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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Patriots Week Two Preview

Travis Wingfield



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.

The Scheme:


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.

The Players:


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.

The Medical:

The Concerns:

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.

The Opportunities:

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.

Dolphins 13
Patriots 38


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Cory Benton

    September 14, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I would love nothing more than to see our fine tradition of stuffing these dudes in our house continued, but we are undoubtedly more vulnerable this time around than in recent years. Really just hoping to see some fight from our guys. Stronger and smoother from a fundamental standpoint. Playing together. I would call that a victory, given the unadulterated ugliness of the mountain we’re about to climb. Regardless of the result, go get you some, boys! Fins Up!!!

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Miami Dolphins

Taco Charlton: New Acquisition Analysis

Travis Wingfield



Dolphins go back to the 2017 first round defensive end well, claim Charlton from waivers

The 2017 Dolphins were, sadly, one of the more anticipated teams this organization has assembled in recent memory. Fresh off a surprise 10-win season, heading into year-two of the new system, and bevy of players returning from injury had fans feeling optimistic.

Patching up the perceived holes on the roster — like the defensive end position — started with an atrocious Andre Branch extension, and ended on the draft’s opening night with a handful of edge rusher prospects ripe for picking.

Derek Barnett came off the board before Miami could pluck the future Super Bowl hero, but everyone else was available. Jonathan Allen was selected five picks ahead of the Dolphins, but he was billed more as a three and five-technique inside player, not a true edge rusher.

That left Charles Harris, Taco Charlton, Tak McKinley and T.J. Watt. Two of those players are off to sterling starts in their young careers — the other two are nearing their respective last legs, and both are now Miami Dolphins.

Charlton received his release from the Cowboys earlier this week after an under-whelming 34-game stay in Big D. Taco’s snap count is revealing of the feeling about the player among the Dallas staff.


Year Taco Charlton Defensive Snaps Played (% of Cowboys’ Defensive Snaps)
2017 399 (38.2%)
2018 401 (39.2%)
2019 0


A 40-percent snap-taker is typically indicative of one of two things for an edge player. He’s either a situational savant — whether that’s to support the run game or pin his ears back and get after the quarterback — or that he’s the second option in the rotation, A.K.A. a backup.

Charlton’s production suggests that he was the latter, and only because of his draft status. His descent into a game day inactive signaled the end of his time with the club that drafted him.

Rumors of a trade were speculated as the reason Charlton was a healthy scratch for the season’s first two games, but Head Coach Jason Garrett referred to the numbers game. “We have 10 guys on the active roster on the defensive line and we dressed eight for the game. It felt like the guys we had up there gave us the best chance,” Garrett said via a report from Bloggin’ The Boys.

Still, we have 800 reps to look at to figure out where it went wrong for Charlton, and if he possesses a legitimate shot to fit this scheme and carve out spot in the future plans of the NFL’s most steadfast rebuild operation.

First, let’s start with the type of player Charlton was supposed to be coming out of Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan program.

The Dolphins are a team that adheres strongly to prototypes all over the field, but particularly in the trenches. Explosive metrics aren’t nearly as important as length, strength, read-and-react skillsets, intelligence to process and execute a variety of roles (stunts, twists, slants, picks), and most importantly, playing with heavy hands.

His fit begins with his build. At 6’6’’, 270-pounds with 34.5-inch arms, Charlton looks like plenty of defensive ends in a Brian Flores (Bill Belichick defense) before him. Charlton doesn’t check off all those boxes from the previous paragraph, but he hits enough of the buzz words to justify a flier.

This from Lance Zierlein of NFL Media.

That immediate get-off and quickness would’ve suited him better in Miami’s wide-9 alignment under Matt Burke. The length will benefit him, especially as he forces tackles to quickly get into their pass sets. The challenge will be developing a secondary move to work back inside and underneath the tackle.

The glowing praise for his twist, bend, and lower-body control will serve him well in a defense that will stunt, stunt, and stunt some more.

Most of all, the length will help him excel in this scheme as a run defender. To lock out and hold the point of attack are keys, and those are areas that put Charlton on the map as a first-round prospect.

The weaknesses from that blurb are alarming. Getting washed out of his gap by power and allowing blockers into his frame will earn him a quick ticket right out of town — those are the departments where the surprise cuts in Nate Orchard and Dewayne Hendrix struggled.

Lack of consistency, takes plays off, needs a coach that will push him — those are the final takeaways from Zierlein’s conversation with an anonymous AFC Executive.

