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5 Most Disappointing Miami Dolphins of 2018

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a year littered with disappointment, it was hard to pick 5 players that outweighed the others.

On one hand, we didn’t have to bribe a quarterback out of retirement, Miami’s bye week occurred right on time, and no one was (caught) snorting cocaine at the office.

By most accounts, 2018 was actually an improvement over its predecessor. But that improvement doesn’t mean we weren’t disappointed with the outcome.

Our savior, Ryan Tannehill, was finally back after being resurrected for a 7th NFL season. Our mad scientist, Adam Gase, finally recruited the army of minions he always wanted; building “his” culture.

And then Miami finished 7-9; right back into the same familiar territory any Dolphins fan under 30-years old is used to.

While there is plenty of blame to go around, we can focus that energy on a handful of players who decided to stand up above the rest and become our 5 most disappointing players of 2018:

5) Charles Harris

Based on his 2017 performance and his 2018 salary, Charles Harris performed as expected. But that’s the problem, he was simply “Just A Guy”.

Former 1st-round picks don’t always pan out, but the hope is that they develop into cheap roster space that can supplement the more-expensive veterans on the roster.

Miami already had a dud of a 1st-round pick in DeVante Parker, so they really couldn’t afford another one in Harris. Though ultimately, it’s what they deserve.

Similar to DeVante Parker (and Mike Gesicki, as well as others), the Dolphins believed they could take a “talented” athlete and turn them into a football player. They were wrong in the past, and they are wrong once again. The last time the Dolphins went against that train of thought, and drafted a football player while ignoring the person’s (possibly lackluster) physical attributes, they drafted Jarvis Landry.

It’s possible Harris still evolves and develops, especially with a new coaching staff. But with a new defensive scheme expected to be implemented, Harris is an odd-man out. His ability to diagnose the run and set the edge is poor, he isn’t reliable in coverage, and his pass-rushing ability isn’t great either, which means he’ll be unable to survive in a 3-4 defensive front as an outside linebacker. And in this scheme, he’s too skinny to play with his hand in the dirt.

You have a better likelihood of William Hayes returning and being more productive than Charles Harris.

Like a bunch of other players on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see if the team tries to get something in return for the underwhelming defensive end. Though I’m hesitant to think that the team will desperately trade their under-performing talent, as Chris Grier was behind the selections of Harris, Parker and Gesicki; selling these players for pennies on the dollar is admitting a defeat that Grier might not be able to afford to admit.

Although it’s easy to play this game in retrospect, Miami drafting Harris at 22 cost them players like Evan Engram (drafted one spot after Harris, at 23), Jabrill Peppers (25), Takkarist McKinley (26), Tre’Davious White (27), David Njoku (29), T.J. Watt (30) and Ryan Ramczyk (32). Or in other words, everyone drafted after Harris in the 1st-round was a better option other than Reuben Foster. Even Taco Charlton has been more-productive than Harris, and at least he comes with a name we could meme.

4) Mike Gesicki

Saying the Miami Dolphins drafted the worst tight end in the 2018 NFL draft is actually not that much of an exaggeration. The only tight ends that performed less than Gesicki were either injured before their careers could get started, or they were lower-round draft picks. 1st-round pick Hayden Hurst did have less receptions and less yards than Gesicki, but he also participated in 4 less games than the former Penn State tight end.

Combined with the lackluster performance of our other rookie tight end, Durham Smythe, it’s clear this team is working without any production from a quarterback’s friendliest receiver.

While Smythe’s production can be excused because of his blocking ability, there is nothing we can excuse with Gesicki.

Another example of a superior athlete that has no business being on the football field, Gesicki was drafted to be the redzone threat the Dolphins have been missing since Charles Clay.

Instead, his biggest threat came when the defender had no idea what Gesicki was doing…only to find out he was tripping on air and falling before he could break his route. Sometimes he didn’t even break his block before falling to the ground.

