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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins vs. Bears – Week Six Preview

Travis Wingfield



Who: Dolphins (3-2) vs. Bears (3-1)
When: October 14, 1:00 East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: 85 degrees, 76% humidity, 40% chance of rain, scattered thunderstorms
Vegas Slant: Bears -3

Bears Off-Season Changes


As the calendar turns to Thursday, it’s time to put away the college quarterback scouting reports and get back to the current Miami Dolphins – a team tied for first place in the AFC East.

After an unsuccessful, traumatic two-game road trip, the Dolphins return to the friendly confines of Hard Rock Stadium – a building in which Adam Gase is winning games at a 71% clip (91% with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback).

Those 2016 and 2017 seasons are long in the rear-view mirror, just as the Patriots blowout and Bengals collapse ought to be. Miami will have to be much sharper on Sunday to get back into the winner’s circle against a talented Bears team.

If Miami continues to take care of business at home, playoffs will be on the menu come January – here’s how they can achieve step one on Sunday.

The Bears Scheme:

Matt Nagy came from the Andy Reid coaching tree, but his Bears offense has been slow to start the season. Chicago blew the doors off the Tampa Bay defense in week four, but the first three games were a mixture of poor quarterback play and crucial mistakes at key moments (sound familiar, Dolfans?)

Coming off a bye week, Nagy’s ability to self-scout will be on display in South Florida. Previously, the Bears offense featured variety both in the run and passing game. Different personnel groupings, jet-sweep action, a quarterback that’s a threat on the ground, and a passing game that occasionally gets vertical, the unit goes as far as Mitch Trubisky takes it.

Chicago may look to attack the Dolphins defense with tempo, and will certainly make good use of pre-snap shifting, motion and mixing up alignments.

Empty sets, I-formation, outside zone (complemented by split-zone), zone-read, quick screens and plenty of drive concepts in the intermediate passing game leaves Miami with plenty to study up before Sunday.

Deception and getting favorable match-ups by-way of unique skill players is the name of the game for the Bears.


Just as Nagy does with the offense, Vic Fangio mixes up his fronts, coverages, and blitz packages as well as anyone. Fangio and Adam Gase have something of a checkered history, so it bears watching to see the game-within-the-game between these two play callers.

Prior to the Khalil Mack trade, the Bears needed pressure packages to put the quarterback under duress. Now, Fangio can create one-on-one opportunities for stalwarts like Akiem Hicks, because of Mack’s prowess.

On early downs, Chicago likes to play man with a press technique to the boundary and off/bail technique to the field side. When the offense falls behind the chains, Fangio will drop two deep and play zone.

In the Bucs game, Fangio called a lot of two-down-linemen fronts with Mack flanked by a fellow-edge rusher out of a two-point stance in a wide-alignment.

In this instance, Miami will need Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James to win the one-on-ones either on the edge, and use the back to chip and help out with interior pressure. The Dolphins have been using tight ends in pass protection with great regularity, and there’s no reason to expect that to change on Sunday.

The Players:

Earlier, I alluded to Trubisky’s breakout performance against Tampa Bay. That game was an extremely rare blip on the radar in what has been an otherwise uninspiring 16-game career for the former Tarheel. Experience still isn’t on Trubisky’s side, and he has a propensity for missing too many lay-up throws and making turnover-worthy decisions and/or throws.

Nagy’s aim is to protect his young quarterback and he has a dazzling duo of backs to aid in that process. Tarik Cohen is the running back version of Jakeem Grant and Jordan Howard is one of the best zone runners in football.

How Miami deals with Cohen’s speed, both on early run-downs, and in the passing game will be paramount.

Allen Robinson was the big-name addition in the passing game, but complementary pieces like Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton have rounded out an impressive receiving corps.

Robinson is Trubisky’s security blanket and he will force balls in his direction (two interceptions when targeting Robinson). Miller has provided an underneath chain-moving option while Gabriel is the speedster of the group.

The highest ranked Bears receiver in yards per route run is Allen Robinson at 72nd in the NFL.

Aug 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) is tackled by Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) during the first quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago enters this game with a fairly clean bill of health. The offensive line has remained intact, thought Left Guard Eric Kush is questionable for the game Sunday. The strength of the group comes from Right Guard Kyle Long, Center Cody Whitehair and Left Tackle Charles Leno.

