Zeus himself couldn’t stop the Miami Dolphins from defeating the Tennessee Titans.
The team simultaneously played a relatively weak and yet mostly-complete game in all three phases, lending credence to the notion that you just want to survive the first four weeks of every football season (until everything finally comes together).
Jakeem Grant returned a kickoff for a touchdown, just to have the Titans return the favor right after.
The offense was able to drive 98-yards for a touchdown and Ryan Tannehill later connected on a gorgeous 75-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills. All while mixing in two horrible interceptions.
There were key takeaways and defensive stops, but their expensive defensive line didn’t apply much pressure to either Tennessee quarterback.
Ultimately, you can take away the fact that Miami was able to win a game despite underperforming. And that’s a promising sign.
What else did we notice during the Dolphins 27-20 victory:
1) Missing: Cordrea Tankersley
We all figured there would be some growing pains, but this is a sophomore slump if there ever was one.
What happened to Cordrea Tankersley that he was inactive for the game?
We can at least attribute Tony Lippett‘s situation to his unfortunate achilles injury last season; there’s an explanation there. But what explanation do we have for Tankersley?
There were times last season where this guy was covering wide receivers like a blanket:
Tankersley deflects the pass and Reshad Jones ends it. What a comeback! pic.twitter.com/Q26LGQeO9D
— Eric Elizondo (@EricElizondo8) October 15, 2017
Although he didn’t have any himself, he was responsible for both of Reshad Jones interceptions last year. He started all 11 games he played in last season (up until his injury) and logged 638 snaps on defense (just below Bobby McCain). It seemed like Miami was well on their way to having a pair of young, lockdown cornerbacks.
No one was going to mistake Xavien Howard and Tankersley for the combination of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie when they were on the New York Jets, but they could have been better than the combination of Vontae Davis and Sean Smith while they were here. They seemed like they would, at the very least, be reliable.
But we might not know that answer for awhile, if at all this season.
Given how Davis and Smith panned out after Miami, it would be wise not to give up on Tankersley at this point.
He flashed last season, but he needs to develop some (any) kind of consistency. It seems it’s completely mental, as the physical traits are all there.
This makes the acquisition and flexibility of Minkah Fitzpatrick that much more important.
Fitzpatrick shined against the Titans (more on that later), and it’s clear Miami is going to utilize McCain on the perimeter and Fitzpatrick in the slot for most of the season. This isn’t to say that Miami now has subpar starters because of it, but they could have been much deeper in the secondary had the cornerback situation gone even half as well as we originally hoped.
This really is a huge disappointment for the coaching staff, who originally thought they had to decide between multiple different starters, not have to shuffle in a new one.
One positive outlook? Miami will have a fresh cornerback if/when Tankersley returns in the middle of the season.
Then again, we also have someone we might not have realized was missing this entire time….
2) DeVante Parker Who?
Make no mistake, DeVante Parker is still “missed”. But how good did it feel to watch our wide receivers perform without Parker in the lineup?
That’s not to say that I’m happy he’s out of the lineup; that’s not the case at all. I would much rather Parker be on the field as he requires the defense to respect a different skill set out there.
But this means two things for Miami going forward:
- One – the Dolphins are able to have a successful offense without Parker on the field.
- Two – barring a complete breakout of a season (you know, the one we’ve been waiting 3 years for), this makes it much easier decline Parker’s 5th-year option and move on from him after the season
#Dolphins wide receiver snap counts from Week 1 (out of 62 plays):
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) September 10, 2018
Minus Danny Amendola, this is what your 2019 wide receivers will look like. This will mean that Miami will still need a “big” receiver to compliment the package of speed receivers they have.
Does this mean that Mike Gesicki will be relied on as the primary tall/big target?
He’s going to be just fine, but yesterday was not the Gesicki highlight Dolphins fans were hoping for. He wasn’t completely inadequate blocking, but he did not have his best game. His performance will get lost in the victory and that’s actually just fine. He’s going to remember this game and learn from it, and the fact that he won’t have to face critics along the way is good for his development.
Though if he starts to string together a few starts like this, you can bet you’ll start to hear more critics than fans.
3) A Tale of Two Rookies
One is falling flat on his face after getting beat on the line of scrimmage, the other is stopping opponents right before the goal line.
