After a pair of slump-busting games the Dolphins offense reverted back to an ineffective strike force. Miami’s finesse style of offensive line play was bullied by a stout Jets front full of complex blitzes. Kenny Stills missed half the game and Ryan Tanenhill made a handful of mistakes on his own accord.
|Drive Number||Play||Quarter||Down||Distance||Personnel||Formation||Bound/Field||Result||Throw Local||Direction||Pressure||Pres Time||Contested||Route||Target||Air Yards||YAC||Play Action||Gun/UC||FD/TD|
|1||1||1st||2nd||12||12||2x1||Boundary||Completion||On target||Right||Deep over||Jones||10||14||Yes||U/C||First Down|
|1||2||1st||1st||10||11||3x1||Field||Completion||On target||Right||Square in||Parker||4||0||Gun|
|2||3||1st||1st||10||11||3x1||Boundary||Completion||On target||Middle||Slant||Landry||5||6||U/C||First Down|
|2||4||2nd||1st||10||12||3x1||Field||Off target||Short hop||Left||Hit||2.81||Yes||Deep over||Landry||14||Yes||U/C|
|2||5||2nd||3rd||9||11||3x1||Boundary||Completion||On target||Right||Hurry||2.07||Yes||Wheel||Williams||13||6||Gun||First Down|
|2||7||2nd||3rd||1||Heavy - 13||2x1||Boundary||Completion||On target||Right||Yes||Speed out||Jones||1||0||Gun||Touchdown|
|3||8||2nd||2nd||11||11||3x1||Field||Completion||On target||Left||Hit||2.24||Speed out||Stills||7||4||Gun||First Down|
|4||12||2nd||3rd||1||11||2x2||Field||Completion||On target||Left||Flare||Ajayi||0||10||Gun||First Down|
|5||16||3rd||3rd||5||11||3x1||Field||Completion||On target||Middle||Swing||Drake||-7||13||Yes||Gun||First Down|
|6||18||3rd||2nd||10||11||3x1||Even||Completion||On target||Left||Screen||Landry||0||14||U/C||First Down|
|6||19||3rd||1st||10||11||3x||Field||Completion||On target||Middle||Speed out||Gray||4||0||Gun|
|6||21||3rd||3rd||5||11||3x2||Field||Off target||Short hop||Left||Yes||Flat||Gray||0||Gun|
|7||22||3rd||1st||10||11||3x1||Field||Completion||On target||Middle||Speed out||Gray||3||3||U/C|
|8||25||4th||3rd||9||11||3x2||Field||Completion||On target||Left||Hit||2.63||Flat||Jones||2||15||Gun||First Down|
|10||30||4th||2nd||1||11||3x1||Run for -2 yards||Zone Read||Gun|
The Dolphins’ quarterback was under siege for the majority of this contest. Early on Miami took advantage of soft spots vacated by the aggressive Jets’ defense. Moving the chains, converting in the red zone and an impressive third down rate, things looked right in line with the previous two games.
Then Stills went out.
Stills’ presence alone wasn’t the sole factor for the Miami offense bogging down entirely in the second half. The Dolphins did, however, miss a golden opportunity on a go-route to replacement slot-man Leonte Carroo.
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
Pressure was the name of the game in this match-up. On 29 drop backs, despite taking just one sack, Tannehill was under pressure 11 times (eight hits and two hurries). The average time from snap-to-pressure was just 2.31 seconds.
Any effort to thwart the Jets aggression proved futile. Whether it was a basic four-man rush, or sending extra men, Tannehill was constantly under immediate duress.
After a more vertical-centric game plan was executed in the week prior, the Dolphins had to go back to the conservative, short passing game it regularly employed. Only seven of the 26 qualifying passes went beyond five yards in the air. Tannehill’s average air yards per throw was a measly 4.08 (less than half from the Buffalo game).
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
Once again Miami executed on third down. Five of the 11 passing attempts resulted in first downs with a sixth added for drop adjustment. Tannehill wasn’t free of error on his own, however. Five of his 26 throws were attributed to quarterback error – an abnormally high number for Tannehill.
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
Miami converted first downs on nine of 30 plays, a 30% rate. The play action game wasn’t clicking like it normally was in 2016. Just 38 yards passing on five passes (three completions) came from play pass.
Contested passes were an even greater challenge. Tannehill completed just 25% of his contested throws. Adjusting for one drop, Tannehill was 3-for-8 throwing into tight windows.
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
The Jets pressure and denial of the running game forced Miami back into more variety from a play calling standpoint. 12-personnel was brought onto the field six times, 01-personnel once and heavy-13 once. 11-personnel remained the base package with 22 reps occurring in said look.
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
Still, the Dolphins had an opportunity to close the game out on offense late. Drops on two consecutive plays forced the ‘Phins to punt it back and play defense to preserve the win. Tannehill’s prowess throwing on the run and evading pressure was on display on this crucial Dom Jones drop.
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
While there were throws Tannehill would’ve liked to have had back in this game, the overall lack of effectiveness could be contributed to a team effort. Tannehill’s errors are erased by his third down efforts giving him his second inconclusive grade on the season.
Result: Inconsequential performance by the QB
Next: Week 10 vs. San Diego
Evidence from the 2016 offense that we can apply to 2018
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
Stands in under pressure and delivers a strike on third down
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) May 25, 2018
Fantasy Football: Which Dolphins Players Could Lead You To Victory?