Leno hasn’t allowed a single hit on Trubisky and he’s the 25th graded run blocker for all NFL tackles according to PFF.

Whitehair has surrendered just two pressures all season (both hurries), but he’s susceptible to power and defensive tackles getting into his framework, allowing the defense to push him around.

Long has been a dynamo in his own right in pass protection but, like Whitehair, he’s been inconsistent in the ground game.

Miami’s best bet to pressure the quarterback comes at right tackle. Bobbie Massie continues to struggle with speed-rushers and Miami should have Cam Wake back for this one.


The Chicago stop-unit ranks tops in run-defense and total-defense through four games. The passing defense ranks ninth in football, but eight interceptions are good for third best in the league.

At 24.4% of opponent’s drives ending in turnovers, the Bears are top in that category. Conversely, the exact same figure (24.4%) is the rate at which opponents score on the Chicago defense (second lowest in the league).

These gaudy ranks could’ve been attributed to facing some lackluster offenses (Seattle and Arizona in back-to-back weeks), but then the Bears derailed the Bucs previously high-flying aerial assault.

Khalil Mack is on an MVP-pace. He has a forced fumble in every game, he leads the league in pass rush productivity and is equally disruptive against the run. There isn’t a great answer for how to deal with Mack, just hope he doesn’t completely wreck the game.

Akiem Hicks is the next man in line for publicity in this Bears front. Hicks is PFF’s fourth-highest graded interior lineman. He has three sacks and four additional hits on quarterbacks. He’s an elite run-defender with 11 run-stops – tied for 12th among interior defensive linemen.

Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan each play roughly 75% of the defensive snaps. Both have excelled as the pair has combined for 25 run stops. Trevathan struggles in coverage more than Smith, though both have been formidable in that department as well.

The Chicago secondary is solid, yet unspectacular. Kyle Fuller is the most talented of the bunch, but he has the worst passer rating allowed (111.6), while Prince Amukamara is experiencing a career-resurgence with the Bears.

Slot corner Bryce Callahan has allowed 11-of-12 targeted passes to go complete, and the lone defensive win was an interception for Callahan.

The Bears can play a lot of two-deep looks because of the front seven’s dominance. Neither Adrian Amos or Eddie Jackson has missed a tackle on the season, but neither is regularly involved in the run-game.

Finding either in coverage would prove beneficial for the Dolphins as the Bears’ safety tandem has allowed 10-of-13 targeted passes to go complete.

The Medical:


Player Wednesday Status
CB Prince Amukamara Limited
LG Eric Kush Limited
WR Anthony Miller Full
CB Marcus Cooper DNP



Player Wednesday Status
DE Cam Wake DNP
DE Robert Quinn DNP
CB Bobby McCain DNP
FS T.J. McDonald DNP
DE Andre Branch Limited
LB Chase Allen Limited
TE A.J. Derby Limited
WR Devante Parker Limited
OT Laremy Tunsil Limited

The Concerns:

Mack and Hicks are capable of ruining the game on their own accord and, when they’re off, Smith and Trevathan have no trouble picking up the slack. Miami has to prevent this impressive Bears’ D from wrecking the game.

Oct 19, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) rushes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. Miami Dolphins defeat the Chicago Bears 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

If Miami can’t find success in the ground game when the Bears play their usual two-deep look, this contest stands to get ugly.

Defensively, for Miami, it’s the same tune every week. Matt Nagy wants to get Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen in favorable passing match-ups – if they find Kiko Alonso or Raekwon McMillan, Miami could get boat raced.

The Opportunities:

Devante Parker’s return might have a bigger impact than expected. His size should be a focal point of the intermediate passing game whether it’s attacking up the sidelines against cover-1, or the deep in-cuts against cover-2.

No team intercepts more footballs than the Dolphins. Trubisky is one of the league’s most turnover-prone quarterbacks. Baiting him and catching the football when those opportunities arise is a critical element for the Dolphin Defense.

The Keys:

1.) Pressuring Trubisky with the four-man rush, and with blitz package’s – If he has time to scan the field and identify his match-up advantages, Miami will be gashed. Matt Burke had an excellent plan against Cincinnati – he’ll need another in this game.

2.) Establishing the running game from the beginning – Miami must run the ball inside to force the Bears to collapse the edge. From there, zone read can counter that adjustment and give Miami some chunk plays in the ground game – they’ll need it.