Shortly after letting the receiver slip his tackle on third down, Fitzpatrick displayed his tackling prowess on a couple of key open-field tackles:
Very next play. pic.twitter.com/XqaMA3YhLZ
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 10, 2018
And we’re not even talking about the one that saved a touchdown for the Dolphins:
Minkah Fitzpatrick already showed why he could be a pro bowler in the @NFL week 1. If Tennessee scores here it changes the whole game. Heck of a play by the rookie to not only recognize it, but make the tackle @PhinPhanatic pic.twitter.com/PZRhbPOWKk
— Gabe Genovesi (@gabegeno13) September 10, 2018
What’s even more impressive than the tackle is how he got there. This guy doesn’t think like a rookie. This is some top-notch film study right here, and a big reason why Miami was able to walk away with a win:
Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick meets with the media. pic.twitter.com/vP1xraxgVr
— Brandon Liguori (@BLiguoriSports) September 10, 2018
Identifies the play based on the formation of the receivers. Further recognizes the play once the receiver begins his pick. Understands he is the only person who can stop the intended receiver and breaks his block to make the tackle.
You can say we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves with Fitzpatrick, but I believe he’s going to live up to all of the hype. If game one is any indication of how he prepares and plays, Miami has a stud both on and off the field. Give him two more years in the system and watch how infectious his study habits become.
It’s actually right in line with Mike Gesicki’s preparation as well; both are extremely dedicated to the film room, but we watched two different rookies on the field Sunday. While Fitzpatrick didn’t look like a rookie, Gesicki did.
His blocking was adequate, and he ran his routes just fine, but he was a non-factor otherwise.
Gesicki was targeted twice and caught one of those passes for a first down. The other target was an embarrassing opportunity at utilizing his olympic-caliber vertical jump and height advantage to get the best of a veteran cornerback.
It's like Malcolm Butler enjoys endzone interceptions or something 🤔 pic.twitter.com/3DWZ0pRL4e
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) September 9, 2018
As I’m sure we’ve all seen by now, Gesicki couldn’t even get up to contest the ball after getting out-manned coming off the line of scrimmage by Malcolm Butler. I’m not anticipating the incredible hulk, but I’m expecting Gesicki to be able to “body” a man that couldn’t take Jakeem Grant off of his route last year while a cornerback for the New England Patriots.
Gesicki will be alright, and it’s great that he’s able to learn in a win, but he’s going to be asked to contribute a lot more than 1 reception for 11 yards going forward.
- T.J. McDonald didn’t have his best game (116.7 passing rating allowed), but he played every defensive snap. It’s interesting to note how much they’re going to rely on McDonald this year.
Notable #Dolphins defensive snap counts from Week 1 (out of 69 plays)
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) September 10, 2018
- Bobby McCain and Xavien Howard also played every defensive snap against Tennessee. That’s nothing new for Howard, who played the most defensive snaps in 2017 (1017 total), but McCain only participated in 662 defensive snaps last year. Miami is going to look for him to play as many snaps as Howard, if not more if we include special teams, given the team’s precarious cornerback situation.
- Outside of Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James’ penalties, the offensive line performed pretty well. They were predominantly strong in the running game, and good enough in the passing game. The best part isn’t the holes they created for Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake, but the time they gave Tannehill in the pocket.
- It’s a good thing Miami didn’t open up against the Jets. That defense looks like it can be pretty good. They have a very good secondary led by Trumaine Johnson, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, so I expect Miami to utilize their underneath routes more often. Though that’s going to be Miami’s normal; chip away until you identify a mismatch or a mistake, then capitalize with the long ball. I’m just not sure I want Tannehill to throw anything close to a 50/50 ball. Continue to rest, DeVante. We’ll need you in Week 3 against the Oakland Raiders.
Get more inside the numbers and check out Travis’ in-depth breakdown of the game.
Dolphins vs. Raiders Week Three Preview
Who: Dolphins (2-0) vs. Raiders (0-2)
When: September 23, 1:00 East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: 88 degrees, 73% humidity, 60% precipitation
Vegas Slant: Dolphins -3
Dolphins vs. Raiders
Favored for the first time in three outings, the Miami Dolphins return home to the building where, under Adam Gase, the organization is bordering on elite. Since Gase’s hire in 2016, the Dolphins are 11-5, riding a six-game winning-streak with Ryan Tannehill under-center, and average nearly four touchdowns per game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Beating the Titans was a commencement that this team wasn’t the pushover many projected it to be. Throttling the Jets to the tune of a 20-point halftime lead, Miami asserted itself into the discussion of potential playoff outfits.
Now the expectation is that the Dolphins will hit the showers on Sunday with an unblemished record through three games. Winning as an underdog can be attributed to the emotional influence of the game but, winning as favorites, that’s a different ballgame.