In a matter of weeks, mandatory mini-camp will be over and NFL fans will be entering the darkest days of the football calendar as an uneasy silence reigns over the league from mid-June until the start of training camps in late July.
The stillness is occasionally broken with the news of player injury or arrest and fans eagerly wait through the heights of summer for camp to arrive.
While it may not be the time for on-field action, the virtual world of Fantasy Football begins to bloom during these months and web-traffic fills up with mock fantasy drafts and lists of player rankings for the season ahead.
Year after year the rankings remain remarkably similar with the same handful of players finding themselves among the top of their position on an annual basis, seemingly immovable from their perches of NFL stardom. Those players have such notoriety, reliability and resilience as the kings of fantasy football that, if you listen really closely, you can actually hear Sam Elliott narrating their résumés.
But anyone who has experienced even a single season of fantasy football – whether it was the gruelling lows or the thrilling highs – will be aware that there always seem to be a handful of players who surface from the depths of the mock drafts and countless rankings to save a season.
It is those players who can find themselves evolving from a late round panic-grab or waiver wire trophy into a key weapon in the battle for the playoffs and a league championship trophy.
Whatever the stakes may be in your fantasy league, the thrill of landing one of those potential players is an exciting prospect. Rather than hedging all your bets on scouring the waiver wire each week, we’re going to have a look at a selection of Miami Dolphins players ay key positions who may be able to help your team this year whether as a hidden gem, or as a clear cut starter each week (Note: There aren’t many of those).
The Miami Dolphins’ roster is widely considered by national commentators to be among the thinnest and least talented in the NFL heading into 2019. It seems like the Dolphins’ injury-riddled 2018 season carried a higher body count than the fiery destruction of King’s Landing and the lacklustre results which followed did nothing to contradict this impression as to the quality of the team’s roster.
But sifting through the broken bones, torn tendons and jammed-up joints of last year is a number of Dolphins players, both veterans and newcomers, who could be the ones to come to the rescue and salvage your fantasy season. Others, you may wish to pick up but would be wiser to leave well alone.
Either way, let’s dig through the roster and have a look at who those players might be; whether or not you should pick them up; whether they might be able to help and; where you might aim to pick them up when your fantasy draft rolls around.
We’ll assume you’re part of a common 10-team league and, to keep things standardised, use end-of-season stats and rankings using NFL.com’s scoring system.
We’ll start off short and sweet here. A Dolphins quarterback is likely to be a ‘no-no’ when it comes to your fantasy team.
Ryan Fitzpatrick may have come out of the gates flying in 2018 throwing for 1,230 yards and 11 TDs and 97.4 fantasy points in the first 3 weeks (!!!) but the FitzMagic soon Fitzzled out (terrible pun, but I’m not sorry) and he quickly came crashing back down to earth in week 4 when he was benched and replaced by the returning Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick subsequently ended the season as the 28th ranked QB in the league and his history of erratic play is what both prolongs his career and sees him move quickly on, now on his 8th team in 14 years. In addition, he’ll be competing for the job against Josh Rosen which means his position as a starter is uncertain.
What Should I Do? Leave him alone, but keep an eye on him on the waiver wire if (1) the Dolphins roll with him as the starter, (2) your starter goes down and (3) you want to gamble on Fitzpatrick hitting a hot streak. However, Fitzpatrick should come with a warning sticker and only be used as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency QB.
Josh Rosen comes to Miami after having been plucked from the rubble in Arizona, where he had been temporarily anointed as the saviour of the Cardinals. Rosen started 13 games on a team devoid of talent at almost every position (Larry Fitzgerald being the clear exception) and looked every part of a rookie in the headlights. With 11 TD and 14 INTs for 2278 passing yards Rosen ranked as the league’s 34th best passer in 2018. He’s likely to grab the staring spot in Miami based on their inevitable need to assess him as part of the franchise’s future, but the unknowns surrounding his talent and ability at the NFL level heavily outweighs any consideration of drafting him in all but 12 team/2 QB leagues.
What Should I Do? Follow the example of the Dolphins front office and spend the season watching how Rosen develops, but leave him off your fantasy team on draft night.
This is where it gets interesting for Dolphins players and their fantasy-relevance.
A clear rift had developed during 2018 between Kenyan Drake and former Head Coach, Adam Gase, before his departure. Fans clamoured from the stands about the lack of touches being given to the Dolphins’ most electrifying running back during the season, even as future HOF’er Frank Gore continued on his quest to defy Father Time.However, despite a limited workload, Drake quietly finished the year as the 14th ranked RB with 1,012 all purpose yards and 9 TDs for 206.20 points.
Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea had front row seats to witness the ‘Miracle in Miami’ and reportedly want to establish an offensive scheme which places a heavy focus on their running backs in both passing and ground game. James White (who Coach Flores has specifically asked Drake to study) amassed only 425 rushing yards as part of a busy Patriots backfield but also caught 87 passes for 751 yards and a combined 12 TDs which was good enough to place him as the 7th ranked fantasy RB in 2018.
Although Miami will unlikely field the same caliber of QB, the overall offensive plan will have clear similarities and Drake can expect a highly important role in O’Shea’s creative offense. Reports suggest that the Dolphins will eventually want to move towards a ‘ground and pound’ rushing attack but the O-Line issues, which have been problematic in Miami for far too long, could still provide some obstacles to this. Scheme and planning will therefore be the keys to a successful ground game and in taking some pressure off of the QB.
