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Confidence in Miami Dolphins Offense

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When was the last time we were more confident in the lackeys running the Miami Dolphins‘ front office compared to the participants running around on the field?

Those lackeys have the luxury of batting 1.000%* since they haven’t done anything wrong (yet), which means they have the fans on their side and (most of) the media in their good graces.

*Chris Grier is like that skeptical player with an asterisk next to them during the Steroids Era in baseball. He’s finally the main man in charge, but he was also previously “in charge”…

After swinging a value-trade for former first-round quarterback Josh Rosen – and essentially slow-playing the market into his favor – Grier and his staff have given us enough reasons to trust his process just a few short months into it.

Our confidence is growing, even if the 2019 win total isn’t expected to follow.

But our confidence is growing in Brian Flores and Chris Grier, not necessarily the roster they’ve put together. That roster is a bit….frail.

In reality, there are only a handful of players we have genuine confidence in. You can skew that number a bit if you want to include Jason Sanders, John Denney and the special teams version of Walt Aikens; but truth be told, this team is a long way away from being properly built.

Is all of that 2020 draft capital for a quarterback? Or was it to build a better team around a player they knew they could obtain cheaply this year (Rosen)?

Free agency hasn’t concluded, but free agency isn’t going to yield Miami any more “confident” starters. Miami may fill out the rest of the roster by splurging for players other teams don’t want, but you’re not making your 2020 playoff run with any of these characters.

Below are the offensive players we are confident will be productive players for the Dolphins, both in 2019 or in the future:

Offensive Line
Confidence Level: 1
Confident Players: 1

Assuming the Dolphins front office has any kind of competence, Laremy Tunsil is expected to remain on the Miami Dolphins long-term.

He’s one of the best players at his position, and, assuming he’s healthy, will be an elite talent at the position for another 5-7 years.

Outside of Tunsil, are you confident in newly acquired 3rd-round pick Michael Deiter? He’s a completely different player and situation than any of these other previous draft picks, but when was the last time the Dolphins drafted a competent offensive lineman outside of the 1st-round?

Answer: Rex Hadnot
Year: 2004

Since then, the Dolphins have drafted the following offensive linemen between the 2nd and 5th rounds: Isaac Asiata, Jamil Douglas, Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas, Jonathan Martin, John Jerry, Shawn Murphy, Samson Satele, Joe Toledo, and Anthony Alabi.

Since becoming the director of college scouting in 2007, Grier hasn’t drafted (or convinced his general mangers to draft) a single competent starter on the offensive line outside of the first round. The team’s 1st-round picks? Jake Long, Mike Pouncey, Ja’Wuan James and Laremy Tunsil. All of them very good players for stints of time, but only one of them is worthy of being a franchise player.

I’m not going to exile Deiter from the offensive line before he plays a snap, but you can see why my confidence in this pick is timid at best.

Besides Deiter and Tunsil, you have Daniel Kilgore returning at the age of 31 to play center, and you have Jesse Davis playing somewhere on the right side of the offensive line.

Kilgore missed 11+ games last season after tearing his triceps in Week 4 against the New England Patriots. Aside from returning from a gruesome injury, Kilgore is another year older and isn’t all too great to begin with. He was supposed to act as the weakest link between Tunsil, Josh Sitton, Davis and James. Now he’s expected to anchor the middle of the offensive line as the 3rd-best player in the unit.

We expected much more out of Jesse Davis last season, and he certainly disappointed, but at least we know he’s durable, reliable, and will be in the starting lineup each week. That counts for something. It also leads to increased sack totals for the opposing defense, so that value only goes so far.

I’m not considering Davis a hole on the line, but I’m not confident in him either – and that’s a downgrade from where I would have viewed Davis after 2017.

The biggest problem for the offensive line hasn’t even been listed out yet, and that’s the fact that Miami only has four starters. You need five.

6th-round draft pick Isaiah Prince will have a fair shot at manning the right tackle position, but who knows how well that camp battle will go.

Without a solidified right tackle, Miami is tiptoeing dangerously into the regular season – especially with a quarterback they’re hoping to properly judge within a 16-game span.

The good thing about expectations is when you (literally) don’t have any, it can only pleasantly surprise you. Or it goes exactly as intended and you don’t even have to break a sweat.

