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Dolphins vs Bills Reaction

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

For how cursed the Miami Dolphins are, someone must really love them.

All of these injures seem unnatural, but playing against Sam Darnold and Josh Allen twice a year is the kind of luck Miami needs to stay in the playoff hunt.

Couple Steven Hauschka‘s kicking woes with Cody Parkey‘s kicking misfortunes earlier this season and Miami should be closer to 4-8 than 8-4. At the very least, those meltdowns against the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals are a wash.

Maybe it was meant to be from the start; with plenty of alumni on-hand to introduce 6 former Dolphins into the Walk of Fame. Dan Marino was hanging out with his former teammates as the Marks Brothers (Mark Clayton and Mark Duper) received their own stars near each other. Safety Dick Anderson looks like he can still cover better than T.J. McDonald, while Jason Taylor looks like he can easily be more productive than Charles Harris at defensive end.

The Dolphins could really use a 2x All Pro linebacker like John Offerdahl to compliment this linebacking room that is wildly inconsistent (more on Kiko below). And after watching Jesse Davis allow two sacks, commit a holding penalty and get called for a false start all within the first half, Miami could most certainly use a reliable offensive lineman like Jon Giesler.

The Dolphins definitely didn’t deserve the victory, but they continue their push for a playoff spot while the Buffalo Bills pray that Josh Allen can learn to throw a football accurately.

Offensive Dearth

There is plenty to pick apart with this team.

If you didn’t watch this game, the box score would be lying. The final score shows a Dolphins 21-17 victory; Ryan Tannehill displayed a quarterback rating of 103.6 on his way to throwing for 3 touchdowns and only 1 interception while his rookie counterpart looked the part by compiling a 71.7 passer rating with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

But anyone who watched the game can point to a few more stats that tell a better picture. Ryan Tannehill threw for 137 yards while Josh Allen ran for 135 yards. None of this accounts for all the scrambling Allen did to extend plays while Tannehill is immune to sensing pressure and continues to pad the opposing defense’s sack total.

We watched Allen nearly win the game by heaving a bomb to a wide open Charles Clay in the end zone, while on the other end, we almost witnessed Tannehill absorb an inexcusable safety. Yes, I agree that the offensive line was leaky (as always), but he needs to analyze and understand situational football better than he does.

If you caught the ‘Victory Monday’ podcast earlier today, you’ll notice a few of these points, but it’s evident Tannehill does not have a natural grasp of the quarterback position. We are playing with a performer who is smart and exceptional when he studies a craft, but we don’t have a player that can react and improvise well.

The offensive woes of this team continue. Miami managed to score a touchdown on their opening drive for their second-consecutive game. From there, I’d say it was going downhill, but that would be way too much momentum for this team.

Within the first 5 minutes, Miami scored 7 points. For the next 55 minutes, they only scored 14 points. The offensive line didn’t help, but this game wasn’t on them. Ryan Tannehill and Miami’s skill position players need to execute more. You don’t spend a:

  • 1st-round pick on Ryan Tannehill
  • 1st-round pick on DeVante Parker
  • 2nd-round pick on Mike Gesicki
  • 3rd-round pick on Kenyan Drake
  • 3rd-round pick on Kenny Stills (via trade)

Have 1st-round picks handling the most important positions on the offensive line, and yet only manage to score 20.3 points a game.

An argument can be made that Tannehill’s injured shoulder along with Brock Osweiler‘s 5-game stretch are reasons for the team’s offensive woes, but in the four games before Tannehill’s injury against the Bengals, when he (and their biggest playmaker, Albert Wilson) were completely healthy, the team was averaging just 20.5 points per game.

It’s evident Tannehill’s shoulder is still bothering him. You can tell his longer passes don’t have the same strength and they flutter at their peak. His linedrives don’t have the same zip. I’ll give him credit, the touchdown pass to DeVante Parker on the opening drive was impressive. It wasn’t his best throw, but he was about to take a shot to his legs as he put enough strength on the ball to hit Parker in the chest.

Parker absorbed a big shot in the end zone to earn that touchdown reception, his first in 28 weeks.

The Dolphins are going to need Parker’s big body to absorb plenty more hits this season, as Tannehill’s injured shoulder is going to nullify much of the vertical game going forward.

