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2019 Scouting Combine Through a Dolphins Lens – Defense

Travis Wingfield

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Players, Traits, and Scheme Fits for the Miami Dolphins

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“If you removed all offensive players from the equation and only allowed defensive players to be drafted, New England would still get a great player with the 32nd pick in this draft. That’s the depth of this defensive group.”

Daniel Jeremiah made no qualms about the strength of the 2019 NFL Draft. With stars abound, particularly on the line, the Dolphins have an opportunity to inject Brian Flores’ young, ascending defensive personnel with blue chip talent.

First, some housekeeping as it pertains to one incumbent pass rusher.

 

Rumors have attached Trey Flowers to the Dolphins over the weekend, but a source close to Flores told me that he’d “be shocked if [Flores] overpays for Flowers…he was helped by the scheme.”

Before we dive into the rookie prospects, a brief review on the measurements and metrics of the 2018 Patriots defense. This will give us an idea of what Flores and company are searching for across all three levels of the defense.

Interior Defensive Line

Malcolm Brown 320 lbs. 5.05 40-yard dash, 7.84 3-cone, 32.5 arms, 98 broad, 29.5 vert
Lawrence Guy 315 lbs. 4.96 40-yard dash, 7.6 3-cone, 32.75 arm, 29 vert
Danny Shelton 345 lbs. 5.64 40-yard dash, 7.99 3-cone, 32 arm, 30.5 vert, 95 broad
Adam Butler 300 lbs. 5.23 40-yard dash, 7.51 3-cone, arm, 28.5 vert, 101 broad

Defensive Ends

Adrian Clayborn 280 lbs. 4.83 40-yard dash, 7.30 3-cone,32.5 arm, 113 broad, 33 vert
Trey Flowers 265 lbs. 4.93 40-yard dash, 7.34 3-cone, 34.25 arm, 121 broad, 36.5 vert
Derek Rivers 250 lbs. 4.61 40-yard dash, 6.94 3-cone, 32.75 arm, 35 vert, 123 broad
John Simon 260 lbs. 4.62 40-yard dash, 7.10 3-cone, 34.25 arm, 34 vert, 121 broad
Dietrich Wise 275 lbs. 4.92 40-yard dash, 7.07 3-cone, 35.5arm, 33 vert, 125 broad

Inside ‘Backers

Elandon Roberts 238 lbs. 4.60 40-yard dash, 7.23 3-cone, 36 vert, 120 broad

Outside ‘Backers

Dont’a Hightower 260 lbs. 4.68 40-yard dash, 7.55 3-cone, 32.5 arm, 32 vert, 117 broad
Kyle Van Noy 250 lbs. 4.71 40-yard dash, 7.22 3-cone, 31.5 arm, 32.5 vert, 112 broad
Brandon King 220 lbs. 4.49 40-yard dash, 7.28 3-cone, 38 vert, 127 broad
Albert McClellan 235 lbs. 4.81 40-yard dash, 7.24 3-cone, 36.5 vert, 119 broad

Cornerback

Duke Dawson 190 lbs. 4.46 40-yard dash, 7.02 3-cone
Stephone Gilmore 202 lbs. 4.40 40-yard dash, 6.61 3-cone, 31 arm, 36 vert, 123 broad
J.C. Jackson 198 lbs. 4.46 40-yard dash, 6.92 3-cone, 31.5 arm, 35.5 vert, 120 broad
Cyrus Jones 195 lbs. 4.33 40-yard dash, 7.25 3-cone, 30.25 arm, 36 vert, 123 broad
Jason McCourty 195 lbs.  4.3 40-yard dash, 6.67 3-cone, 36.5 vert, 125 broad
Obi Melifonwu 225 lbs. 4.40 40-yard dash, 4.58 3-cone, 32.5 arm, 44 vert, 141 broad

Safety

Devin McCourty 195 lbs. 4.48 40-yard dash, 6.70 3-cone, 32 arms, 36 vert, 126 broad
Patrick Chung 215 lbs. 4.51 40-yard dash, 7.11 3-cone, 34 vert, 119 broad
Duron Harmon 205 lbs. 4.51 40-yard dash, 7.02 3-cone, 36 vert, 125 broad
Nate Ebner 215 lbs. 4.51 40-yard dash, 6.59 3-cone, 39 vert, 128 broad

Defensive Edge (Options for 5-techs, 7-techs, and on-ball outside linebackers)

Montez Sweat (Mississippi State) stole the show with a 4.42 forty, but the jaw-dropping didn’t stop there. With 35.75” arms, a 36” vert, 125” broad, and 7.0 three-cone, Sweat might’ve worked his way ahead of Miami’s pick at 13. The tape and all-star performance (Senior Bowl) corroborates the impressive workout.

