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Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores’ Mandatory Mini-Camp Update – 6/5/19

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Miami Dolphins / Jason Hrina

There was plenty of hoopla yesterday with the return of Reshad Jones and the budding competition between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. While we won’t know the answers to these burning questions anytime soon, we’re getting a deeper glimpse into how Brian Flores thinks and operates.

With the second day of mandatory mini-camp underway this morning, Flores was around to give us another update on his team. Like every other media session, Flores didn’t reveal all too much, giving us the general answers we’ve come to expect from Bill Belichick.

But if there’s one thing we can hone in on and get used to, it’s that Flores does not mess around. He has extremely high standards and expectations for all of his players. It’s pretty evident that if you don’t take things seriously, you’re going to be on the outskirts looking in.

Check out everything Flores had to say earlier this morning down below:

On Miami’s Quarterback Competition:

Is it fair to judge both quarterbacks when Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting most of the first-team reps?:

“It’s so early. Until we get into the nitty-gritty of training camp and preseason, it’s just too early to say “this guy is a starter, that guy is a starter”. First team, second team, I don’t put a lot of (emphasis) on that. We’re all working on the same stuff (in all 3 phases).”

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to place Josh Rosen with the starters?:

“(All of the) receivers, backs, (and) linemen have been moving around (between first and second team). We’re moving guys around a lot. With Rosen, I think he’s doing a good job. I think he’s progressing. I think he’s moving in the right direction. I think he’s very talented. We’ll see where this goes…”

Do you put most of your weight (when evaluating) into preseason games?:

“Today counts. Tomorrow counts. Training camp counts. Preseason counts. Everything counts. The most weight? No, I don’t put it all into the preseason games. Practice counts for a lot of it. Production in practice. Production in games. Production in meetings.”

Like most quotes you’ll hear from Flores, everything matters. I’m sure there are specific instances where Flores is looking for more production out of certain position groups, but that’s for him and his coaching staff to decide. A quarterback during 7-on-7 drills is going to look completely different than they will during a full 11-on-11 drill when linemen are rushing their decision-making. A lineman without pads is going to look much different than when the pads come on (looking at you Charles Harris). But like his beloved predecessor in New England, Flores isn’t going to give us any specific details.

On Leadership:

Josh Rosen:

“He has an opportunity to learn from Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick), but I think he has to be himself. Josh is smart. He’s personable. He’s built some relationships on the team as well. I think (for everyone) you have to be yourself and work at those relationships. At the same time you’re working on the fundamentals, the technique, the football aspect of it.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick:

“First thing I think of is his command of the huddle. How he works with older players, younger players. His rapport. Offensive guys, defensive guys, (the) kicking game – I think that shows his leadership in a big way. Whoever he’s in there with he’s trying to improve and get better.”

You can tell by the inflection in Flores voice that he thinks highly of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s leadership ability so far. He certainly has the advantage, since he has been with the organization longer than Josh Rosen has, but his overall experience in this league carries him further than Rosen – who is still trying to learn his way around the league.

Laremy Tunsil:

“A very talented player. From a leadership standpoint that’s something he’s developed. We’re looking for that leadership from him. I think he works hard. I think he’s smart. I think he’s got a chance at being a very good player in this league. We’ll keep progressing and we’ll try and demand that out of him.”

On Players’ Injury Status:

Kenny Stills:

“Kenny will be just fine.”

Brice Butler:

“He’ll be just fine too.”

Will Butler return to mini-camp?:

“I think he’ll give it a shot. We’ll see what it looks like today, and at the end of the day he’ll be fine. Whether that’s today…hopefully…but he’s a tough kid and he’s battled through some things already. I think he’ll be out there.”

We’re still a few months away from the regular season starting and Flores is already in mid-season form. He isn’t divulging any news regarding his players’ injuries; and to an extent, we have to respect that thought process. Why give your opponents any additional leverage in these situations? Again, it’s not like mandatory mini-camp is the time and place to avoid secrets, but keeping things mum can only benefit the player. Why put a public target on Kenny Stills or Brice Butler‘s back when it’s completely unnecessary to do so? Let them focus solely on their recovery and not the public’s perception.

On Specific Players’ Performance Thus Far:

What made you want to retain Akeem Spence?:

“He’s athletic. He’s strong. He’s a hard worker. He works as hard as anyone that we have on this team. Obviously had some success in this league. We want to keep good players around.”

Will Laremy Tunsil be a cornerstone for this team for years to come?:

“I’m looking forward to working with him. I try not to put labels on players.”

Learn anything new about Akeem Spence or Laremy Tunsil? Neither did I.

