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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Aerial Assault Beats Birds – Dolphins Eagles Week 13 Recap

Travis Wingfield

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Under Flores, Dolphins swimming upstream; and winning

If the comedy franchise ‘Major League’ were nonfiction, they’d probably follow a similar storyline to the 2019 Miami Dolphins. With everything imaginable working against Brian Flores and his roster, the coach who was projected to finish the season without a victory has now found the winner’s circle. Three times.

The future of the Dolphins is uncertain, just as it is for the other 31 franchises in the NFL. Obtaining the first pick in the draft is the believed best way to minimize that uncertainty with regards to the league’s most important position — the quarterback. While selecting QB1, and hitting on the pick, is the quickest way to change a franchise, finding the correct man to lead the team finished in a close second.

In Brian Flores, the Dolphins found the right man to guide this team back to prominence.

Stat Dolphins Eagles
Total Yards 409 386
Rushing 58 92
Passing 351 294
3rd /4th Down 8/15 (53.3%) 7/14 (50%)
Penalties 7 (59 yards) 10 (91 yards)
Sacks For 2 3
TOP 31:18 28:42

DolphinsEagles

Throughout the season, we’ve shown you sound structure on defense and an offensive game plan that schemes open players with regularity. We’ve also shown you the shortcomings in protection, the occasional dropped pass and — this season, the even more rare miss from the quarterback.

Showcasing the improvements over the previous coaching staffs, in losing efforts, was enough to nudge the pessimist towards hope. Now, the Dolphins are learning how to close those games, and showing sustained bite from unsung players that nobody thought had a chance to become part of the next era of Dolphins football.

Miami aren’t just finding success from players like Undrafted Cornerback Nik Needham, or the previously injured fellow UDFA Preston Williams. The Fins are finding contributions from players valued as bottom-tier acquisitions, whether it’s the draft of free agency.

Devante Parker re-signed in Miami on a two-year deal worth $10 million. Parker is the AFC’s second-leading receiver since the bye week, and has already surpassed career-highs across the board. Parker makes the same amount as Cordarrelle Patterson.

Eric Rowe would be the 93rd-highest paid cornerback in the league were he still playing that position. Since his shift to safety after the bye week, Rowe allows less than 4.5 yards-per-target in coverage.

Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a contract that pays him less than Brian Hoyer. I won’t suggest that Fitzpatrick is the long-term solution at the position, but the way he’s playing shows how the right guy, who is wired the right way, can excel in this scheme. Fitzpatrick threw for 365 yards despite his top back rushing for 20 yards in the game. It’s the fourth time Fitzpatrick has surpassed 280 yards passing, behind an offensive line that allows more hits, pressures and sacks than any unit in the league.

Mike Gesicki has come on like gangbusters. Some fans preferred Dallas Goedert (Eagles Tight End) in the second-round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Miami’s actual pick, Gesicki, topped Goedert’s 66-yard performance with 79 of his own, including a touchdown. Gesicki has more receptions and yards than Goedert on the season.

If this is the type of production Miami are capable of cultivating from low-end investments, what should we expect from five premium draft picks, and the biggest free agent budget in the league?

This team is going to be form-fit to suit the needs of Chad O’Shea, Patrick Graham and the entire operation that Brian Flores has established in just his first year on the job. Targeted free agents carefully picked with distinct jobs envisioned, before the ink dries on the contract, and a bunch of young five-stars for this successful coaching staff — who are garnering Coach of the Year talk — to get their hands on.

Be excited, Fins fans. Be very excited.

Let’s get to the individuals.

Quarterbacks

The 365-yard performance Fitzpatrick posted on Sunday can’t be praised enough. He was under immense pressure from the first snap of the game, and the Eagles completely shut down Miami’s offensive operation through three series. Until it all clicked.

Fitzpatrick was still getting forced off the spot, but found lanes to set up and deliver an onslaught of vertical shots to his two trees (Parker and Gesicki) or underneath to Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson and Patrick Laird. Miami closed the game out with five consecutive touchdown drives if you discount a kneel down at the end of the half, and a clock extraction drive at the end of the game.

