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Miami Dolphins

DeVante Parker is Ready to Excel in 2019

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Possibly the most underwhelming Miami Dolphins’ 1st-round draft pick not to be labeled a bust, veteran DeVante Parker is entering Year 5 of his roller-coaster career.

Drafted to be the team’s first young, #1 receiver since Ted Ginn Jr. in 2007 or Yatil Green in 1997, Parker has performed similarly to prior alpha receivers Brandon Marshall and Mike Wallace. Meaning, he hasn’t lived up to the hype that came with such a big acquisition, nor has the return on investment been as desired.

It’s easy to believe Parker will continue to under perform in 2019. In 4 seasons, Parker has accumulated 2,217 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. That’s an average of 554 yards and 2 touchdowns per year. In the 54 games he’s been active for, he’s averaged 41.1 yards-per-game.

Parker has never played a full 16-game season, the closest coming in both 2015 and 2016 where he was active for 15 games, and yet, he only started 12 games combined. Games started isn’t the best metric to use, but in this case, it shows that he wasn’t viewed as the most-reliable receiver on the roster….something you want from your 1st-round draft pick.

Rishard Matthews started 11 games in 2015 and caught 43 passes for 662 yards and 4 touchdowns. In 2016, Miami typically started with just two receivers on the field (Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills – both of whom started all 16 games that year).

If Parker were to play all 16 games in 2019 with a 41.1 Y/G average, he’d amass 658 receiving yards and tack on another 2 TDs. Add that total to the 2,217 yards he’s already accumulated and he ends up with 2,875 receiving yards and 11 TDs within a 5-year career.

For comparison’s sake, in their first two seasons:

  • Julio Jones: 2,157 receiving yards; 18 TDs
  • A.J. Green: 2,407 receiving yards; 18 TDs
  • Odell Beckham Jr.: 2,755 receiving yards; 25 TDs
  • DeAndre Hopkins: 2,012 receiving yards; 8 TDs

Within his first three years, Jarvis Landry had 3,051 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

When comparing the numbers, Parker has twice as many seasons under his belt and yet he still hasn’t been able to outperform other 1st-round receivers. That’s a miss.

Of course, not every 1st-round draft pick is expected to be Jones, Green, Beckham or Hopkins. There are plenty of Justin Blackmon’s, Kelvin Benjamin’s and Kevin White’s scattered throughout. But when you draft a wide receiver in the 1st round, the expectation is that you’re going to be acquiring a playmaker, not a role player.

So now that we’ve completely obliterated Parker’s career and potential going into 2019, it’s time to tell you that DeVante Parker is going to become the receiver we originally hoped he would be; the same receiver that’s been set to breakout three seasons running.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a Bold, Bold Man

We’re all glued to the quarterback battle occurring in South Florida, but it appears more-and-more evident that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to start the season under center.

In the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first three games alone, Fitzpatrick had 1,230 passing yards. With Miami, I’m not expecting him to average over 400 Y/G to start the season, but what I’m most intrigued about was his target of choice.

In those first three games, Mike Evans caught 23 passes for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Mike Evans is the same type of receiver Parker is supposed to be. A big-bodied player that will win the point-of-attack.

  • Mike Evans: 6’5”; 231lbs
  • DeVante Parker: 6’3”; 216lbs

Ryan Fitzpatrick has Brett Favre’s gunslinger mentality, while more-closely resembling Matt Moore’s skill (a fellow gunslinger who wasn’t all that good). He’s a smart (Harvard) man, but he isn’t afraid to take risks. He trusts that his receivers will make a play, even if it leads to a potentially devastating outcome.

I understand this isn’t the best method to win games, but, the thing is, we’re not trying to predict wins or assume success here; we’re pointing out why DeVante Parker is going to be a successful receiver in 2019 – and it starts with the beard behind the mask.

If Parker has a step on the opposing cornerback, Fitzpatrick is going to throw it to him. If Parker has the height advantage (which is likely), Fitzpatrick is going to throw it to him. Fitzpatrick knows that Parker is going to get up and make a play. We’re not talking about Mike Wallace’s ineptitude to contest a 50/50 ball – Parker has proven he can out-jump and out-wrestle opposing cornerbacks for the football (see the highlight video below), and I expect Fitzpatrick to take full advantage of this skill.

