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Different Route, Same Destination – Dolphins Chargers Week 4 Recap

Travis Wingfield

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Despite first lead, Miami’s second half woes, mistakes continue in 20-point home defeat

Sunday was one of firsts for Miami in this horrendous 2019 season. Josh Rosen threw his first touchdown as a Dolphin, and that score gave the home team its first lead of the year. The hot start wasn’t enough to overcome dropped passes, missed field goals, and an egregious turnover as Miami failed to cover another sizable spread.

 

Stat Dolphins Chargers
Total Yards 233 390
Rushing 72 79
Passing 161 311
Penalties 5 (53 yards) 10 (89 yards)
3rd/4thDown 5/11 (45.5%) 8/14 (57.1%)
Sacks For 1 5
TOP 22:24 37:36

 

The only thing Brian Flores can feasibly be asked to do this year is to conduct a smart, disciplined football team that plays hard. The Dolphins, in a league where flags are falling from the sky, are averaging just five infractions the last two games.

Penalties: check.

The playing hard part isn’t coming as easily, unfortunately. Several times in this game, players were opting not to pursue the ball carrier, easily falling off blocks, or going through the motions in general.

Miami ran the ball effectively early in the game. Chad O’Shea created a touchdown through a clever scheme that pulled coverage away from a Devante Parker wheel route. The offense continued to push the ball into Charger territory in that first half, but a pair of Jason Sanders’ misses kept Miami from capturing a half time lead.

Within a touchdown at the break, Miami came back out of the locker room the way it has all year — lifeless.

The Dolphins have been outscored 81-0 in the second half this season. The offense gained just 37 yards in that second half, only 12 of it through the air. Yuck.

Let’s start there in the position-by-position review.

Quarterback

For the first time this season, only one quarterback was necessary for Miami to finish the game. That feat comes on the heels of nearly every Dolphins fan giving into the Church of Tua Tagovailoa. Josh Rosen had his moments, the moments that will remind you why he was a top 10 pick in the draft, but he ultimately came up small in the most critical elements.

Even when Rosen is spinning it beautifully from a clean pocket, extending plays when the protection has been compromised, or engineering drives deep into the opponent’s territory, there remains so much in his game to nitpick.

The interception was atrocious. The sack at his own goal line was a miracle reception by Rosen’s knees from resulting a gift wrapped fumble touchdown. The late processing that causes a hitch in his delivery cost Miami a potential third-down conversion.

Each of these things all prevent Miami from taking his long-term prospects into consideration over the loaded 2020 class.

The all-22 review will show some encouraging moments, but it will also show you why Miami’s best bet is to either:

A.) Retain Rosen as a backup
B.) Flip him from a draft pick in the offseason

He’s playing well enough to get something in return.

Running Backs

Is the Kenyan Drake-Kalen Ballage debate over yet? It ought to be, by now. Drake, despite another fumble (which absolutely, positively cannot continue) was clearly the more dynamic back. He was decisive, shifty, and caught the football seamlessly out of the backfield.

Drake continues to be a liability in pass protection, but it’s Ballage that’s a concern in every other facet of the game. His best run of the season was negated by an offensive penalty, and he dropped another pass — a considerable detriment in this scheme.

Mark Walton earned some reps down the stretch, and looked to be the favored backup plan to Drake. Walton showcased his own passing game prowess, and broke a Charger defender’s ankles on a nifty cut back.

Wide Receivers

The problem with drops has reached epidemic levels. Preston Williams made two outstanding catches off ricochets, but didn’t demonstrate the same concentration on an easy slant over the middle. He’s dropped a pass in each of the last three games.

Devante Parker caught all four of his targets, including his first touchdown since last December. Jakeem Grant is becoming the forgotten man in the offense. He caught his only target of the day, a six-year gain on a hook-up route.

Tight Ends

The Dolphins clearly made it a point to run the football. The cost of that game plan was Mike Gesicki’s involvement. The second-year tight end didn’t see any passes thrown his way. Check back on the aftermath column for a look into his snap count, I suspect it went down significantly.

That means more work for Durham Smythe, who executed some lane-opening blocks. That’s his bread and butter. When the Dolphins run-game is cranking, Smythe is usually involved.

Offensive Line

It feels like forever since we were able to offer this much praise for a Dolphins offensive line. It started early with the right side grinding out big gaps for the Dolphins backs, as well as some downfield work in the screen game.

Evan Boehm has played well two weeks in a row and might be the answer to the question, “who is going to join Jesse Davis as the second survivor on this offensive line?” Boehm plays with a nasty mean-streak, he was integral in helping out Isaiah Prince in some pass protection double teams, and even got into space on a screen pass.

