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Assessing the Depth of the Miami Dolphins

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: MiamiHerald.com

From the depths of hell, we present you with the Miami Dolphins‘ 2019 roster situation.

There was lots of chatter on social media yesterday regarding the overall depth of this team. Plenty of fans wanted to defend the various position groups this team developed, while others pointed out the overall lack-of-talent this team possesses.

While I do believe this team is better than most people give them credit for, they are still just one injury away from being on life support.

We all know injuries happen to every team every single year – it’s a matter of containing them and praying those injuries don’t derail your season.

Shallow History of our Depth

Let’s take 2018 for example:

The moment Vincent Taylor went down, the defensive line relied on other team’s trash to fill the position. Ziggy Hood and Sylvester Williams were invisible on the field; backed up by their combined statistical output of 14 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 tackles for a loss, 0 quarterback hits and 0 turnovers (while active for a combined 16 games).

Once the coaching staff realized that Tony Lippett would be unable to return to form from his torn achilles, we all held out hope that Cordrea Tankersley would evolve as a player. And when he didn’t, we witnessed an avalanche of moves that mightily hurt this defense.

Minkah Fitzpatrick played 3 different positions rather than settling into one. Bobby McCain was taken out of his slot corner position (where he excels), and gave us one of the worst seasons of his career.

We all felt we had a deep wide receiver room last season, and by the end of the year we were relying on Brice Butler and Leonte Carroo.

How did last year’s offensive line hold up when Daniel Kilgore and Josh Sitton went down with season-ending injuries? It didn’t.

What about when Laremy Tunsil had to miss time and the season essentially crashed on us during that Cincinnati Bengals game?

When Ryan Tannehill went down, we relied on Brock Osweiler. And I don’t think I need to repeat what happened in 2017 when Adam Gase virtually admitted the team didn’t have a solution on the roster and attempted to salvage the season by wasting $10m on Jay Cutler.

On paper, everything looks nice and promising – especially when we’re still 3 months away from meaningful football. But the season will provide a different story, and unless the addition of Brian Flores gives us a magical elixir that can prevent substantial injuries from happening, this season will feature some similar detriments.

So just how well will the team hold up?

As many have pointed out, we don’t even know who the 2019 starters will be, so how exactly can we gauge our team’s depth?

That’s where the first problem lies. You can’t have depth if you don’t have starters. You can put bodies into positions and ask them to perform, but if they are consistently overmatched, you don’t have formidable players.

Offensive Depth

The deepest position the Miami Dolphins have is the same position this team has been looking to solve for the past 20 years.

The Dolphins actually have 2 “starting” quarterbacks on this team. If one of them goes down, we have another that can step in and perform as if an injury never happened.

Thing is, you’re going from a bottom-third performer (Ryan Fitzpatrick) to one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league last year (Josh Rosen); but at least you have 2 options that you can say are legitimate.

This isn’t downgrading Ryan Tannehill to Brock Osweiler or Matt Moore, so you can be assured that an injury to one of these players isn’t the most detrimental thing that could happen. But for now, we have no idea what kind of production we’re going to get.

Fitzpatrick has played on 7 different teams for a reason, and Rosen is either a complete unknown or we have to call a spade a spade and call out his 11/14 TD/INT ratio, his 55.2% completion percentage and 66.7 quarterback rating. And if your excuse revolves around the Arizona Cardinals offensive line, what exactly is he getting into with Miami?

(This article isn’t about Josh Rosen’s potential as a franchise quarterback, that’ll be debated plenty this offseason)

Most will say that Miami has depth at wide receiver as well, but that’s stretching it. We reminded you what happened last year, and this year’s team has the same cast of characters at the position. Except this year, two of those players are coming back from substantial injuries, so who knows how they’ll perform.

Does DeVante Parker step up in year 5 and with a new coaching staff? Does Chad O’Shea have a legitimate gameplan for an unconventional receiver (Albert Wilson)? Does Jakeem Grant produce more than 228 yards in a season (or more than the 583 receiving yards he’s accumulated his first three seasons combined)?

Preston Williams could be a phenomenal find, but we don’t know what he is yet. Players like Isaiah Ford and Francis Owusu flashed in prior training camps, and they weren’t even worthy of being poached by another team from our practice squad, let alone provide productive playing time when they were in the lineup.

