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Miami Dolphins

Chris Grier Discusses Tanking, Recent Trades, Potential Fallout (9/17)

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Miami Dolphins / Jason Hrina

Chris Grier stood in front of the media earlier this morning to answer quite a few burning questions everyone has regarding the state of the Miami Dolphins.

Between the recent Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills and Minkah Fitzpatrick trades, it seems like any player with talent is being jettisoned for a draft pick. On the surface, this roster resembles a recently debunked AAF team, but beneath all of the embarrassment and comedy lies the potential for prosperity and success.

Will Chris Grier be able to turn the ship around? He gives us his answers to this rebuild, what to expect if another player demands a trade, his thoughts on Josh Rosen starting at quarterback, and much more. See everything he had to say down below:

On the Recent Trades:

Have you given up on 2 of your last 4 1st-round picks?

“I wouldn’t say given up. With Laremy (Tunsil), they kept pursuing us. Multiple, multiple times we talked and kept telling them no and what it would take. And they came and offered it. Funny story I was saying the other day, I called Laremy about the trade and he walked into the office and saw it on the board and said ‘I’d trade me for that’. But seriously, we were not trying to do it.

With Minkah, it was one of those things where the player expressed that maybe it was time for him to change. So we tried to make it work. Myself, Brian, (and) Steve (Ross) had multiple conversations with him; that we wanted him here. We viewed him as a core piece. The kid just felt it was time to move. And we told (teams) what the value was. We had multiple offers and we felt the Pittsburgh (Steelers) one was the best for the organization.”

Grier did not do a good job of convincing me that this front office will be able to withhold a mutiny (more on that later on, as Grier responds to that fear). With Tunsil, it sounds like they received an offer they couldn’t refuse. With Minkah, it seems like they pressed for the best offer. A first-round pick is always nice to have, but I didn’t get the impression that this was as much of a “win” as the Tusnil trade was. At least from Grier’s perspective.

Did Minkah say why he wasn’t on board?

“I’ll let him talk about that. He likes Brian (Flores) a lot. He likes it here. He talked a little bit about the position stuff and Brian I know told you the Patrick Chung story. (But) I’ll just leave that to Brian and Minkah.”

Brian Flores and Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham are not amateur coaches in this league. You can argue that Matt Burke was, but neither of these guys are. That said, how do two regimes mismanage Minkah Fitzpatrick’s skillset that poorly. To the point that he wants off the team before he can even play 20 games with them. A first-round pick is nice to receive in return, but this is a mistake I hope they learn from.

Was Brian Flores on board?

“Brian and I have been lockstep on it. We have had a lot of conversations. Brian and I communicate every day. I talk to Steve every day. We’re in this 100% together. (I) believe in Brian; he’s a great leader, a great man. I think he’s the right guy to lead us through these times. For us, Brian is a good football coach. A good man. Minkah said he appreciated that about Brian. Really liked him. Just too bad it didn’t work out.”

I believe that Minkah respected Flores and was fine with the workload. After all, he played under Nick Saban for four years. Intense is natural for him. Constant confusion and being overworked, however, is not.

Will any player be able to demand a trade and have it granted like Minkah Fitzpatrick?

“No. No. For us, we had multiple conversations with Minkah. We told him we wanted him to be here. Multiple times. Brian, Steve, Myself…we all expressed that. And for us, when we got to a point where we weren’t sure if this was going to work, we said ‘hey, if we get the value we deem is worth moving him, we’ll do it.’ There’s no precedent here where any player is going to come in and say they want out and we’re going to do it. Again, I have not had any calls from any agents or any players asking that want out. We have extended some of our younger players. Xavien (Howard). Jakeem (Grant). All those guys have bought in 100% and they told me as much (on) Monday. We have a good group of young guys that want to be here.”

I’m not 100% sure Xavien Howard wants to be here after watching players like Minkah and Laremy leave. Kenny Stills leaving isn’t as alarming, as he wasn’t going to be in the team’s future beyond 2019, but Fitzpatrick and Tunsil were expected to be here for 6-10 more years. Howard didn’t expect this when he signed his extension. Jakeem Grant on the other (stone) hand, is happy to have received his extension and I don’t think he’s going to risk mouthing off. Fitzpatrick knew he could afford it. Most of the young players on this team cannot.