Dan Orlovsky, former QB and sky-rocketing as a talented football analyst was a guest on the Move The Sticks Podcast with Daniel Jeremiah on Monday this week. He made a valid point regarding Chad O’Shea’s experience at creating schemes to mask the deficiencies in offensive talent and it is certainly not just Dolphins homerism to expect him to find a way to get the most out of Kenyan Drake.
Entering his contract year as the clear starter, Drake will be keen to produce on the field to help in his search for an upcoming payday, whether in Miami or elsewhere.
What Should I Do? Drake is absolutely a target in the draft and one who might find himself sliding down draft boards considering the overall general perception of Miami’s ability to score. Using this to your advantage, you may expect to be able to pick up Drake as low as Round 4 as the 15th to 20th RB off the board, even though his actual value may warrant a significantly higher pick. With any luck you can find phenomenal value here with have filling an RB2 or even RB3 spot and sit back to watch him bring in those elusive points.
Kalen Ballage is the main threat to Drake’s fantasy value on Miami’s roster and he showed his speed against the Vikings with a blistering 75 yard touchdown run in Week 15. Possessing many of the same traits as Kenyan Drake, he’s unlikely to perform much of a power grab in goal-line situations, but in Year 2 his workload is expected to increase which should see him jump from the 87th ranked RB into the early-mid 30’s.
What Should I Do? As the Dolphins move towards heavy utilisation of their RBs, Kalen Ballage is certainly draft-worthy. Although he figures to sit behind Drake on the depth chart in Miami, Ballage should be drafted in the later rounds as a backup in case Drake or your fantasy starters go down with injury. He could end up being a steal as the 4th or 5th RB on your roster may be someone who brings you those much needed points later in the season.
Returning from a hip injury sustained last year, Albert Wilson is likely to be the most exciting WR prospect on the Dolphins from a fantasy POV. Although the severity of the injury is not without its concerns, Wilson’s potential is undeniable.
Taking what were essentially hand-offs to the house against the Raiders and showing his speed and elusiveness in the win over the Bears, Wilson was on pace for a stand-out season when healthy, hauling in 90.18 points in his 6 full games. Extrapolated over a full season, this would have been good for 240.48 points, which would have placed him as the 14th highest scoring WR in the league even with an injured Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler at the helm.
What Should I Do? Wilson’s recovery from a fracture and labrum tear will be something to pay close attention to, but there is some promising potential for Wilson to come in as a WR3 where he could bring some fiery depth to your fantasy roster when injury strikes. Even if fully healthy, Wilson may even come off the board as low as the 40-50th WR and you could find yourself a great value investment which brings in some fruitful returns.
Kenny Stills developed a productive rapport with Ryan Tannehill during the 2016 campaign and demonstrated a talent for hauling in deep passes. Having only recently turned 27, his best football may still be ahead of him and he possesses dangerous speed as a downfield threat. Stills is absolutely due for a bounce-back year, though given the uncertain nature of the Dolphins’ ability to pass-protect, a dink-n’-dunk/ball control style of passing attack may be what we see on game days which would require a slight shift in Still’s game.
What Should I Do? Stills was reportedly taking reps as the slot receiver in OTAs this week – perhaps this is just a sign of WR versatility within the offense, but either way Kenny Stills figures to be a big part of the game plan and will likely find himself as the first Dolphins WR off the board. He will look to improve upon his 59th ranked WR position in 2018 (149.62 points) and would ideally be suited to a WR3 or WR4 spot on your own roster.
Jakeem Grant is back on the field after suffering a calf/achilles injury in 2018 which unfortunately ended his season early. Jakeem’s speed prior to injury was unreal and only time will tell whether he is able to regain his full quickness, explosiveness and acceleration. Revealed on Tuesday’s OTA is that Grant is lining up at almost every WR position in practice and is expected to feature prominently in the game plan.
What Should I Do? If the Dolphins are to have any success on offense in 2019, they are likely going to have to get creative and Jakeem Grant will be someone who may be able to help. There may well be weeks where Grant sees significant playing time in creative circumstances and is a playmaker just waiting for his chance. From a fantasy point of view, consistency as to the number of weekly targets may be a concern and unless you have a deep bench on your roster, Jakeem may just be someone you need to watch over on the waive wire.
If you’re a fan of the Dolphins, you’ve probably already learned the hard way that DeVante Parker hasn’t helped your fantasy team to any great degree. OTAs mean it is time for Parker to show the promise which landed him as the 14th overall pick in 2015 but as seemingly happens each year, the hype amounts to little production. Too many stories surround Parker with regards to his immaturity and lack of commitment off the field, perhaps some of which has contributed to a carousel of injuries which keep him on the sidelines for large stretches. Ranked as the 105th WR in 2018 with 60.9 points, Parker’s arrow only really points up but the question of whether he chooses to follow it’s direction remains.
What Should I Do? Parker regularly wins the title of practice MVP. His freakish athleticism and natural talent is obvious but it remains to be seen whether the new coaching regime can help him with the fundamentals necessary for sustained success. If so, Parker could turn into be a point-machine but just don’t hold your breath. DeVante is likely be picked up earlier than he should be based on name value alone – if so, be happy that the pick means someone else may fall to you when you’re on the clock. Stashing him on your bench for depth is fine if you’re one of his remaining believers, but history suggests you are unlikely to get much by way of return if you have to rely on him on a weekly basis.