You don’t sign Brice Butler if you think you have depth. You don’t run out Leonte Carroo if you think you have depth. Do the 2019 Miami Dolphins have depth at the position? I’m skeptical, at best.

What does the rest of the offense have? Hope. And hope doesn’t mean you have depth.

I don’t have to waste too much time explaining the offensive line. They only have 2 legitimate starters in Laremy Tunsil and Jesse Davis. You could argue Daniel Kilgore is another legitimate starter, but his presence was more of a negative than a positive last season. Outside of those 3? Hope.

You can say the Dolphins have a deep running back room after drafting Myles Gaskin and signing Mark Walton from the 2018 draft class. They can be excellent players or they can be duds – nobody knows.

Kenyan Drake is a #1 running back and can be considered underrated across the league, but he needs to prove he can be a 1,000-yard back in the NFL. Kalen Ballage can be a solid compliment to Drake, but outside of his 75 yard touchdown run last season, he averaged 3.3 yards-per-carry. Any running back off the scrap heap can muster that.

This isn’t to disparage the potential these players have; but for now, nothing is proven. All we can do is….hope.

The tight end group is basically in shambles. Mike Gesicki had an underwhelming rookie season, but if he evolves he can still become a legitimate threat in this league. Durham Smythe served his purpose as a blocking tight end last season, but doesn’t offer much else in the receiving game. Nick O’Leary and his 86 receiving yards in 2018 don’t raise any kind of concern for opposing defenders or defensive coordinators. And Dwayne Allen is the team’s most-complete player…at 29 years old and after accumulating 27 receiving yards last season.

Having a bunch of possibilities at a position is nice – you want to have options. But options aren’t answers, right now they’re simply….hopeful.

Defensive Depth

Now that we’ve obliterated any potential the offense has, let’s take a look at the Dolphins’ defense. This is where you can form a better argument for where your depth lies.

You can start with the team’s defensive line and realize you have zero starting defensive ends, but a plethora of defensive tackles. A ying-yang of a conundrum that isn’t all that harmonious.

Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Christian Wilkins and Akeem Spence provide us with a great group of defensive tackles. There is both depth and starting talent here. Unless Wilkins turns into the next Charles Harris (entirely possible), this unit could survive a terrible injury and still not miss a beat. Not sure if they would still excel during a 16-game stretch if someone went down and they had to continuously rotate to keep them fresh, but for now it seems like this team is just fine at defensive tackle.

Like we just mentioned, there are basically 0 defensive ends on the roster, and you can’t have depth if you don’t have starters.

Linebacker seems like it should be better in 2019 than it did in 2018. Jerome Baker was a great 3rd-round pick, and his evolution as both a linebacker and a pass-rusher will provide this defense with a scary threat for opposing offenses.

Raekwon McMillan should be more comfortable calling plays and leading the defense. Since this is his “year 2”, he should be able to perform while thinking less and reacting more. He’s also in the process of learning a new scheme, so it’s entirely possible we witness another “growing year” for McMillan. Kiko Alonso isn’t the greatest starter, but he’s still a starting-caliber linebacker in this league and is capable of making plays.

This means we have 3 starting linebackers, but we’re discussing depth, not starters. Who’s going to step up if any of them go down?

Chase Allen and Mike Hull are formidable backups, but they’re special team’s specialists that otherwise get picked on when they’re in the starting lineup. Quentin Poling was a 7th-round pick in 2018 who remained on the practice squad all year. Nate Orchard is entering his 5th season and is coming from the Seattle Seahawks practice squad. Jayrone Elliot is coming from the AAF. And 5th-round pick Andrew Van Ginkel is a complete unknown. Will he turn into someone like Davon Godchaux or Jay Ajayi (as former 5th-round picks), or will he be stashed on the practice squad by the time preseason is over?

Again, plenty of bodies at the position, but that doesn’t mean you have answers.

Cornerback seems like it’s settled, but that depends on a myriad of factors. Xavien Howard is a stud and Bobby McCain is a great slot corner, but what exactly are you doing with Minkah Fitzpatrick? If he’s going to predominantly play cornerback, you’ve now taken away your safety depth, and if he’s going to play safety, your cornerback group is somewhat barren at best.