The Patriots are on-deck. Miami are in a perfect situation to set-up a Late-September statement game – a potential changing of the guard game, perhaps.
But first, the Raiders.
The Raiders’ Scheme
Oakland have been a team of two halves under second-time Head Coach, Jon Gruden. Obliterated in the second half against a loaded Rams team, on national T.V. no less, the Raiders had an opportunity to right the ship with a 12-point halftime lead at divisional rival Denver.
Gruden’s play-script has yielded positive results. A healthy mix of 11 and 12-personnel focuses the offense around Amari Cooper and Jared Cook. Everything Oakland does offensively revolves around the running game. Establishing Marshawn Lynch and the zone running game early is the precursor for the play-action, bootleg layers’ concepts that we’ve seen regularly with Miami.
For a team that wanted to throw things back to 1998 (and they did, no roster is older than this veteran-laden group assembled in Oakland), Gruden’s offense sure struggles to convert third-and-short. On 10 attempts from five yards and in, the Raiders are moving the sticks just 40% of the time.
That issue, compounded by a lack of ingenuity once the game becomes about adjustments, are why the Raiders are starring an 0-3 start square in the face. Mixing plenty of variety early in the game (bunch 12-personnel followed up by an empty formation down in the red zone) kept the Broncos and Rams defenses guessing.
While the yardage ranks show success, the Raiders have the fifth-lowest scoring offense in the National Football League.
Coordinator Paul Guenther believes in three things: Blitzing, blitzing and, you guessed it, blitzing. Though it didn’t start that way this season, Gruden has specifically stated he would prefer that Oakland brought heat more often.
The Raider defense increased the blitz-package last week and, as the pass rush continues to struggle in the post-Khalil Mack era, that trend likely continues this week.
A-Gap pressure has been a favorite for Guenther. He’s a disciple of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who’s defense is predicated on showing pressure down up the gun-barrel.
On the back-end, Oakland will mix-up zone and man-coverage. Because of a lack of pressure from the Raiders’ lackluster four-man front, the Dolphins could take Guenther’s defense to task in two ways:
– Throwing the football to the backs
– Setting up the quick screen game early and often
Derek Carr has regressed back to the norm after an anomaly in 2016. His propensity to succumb to heavy pressure and poor decision making has resulted in a rough start for the fifth-year pro.
Carr’s passer rating under pressure is 33.1 – 32nd in the NFL. Miami had Sam Darnold under constant duress Sunday at the Meadowlands.
Donald Penn and Kolton Miller have surrendered eight pressures among the pair – keeping them each outside of the top 50 tackles in the league when it comes to pass blocking efficiency.
The interior of that offensive line is where the Raiders’ strength is supposed to lie – only it isn’t any better than the perimeter. Gabe Jackson and Kelechi Osemele have allowed a combined nine pressures.
Neither Raiders’ tackle is a top-50 graded run blocker and the guards check in at 42nd and 24th respectively. Marshawn Lynch’s elusive rating is 35th among NFL backs.
Miami has three wide outs with an average yards-per-route-ran over 2.0 – Oakland has one (Martavis Bryant on just four targets). Jordy Nelson’s diminishing speed has made him a shell of his former-self and Amari Cooper still hasn’t recaptured the magic of his rookie season.
Jared Cook, however, is fifth among all tight ends with 3.82 YPPR.
Miami have gashed teams on the ground through two games and that trend could continue in week-three. The Raiders interior defensive line is inexperienced and without much production. Jonathan Hankins arrives to reinforce a front that is allowing 5.7 yards-per-carry – worst in football.
The edge rushers might offer even less. The most efficient pass rusher through two games is Frostee Rucker. His pass-rush-productivity ranks 77th in the league.
Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin are off to solid starts on the perimeter of the Raider defense. Leon Hall, Oakland’s nickel corner has allowed 75 yards on just nine pass targets – Miami will make the grizzled-vet a target on Sunday.
Linebacker play isn’t any better. The collective group has just six run-stops and each of the three are allowing passer ratings over 100 in coverage.