Another Senior Bowl standout, TCU’s Ben Banogu is a candidate to stand up and play on-the-ball linebacker in Miami. He testes through the roof at 250 pounds with 33.5” arms, 40” vert, and 134” broad jump. He’s quick as all get out and can drop into the flats and hook zone in coverage.

Rahsaan Gary (Michigan) isn’t likely to make it 13, but the Michigan product would be a plug-and-play impact player on day-one. 280 pounds, 34.25” arms, 38” vert, 120” broad, 7.26 3-cone, and a 4.58 forty, it’s safe to say Gary made some money Sunday.

Gary’s Michigan teammate Chase Winovich had a monster day in his own right. A master of the push and pull (stack and shed) technique, Winovich is all gas all the time. His athleticism is questionable on tape, but he blew the door’s off the combine with a sub 7.0 three-cone, 30.5” vert, 116” broad jump, and a 1.57 10-yard split. Winovich checked in at 260 pounds and could be a plug-and-play starter on day-two of the draft.

Son of a former Dolphins cheerleader, Boston College’s Zach Allen is a prototypical fit in Miami’s defense. A trophy case full of hardware, including the Campbell Trophy for academic prowess, Allen’s work ethic and intelligence jive well with Miami’s vision. He’s 281 pounds with 34.25” arms, 32” vert, and 112” broad jump.

If the Dolphins strikeout on Trey Flowers (or opt to save the cash), Charles Oeenihu (Texas) is comparable from a measurement standpoint. The Texas product is 275 pounds with an absurd 36 inch arms.

Eastern Michigan’s Max Crosby tested better than expected He’s 255 pounds with 33” arms, a 36” vert, 122” broad, and a ripping-quick 6.89 three-cone.

Interior Defensive Line (Options for 3-techs, 4i, 2i, 2, and nose tackle)

We can safely remove Quinnen Williams (Alabama) from this group. He played like Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska, tested like Suh, and will be draft as highly as Suh.

Christian Wilkins (Clemson) is well within the Dolphins range and will likely be squarely in their crosshairs. He had a great workout and checks every box Miami looks for in a player.

UCF’s Trysten Hill made a lot of money on Sunday. After starting every game for the undefeated 2017 team, Hill started just one in 2018, but flashed the big-time measurables that made him a wrecking ball inside. Hill’s explosion metrics (10-yard split, 35” vert, 115” broad) and length (34” arms) puts this specimen on the Dolphins’ radar. At 308 pounds, Hill fits the 4i, 3, 2i, and 2-techinuqe requirements.

Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery tested off the charts, but antiquated scouting techniques could turn Miami away. Tillery has many interests outside of football, but that didn’t stop him from flashing elite potential in a few games (Stanford tape, four sacks) and blowing up the combine.

L.J. Collier, from TCU, fits the prototype inside. At 283 pounds, Collier jumped 30” in the vert, 118” in the broad jump, and measured with 34” arms. Collier can two-gap and might come off the board in the second round.

Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones fits the part. At 281 pounds with 34 inch arms, Jones has the heavy hands Dolphins DC Patrick Graham is looking for. Jones has the make-up to play all over the defensive line and cause havoc as an interior rusher on passing downs. His 31” vert showcases the explosion in his lower half.

Khalen Saunders of Western Illinois didn’t test well after making a name for himself in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Knocking him back a round or two could benefit the Dolphins lack of depth on the inside.

Kansas’ Daniel Wise has the length and ability to lock out the edge in Miami’s new scheme. Daniel is the brother of Patriots Defensive End Dietrich Wise.

Florida’s Jachai Polite left the combine early and has been accused of faking an injury. Polite made headlines in the media portion of the combine for expressing his displeasure with the entire process – he torpedoed his value, but he’s a supremely talented edge rusher.

Linebackers 

This is not a great crop of linebackers. The two Devin’s (Bush and White, from Michigan and LSU respectively) tore the lid off the forty-yard dash. Hit, run, cover – that’s the new age of linebackers.

Miami are in a tricky spot with this position. Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker, and Chase Allen all fill specific roles in a defense that doesn’t rely too heavily on linebackers, but the unicorn that is Dont’a Hightower, and the catalyst of the Pats front-seven, doesn’t have a carbon copy on the market this year.

USC’s Porter Gustin might be the closest to that mark. He goes 255 pounds with a 4.71 forty, 35.5” vert, 119” broad, and a tremendous tape reel of blitzes. The medical is a concern, however, he’s missed games three out of four years at USC.

Former Safety Bobby Okereke (Stanford) tested as expected. At 240 pounds Okereke ran a 4.58 forty, with a 33.5” vert, 120” broad, 7.25 three-cone and 34.5” arms. He’s a tremendous blitz and cover prospect.

Utah’s Cody Barton is an impressive ball of clay. He went 237 pounds, 4.67 forty, 32” arms with a 32.5” vert and 116” broad jump.