On Tanking:

What do you say to the fans who wonder if they’re getting their money’s worth?

“I’d say to the fans: I appreciate their support. They deserve a winner. We’re trying to build them a winner. I think the fans will say the cycle we’ve been on the past 10+ years has not been good enough. We’re trying to right that as fast as we can. They deserve a winner and we’re trying to do that for them.”

Was trading all your talent away part of the strategy when Flores was first hired, or is this how the cards fell?

“Very unexpected as far as (the) Laremy and Minkah situations. You can’t prepare for that. I’m not going to sit up here and lie about it. But the opportunities as well were a bit unique with a bit of an historic haul for him and Kenny (Stills). I think for us, to strike on those opportunities…because we know the way the team was built right now it wasn’t going to win a Super Bowl, much less…it’ll be hard to compete for a playoff spot. Again, we’re trying to build a team that’s going to win right now. A long term winner. And hopefully bring a championship here to South Florida.”

What is the time schedule for getting to the playoffs, a Super Bowl…to have a winning record?

“I don’t know if you can really put a time frame with it. We positioned ourselves to where we think the organization is going to be in a good place here shortly. How long that takes, like I said, we’ll be aggressive. Again, we’re not going to sit back and not do anything, we’re going to be very proactive and get this turned quickly.”

For his sake, Grier better hope this franchise is in a very good place shortly.

On the Draft, Spending, and the Future Quarterback Situation:

What’s the plan for Josh Rosen in 2019?

“In terms of Josh (Rosen), we just want to keep developing. He’ll tell you, it’s been an eye opener. He’s said he’s learned more here the past few months than he’s learned his whole career. For him, having someone like Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) to mentor him and to be that veteran influence to help him has been great. I think, when he’s ready to go, when coaches deem he’s ready to play, he’ll play. The good thing for us is, we see him every day. See him in the meetings. See how he prepares and learns and handles himself. We’ve been very pleased so far. When the coaches feel they want to make a chance…IF they do…then that will happen.”

It will happen.

Will Miami be drafting a quarterback in the 1st-round in the 2020 draft?

“We’re going to do everything we can to make our team better right away. For us, we’ve all talked about the quarterback being an important piece and it’s competition. We’re not shying away from that. Whoever is here, there’s going to be at every position; whether it’s quarterback, d-line, wide receiver, o-line, so yes.”

Grier ends his answer with “so yes”, and I have no idea what that means. The way Grier laughed while saying the first part of that answer gave away the worst kept secret in the league: Miami is most-definitely drafting a quarterback next year.

What can you do with 7 picks within the first 100 of the NFL draft?

“We can do anything we want. Whether it’s free agency or the draft. We’ve positioned ourselves where we can do anything or get whatever player we feel that will help us as soon as possible.”

Will you spend in Free Agency immediately, or will you hold off until your team is more-established?

“(We) talked about building this long term with sustained success right way. With us, we’ll be very aggressive. We’re not going to sit here on a bunch of money or anything. The plan is to build a winner here. Nobody likes losing. We’ve talked about building a team that’ll win and compete for championships for a long time instead of being ‘in this’ one year and then ‘falling back’ for 2 or 3 (years). Again, it’s a long term vision, but we’ll be aggressive.”

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

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Marchcool

    September 17, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    It’s very difficult to believe a staff that have promised a lot in the past without delivering anything positive. They let go several QB’s in 1st rnd, instead they hired Tannehill. I liked his work ethics, he’s smart. Unfortunately he wasn’t a pure passer and wasn’t a natural leader. So they made a huge mistake there. We can go on and on quoting the mistakes by Ireland and cia, something that Ross didn’t want to see despite the overwhelming evidence of his stupidity and incompetence.
    So, personally, I don’t believe a damm about what this FO promise. They surely blew it by selecting the wrong players in the past or kick out again the good ones.

    • Avatar

      Papapickett

      September 17, 2019 at 8:07 pm

      The Tunsil trade was garbage. I didn’t like it then and don’t like it now. The Minkah trade is better. Minkah was overrated honestly even though he was good. He is a crappy tackler who didn’t like contact and excelled in the slot where Bobby McCain was already one of our best. I don’t want a S who doesn’t tackle. I agree the Dolphins were playing him out of position and that they were going to ruin his value in turn so its best to just move him since the Steelers are so generous with next years first since losing Big Ben will most definitely destroy their season and give us at least a top 10 pick. Minkah was overrated and the Steelers first is underrated. Perfect.