The biggest deterrent? Miami’s inept offensive line.

Like in 2018, 2017, 2016 and basically every year you can imagine this past decade, the Dolphins’ offense has been hampered by anemic offensive lines.

Ryan Tannehill had terrible awareness in the pocket, but when you’re sacked 184 times in the first 4 years of your career, it’s evident that the mid and long-range passing game is going to be stifled.

Parker isn’t a bubble screen specialist. He’s the type of player that should be able to body-out a defensive back or a linebacker and win the inside slant route every time (something Miami inexplicably never did with him), but he isn’t going to catch the ball within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage; something Miami did fairly often throughout Tannehill’s tenure.

His 13.6 yards-per-reception average in his 4-year career speaks to how Parker is best utilized on offense.

If Chad O’Shea takes anything away from his time with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, I hope it’s their ability to maximize a player’s talent rather than forcing players into specific roles devised by the former regime (more-specifically, Adam Gase).

So is this the only thing we have as we pray for Parker’s emergence? Hope with a side of Fitzmagic?

Yes, Parker has been extremely frustrating for Dolphins fans, but there’s a reason why Chris Grier and the coaching staff retained Parker with a 2-year, $13m extension this offseason. They’re aware Parker has potential, and they’re aware that opposing defenses have to plan for Parker’s ability.

Other than the instances where Belichick would lineup his best cornerback on Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker would typically receive the task of going up against the opponent’s #1 defensive back.

This has nothing to do with the rest of Miami’s receivers being “weak” either. If anything, their receivers have been the team’s most formidable group for a while (frankly, not saying all too much).

Kenny Stills is a legitimate deep threat. Landry or Albert Wilson are stud slot receivers. Jakeem Grant or Rishard Matthews are ideal #3 receivers. So the notion that the #1 cornerback lines up on Parker by default is incorrect.

What’s blasphemous is Miami’s inability to get Parker the ball – or gameplan for him properly.

Yes, his nagging, annual injuries seem to play a part in all of this. It’s hard to rely on a receiver that isn’t on the field all the time; and when he is, he isn’t necessarily at 100%. His Y/G statistic takes a hit because of this as well. Yes, he’s active, but no, he isn’t really playing.

But you can’t change facts, and the numbers aren’t lying when it shows Parker’s prior inability to be the effective #1 receiver we have all hoped for.

I know you’ve heard this before. I know this is old news and we resemble the Boy Who Cried Wolf more than we provide something enlightening to you, but 2019 is about to be DeVante Parker’s year. I don’t need Jarvis Landry to tell me he is a monster:

I don’t need former wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson to predict that “He’ll be a Monster”.

We know that Parker has all of the ability, and I think we can all agree that he just hasn’t ‘put it all together’ yet. With a new coaching staff (that has prior success providing offensive results), a pair of quarterbacks that fit Parker’s playing style, and the experience and maturity of playing in the league for 4 years, Parker is set to finally breakout in 2019.

This isn’t a comeback, this is the genesis to what will become Parker’s illustrious career.

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

    SWPhan

    July 11, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    The article mentioned how he has missed games due to injuries. It failed to mention all the times that he played, poorly, because he was playing with some nagging injury. I have more memories of those times than of the good times. I also have memories of many, many articles by sports writers about how his second, third, fourth year he was going to have a breakout year. I’m still waiting for that to happen. I really hope he does and I will root for him as long as he is a Dolphin. I gave Tannehill 6 chances for his breakout year. I will root for him to have a breakout year, but I would never bet on him having a breakout year.

  2. Avatar

    Ryan

    July 12, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Miami Dolphins

Taco Charlton: New Acquisition Analysis

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins go back to the 2017 first round defensive end well, claim Charlton from waivers

The 2017 Dolphins were, sadly, one of the more anticipated teams this organization has assembled in recent memory. Fresh off a surprise 10-win season, heading into year-two of the new system, and bevy of players returning from injury had fans feeling optimistic.

Patching up the perceived holes on the roster — like the defensive end position — started with an atrocious Andre Branch extension, and ended on the draft’s opening night with a handful of edge rusher prospects ripe for picking.

