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Miami Dolphins

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

Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: MotorSportWeek.com

This may be the last thing on the mind of Miami Dolphins fans everywhere, but there seems to be a prominent legal battle taking place in South Florida.

A new Formula 1 race track was recently approved (by a 6-6 vote) to be “built” around Hard Rock Stadium, with races beginning in 2021.

While city officials press to approve the new track, local residents are up in arms about the potential race. F1 cars are notoriously loud, and as we mentioned above, these races aren’t contained within an arena or stadium.

City officials believe this will bring in additional revenue for Miami and the surrounding area, as annual races are expected to be held around Hard Rock Stadium for the next 10 years. The local populous is arguing that these races are too loud for local streets, and will cause an enormous amount of disturbance and will be detrimental to the environment. Overall, this will cause a “serious degrade to their quality of life.”

Just so you can have a reference, F1 engines tend to run between 130-145 decibels. If you go to a concert and stand relatively close to an amplifier, you’re only dealing with about 100-110 decibels. The average lawn mower is about 90 decibels. Needless to say, these engines are LOUD.

Unlike NASCAR, Formula 1 (F1) race tracks are essentially “created” using local roadways that are already in place. Though there is obviously a lot of preparation that goes into “creating” the course (to ensure the safety of racers and fans alike), no new venues need to be built.

With that said, the City of Miami Gardens and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are attempting to host the race solely on Hard Rock Stadium grounds. Given Ross’ ownership in the land surrounding Hard Rock Stadium, it’s possible this race doesn’t officially occur on any public roads.

To give some background, Stephen Ross attempted to buy F1 a couple of years ago, but the sale ended up going to another group. Though he didn’t win the bid, he reached an agreement with the new owners and is now one step closer to making the Miami Grand Prix a reality.

Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, issued the following statement on behalf of the approved 6-6 decision:

This recent vote was the biggest hurdle potentially preventing the Miami Grand Prix from happening. Though the legal battles aren’t over, it seems unlikely that the decision to host F1 races will be reversed.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are beginning to bulk up the depth of their roster as they head into free agency.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Dolphins have signed tight end Michael Roberts. The exact terms of the contract are currently unknown.

Originally a 4th-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Roberts has served mostly as a backup tight end; accumulating 146 yards on 13 receptions in 23 active games between 2017-2018.

Roberts was placed on injured-reserve towards the end of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, and was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional 2020 7th-round pick prior to the 2019 season. Due to medical reasons, the trade was voided a couple of days later.

The Green Bay Packers claimed Roberts off of waivers, but he was subsequently released by the Packers two days later for failing a physical. Roberts was not active for any games in 2019.

Signing Roberts doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins aren’t going to pursue tight ends in free agency or in the draft. Mike Gesicki is the only “lock” to make the 2020 roster, as Durham Smythe‘s blocking ability might not survive if the Dolphins find themselves in an advantageous situation at the position.

Look at this as a way for Miami to get ahead of evaluations.

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Miami Dolphins

A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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J.K. Dobbins 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.

Person B is ready to go with their mock.

Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.

I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.

They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.

Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida

As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.

Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”

Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”

Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”

Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”

[resends mock draft to Person B]

“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”

Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”

Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.

So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”

Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”

Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”

And that wraps things up with Person B.

What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).

Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…

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