If you enjoyed teasing Brian Hartline for all of the shoestring tackles he endured, you’d get a real kick out of Gesicki’s phantom falls.

Also, this never happened:

3) DeVante Parker

You would think DeVante Parker’s inclusion on this list would have more to do with the culmination of his NFL career rather than the 2018 season alone; but even by Parker’s standards this was a poor year.

Regardless of the statistic, Parker had the worst year of his career:

  • Receptions: 24 (next lowest: 26, Year: 2015)
  • Targets: 47 (50, 2015)
  • Yards: 309 (494, 2015)
  • Yards per Reception: 12.9 (11.8, 2017)
  • Touchdowns: 1 (1, 2017)

This also coincides with Parker’s least-taxing season on his body, as he had his lowest snap count of his 4-year career.

  • 2018: 411
  • 2017: 675
  • 2016: 735
  • 2015: 468

Of course injuries play a part in this, but it’s not like the injuries are anything new for Parker. Over his career, Parker has been active for 55 (out of a possible 65) games (84.62%), but his status has been suspect in most of those games. What’s more eye-opening is the fact that Parker has started just 31 games out of a possible 65 in his career (47.69%). For a former 1st-round pick, that’s undesirable.

Offering the 5th-year extension to a constantly-injured and eternally-inconsistent player was evidence enough that the Miami Dolphins still believed Parker could eventually shine as the beacon of hope we originally (and continued to) believe he could be. Instead, there’s a good chance Parker is on another roster in 2019.

2) Robert Quinn

Mike Tannenbaum couldn’t stay away from shiny objects. Ndamukong Suh was exhibit A, and Robert Quinn is the latest attraction.

A former 2x Pro Bowler and First-team All-Pro over half a decade ago, the thought of obtaining someone who has a history of multiple-sack seasons in their early-20s was too much for Tannenbaum to pass up on.

Sold as a player the Dolphins could fix because the Los Angeles Rams were playing Quinn out of position and the Rams have no clue what they’re doing, Quinn was brought on to cover up the other mistake Tannenbaum made by drafting Charles Harris in the 1st-round of the 2017 draft.

After toying with Ndamukong Suh, overpaying Andre Branch, continuously paying Cameron Wake and obtaining Robert Quinn, we finally figured we had it all together.

Nope.

Quinn had a decent second-half of the year, but it wasn’t enough to mask the disappointment we felt the first 10 weeks of the season.

As the most expensive player on the team (cap hit wise), Quinn was expected to change the course of games – simultaneously forcing the opposing quarterback off his rhythm AND making life easier on the secondary – and instead, he finished with 6.5 sacks, 38 total tackles and only 9 tackles for a loss. He did hit the quarterback 15 times, but he also started 16 games for the Dolphins, so that average is still underwhelming. (For reference, Wake hit the QB 17 times in 14 starts – and that was a “down” year for him).

Rebuilding in 2019 may be the blessing the Miami Dolphins need in order to purge themselves of these shiny objects they believe they can “turn around”. They do a good job of obtaining guys who may bounce back (Branch, T.J. McDonald, Kiko Alonso), but they do a terrible job paying them.

Just to solidify how poor the team handled Robert Quinn, I give you an excerpt from an article by Jason Lieser back in June of 2018. It’s a tad long, but it encompasses this team’s inability pretty well:

“…When the Rams offered [Quinn] for the mere price of a fourth-round pick. Miami defensive coordinator Matt Burke thought Adam Gase must have been messing with him.

“Yes, I’m good,” Burke replied. “Absolutely, 100 percent. I’m on board.”

Still, Gase insisted they do their due diligence anyway, so Burke went to freshly hired defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and told him they needed to watch Quinn’s film from last season to make sure there weren’t any red flags. It’d have to be a quick review because Mike Tannenbaum, Gase and Chris Grier didn’t want this opportunity to get away from them.”