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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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Miami Dolphins

Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins weren’t supposed to be a productive team in 2019.

A team meant to lose every game somehow ended up with a 5-11 record; simultaneously sabotaging their draft status and leaving us with a promising future at the same time.

Brian Flores, the former scout, scoured the transaction wire every day in an attempt to uncover potential “acorns” – as one former general manager infamously put it. And with a keen eye for development, his constant shuffling and retooling paid off for him.

You might think a 5-11 team wouldn’t have too many options for a Top 5 list, but the Dolphins were littered with productive “surprises”. Most have promising futures, while some have already solidified themselves as perennial starters.

Take a look at our top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019 down below. If you’d like to see who made our list of top 5 most disappointing players of 2019, click here.

5) Davon Godchaux

After two elite seasons, we’ve come to expect nothing less out of Davon Godchaux.

Starting 16 games for the second year in a row, Godchaux has continued to ascend as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. If the Dolphins weren’t so busy staying out of the lime light, Godchaux would be a household name across the nation.

His 52 solo tackles were tied for the most in the NFL among interior defensive linemen. His 2 sacks, 75 total tackles and 7 QB hits are all improvements over his 2018 campaign, which already had fans clamoring to extend the young, former 5th-round pick.

Though some might point to Miami’s overall defensive rushing numbers as a sign that Godchaux (and Christian Wilkins) weren’t good at their jobs, that’s wildly misleading. Godchaux was stout in the middle of the defensive line; inadvertently tasked with absorbing double teams and giving players like Vince Biegel or Jerome Baker room to blitz.

It’s quite possible that Godchaux is lower than he should be on this list, simply because we take his performance for granted.

4) Mike Gesicki

I’m going to hold my hand up high and admit that I thought Mike Gesicki was going to be an absolute bust for the Miami Dolphins.

More-notorious for not staying on his feet than Brian Hartline, Gesicki overcame a (very) rough rookie season and turned into a reliable seam threat for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Gesicki finished the year with 51 receptions, 570 receiving yards (an 11.2 yards-per-reception average) and five touchdowns – the first of his career. He proved to be a mismatch against linebackers; and whether he lines up in the slot or on the outside, the Dolphins are going to take advantage each time they see him 1-on-1 against an LB.

Athletic and deceptively quicker than we might realize, Gesicki honed his route running and displayed a much better catch radius than what we saw his rookie year. The image of Brent Grimes wide-eyed after Gesicki went up for a touchdown says more than a thousand words – but if nothing else, it tells us that the Miami Dolphins have a legitimate tight end.

3) Vince Biegel

Vince Biegel came to Miami as a complete afterthought.

The Dolphins traded incumbent linebacker Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints in an effort to alleviate cap space in 2020. In return, they received a little-known, former 4th-round pick who was about to play for his third team in 3 years.

For all the grief we’ve given Chris Grier over his scouting, we have to give him a ton of credit for this one. Saying the Saints got fleeced is an understatement.

In 13 games (4 starts) with the Saints, Alonso recorded 31 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss (TFL) and 2 QB Hits.

In 15 games (10 starts), Biegel accumulated 57 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 TFL, 13 QB Hits and an interception to boot.

Biegel was such a force at linebacker, that Dolphins fans forgot he was going to be a free agent this offseason and just assumed they had him for years to come. Most of us hope the Dolphins find a way to keep Biegel around at a reasonable (yet worthy) price.

The growth he, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker can make with another year together could all together eliminate the need to use assets on a linebacker in the near-future. Especially when the team will get Andrew Van Ginkel back for a full, healthy season.

2) Jerome Baker

Arguably Chris Grier’s best draft pick, Jerome Baker has evolved into one of the best all-around linebackers in the league. You can consider that an overstatement, but his versatility, durability and play-making ability make him a prime candidate to burst into the national spotlight in 2020.

Baker and Eric Rowe were the only players who logged over 1,000 snaps last season (1,079 for Baker, 1,071 for Rowe).