Tight Ends
Confidence Level: 2
Confident Players: 0

An upgrade from the offensive line mainly because the position group isn’t as necessary and the Dolphins will be able to get by with Dwayne Allen as an average combination of receiver & blocker, the tight end group is about as barren as the team’s offensive line depth.

Former 2nd-round pick Mike Gesicki has gone from being the sexiest draft pick of 2018 to being overlooked as a productive player. For as likely as he is to have a breakout season, don’t be surprised to see him released if he has a subpar training camp. Gesicki is going to need to prove to this coaching staff that he belongs as a receiving threat – or that his blocking isn’t a complete liability.

If Gesicki can work on his route running, he might become a reliable target for Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick. Though do you have any confidence that’ll happen?

His fellow 2018 draftee Durham Smythe should find a spot on this roster a bit more easily, but how valuable is a blocking tight end when Allen serves the same purpose?

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Smythe off this roster if the team feels it doesn’t want to lose another player on the bubble (such as Dee Delaney or Jonathan Woodard).

Nick O’Leary received a contract extension shortly before Mike Tannenbaum and Adam Gase were relieved of their respective duties. Whether or not he remains on the team after training camp depends on how this coaching staff believes it can utilize O’Leary.

As another generic tight end, he has an equal shot of making or missing the roster as both Smythe and Gesicki do.

The only player “guaranteed” to make the 2019 roster is Allen, and, unless he doesn’t mind becoming a mentor assisting from the bench, it’s unlikely he’s still around in 2020. If he is, your plan for the position went more awry than the Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas experiments the past few years.

Wide Receivers
Confidence Level: 4
Confident Players: 1

This rating doesn’t reflect the “talent” the Miami Dolphins have on their roster.

I firmly believe that the combination of Kenny Stills, a healthy DeVante Parker and…..oh….wait….there is no combination anymore. That combination ceased in 2017 when Jarvis Landry played his final games for Miami.

Albert Wilson filled in admirably and was a better player (in terms of value) than Landry was in 2018, but that was only for the first 7 games of the season.

Landry played all 16 games, like every other year of his career, while Wilson limps into 2019 with the possibility of not making the roster. While unlikely for him to be released, if the team feels it cannot utilize Wilson properly at the start of the season, and a stint on IR (with the designation to return) doesn’t match his timetable to return, Miami may release the dynamic receiver.

That’s the last thing we want to happen to one of our 2018 Offensive MVPs, but we also didn’t expect Tony Lippett to be released following his torn achilles either.

This league is cruel and cutthroat, and for a team building towards 2020, it seems unlikely Wilson is around for the rebuild. Why block the growth and potential of other prospects while trying to rehab a player on the field?

Jakeem Grant proved to be a desired returner and supplemental receiver when the formation calls for it. His hands might as well have stared right into Medusa’s eyes with how hard they are, but his shiftiness was a welcomed compliment to an offense that thrived off of deception.

An achilles injury in Week 10 caused him to miss the remainder of the season, and possibly a bid to last year’s Pro Bowl. It also may have hindered the promising progress he was making up to this point.

Though his injury didn’t seem as detrimental as Wilson’s, at this moment, you can’t confidently say Grant is a reliable receiver worthy of the 3rd starting spot on the roster.

Like the rest of this century, this offensive group offers a lot of hope. Which, as Dolphins fans, means it’s most certainly going to disappoint…

Running Backs
Confidence Level: 6
Confident Players: 1

Outside of Ryan Tannehill individually, Miami’s running backs have received more excuses than anyone else on the team.

Whether it was an anemic offensive line, incompetent play calls from a former offensive guru, or quarterback play that was so putrid that opposing defenses knew to stack the box, Miami’s running backs have been let off of the hook.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that it’s the only position group that effectively produces on offense, fans have favored players like Jay Ajayi, Reggie Bush, Ricky Williams and Travis Minor. Fans let former #2-overall pick Ronnie Brown off the hook for being the most influential draft pick this century (could have had Aaron Rodgers). Even former flame-outs like Mike Gillislee get the benefit of the doubt for their unmemorable time in Miami.

These position groups perform, but do they perform as well as we believe or is this just a byproduct of having a piss-poor passing game?

