It’s not the best 53, it’s the right 53
Reshad Jones will take his place in the Dolphins Ring of Honor one day. At his peak, he was an elite strong side C-gap run-game destroyer, a timely blitzer, hook-zone robber, and a punishing finisher pursuing downhill as a tackler.
Each of those traits can be filed under the job description for a strong safety – a box safety, by today’s terms. Even in Matt Burke’s directionally-based defense from 2017 and 2018 (the safeties would alternate box and center field duties based on motion and pre-snap shifts), Jones was given opportunities to make the plays that tantalized Dolphins fans.
|Reshad Jones||2015||135 tackles, 9 TFLs, 2 sacks, 5 INTs (2 TDs), 10 PBUs, 1 FR|
|Landon Collins||2016||125 tackles, 9 TFLs, 4 sacks, 5 INTs (1 TD), 13 PBUs, 1 FR|
Landon Collins received votes for Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2016. Jones’ 2015 season wasn’t even considered worthy of first-team all-pro honors. To call Jones under-rated is more than an understatement. After a dicey beginning to his career (2010 and 2011) Jones took off as one of the game’s premiere impact box safeties.
Jones’ Pro Football Focus Analytics:
|Year||Overall Safety Grade||Run-Stop Rank Among Safeties|
|2016||9th||32nd (missed 10 games)|
We introduce all of this evidence to showcase how criminal Jones’ usage has been in recent years. Aside from that 2013 mishap, Jones was a consistently peak performer – and he did it in the classic strong safety role.
Then, T.J. McDonald arrived halfway through the 2017 season (suspended for the first eight games). Jones reverted back to 2013’s woes graded 65th and 51st among all safeties for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
McDonald played a similar position to Jones when he was with the Rams from 2013-2016. During that four-year period, McDonald’s highest PFF positional rank was 76th overall.
Yet, despite already rostering a far superior player at the same position, playing on a mega-contract no-less, Mike Tannenbaum saw enough of McDonald in the 2017 preseason to offer him a four-year extension.
Then, to compound things, Burke drastically altered the responsibilities for Jones in favor of McDonald.
Jones’ snap counts by position 2016-2018
|Year||Box Safety Snaps||Free Safety Snaps|
|2016||125 (missed 10 games)||233 (missed 10 games)|
That is a roster conflict – and Tannenbaum’s teams were full of them. Miami paid more money to its safeties in 2018 than any other team in the NFL; the result – PFF’s 51st (Jones) and 57th (McDonald) ranked safeties in the league.
You wouldn’t hire two vocalists to create rock’s song of the year. You’d hire a guitar player to complement the vocals, similar to Seattle’s operation with Earl Thomas (perhaps the greatest center-field-safety in the history of the game) and Kam Chancellor (the tone setter in the middle of the defense). Chancellor’s performance would’ve been marginalized tremendously if he were asked to play deep safety.
Tannenbaum’s strange roster construction didn’t stop at the safety group. Miami’s defensive lines ranked in 2nd and 3rd in salary commitments for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Still, the Dolphins ranked and 27th and 29th in sacks for those two years. Sacks are hardly the ultimate barometer for judging defensive line performance, but the tape definitively supports the claim that the unit, as a whole, was largely ineffective.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of Miami’s best draft decisions of the last two decades – he’s a terrific player, leader and presence in the organization. His best position, slot corner, is occupied by another quality player (Bobby McCain) that received a four-year extension just two months after the acquisition of Fitzpatrick.
Again, the resource allocation is nothing short of puzzling.
Cam Wake is known for his explosive get-off and ability to bend the edge. The future Hall of Fame pass rusher made a career out of beating the quarterback to the top of his drop. His relentless pursuit caused double teams and forced the opposing QB to reset in the pocket, often times leading to a clean-up sack for the end rushing from the other side.
Wake’s prowess got Olivier Vernon paid and, miraculously, got Andre Branch paid as well. Still, Miami sought the services of another speed/explosion player known for bending the edge in Robert Quinn.
A practice in redundancy at its finest, Miami neglected to obtain an interior pocket collapser after parting ways with Ndamukong Suh. The best complement Miami could have given to Wake would have been a three-technique capable of bull rushing in synchronicity with Wake’s speed rush.
And that’s how we arrive at today’s en vogue term in football – complementary. Constructing the roster in a way that elevates players to their peak rather than pigeonholing those players into roles not best suited for their skill sets.
And Tannenbaum, to his credit, did get it right a couple of times. William Hayes, for example, was a perfect complement to Wake. Say what you will about the rookie production of Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe, but the pair are perfect complements to one another. Albert Wilson, because of his positon flexibility, is a tremendous pairing with Jakeem Grant in 12-personell packages.
Fast forward to present day: Miami rid itself of Tannenbaum and rounded out the front office, under Chris Grier, with a veritable who’s who of respected executives. The plan to supplement the current assets on the roster is already clear.
Eric Rowe’s ability to reroute and physical brand requires the need for a lot of rolled safety help in his direction – a style that only works when the other side is locked down by one single entity (Xavien Howard).
Dwayne Allen’s acquisition will free up Gesicki to detach from the formation and do away with his 2018 pass protection emphasis (his 20% pass blocking usage might be Adam Gase’s greatest indictment).
Reshad Jones’ long-term future in Miami is dubious. Miami, however, was fortunate enough to see Minkah Fitzpatrick slide into its lap in the 2018 draft. The Alabama product’s value is in his versatility – a major building block for the new regime.
Finding Fitzpatrick’s running-mate will be a primary objective of this rebuild. And it has to work out better than the past, feeble attempts to find Jones’ partner in crime.
Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker
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.
The #Dolphins and WR DeVante Parker are finalizing a four-year extension worth over $40 million, source said. Lot of guaranteed money. Another step in his remarkable turnaround. 💰
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 13, 2019
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 will make 4.5 M guaranteed in 2020 and 7.7 M guaranteed in 2021. Also, he's five catches and 120 yards from making another 1.5 M in incentives this season
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) December 13, 2019
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.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 13, 2019
Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes
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.
We have signed DB Nate Brooks off New England’s practice squad, signed LB Jamal Davis off Tennessee’s practice squad and been awarded T Adam Pankey off waivers from Green Bay.
We have also placed CB Ryan Lewis and CB Ken Webster on injured reserve and waived RB Zach Zenner.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 10, 2019
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.
Dolphins add their sixth new player of the week, signing cornerback Linden Stephens off Seattle’s practice squad. To make room, they waived cornerback Chris Lammons.
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) December 7, 2019
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.
The #Dolphins have added former UCF and Davie University School DB Rashard Causey to their practice squad today.
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) December 12, 2019
Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker December 13, 2019
- Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes December 13, 2019
- Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview December 12, 2019
- The Aftermath: Dolphins 21 Jets 22 December 10, 2019
- Fins Fall to Rivals, Officials – Dolphins Jets Week 14 Recap December 8, 2019
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