Joining Boehm on that screen pass was Center Daniel Kilgore. The veteran of the group has quietly been steady this year, including some impressive work within that early-game success on the ground.

Isaiah Prince had a difficult preseason, but he played far better than expectations in his first NFL start. He was blowing people off the ball, he was good enough in pass protection, and whacked Melvin Ingram into next week on this play.

Pass protection became an issue as the game wore on yet again. There appear to be some communication issues occurring off the left side with Michael Deiter and whoever has played next to him. Overload rushes are giving that side of the line more problems than it can handle.

Defensive Line

Taco Charlton is flashing a little bit early on as a Dolphin, specifically as a run defender. He picked up his second sack in as many weeks. He got to the quarterback beating a tight end and flattening the edge. His pass rush has been non-existent otherwise, but he’s been disruptive setting the edge against the run.

Dominating the run game is Davon Godchaux’s forte, and it was again in this one, but he put a bull rush on Mike Pouncey that still has the former Phin retreating.

Christian Wilkins did not have a good showing. It’s been a slow burn for the 13th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft so far. He’s learning to play more two-gap, read-and-react football opposed to winning with his quickness. Wilkins is notching a couple of wins every week, but not enough to feel terrific about the early development.

Linebackers

Raekwon McMillan has been the best player on the team through September — and I’m not sure it’s close. He was only a sub-package player the first three games, but he took over in many of Miami’s two-backer formations Sunday, displacing Sam Eguavoen (more on him in a moment).

McMillan was tremendous. He’s thirsty for contact, and shows it by blowing up blocks, quickly diagnosing the run and knifing in for punishing pops near the line-of-scrimmage.

Eguavoen’s dreadful start to the season continued against Los Angeles. He can’t defeat a block, he’s mostly useless as an edge run-defender, and the passing game strides he showed in camp are not there (blitzing or in coverage).

Jerome Baker isn’t at that level, but he’s playing bad football. Consistently caught in the wash against the run, not enough depth in his drops in coverage, and zero pass rush to speak of…all of that is one thing, but effort is another. Baker gave no effort on this play.

Defensive Backs

Eric Rowe was feasted on yet again. He has no discernible plan at the top of the route. His initial engagement and redirecting at the line of scrimmage is good enough, but the inability to transition at the top of the stem is utterly lacking.

Xavien Howard bounced back with a better showing, though he was hit with a pass interference call and surrendered a pair of catches. He followed Keenan Allen when the star receiver aligned in a plus-split. Allen only picked up 48 yards on the day.

Most of Los Angeles’ passing funneled through the short game (screens and dump offs to the backs), or designed concepts with the purpose of taking advantage of Miami’s tendencies. Tight ends leaking out for chunk gains, and Austin Eckler picking up 60 yards and a touchdown had more to do with the poor play of the linebackers.

Steven Parker was in position for the most part, Reshad Jones was a mixed bag, and I’ll have to look at the all-22 for a better overall evaluation of Chris Lammons, Johnson Bademosi, Walt Aikens and the rest of the gang.

Specialists

Jason Sanders has now missed three kicks in two weeks. I don’t know the first thing about kicking mechanics. I do know the job is mostly mental. Judging by the trajectory and flight path of his kicks, though, it looks like he just needs recalibration. He’s not shanking them or putting unnecessary draw on the kicks.

Recap

Call me crazy, but I’m excited to look at this all-22. We might’ve taken the first step towards some answers at some very important pieces heading into the offseason. I’ll focus on the work of the Boehm-Prince pairing, breakdown the coverage concepts with the new pieces in the secondary, and the excellent game of Raekwon McMillan.

Of course, every throw of Josh Rosen will go under the microscope in the charting project. A lot of the same issues are popping up. Those repeated mistakes have to make you think they are part of his DNA. At this point, Rosen is likely auditioning for someone else, as Miami searches to recoup the draft pick it spent on Josh.

Thankfully, the Dolphins got some help in the rebuild pursuit with road underdog Carolina pulling the upset in Houston.

Miami are on to the 2020 draft and it’s shaping up to look like two high selections (root for Cincinnati tomorrow night in Pittsburgh) and a mid-round pick from Houston.

To get ready for April’s revamping of the Dolphins roster, follow our college football scouting all season long, HERE on Locked On Dolphins. We break down the top quarterbacks and players at positions of need for Miami.