One of the most interesting disparities to see was the number of snaps Nick O’Leary received over Mike Gesicki (32 snaps vs 22). There’s no reason to give up on the 2nd-round tight end. He should see a significant boost in production next season as a sophomore (though, partially by default), but he has been nearly invisible during his rookie season. How long can Miami get away without significant contributions from their tight ends?

This Defense Bends and Receives Breaks

Playing Sam Darnold (six interceptions) and Josh Allen (two interceptions) in four games will certainly benefit the Dolphins chances of making the playoffs this season.

We watched Allen torment the Dolphins defense on a hot, sunny day in South Florida as he smoothly scrambled to extend and (attempt to) make plays. He had Miami’s defensive lines turned every which way, and while Matt Burke understood he needed to put a spy on the opposing quarterback, it didn’t translate too well, as Allen would outmaneuver and embarrass our linebackers while on his way to rushing for 135 yards.

Miami’s throwback jersey’s must have brought the team some good luck, as Josh Allen missed some wide open receivers. There were a few throws that were just off the receiver’s fingertips, but there were also passes that weren’t anywhere near a Buffalo Bills receiver.

Miami’s pass rush was misleadingly effective, totaling 8 pressures on Josh Allen, but they were only able to connect on two sacks (one of them from cornerback Bobby McCain). The defensive line is the most expensive unit on the roster and it continues to underwhelm. While they’re able to pressure opposing quarterbacks, they’re never able to finish.

The Bills came into the game with two injured offensive linemen and played the majority this game with only two healthy starters as Buffalo Bills starting center Russell Bdoine left the game in the first quarter with a leg injury and did not return.

Xavien Howard continues to be the antithesis of the Dolphins defensive line as the inexpensive second-round pick recorded another multi-interception game – impressively picking off Josh Allen twice in this game. Howard isn’t going to be inexpensive for long, as the young corner is getting ready to enter the final year of his rookie contract and speculated to be on the verge of signing a contract extension.

Minkah Fitzpatrick continues to be a star for this team. The rookie cornerback blankets opposing receivers exceptionally, which is rare to see from a rookie and even rarer to see from a Dolphins first-round draft pick.

While Minkah plays a smart and sound game, the rest of the Dolphins secondary has had a tendency to leave receivers open on the field. Whether it’s scheme or a misunderstanding by the young defensive players, there seems to be a string of communication breakdowns tied to this team.

Bobby McCain was found passing Buffalo’s receiver Zay Jones to nobody in the back of the endzone for the Bills second touchdown of the game. While that probably wasn’t his intended zone to cover, he has to realize that there is nobody in that area. Were the linebackers supposed to cover their zone deeper? Was another corner supposed to cover the right side of the endzone? It’s tough to convict a specific player without knowing all of the other variables, but something needs to be cleaned up with the team’s communication.

I asked Minkah about the team’s communication issues after the game and he assured me that “there isn’t too much of a communication issue”.

I respect Minkah for sticking up for his defense, he certainly isn’t going to throw his team under the bus, but the communication problems exist. And for all of the plays where they have tight coverage, there’s an equal amount of plays where receivers are running free.

Though after all of this, we’re back to the linebackers; they are still a liability in coverage. Raekwon McMillan still needs to gain a step (possibly as he still recovers from his ACL injury last season), but there’s no excuse for Kiko Alonso.

Kiko looks like he knows what he’s supposed to do on every play, and yet he still gets beat. Kiko is great going downhill and will recover running sideline to sideline. His motor is relentless and his durability while with the Dolphins has been impressive, but he should never take a step backwards when the ball is snapped, he is a complete liability in coverage. Why Matt Burke makes Kiko the spy is beyond me.

If it weren’t for Darren Rizzi‘s special team’s unit being so crisp, and the Buffalo Bills committing so many mistakes, the Miami Dolphins are looking at a 5-7 record and an end to their 2018 NFL season.

The Locked on Dolphins crew will be back at Hard Rock Stadium next week against the New England Patriots. Make sure to check out all of the exclusive content throughout the week leading into the Dolphins most pivotal game of the year….until the following week when they have to win again.