3.) Big plays on offense – While staying on the field bodes well for Miami, their odds of matriculating the ball slowly down the field are not great. The big play has disappeared and, when the Bears get aggressive, the Dolphins need to hit on the vertical passing game.

The Projected Result:

Chicago is coming off a bye, they’re extremely healthy and riding high. Nagy saw his offensive scheme come to life the last time it took the field, and Khalil Mack is a serious problem for every offense he faces.

However, desperation often breeds results in this league. The Bears have been hearing plenty of praise the last two weeks. They will travel into a tough place to play as favorites and have the Patriots on tap next week.

Miami catches the Bears feeling themselves a little too much, and a pissed off Adam Gase dials up his best game of the year to beat his former colleague in Vic Fangio.

This game stays close until the fourth quarter when Miami hits a big play to Kenny Stills, finds the running game again, and salts the visiting team away in the blistering heat.

Bears 20
Dolphins 6


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Miami Dolphins

Fantasy Friday: Week 7

Andrew Mitchell



This Sunday the Miami Dolphins will host the Detroit Lions in Miami. Below we will take a look at 3 fantasy players that could potentially have a good day vs the Lions. All projections are based on a PPR scoring system.

  1. Frank Gore (RB), Projection: 18pts
  • Gore has been Miami’s most effective running back between the tackles. He is has shown that his age is not a factor as he looks to be reaching back in time lately and running like his younger self. I expect there to be a heavy dose of Gore with Brock Osweiler back at the helm of Quarterback. Look for Miami to use Gore often in red zone and he should get a touchdown or 2 this Sunday.


  1. Albert Wilson (WR), Projection: 15pts
  • Albert Wilson has been excellent all season. He has been the best WR for Miami this season when it comes to scoring or making plays. His YAC has been ridiculous and look for that to continue vs Detroit’s weak secondary. He should catch plenty of passes and once again very may well find the end zone.


  1. Jakeem Grant (RB), Projection: 13pts
  • Grant, a lot like Wilson in stature and skill set has been involved more and more as the season progresses. With Osweiler at Quarterback again for Miami, look for Adam Gase and Co to try and get Grant in space so he can use his speed to beat Detroit’s defense.


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Miami Dolphins

9 Players on the Trade Block for Miami to Consider

Skyler Trunck



In recent weeks, a lot of teams and coaches have been “presumably” shopping players.  The list is becoming longer by the day. Let’s take a look of players that are currently being shopped around.

To set the stage, Miami has been reportedly shopping wide receiver and former first round draft pick, Devante Parker.  He will be factored into these trades to see if he is possible compensation.

Also, Miami is sitting at $7.5m (million) in cap space on the year, with $24m available for next.  It’s probably safe to assume next year’s number will be higher as Miami has been known to cut high-dollar players in the off-season to free up cap.

However, this number still will be relatively low if Miami decides to re-new contracts of players like Cameron Wake, Ja’wuan James, William Hayes, etc.  And if Miami was smart, they’d also look into re-signing players on rookie contracts such as Xavien Howard and Laremy Tunsil.

All-in-all, it’s safe to say Miami would need an impact, top-tier player if they would be willing to part with a large cap space chunk.


Le’veon Bell – RB – Pittsburgh Steelers

Let’s start with the biggest name on the trade block — Steeler bell-cow running back, Le’veon Bell.  Bell has been holding out since week 1 in hopes to sign a big contract before the tread of playing RB in this league catches up to him.

Bell would be earning close to $14m (million) this year had he signed the franchise tag to begin the year.  Last year he earned around $12m. Expect any contract he will sign to be a double digit figure per year.

One would assume Pittsburgh would probably demand a high-end draft pick back for Bell and not a player like Devante Parker in return as they are already pretty set at receiver.  With all trade possibilities, Miami has draft capital they could work with.

Miami’s running back situation isn’t A-grade, but it’s far from bad.  Considering they also drafted running back Kalen Ballage this last year, it’s safe to say this position is far from a need on this team.

Given Miami would have to give up a first or second round, and take on a double digit salary figure, this trade would be a hard pass.


LeSean McCoy – RB – Buffalo Bills

LeSean McCoy is the other big name running back being shopped around throughout the league.  Despite his injury-riddled career, when McCoy plays, he’s one to watch and warrants the price tag that comes with.