@WingfieldNFL

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    donv

    September 30, 2019 at 1:20 am

    how much do you really hate Rosen or are you so infatuated with Tua that you are too blind to be objective about anyone. How would Tua have done playing in this game today. The reality is, Tua rarely has pressure, has receivers that are open by 3-4 yards and is playing for one of the best teams against woefully inferior teams most weeks. How do you project with any certainty what he will do in the nfl. His play against good competition has shown his weak points…them the facts baby.He may be good but lets tap the brakes on both players the draft is 7 months away and Rosen has 12 games yet to play. Let it all play out over time. I will trust Grier, Flores and their immense scouting resources, experience,wisdom. Rather than a bunch of twitter hacks and wannabe experts.

  2. Avatar

    Steve

    September 30, 2019 at 10:31 am

    I think the primary plan was for Rosen to be a back up. If they seriously viewed him as the franchise QB, they would not have been so concern about his contract when they traded for him.

  3. Avatar

    Marchcool

    September 30, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    This team suffers from an absolute lack of identity. I’d like to know for instance how many players of this roster have at least 5 years within the team. The only name that come to my mind right now is R.Jones, maybe B. McCain, but not even sure. And most of the starters have less than 3 years with this team.
    The fans don’t identify with those names.
    There are no leaders. All these players could play for a different team and it would be the same for them, perhaps even better.
    They play every given Sunday because they have to. They signed a contract. There’s no passion no nothing. Exactly mirroring his owner, a natural born loser as football concerns.

  4. Avatar

    donv

    September 30, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Travis, how much do you really hate Rosen or are you so infatuated with Tua that you are too blind to be objective about anyone. How would Tua have done playing in this game today. The reality is, Tua rarely has pressure, has receivers that are open by 3-4 yards and is playing for one of the best teams against woefully inferior teams most weeks. How do you project with any certainty what he will do in the nfl. His play against good competition has shown his weak points…them the facts baby.He may be good but lets tap the brakes on both players the draft is 7 months away and Rosen has 12 games yet to play. Let it all play out over time. I will trust Grier, Flores and their immense scouting resources, experience,wisdom. Rather than a bunch of twitter hacks and wannabe experts.

  5. Avatar

    don v

    October 2, 2019 at 12:01 am

    I have to disagree with your analysis of Rosen. At this point your so biased towards Tua as the next QB like Murray last year.It is nearly impossible to evaluate QB’s in college and project them to the NFL with any accuracy of 50% at best.Trying to compare college QB’s is hard especially when Tua plays for one of the best teams in college,is rarely pressured, his wide out’s are almost always open by a bunch. Even given all that, he has had his worse games against the best teams and it shows. Pump the brakes let them both finish their seasons and then decide.Your on record for over a year now saying you never liked Rosen. Besides your opinion really doesn’t matter, Grier with his scouting staff,resources, professionals along with Flores and his staff I trust much more than a wannabe tweeter with a podcast, who has shown a lack of objectivity and hyperbole many times.

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Miami Dolphins

Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: MotorSportWeek.com

This may be the last thing on the mind of Miami Dolphins fans everywhere, but there seems to be a prominent legal battle taking place in South Florida.

A new Formula 1 race track was recently approved (by a 6-6 vote) to be “built” around Hard Rock Stadium, with races beginning in 2021.

While city officials press to approve the new track, local residents are up in arms about the potential race. F1 cars are notoriously loud, and as we mentioned above, these races aren’t contained within an arena or stadium.

City officials believe this will bring in additional revenue for Miami and the surrounding area, as annual races are expected to be held around Hard Rock Stadium for the next 10 years. The local populous is arguing that these races are too loud for local streets, and will cause an enormous amount of disturbance and will be detrimental to the environment. Overall, this will cause a “serious degrade to their quality of life.”

Just so you can have a reference, F1 engines tend to run between 130-145 decibels. If you go to a concert and stand relatively close to an amplifier, you’re only dealing with about 100-110 decibels. The average lawn mower is about 90 decibels. Needless to say, these engines are LOUD.

Unlike NASCAR, Formula 1 (F1) race tracks are essentially “created” using local roadways that are already in place. Though there is obviously a lot of preparation that goes into “creating” the course (to ensure the safety of racers and fans alike), no new venues need to be built.

With that said, the City of Miami Gardens and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are attempting to host the race solely on Hard Rock Stadium grounds. Given Ross’ ownership in the land surrounding Hard Rock Stadium, it’s possible this race doesn’t officially occur on any public roads.

To give some background, Stephen Ross attempted to buy F1 a couple of years ago, but the sale ended up going to another group. Though he didn’t win the bid, he reached an agreement with the new owners and is now one step closer to making the Miami Grand Prix a reality.

Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, issued the following statement on behalf of the approved 6-6 decision:

This recent vote was the biggest hurdle potentially preventing the Miami Grand Prix from happening. Though the legal battles aren’t over, it seems unlikely that the decision to host F1 races will be reversed.

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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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