If there’s any one thing you can point to with Flores as far as his football acumen — this excludes leadership and communication — it’s his ability to coach football (novel idea, huh?) This feels like a Flores pet project.

Let’s get into some of Charlton’s Dallas tenure, starting with his metrics from Pro Football Focus.

Charlton has 38 total pressures in his two years as a pro (4 sacks, 8 hits, 26 hurries). He compiled those numbers on 464 pass rush reps, a pressure on 8.2% of his pass rush snaps — not good. His 4.1 weighted pass rush productivity mark in 2018 ranked 132ndamong all edge rushers.

Charlton missed four tackles on 34 opportunities — an 11.8 missed tackle percentage, also not good. He made 23 run-stops on 346 snaps against the ground game. That mark — 6.6% — landed Charlton at 73rd among edge defenders in 2018, and 143rd in 2017.

The majority of Charlton’s work came from the right side of the defensive line (position vacated by Robert Quinn, currently held by a cast of many in Miami). Charlton lined up for pass rushing situations on the right side for 67.3% of his total reps.

Now, for the tape.

If Charlton can piece together the finer points of his game and develop a better arsenal or rush moves, he’ll stick as a building block. The decreased workload this year, his lack of production dating back to college, and inconsistencies makes one wonder about the drive and work habits.

We’ll quickly find out about the character of Charlton. If he embraces this opportunity, it’s a great landing spot for him. If not, he’ll be back on the unemployment line in short order.


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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen Named Starting QB vs Cowboys; Claim DE Taco Charlton

Chris Kowalewski



Only minutes after the Miami Dolphins’ Week 2 loss against the Patriots, Head Coach Brian Flores maintained that Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback… “Right now”.

By Thursday afternoon, it became clear that “right now” had passed as Josh Rosen was announced to take over the starting QB position ahead of Miami’s first road trip this Sunday against the Cowboys.

Fans had caught intermittent glimpses of Rosen’s abilities through the preseason and he has seen the field during replacement duty in Weeks 1 and 2, so far completing 8/21 passes for 102 yards, 2 INTs and a 38.1% completion percentage.

While Rosen has not yet led the Dolphins to regular season points, the second year passer will find his opportunity to do so in Dallas and the Dolphins will be able to make further evaluation of 2018’s tenth overall pick.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s veteran standing and experience had given him the early advantage, but the time has arrived in for the Dolphins to see what the future may bring – if anything – for Josh Rosen in Miami.

Whilst the national attention seems to be focused on Chris Grier’s rebuild of the roster, the Dolphins have claimed former first round pick, DE Taco Charlton, released by the Cowboys on Wednesday.

Charlton was the Dallas Cowboys’ first round selection in 2017, having played in 27 games (7 starts) and registered 4.0 sacks and 47 combined tackles.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Cowboys Week Three Preview

Travis Wingfield



Dolphins Search to Stop the Bleeding in Big D

Who: Dolphins (0-2) at Cowboys (2-0)
When: Sunday September 22, 1:00 PM East
Where: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, TX
Weather: Dome
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +21

The hits keep coming for Miami. Another prominent fixture of the roster has been jettisoned, and another loaded team is on the docket for the downtrodden Dolphins.

This current iteration of the Dallas Cowboys is akin to what Miami hopes to build in a couple years’ time — stout trench play, emerging young quarterback, and star-studded skill positions.

Three touchdown underdogs for the second consecutive week, the Dolphins are introducing college point-spreads into the National Football League. Miami’s 19-point home handicap last week was the biggest such spread for a host team since the 2007 season, and the Dolphins are now channeling the 2013 Broncos-Jaguars game that climbed up over 25 points before betting closed.

The Dolphins were far more competitive last week, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. Contributions from star Cornerback Xavien Howard, upstart Linebacker Jerome Baker, and surprising recent addition Vince Biegel were the silver linings in the 43-point thrashing; we’re looking for more of those in Dallas.

The Scheme:


The switch from Scott Linehan to Kellen Moore might’ve been the biggest upgrade in the NFL this offseason. Moore, a coach’s son that made it to the NFL for his cerebral prowess at the quarterback position, is dressing up Dallas’ offense with disguise, misdirection, and tendency breakers.

Dallas varies it’s running scheme, but the talent to execute simple gap-schemes and power concepts allows Moore to get creative with the play action game. Cowboys players praise Moore for his nuance and emphasis on getting players in position to exhibit their best traits.

Scheming chunk-plays in the passing game, running the football to keep the offense on schedule, and devising red zone concepts to free up pass catchers in the condensed area already has Moore’s name circulating as the next hot head coaching candidate.