We would like to take a moment to thank Hard Rock Stadium, the Public Relations staff (especially Scott Stone) and the Pepsi team for being so kind and helpful to us.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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Miami Dolphins have exercised Laremy Tunsil’s fifth-year option

Shawn Digity

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Laremy Tunsil USA Today Sports
Laremy Tunsil taking on Khalil Mack. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Miami Dolphins have exercised Laremy Tunsil’s fifth-year option

The headline says it all; the Miami Dolphins have picked up Laremy Tunsil’s rookie contract fifth-year option. All 2016 first-round draftees are up for fifth-round options and the dominoes have started to fall with Tunsil.

The announcement tweet, which can be seen below, was broken on Twitter by Armando Salguero and shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to Dolphins fans. Laremy Tunsil is one of the key cogs of the team and will be the cornerstone of an otherwise enfeebled offensive line that will likely be addressed in next week’s Draft.

Laremy Tunsil is the surest thing on the Dolphins o-line in a unit that has seen better days and will require two to three new starters. While Tunsil was a no-brainer for the Dolphins to pick up that fifth-round option on, they’ll likely have to extend him at some point, which won’t come cheap since he’s one of the rising stars at left tackle.

But Laremy Tunsil is secured through the 2020 season. I hope between now and then the Dolphins spearhead an extension and get Tunsil locked up a little bit longer. Success in the trenches will start with Tunsil at left tackle and the Fins can fill in the rest during the draft.

Laremy Tunsil will realistically become the highest-paid left tackle at some point in the next few years, and the Dolphins would be wise to get ahead of the curve for that. I think that will happen.

The current frontrunner for left-tackle contracts is the Oakland Raiders’ Trent Brown, and he is making an APY (average per year) of $16.5 million with. The top ten left tackles are making from the aforementioned $16.5 million to $12 million for Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari, Kansas City’s Eric Fisher, and Cincinnati’s Cordy Glenn.

There’s an average APY of $14 million, but I expect Laremy Tunsil to eventually be well above that average when the time comes–I foresee the Dolphins making him the highest paid left tackle, remember. Full guarantees on those top-ten contracts are running between $16 and $36 million, so there’s much more variability with those portions of the contract.

Good and great left tackles aren’t cheap. Laremy Tunsil will break the bank in a few years and will be the highest paid left tackle if the Miami Dolphins intend on making him their franchise LT for years to come.

Laremy Tunsil was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 2016 NFL draft after an unfortunate and unfair draft-day tumble that gave the team a golden opportunity. The 2016 class has proven to be extremely fruitful (for the most part). Along with Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, and Jakeem Grant were selected in the second, third and sixth rounds, respectively, and all have made major contributions in one form or another.

Exercising Tunsil’s fifth-year option is good news for Fins fans. It’s not a blockbuster trade or a splash signing, but taking care of the best players already on the team before it snowballs out of control a la Jarvis Landry or Ju’Wuan James is a step in the right direction. And while exercising Tunsil’s option is an obvious choice, it’s still an encouraging sign nonetheless.

All contractual information courtesy of Over the Cap.

 

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Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores’ Pre-Draft Update

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Miami Dolphins / Jason Hrina

Get used to this mantra, Miami Dolphins fans: Adapt or Die.

You might not find it printed on training camp t-shirts for the team to sport around, but you can expect head coach Brian Flores to repeat this line often. It’s about to become ingrained in both us and the players.

Flores spoke briefly with reporters before the team finished up their 3-day “voluntary” workout and prepares for the upcoming NFL draft.

If you’ve heard these kind of comments before, it’s because Flores has nailed the proper, cliche  press conference etiquette. Answers are “insightful”, but vague. He gives you an answer while also laying out all other possibilities. That said, he’ll sometimes respond with some sarcasm and wit that’ll reassure you that there is a personality inside of him.

If there is one thing we can take away from Flores’ demeanor and message, it’s that he isn’t about to tolerate the type of locker room culture that festered under Adam Gase. There will be both accountability and self-reflection; and that’s reassuring after witnessing Gase deflect blame to everyone but himself.

With the most important day of the offseason just one week away, we take a look at what Flores had to say at his press conference earlier this morning:

On the Draft:

Most important measuring tool?:

“Combination of production. Height. Weight. Speed. Intangibles. Fit. There’s a myriad of things there. To say it’s just one thing that’s important…they’re all important.”

