense at a faster pace than the Dolphins do, and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman would like to get to that point eventually, though not necessarily this season.

"I would prefer to go faster than we are,” he said. “Right now, we are where we are. As we grow, maybe move a little forward.” He said Tannehill usually snaps the ball “with 10 seconds or more. It gives him time not to feel rushed.”

### Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, on Charles Clay: “Defenses have to make a decision when he’s in the game whether they have to play base defense or nickel defense. We have to make sure we don’t load him up too much.”…

### Coyle said Sunday’s game was Jared Odrick’s “best overall. He had a big, big impact.”

### On why the running game succeeded after struggling previously: “We had less penetration up front. We did a better job in the second level sustaining blocks. And we had backs breaking a few tackles.”…  On the sprinklers going off: “That wasn’t in the head coaching manual – to prepare the team with the sprinklers going off.”