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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Down Saints – Preseason Game 4 Recap, Starting QB Announced

Travis Wingfield

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Fitzpatrick named opening day starter, exhibition season is in the rear view, now the fun (or the pain) begins

Stat Dolphins Saints
Total Yards 345 305
Rushing 117 124
Passing 228 181
Penalties 6 (54 yards) 4 (35 yards)
3rd/4thDown 8/15 6/12
Sacks For 2 1
TOP 33:17 26:43

 

Brian Flores announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick, not Josh Rosen, would start the season opener against the Ravens.

Prior to Coach’s announcement, the most pertinent takeaways from tonight’s game occurred before the 8 PM kickoff. Miami’s massive list of inactives featured all the players you would expect, but also some that might’ve been thought to sit on the bubble.

The length of that list is visually comical, but two stand out above the rest.

Like Jomal Wiltz.

For those privy to my daily training camp updates, this is not a surprise. Wiltz regularly ran with the first-team, as a nickel corner, while Minkah Fitzpatrick cross-trained at safety. Wiltz came over from the Patriots practice squad last season where he worked with new Dolphins Cornerbacks Coach Josh Boyer.

Wiltz is on the 53-man roster.

Like Chris Lammons.

On the fourth day of camp, a group of largely unknowns began to work in behind Bobby McCain in that deep center field safety role. Montre Hartage, Wiltz, and Lammons were the ones vying for backup duty. Since that time, Lammons has been featured on primary special teams units, he’s made plays in the games, and he’s been all over the defensive formation.

Lammons is on the 53-man roster.

The others on this list are either injured or veterans with utter job security. Allen Hurns stands out as another interesting name, however. He doesn’t have any reported injuries and is considered a bubble player, at best.

A tip of the cap to Head Coach Brian Flores, he delegated play-calling duties to the two holdovers from the Adam Gase regime — Eric Studesville and Tony Oden.

Studesville was active throwing some wrinkles at the Saints. Miami operated out of a heavy package (sixth offensive lineman) in the second quarter, and schemed open a touchdown at the end of the half.

Let’s go position-by-position.

Quarterback

Flores announced immediately after the game that Ryan Fitzpatrick would start opening day against the Ravens. Rosen outperformed the veteran in the preseason games, but Flores referenced the same ideals that led him to this decision all throughout camp.

Communication, leadership, and the understanding of the offense. Rosen isn’t there yet, and that’s okay. It’s better for Rosen to play when he’s ready than it is to throw him to the wolves for the hell of it.

Now, if Rosen isn’t playing after the bye week (barring a miracle 3-1, or even 2-2 start) then that’s a separate issue.

In the interim, Jake Rudock played really well in New Orleans. The pass protection was the best it has been all preseason, but it wasn’t without its warts. On those plays with compromised pockets, when Rudock had to go off-script, he made magic. Free of turnovers, Rudock passed for 229 yards, a touchdown, only took one sack, and posted a passer rating of 109.7.

Running Backs

Considering the minimal investment into the position this offseason (last chance Mark Walton, a seventh-round pick, a UDFA signing and an AAF signing) Miami has a deep stable of backs. Walton shook free from Cincinnati because of legal troubles, but he’s been on the straight and narrow ever since.

Walton is light on his feet, excels in pass protection, he can flex out as a receiver, and he will pack a punch every now-and-then.

Chandler Cox made a crushing block in that video, a regular occurrence this preseason.

Patrick Laird’s passing game prowess has been relatively concealed this preseason, but the UDFA — and lock to make the roster — showcased his best trait tonight.

Wide Receiver

Albert Wilson was back in action for the first time since Last October, and it was glorious. Wilson uncovered on his patented over route, made a contested catch, and did his trademark move-the-chains dance.

Isaiah Ford has to make this team. His nuance to find soft spots in the zone, to recognize the leverage and landmarks of the defenders, and quickly show his numbers to the quarterback will go a long way in this scheme. He’s still the sixth receiver, but expect Miami to find a way to make room.

Brice Butler made an impressive stab going to the ground on a pass off his body. Butler belongs in the NFL, but he’s going to get caught in a numbers game in Miami.

Reece Horn caught a touchdown (first video in this thread) and undrafted rookie T.J. Rahming plays at a different speed — he stood out in this game both as a receiver and returner.

Tight End

Chris Myarick was a late add to the roster this summer. An undrafted free agent from Temple, Myarick has the makeup Miami will prefer at the position, including some sneaky seam busting skills. Myarick finished the night with five grabs — on five targets — for 70 yards. He should find his way onto the practice squad.