After a rookie season that showed a ton of promise, Baker’s sophomore season ended with 124 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, 4 passes defended and 1 interception. Versatile in coverage, as a spy, diagnosing the run, and when he blitzes, Baker may be the real Swiss-Army knife of this Dolphins’ defense.

The biggest question we now have to ask is: what do the Miami Dolphins do with Jerome Baker? He’s still two years away from free agency, but if his 2020 season is any improvement over what we’ve seen, Baker is going to command A LOT of money when he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

Don’t let Baker turn into another Olivier Vernon, Jarvis Landry or Lamar Miller. Pay the talent you successfully scouted and maintain a sense of culture and camaraderie.

Honorable Mentions:

Christian Wilkins:

Christian Wilkins came to the Miami Dolphins with a ton of charisma and a jovial personality unmatched by any top draft pick that came before him.

From the moment the 315lbs linebacker did a split after Clemson won their national championship in 2018, to the time he had Roger Goodell go up for a chest bump after he was drafted, Wilkins was a beloved figure.

But personality can only take you so far, and when the season started Wilkins needed to back up his charity work and infectious smile with the brutality necessary to win at the line of scrimmage. And boy did he live up to it.

Wilkins may not have finished with the most-gaudy numbers, but they’re still impressive nonetheless. For his rookie season, Wilkins totaled 56 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 passes defended. He’s caught every pass ever thrown to him (1), and it even resulted in a touchdown.

His 888 total snaps (between defense, special teams and the 2 he accumulated on offense) are noteworthy for a rookie defensive tackle.

The other 1st-round defensive linemen drafted in 2019 finished with:

  • Quinnen Williams (3rd-overall): 577 total snaps
  • Clelin Ferrell (4th): 716 snaps
  • Ed Oliver (9th): 572 snaps
  • Wilkins (13th): 888 snaps
  • Brian Burns (16th): 609 snaps
  • Dexter Lawrence (17th): 866 snaps
  • Jeffery Simmons (19th): 368 snaps
  • Montez Sweat (26th): 817 snaps
  • Jerry Tillery (28th): 436 snaps

The 2019 draft class was stacked on the defensive line, and yet, the Dolphins may have managed to draft the best one of the bunch midway through the round.

Nik Needham:

The Miami Dolphins signed Nik Needham as an undrafted free agent with the hope that he would provide depth for a position group that already featured plenty of expensive and starting-caliber players within it.

Instead, the Dolphins add another commodity to that list.

Competing for playing time with players like Xavien Howard, Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Minkah Fitzpatrick and a plethora of other roster invitees, Needham had an excellent camp, but found himself just missing the final 53-man roster.

That didn’t stop him from honing his craft and earning a promotion from the practice squad one day before the Dolphins were set to take on the Washington Redskins in Week 6.

Needham went on to start the final 11 games of the season, and ended the year with 2 interceptions, 11 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack and 54 total tackles.

As a rookie cornerback, you’re expected to be picked on, but Needham was bullied by the refs more than he was by opposing quarterbacks. Questionable calls against Needham towards the end of the year put a slight damper on his otherwise stellar season.

Though in the eyes of some Dolphins fans, that erroneous (non-existent) pass interference penalty that was overturned on the final drive during the New York Jets loss was a blessing in disguise.

1) DeVante Parker

It may have taken slightly longer than we originally hoped, but Ryan Fitzpatrick’s aggressive style highlighted just how elite DeVante Parker can be when you just throw him the damn ball.

Previously marred by the occasional health concern and offensive schemes that didn’t cater to his skillset, Parker was deemed a “bust” by most Dolphins fans. Drafted 14th-overall in the 2014 NFL draft, Parker was expected to transcend the offense. Instead, bubble screens became the focal point for an offense that was littered with deep threat specialists (Parker, Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant).

Parker’s recent 4-year, $40m extension is a reward not only for the production Parker put up in 2019, but for the potential Parker still has left in him.

In 16 games this past season (the first time he’s been active for 16 games his entire career), Parker caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. In his four years prior to 2019, Parker caught a combined 163 passes for 2,217 yards and 9 TDs.

As long as he can stay healthy, and the Dolphins don’t revert back to a scared, anemic offense, you can expect annual 1,000 yard seasons from the team’s #1 receiver.

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