We are hopeful Eric Rowe will turn his career around as a former 2nd-round pick, but it’s entirely possible he’s a worse solution than Byron Maxwell was.

Cornell Armstrong and Jalen Davis can evolve into starters or even worthwhile backups for this team, but that hasn’t been proven yet. Torry McTyer was a surprising training camp story last year, but when he was thrust into a starting role he was picked on pretty badly.

Lots of possibilities at this position group, and I can buy the argument that this group is “set”, but I’m pushing my luck here. We’re potential living on (false) hope, and that’s not enough to satisfy my confidence in this group’s depth.

Reshad Jones is overpaid and T.J. McDonald can be a force when placed in the right scheme/position, but he was not a reliable starter for us last year. An aging playmaker (who we all want traded) and an underwhelming strong safety doesn’t give me much confidence in our starting safeties, but I’ll temper my pessimism for a moment and say those two are “fine”.

Behind them? Maurice Smith? I have no idea what I’m getting there. Walt Aikens? He’s a special team’s captain for a reason. We saw what happened to him when he was playing defensive snaps last year. If you think opposing offenses scoring touchdowns means we have depth, then we’ve had the best linebacking group in the NFL over the past decade.

This team has plenty of players that can evolve into legitimate threats. This team has plenty of players that can become menacing starters. This team has plenty of players that can develop into draft steals or solid signings. But what this team doesn’t have are definitive answers.

It simply has hope.

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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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Rich

    June 19, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    “you’re going from a bottom-third performer (Ryan Fitzpatrick)”
    — Ryan Fitzpatrick was ranked #9 last year with 100.9 QB Rating. That is top third.

    Ryan Tannehill ranked #20 with 92.7. That is bottom third

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      June 19, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Fair point, Rich. If I’m going to use Rosen’s QBR against him I should take note of Fitzpatrick’s QBR as well. Though ultimately, I think there’s a consensus that Fitzpatrick is not a valid answer at QB. He had a stretch where he was the league’s MVP last season – then he bottomed out a bit. That statement applies more to his overall ability to be a QB that can lead us into the playoffs compared to the actual #s he puts up. But you’re right in pointing that out.

  2. Avatar

    Michael Wise

    June 19, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Drama Queen type article.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      June 20, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      Do you believe this team has depth?

  3. Avatar

    Dolfanjoe

    June 19, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Another fan who has problems believing we are going to win the super bowl. But you are right ! Until you have starters you sure do not know what you have for backups. I think we are looking rather good at wide receiver , we will need a miracle at offensive line . And most of the defense is a total question mark . So yes the pre season is going to be a lot of fun , or pretty worrisome !

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      June 20, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      I do think our WRs can be/will be alright in the end, but we have to hope that Wilson and Grant return to their prior form. The group is “deep”, but we also thought the Dolphins had one of the best WR rooms in the league when they were running out Stills, Parker and Landry – and we had a bottom-tier offense that season. As for the OL, even a miracle might not be enough – this OL is BAD. Maybe that’s Grier’s tactic to secure us a top-3 or top-5 pick next year to grab that potential franchise QB.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Guide – Safeties

Travis Wingfield

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Over the next two weeks, Locked On Dolphins will bring you your one-stop shop for all things Miami Dolphins 2019 training camp

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Defensive Interior
Defensive Edge
Linebackers
Cornerbacks
Safeties
Specialists – 7/24

Game-By-Game Predictions Part 1 – 7/24 (Part 2 coming in September)

Prologue:

For the majority of the Ryan Tannehill era, the Dolphins entered training camp as dark horse candidates to seize a wildcard playoff berth. Things have changed for the worse in 2019, but the step backward comes with the hopes of constructing a perennial AFC East contender capable of winning games in January.

That’s the big-picture snapshot of the Miami Dolphins rebuild. In the interim, however, establishing the core principles of the Brian Flores program, as well as developing young talent, both capture the forefront of this year’s training camp objectives.

Over the next two weeks, we will get you familiar with each player on the roster. With biographies, quick-hitter scouting notes, and a prediction on the player’s ultimate role on the 2019 Dolphins, this serves as your guide for Miami’s summer practice session.

