This game went the way of the 2018 season: disappointing, embarrassing, and with a touch of hope thrown in there at one point. But in the end, the Miami Dolphins succumb to another subpar/mediocre season.
There were some headlines going into this game. Stephen Ross is believed to be mulling Adam Gase’s fate as head coach of the organization, there’s heavy speculation that Mike Tannenbaum is out as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, and fans can easily speculate that defensive coordinator Matt Burke will be relieved of his title (assuming Gase isn’t fired).
A lot was also riding on Ryan Tannehill’s (injured) shoulders. The embattled quarterback is staring at a large dead cap hit and an even larger hit if he’s on the roster next season. After a miraculous victory against the New England Patriots had many welcoming Tannehill back, the final three games of the season were just the opposite.
Previously 3-0, 4-2 and 7-6, you had every reason to believe they would be better than their past. But alas, that would have been too optimistic or us. And as Dolphins fans, we know there’s no place for that.
Below are our thoughts on the Dolphins 42-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills:
Off With This Offense
Coming into the season, you could have pinned these final 3 games as losses. The Dolphins were playing two prior Conference Championship participants and their division rival in a frozen environment. It was always a tall task.
But these three teams collectively finished 19-27-1 on the season. And after all the promise Miami showed earlier this season, you expected them to at least compete.
Despite underwhelming performances against the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars, Ryan Tannehill still had an opportunity to give the organization a real conundrum for the 2019 season. And while it’s still possible the team brings him back as the starter, he’s all but cemented his Dolphins lore.
This is something I find interesting about Tannehill: while his time in Miami will be deemed a failure, he was never viewed as a “bust”. Maybe we haven’t gotten to that part of the conversation yet, but it’s curious to see just how neutral Tannehill falls in the player spectrum (right where the Dolphins are as an organization…).
The former beacon of hope for the Miami Dolphins counted for one touchdown against the Bills, though it came as a reception. There are just so many jokes littered throughout that sequence. Even if you aren’t superstitious, there is an omen to the former college wide receiver’s biggest contribution in (possibly) his final game as a Miami Dolphin being a touchdown reception.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 30, 2018
On the day, Tannehill finished 18/31 for 147 yards, 0 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions. He also lost a fumble. It was yet another game where the team failed to throw for at least 300 yards. Why even have wide receivers?
All eyes this off-season will be on the quarterback and what the Dolphins do at wide receiver. Their most promising players (Albert Wilson & Jakeem Grant) are recovering from some bad injuries that could alter their careers. Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola are technically signed for next season, but it remains to be seen if the Dolphins will retain them.
Other than another porous performance from the offensive line, there isn’t much to say about the offense this game. Kenyan Drake saw more touches in the final game of the season, though his rushing average will take a dip as he finished with 11 carries for 43 yards (3.9 yards-per-carry).
Kalen Ballage received a decent share of snaps as well, accumulating 47 yards on 12 carries (also 3.9 yards-per-carry). If you were wondering if the Dolphins were going to pay Drake this offseason (a year before he hits free agency), take a look at how the other running backs on the roster performed this season.
Brandon Bolden was successful in his limited snaps, Ballage showed he could perform in the NFL. And Frank Gore was signed this pass offseason – with no prior knowledge of the playbook – and averaged 4.6 yards-per-carry for $1.1m. Unless an unhappy Drake is taking a team-friendly deal, I expect 2019 to be his last season (if he isn’t traded this off-season). This also depends on what happens at the head coaching position.
DeVante Parker was targeted three times, but didn’t have a reception on the day. The most important aspect of this is Parker’s health. He was able to make it through the game, which meant Miami did not have to guarantee the wide receiver’s $9.4m 5th-year option. I expect them to rescind that offer as soon as they realize they aren’t receiving anything in a trade.
Making Opposing Offenses Merry
The 2018 Miami Dolphins allowed the most points in team history.
Prior to the game, the defense was:
- 30th overall (391.7 yards-per-game)
- 19th passing (247.8 yards-per-game)
- 31st rushing (143.9 yards-per-game)
After Buffalo blessed the Dolphins with a victory in Miami, the team made sure to rightfully embarrass their division rivals up north. Miami actually improved on the “overall” and “passing” categories, though when your opponent is up by 30 points, there isn’t going to be a whole lot of passing.
Buffalo rushed for 166 yards (19 more yards than Tannehill threw for) as Miami’s run defense finished the year right on par with how poorly they performed the rest of the season. Despite the running numbers, Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan played well. Baker had a sack and 2 tackles for a loss as he capped off a stellar rookie season.
Kiko Alonso had a decent game prior to his ejection for sliding (if you call it that) into Josh Allen when the QB was going down on a run. A skirmish ensued after the play and both Alonso and Robert Quinn were ejected.
3 players ejected after this play. pic.twitter.com/QtLaPXuqMj
— Pro Football Network (@Suttonlacesout) December 30, 2018
All things considered, Josh Allen didn’t have a spectacular passing day, but he didn’t need to. Allen counted for 5 of Buffalo’s six touchdowns as he threw for three touchdowns (17/26 passing, 224 yards) and ran for two more (9 rushing attempts, 95 yards).
His accuracy will be entertaining, but his play-making ability could haunt Miami in the future. Unless the Dolphins find a way to neutralize off-the-cusp quarterbacks, Allen will have an easier time as he grows and matures as a player.
About the only thing the defense did well this year was intercept the ball. In what might also be his final game as a Miami Dolphin, Reshad Jones had a nice interception that he ran back for a touchdown. Jones also had one of the two passes-defensed that Miami had on the day.
Two touchdowns in a minute and we're tied at the half.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 30, 2018
Torry McTyer had the other, though his biggest contribution came when former Dolphins quarterback Logan “I refuse to play any other position, but here I am playing another position” Thomas nailed McTyer from the side. McTyer had to leave the game – no flags were thrown on the hit.
Logan Thomas killed a guypic.twitter.com/7FW3FhxktJ
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) December 30, 2018
Now that the Dolphins lost, you can safely root for a higher draft pick. Here are the teams you want to win (in order to hop over Miami in the draft): Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, & Carolina Panthers.
How bad has Ted Larsen‘s season gone? He had the advantage of a false start and still got walloped by his man. So much so, that the referee went to call the penalty and then decided he was already embarrassed enough and let the play continue.
Ted Larsen just false started, the ref went for his flag, saw Ted getting destroyed and just decided – F it. TFL
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 30, 2018
There will be a lot to dissect and wonder about as we watch successful franchises play meaningful football games in January. How does the team resurrect this offense? How desperate does 2019 become for anyone’s job security (Chris Grier as well)? What kind of free agents can an angry lockerroom coax into signing here?
Whatever you think about, just make sure you have 8-8 in mind. It’s just easier to backtrack from there.
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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