BYU’s Sione Takitaki has been linked to the Dolphins since the Shrine Game. Takitaki’s explosive tape showed up in the workouts. He’s 240 pounds with a 37” vert, 125” broad and a 7.21 three-cone.

Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquil had himself a Sunday. At 234 pounds Tranquil ran a 4.57 forty, jumped 37.5” in the vert and 122” in the broad with a 6.94 three-cone time.

New Mexico State’s Terrill Hanks went from Senior Bowl darling to undraftable. Light and unrefined, Hanks was supposed to run like the wind but checked in with a dismal 4.98 forty.

Cornerbacks

At the start of the 2016 season the Dolphins traded for Byron Maxwell, drafted Xavien Howard and entered year-two of the Tony Lippett project. This signaled a change towards lengthy corners without much concern over timed speeds.

This prototype has become widespread across the NFL landscape. Corners aren’t pedaling but, rather, they’re playing with their butts to the sideline and preventing the big play via a lot of bail technique and off-coverage.

You’ll notice the size of a lot of these corners is rather imposing – and why wouldn’t it be? When Megatron Part Two (D.K. Metcalf) comes blazing down the field, someone’s going to have to put hands on him.

New England’s model of cornerbacks hasn’t followed this trend, however. The highest timed 40 on New England’s cornerback roster in 2018 was 4.46 seconds. The Patriots played more man-coverage than any team in football – an element Brian Flores will certainly bring to Miami.

Georgia’s DeAndre Baker is my top corner in the class. He has the confidence, the physicality and technique to go man-up with any receiver. He lacks long speed but his 4.53 40-time is good enough. He wasn’t a great tester but nobody will match his competitiveness in this class.

The only player that can give Baker’s competitive spirit a run for its money is LSU’s Greedy Williams. Williams oozes confidence, swagger, and play-making ability. He sometimes shies away from contact and that has always been a massive red flag under the Patriot Way. Greedy ran an impressive 4.38 at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds.

Rock Ya-Sin (Temple) is in that conversation with Baker and Williams. A two-time state champion wrestler, Ya-Sin was awarded a single-digit number in his first year at Temple (voted the toughest players on the team, by the team). He’s six-foot and 190, but plays much larger. His 4.53 40-time is good enough.

The winner for strange combine question of the week goes to Texas’ Kris Boyd. Asked if he still had both of his testicular, Boyd didn’t let that unnecessary, intrusive line of questioning stop him from destroying the workouts. Running a 4.45 at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Boyd’s 6.94 three-cone and 4.08 short-shuttle ranked near the top of the group.

Houston’s Isaiah Johnson (6-foot-2, 208 pounds and 4.40 forty) took a big leap up boards. He measured with 33 inch arms, a 36.5” vert, 133 inch broad, 6.81 three-cone and 4.06 short-shuttle.

Michigan’s David Long is going to be highly regarded by the Dolphins. Advanced on the white board and high-level recognition of route concepts, Long had the metrics to match. At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, Long ran a 4.47, jumped 120” in the broad and 39.5” in the vert. He clocked a sub-4 short-shuttle (3.97) and a ridiculous 6.45 three-cone.

Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting killed the tests. He comes in at 6-foot, 195 pounds, 31 ¼” arms, 41.5” vert, and a 126” broad. He’s a pure press-man corner.

Auburn’s Jameel Dean had the best forty (4.30) at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.

The local product, Michael Jackson, made a case to stay in Miami. He measured 6-foot1, 200 pounds, and ran a 4.46 forty.

Safeties

The Dolphins are in a predicament at the position. A ton of money is tied up in Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald, but neither are long-term solutions for the defense. Eventually, Miami needs a match-up piece in the mold of Patrick Chung, and a middle-of-the-field safety cut from the same cloth as Duron Harmon.

Nov 22, 2018; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs safety Johnathan Abram (38) slaps Mississippi Rebels wide receiver A.J. Brown (1) during a fight at the end of the third quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Thornhill of Virginia fits the latter description. He won the day measuring 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, with a 4.43 forty, 44” vert, and an eye-popping 141” broad jump.

Johnathan Abram is a player the Dolphins will adore. The Mississippi State product plays angry, fast, and yet, somehow in control. He’s 6-foot, 211 pounds with a 4.5 forty, 33.5” vert, 117” broad, 7.03 three-cone, and a 4.2 short-shuttle.

Delaware’s Nassir Adderley did not work out due to an injury (he will at his pro day), but he’s in the fold for Miami in that 20-50 range.

Miami’s Sheldrick Redwine had a terrific day measure 6-foot, 190 pounds with a 4.47 forty, 39” vert, and 130” broad jump.

USC’s Marvell Tell didn’t run but he jumped out of the building. The former Trojan goes 6-foot-2 195 pounds, with a 42” vert, and 136” broad jump.