Safeties

Overview:

Cross-training promises to serve as the buzz phrase of this rendition of Dolphins camp. No position offers more dual functionality than safety, especially in a defense undergoing sweeping schematic changes.

In the past, the safety spots have been directionally based, opposed to the traditional strong and free distinctions. This round-peg-in-a-square-hole philosophy led to frustration; so much so that Miami’s longest-tenured defensive player pulled himself from a game last November.

Now, these safeties will have specific roles designated to suit their respective strengths. The universal trait of the group will be the ability to come down and cover the slot, tight ends, and running backs.

Tony Oden is one of two holdovers from the previous staff. Oden has been coaching defensive backs since 1996, including a GA stop at Brian Flores’ alma mater Boston College.

Reshad Jones – 9 years of service (10th in MIA)
Jersey: 20
College: Georgia
Opening Day Age: 31.5
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $35M total, $13M guaranteed

Jones’ Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Jones’ absence was the story of voluntary organized team activities. Amidst rampant trade rumors, Jones was present for mandatory work and an understanding has, apparently, been achieved between he and Coach Flores.

Jones is still a punishing hitter that excels defending both the strong and weak-side C-gaps on the defense. This scheme will put him back in a familiar situation playing in close to the line-of-scrimmage and sending him on a variety of run and pass blitzes. Jones played single-high, 20 yards off the ball, far too often last season.

Declining coverage ability, the occasional poor angle, and considerable medical concerns all add up to an uncertain future for Jones in Miami. The age and contract aren’t doing Jones’ long-term prospects any favors either.

2019 Projected Role: Strong Safety, 100% snap-taker

Bobby McCain – 4 years of service (5th in MIA)
Jersey: 28
College: Memphis
Opening Day Age: 26.0
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $22M total, $9M guaranteed

McCain’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

After a stellar 2017 season, injuries and position changes led to a down year for McCain. Among the game’s best slot corners two years ago, McCain was rewarded with a new contract, but he was outplayed in the slot by 2018 rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick. In 2019, the two could be interchangeable working in slot coverage and as a single-high safety (as well as two-deep looks).

This scheme utilizes three safeties the majority of the defense’s snaps. McCain could serve as the middle of the field man in those three-safety packages, and come down in two-slot looks for man-coverage responsibilities.

McCain is a terrific leader, astute tackler, and an occasionally effective blitzer.

2019 Projected Role: Free Safety, Slot Corner 85% snap-taker

T.J. McDonald – 6 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 22
College: USC
Opening Day Age: 28.4
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $17M total, $3.6M guaranteed

With one more year of guaranteed salary, McDonald needs to successfully transition into a new role to have a future in Miami. Inexplicably taking the job previously manned by Reshad Jones, McDonald’s inclusion into the defense wasn’t a positive one.

No longer among the top four, or even five, defensive backs on the roster, McDonald will come onto the field in sub-packages. He’s effective working downhill and should provide Miami’s dime package with a quality tackler and sound cover-man in the underneath shell.

2019 Projected Role: Third Safety, Dime Linebacker (Dollar) 60% snap-taker

Maurice Smith – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 26
College: Georgia
Opening Day Age: 24.3
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed

It’s difficult to assess Smith’s value the last couple of years. He rarely made it onto the field, but that could just be another indictment of incompetent coaching. At his best, Smith plays the robber role, dislodges footballs, and steps in front of intermediate passes.

With 10 players acquired in the secondary since Smith arrived in Miami, he has an uphill battle to fend off the newcomers for a job.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

2019 Dolphins Safeties at a Glance:

The decision to forego any acquisitions at safety this offseason was surprising. The most important position in the defense, Miami comes up a couple of bodies short unless McCain’s conversion is a success. He’s a bit undersized for the position, but he offers the instincts, tackling, and ball skills to provide some promise.

Jones’ role, and subsequent impact on the defense, is one of the more intriguing storylines of the year for the Dolphins.

With a lot of questions and fewer solutions, this group could be in for more changes next offseason.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins sign cornerback Tyler Patmon

Shawn Digity

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Tyler Patmon Miami Dolphins USA Today Sports
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

The Miami Dolphins have filled out the final roster spot by signing a familiar face: Tyler Patmon

After a Sunday night visit on July 21st, the Dolphins have officially signed cornerback Tyler Patmon. The corner was with the team during the 2015 season but failed to leave his mark during his first stint with the team.