On the opposite end, the Rams were celebrating as they relieved themselves of Quinn’s huge cap hit, allowing them to spend more-freely on the rest of their roster. This allowed them acquire the likes of Aquib Talib, Marcus Peters and Ndamukong Suh. I don’t think I even need to ask which scenario you’d rather have.

Honorable Mentions

Below are some additional players that disappointed us this season…just not enough to revel in the pantheon of under-performers:

Stephone Anthony – Is it really his fault he was a 1st-round bust for another team and our team stupidly paid a 5th-round pick to relieve them of their problem?

Andre Branch – Even though we knew he would be bad, he was atrocious. He actually disappointed our already nonexistent expectations.

Isaac Asiata – Asiata hasn’t contributed in the past and he continued his lack of contributions in 2018.

Jesse Davis – Davis played all 920 offensive snaps for the Dolphins this season, but he was expected to evolve; instead, he regressed somewhat mightily. His reliability saves him from being on this list.

Ted Larsen – He filled in and contributed 751 snaps at left guard, so it’s hard to fault him for his reliability. He was also reliably bad, so I guess we can’t fault him for being consistent, either. Larsen is also one of the main reasons why we beat the New England Patriots last season, so he gets a pass from the bottom-5.

Jordan Phillips – Phillips wasn’t on the roster long enough to completely disappoint us,  but his entire career has easily been a disappointment. So, like Andre Branch, his 2018 production isn’t a surprise, it’s just continuously disappointing. This is one draft bust we won’t forget, but we certainly won’t miss.

1) Ryan Tannehill

Come on, did you really expect it to be anyone else?

After starting 3-0 and being well on his way to purging any thought that he wasn’t a franchise quarterback, Ryan Tannehill shed his ironman status and missed time for his third-straight season.

Finishing the season at 5-6 as a starting quarterback, the future for Ryan Tannehill in Miami is about as bleak as the Dolphins projected record in 2019.

Statistically speaking, Tannehill didn’t have a “poor” season. Over the course of his 6 years as a starter, Tannehill’s stats were about as good as they have been:

  • Completion %: 3rd (best in his career – out of 6 seasons)
  • TD %: 1st
  • Yards per Attempt: tied-2nd
  • Yards per Reception: 4th
  • QB Rating: 3rd
  • Game Winning Drives: tied-1st

This probably explains why we should have discovered this problem earlier. 2018 was right on par with the rest of his Dolphins career. Problem is, it featured no evolution. No quarterback whisperer seducing him in his ear. No reason to believe that 2019 will be any better than 2018 (or 2017 or 2016 or any other year this century).

Between injuries, inconsistent quarterback play, inconsistent offensive line play, and an offensive gameplan that was predictably stale, our judgement is still clouded on the 7-year quarterback. We’re done with Tannehill because we don’t want to go through another year of uncertainty, not necessarily because he’s a poor choice.

We watch him do this:

And then we watch him do this:

Teammates simultaneously praise him and bash him as both a leader and a player. If the Miami Dolphins can’t mold Ryan Tannehill into a consistent franchise quarterback, it might be time to give someone else a try. Because all he’s going to do next year is continue to disappoint us.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Melody

    February 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t think Robert Quinn deserved to be on the list. Newcomers, I think should get a pass on their first year. I would have put Asiata or Anthony in there instead. He did struggle for most of the year but that last quarter the d-line really played well and Quinn was the star in that bunch as he accumulated 3 sacks, 3 TFLs and 5 qb hits in that timespan.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 1, 2019 at 11:22 am

      He did step up towards the end of the year, Melody, I agree! From my perspective, his inclusion centers more around his cap hit as well as the cost it took to acquire him (4th-round pick). It hit us pretty hard in two different areas and he didn’t make too much of a difference until that final stretch. I’m not against bringing Robert Quinn back and think he can still perform, it would just have to be on a much cheaper contract than what he cost us in 2018. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll get the chance and I think Miami parts ways with him in 2019.

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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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