Offensive Line

Only one starter played in the game, and he had more issues. Shaq Calhoun is struggling in his pass sets, often lunging and chasing a man into the backfield. He did, however, hit a gorgeous reach block to wall off a front-side zone run.

The rest of the starting group featured Zach Sterup, Kyle Fuller, Chris Reed and Isaiah Prince.

Reed belongs on the starting five. He has a penchant for getting in space and he’s the best pass protector among all Dolphins interior linemen.

After that, your guess is as good as mine for how Miami will construct the rest of the group. Sterup and Prince aren’t ready for primetime and Fuller’s promotion gives us a clue into the pecking order, but he’s best served as a developmental player.

Prince does have some desirable traits, primarily his work in the running game. He often finds work at the second level, and his length can mask his heavy feet at times.

Defensive Line

Miami’s plan in this game was pretty cut and dry. Fewer games, fewer blitzes, and a scheme designed to create one-on-one opportunities magnified Miami’s lack of pure pass rushers.

Jonathan Ledbetter saw significant time as an edge rusher; he was in the backfield a couple of times, but that’s not his bread and butter.

Joey Mbu was disruptive throughout most of the night. He’s more apt for the two-gap scheme than the recently cut Akeem Spence — perhaps that move was made to get Mbu onto the roster.

Dewayne Hendrix has collapsed the edge of pockets all preseason. He’s a bubble guy, but it’ll be tough to keep him off of the roster.

Nate Orchard found another sack, forced a holding call, and was probably Miami’s best rusher in the game, yet again.

Linebackers

Tre Watson had a big opportunity tonight, but it wasn’t his best showing. Serving as the primary backup stack linebacker to Raekwon McMillan, he was frequently caught in the wash, and had his issues getting depth in some Tampa-2 coverage looks.

Nick DeLuca is likely to make the backend of the roster, and his work as a SAM backer was impressive for the second straight week.

Cornerback

This group was likely playing for the final cornerback job on the opening day roster. If I had to make a choice, Cornell Armstrong would get the nod. He welcomes contact, he’s valuable as a special teams player, and he was quiet in coverage (a good thing for a corner).

Torry McTyer was beat for a touchdown, but his tackling and will were both a joy to watch. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in, and that does not go unnoticed on this staff.

Despite a late gamble gone wrong, Nik Needham had his best game of the preseason. His footwork and competitive toughness are worth keeping around for development — sometimes fans expect too much from these small school kids making huge jumps in competition-level.

Safety

Maurice Smith figures to be next in line after T.J. McDonald was cut. Smith had a great coverage rep where he lined up over a flexed out tight end (our old pal, A.J. Derby), disrupted the route and completely took Derby out of the play.

Montre Hartage was late coming over on a safety splitter in two-deep coverage, but that was the first time I noted him as have issues on the back end — he’s probably on the 53-man roster.

Special Teams

We don’t usually talk about kickers on this blog, but Jason Sanders is absolute aces, and Matt Haack was booming the ball tonight.

One sentence, that’s infinity times more than we’ve given before.

Recap

The most encouraging aspect of the game tonight was the overall preparation of the team. Miami came out hot, and played with better energy than the Saints — a testament to the coaching staff.

Miami possessed the ball for all but three snaps on the opening series (23 plays to New Orleans’ 3). Eric Studesville did a great job with the offensive calls and the framework of Miami’s offense was on display — run the ball, utilize play action, involve the backs in the passing game.

Surprise veteran cuts, and potential Jadeveon Clowney trade aside, the decisions for the 53-man roster are relatively obvious. Miami has to make 31 more cuts between now and 4 PM Eastern on Saturday, and the human element of the game is always difficult.

We will have you covered on cut-down day tracking every move Miami makes. Plus, on the podcast that partners with this article, we’ll go over some potential options from cuts around the league and who Miami could pursue, as well as discuss Flores’ decision to start Fitzpatrick. Additionally, we’ll discuss the weekend’s slate of college football quarterback prospects.

The preseason is over! Football is back!

@WingfieldNFL

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Daniel meehan

    August 30, 2019 at 12:22 am

    Travis, you are the #1 guy that I follow for dolphin information. But why did we trade for Rosen. This so called competition was a complete charade. Wejust wasted a #2 nd and 5th round pick on a backup. If Rosen is going to start after the bye, then what is difference in four weeks. This all but guarantees us drafting QB in first round of 2020 draft. This is the first time since he was hired, but I know have serious doubts about Flores moving forward.

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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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