Mike Gesicki’s development:

“Very talented. Working very very hard. Catching the ball decently. I talked to him about this this morning: one drop is one too many. One penalty is one too many. One missed assignment is one too many. That’s the approach we’re taking and I’m hard on Mike because I see a lot of potential in him. He’s working towards that. These guys are dealing with a lot from me right now.”

Not sure if Flores meant to use this exact wording, but Mike Gesicki is catching the ball “decently”? OUCH! Not the kind of ringing endorsement you want to hear when you’re a 2nd-round draft pick specifically on this team to catch the ball. We were very hard on Gesicki his rookie season, but it was pretty warranted given the lack of production we saw out of him. He has all the potential to be a #1 tight end in this league, but can he put it all together? As the cliche goes, only time will tell.

On Terrell Hanks specifically:

“He’s young. He’s learning. He’s working to get better. He’s moving in the right direction. He’s eager to learn. He’s very coachable. I love working with him. He has some talent and I hope he continues to progress (similar to how he has) over the last 4 weeks. Hopefully we have something, but it’s still very early.”

Unsure if this is Flores simply pumping up his players like he does normally, but that’s some high praises for the undrafted free agent.

On the Rest of the Undrafted Free Agents:

“It’s hard to (judge) until we put pads on.”

“All of the undrafted kids are all working hard; all very eager to learn. They do extra (work) on the practice field, in meetings…they stay late, they’re in their early, they’re lifting. They’re way way behind. Every rookie that comes in they’re so far behind.”

“Drafted and undrafted guys have ‘closed the gap’ (between them and the veterans) to a degree. They’re all doing a good job.”

On Whether the Team is Behind or Ahead of Where Flores Envisioned:

“I have high expectations. I’m always going to say we’re behind. There’s always 2, 3, 4, 8 things I feel we could have done better. I do see some improvement. I see a lot of progress. Practice looks the way I want; from a fundamental standpoint, from a technical standpoint. I want to be at a high level of everything, so no, not where I want to be.”

Flores gives us his best Belichick impression by refraining from complimenting his football team as a whole. He doesn’t want them to settle or slow down. He instills the impression that every player needs to continue to get better. It’s a tactic that certainly can’t hurt; unless a player is ultra sensitive. In which case, I’m not sure there’s a spot for that person on this team.

On Whether or not Chris Grier is Part of the Evaluation Process:

“This is a collaborative effort. I talk to Chris on a daily basis. Talk about how practice went. (Talk about) individual players. Those will be collaborative decisions between myself, Chris, and the (rest of the) coaching staff.”

Personally, I always believed that the General Manager’s job is to provide the team’s Head Coach with the the best possible players, and it’s up to the Head Coach to maximize their potential. I do like that Chris Grier and Brian Flores are working in tandem to create the best possible team, but I wonder how much say Grier really has in who’s released and who stays with the organization.

On Various Aspects of Being a Head Coach:

Is it hard cutting a player?:

“It is hard. I think you form relationships with players and it’s one of those things where you never want to do it, but it’s part of this league. There’s instances where you do everything right and work hard and things don’t work out. That’s part of life; it ends up being a life lesson for some guys. Whether they make it or don’t make it, they need to understand, things don’t always work out. That’s part of my job as a teacher and an educator, adversity is going to be part of everyone’s journey. When one door closes, another one opens up. Those are the kind of conversations I try to have with these guys.”

Would you agree that’s the worst part of your job?:

“I would agree.”

Toughest callup you had to make?:

“I’m going to keep that between myself and those players.”

This question was slightly confusing, but I believe Flores is talking about the toughest instance he had to make when cutting a player.

Did being a Scout Assistant in New England help?:

“(That role taught me) a lot of lessons. It’s hard to play in this league. When guys were getting released I was walking around letting them know (their fate). It was a tough job. I learned that early. This is a tough league to play in. It’s a privilege to play in this league and not a lot of guys get that opportunity. I try to impart that on my players not to take it for granted (and to) make the most of the opportunities.”

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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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

One of the longest-tenured players on the team may very well be a Miami Dolphin for life.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Miami Dolphins have extended DeVante Parker through the 2023 season.

All of the details are still being flushed out, but the deal is a 4-year, $40m extension, with an $8m signing bonus (which is guaranteed).

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Parker will earn $4.5m guaranteed in 2020, and $7.7m guaranteed in 2021.

Parker signs this extension in the middle of a career year. His 55 catches are 1 shy of his career-high (56, 2016), his 882 receiving yards surpass his prior career-high by 138 yards (2016), and his 6 touchdowns are only 3 less than his career total coming into the 2019 season.

Whether it’s Chad O’Shea‘s offense, a shift in Quarterback mentality, or the receiver finally coming into his own, Parker has shown that he can be a #1 receiver in this offense. Though some fans may be hoping for DeAndre Hopkins or Odell Beckham Jr. “elite”, the truth is, Parker isn’t that far behind.