Since Ricky Williams decided to retire the first time in 2004, the Dolphins have averaged 17th in rushing yards, 14th in yards per carry and 18th in rushing touchdowns:

Their best rushing season was 2009 (4th), but they only had 2 seasons within the top-10 (out of a possible 14 seasons – 14.3%). Only one of those was a top-5 season (7.1%) and only 6 seasons are within the top-15 (42.9%).

I’m confident Miami has running backs that will produce, but how well will they produce? Frank Gore left for the Buffalo Bills, and he had only 4 less rushing yards than Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage combined in 2018 (722 vs 726).

This is where the excuse of mismanagement comes into play. We have to think this coaching staff will figure out how to utilize Drake better than Adam Gase ever did, but is that guaranteed? In his three NFL seasons, Drake has averaged 453 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns per season.

And he’s the player we’re confident in.

Chandler Cox and Myles Gaskin look like powerful additions to the roster, but we have no idea how either will perform in training camp.

Ballage is the wildcard of the bunch – his evolution can turn this rushing attack into a legitimate duel threat. It can also hinder this unit from becoming any kind of threat at all.

If the offensive line can’t keep Rosen up long enough to establish a feared passing game, how is the running game going to thrive?

We hope Ballage’s evolution is legitimate, but we don’t know any of that until training camp begins.

What we do know is that the Dolphins have 3 offensive players we’re confident in. You play with 11 plays on each side of the ball. I’m no Dawn Aponte, but that ratio is atrocious.

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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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Tinindian

    May 1, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    I guess I have a lot more confidence in our receivers than you do, except Devante Parker. I’d take Albert Wilson over Parker 100 times out of 100. Parker has been nothing but a disappointment and I’m really aggravated he didn’t get shipped out in the off season.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      May 7, 2019 at 10:16 am

      I would take a healthy Albert Wilson over DeVante Parker every year. My biggest concern is Wilson’s healthy. Will he be the same, shifty receiver he was for us in 2018? I’m hopeful, but I can’t say I’m firmly “confident” in Wilson at this moment (we’ll know more when Training Camp rolls around).

  2. Avatar

    David Holcomb

    May 1, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills are unstoppable when both WRs are on the field. Just look at the highlights in 2016 when Matt Moore took over the reigns. Josh Rosen is going to have a field day when he take the riegns, Miami will have a potent offense and I predict that they will win 11 or 12 games and win their division this season..

  3. Avatar

    Joe

    May 2, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    David, lemme get some of what you’re smoking please

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      May 7, 2019 at 10:18 am

      I do like David’s optimism, though I may be more inclined to join you, Joe.

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 17 at Seattle

Travis Wingfield

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Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

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

Week 17 at Seattle –

By the time this season finale came to an end the entire Cardinals operation had to breathe a sigh of relief. A disaster season, that came to a crashing conclusion, was finally in the rearview. For Josh Rosen, the last month of the season was a recurring nightmare. Rosen threw 146 passes in December and the only one that crossed pay dirt was a busted coverage in this Seattle game.

Some of Rosen’s strong suits didn’t travel to the Pacific Northwest. Throwing into contested windows, play-action passing, and third down conversions each brought back less than satisfactory returns.

The Cardinal passing offense converted 3-of-14 3rd downs. Rosen was 2-of-14 for 23 yards on contested throws and 5-of-10 for 56 yards on play pass.

Rosen was chucking-and-praying once again. The average air yards per throw tallied 10.8 yards, while the Arizona receivers only amassed 51 yards after the catch (34.2% of Rosen’s passing total).

The short passing game was far more fruitful than the vertical attacks.

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

The game was littered with mistakes from the Cardinals QB. Rosen registered 14 mistakes (11 from accuracy, 2 ball security issues, and 1 poor read). Rosen lost two fumbles and had two would-be interceptions dropped by the Seattle defense.

The personnel deployment featured more versatility than recent weeks. Rosen’s passes were supplemented by the following personnel packages.

 

11-personnel 31 snaps
12-personnel 3 snaps
21-personnel 4 snaps

 

As has been the case all season, Rosen was under frequent pressure. Seattle arrived for 11 pressures (6 sacks, 3 hits, 2 hurries) at an average time from snap-to-pressure of 2.19 seconds.

The busted coverage touchdown was Rosen’s one red-zone completion (1-of-3). He was in the gun for 25 snaps and under-center for 13.