The dark horse of the receiver group is potentially Preston Willliams. He arrives in Miami as a UDFA from Colorado State where he had 96 catches for 1,345 yards and 14 TDs last season. His boatload of talent, size and physicality could even eventually land him the WR1 role if (and this is a BIG ‘if’) he stays out of trouble and is committed to following a professional training plan to the letter. Miami has been on the search for a true WR1 for years and Williams has a great opportunity in front of him to develop into it.
What Should I Do? Unless he flourishes during training camp into an obvious starter for the Dolphins, Williams may initially find himself on the practice squad or sitting behind several veterans in a crowded and competitive receiver room. The talent is undoubtedly present, but it is still very early days for Williams’ career – keep an eye on his roster position (especially if injuries begin to mount up) and development for the future, particularly in deep dynasty leagues.
To say that Mike Gesicki had an underwhelming rookie year would be kind. He was routinely physically outmatched in blocking assignments and the receiving skills which he showed at Penn State were not put to good use in his debut season. From a fantasy perspective, Gesicki finished the season as the 50th ranked TE with 22 catches for 202 yards and 40.2 points. However, TE is notoriously one of the most difficult positions to learn in football and there is still valid and reasonable hope that Gesicki can take one of his giant, bounding steps forward in his second year.
The Dolphins currently have an array of TEs on their roster, including Durham Smythe, Dwayne Allen, Nick O’Leary, Clive Walford and Chris Myarick, making it all the more difficult to recommend drafting any as viable fantasy prospects. Mike Gesicki figures to place himself as the main passing target out of the group and certainly has the talent to do so. A full offseason of professional development and time in the weight room should benefit him greatly.
What Should I Do? Gesicki will likely go undrafted in most 10 team leagues other than those with extensive bench space, especially considering the Dolphins crowded current TE room. However, he still poses as Miami’s most draft-worthy TE on the roster. His freakish pre-draft combine alone proved that there is a lot of athleticism to take advantage of, and he may make a good backup TE once the season starts if you have space to stash him on your bench. Otherwise keep an eye on his numbers if you tend to stream TEs or need a stand-in when your starter is on his bye week.
DEFENSE / IDP
Despite Brian Flores’ defensive masterpiece displayed in Super Bowl 53, the Dolphins defense/special teams is expected to rank near the bottom of the league after ranking 13th in 2018 with a total of 116 points. They are still young and inexperienced, especially entering their first year of a new scheme and are far from being a complete group. Whilst turnovers will come due to talents in Miami’s secondary, gaining sacks and giving up points is expected to be an issue. Steer clear of picking them to be your staring group as there will almost certainly be better fantasy value available elsewhere.
Having said that, for IDP leagues, there are still some bright, shiny and sparkly pieces on this Dolphins team which may help you increase your point totals on a weekly basis. You’ll likely only carry one of each of these in all but the deepest of leagues, but below are a few players you may want to grab before a run on defensive players begins.
At the top of that list is safety, Reshad Jones, despite an increasing age and a history of shoulder injuries which have cut his season short in previous years. There may be something still to keep an eye on with regards to Jones’ attendance when mandatory mini-camp rolls around but Flores has confirmed he expects Reshad to be there in early June. Reshad’s instagram videos of his boxing workouts should alleviate most concerns about his shoulders and it seems that his previous disagreements lay primarily with the team’s former coaching staff – Jones was publicly unhappy with Matt Burke’s scheme last year, pulling himself out of the game vs the Jets in Week 9. However, if Jones returns to the Dolphins as a happy man, he has potential to revert to his Pro Bowl form on the field and as a vital point machine as a DB on your fantasy team. Always good to rack up a mountain of tackles, a handful of picks, a sprinkle of sacks, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and the odd TD, Reshad Jones is a top-tier DB in fantasy football when healthy and offers the potential of those elusive extra points needed to give you the winning edge.
Xavien Howard will get his picks on the season, but unless your league counts broken-up passes, swatted balls and quarterbacks generally avoiding throwing his way when at all possible, Reshad Jones should still be the best fantasy option among Dolphins defensive backs.
The blatantly obvious other name to keep an eye on amongst defensive players is Minkah Fitzpatrick, especially when it comes to dynasty leagues. This versatile football junkie is a playmaker and studies opposing offences hard. Rumours circling in Miami that he will be used all over the field and he will certainly get his opportunities to make tackles and interceptions when presented with them. While Minkah has every potential, talent and drive to develop into one of the NFL’s top-tier defenders, his varied positioning could also result in a lack of consistency from a fantasy perspective, meaning he could still fall behind other DBs around the league when it comes to points.
Gone are the days when, as a Dolphins fan, you could select Cameron Wake as your DL option and watch him haul in fantasy numbers. Trying to focus on pass rushers who are still on Miami’s roster leaves everything looking a little blurry. Rookie DT, Christian Wilkins is the best bet for Dolphins ‘homers’ who insist on being able to cheer for their team both on the TV and on the fantasy battlefield, racking up 192 tackles, (including 40.5 for a loss) 21 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in his college career. Whilst unlikely to be a pure pass rusher in Patrick Graham’s defense, he may still show himself to a better option than Charles Harris who is entering his 3rd year with a lot to prove. Overall though, it’s best to look outside of Miami for your DL options.
If you haven’t seen the videos online of Jason Sanders booting 70 yard field goals with ease, it might be worth tracking them down on YouTube just to see how impossible a field goal at that distance seems. Hand-picked by the Dolphins former special teams guru, Darren Rizzi, Sanders’s leg defies science and he could be primed for a big (in relative terms) fantasy season on a team which could find themselves settling for a lot of field goals. Making those kicks under pressure is another thing, but Sanders has proven he has the leg to make the long distance and could show himself to be a safe option in fantasy in the final round of your draft.
