Eagles offense looks to take flight against Miami’s banged up secondary
Who: Dolphins (2-9) vs. Eagles (5-6)
When: Sunday December 1, 1:00 East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium — Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: 80 degrees, partly cloudy
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +10
A cornucopia of bad animal puns are available to us this week as the lifeless Eagles offense limps into Miami to face a reeling Dolphins defense; and offense, for that matter.
It should be an interesting final month of the 2019 season for the ‘Phins. A schedule that presented the probability of a winning record in December, only a couple of weeks ago, suddenly looks like a fast track to a 2-14 finish. The interesting distinction comes via the depths from Miami has had to scrape in order to put together a 53-man roster.
Nine of Miami’s projected opening day starters are done for the year in Miami, for one reason or another, and that initial roster lacked depth to begin with. The magic may have run out for a pass defense that ranked in the league’s top-10 for a month despite playing more undrafted and street free agents than any team in football.
That ravenous war of attrition that is an NFL season has feasted on Miami’s feeble roster. It extends from the secondary into the offensive backfield, along the offensive line and out at receiver. If the Dolphins can muster just one win in the final five, it’ll be yet another feather in the cap of Brian Flores.
Doug Pederson helped usher in a more aggressive NFL than our parents knew. After pushing all the right buttons on a magical Super Bowl run in 2017, Philadelphia returned to doing what it does best, booing every imaginable sports figure the town has ever seen.
Perhaps the vitriol needs to be slung in another direction. After losing both Frank Reich and John DeFilippo after the championship season, the Eagles promoted Wide Receivers Coach Mike Groh, and the unit hasn’t returned to the form is enjoyed in 2017.
Communication issues and receivers failing to make proper sight adjustments are an indictment on a coach who ran the receiver’s room before his promotion to coordinator.
The Eagles offense ranks 23rd in passing and sacks allowed, 13th in rushing (19th in yards per rush), and 18th in scoring.
Jim Schwartz is the pioneer of many-a-defensive nuances that several teams still deploy today. Dolphins fans are most familiar with the wide-9 defense, a scheme that put a strenuous workload on the defensive ends.
Now, with some of his old-school principles, Schwartz has been taken to task for the coverage busts from inverted cover-2, but mostly via an under-manned back-seven.
The result is a unit that ranks 12th in passing, 5th in run defense, but 16th in scoring. Philadelphia blitz percentage falls in the middle of the pack (13th). The Eagles are tied for 3rd in quarterback knockdowns, 12th in pressure rate and 11th in sacks. The 81 missed tackles ranks Philly 10th worst in that department.
Carson Wentz is a lightning rod of fodder and debate in the City of Brotherly Love. After an MVP caliber 2017 season — which ended on the injured reserve — Wentz’s production hasn’t returned to that level despite the fact that he’s had stretches of play that were superior to that injury-shortened campaign.
The Eagles shortcomings on this side of the ball are multi-layered, but it starts with the receiving corps. In unit that has battled injuries all season, the only reliable target (Alshon Jeffery) has played through ailments of his own. The story has been the same for Zach Ertz, one of the game’s top tight ends. He missed Wednesday’s practice which could force a heavier workload into the lap of second-year tight end Dallas Goedert (most notable among Fins fans for his draft position alignment with Mike Gesicki).
Miles Sanders is the multi-faceted back that was supposed to spark the Eagles backfield production, but it’s been a workshare with former Bears Tailback Jordan Howard. Together, the pair are on the verge of cracking 1,000 yards behind one of the game’s best offensive lines, when healthy.
But that unit, like the rest of the Birds offense, has also been restricted to the trainer’s room this season. Lane Johnson and Jason Peters are the best bookends in the business. Johnson was injured Sunday (expected to return in Miami) and Peters has missed three games this season. Fellow pro-bowler Brandon Brooks had to come out of the New England game, but he should be back for Sunday’s contest in South Florida.
It’s been a down-year for a front-seven that typically enjoys success from a barrage of supremely talented football players. It all starts on the inside with Fletcher Cox. Cox’s production is on track to be his worst since 2014, his second as a pro.
The ripple effect of Cox’s surprising lack of dominance has been tangible. Brandon Graham is the best of the bunch, but Vinny Curry and Derek Barnett have combined for just five sacks on the season.
Sunday is likely a get-right game for this Eagles front facing a decimated Dolphins offensive line.
The linebacker corps is where the biggest goat of them all grazes — and we’re not talking greatest of all time. Nathan Gerry is to Eagles fans what Dannell Ellerbe was to 2014 Dolphins fans. Missed assignments, false steps, minimal production and the frequent gaffe that leads to big plays incites mini riots on Eagles Twitter.
Philadelphia have reduced the exposure of the linebacker corps by using more sub-packages, but the secondary lacks depth for that to be an effective counter. Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills and Avonte Maddox each have lapses that lead to game-defining plays (see the Julio Jones touchdown to win the game in Atlanta).
Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki have favorable matchups in this game, if Miami can get the Eagles front blocked — no small task.
Update coming Friday
Devante Parker showed fans everywhere his premier potential in a 2017 preseason game in Philadelphia, then disappeared for the next two seasons. He’s back now and performing like a true number-one receiver. Parker’s been excellent at creating separation in all levels of the route (release and stem), and could have another major impact in this game.
If the Eagles are intent on covering Mike Gesicki with cornerbacks, or committing a safety to his side, that will open things up for Parker. My bold prediction for this game is that Gesicki plucks a 50/50 ball that makes highlight shows all over the country.
Every game from here on out will bring a level of concern to either side of the trenches. Miami gets no push in the running game, and long third downs will aid an Eagles pass rush that’s looking to get healthy. The Dolphins difficulties with speed rushers on the edge, and power on the interior is a matchup nightmare in this game, and one that will surely have General Ryan Fitzpatrick on the move once again.
The Projected Outcome:
Much like the Cleveland game last week, this is a get-right game for the Eagles. A chance for the clipped-wing offense to soar once more, and for the pass rush to tee off. The Browns screened Miami to death early in the game, and I’d expect the same with Miles Sanders on Sunday.
Miami gets behind the eight ball again, but puts together some second-half touchdown drives to make the score somewhat respectable.
Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker
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.
The #Dolphins and WR DeVante Parker are finalizing a four-year extension worth over $40 million, source said. Lot of guaranteed money. Another step in his remarkable turnaround. 💰
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 13, 2019
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 will make 4.5 M guaranteed in 2020 and 7.7 M guaranteed in 2021. Also, he's five catches and 120 yards from making another 1.5 M in incentives this season
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) December 13, 2019
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.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 13, 2019
Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes
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.
We have signed DB Nate Brooks off New England’s practice squad, signed LB Jamal Davis off Tennessee’s practice squad and been awarded T Adam Pankey off waivers from Green Bay.
We have also placed CB Ryan Lewis and CB Ken Webster on injured reserve and waived RB Zach Zenner.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 10, 2019
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.
Dolphins add their sixth new player of the week, signing cornerback Linden Stephens off Seattle’s practice squad. To make room, they waived cornerback Chris Lammons.
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) December 7, 2019
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.
The #Dolphins have added former UCF and Davie University School DB Rashard Causey to their practice squad today.
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) December 12, 2019
Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker December 13, 2019
- Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes December 13, 2019
- Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview December 12, 2019
- The Aftermath: Dolphins 21 Jets 22 December 10, 2019
- Fins Fall to Rivals, Officials – Dolphins Jets Week 14 Recap December 8, 2019
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