“Is one more important than the other, I’d say no.”

“It’s the total fit of the player and how we feel they’ll fit with our team.”

Combine/Visits, what do you get out of it?:

“Try to get to know the person, that’s a big part of this.”

“Sometimes people see players as just players. You want to know about their mom, their dad, who was an important person in their life. What kind of adversity they have faced before. Does that person fit your style as a coach, your locker room, the culture you’re trying to build as a team. When you sit down with a player, you’re just trying to get to know him.”

I think Dolphins fans know this all too well after the Dez Bryant/Jeff Ireland prostitution episode back in 2010.

Flores’ Influence in the Draft:

“Chris and I definitely work well together. We speak the same language….when we come together it’s the same (language)”

“Have had (and) will have discussions on different scenarios (throughout the draft)”

On his New/Hybrid Defense:

What kind of players do you need for your Hybrid defense?:

“We need good players.”

“I think as a coach, you get a good player, (and you ask yourself) what does he do well? You try and do that.”

“That’s the good thing about having a versatile scheme, it fits a good player.”

“You try and get the best player and I feel me and my staff can fit what we’re going to do around that player.”

“Some guys are going to have a better fit than others, but you have to put the whole fit together.”

On Identity of this Team:

“You know, call it what you want.”

“I’m going to get my team to play hard. Play together. Play with good fundamentals and technique. Play as a team. Put the team first. You have to try and get 11 guys to play together and that’s a hard thing to accomplish as a coach.”

“That’s my goal, you can call it whatever you want. ‘The Patriot Way’….to me, it’s just good football.”

Flores seems to understand that he’s going to live under Bill Belichick‘s shadow for awhile, especially if he is unsuccessful. Seems like he’s also getting a little tired of it….and I kind of like it. I’m glad he’ll have this chip on his shoulder to prove that he isn’t just a Belichick clone. Then again, judging by all Flores has gone through, he doesn’t need this chip to drive him.

Does he expect his players to be on time?:

“If you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late, and if you’re late you’re forgotten.”

“Is it a rule, no, it’s my personal mantra.”

“I have a lot of respect for time. I think it’s precious; we shouldn’t take it for granted. If you want to stay on schedule you have to stay on time.”

“We have a schedule, it’s laid out pretty well.”

There is absolutely no bull**** from Brian Flores when it comes to practice! That’s not to say Adam Gase or any of the other prior head coaches were more-lenient, but you get the feeling that Flores isn’t going to tolerate players who believe they are bigger than the team.

Gase showed a similar coaching style when he traded Jay Ajayi and released players like Byron Maxwell and Jordan Phillips, but that never translated to a productive locker room culture. It’ll be interesting to see how Flores’ style compares.

On His “Right-Hand Man”:

“Pick any of the 20 guys, they’re all my right-hand men.”

“We work well together. (We) try and put a staff together that embodies what I want our team to reflect.

“I want to be tough, I want to be smart, I want to work well together.”

On Mike Gesicki:

“Mike is a good, young player. Talented. Like everyone else on this team, there are places he can improve, develop, get better. As a young player, there’s a lot of room for development. Mike’s working hard. We see what everyone else sees: he has size, speed, can catch the ball.”

On Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker:

“Raekwon is big. Fast. Physical. (Has) good leadership. Smart. Can play a few different positions. (A) good, young player.”

“Jerome is another skilled player. Fast. Good tackler. Raekwon is a good tackler as well. Smart. Can do a few different things. Can cover; which, obviously in this league, going in a passing direction, it’s good to have an LB that can cover.”

“We’re glad to have them both.”

On Jake Rudock and Luke Falk:

“Like everyone else, they’re working hard. They are doing everything possible to try and improve their techniques, fundamentals. Footwork. Ball Handling. They’re doing a really good job. All 3 quarterbacks.”

“We’re excited to see what they can do moving forward.”

Flores couldn’t be more generic with the assessment of his players. Even going back to when he discussed Charles Harris at a previous press conference, Flores tends to speak about his players vaguely, as if to avoid tipping his hand in any regard.