Maximizing Minkah Fitzpatrick’s Unique Versatility
For HC Brian Flores an DC Patrick Graham, Sophomore Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick Can Do it All
From the moment he heard his name called on Draft Night 2018, Minkah Fitzpatrick was an instant hit among Dolphins fans.
Fitzpatrick, winner of two prestigious collegiate awards (Bednarik and Thorpe, one of three players in history to win both — Charles Woodson and Patrick Peterson the others), is one of college football’s all-time most decorated athletes. The individual hardware, two national titles, and two All-American honors didn’t happen by accident; it was a result of diligence and the workman like mentality Fitzpatrick developed from a young age.
Dubbed “Saban’s Son” for his astute preparation and relationship with Alabama Legend Nick Saban, Fitzpatrick is a quick-study. The Dolphins knew this before he donned the aqua and orange. From a captivating 10-part piece titled The Secret Life of NFL Scouts, written by Yahoo’s Pete Thamel in August of last year, Fitzpatrick’s dedication to the craft beguiled Miami.
Fitzpatrick’s versatility was on display from the jump in South Florida.
Minkah Fitzpatrick’s Snaps by Position Per Pro Football Focus:
|Defensive Line (Edge Blitz/TE coverage)||23|
For fulfillment’s sake, Fitzpatrick played an additional 100 snaps on special teams.
This jack-of-all-trades role was adopted more out of necessity than clever game planning. Beginning the year exclusively as a nickel (slot) corner, Fitzpatrick was lock-down in the season’s first two games.
Playing 86 snaps in those first two games of his career, opponents passed for 48 yards on 13 throws into Fitzpatrick’s coverage area. That 3.69 YPA figure would be considered low for a running back, much less in a pass-heavy league that breeds passers in the 8.0 YPA range (9 players eclipsed 8.0 YPA in 2018).
Minkah Fitzpatrick unique skill set thread — coverage, run support, slot, perimeter, single-high, two-deep robber, he does it all.
Mirrors, stays in phase on the first break on 3rd down, carries double move with tight coverage. pic.twitter.com/5gqnKh9vhb
— DolphinsQBgifs (@DolphinsQBgifs) May 21, 2019
In addition to the lockdown cover skills, Fitzpatrick added four run stops (tackles within two yards of the line-of-scrimmage) in his debut and encore NFL appearances.
After a pair of starts at safety — one good, one not-so-much — Fitzpatrick slid back into his slot corner position exclusively for the next three games. In that stretch, against Cincinnati, Chicago and Detroit, Fitzpatrick yielded 61 receiving yards on 9 targets (6.78 YPA).
Fitzpatrick then kicked back out to the safety spot for two games, versus the Texans and Jets, before settling into a five-game stretch as a perimeter corner. During that elongated experiment, Fitzpatrick held the opposition to a 57% completion percentage when tested in coverage.
Devin McCourty thread for Minkah Fitzpatrick comparison.
Motion brings McCourty from single-high into man against the wheel. Safeties gotta plaster in man in this defense, Fitzpatrick’s specialty. pic.twitter.com/YLPzXe3eLA
— DolphinsQBgifs (@DolphinsQBgifs) May 21, 2019
After the week 15 drubbing in Minneapolis, Fitzpatrick transitioned again to safety, with mixed results once more. The entire process was a learning experience and a great indicator for what this budding star can be in Miami’s new defensive scheme.
I spoke to Fitzpatrick after the week 13 Buffalo game — his third start at perimeter corner. I asked him about the many responsibilities heaped onto his plate throughout the season and how he felt about playing on the outside.
“It definitely developed me. I had to learn the whole defense which makes me more comfortable. Knowing the defense means I can be more instinctive, play faster and just react.”
It remains to be seen how the Dolphins will utilize this Swiss Army Knife. Though Fitzpatrick has been working with the safeties so far during the offseason program, that doesn’t preclude him from bouncing around the formation the way New England has deployed its own versatile safeties under Flores’ watch.
The tape will give us a better indication for the exact roles of New England’s exceptional safety tandem, but the snaps-by-position, according to Pro Football Focus, are as follows:
|Devin McCourty’s 2018 Positions||2018 Snaps|
|Defensive Line (Edge Blitz/TE coverage)||19|
|Patrick Chung’s 2018 Positions||2018 Snaps|
|Defensive Line (Edge Blitz/TE coverage)||152|
The discernible difference comes from the deep and short safety roles. Both, as evident by the numbers, will come down and cover (McCourty with 223 coverage matchup snaps and Chung with 548), but Chung takes on more than double the responsibility of McCourty in that regard.
Therein lies Minkah’s likely role in the defense. As we showcased with the above videos, Fitzpatrick is a high-level processer than can quickly key and diagnose, he’s a tremendous tackler, and a fantastic man-coverage player — not unlike Chung.
Patrick Chung thread for Minkah Fitzpatrick comparison.
Chung headhunting the point-man from trips on the pivot route. 29 has the perfect prep and explosiveness to do this. pic.twitter.com/mwPhEg7Ga1
— DolphinsQBgifs (@DolphinsQBgifs) May 21, 2019
Minkah Fitzpatrick is going to play 1,000+ snaps for the Dolphins in 2019. He’s likely to, barring medical changes, stay on the field for 100% of Miami’s defensive snaps.