On top of impeccable front-seven talent, the Cowboys borrow concepts from some of the most accomplished, revolutionary defensive schemes in the history of the league. Rod Marinelli still carries the title of Defensive Coordinator, but it’s a co-op with he and the up-and-coming Kris Richard.

With elements of the Tampa-2 from Marinelli’s days with the Bucs — and more recently in Chicago — fused with Richard’s rendition of the wildly popular scheme originated by Pete Carroll, Dallas is successful in a multitude of packages and pre-snap disguises.

Creating one-on-one rush opportunities from their elite pass rushers, while playing a variety of cover-3, 2, and 1 on the back-end, the Cowboys can apply pressure while dropping seven — the ultimate goal of every NFL defense.

Look for Chad O’Shea to attack this defense with more in-breaking routes. That means high-low and drive concepts (designed to displace zone coverage and attack the middle of cover-1 and Tampa-2 defenses) and seam shots with the Cowboys drop two deep.

The Players:


Dak Prescott is off to an MVP-caliber beginning to his 2019 season. Prescott handles pressure in two ways — the type of pressure applied by ferocious fronts, and the pressure of big moments. He’s accurate, creates opportunities off-script, and allows Kellen Moore to utilize designed runs.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Then there’s Zeke Elliot, who’s just getting rolling. Zeke, behind arguably the NFL’s best offensive line with the healthy Travis Frederic, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and La’El Collins, Dallas can line up and push teams off the football.

The Dolphins must get big showings from Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins to hold the point-of-attack and free up Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan to meet Zeke in the hole.

Amari Cooper is one of the game’s best route runners, and he pairs that with size and speed. He’ll be a tough matchup for Miami, unless Xavien Howard wants to travel with the Cowboys play maker. That opens up another bag of worms, especially as Miami will be working in a new safety alongside corner-convert, Bobby McCain.

Jason Witten is back, but he serves mostly as an additional lineman and the forgotten man in the red zone (as far as the defense is concerned, Witten has two touchdowns already on plays that schemed him wide open). Michael Gallup will miss this game while the resurgent Randal Cobb will help keep the Miami defense honest horizontally in the misdirection game.


Jaylon Smith leads the defense with his instinctive, urgent playing style that pairs well with uncommon physical traits. He and Leighton Vander Esch set the tone in the middle of the Dallas defense, and a lot of the scheme is designed to free these two up to wreak havoc. Smith’s athleticism allows Marinelli to keep the Tampa-2 concept alive.

Demarcus Lawrence is set to have a field day. Miami haven’t been able to block anybody this year, and now will have to handle one of the game’s best pass rushers against deafening crowd noise.

Byron Jones has fallen out of favor in Dallas. The dependable Jeff Heath, and the underrated Xavier Woods make it so, while Chidobe Awuzie locks down the opposition’s number one receiver. Dallas’ vulnerability in this position group from the perimeter corner position opposite Awuzie. Jones has been playing corner to pair with slot specialist Jourdan Lewis and Awuzie.

If Miami can create one-on-one passing opportunities into the boundary, look for O’Shea to attack vertically and hope to steal some points — the best bet here is likely Preston Williams.

The Medical:

The Concerns:

Quite literally all over the football field. Dallas can line up with power and milk the Dolphins defense dry. They can attack vertically, or in the controlled passing game with well-timed shot plays built into the offense, all on top of exceptional red zone production in the early going of 2019.

Demarcus Lawrence leads the team in pressures, but he’s only pulled the quarterback down once — that ties the team lead. This Cowboys pass rush is going to be champing at the bit to pad those stats, and there’s no reason to think Miami can handle the relentless pressure, even without blitzing.

The Opportunities:

Special teams might be the one area Miami can spark some magic. The Dolphins are off to a slow start in this department as well, but Jakeem Grant’s big-play ability will be needed if Miami are to pull the miracle upset.

Finding vertical shots — whether it’s Mike Gesicki splitting the Tampa-2, Preston Williams winning an outside release into the boundary without safety help, or getting a fly-by from Grant, Miami needs some fireworks.

The Projected Outcome:

The game plan came together defensively in the first half against the Patriots, but it’s a challenge for even the league’s best stop-units to carry a lifeless offense. Unless the Dolphins can finally sustain some drives and convert in the red zone, this game will get out of hand. It’s doubtful Miami can do that, so look for an aggressive offense that tries to hit the big play.

Dallas just has too much star power and excellent coordinators for Miami to pick them off — or even cover.

Dolphins 6
Cowboys 31


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