His extension is in line with his production, and it’s fair to say that Parker’s potential still hasn’t been tapped. It’ll be interesting to see how much Parker builds off of his career-year, especially if the Dolphins can solidify their offensive line and give their receivers a chance to get open (more often).

Parker joins Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey as the only other 1st-round picks drafted this decade to have signed an extension with the team.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Linden Stephens
Linden Stephens defending Los Angeles Rams tight end Johnny Mundt

MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – Miami Dolphins continue to change up the roster

The Miami Dolphins have continued their roster churning in Week 15, leading up to their prizefight against the New York Giants on December 15.

While it’s been a mainstay strategy for the Dolphins this year, to comb over the waiver wire and the free agency market, there was a significant uptick in waiver wire awards last, totaling four new players being claimed.

Last week’s claimed players included Trevor Davis, Mack Hollins, Zach Zenner, and Zach Sieler. Zenner’s Miami stint was short-lived; he was waived on Tuesday, December 10 to make room for the newest wave of Dolphins signees.

Along with Zenner’s release, the Miami Dolphins added cornerbacks Ken Webster and Ryan Lewis to the Injured Reserve list.

Those three transactions allowed the Dolphins to scoop a player from the New England Patriots’ practice squad, defensive back Nate Brooks, a second player from the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, linebacker Jamal Davis II, and a third player, offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who was waived by the Green Bay Packers.

Nate Brooks is a rookie defensive back that played at North Texas and has spent time with the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

Jamal Davis II is also a rookie. He entered the league from Akron. As mentioned above, he spent time with the Titans earlier this year before the Miami Dolphins signed him.

Adam Pankey is the most traveled player the Dolphins have added. Pankey went undrafted in 2017 out of West Virginia and has had two runs with the Packers and a short one with the Titans.

On December 7, cornerback Linden Stephens was added to the roster in a last-minute shuffle before the Dolphins-Jets game. Cornerback Chris Lammons was released to make room for Stephens on the squad, per Adam Beasley.

Stephens has had tenures with the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. He formerly played at Cincinnati in college.

In practice squad news, cornerback Rashard Causey was added to the group on December 12, per Safid Deen. Causey played college ball at UCF and has spent time with the Denver Broncos.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins set to run it back in New York

Who: Dolphins (3-10) @ Giants (2-11)
When: Sunday December 15, 1:00 East
Where: MetLife Stadium — East Rutherford, NJ
Weather: 35 degrees, partly cloudy
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +3

DolphinsGiants

The Miami Dolphins did not equip Brian Flores with a competitive roster for the 2019 season. Despite taking a path traveled by nobody else in the league, Miami sits with a better record than three teams in the league, and Sunday will pit the Fins up against one of those teams.

The Giants thought they were constructing a playoff roster that could run the football behind former number-two overall pick Saquon Barkley, and disrupt both the run and pass with an influx of high resources spent on the defensive line.

Even with half the cash payroll of the next lowest team on that notorious list, and 11 of its original opening day starters gone for one reason or another, Miami enter a week-15 road game as mere three-point dogs.

Still, with three or four new bodies working into the rotation every week, Brian Flores’ Dolphins have won three games since the bye week, and been within a score in the fourth quarter for all nine games.

Does either team want to win this game? Of course the players and coaches will want to be rewarded for a long, arduous work week, but what good does a victory do in the grand scheme of things? Flores has proven that he can coach his ass off, while Pat Shurmur is assured to lose his job whatever happens these final three weeks.

The cost, for the Giants, could be Chase Young. For Miami, perhaps even more severe as the best quarterback prospect of the last several years could suddenly be available because of medical concerns, should the team land in the top five.

A victory Sunday will likely remove Miami from that perch as the Lions and Cardinals are both underdogs, and would each jump the Dolphins with a one-game difference in the standings.

The Scheme:

Offense:

Mike Shula’s scheme is as 11-personnel heavy as any in the league, but things have changed due to injuries. Without Evan Ingram to provide the ultimate flexibility between 11 and 12-personnel packages, the Giants have lacked much variety in his absence. Using 81% one back, one tight end (3rdmost in football), Miami will be afforded the opportunity to get creative on defense altering its pre-snap look from the same package.

The Giants are successful on just 41% of their plays from this personnel grouping, including 12 interceptions, 31 sacks and just 6.6 yards per passing play. New York only runs one other package (12-personnel) and also doesn’t have a lot of success out of that grouping. Adhering to old school principles, the Giants don’t throw from run formations, and the predictability has the Giants averaging just 5.7 YPA from 12-personnel.

The Giants rank 26th in total offense, 22nd in passing, 26th in rushing and 25th in scoring.