With Xavien Howard taking care of one side of the field in man coverage, Fitzpatrick’s versatility can free up the rest of the defense, and allow the Dolphins to mix and disguise its combination coverages.
Fitzpatrick, for his skill, leadership, and versatility, is the most important player on Brain Flores’ defense. With the best yet to come, if he hasn’t already, Fitzpatrick is in-line to capture the hearts of Dol-fans everywhere.
The Book on Josh Rosen’s 2018 Rookie Campaign
The internet’s most detailed, comprehensive scouting report on new Miami Dolphins Quarterback Josh Rosen’s Rookie Season
The Final Report (2018 Cumulative Data)
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
The 20th time’s a charm — at least that’s the hope for Josh Rosen among a Dolphins fan base starved for a solution at quarterback. Miami acquired the baby-faced, misunderstood UCLA product as a result of some clever draft-day dealings, and he now assumes that unenviable task that 20 others before him have failed to do — to replace Dan Marino.
Day-two of the 2019 NFL Draft began with a rumor that the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals were finalizing a deal that would send the embattled 13-game starter of 2018’s worst team, to 2019’s projected last place finisher.
The value of that initial, reported trade was dubious, but General Manager Chris Grier orchestrated the deal of the weekend by extracting Rosen from the desert while acquiring future assets in the process. Part of a two-trade operation, Miami wound up spending the 62nd-pick, and a 2020 fifth-round pick, to acquire Rosen along with a 2020 second-rounder from the New Orleans Saints.
Conflating the value of multiple trades into one culminating dividend isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but the end result is difficult to ignore. Grier, and his newly restructured front office, continues to maximize the remaining value of the previous regimes wrongdoings.
After years of offseason championships, met with criticism from the majority of national publications, the 2019 Dolphins ushered in a new era with unanimous approval.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 27, 2019
Josh Rosen’s 16-game audition will ultimately decide the winner-loser-dynamic of the trade. The beauty of the NFL comes via its unpredictable nature. Extenuating circumstances bring validity to either side of the Great Tannehill Rosen Debate. Volume statistics paint an ominous forecast for Rosen in the aqua and orange; while the precarious situation in Arizona did little to mitigate Rosen’s own shortcomings.
Regardless of Rosen’s 2019 performance, the Dolphins have three years of club control, on a top-10 pick, for a fraction of the current market value for said asset. A worst-case scenario would result in a backup quarterback playing on a contract far more team-friendly than the current going-rate for clipboard-holder services.
Professionals far more intelligent than you or I insist that past performance is not indicative of future results. In this line of work, however, all we have to work on is the previous evidence.
Without further ado, this is the evidence Josh Rosen gave us in 2018:
The Analytical Data
The term charting refers to much more than plotting the passes on a football-field-style-graph. In addition to that aspect of the project, I chart personnel groupings, field/boundary throws, pressure metrics, play-action numbers — the entire gamut.
Those numbers are not kind to Josh Rosen’s rookie season.
Depth splits (does not include throwaways, clock plays, or no-plays via penalty):
|Portion of the Field||Accurate Pass/Number of Passes|
|20+ yards||13/37 (35.1%)|
|11-19 yards||42/80 (52.5%)|
|0-10 yards (or behind LOS)||170/231 (73.6%)|
Personnel Grouping Splits:
|11||338||186/278 (66.9%) 1,707 yards, 6 TDs, 12 INTs, 72.6 rating|
|12||54||27/49 (55.1%) 421 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs, 100.8 rating|
|21||11||6/11 (54.5%) 50 yards|
|13||6||4/6 (66.7%) 88 yards|
|20||2||1/2, 11 yards|
|22||1||1/1, 1 yard|
|Situational Drop Backs||Conversion Rate|
|3rd and 4th Down||39/138 (28.3%)|
|All Downs||116/413 (28.1%)|
|Red Zone||11/22 accuracy (4 TDs, 0 INTs)|
Advanced contested, play-action and pressure numbers:
|Situational Drop Backs||Statistics|
|Contested Throws||39/123 (31.7%) 545 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs, 36.1 rating|
|Play Action||44/86 (51.2%) 655 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs, 86.1 rating|
|Under Pressure||48/114 (42.1%) 513 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs, 40.6 rating|
Additional Pressure Numbers:
|Situational Drop Backs||Statistics|
|Drop Back Pressure %||40.1% of drop backs|
|Average Snap-to-Pressure Time||2.29 seconds|
|Josh Rosen 2018 Air Yards Average||8.20 Air Yards Per Throw|
The All-22 Strengths
Mechanics, spin, and drive – Rosen arrived on the campus at UCLA with the moniker “The Chosen One” because of his mechanical refinement. A five-star recruit, raised in an environment of passing camps and year-round training, Rosen’s astute mechanics begin with his foundation – the feet.
Rosen displays active feet in the pocket with hips hardwired to his eyes (allows him to maintain a threatening position as he scans through his progressions). He squares up to his target and typically transfers his weight seamlessly and successfully (except in one, unique instance that we’ll cover in the weaknesses portion).
Through these qualities, Rosen has developed a penchant for driving the ball to the field-side of the formation on deeper routes (comebacks, out-breaking routes, back-shoulder throws). He also displays the requisite spin to strategically get the ball over the top of underneath defenders, but with enough torque and spin to drop it in underneath the deep defender.
Variety of throws in the tool bag, and the knowledge for when to use each one – Different routes require different throws. Different defensive leverage can alter the appropriate times for said throws, and Rosen has an innate knowledge for when to use those different throws.