His statistics are not indicative of what he’s meant to this team. During the broadcast the commentators mentioned that even the defense admits to absorbing the energy that Fitzpatrick brings to work every day.

Running Backs

It took an injury to Kalen Ballage to finally get something going from the tailbacks. Ballage finished the day with three carries, no yards, and a long of 1-yard. Seventh-rounder Myles Gaskin and undrafted rookie Patrick Laird — A.K.A The Intern — combined for 74 total yards.

Gaskin had the best rushing day with 20 yards on two carries, but Laird made the biggest impact in the game. He caught a 2nd and 10 pass at the plus-15, made a man miss and burrowed ahead for a first down. On the next play, he plowed into the end zone from five yards out, and capped it off by catching a two-point conversion pass in the end zone.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

What more can we say about Parker? In a breakout season, Parker enjoyed his breakout game; just two weeks after his initial breakout. His last three games have totaled 20 receptions for 335 yards and a pair of scores. The catches he made Sunday were highlight reel plays that somehow continuously topped the one prior.

Mike Gesicki was up next, and wanted in on the “Mossing” action. Plucking the football off the helmets of unsuspecting defensive backs, finding space in soft spots, making big runs after the catch — this is the athletic tight end we all thought we were getting two Aprils ago.

Allen Hurns is a reliable slot option that has earned the trust of Fitzpatrick. He often presents a the target at the correct time while the window exists. He continues to pick up key first downs at critical moments.

It was great to see Albert Wilson back and involved. He uncovered to the tune of five catches on five targets, and his biggest play came as a tailback in the Wildcat formation. Wilson still doesn’t look to be at the same speed as last year, but this is a big first step. Take a look at Parker’s block on Wilson’s long run.

Offensive Line

There were moments for the line Sunday, but the running game is still nonexistent, and a less aware quarterback would’ve been scraped off the field with a spatula Sunday.

Michael Deiter has ownership of some of those moments, including a punishing block to lead Laird in for a touchdown. His pass protection was better despite having to play next to two different tackles in the game.

The left tackle position continues to be the Achilles heel of this team.

Jesse Davis is always going to struggle with speed as a tackle. That fact has been evident all year, and he was getting all he could handle via speed and speed-to-power moves from Philadelphia early. Davis eventually settled down as the game went along and gave Fitzpatrick enough time to get the ball down the field.

Hopefully all the work Shaq Calhoun is getting at right guard can develop his prospects for the future, but it’s just not bearing a lot of fruit right now. We’ll have more on the line from the all-22.

Defensive Line and Linebackers

Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins continued on essentially the same plane they’ve been on for the last several weeks. Moments of dominance, position versatility, some reps they’d like to have back, but a good game in total.

The edge remains a problem as Miami allowed 83 rushing yards on 17 carries from Miles Sanders. A combination of Taco Charlton, Charles Harris, John Jenkins, Vince Biegel and Andrew Van Ginkel filled that role today. The plays were few and far between, as Biegel was the only one of the group to consistently hold the point of attack. He also provided pressure on a number of reps.

Jerome Baker left the game with an injury and was replaced by Sam Eguavoen as the green-dot communication player on defense. Eguavoen had his best day as a pro with a sack and a big stick on a screen pass.

Baker continues to show some concerning moments for how they want linebackers to play in this system. He’s asked to do jobs that are usually made for bigger, stronger players, and he gets washed out as a result.

Defensive Backs

Miami won this game on the back of its offense, but the 10 points allowed in the second half made the 14-point comeback possible. After allowing Philadelphia to pile up 28 points one possession into the second half, the Dolphins forced a missed field goal (49 yards) two punts, and a 37-yard field goal.

The missed field goal occurred after an Eguavoen sack, but the two punts and successful field goal all came as a result of big stops by the Dolphins defensive backfield.

