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Miami Dolphins

Explain Your Perception

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Fascinating how much damage Jay Cutler can do to an organization.

One year ago, Adam Gase was Miami’s Messiah.

The Miami Dolphins finally found a head coach that wasn’t just a human with a title.

Dolphins fans were three regular season games away from (finally) feeling confident about having a franchise quarterback.

Then it changed.

Somewhere between the ascension and the downward spiral it all changed.

And now, one calendar year later, people that get paid to be called “experts” believe a Dolphins team that has collectively improved since 2016 is currently worse than the Nathan Peterman-led Buffalo Bills.

Miami currently has the best supporting cast they’ve had in Ryan Tannehill’s career.

This team is better than the 2016 squad that made the playoffs, and it’s better than what we had before the 2017 season – when we felt they were on the cusp of making the playoffs again.

Compared to the past two seasons, Miami’s positions entering 2018 are:

QB – same
RB – same or slightly better
WR – better
TE – remains to be seen, but can’t get any worse
OL – much better
DE – much better
DT – much worse
LB – couldn’t get worse
CB – better
S – better

Last year, before Tannehill tore his knee, we were confident that this team would be a playoff contender.

While Tannehill was still practicing, we were rolling out Nate Allen, Byron Maxwell, Lawrence Timmons, Andre Branch, Jermon Bushrod and Julius Thomas as starters.

In 2018, Miami has upgraded over each of those players. Each player that replaced them is not only better, but cheaper (except for Robert Quinn replacing Andre Branch as a starter).

Dawn Aponte may have been fan fodder for some lazy jokes, but she was pretty damn good at writing up contracts.

Mike Tannenbaum came to Miami with a similar pedigree. Previously the general manager of the New York Jets for seven years, Tannenbaum was acting as a sports agent before taking over in Miami as the Exectuive Vice President of Football Operations.

Steven Ross, Mike Tannenbaum and Buffalo Bills head coach, Rex Ryan, talk before a game. Image Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Interesting side note: One of his clients with Priority Sports was Atlanta Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn (another was Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr).

He came in to Miami and immediately splurged on Ndamukong Suh, further fitting the narrative that he was a wild GM.

Miami ended up getting a top-3 player at their position for three years, but we saw how little he affected the team overall.

Since 2015, we’d like to think Tannenbaum and the team have learned from their prior (and somewhat expensive) mistakes.

As mentioned, since 2017, they’ve upgraded not only the players, but the contract situation of these starters as well.

Cap hits for 2017 starters vs Cap hits for 2018 starters:

Miami has also drafted very well over the past three offseasons.

They’ve selected the following notable players, still currently with the team, since 2015:

Meaning it doesn’t count for how great the Jay Ajayi and Tony Lippett picks were (both in the 5th round). Then again, it also doesn’t account for the fact that DeVante Parker and Jordan Phillips haven’t lived up to their draft status, even if they are still serving as prominent players/starters on the roster.

2015:
Parker (1st), Phillips (2nd), Bobby McCain (5th)

2016:
Laremy Tunsil (1st), Xavien Howard (2nd), Kenyan Drake (3rd), Jakeem Grant (6th)

2017:
Harris (1st), Raekwon McMillan (2nd), Davon Godchaux (5th), Vincent Taylor (6th)

Davon Godchaux. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll even give the naysayers the benefit of the doubt and leave Cordrea Tankersley off for now, even though he’s going to be a good player for this team by the time 2019 hits.

2018:
Fitzpatrick (1st), Gesicki (2nd), Baker (3rd)

Notice how those late-round picks are almost (if not more) impactful than their early-round counterparts.

There’s an abundant amount of pressure and expectations set on this young team, and it’s quite possible it all falls apart – especially on defense.

We have no idea what to expect out of McMillan or our 2018 draft class, but these young players are still better than the players they’re replacing. It’s not like Miami got worse when they got younger.

And even if 2018 isn’t the year, how could anyone feel bleak about the future of the Miami Dolphins?

With a better roster, a more-confident quarterback, and a more-experienced head coach, what’s the excuse for projecting a worse outcome?