Derek Barnett came off the board before Miami could pluck the future Super Bowl hero, but everyone else was available. Jonathan Allen was selected five picks ahead of the Dolphins, but he was billed more as a three and five-technique inside player, not a true edge rusher.

That left Charles Harris, Taco Charlton, Tak McKinley and T.J. Watt. Two of those players are off to sterling starts in their young careers — the other two are nearing their respective last legs, and both are now Miami Dolphins.

Charlton received his release from the Cowboys earlier this week after an under-whelming 34-game stay in Big D. Taco’s snap count is revealing of the feeling about the player among the Dallas staff.

 

Year Taco Charlton Defensive Snaps Played (% of Cowboys’ Defensive Snaps)
2017 399 (38.2%)
2018 401 (39.2%)
2019 0

 

A 40-percent snap-taker is typically indicative of one of two things for an edge player. He’s either a situational savant — whether that’s to support the run game or pin his ears back and get after the quarterback — or that he’s the second option in the rotation, A.K.A. a backup.

Charlton’s production suggests that he was the latter, and only because of his draft status. His descent into a game day inactive signaled the end of his time with the club that drafted him.

Rumors of a trade were speculated as the reason Charlton was a healthy scratch for the season’s first two games, but Head Coach Jason Garrett referred to the numbers game. “We have 10 guys on the active roster on the defensive line and we dressed eight for the game. It felt like the guys we had up there gave us the best chance,” Garrett said via a report from Bloggin’ The Boys.

Still, we have 800 reps to look at to figure out where it went wrong for Charlton, and if he possesses a legitimate shot to fit this scheme and carve out spot in the future plans of the NFL’s most steadfast rebuild operation.

First, let’s start with the type of player Charlton was supposed to be coming out of Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan program.

The Dolphins are a team that adheres strongly to prototypes all over the field, but particularly in the trenches. Explosive metrics aren’t nearly as important as length, strength, read-and-react skillsets, intelligence to process and execute a variety of roles (stunts, twists, slants, picks), and most importantly, playing with heavy hands.

His fit begins with his build. At 6’6’’, 270-pounds with 34.5-inch arms, Charlton looks like plenty of defensive ends in a Brian Flores (Bill Belichick defense) before him. Charlton doesn’t check off all those boxes from the previous paragraph, but he hits enough of the buzz words to justify a flier.

This from Lance Zierlein of NFL Media.

That immediate get-off and quickness would’ve suited him better in Miami’s wide-9 alignment under Matt Burke. The length will benefit him, especially as he forces tackles to quickly get into their pass sets. The challenge will be developing a secondary move to work back inside and underneath the tackle.

The glowing praise for his twist, bend, and lower-body control will serve him well in a defense that will stunt, stunt, and stunt some more.

Most of all, the length will help him excel in this scheme as a run defender. To lock out and hold the point of attack are keys, and those are areas that put Charlton on the map as a first-round prospect.

The weaknesses from that blurb are alarming. Getting washed out of his gap by power and allowing blockers into his frame will earn him a quick ticket right out of town — those are the departments where the surprise cuts in Nate Orchard and Dewayne Hendrix struggled.

Lack of consistency, takes plays off, needs a coach that will push him — those are the final takeaways from Zierlein’s conversation with an anonymous AFC Executive.

If there’s any one thing you can point to with Flores as far as his football acumen — this excludes leadership and communication — it’s his ability to coach football (novel idea, huh?) This feels like a Flores pet project.

Let’s get into some of Charlton’s Dallas tenure, starting with his metrics from Pro Football Focus.

Charlton has 38 total pressures in his two years as a pro (4 sacks, 8 hits, 26 hurries). He compiled those numbers on 464 pass rush reps, a pressure on 8.2% of his pass rush snaps — not good. His 4.1 weighted pass rush productivity mark in 2018 ranked 132ndamong all edge rushers.

Charlton missed four tackles on 34 opportunities — an 11.8 missed tackle percentage, also not good. He made 23 run-stops on 346 snaps against the ground game. That mark — 6.6% — landed Charlton at 73rd among edge defenders in 2018, and 143rd in 2017.