McCoy’s cap numbers aren’t quite as bad as what Bell wants — coming in closer $9m a year (contract expiring in 2020).  Miami may be able to take on this contract, but like Bell, you’d likely have to part with another team star (e.g. Ja’wuan James, Cam Wake) this offseason to retain McCoy.

The Bills have also been rumored to want a high-pick in compensation; however, given their below average receiving team, it’s possible Devante Parker could be involved in a trade with Buffalo.

All that aside, running back isn’t a need for Miami, let alone a 30 year old, injury-riddled back with looming allegations.  Even if you are okay with trading with division rivals, like Bell, McCoy should be a hard pass.


Ameer Abdullah – RB – Detroit Lions

Another running back on the trade block.

Unlike the other two backs on the block, Abdullah is still on his rookie contract.  However, that contract expires after this year.

Abdullah would likely hit free agency this offseason if he stays in Detroit, as his talent level probably wouldn’t warrant an extension.  This is especially true if rising back, Kerryon Johnson, continues to dominate touches in the Lions backfield.

Abdullah should only be considered if you’re looking for a cheap, stop-gap fill for running back, which is something Miami doesn’t need at this point.

Like all backs in this list, I don’t see this as a trade Miami should pursue.


Amari Cooper – WR – Oakland Raiders

Amari Cooper signed a big contract in 2015 to sign him on until 2019.  A good chunk of that contract is due next year — nearly $14m.  No wonder Oakland is shopping him.

Despite the numbers, Cooper is still a good receiver in this league.  He may not be on the same level as Antonio Brown and Julio Jones, but he can be a legit weapon for teams.

However, Miami is not one of those teams needing receiving weapons.  Miami has four legit wide receiver targets, and that does not include Devante Parker.  If Miami was unwilling to pay Jarvis Landry a contract that large, why would they want to pay that to Cooper?

Cooper would likely have to take a pay-cut if Miami were to make a deal for him.  All-in-all, considering Miami’s current receiving core, Cooper doesn’t bring something drastically different to the table that the other members don’t provide.

Given the lack of need, compensation required, and salary-cap implications, it’d be illogical to make a move for Amari Cooper unless one of those three changes.


Deone Bucannon – LB – Arizona Cardinals

Onto the defensive side of the ball.  Deone Bucannon was drafted in 2014 as a strong safety prospect; however, he was quickly transitioned to weak-side linebacker, where he made a large impact on the Cardinals 2015 team that lost in the NFC Championship.

It’s all been downhill from there.

Out of 79 eligible linebackers graded by Pro Football Focus, Bucannon comes in dead last with a grade of 28.8.  To put that in perspective, Miami tackle Sam Young, has a 29.2.  Do you remember him?

Yes — Bucannon is grading worse, according to PFF, than Young this season.

All that aside, is he worth a late-round flyer in hopes he returns to former glory?  Maybe.

Last year, Miami could have used a linebacker with Bucannon’s speed.  However, Miami selected a similar player in Jerome Baker in this year’s draft, lessening the need for a speedy linebacker.

Bucannon’s contract is up after this year.  It’s likely he hits free agency if he continues to play the way he has.

Unless Miami’s linebacking core takes a turn for the worse in upcoming weeks, it doesn’t make sense at this point to give up draft capital or players for a linebacker on the decline.  If Miami wants to kick the tires on him, it’d be a better option to pursue him this offseason.


Haason Reddick – LB – Arizona Cardinals

Our own Kadeem Simmonds wrote a great piece on why Miami should trade for Haason Reddick.  Although Miami’s linebacking core is playing better than expected this year, adding depth is never a bad idea.

Reddick was a 2017 first-round draft pick.  Coming out of college, Reddick was sold as incredibly athletic with sky-high potential in this league but also marked as raw and as someone who would need time to develop.  Knowing he needs time to develop in this league, it’s odd that Arizona is already ready to ship him.

It also didn’t help things that Arizona moved him to the edge, where he was severely undersized.  He’s much more suited for an outside linebacker position where he can utilize his athleticism more.

Reddick is still on his rookie contract, so he’d be a great value.  Of all players we’ve looked at so far, Reddick makes the most sense.

I expect a mid-to-late round pick would be sufficient for a player like Reddick, or a player like Devante Parker to pair with Cardinal rookie quarterback, Josh Rosen.