The wheel is a great example of one route that can require varying types of throws. If the deep safety rolls coverage away from the wheel, the QB can use touch and trajectory to drop the ball in deep down the field. If that window is tighter, however, the QB needs to stick the ball on the target with pinpoint accuracy and velocity (see Rosen’s TD pass at KC in Week 10).
Rosen showcases this skill on seam throws as well. These throws often come against bracket coverage that features a linebacker in trail technique with a safety over the top in cover-1, 2, 3, and 4. Rosen can effectively throw his target open despite the tight coverage in these instances.
Subtle movement to create clean platforms – The Arizona pass protection became so dire that Rosen began to anticipate breakdowns. Rosen could often find, and get to, clean areas of the pocket after failed protection, and deliver the ball on time.
Keeps eyes downfield under the rush – A byproduct of the above skill, Rosen doesn’t succumb to the same pitfalls that can consume young quarterbacks. He had plenty of opportunities to evade the rush immediately upon getting to the top of his drop. Rosen inherently looks to climb, opposed to escaping out the front-side or back-side, and has the required choppy footwork, and crossover step, to effectively get to cleaner platforms.
Even when presented with green grass ahead, after stepping up through the pressure, Rosen works laterally to survey his progressions. This combination of traits allows Rosen to effectively deliver the football under the face of pressure.
Post-snap defensive manipulation and ball-handling – One of Rosen’s biggest strengths comes from passing off of play-action. One way to force linebackers to overcommit to the dummy-run, is the validity of the ball fake from the quarterback. Rosen is trained in extending the football to imitate the same mechanics of a handoff.
But it’s Rosen’s work to displace zone coverage that stands out above all. He often uses pump fakes, subtle upper-body movement (shoulder shakes), and his eyes to keep the defense where he wants it.
Windows close as fast as they open at this level. Finding space in the hook zones often requires the QB to hold a safety with his eyes, or move a linebacker with that subtle body movement. Rosen showcased this ability in his very first start.
— DolphinsQBgifs (@DolphinsQBgifs) May 3, 2019
Gamer (third and long, fourth quarter) – On multiple occasions Rosen was having a difficult start to games during his rookie season. Then, when the Cards were behind on the scoreboard and the down-and-distance, Rosen’s play improved. Typically, he was at his best on third-and-long or in the fourth quarter with the game in the balance.
This trait tracks back to his final year at UCLA when he engineered one of college football’s greatest all-time comebacks against Texas A&M. These are unteachable traits that are either embedded in the player or not. It was not with Tannehill — it is with Rosen.
The All-22 Weaknesses
Accuracy in the short-intermediate areas – A trend developed over the course of 2018. Rosen would often sail passes in the short areas, in either direction, but more frequently to the left. On top of throwing the ball high, Rosen was culpable for miss-placing the football on the wrong hip/shoulder on basic flat routes, stick routes, and speed-outs preventing his target from creating after the catch — or worse – -resulting in drops.
The primary culprit for this flaw is a mechanical one. Rosen’s weight-transfer and gait is often very astute, but the quick set-ups (shotgun catch-rock-throw, or three-step drops from under-center) will see Rosen pull his front shoulder open because of the lead foot misdirecting his lead hip, and thus taking his upper-body of course. Again, it all starts with the foundation.
But then this is the next play. It kind of reminds me of when I graded every single throw from the 2016 season and Carson Wentz was routinely missing layups. Hopefully Rosen, like Wentz, can clean this up and become an elite quarterback. pic.twitter.com/Q3rHRQpnjJ
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) May 6, 2019
This mechanical flaw results in the arm-angle dropping, which causes the football to go high. Rosen works tirelessly on off-platform throws so this could improve with repetition.
Timing and anticipation – These are perhaps the two most crucial traits for NFL quarterbacks. Trusting the eyes, trusting the read, and throwing based on leverage and anticipation are qualities found in all the best QBs. Often times, Rosen is late to see the development of the route and pulls the trigger after the receiver has moved from the top (the stem) of the route.
This allows the defensive back to drive on throws and contest what would otherwise be an open window. Sprint rollouts, hitch and curl routes, and even throwing down the field with built-in shot plays showcased a shortcoming in this area for Rosen.
Athleticism – Rosen isn’t going to threaten the defense with his scrambling ability. What’s more, he can get heavy-footed when these two events occur simultaneously: 1.) The pass rush closes in and, 2.) Coverage is tight. Rosen had a propensity to double and triple hitch during his climb up the pocket, and his feet go dead when indecision sets it. Most quarterbacks are going to get beat in this area. Few show the ability to escape these treacherous waters — Rosen is not one of those few.
There are instances where Rosen had an escape route, and attempted to flee accordingly, but was caught from behind by the pursuit. Designed runs are not an option with Rosen at the controls.
Making plays off script – A byproduct of the above trait, if Rosen has to evade a rush and make a play on a broken route, it’s not likely to happen. There are moments when Rosen does find the big play off-script, it’s just not a common occurrence — especially compared to some of his counterparts at the position — including the guy replacing him in Arizona.
Decision making – Rosen is normally adept at identifying pre-snap disguise, but he shows a penchant for panicking when things go off-schedule. A lot of young quarterbacks will press the issue in these situations and Rosen is no exception. A fair number of his interceptions came from failing to identify a robber or combination coverages.