Saquan Hampton (Rutgers) measured 6-foot-1, 207 pounds and ran a 4.48 forty. He’s a pure ball hawk and an intelligent, dedicated player.

Dolphins Confirmed Defensive Player Meetings (Shrine, Senior Bowl, Combine):

Defensive Ends

Montez Sweat – Mississippi State
Nick Bosa – Ohio State
Jachai Pollite – Florida
Zach Allen – Boston College
Jalen Jelks – Oregon
Jordan Brailford – Oklahoma State
L.J. Collier – TCU
Charles Omenihu – Texas

Defensive Tackles

Quinnen Williams – Alabama
ED Oliver – Houston
Dexter Lawrence – Clemson
Armon Watts – Arkansas

Linebackers

Sione Takitaki – BYU
Joe Dineen – Kansas
Ben Banogu – TCU

Cornerbacks

Greedy Williams – LSU
Byron Murphy – Washington
Blace Brown – Troy

Safeties

Tyree Kinnel – Michigan

First Round Options:

The way I see it, Miami aren’t trading up unless something unforeseen happens with Kyler Murray. Dwayne Haskins likely comes off early as well, leaving Miami with options, among others, as follows:

Stay at 13 and select:

DE Montez Sweat
DE Ed Oliver
DE Clellin Ferrell
DT Christian Wilkins
CB Greedy Williams
SAF Johnathan Abram

Trade Back and select:

CB DeAndre Baker
OC Garrett Bradbury
DT Dexter Lawrence
SAF Taylor Rapp
SAF Chaunce Gardner-Johnson
SAF Nassir Adderly

Lastly, this from Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

@WingfieldNFL

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  1. Avatar

    Taylor Hemness

    March 5, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Got a typo in the Banogu paragraph you may wanna fix. BIG fan of your incredibly in-depth work.

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Miami Dolphins

Patriots-Dolphins Scheme Brief and Player Analogs

Kevin Dern

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With the Draft complete and undrafted free agents added, with a few other moves in the mix, we’ve finally got our first glimpse of Miami’s 90 (really 91) man roster as we head into summer OTAs and mandatory mini-camp.  If I were a betting man, I’d guess that Miami may not be quite done with roster additions.  I imagine we’ll see something between June 1st and the start of Training Camp.  With all that in mind there’s been a lot of speculation about Miami’s defense and how it will look.

This offseason has provided us with a few interesting bits about what we’ll see.  John Congemi state on “The Audible”, the Dolphins own podcast, that Raekwon McMillan asked Brian Flores about watching film and was told to look at Dont’a Hightower.  Eric Rowe also said that the scheme is the same as what he ran last year with the Patriots.  We also had Brian Flores answering a question during his OTA media availability saying that the formatting of defense would be different.  I would expect that answer given the personnel differences, perhaps better spelled “deficiencies” that Miami has in comparison to the Patriots defense from a year ago.  This is why I wanted to put together this piece – to examine what we’re likely to see and who from Miami’s roster is an analog of a Patriot defender from 2018.

The Scheme
Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat.  This isn’t a 4-3 defense.  This isn’t a 3-4 defense.  Forget about those ideologies.  This defense is multiple.  Very multiple.  As I detailed in my piece earlier this year, New England is in a sub-package more than anything.  The top three personnel groupings the Patriots used last year were all sub-packages sets:  4-2-5 (307 snaps), 3-3-5 (226 snaps) and 3-2-6 (162 snaps).  The Patriots were in a 4-3 (97 snaps) and 3-4 (13 snaps) much, much less.

Looking at the Pats top two formations, I think we’re likely to see these used by the Dolphins as well.  A good barometer for how the Patriots used them would be that if they were facing 12 or 21 personnel, they were in a 4-2-5 with three safeties instead of a slot corner.  If they were facing 11 personnel, they were in a 4-2-5 with two safeties and a slot corner or used a 3-3-5 formation.  Often times that formation saw one of the linebackers, often Kyle Van Noy, walked-up on the line of scrimmage effectively playing as a stand-up defensive end.

This defense will be versatile in that we’ll see some different things than what we saw under Matt Burke and Vance Joseph.  We’ll likely see more even fronts.

https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/sSpkRMR5QZSgWDvC-RHR8Hw/image?w=624&h=352&rev=5&ac=1

We’re likely to see their Diamond (nickel – 3-3-5) and Ruby (dime – 3-2-6) fronts quite a bit.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVOxHjUW0AE-_sj.jpg  (Courtesy of James Light – @JamesALight)

Coach Flores has often talked about wanting to see what players can and can’t do, and slot them into roles based on those results.  Rather than trying to find prototype players, the Patriots have searched for phenotypes – particular skillsets that players possess – and have plugged them into their scheme.  For example as it relates to Miami, there really wasn’t a player in this year’s Draft that was a direct analog of Kyle Van Noy.  There just wasn’t.  Jahlani Tavai was probably the closest and Detroit snatched him in the second round.