Defense:

James Bettcher is a fan of sending pressure, and he will certainly try to heat up Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday. Fitzpatrick might have the last laugh with his ability to get the ball hot to the interior receivers working in behind the linebackers and winning one-on-one matchups with a young defensive backfield.

The Giants base is a 3-4 look, but elements of that defense are always sparingly used because of the nature of modern day football. Bettcher wants to get pressure out of his outside backers in Markus Golden, Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, using his interior backers in a more traditional, off-ball sense.

New York blitzes 28.7% of the time — exactly the middle of the pack at 16th— but it’s safe to assume they’ll turn that number up on Sunday. The G-Men are in the middle of the pack in hurry rate, knockdown rate and pressure rate. The Giants 94 missed tackles are 13th most in the league.

The Giants rank 27th in total defense 26th in passing, 20th in rushing and 28th in scoring defense.

The Players:

Offense:

Eli Manning is Eli Manning. The Giants hung onto him for three years too long, and his storied career appears to be coming to an end in three weeks. Filling in for the injured Daniel Jones gives the Miami defense a chance to tee off on a quarterback for the first time since the home win over Sam Darnold and the New York Jets.

Manning can’t move, he can’t drive the ball, and there’s really no reason for him to be on a roster at this point. The Dolphins will hit him, turn him over, and dominate the Giants offense is he plays.

New York funneled a lot of resources into its offensive line, and it’s still one of the worst in football. Miami lacks true pass rushers, so it’ll be up to the stunts and games up front to get pressure. Expect Flores to blitz Manning relentlessly, likely with a lot of zero looks.

Holding Saquon Barkley has been easier for opponents this year. A lot of the Giants running game gets Barkley going horizontally, and he’s been able to make the big plays due to poor blocking and a nasty ankle sprain earlier in the year.

This game will be a big test for Taco Charlton, Vince Biegel, Andrew Van Ginkel, Charles Harris and the rest of the Miami edge players.

Defense:

Markus Golden stands to wreck this game for Miami. He’ll come down off the offense’s left edge, and that position has been an issue for the Dolphins all year long. Sliding protection and using a back or tight end to chip Golden is the only way Fitzpatrick will have any time to throw.

On the inside, the Giants offer the beef that Miami’s interior line struggles with the most. Dexter Lawrence is massive, and those are the kind of players that give Daniel Kilgore problems up front.

Alec Ogletree remains a focal point of the Giants defense, and that presents a lot of opportunities for the Dolphins. Look for Miami to empty out the backfield from 12 and 11-personnel, find Ogletree in coverage, and go to work.

The New York secondary is full of inexperience. Rookie DeAndre Baker has worn the rabbit hat (teams go after him) all year long while Janoris Jenkins appears to have past his prime.

This is a slow defense and I’d be surprised if Chad O’Shea doesn’t have his way with it in the passing game.

The Medical:

(Coming Friday)

The Opportunities:

If Devante Parker can go, there isn’t a player in the Giants defensive backfield that can handle his skill set. Regardless, Miami’s passing schemes will create opportunities for whichever players are healthy, especially Allen Hurns inside on mismatches from 12-personnel against linebackers. Patrick Laird should draw some favorable matchups in the passing game in his own right — expect a big day for The Intern.

If it’s Eli, expect a lot of pressure sent to overwhelm a bad Giants line and quarterback. If it’s Daniel Jones, expect Miami to play coverage and take the ball away from the rookie. Either way, this is the day the Dolphins defense gets healthy.

The Concerns:

The Giants skill players can make some noise. Darius Slayton’s speed is a problem, and he’s been producing regardless of who’s under center. The Dolphins added yet another pair of defensive backs to the injured reserve, and that’ll provide a challenge against Slayton, Golden Tate and Sterling Sheppard.

Miami haven’t been able to block many pass rushes, and they’ve created almost nothing by way of the ground game, so the Giants talented front is an issue. There will be one-on-one opportunities aplenty for Markus Golden, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams.

The Projected Outcome:

It doesn’t matter if it’s Daniel Jones or Eli Manning. Both are going to give the Dolphins defense opportunities to take the football away, and neither presents much fear to a unit that is full of undrafted free agents are largely unknowns. Manning doesn’t have the physical traits to scare anyone and Jones is on track for the most turnovers at the position per game of all time. If Jones plays, it will be on a tender ankle that robs the one trait he has — his mobility.

Miami beat the Jets in November in convincing fashion. Every other game since the bye week — with the exception of the Cleveland and Buffalo (home) games — have been white knuckle affairs. This game has the makeup of a blowout, but in favor of the road team.

A bitter, angry team off the loss last week responds to Brian Flores’ message and puts a beating on the Giants.

Dolphins 27
Giants 13

@WingfieldNFL

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