He’s cheap in both salary cap implications and trade compensation, has potential, and at the very least, provides depth.  Make a move, Miami!


Patrick Peterson – CB – Arizona Cardinals

Huh — three Cardinals on the trade block?  Seems like new head coach, Steven Wilks, wants to clean house.  It makes sense after watching the beat-down Arizona took at home on Thursday night football.

It’s shocking to see Patrick Peterson on the trade block.  He’s been in the pro bowl every year he’s been in this league, been selected to three all-pro first teams, and is only 28!

He’s an elite player in this league at a position some would argue as the most difficult to play in today’s NFL.

He’d be an expensive player to trade for in both salary cap implications and trade compensation.  Although it’s not astronomical, he’s due $12m in 2019 and $13m in 2020. It’s also probably safe to assume a trade for Peterson would involve multiple high-end draft picks.

Miami still needs to pay their own star corner, Xavien Howard.  Would it make sense to pay another corner to pair with Howard, especially after re-signing cornerback Bobby McCain this past offseason?  Maybe not so much if you consider how much draft capital it would cost to attain him.

Although adding Peterson to a secondary consisting of Reshad Jones, TJ McDonald, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, and Minkah Fitzpatrick would be a dream secondary and a nightmare for opponents, the cost is just too steep.

It’s best Miami uses that draft capital and cap space elsewhere and continues to build for the future.  Peterson is a trade-candidate better suited for a team that is one player away from a super bowl appearance.  Miami is not that team.


Gareon Conley – CB – Oakland Raiders

Gareon Conley was selected just after Miami’s first round pick in the 2017 NFL draft.  He was projected to go much higher, but due to off-field allegations at the time, he saw a draft day slip.

Conley is a more intriguing target than Peterson for the simple fact the price is low.  He’s on his rookie contract and wouldn’t demand high-end draft picks in a trade.

It’s no secret Miami is not deep at corner, as was on display this past weekend in Chicago.  Conley seems like a player that’s worth making an offer for.

However, like Reddick, Conley is a player who hasn’t found success in this league yet.

If he were to come into Miami, he’d need time to grow in this system.  He wouldn’t provide much, if any, upgrade over our current depth at corner, but next year — who knows?

Make an offer, Miami!


Karl Joseph – S – Oakland Raiders

Another former first rounder from Oakland on the trade block.  Karl Joseph is an interesting trade target.

Like Conley, Joseph also hasn’t found success in this league, and he’s regressed this year having only played less than 3% of snaps in the three games he’s played before going down with an injury.

He had a promising start to his career, so it’s tough to decipher why Oakland would give him limited opportunities to start the year.

Coming out of college and in his limited NFL Career, Joseph has shown promise.

It’s tough to imagine Joseph will be a costly addition, possible a late round pick.  It’s also clear Oakland is unhappy with Cooper given the trade rumors and his lack of production in some games this year.  It’s possible a player like Devante Parker could be used as trade compensation for either Conley or Joseph.

Joseph seems like a player who could fit in this defense if he heals up and continues to build on his 2016 and 2017 season.

Miami’s own safety, TJ McDonald, is signed on until 2021, but Miami could move on from him after next year with minimal dead money.  If Miami could get Joseph back on track, he may be a suitable, cheaper, and younger replacement to McDonald.  At the least, he’d provide depth to a safety core that has seen Reshad Jones miss two games thus far this year.

Like Reddick and Conley, Joseph joins the list of players Miami should strongly consider making an offer for.

I’d be interested to here what you think. Follow me on Twitter @skylertrunck and let’s discuss.

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Miami Dolphins

So You Want A Franchise QB?

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

So you’ve come to the conclusion that this is the time to invest in a franchise quarterback.

Maybe you realized this 5 years ago, after having given up on Ryan Tannehill a few mediocre years into Joe Philbin‘s tenure.

Maybe you rode the Tannehill train for the past 7 years, only to come to the conclusion that you can’t go around the uncertain merry-go-round again.

Maybe you’re one of those critics that believe a football team should draft a quarterback every year until they get it right.

You may have started down a different path, but you joined together with plenty of other Dolphins fans and have become unified in the notion that the Miami Dolphins need a new quarterback.

So what does this mean for your beloved Miami Dolphins? A lot, actually. Everyone likes to fantasize over the latest draft possibilities at quarterback each season; it’s how we trick ourselves into thinking Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert are better than J.J. Watt.