With that let’s take a look at the various positions Miami will use and who might be fits – and those who are close analogs with Pats players.  To help digest this I’ll break it down into:  Position – what they ask those players to do; Analogs – if any; and Players – guys Miami has on the roster that will likely get a crack at the role.

PositionDefensive Ends – Let’s start here.  Miami’s defense has undergone a seismic shift philosophically.  What was once the focal point of the wide-9, Miami’s no longer going to be in the market for defensive ends that could potentially hit double-digit sacks on a regular basis.  The Patriots have used different body type over the years, ranging from Rob Ninkovich to Chandler Jones to Trey Flowers to Deatrich Wise all in order to help set the edge against the run and be cogs in the machine in the pass-rush scheme, not the focal point.

Analogs:  Miami doesn’t have a guy who can replicate what Trey Flowers offered the Patriots.  It’s why Miami were in on him in free agency and were outbid by Detroit, where another Belichick disciple resides as head coach, in free agency.  They do have several guys who can be used the way Adrian Clayborn and Deatrich Wise were used, but until we see it on the field, I’m not comfortable labeling any as direct analogs.

Players:  For this defense, I think we’re likely to see guys classified as “Closed Ends” and “Open Ends” rather than left and right.  Closed meaning the strongside end, often with a LB outside or playing off of that player, and open side meaning the guy on the weakside of the formation, sometimes with no one outside of him.

Closed Ends:  Tank Carradine, Jonathan Woodard, Jonathan Ledbetter
Open Ends:  Charles Harris, Dewayne Hendrix, Jayrone Elliott*

*Jayrone Elliott may be more of a pass-rushing specialist in the mold of John Simon, whom the Patriots listed as a LB but played as a defensive end, sometimes standing up.  This is where I think Elliott slots in and he very well may have a shot to earn a roster spot.  He’s #91 for the Packers in the GIF below.

https://i2.wp.com/titletownsoundoff.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/12_elliott.gif

Position:  Defensive Tackles – The Patriots last year under Brian Flores used a rotation of four primary guys.  They also used DEs Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise as 3-techniques quite a bit, but the primary four were Malcom Brown as a 1-technique and shade NT, Lawrence Guy as a 3-technique, Danny Shelton as a true 0 and shade NT, and Adam Butler as a 0, 1, 2i or 3 technique – he was involved in a lot of the Pats’ pass-rush packages.  The Patriots would also use some packages with 3 DTs on the field at the same time, often having Lawrence Guy play as a “Big DE” as Brian Flores labeled it last week.

Analogs:  Davon Godchaux compares pretty favorably to Malcom Brown, in my opinion.  He’s country strong and has been Miami’s primary 2i-technique the past two seasons.  That’s not much of a variation from playing the 1-technique NT spot, which many fans seem to forget Godchaux played at LSU for two seasons before switching to 3-4 DE his final year in Baton Rouge.

Players:  For Miami, I think Davon Godchaux slots in as the primary 1-technique player.  Christian Wilkins and Vincent Taylor figure to handle the 3-technique snaps of Lawrence Guy, as well as potentially doing some of the 4i and 5-tech stuff, especially Wilkins.  Miami at the moment has setup a nice competition for that true NT spots.  They don’t really have a guy as yet but figure on a competition between Jamiyus Pittman, Joey Mbu, Kendrick Norton and Cory Thomas.  I think Wilkins will likely eat up the snaps that Adam Butler took, but Miami may keep Akeem Spence for that role.  Remember, Akeem Spence was traded to Miami last year by Matt Patricia because he didn’t fit the defense.  That’s Miami’s defense.

I do think there’s an opportunity for both Wilkins and Taylor to grab some snaps at 3-technique in the 3-3-5 “Bear” front with New England runs quite a bit *IF* Miami can find the OLBs to make this work.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1200/1*VBysJsaw3lxF0Mduc7-Ueg.png

Position:  Linebackers – The Pats primarily used two linebackers on the field in most of their packages, except on third downs.  Those two guys were their Mac (Mc) and Money ($) LBs – Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy.  Their responsibilities vary by formation and personnel grouping.  They’ll also use a Buck (B) when they have three linebackers on the field.  I’ll be working on a preview article as we get into Training Camp and preseason where I’ll do a deep dive on how they use these positions in each personnel package.  For now, I’ll summarize these parts.

Mac – This is Dont’a Hightower’s spot.  In the 4-2-5 and any 4-3 formations, Hightower is an off-ball LB or MLB in the 4-3 most of the time.  There are various formations, like the 3-3-5 picture above (see OLB Lee as Hightower was injured for this game), will line up on the ball in a position akin to where a 3-4 OLB would be, even though there’s only 3 LBs on the field.