Oakland cut Obi Melifonwu in order to keep Reggie Nelson on the field and the returns have not been great. His passer rating allowed is 150.7 (just 7.6 points shy of a perfect rating).
|CB Leon Hall||Illness||Limited|
|DT P.J. Hall||Ankle||DNP|
|WR Dwayne Harris||Foot||Full|
|C Rodney Hudson||Ankle||Limited|
|G Gabe Jackson||Pectoral||Limited|
|RB Marshawn Lynch||Shoulder||Limited|
|T Brandon Parker||Ankle||DNP|
|WR Danny Amendola||Non-Injury||DNP|
|LS John Denney||Shoulder||Limited|
|RB Kenyan Drake||Abdomen||Full|
|DE Williams Hayes||Finger||Full|
|S Reshad Jones||Shoulder||DNP|
|WR Devante Parker||Knee||Full|
|DT Jordan Phillips||Knee||Limited|
|QB Ryan Tannehill||Knee/Ankle||Full|
There’s an easy answer to this one and it would be ultra-contrarian to go away from said obvious conclusion. Jared Cook caused a multitude of problems for the Miami in last year’s meeting, and he’s off to a similar start this season.
Oakland’s ability to stretch him both vertically and horizontally doesn’t bode well for the Miami linebackers. Raekwon McMillan is struggling immensely in this area and Kiko Alonso has been problematic in this department in his own right.
Tackling and poor angles have been a bit of an issue on the back-end. It’s a team effort to get Marshawn Lynch to the ground – if he has success, the Raiders’ offense will have success.
Miami needs these three things to go in their favor:
1.) Contain Oakland’s first down offense – Oakland’s tackle play has been suspect. With a wave of edge rusher’s ready to capitalize, if Oakland can’t find success on early downs, it won’t fare any better on the money down.
2.) Unleash the passing game – A balanced attack has been the prescription so far with early double-digit leads. The same could happen against these Raiders, but Miami has advantages all over the field in regards to the passing offense v. Oakland’s pass defense. Expect Oakland to commit to stopping the run, meaning the aerial show begins at 1 ‘o’ clock eastern standard time.
3.) Shut down Amari Cooper OR Jared Cook – Miami will pick its poison here, but if they can blank one of these two and make the Raiders passing game one-dimensional, the Dolphins can start robbing Derek Carr and force the mistake-prone quarterback into turnovers.
Frankly, they’re everywhere. Miami’s edge rush against Oakland’s substandard tackle play, the young interior defensive line of Oakland against Miami’s ever-evolving ground-game, the perimeter match-ups, Miami ought to be able to draw their weapon-of-choice from a hat and attack accordingly.
The Projected Result:
An angry Adam Gase is a dangerous Adam Gase. The absurd rumblings around his quarterback are sure to ignite a fire and create a run-up-the-score mentality in the snarky third-year coach. This game could very well be all gas and no breaks with plenty of scoring opportunities schemed into the passing game down in the red zone.
Coming east in the early-game window has proven difficult for this Raiders team. Sure, change has been rampant since The Visor regained control of the operation, but that doesn’t make the challenge of an out-of-whack body clock any easier.
In 2017 Oakland was 1-3 playing in the eastern time zone. Three of those games were in primetime and the Raiders were collectively outscored in the four games 104-61. The lone early-window game was a 34-14 loss at the Buffalo Bills.
The Raiders are about to find out how much resiliency they have under Gruden. The loss in Denver was devastating and will either foster a hungry, desperate team, or send the lads in the opposite direction with no hope in sight.
With the Dolphins tempo-based-attack, playing back at home in the brutal South Florida conditions, not many aspects of this game favor the road team.
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Week 3: Miami Dolphins Power Rankings Round Up
How did Miami’s 20-12 win over the Jets in Week 2 affect their position in the eyes of the major national media outlets? Let’s take a look:
Last Week: 24
This week: 16
Last week: 23
This week: 17
Last week: 28
This week: 21
Last week: 17
This week: 12
Last week: 19
This week: 15
As you can see, there’s a pretty wide range of opinions on this Dolphins team. Bleacher Report continues to remain mum on Miami, saying “Undefeated or no, we’re still not ready to call the Dolphins contenders. Or even call them good.”
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports ranked the Dolphins No. 12, and said: “They are off to a 2-0 start and have a winnable game at home against Oakland. Adam Gase has this team playing good football.”
If the Dolphins get to 3-0 by beating the Oakland Raiders at home this Sunday, they may start to get some more national recognition as a team who could contend for a playoff spot.
5 potential landing spots should Miami trade Devante Parker
Following Miami’s 20-12 win over the Jets on Sunday, Devante Parker was upset he didn’t see the field, claiming he was fit and ready to go.
The reaction to the quote was mixed, some fans were pleased Parker wanted in on the action while others felt he was overshadowing the victory and making it all about himself.
We saw this with Jay Ajayi, complaining he didn’t see enough off the ball after the Dolphins won games and the last thing Adam Gase wants is another player putting his personal needs above the team’s.
