Who: Dolphins (0-1) vs. Patriots (1-0)
When: September 15, 1:00 PM East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium — Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: Scattered thunderstorms, 87 degrees, 72% humidity, 40% chance of precipitation
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +19
Hopefully enough time has passed from last Sunday’s slaughter for you to stomach another week of Dolphins football, 2019 rendition. On deck, a loaded team in the middle of a dynasty, attempting to make a second go at perfect season under its current Head Coach/Quarterback combination.
The Dolphins might have five of the last six games between these two teams, in this venue, on its side, but the task on Sunday is gargantuan — almost certain to be the largest spread against a home team in the NFL this season.
Parallels between this team and the 1-15 2007 Dolphins are mounting early into the 2019 campaign. The last time the Dolphins were dogs of this magnitude against its AFC East father, Cleo Lemon engineered a nail-biting 21-point defeat in week 16 of that fateful season.
And while the Pats are on another crusade for 19-0 (18-1*), this is the largest home underdog since — you guessed it — that 2007 Patriots team that came up one game shy of perfection. It wasn’t Miami, however, but rather the one team the Dolphins beat that season — Baltimore.
The 4-7 Ravens, led by Kyle Boller, nearly clipped the Pats perfect season with a three-point loss on Monday Night Football.
Covering the spread might be a challenge for this deflated Dolphins squad — much less winning outright on the field.
It’s like looking in a mirror, or at least it should be. The Patriots, under legendary defensive genius Bill Belichick, deploy varying schemes designed to minimize the opposition’s strength, and force the offense to play left-handed.
The rush scheme comes through disguise, gap integrity, and linebackers that excel at shortening angles to the quarterback. If the Dolphins can’t reset the line of scrimmage and beat the two-gap-minded Patriots to the landmarks on outside zone looks, the offense will struggle again.
Nobody played more man-coverage than New England last season (54%), so expect Miami to entice the Pats into base personnel, then throw the football to the running backs.
Again, with Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea now in town, the ideas and concepts are similar. New England runs the most advanced version of the Erhardt and Perkins scheme. A system that empowers the quarterback to dictated his full-field compliment with short, streamlined verbiage.
The beauty of the Patriots well-oiled offensive machine is that’s adaptable to its parts. Last year, New England almost never took the tight end off the field. In Sunday’s punishment of the Pittsburgh Steelers — in the post-Rob Gronkowski era — Josh McDaniels rolled out 20-personnel (two backs, no tight ends) and went to work on a defense that has never been able to solve the Pats puzzle.
New England will do everything to set the defense up, counter conventional wisdom, and go after the vulnerabilities of every look. First down passes, short-yardage and goal-line runs, and matchup exploits to the likes that aren’t often duplicated in the league.
This is the best defense Belichick has had since those early Patriots championship runs — maybe ever. The secondary is loaded. Devin McCourty drives the defense with run-support, single-high, sideline-to-sideline patrolling, and exceptional cover skills.
Stephon Gilmore locks down pretty much anyone that lines up across from him, and frees up bracket coverage to the other side of the field because of his ability to win one-on-ones.
Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy complement one another as well as any linebacker duo in the game. Their length, point-of-attack strength, and edge-rushing prowess puts stress on the quarterback every snap.
Up front, this line is designed to execute Belichick’s scheme to a T. Michael Bennet’s inside-outside versatility is a match made in heaven, while Dietrich Wise is perhaps the unsung hero of the New England defense.
The rich continue to get pad their wallets. Though it’s unclear whether or not New England’s new, obnoxious, unpalatable receiver will play, the Pats offense features an embarrassment of weapons.
Tom Brady is at the controls, and he’s going to eat up any zone defense a coordinator can throw at him. When the opposition wants to go man, he’ll zero-in on Julian Edelman from tight splits, and work in deep shots to the seemingly rehabilitated (and good for him, hopefully he stays on that path) Josh Gordon, and suddenly emerging Phillip Dorsett.
The stable doesn’t get any shorter in the backfield. Sony Michel is a fantastic runner/receiving threat, Rex Burkhead is the quintessential Patriot, and James White is the captain of the ship.
On the offensive line, there might not be a better group — even without stalwart David Andrews at center. It doesn’t hurt that they are coached by the legendary Dante Scarnecchia, who finds gems annually.
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) September 12, 2019
Anything that comes after the coin toss, to be perfectly honest. The route to victory here is — shall we say — narrow.
New England will pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick repeatedly, they’ll head-off all running lanes when Miami tries to shorten the sticks, and they’ll plaster well on the back-end when Miami gets behind said chains.
Defensively, Miami is simply undermanned. The Pats have options all over the passing game, with a variety of packages from which to deploy those options, and Miami’s lack of depth in the secondary won’t keep up.
Reshad Jones is questionable, Bobby McCain is going to deal with that shoulder injury all year, and the pickings beyond those two are UDFAs and newcomers from cut-down day just two weeks ago.
Xavien Howard will play in this game, that wasn’t the case last year for the miracle. Brady would be wise to ignore X, but if he challenges Miami’s ace in the hole, the turnover could help keep the Dolphins in the game.
I’d love to be able to point to special teams, but Miami had two punts blocked against the Pats last season, gave up a 50-yard run on a fake punt, and muffed a punt on a return opportunity last week.
The Projected Outcome:
It would be difficult to duplicate the season-opener showing, but the Dolphins just might do it. The Pats outmatch this team on paper every step of the way. The Dolphins primary staffers are former Pats, and those teacher-versus-pupil showdowns have traditionally not gone well for the students.
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