Ball security – Rosen fumbled the ball 10 times on 438 drop backs. He doesn’t demonstrate a strong grip on the football amidst a pass rush that’s closing-in, and tends to get loose with the ball when attempting to evade pressure. Rosen was solely to blame for several sacks turning into turnovers last season.
Failing to take what the defense gives – As evidence by the lofty air-yards-per-throw figure, Rosen often plays for keeps on the deep pass. Multiple times, in 2018, Rosen had check downs available, yet still forced the football down the field into coverage. This is another easily correctable trait and one that the Dolphins Staff will certainly drill into the 22-year-old’s knowledge database.
How to Set Rosen up for Success
Line of scrimmage autonomy – Former NFL Quarterback, and current renowned QB analyst, Trent Dilfer has been raving about the fit for Rosen in Offensive Coordinator Chad O’Shea’s system. As Dilfer describes it, it’s an academic scheme that challenges the quarterback by empowering him as the most important player on the field.
From the Inside the Film Room piece from February, we learned the nuances of the new scheme coming from Foxboro to South Florida. Concise phrases that gives the quarterback full control over his pre-snap conditions will give the astute Rosen the keys to the offense.
12 personnel, play action heavy game – Miami made some considerable hay last year working with 12-personnel packages featuring the High-Five Bros, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. That pairing provides Rosen with speed on the edges, but the personnel grouping will accentuate his prowess attacking down the seams and throwing against matchup based looks, despite his less-than-stellar statistics in these areas.
The 12-personnel package’s (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) primary objective is to keep the base defense on the field. Picture it this way, if you will. The Patriots run 12-personnel against the Dolphins because they knew it would often put Rob Gronkowski on Reshad Jones, and James White on Kiko Alonso.
Rosen excels at attacking linebackers in coverage with his refined ball placement on throws to larger targets in contested windows.
You see a pattern developing between what Josh Rosen does well and how the dolphins may have equipped for the roster to have offensive success this year. pic.twitter.com/gp0Z46sQ0g
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) April 27, 2019
Attempt to develop a rhythm early – Rosen was extremely streaky in 2018. When he heated up, there wasn’t a throw he couldn’t make. Frequent three-and-out’s and limited success in the run led to far-too-many possessions where Rosen had one opportunity to make a play.
Using the backs in the swing/flat game. Using the electric, game-breaking wide outs on tunnel, bubble and slip screens can help Rosen mitigate those cold streaks and develop his rhythm early in games.
Identify match-ups and go after them – That’s the crux of the entire offense and it plays into the strengths of the new Miami quarterback. Running backs in the passing game, linebackers chasing tight ends up the seam after re-route attempts, and dictating deep safety help with the speed on the perimeter, Rosen has a cupboard stocked full of matchup nightmares — the Dolphins would be wise to use them…unlike the previous staff.
What Rosen Must Do to Prevent the Dolphins from Drafting his Replacement
Develop a trusting relationship with Chad O’Shea – Although it’s probably trauma inducing, think back to the game in Indianapolis this past season. Adam Gase showed Dolphins fans his exact feelings about the quarterback position when he took the ball out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands in crunch time.
Chad O’Shea and Josh Rosen need to be a perfect pairing from the word go. The way they communicate, the mutual respect between the two, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, these two men must challenge each other in ways that bring the best out of one another.
This isn’t something we can’t quantify as fans, or even journalists. It’s an organic development that will either occur — or not — behind closed doors. When Miami is up against it in a crucial spot on any given Sunday this fall, that’s when we’ll know how the relationship has developed and progressed.
Elevate the play of his teammates – Strengths have a way of mitigating weaknesses in sports. Yes, a team is often only as strong as its weakest links, but therein lies opportunities to minimize the peril of weak spots on a football team. By the same token, there are opportunities to put the onus on the play makers in the offense. Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant, Kenny Stills, Kenyan Drake; all proven big-play threats at this level. Rosen would be wise to take on the role of distributor and let these play makers do what they do best.
Demonstrate growth from opening day to week 17 – Mistakes are inevitable just as impressionable throws are certain to excite the fan base. What Rosen needs to do, to prove to the coaching staff that he’s an ascending player, is to limit the mistakes as the year goes along and show growth in the positive areas from the beginning to the end of the season.
It sounds obvious, but there needs to be a discernible difference between the Rosen we see in September, and the Rosen we see in December. Unless, of course, he comes out like an MVP from day-one — in that case, who cares?
Football fandom has undergone an evolution in the social media age. Victory is rivaled by the fan’s own individual nefarious purpose, i.e. hitting for a high average on the proverbial hot take machine.
Fans would be wise to put aside their preconceived notions with this 22-year-old quarterback. If Rosen is in fact the chosen one, the Dolphins will enter the 2020 offseason flush with resources, and a solution at the most important position in sports.
If Rosen is in fact the answer to the two-decade long search, Miami goes from bottom-barrel, tanking-accused, to offseason darling with unlimited upside in the span of one year — a turnaround that bests even the 2008 Miami Dolphins.
After nearly 20 years of torture, and living in the glow of division rival New England, which Dolphins fan wouldn’t want that?
- Fantasy Football: Which Dolphins Players Could Lead You To Victory? May 23, 2019
- Maximizing Minkah Fitzpatrick’s Unique Versatility May 22, 2019
- The Book on Josh Rosen’s 2018 Rookie Campaign May 21, 2019
- Brian Flores’ Media Availability and OTA Practice Report 5/21/19 May 21, 2019
- Patriots-Dolphins Scheme Brief and Player Analogs May 20, 2019