$ – This is Kyle Van Noy.  Van Noy will line up off the ball in 4-3 formations or will be the SAM if they use an Under look – which is rare.  In the 4-2-5 groupings he and Hightower are the two main off-ball linebackers.  In the 3-3-5 “Bear” fronts, Van Noy is often at the MLB spot, with Hightower and John Simon as the OLBs.  However, he will also line up on the line of scrimmage as a stand-up DE in their Diamond and Ruby sets that were shown before.  In these spots, he’ll 1) pass-rush 2) cover a RB or TE 3) cover the hook, curl or flat, or 4) act as a blitzer – either in a green dog capacity, or as looper coming through the backside A or B gap.  See the formation below:

Notice that Hightower is off-the-ball as it looks like a 4-2-5 formation.  This is one of the subtleties that the Patriots will use.

Buck – This role is sort of two-fold.  It is essentially the WILL LB in 4-3 spots, but can be an off-ball ILB in 4-2-5 fronts, and on the line of scrimmage edge rusher in the 3-3-5 and other sub fronts.

Analogs:  None.  The closest one, in my opinion, is Raekwon McMillan to Dont’a Hightower.  As indicated by John Congemi, McMillan was told by Brian Flores to watch film on Hightower.  I think McMillan will likely fill the Mac role in the 4-2-5 and he had some experience playing SAM at Ohio State, so we may see him as a stand-up on the LOS edge LB in some of the 3-3-5 “Bear” fronts.  Though the fit in the “Bear” package may be dubious at best.  I do, however, think that Raekwon can line up as an on the line of scrimmage or “mugged up” ILB in the Patriots sub-fronts.  He’s got some familiarity with this playing “Nose-backer” in the wide-9 at times last year under Matt Burke.  I think Raekwon is big and strong enough to be used as a blitzer and “pin” player on stunts, much like this GIF of Hightower below, courtesy of Pro Football Focus:

https://media.profootballfocus.com/2019/02/HIGHT-GIFY-3.0.gif

Notice the stunt by Adrian Clayborn following Hightower, essentially a T-E stunt.  Miami’s defensive line coach Marion Hobby gives a great breakdown of those stunts here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2X2HjiynI0&t=5s

I included this here as Miami will likely have some of their linebackers playing on the edges or mugged up inside executing these pass-rush games and blitzes.

Players:   Separating these by position for simplicity:

Mac – Raekwon McMillan is your starter here.  As far as depth goes, I think we could see Chase Allen, Tre’ Watson and Quentin Poling compete here for the reps that are between-the-tackles.  I think guys like Charles Harris and Andrew Van Ginkel could very well get opportunities for some of the stand-up edge reps.  That said, the Patriots have always liked to find guys who can fulfill the entire role rather than piecemealing it.  Miami may not have that player in this case, but I think McMillan can handle the bulk of these duties and should thrive in this defense.

$ – Jerome Baker is likely who Miami starts with at this spot.  Baker recently reported on The Audible he’s trying to bulk up to 230lbs after playing last year at 220lbs.  This fit is dubious, in my opinion.  I know many Dolfans won’t like to read that, but it is what it is.  I think Baker can likely handle this role in the 4-2-5 looks and would likely be the lone off-ball MLB in the 3-3-5 “Bear” fronts.  But Baker is more of a blitzer than true pass-rusher.  He’s also 6’1” and 227lbs currently.  Kyle Van Noy is a full 6’3” 250lbs.  Perhaps Baker’s speed is the equalizer here, but that length will be important.  I think this is where Andrew Van Ginkel could absolutely thrive.  He did the on the line of scrimmage stuff all the time at Wisconsin.  Charles Harris should, in my opinion, get a shot here with the edge stuff; Miami might be able to squeeze some football out of him this way.

Buck – Travis and I discussed this on the podcast on Sunday.  If Miami had limited Kiko Alonso’s role in last year’s defense he’d have been a pretty effective, albeit overpaid, third linebacker.  I see him here, though perhaps not right away.  The new staff may be more inclined to give him a shot at the $ linebacker spot given his veteran experience.  That’d be regrettable in my opinion.  If they can pare down his snaps, he could likely handle a lot of the duties the Buck LB spot handles on first and second downs…that is for what snaps there are.  The Patriots would often use John Simon in this role for their 3rd down packages or as an extra DE.  This is where I mentioned Jayrone Elliott fitting in, purely in the pass-rushing role.

In short, Miami just doesn’t have the horses that the Patriots have at linebacker, and though they may not want to, I think the coaching staff will be forced to piecemeal these LB roles with multiple parts.  Gun to my head, I’d expect we’ll see McMillan, Baker, Alonso, Van Ginkel all playing at least solid snaps, with perhaps Charles Harris and Jayrone Elliott having niche roles.