From a player’s perspective, it’s nice to know your coach won’t throw you under the bus and will keep things private. From our fan perspective, it means we just have to go through every possible adjective and scenario with him. He’s not lying when one of them has to be true.

On his Mother’s Passing:

“It was hard. She’s someone I think about on a daily basis. Wish she was here to enjoy this with us, but she’s with me all the time.”

“She wouldn’t’ want me to dwell or be upset and she would want me to have peace.”

“I’m sad. I’m unhappy. I miss her. But I have peace knowing I did everything I can to make her proud.”

On New Surprises as a Head Coach:

“(I have had) A lot of conversations with head coaches around the league…one thing they said is something would come across your desk every day.”

“(That’s) kind of my approach coming in, being adaptable. A mantra of our team: ‘adapt or die’.”

“Part of (the job) is allowing other people to lead.”

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Vegas Slant Schedule Breakdown

Travis Wingfield

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Future opponents are known years in advance in the NFL. With the exception of two games decided by divisional standing finish, fourteen opponents are determined based on the schedule rotation. The order in which those games will occur, like everything else the NFL does, has become a primetime event.

While the luck of the draw factors heavily (in-season injuries, particular teams playing their best/worst ball at a certain time of year, etc.) the order of the games provides intriguing details.

Traveling for a Thursday night game, for instance, is an extreme disadvantage for the visitor. The infamous “trap game” can occur when a team faces a lesser opponent before taking on a heavyweight. Lastly, for a team like the Dolphins, weather implications are always worth noting.

This column refers to the favors, or lack thereof, that the NFL gave the Dolphins based purely on travel, trap games, etcetera.

Week 1 – BALTIMORE RAVENS – September 8, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Ravens Sandwich Game: Week 2 Cardinals

September victories are difficult to come by for teams visiting Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins haven’t lost such an affair since 2015 with a multitude of early-season upsets under the franchise’s belt this century (2014 vs. New England and 2005 vs. Denver, most notably).

Baltimore’s ground-and-pound attack could have a converse affect, however, as the Dolphins defensive conditioning will have to be on-point from the word go.

Week 2 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – September 15, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Patriots Sandwich Games: Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh, Week 3 vs. NY Jets

Dec 9, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) runs the ball after a flea flicker play to score a touchdown to defeat the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

New England’s 2018 meltdown in Miami came one week prior to a trip to Heinz Field. Now, the Pats will travel back to Tom Brady’s house of horrors in Miami one week after kicking the season off in primetime against those same Steelers.

This won’t serve as a trap game given the recent outcomes of games between these two teams, but Miami is catching the Pats at the right time. Over the last two seasons New England are just 4-4 in the first quarter of the schedule (September games), a .250-point decrease in winning percentage from their cumulative record.

Week 3 – @ Dallas Cowboys – September 22, 1:00 EST AT&T Stadium
Cowboys Sandwich Games: Week 2 @ Washington, Week 4 @ Saints

This is a classic trap game for the Cowboys. Coming off a game with its biggest rival, then heading to the toughest building to play in, in the NFC, the opportunity for Miami to steal a road win against a sleep-walking favorite is in the cards.

Week 4 – Los Angeles Chargers- September 29, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Chargers Sandwich Games: Week 3 @Texans, Week 5 Broncos

The early time slot for a west coast team is one of the biggest advantages, statistically, in football. The Chargers historically struggle in Miami but the talent discrepancy is probably too great for any of these advantages to factor in.

Week 5 – BYE WEEK

After a week-11 bye last year, Miami gets the burden of an early off-week. The Dolphins will play out the string for 12 weeks with zero breaks in between.

Week 6 – Washington – October 13, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Washington Sandwich Games: Week 5 @Patriots, Week 7 49ers

A let down following a potential beat down in New England bodes well for Miami. Washington is probably the one team on this entire schedule that Miami can matchup with from a talent perspective.

Week 7 – @ Buffalo Bills – October 20, 1:00 EST New Era Field
Bills Sandwich Games: Week 6 BYE, Week 8 Eagles

Miami’s first game against a team coming off a bye, in a building that has only provided the setting for one Miami win in the last five years, this one stacks the deck against the Dolphins.