The majority of Charlton’s work came from the right side of the defensive line (position vacated by Robert Quinn, currently held by a cast of many in Miami). Charlton lined up for pass rushing situations on the right side for 67.3% of his total reps.

Now, for the tape.

If Charlton can piece together the finer points of his game and develop a better arsenal or rush moves, he’ll stick as a building block. The decreased workload this year, his lack of production dating back to college, and inconsistencies makes one wonder about the drive and work habits.

We’ll quickly find out about the character of Charlton. If he embraces this opportunity, it’s a great landing spot for him. If not, he’ll be back on the unemployment line in short order.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen Named Starting QB vs Cowboys; Claim DE Taco Charlton

Chris Kowalewski

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Only minutes after the Miami Dolphins’ Week 2 loss against the Patriots, Head Coach Brian Flores maintained that Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback… “Right now”.

By Thursday afternoon, it became clear that “right now” had passed as Josh Rosen was announced to take over the starting QB position ahead of Miami’s first road trip this Sunday against the Cowboys.

Fans had caught intermittent glimpses of Rosen’s abilities through the preseason and he has seen the field during replacement duty in Weeks 1 and 2, so far completing 8/21 passes for 102 yards, 2 INTs and a 38.1% completion percentage.

While Rosen has not yet led the Dolphins to regular season points, the second year passer will find his opportunity to do so in Dallas and the Dolphins will be able to make further evaluation of 2018’s tenth overall pick.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s veteran standing and experience had given him the early advantage, but the time has arrived in for the Dolphins to see what the future may bring – if anything – for Josh Rosen in Miami.

Whilst the national attention seems to be focused on Chris Grier’s rebuild of the roster, the Dolphins have claimed former first round pick, DE Taco Charlton, released by the Cowboys on Wednesday.

Charlton was the Dallas Cowboys’ first round selection in 2017, having played in 27 games (7 starts) and registered 4.0 sacks and 47 combined tackles.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Cowboys Week Three Preview

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins Search to Stop the Bleeding in Big D

Who: Dolphins (0-2) at Cowboys (2-0)
When: Sunday September 22, 1:00 PM East
Where: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, TX
Weather: Dome
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +21

The hits keep coming for Miami. Another prominent fixture of the roster has been jettisoned, and another loaded team is on the docket for the downtrodden Dolphins.

This current iteration of the Dallas Cowboys is akin to what Miami hopes to build in a couple years’ time — stout trench play, emerging young quarterback, and star-studded skill positions.

Three touchdown underdogs for the second consecutive week, the Dolphins are introducing college point-spreads into the National Football League. Miami’s 19-point home handicap last week was the biggest such spread for a host team since the 2007 season, and the Dolphins are now channeling the 2013 Broncos-Jaguars game that climbed up over 25 points before betting closed.

The Dolphins were far more competitive last week, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. Contributions from star Cornerback Xavien Howard, upstart Linebacker Jerome Baker, and surprising recent addition Vince Biegel were the silver linings in the 43-point thrashing; we’re looking for more of those in Dallas.

The Scheme:

Offense:

The switch from Scott Linehan to Kellen Moore might’ve been the biggest upgrade in the NFL this offseason. Moore, a coach’s son that made it to the NFL for his cerebral prowess at the quarterback position, is dressing up Dallas’ offense with disguise, misdirection, and tendency breakers.

Dallas varies it’s running scheme, but the talent to execute simple gap-schemes and power concepts allows Moore to get creative with the play action game. Cowboys players praise Moore for his nuance and emphasis on getting players in position to exhibit their best traits.

Scheming chunk-plays in the passing game, running the football to keep the offense on schedule, and devising red zone concepts to free up pass catchers in the condensed area already has Moore’s name circulating as the next hot head coaching candidate.

Defense:

On top of impeccable front-seven talent, the Cowboys borrow concepts from some of the most accomplished, revolutionary defensive schemes in the history of the league. Rod Marinelli still carries the title of Defensive Coordinator, but it’s a co-op with he and the up-and-coming Kris Richard.

With elements of the Tampa-2 from Marinelli’s days with the Bucs — and more recently in Chicago — fused with Richard’s rendition of the wildly popular scheme originated by Pete Carroll, Dallas is successful in a multitude of packages and pre-snap disguises.