Position:  Safety – I’m skipping the corner position for right now as I want to do a little more research on that.  Let’s just get this out of the way, Xavien Howard looks like an analog for Stephon Gilmore.  X got the bag, deservedly so, and will hopefully be around to see this rebuild take flight.

At Safety, Miami have some fits, but I’m very, very curious to see how the players are slotted into roles.  New England often employs three safeties in their 4-2-5 looks, most often against 12 and 21 personnel rather than playing a third linebacker.  Those roles seem to stack up in the following spots:

SS – Strong safety – This is Patrick Chung, and he’ll often be lined up on the edge or in the box, where a linebacker would often be.  They’ll also use him as a robber in split safety looks, or in disguised looks with a deep safety dropping bac.

* – Star – This is Devin McCourty.  He’ll line up EVERYWHERE.  He’s often a FS in split safety looks, but he’ll find his way to the slot as an overhang defender. He’ll cover Flexed tight ends man-to-man.  He’ll cover them split out wide.  He handles a lot of the single-high safety responsibilities when they have two safeties on the field, but on 3rd downs, he’s often lined up in the slot or in the box with a coverage responsibility close to the line of scrimmage.

FS – Free Safety – this is played by McCourty in two safety looks, but is also played by Duron Harmon when they bring a third safety onto the field.

This video, courtesy of Samuel Gold, is required defensive study viewing.  Samuel does an outstanding job of breaking down how the Patriots shut down the Rams in the Super Bowl.  You can see a lot of the versatility among the safeties in this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLmyRYJHt4o&t=202s

Analogs:  Minkah Fitzpatrick is our second true analog.  While we haven’t seen him do everything that the Patriots ask Devin McCourty, in large part due to Matt Burke using Minkah at three different spots as a rookie, if you view his Alabama tape and Dolphins tape, it’s not hard to see the match here at all.  While most football fans acknowledge that Derwin James was just a freaking monster as a rookie, he was used EXACTLY has he should have been.  Kudos to the Chargers for doing so.  Minkah Fitzpatrick was, well, not used that way.  He was still outstanding but received much less notoriety.  That should change in 2019.

Players:  Reshad Jones caught a lot of flak for “quitting” on the team during the Jets game last year.  I don’t care.  He’s been one of the top two or three Dolphins players since 2012.  He should be in the Ring of Honor, and if you’re in favor of putting Ricky Williams there, you damn sure better vote for Reshad.

SS – That aside, I’d like to think that if Reshad’s fully recovered from offseason shoulders surgery – he was boxing in a video on Instagram last week – that he’d be the strong safety.  He did a lot of what Patrick Chung does in 2017 and had a Pro Bowl season.  He’s best attacking downhill or playing close to the line of scrimmage, so I think he fits that role well.  However, if his shoulders are still balky, we may see T.J. McDonald here.  I have another theory on him.

* – We already talked about Minkah Fitzpatrick filling in this role.  It’s his.  Leave him in this role.  Watch him flourish.

FS – This should really be spelled out as third safety.  My guess for now is that T.J. McDonald is penciled, lightly, into this role.  Barry Jackson reported a while back that T.J. wanted to drop weight from the 230lbs he played at a year ago and get down to 215lbs.  He had a little bit of success as a deep safety in 2017 when he came back from suspension.  That being said, I don’t think he or Reshad Jones, again if Jones’ shoulders are balky, are great fits for this role.  Their contract situations are, how to put it…not team friendly.  So, unless there’s a trade that develops, I expect they’ll be given opportunities

Also in consideration for this role should be Maurice Smith and Walt Aikens.  One has been a fringe roster player and the other is our best special teamer (and one of the top 5 special teamers in the entire NFL – Walt’s really good), but I’d imagine they’ll get a trial run here.  Aikens looks the part and is athletic, but wasn’t able to put it together when given a shot as a starting safety back in 2015 when Louis Delmas tore his ACL in preseason.  I do wonder if safeties coach Tony Oden may try to convert one of the myriad cornerbacks Miami have on their 90 man roster to safety.  He did so with Charles Washington while with Detroit in 2016.  The Patriots did it with Teez Tabor last year.  Perhaps someone will emerge for Miami here if McDonald or Jones falter.

We’ve covered quite a lot of ground in this piece already, so I’m going to wrap this up without taking up any more time until my next piece.  Overall, Dolfans are going to be wide-eyed trying to catch up with the philosophical seismic shift we’re going to see with the defense this year.  It’ll be multiple.  It’ll use a lot of players.  It’ll be different in some capacities on a weekly basis given opponents’ strengths.

All of this should be welcomed with open arms.