Another week, another low conversion rate. The Cardinal passing game converted 8-of-38 plays into first downs (21.1%)

It’s difficult to imagine a more trying rookie season than the one Rosen experienced. The offensive line play was poor, the only consistent pass catcher was Larry Fitzgerald, and Rosen had his own share of rookie mistakes to compound things.

This game goes into the losing performance category marking eight consecutive games that Rosen failed to reach the winning performance category.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 7 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR, @SEA)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 16 vs. LA Rams

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

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

 

Week 16 vs. LA Rams –

For the second consecutive game Josh Rosen didn’t finish under-center for the Cardinals. In a blowout loss, where it seemed like the entire game plan revolved around making life easy on Josh Rosen, Arizona still managed to get ran out of the building. Mike Glennon completed the final series for the Red Birds offense.

Rosen threw the ball only 23 times, but scrambled more than he has all season. The game plan also featured the least amount of variety, from a personnel grouping standpoint, all season.

 

11-personnel 30 snaps
12-personnel 1 snap

 

Rosen’s typical third down heroics didn’t show up. The Cardinals converted only 2-of-10 third downs in the passing game (one a QB scramble). Converting, as it has been all season, was a challenge in general — Arizona converted just 6-of-31 drop backs (19.4%).

Rosen was in the shotgun almost exclusively (3 under-center, 28 in the gun). This led to a limited play-action passing game (only one throw from play pass).

The four mistakes attributed to Rosen were largely deep shots. He missed on short pass, but two of the three inaccuracies came on balls down the field. One of those deep shots was an ill-advised throw into coverage despite a wide open Larry Fitzgerald coming across the formation (seen in the video thread).

Rosen’s depth splits were as follows:

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

More than half of Rosen’s 87 passing yards came from YAC (54%). The average depth of Rosen’s passes was 9.22 air yards per throw.

Throwing into tight window was a futile effort. Rosen completed 1-of-7 contested throws for 7 yards. Pressure was a regular fixture, yet again, as Rosen was under duress on 11 drop backs (4 sacks, 5 hits, 2 hurries). The average time from snap-to-pressure was 2.30 seconds.

The war of attrition seems to have finally broken the Cardinals spirit. The team’s execution was lacking all year, but this game was something of a “white flag” effort from the coaching staff. Rosen gets tabbed with a losing performance for a lack of big-time plays, a few mistakes, and an awful holistic result.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 6 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 15 at Atlanta

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

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

 

Week 15 at Atlanta –

We’ve reached the point in the season where the Cardinals coaching staff had to make a switch to prevent further damaging their 21-year-old quarterback. Josh Rosen, under duress all game, with very little help from the route concepts and plan to attack the Atlanta defense, was pulled for Mike Glennon in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons pass rush would’ve crippled the most grizzled veteran in the NFL; it completely debilitated Rosen. The Cardinal QB was under pressure 15-of-27 drop backs (6 sacks, 6 hits, 3 hurries) with an average snap-to-pressure time of 2.17 seconds.

Atlanta’s unrelenting pressure led to a season-low in average air yards per attempt (4.6 AYPT). The Arizona receivers picked up 82 yards after the catch counting for 62.1% of Rosen’s passing total.

Once again, a lopsided scoreboard forced Arizona into very little variety from a personnel grouping standpoint. Rosen was 4-of-5 with 37 yards on non-11-personnel calls. The issue there — Arizona was always in 11-personnell.

 

11-personnel 22 snaps
12-personnel 4 snaps
21-personnel 1 snap

 

Rosen only committed two mistakes in the game (one accuracy, one a poor decision). The biggest mistake was an example of nervous antics in the pocket and a decision Rosen would prefer to have back (available in the Twitter thread).

Rosen was under-center just 5 times (gun 22), and only threw from play action three times; Rosen was 2-of-3 with 13 yards on play pass.

The Arizona offense converted only 18.5% (5-of-27) passing plays into first downs. Throwing into contested windows was a 50-50 proposition — Rosen threw for 68 yards on 4-of-8 passing into tight windows.

Rosen’s depth splits were as follows:

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 1/1 (100%)
11-19 yards 2/3 (66.7%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 12/15 (80%)

 

It was a miserable day for the Cardinals all the way around. Rosen never stood much of a chance to make a big time paly, or to make a game-changing mistake — but the one time he did make a crucial mistake, the game was already out of reach. This showing goes in the inconsequential column.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 5 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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