Who are we getting in return? I’m legit worried about Parker spoiling the good vibes in the locker room so I’d trade him just about anything.
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 17, 2018
Parker has failed to live up the hype when he was drafted 14th overall in 2015.
Yet to get a contract extension, it may be time for #11 to move on.
The team are not short at receiver with Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant all proving to be Gase’s guys.
Parker doesn’t fit in to what Gase is trying to build in Miami and instead of letting him hit free agency when the time comes, it may be worth trading him to a WR needy franchise.
Below are five teams who could be interested in Parker should he be available:
Ajayi texts Parker.
“Hey, I agree Coach Gase doesn’t know what he’s doing.
“He didn’t give me enough touches when I was in Miami and I left to win a Super Bowl. JOIN ME!”
On a serious note, this is a move which we could actually see happen.
The SB champs are short at receiver due to a few injuries.
Eagles should scoop up DeVante Parker or Kevin White for a low price.
— 1-1 World Champ Birds 🦅 (@NationOfEagles) September 18, 2018
While they have Alshon Jeffrey to return, Mike Wallace may not see the field again this season and Mack Hollins is on IR.
Carson Wentz returns this Sunday and giving him a new shiny toy to play with in Parker could be the perfect welcome back gift.
Eagles Twitter want it to happen and know the franchise have a good relationship with the Dolphins after acquiring Ajayi for what seems to be a steal.
Can Howie Roseman do it again?
Howie Roseman boutta fuck around and get Devante Parker from the Dolphins like he did with Ajayi
— Adib (@Hadiibz) September 18, 2018
Landry texts Parker.
“Hey, I agree Coach Gase doesn’t know what he’s doing.
“He gave me loads of touches when I was in Miami and I left to lose with the Browns. JOIN ME!”
The Browns’ receiver core is shrinking.
Corey Coleman? Gone.
Josh Gordon? Gone.
For Thursday Night Football against the Jets, their current depth chart at WR reads:
1. Jarvis Landry
2. Rashard Higgins
3. Derrick Willies
1. Antonio Callaway
2. Damion Ratley
3. Rod Streater.
If Cleveland are serious about actually winning a game of football, giving Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield some actual weapons could be a start.
Should Miami work out a deal, better than the one they got for Landry, they could be looking at a pretty decent draft pick in 2019.
Cleveland has the cap room to offer him a long-term deal and Parker gets moved to a team looking to rebuild for the future.
The win against the Giants on Sunday Night Football didn’t mask the fact that Dak Prescott has a lack of good options to throw to.
The team has seven WRs after adding Brice Butler to give the receiver room some much-needed height but still lack an X-factor player on the perimeter.
Now wondering if any of these teams are calling the Dolphins about DeVante Parker’s availability (though Skins did sign Perriman) https://t.co/cYTLF2MU5O
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 17, 2018
Jason Garrett must be worried about the amount of snaps Tavon Austin and Cole Beasley are seeing and Parker can potentially bring to this team what they lost in Dez Bryant over the summer.
It would mean getting rid of two or three WRs but given the list of names on the Cowboys depth chart, that shouldn’t be too hard to make room for a former first round pick.
Russell Wilson needs help.
First and foremost, he needs an offensive line.
But he also has no-one to throw to.
Pete Carroll’s days seem to be numbered and he may not last the entire season given their start and the changes in Seattle the past 18 months.
But should he need a quick fix to try and save his job, Parker could help alleviate the pressure on Wilson while also taking some of the attention Doug Baldwin is shown by opponents.
Should trade talks take place, instead of going for a draft pick, Miami’s front office should see if Seattle would send Earl Thomas the other way.
Yes Miami has T.J. McDonald but would you turn down the opportunity to partner Reshad Jones with ETIII?
One can dream.
Like Seattle, this team needs all the help it can get.
Larry Fitzgerald cannot keep single-handedly saving this franchise.
Christian Kirk looks a nice pick up but if they want to give Josh Rosen the best chance to succeed when he does step in for Sam Bradford, he needs more weapons.
For those of you who wanted the #AZCardinals to get Dez Bryant or Josh Gordon how about we trade a 5th Rd Pick to Miami for Devante Parker?? Less of a headache. Also not a big loss because Keim can’t draft anyway.
— 2 Beavs Sports (@2BeavsSports) September 18, 2018
Parker can immediately step in and be productive in a team which failed to get past the half-way line until the final drive of the game against the LA Rams and were shut out.