Creating one-on-one rush opportunities from their elite pass rushers, while playing a variety of cover-3, 2, and 1 on the back-end, the Cowboys can apply pressure while dropping seven — the ultimate goal of every NFL defense.

Look for Chad O’Shea to attack this defense with more in-breaking routes. That means high-low and drive concepts (designed to displace zone coverage and attack the middle of cover-1 and Tampa-2 defenses) and seam shots with the Cowboys drop two deep.

The Players:

Offense:

Dak Prescott is off to an MVP-caliber beginning to his 2019 season. Prescott handles pressure in two ways — the type of pressure applied by ferocious fronts, and the pressure of big moments. He’s accurate, creates opportunities off-script, and allows Kellen Moore to utilize designed runs.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Then there’s Zeke Elliot, who’s just getting rolling. Zeke, behind arguably the NFL’s best offensive line with the healthy Travis Frederic, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and La’El Collins, Dallas can line up and push teams off the football.

The Dolphins must get big showings from Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins to hold the point-of-attack and free up Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan to meet Zeke in the hole.

Amari Cooper is one of the game’s best route runners, and he pairs that with size and speed. He’ll be a tough matchup for Miami, unless Xavien Howard wants to travel with the Cowboys play maker. That opens up another bag of worms, especially as Miami will be working in a new safety alongside corner-convert, Bobby McCain.

Jason Witten is back, but he serves mostly as an additional lineman and the forgotten man in the red zone (as far as the defense is concerned, Witten has two touchdowns already on plays that schemed him wide open). Michael Gallup will miss this game while the resurgent Randal Cobb will help keep the Miami defense honest horizontally in the misdirection game.

Defense:

Jaylon Smith leads the defense with his instinctive, urgent playing style that pairs well with uncommon physical traits. He and Leighton Vander Esch set the tone in the middle of the Dallas defense, and a lot of the scheme is designed to free these two up to wreak havoc. Smith’s athleticism allows Marinelli to keep the Tampa-2 concept alive.

Demarcus Lawrence is set to have a field day. Miami haven’t been able to block anybody this year, and now will have to handle one of the game’s best pass rushers against deafening crowd noise.

Byron Jones has fallen out of favor in Dallas. The dependable Jeff Heath, and the underrated Xavier Woods make it so, while Chidobe Awuzie locks down the opposition’s number one receiver. Dallas’ vulnerability in this position group from the perimeter corner position opposite Awuzie. Jones has been playing corner to pair with slot specialist Jourdan Lewis and Awuzie.

If Miami can create one-on-one passing opportunities into the boundary, look for O’Shea to attack vertically and hope to steal some points — the best bet here is likely Preston Williams.

The Medical:

The Concerns:

Quite literally all over the football field. Dallas can line up with power and milk the Dolphins defense dry. They can attack vertically, or in the controlled passing game with well-timed shot plays built into the offense, all on top of exceptional red zone production in the early going of 2019.

Demarcus Lawrence leads the team in pressures, but he’s only pulled the quarterback down once — that ties the team lead. This Cowboys pass rush is going to be champing at the bit to pad those stats, and there’s no reason to think Miami can handle the relentless pressure, even without blitzing.

The Opportunities:

Special teams might be the one area Miami can spark some magic. The Dolphins are off to a slow start in this department as well, but Jakeem Grant’s big-play ability will be needed if Miami are to pull the miracle upset.

Finding vertical shots — whether it’s Mike Gesicki splitting the Tampa-2, Preston Williams winning an outside release into the boundary without safety help, or getting a fly-by from Grant, Miami needs some fireworks.

The Projected Outcome:

The game plan came together defensively in the first half against the Patriots, but it’s a challenge for even the league’s best stop-units to carry a lifeless offense. Unless the Dolphins can finally sustain some drives and convert in the red zone, this game will get out of hand. It’s doubtful Miami can do that, so look for an aggressive offense that tries to hit the big play.

Dallas just has too much star power and excellent coordinators for Miami to pick them off — or even cover.

Dolphins 6
Cowboys 31

@WingfieldNFL

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