Dolphins Looking for the First Win in this Brutal September Stretch
Who: Dolphins (0-3) vs. Chargers (1-2)
When: Sunday September 29, 1:00 PM East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium — Miami, FL
Weather: 85 degrees, scattered thunderstorms, 68% humidity, 17 MPH winds
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +16.5
The Dolphins were relatively healthy for the record-setting three-game stretch to begin the 2019 season. Now, injuries are mounting as the team falls further into obscurity.
The offensive line started fast Sunday in Dallas, but losing Jesse Davis and Danny Isidora forced some shuffling, and the results were not favorable. Davis’ status is up in the air, but if he misses the game, it’ll force Miami to kick rookie Michael Deiter out to a position that doesn’t suit his skill set.
The competitive first half in Dallas was equal parts execution from Miami, and sloppiness from the undefeated Cowboys.
Miami won’t get another sleep walking team Sunday in their own building — the Chargers are off to a disappointing 1-2 start and must bury the hapless Dolphins to right the ship.
Philip Rivers and this Chargers team has historically struggled in Miami, and the advantages would lean towards the home team in a regular season. Despite the heat of South Florida, and the early body clock game for the guests, the talent disparity figures to be the difference for the fourth consecutive week.
(Data available courtesy of Sharp Football)
Under Ken Whisenhunt the Chargers are primarily an 11-personnel operation. Using one back, one tight end and three receivers makes up 72% of L.A.’s package deployment in 2019, with 12-personnel accounting for 13%, and 21-personnel at a 10% clip — 10th most in the league.
With a variety of skill player options, Whisenhunt matches that mix with lead, power, and zone running concepts, sparingly using Fullback Derek Watt.
Whisenhunt pairs a mixture of the screen and run game with a dynamic intermediate passing game made possible by a pair of impressive wide outs in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Lately, Los Angeles has to incorporate more max protection and help off Philip Rivers’ blind during the absence of regular starting Left Tackle, Russell Okung. Still, the Chargers offense is exceptional at building up tendencies and then breaking them at the pivotal moments of the game.
This explosive attack is able to mitigate shortcomings on the offensive line with a quick-strike passing game. Few teams utilize three and five step drops with more frequency — Miami’s man-coverage scheme will be tested in this contest.
Gus Bradley wasn’t a great head coach, but he’s a hell of a defensive coordinator. He was the only coach to figure out Lamar Jackson last season in the playoffs, as he develops plans to specifically cut down the opposition’s strengths.
Bradley has been hamstrung by some injuries on that side of the ball this year, most notably his all-pro safety/hybrid-do-everything star, Derwin James. Still, the Chargers coverage schemes (a lot of man-free and cover-3) help confused quarterbacks just enough to unleash the dominant pass rush of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
All teams want to win with a four-man rush, but few are equipped to do it like Los Angeles. Still, Bradley will vary his blitzes and rush packages to create one-on-one opportunities for his stars on that defensive front.
Last week against the Texans, the Chargers played four corners for 88% or more of the snaps — and only one safety for more than 15 snaps.
Rivers vs. Brian Flores is the key matchup in this game. There aren’t many disguised that Rivers hasn’t seen in his career, and it’ll be up to Flores and Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham to create a blur between the pre-snap picture and the post-snap rotation.
The key to putting Rivers behind the chains comes from early-down success, which will be a problem. Austin Eckler is a dynamic pass receiving threat, and the side on the Chargers line could prove problematic for Miami’s under-sized linebackers. Despite good games for Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins last week, the Cowboys ran roughshod on the ‘Phins ‘backers trapping them in the wash regularly.
Xavien Howard will likely draw Mike Williams with bracket coverage heading Keenan Allen’s way. Howard needs a big bounce back, and this is the type of player he can handle. Howard can match Williams’ size and strength and should have some opportunities to take the football away.
Tackles Trent Scott and Sam Tevi are major liabilities — if the Dolphins are going to get the pass rush going, this is the week to do it.
It’s difficult to find areas where Miami can attack this Chargers defense. Most of Houston’s success last week came from the heroics of Deshaun Watson going off-script, something Josh Rosen doesn’t do nearly at the same level.
Casey Hayward is a premier corner that’s been doing it for years, but Jakeem Grant offers him a unique matchup in the slot.
Desmond King will likely draw one of Miami’s trees (Devante Parker and Preston Williams). Whoever King doesn’t take will get opportunities on Brandon Facyson and Roderic Teamer — a chance to make some plays.
Getting the front blocked will be an issue. Denzel Perryman is one of the game’s premier linebackers against the run, and he’s set up by the massive Brandon Mebane in the middle.
On the edge, Miami is going to have to use max-protect and hope and pray they can hold on against Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa — both off to slow starts, looking to get things cranked up Sunday in Miami.
Thursday injury report for #Chargers and Dolphins
Justin Jackson was limited with a calf injury. Michael Davis was a full participant. Looks like he'll return Sunday in Miami. pic.twitter.com/1WBEaivZfx
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) September 26, 2019
The Chargers defense are reeling a little bit right now without some of the key pieces on the back end. Cornerback Brandon Facyson is a second-year UDFA with 177 snaps through the first three games. He has allowed 12 receptions on 16 targets for 134 yards and a touchdown. According to the crossover Wednesday episode with Locked On Chargers, he’s been responsible for some coverage busts, and the Dolphins will seek to exploit him.
The edge rushers for the Chargers are sleeping giants right now, and there’s no better time to get right than Sunday in Miami. With Jesse Davis considered day-to-day the contingency plans are terrifying. Joey Bosa against J’Marcus Webb (who surrendered 10 pressures and 2 sacks last week, primarily against Demarcus Lawrence) should put Josh Rosen in plenty of peril.
If Davis can’t go, that means another week of Michael Deiter at Left Tackle, and trying to deal with Melvin Ingram.
The Projected Outcome:
Things are only going to get worse, I know that’s a sad reality, but that’s the nature of the NFL. The war of attrition, as it were, is unkind to teams with depth. The war of attrition is a tank steamrolling over teams lacking able bodies on the bench, and we might be in the beginning stages of the top-of-the-roster talent taking on nicks and bruises.
The Chargers pass rush is too much, the screen game and Keenan Allen on the offense goes wild, and though the Dolphins finally cover a spread, the game is not particularly close.
Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track
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.
The F1 Miami Grand Prix will showcase Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens to the World. See new track below – world-class racing w/o using 199th St, and no racing during school hours. We hope the County Commission will support our effort to deliver this huge global event to you! pic.twitter.com/VqF5AnPMJT
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) January 21, 2020
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:
— F1 Miami Grand Prix (@f1miami) February 20, 2020
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.
Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts
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.
#Dolphins are signing former #Lions TE Michael Roberts, source says. Roberts had four workouts the past week and more on the docket but will sign with Miami. Missed last season with a shoulder injury that nixed a trade to the #Patriots. Healthy now. 3 TDs in 2018 and can block.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 19, 2020
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.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 13, 2019
A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football
(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…
- Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track February 20, 2020
- Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts February 19, 2020
- A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football February 19, 2020
- Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019 February 14, 2020
- A Miami Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football February 12, 2020