In fact, look at the next four players drafted after Ryan Tannehill (who was 8th-overall in the 2012 NFL Draft):

Pick 9: Luke Kuechly (CAR)
10: Stephon Gilmore (BUF)
11: Dontari Poe (KC)
12: Fletcher Cox (PHI)

All of those players have gone to the Pro Bowl and are viewed as top players at their respective positions.

This isn’t to say that Tannehill was the wrong choice. Miami needed a quarterback and it’s fair to conclude that they weren’t going to select Russell Wilson in the 3rd-round. But this is just one example among many of how a quarterback is taken prior to better football players.

Let me get this out of the way up front. I like Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback and believe he received an untimely mix of poor coaching and poor offensive line play. Matt Ryan wouldn’t have succeeded in this environment and neither would Wilson. I don’t think it’s fair to take a different quarterback (that isn’t a Hall of Fame quarterback), insert them into Miami, and conclude that the team would have performed better. Look at what Jeff Fisher did to Jared Goff in one season with the St. Louis Rams. You don’t think Philbin had a big part in Tannehill’s (lack of) development early on? Insert the best coach/offensive coordinator Tannehill has had in his career and he has his best season cut short by an injury. It’s no coincidence Adam Gase was able to turn Tannehill into a legitimate franchise quarterback.

It’s just unfortunate that we might never really know how successful Tannehill would have been in Miami if he had a better situation around him. You want a hot take? I think Ryan Tannehill will win a playoff game for another team, and it’s going to be a smack in the face.

But it’s also fair to to want a quarterback that is going to bring you certainty and not anxiety.

And that’s where we have to be careful with what you wish for.

Ryan Tannehill isn’t the reason this team wasn’t successful. This was a collective failure by the Miami Dolphins – a continuation of the mediocre ways they’ve developed this 21st century. Getting rid of Ryan Tannehill doesn’t solve your problem. In fact, it magnifies it greatly.

Unless your solution is to obtain Teddy Bridgewater (a player who had a worse knee injury and has seen less game-action than Tannehill has), or obtain a freshly-cut Eli Manning at season’s end (which, lets be honest, is extremely likely from the New York Giants‘ perspective), then you’re best avenue is to draft a quarterback. And for everyone’s sake, lets stop going with the retreads and start building a team.

Risk of Paying for a Prospect

This is the biggest push back fans make for trading up. It’s too risky.

Those with common sense realized that the Miami Dolphins were not going to finish in the top-10 of the 2019 NFL draft. They are too talented of a team (even without Tannehill) to go 5-11. And, given their current status, they’re not about lose 8 of the next 10 games, so it’s safe to say that the Dolphins are going to have to give up a lot of draft capital to obtain the guy they want.

I’m not content with “waiting” for a quarterback to fall. Miami hasn’t gotten lucky since Dan Marino wore #13, so I’m not hedging my bets that Aaron Rodgers falls to them in the late-teens/early-20s in the draft. Nor do I believe they’ll be able to identify a 1st-round talent like Russell Wilson in the 3rd-round.

This is the riskiest part of your decision. Are you willing to risk the next 4-5 years on a quarterback that might force you to do this same exercise all over again?

Keeping it easy, lets say Miami will have to give up (at least) 3 1st-round draft picks and 2 2nd-round draft picks to move to the top-3 spots of the draft. If you get this quarterback selection wrong, you’ve now eliminated 5 potentially productive players from your roster. As Dolphins fans, we know these draft picks don’t always pan out as such, but taking away 5 starting players on rookie contracts is a lot to overcompensate for.

With that said, does anyone remember what the Philadelphia Eagles gave up to get Carson Wentz? Anyone remember what the New York Giants gave up for Eli Manning? If you get the pick right, all future assets are instantly forgotten.

Draft picks replenish annually. Miami can give up their 2019 and 2020 1st-round draft picks and by the time the Dolphins have figured out if their fresh new quarterback is the answer or not, they’ll have their 2021 and 2022 1st-round draft picks waiting for them, ready to be used in another blockbuster trade.

The fear is that getting this selection wrong means you’ve now set your franchise back for the unforeseeable future. Miami has avoided this risk and look what they’ve accomplished over the last 15 years. How much worse can a regrettable draft trade be than the current trend this team is on?

Benefit of a Young Quarterback

This is where you analyze how important a quarterback on a rookie contract is.