Nik Needham was tested again. He’s proven to be Miami’s best cover corner as he draws the one-on-one responsibility in a seven-man coverage package that brackets every other route on the field.

Eric Rowe is in talks for a contraction extension, and he’s earned it post-bye week. Rowe made a pass breakup on Zach Ertz in the end zone, and was involved around many-a-running plays near the line of scrimmage for yet another week.

Ken Webster displayed the physical nature of his game that endeared this staff to his long-term prospects.

The best part of watching this secondary — though there are gaffes, and Miami had plenty against the consistent barrage of Philly mesh concepts — is that they all play together. There’s a belief in the scheme, and they all adhere to their responsibilities. They’ll get beat on the talent deficiency at times, but they are competing and coming up big on third downs and in the red zone.

Specialists

No way this article would be complete without mentioning the coolest special teams trickery I’ve ever seen. Matt Haack to Jason Sanders, and it’s the first kicker to score a touchdown since 1977.

Foundation = Established

This is the third time I’ve made an emphatic, landmark moment declaration on Brian Flores, and I gain more confidence with each one. Back in training camp I sensed a team that was hungry to play for this coach. A disciplined unit that was absorbing all the valuable information from individual techniques, to being in the right spot to help your teammate within the structure of the scheme.

I said it again after the Colts win when Brian Flores willed an undermanned roster to a second-straight victory. Now, up against a $30 million quarterback and a team with preseason Super Bowl expectations, I’m going to dig in deeper on the proclamation that Flores will finally break Miami’s string of coaches without making through year-five (Shula the last to do it in Miami, Wannstedt fired in year-five).

Finding production from the change lost in the couch cushion is a testament to so many people in the organization, not just Brian Flores. It’s a testament to the area scouts who discovered players like Preston Williams and Nik Needham. It’s a testament to Josh Boyer, who’s impressive resume developing unknown defensive backs tracks several years now. It’s a testament to the executives who decided to push the resources into the future so that Flores could establish the foundation, and then build the team around his image.

I saw it explained best on Twitter from a friend of mine with the handle @Desides01. He said, “Dare I say the Dolphins finally succeeded where other teams failed at extracting some of the Patriots coaching magic?”

Dare on, Desides01; because that’s exactly what’s happening here.

Brian Flores is Lou Brown and his roster was stripped down to a bunch of guys that otherwise wouldn’t be in the league. Flores rallied the team around that idea, and in turn, discovered a Pedro Cerrano of his own in homerun hitting Devante Parker. He found his veteran leader watching over it all with Ryan Fitzpatrick taking on Jake Taylor’s role.

Now, the challenge in 2020, will be getting Jack Parkman not only to sign the big free agent contract, but to buy into the program.

@WingfieldNFL

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Papapickett

    December 1, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    I want the team to play well and improve but winning games in a lost season doesnt do that. Also I to suspect Grier and Flores will be clicking on the same page but I give all the credit to the coaches this year. They have shuffled these guys around to figure out where they are best deployed even though I admit to being extremely annoyed and impatient with that process but it was largely because Grier took so long to get the ACTUAL 53 together. Week 4 was like the end of our preseason so all the improvement has been from the coaching staff. The best surprise is Eric Rowe. We cant forget he has a long injury history but since he has moved to safety wow. Just wow. His lack of speed has been covered up and his football savvy has been unlocked. Its interesting to see how talent dependent sacks are though. It is clear to see it is hard to scheme up sacks. Definitely going to need some pass rushers next year.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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 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.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Linden Stephens
Linden Stephens defending Los Angeles Rams tight end Johnny Mundt

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.

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.

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.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview

Travis Wingfield

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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

DolphinsGiants

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.

The Scheme:

Offense:

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.

Defense:

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.

The Players:

Offense:

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.

Defense:

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.

The Medical:

(Coming Friday)

The Opportunities:

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 Concerns:

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.

Dolphins 27
Giants 13

@WingfieldNFL

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