Tyler Patmon has, however, managed to keep his career chugging along with time spent in Dallas in 2014 and 2015 and Jacksonville in 2017 and 2018.

The news was broken on Twitter by the official DEC Management account, who represents Patmon.

The team makes reference to Patmon’s first attempt with the team, but this time should be a better fit for Patmon considering the team’s roster makeup. With a few more years of experience under his belt, Patmon stands a better chance of getting a foothold and making an impact.

Tyler Patmon is also a special signing because of his being the 91st player under contract. The Dolphins have found some value in signing a player internationally, which has allowed them the ability to sign Patmon as a bonus player.

I can’t say for certain if Patmon will ultimately end up on the final 53-man roster. My initial inclination is that it’ll be an uphill battle, but stranger things have happened. He might be able to step in and make some waves with the experience he has over some of the younger defensive backs.

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Miami Dolphins

Remember The Dolphins (Part 3: The 2010s)

Chris Kowalewski

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True. The final chapter of the Dolphins’ current decade has not yet been written.

At the dawn of the 2019 training camp, the stars of Miami’s 2019 Super Bowl Champion team have not yet emerged and had their names stamped into the NFL history books.

But going by on the widely-held assumption that the Miami Dolphins figure to be at the very bottom of the league in 2019, we’ll draw a line under the decade of the 2010’s as the Dolphins begin their ‘hard’ reboot to bring the franchise back to glory.

In this third part of our Remember The Dolphins series, we’ll trudge up some painful recent memories by taking a look back at the years 2010-2018 and try to pick out those individuals who perhaps deserve some more recognition for the part they played despite the team’s overall lack of success.

For the Miami Dolphins, the 2010’s was a decade filled with unfortunate drama. The Jonathan Martin bullying fiasco; Richie Incognito; the resulting ever-changing revolving doors which built the offensive line; Mike Pouncey’s “Free Hernandez” hat; Dion Jordan; overpaid Free Agents; terrible draft picks; Chris Foerster bringing his out-of-office habits into the team facility; Brent Grime’s wife; a queezy, litter-picking coach; Vontae Davis’ grandma; the “Go” and Go, Go” offense; Matt Burke’s incomprehensible defensive scheme; and last but by no means least, Adam Gase. 

It was not exactly a fun-packed decade for fans.

From one year to the next, the 2010’s barraged the Dolphins with national embarrassment off the field and an on-field product which no one could quite figure out.

The 2010’s undoubtedly will be most remembered, for better or worse (depending on which side you sit) for the Ryan Tannehill years. 

Landing in the NFL as a franchise’s heralded saviour is generally tough enough. But landing in a city already drowning in football mediocrity, with a fanbase tired of the lacklustre QB carousel and desperately thirsty for a leading passer under the scorching South Florida sunshine was inevitably going to be a recipe for division among fans. 

Add in the ever-present shadow of Dan Marino and the unforeseen successes of other young QBs around the league and anything less than spectacular would be deemed a failure.

And that is the past decade of Dolphins in a nutshell… 

Unspectacular. 

Inconsistent.

Divided.

Cameron Wake was nothing short of awesome as the team’s premier defensive player and remains a living legend, seemingly ready to finish his career in Tennessee. It’s scary to think that Wake spent 10 years with the Dolphins (2009-2018) in which he started 126/146 games, accumulated 98.0 sacks, 358 combined tackles, 97 tackles for loss and 213 QB hits. As Dolfans, we have just witnessed the end of the most successful Dolphins tale of the decade. But that alone was not enough to gain the team anything more than one playoff game.

Save for a handful of highlight performances in 2016 to drag Miami to the playoffs, including Jay Ajayi’s back-to-back 200 yard games and Andrew Franks’ overtime field goal over the Bills on Christmas Eve, the Dolphins continued their desperate struggle for success for another decade.

2010 started badly for Head Coach Tony Sparano, then entering his 3rd year. Chad Henne (301 of 490) threw for 3301 yards, 15 TDs and 19 INTs. The Dolphins had broken the bank to bring in WR, Brandon Marshall to help in Henne’s development and aid a struggling offense. Although Marshall hauled in 1014 yards, a lowly 3 TDs was the ultimate result. The Dolphins found themselves sitting at 30th in the league in points scored and achieved a 7-9 record.