Week 8 – @ Pittsburgh Steelers – October 28, 5:25 EST MONDAY Heinz Field
Steelers Sandwich Games: Week 7 BYE, Week 9 Colts

Another game, another opponent coming off of a bye. The Steelers will have the benefit of a 15-day break prior to lacing it up for Miami in primetime. The Dolphins road primetime woes should be noted as well – Miami are 0-for-it’s-last 8 in those games.

Week 9 – New York Jets – November 3, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Jets Sandwich Games: Week 8 @Jaguars, Week 10 Giants

Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase looks on during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Adam Gase game will certainly have both teams on notice. The man that holds a grudge like no other will certainly have this date circled on his calendar, as will the countless Dolphins players that grew tired of Gase’s shtick. This might be the most entertaining football game Miami plays all season.

Week 10 – @ Indianapolis Colts – November 10, 1:00 EST Lucas Oil Stadium
Colts Sandwich Games: Week 9 @Steelers, Week 11 Jaguars

With a potentially crucial divisional game on-deck with the Jaguars, the Colts could fall victim to overlooking Miami here. The Colts are a difficult out in that building and are quietly building up one of the most talented rosters in the AFC.

Week 11 – Buffalo Bills – November 17, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Bills Sandwich Games: Week 10 @Browns, Week 12 Broncos

Divisional games rarely adhere to traditional trap procedures. Ideally the Dolphins would catch the Bills in September, but the week-7 trip to Western New York offsets the lack of weather advantages. This game should see peak effort from both teams.

Week 12 – @ Cleveland Browns – November 24, 1:00 EST First Energy Stadium
Browns Sandwich Games: Week 11 Steelers (TNF), Week 13 @Steelers

Somehow the NFL has this strange scheduling procedure where teams play each other twice over a three-week period. Cleveland sandwiches its two games with the Steelers with a home date against your Miami Dolphins – that’s the ultimate trap.Cleveland’s benefit comes from having 10 days to prepare for Brian Flores and Miami.

Week 13 – Philadelphia Eagles – December 1, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Eagles Sandwich Games: Week 12 Seahawks, Week 14 Giants

With a pivotal NFC matchup on the front end, and a divisional game on the backend, Philadelphia is in a potential trap game situation. The Dolphins home field advantage serves as another beneficial factor in this game as the weather contract between Philadelphia and Miami, in December, is stark.

Week 14 – @ New York Jets – December 8, 1:00 EST Met Life Stadium
Jets Sandwich Games: Week 13 @Bengals, Week 15 @Ravens (TNF)

The game before a road trip on a short week typically favors the opposition – that’s the spot the Adam Gase finds himself in here when the Jets welcome Miami to the Meadowlands. With two NFC games bookending this game for the Dolphins, this is a great spot for Miami to steal a road win.

Week 15 – @ New York Giants – December 15, 1:00 EST Met Life Stadium
Giants Sandwich Games: Week 14 @Eagles, Week 16 @ Washington

This is a trap game for both teams, believe it or not. A non-conference game, sandwiched by two divisional games, has the makings for a let down on either side. If the season plays out as expected, this game could have massive implications on the race for Tua Tagovailoa.

Week 16 – Cincinnati Bengals – December 22, 1:00 EST Hard Rock Stadium
Bengals Sandwich Games: Week 15 @Patriots, Week 17 Browns

Like the previous game, this might set up as a draft positioning game. Both teams that figure to finish at, or near, the bottom of their respective divisions, playing out the string with rookie coaches, there isn’t much of an advantage to take away from this one.

Week 17 – @ New England Patriots – December 29, 1:00 EST Gillette Stadium
Patriots Sandwich Games: Week 16 Bills

For the second consecutive year, the Patriots finish the season with two divisional home games – seems fishy, doesn’t it? The only potential saving grace here, for the ‘Phins, is that New England could have the AFC East wrapped up, as they typically do every year.

 

This is, no doubt, a difficult road to hoe for Miami. The order of the games, the stacks of road trips, it’s a lot to put on the plate of a first year head coach trying to set a foundation.

The troops of the tank train should be satisfied with this gamete — it likely puts Miami in a hole that will be difficult to climb out of, especially given Ryan Fitzpatrick’s medical history.

For more on this schedule, tune in to the Locked On Dolphins podcast – your daily dose of Miami Dolphins football.

@WingfieldNFL

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