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 17 at Seattle

Travis Wingfield

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Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

Week 4 vs. Seattle
Week 5 at San Francisco
Week 6 at Minnesota
Week 7 vs. Denver
Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Week 10 at Kansas City
Week 11 vs. Oakland
Week 12 at LA Chargers
Week 13 at Green Bay
Week 14 vs. Detroit
Week 15 at Atlanta
Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Week 17 at Seattle

Week 17 at Seattle –

By the time this season finale came to an end the entire Cardinals operation had to breathe a sigh of relief. A disaster season, that came to a crashing conclusion, was finally in the rearview. For Josh Rosen, the last month of the season was a recurring nightmare. Rosen threw 146 passes in December and the only one that crossed pay dirt was a busted coverage in this Seattle game.

Some of Rosen’s strong suits didn’t travel to the Pacific Northwest. Throwing into contested windows, play-action passing, and third down conversions each brought back less than satisfactory returns.

The Cardinal passing offense converted 3-of-14 3rd downs. Rosen was 2-of-14 for 23 yards on contested throws and 5-of-10 for 56 yards on play pass.

Rosen was chucking-and-praying once again. The average air yards per throw tallied 10.8 yards, while the Arizona receivers only amassed 51 yards after the catch (34.2% of Rosen’s passing total).

The short passing game was far more fruitful than the vertical attacks.

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

The game was littered with mistakes from the Cardinals QB. Rosen registered 14 mistakes (11 from accuracy, 2 ball security issues, and 1 poor read). Rosen lost two fumbles and had two would-be interceptions dropped by the Seattle defense.

The personnel deployment featured more versatility than recent weeks. Rosen’s passes were supplemented by the following personnel packages.

 

11-personnel 31 snaps
12-personnel 3 snaps
21-personnel 4 snaps

 

As has been the case all season, Rosen was under frequent pressure. Seattle arrived for 11 pressures (6 sacks, 3 hits, 2 hurries) at an average time from snap-to-pressure of 2.19 seconds.

The busted coverage touchdown was Rosen’s one red-zone completion (1-of-3). He was in the gun for 25 snaps and under-center for 13.

Another week, another low conversion rate. The Cardinal passing game converted 8-of-38 plays into first downs (21.1%)

It’s difficult to imagine a more trying rookie season than the one Rosen experienced. The offensive line play was poor, the only consistent pass catcher was Larry Fitzgerald, and Rosen had his own share of rookie mistakes to compound things.

This game goes into the losing performance category marking eight consecutive games that Rosen failed to reach the winning performance category.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 7 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR, @SEA)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 16 vs. LA Rams

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

Week 4 vs. Seattle
Week 5 at San Francisco
Week 6 at Minnesota
Week 7 vs. Denver
Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Week 10 at Kansas City
Week 11 vs. Oakland
Week 12 at LA Chargers
Week 13 at Green Bay
Week 14 vs. Detroit
Week 15 at Atlanta
Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Week 17 at Seattle

 

Week 16 vs. LA Rams –

For the second consecutive game Josh Rosen didn’t finish under-center for the Cardinals. In a blowout loss, where it seemed like the entire game plan revolved around making life easy on Josh Rosen, Arizona still managed to get ran out of the building. Mike Glennon completed the final series for the Red Birds offense.

Rosen threw the ball only 23 times, but scrambled more than he has all season. The game plan also featured the least amount of variety, from a personnel grouping standpoint, all season.

 

11-personnel 30 snaps
12-personnel 1 snap

 

Rosen’s typical third down heroics didn’t show up. The Cardinals converted only 2-of-10 third downs in the passing game (one a QB scramble). Converting, as it has been all season, was a challenge in general — Arizona converted just 6-of-31 drop backs (19.4%).

Rosen was in the shotgun almost exclusively (3 under-center, 28 in the gun). This led to a limited play-action passing game (only one throw from play pass).

The four mistakes attributed to Rosen were largely deep shots. He missed on short pass, but two of the three inaccuracies came on balls down the field. One of those deep shots was an ill-advised throw into coverage despite a wide open Larry Fitzgerald coming across the formation (seen in the video thread).

Rosen’s depth splits were as follows:

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

More than half of Rosen’s 87 passing yards came from YAC (54%). The average depth of Rosen’s passes was 9.22 air yards per throw.

Throwing into tight window was a futile effort. Rosen completed 1-of-7 contested throws for 7 yards. Pressure was a regular fixture, yet again, as Rosen was under duress on 11 drop backs (4 sacks, 5 hits, 2 hurries). The average time from snap-to-pressure was 2.30 seconds.

The war of attrition seems to have finally broken the Cardinals spirit. The team’s execution was lacking all year, but this game was something of a “white flag” effort from the coaching staff. Rosen gets tabbed with a losing performance for a lack of big-time plays, a few mistakes, and an awful holistic result.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 6 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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