Things didn’t exactly improve quickly, if at all.

2011 saw the firing of Coach Sparano who was temporarily replaced by defensive co-ordinator, Todd Bowles after a 4-9 start to finish 6-10.

2012 saw the arrival of Joe Philbin and rookie quarterback, Ryan Tannehill which produced a now-familiar 7-9 record. The QB/HC relationship lasted 3.5 years and left everyone a “little queezy”.

The Dolphins scraped .500 records in 2013 and 2014 before falling to 6-10 in 2015 under the final year of Philbin’s reign. 

Nothing of note had begun to shine out from the shadows of mediocrity and the patience of Miami fans was beyond tested. 

Enter, Adam Gase.

The Peyton-Manning-endorsed offensive ‘genius’ arrived in 2016 taking the Dolphins to the playoffs despite a season-ending knee injury to the starting QB. And whilst the victories of 2016 weren’t repeated, the rare taste of playoffs had bought Gase enough stature that even the team’s brightest stars weren’t safe from his methods and relationships continued to sour to the point of breaking and eventual trade.

Jarvis Landry had stolen headlines with some highlight-reel catches and was unanimously adored by the Dolphins fanbase. Jay Ajayi had bulldozed his way into the history books before his relationship with the head coach turned to ash. Both players were quickly gone, uncerimoniously – their departures embodying the Dolphins’ constant inability of retaining success.

A number of players publicly spoke out against Adam Gase, as prime examples of what the Dolphins had become at their core – divided, unstable and without direction.

But looking back over the dysfunction of the 2010’s, let’s try to pick a handful of names out of the rubble who (outside of the Miami Miracle) deserve to be looked at in a brighter, warmer light and be remembered despite the team’s on-field and off-field failures.

Reggie Bush

Position: Running Back

The Saints’ 2nd overall pick of the 2006 draft found his way to Miami in his 6th year, following a trade with the Saints in July 2011. That season, he provided a spark of electricity to Miami’s offense and rushed for 1000+ yards for the first time in his career and scored 6 rushing TDs with an average of 5.0 yards per carry. Bush remained with the Dolphins for 2 years (2011-2012) and despite having been labelled as injury prone during his time in New Orleans, managed to be a dependable on-field presence, rushing for 2072 yards and 12 TDs as a Dolphin, whilst hauling in a further 588 receiving yards and 3 TDs. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of The Week in 2011 following a 203 yard performance against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15.

Lamar Miller

Position: Running Back

The homegrown running back was drafted in the fourth round by the Dolphins in 2012 out of the University of Miami, sharing his rookie year with Reggie Bush. By his second season, Miller had adopted the starting role, but it wasn’t until 2014 when he really began to find his feet out of the Dolphins’ backfield. Miller’s totals of 1099 rushing yards and 8 TDs in 2014 remain his career highs, with a highlight 97 yard TD run against the Jets on 28 December 2014. Over the course of his 4 years in Miami, Miller started 48/61 games and rushed for 2930 yards and 19 TDs whilst catching 117 passes for 887 yards and a further 3 scores, before signing a 4-year $26m deal with the Houston Texans in March 2016. 

Karlos Dansby

Position: Linebacker

Karlos Dansby came to Miami in 2010 after 6 years in the league with the Arizona Cardinals. His final 2 years in Arizona saw him tally 228 combined tackles including 17 for a loss, 5 sacks, 3 INTs and 3 forced fumbles. He was therefore a big-name target for the Dolphins in 2010 to help solidify the linebacker group under Tony Sparano. Dansby joined the Dolphins on a 5-year, $43m contract which (at the time) was the highest paid contract for an ILB in NFL history. In his 3 years at Miami, Dansby started 45/46 games and racked up 332 combined tackles, 1 INT, 5 forced fumbles and 6 sacks. 