Carson Wentz brought the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Aaron Rodgers won a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Russell Wilson won a Super Bowl and went to another Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Ben Roethlisburger won a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Eli Manning won his first Super Bowl on a rookie deal.

How else do all of those teams end up with such dominant defenses? Mark Sanchez went to back-to-back AFC Championship games because he cost nothing compared to the offensive and defensive talent they were able to build around him. That was a product of Mike Tannenbaum, and he followed the blueprint each other team above followed. Young quarterback mixed with a dominant (and expensive) team.

Of all the teams that have gone to the Super Bowl in the last 6 years, only three quarterbacks weren’t on rookie contracts: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan. One of those quarterbacks accepts abundantly less than what he deserves to make (allowing his team to reap the benefits of the additional salary cap space) and the other happens to be a legitimate exception to the rule (Ryan). Manning only made $17.5m the years he took the Denver Broncos to the Superbowl – which is still pretty low for a quarterback that’s discussed in the “greatest of all time” conversation.

The NFL runs on its quarterbacks, but Super Bowl success is reliant upon a dominant team, not a specific individual. The Eagles won last year’s Super Bowl because their team (and Fletcher Cox) was dominant, not because Nick Foles was their quarterback.

Having a quarterback on a rookie contract allows you to obtain the other assets necessary to build a championship-caliber team. The Dolphins aren’t going to be able to lock up Xavien Howard, Minkah FitzpatrickDavon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Jakeem Grant and Jerome Baker if they’re too busy spending $20m on a quarterback.

What This Means for Your Roster

If you’re planning on drafting a quarterback next year, then say goodbye to most of your favorite players. Even if they do get the pick right, and they have a franchise quarterback, it’s going to take some time before everything gets turned around (not like anyone would complain with the ‘franchise QB for veteran talent’ trade off). The quickest turnarounds the NFL has seen come in Year 2. The Los Angeles Rams with Jared Goff and the Eagles with Carson Wentz are the latest examples of this. Big Ben won a Super Bowl in Year 2. Russell Wilson won his in Year 2. Even our own Dan Marino made it to a Super Bowl in Year 2.

But you need a Super Bowl-caliber team around them to accomplish that, and it’s hard to say Miami has that right now. They’re a young team, but they aren’t dominant (yet).

Cameron Wake? Won’t be part of the turnaround
Reshad Jones? Won’t be around

In fact, it’s probably easier to list who will be around if Miami selects a quarterback in the 2019 NFL draft – figuring the team will see the full turnaround in 2020-2021:

Laremy Tunsil: Most likely, but you’re paying him to be a top-3 LT in this league
Kalen Ballage: By default, rookie deal
Jakeem Grant: If the team extends him and he develops hands softer than stone
Albert Wilson: If he’s still the multiple-trick pony he currently is
Kenny Stills: A speed receiver that’ll be close to 30; unlikely to be around
Charles Harris: If the Dolphins exercise his 5th-year option; currently unlikely
Davon Godchaux and/or Vincent Taylor: Do you have the money to extend both or are you just picking one?
Xavien Howard: Did you pay him?
Minkah Fitzpatrick: By default, rookie deal
Raekwon McMillan: Did Miami extend him?
Jerome Baker: By default, rookie deal
Mike Gesicki: By default, rookie deal
Bobby McCain: it’s likely he’s still around and on his current contract
John Denney: he’s immortal

Assuming all of the above players are kept (they won’t be), and taking John Denney’s immortality out, that’s 13 players out of a possible 52-man roster that remain from the currently constructed Dolphins squad; and 4 of them will still be on your team because they’re on their rookie deals.

Again, if you guaranteed me that Miami would find a franchise quarterback for the next 10 years at the expense of the current roster, I’d probably sign up for it every time.

If you thought the 2018 draft speculation was intense for Miami, just wait and see what the 2019 draft will bring. This topic is going to float around a lot, and we’re not going to get a clear-cut answer until the Dolphins make their selection next April. Until that selection is made, keep in mind all of the various aspects that go into this decision. It’s easy to say “give me a quarterback”, but the repercussions are vast and last for years.

This decision won’t come down to “if” Miami will take the risk; they’re going to. We just have to hope that they made the right selection. Otherwise, expect to see this post pop up again in 2021 – except with a bunch of different names (and John Denney).

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