Paul Soliai

Position: Defensive Tackle

An absolute man-mountain, Paul Soliai was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He became a staple on Miami’s defensive line and spent 7 years in Miami (2007-2013), working his way to a full-time starting spot in 2010. Soliai started 62 of 99 games in his Dolphins career and had a knack for swatting down passes with 12 deflections. A huge body in the middle of the Dolphins defense, Soliai was predominantly a space-eater but also racked up 117 solo tackles (160 combined) including 25 TFLs and 4.5 sacks. He signed with the Falcons in March 2014 and the Panthers in March 2016 before signed a one-day contract to retire as a Miami Dolphin on 19 April 2018.

Brian Hartline

Position: Wide Receiver

A productive fourth round pick of the Dolphins in 2009, Hartline spent 6 years in Miami (2009-2014). Hartline’s best years came in 2012/2013 following the arrival of Ryan Tannehill and he developed into something of a trusted safety blanket for the young QB and set a Dolphins franchise record for receiving yards (253) in Week 4 of 2012 against the Cardinals. With over 130 targets in each of those years, Hartline caught 150 passes for 2099 yards, but only 5 TDs which is an indication of the team’s lack of productivity in the red zone. Injured early in his career, Hartline started 69 of 92 games in Miami hauling in 4243 yards and 12 TDs with a catch rate of 57.1% and 8.1 yards per target. In the final game of 2014, Hartline suffered a PCL injury which ended his tenure at the Dolphins and a quick year in Cleveland saw the end of Hartline’s NFL career and he is now WR coach at Ohio State.

Davone Bess

Position: Wide Receiver

Similar to Hartline (and more recently Jarvis Landry) Davone Bess spent his first NFL years with the Dolphins before being signed by the Cleveland Browns. Arriving with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Hawaii, Bess quickly exceeded expectations. He was primarily positioned at slot receiver until injury forced Greg Camarillo off the field. Bess finished his rookie year positioned 3rd amongst rookie WRs in receptions. During his time as a Dolphin, Bess hauled in 12 TDs and had dependable hands (63.8% catch ratio) with a 6.9 yards-per-target average and he amassed a total of 3447 yards receiving. Bess was traded to the Cleveland Browns in April 2013 before troubling issues saw him placed on the non-football illness list in December 2013 prior to a series of arrests.

Kevin Burnett

Position: Linebacker

After 4 years in Dallas and 2 years in San Diego, Kevin Burnett signed as a Miami Dolphin in July 2011. He started all 32 games at linebacker during his 2 years with Miami (2011-2012) and stole 1 Pick-6, had 5 sacks with 216 combined tackles and 15 TFLs. Although always the truest of professionals, the productive and dependable player was released following the mistake-riddled free agent signings of Darnell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler in March 2013.

Jared Odrick

Position: Defensive End

I liked Jared Odrick. Generally considered a surprising first round pick (28th overall) of the Miami Dolphins in 2010, he unfortunately suffered a foot injury in October 2010 cutting short his rookie season. Returning with a strong 2011 season, he registered 6 sacks and and an INT as a backup DE and didn’t take himself too seriously, evidence by his very odd Pee Wee Herman sack dance. Odrick spent 5 years in Miami (2010-2014) but suffered with injuries and started only 41 of 65 games. Alongside his INT, Odrick swatted down 11 passes and caused 3 forced fumbles, had 16.5 sacks and 129 combined tackles including 30 for a loss and 47 QB hits. Following his Dolphins career, Odrick spent 2 years in Jacksonville before his retirement after being placed on IR in December 2016.

Nolan Carroll

Position: Cornerback

A fifth round pick (145th overall) by the Dolphins in the 2010, Carroll was seen as a promising rookie and played a considerable amount on special teams. Fans will recall that during a kickoff return on 13 December 2010, Carroll was tripped over on the sidelines by the Jets’ strength and conditioning coach, Sal Alosi. Carroll was promoted to a starting role in 2012 and over the course of his 4 years in Miami he started 26 of 58 games, grabbed 5 INTs with 23 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 3 sacks. He racked up 123 combined tackles before signing a 2-year $5m contract with the Eagles in March 2014. 

And there we have it.

At the dawn of the 2019 season, with the imminent start of training camp, the Dolphins now have an opportunity to write the decade’s final chapter.

Under the leadership of Head Coach Brian Flores, the Dolphins seek to change the story of their long-term mediocrity. With a young group of talented players ripe for development, we can only hope that many of them will seek to etch their names into the future of Dolphins’ history from 2020 and beyond.

Fins Up.

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