Adam Gase was hired at 37 years old to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

An absolute lunatic, bordering on maniacal, for his dedication towards football, this young protege acquired some of his knowledge while working under the guise of Mike Martz (the coach who orchestrated the “Greatest Show on Turf”), Peyton Manning (who was a general on the field, and equally as obsessive about football off the field), and the devil himself (Nick Saban).

Not to say that a coach’s past should dictate how successful they’ll be.

Look at each coach that fell off the Bill Belichick tree and see where they’ve landed. Bill O’Brien is the best one, and his career regular season record in the NFL is 31-33.

I just need to understand why Adam Gase, at 16-16, needs to be fired as the Miami Dolphins head coach?

No, we’re not putting him in Canton with these other head coaches, but there’s no reason to believe Gase can’t create a sustainable team after going through some unorthodox growing pains.

This is the first head coach Miami has had since Jimmy Johnson that understands what it takes to actually be a head coach.

Players loved to play for Tony Sparano. Joe Philbin wanted a mature team that held everyone accountable, but heaven forbid someone had a personality. Cam Cameron (poorly) understood how to scheme an offense, but didn’t know how to handle a locker room of men or the media.

They each had one aspect of coaching they were good at, but they weren’t good coaches.

Adam Gase comes in with a clear-cut plan on how to build a winning team, some moxie and an “I don’t give a shit” attitude, and some of us think he isn’t the kind of head coach we’ve been waiting for?

Players love playing for Gase, he holds his team accountable, and he has finally built a mature team that’s dedicated to winning football games rather than focusing on individual performances.

He’ll stay up all night scheming for his offense. The only drawback is that he could spend a little more time with the defense. He’s an offensive coach at heart, and he hasn’t hidden that fact during his tenure.

Whether or not Gase should be calling the offensive plays is one argument, but to exile him as our head coach is just asking for a “that’s so Dolphins” story 3 years later…when he’s leading another team to the playoffs and we’re dealing with another young coach’s growing pains. Or we decided to sign an expensive retread that’ll go 31-45 in St. Louis, botch the plethora of picks received in the RGIII trade, and get himself fired after ironically exclaiming he’s not going 7-9 again (he didn’t get a chance, he was fired at 4-9):

Or we can pay a coach like Jon Gruden $100m to trade away a once-in-a-generation player (along with a 2nd-round pick) just to have the opportunity to draft more 1st-round talents like Michael Clayton (15th overall), Cadillac Williams (5th), Davin Joseph (23rd), Gaines Adams (4th), and his only saving grace the year he got fired in Tampa Bay, Aqib Talib (20th).

Adam Gase has the potential to be a good head coach in this league. Let him establish his team and grow through the mistakes all young coaches make.

The only thing that’ll truly stop Miami from being great is a quarterback.

Which they have.

Tannehill is healthier in 2018 than he was in 2017.

An ironman who had never missed a game prior to the initial knee injury in 2016 – even after accumulating 213 sacks throughout his career – is suddenly deemed injury-prone.

You won’t find that tag associated with Andrew Luck, who was drafted the same year as Tannehill and has played in 7 less games, missing time in three separate seasons compared to Tannehill’s two.

“Go get Teddy Bridgewater” is the narrative some “experts” actually believe.

A quarterback that has participated in 30 out of a possible 64 games since they’ve been drafted is deemed a better and safer option.

Fast-forward to the 2:55 mark to get Rich’s enthusiastic plea for Miami to trade “whatever the Jets are asking for” to get a quarterback who has missed two seasons of football.

It’s as if the growth Tannehill exhibited and the skill he flashed suddenly dissipated.

They say Miami needs a quarterback that can win a playoff game.

Couldn’t find Derek Carr‘s career playoff numbers, let alone a playoff win. Though some people are still convinced he’s better than Ryan Tannehil because Philbin, a coach the same detractors love to hate, once said he would have drafted Carr if he had it his way.

Funny how he said that when no one was around to dispute the claim.

They say Miami needs a quarterback who can win, period.

Lets use that logic and apply it to other quarterbacks that detractors deem are better than Tannehill:

Tannehill: 37-40 (.480 winning %)
Carr: 28-34 (.451%)
Marcus Mariota: 20-22 (.476%)
Jameis Winston: 18-27 (.400%)
Kirk Cousins: 26-30-1 (.456%)
Sam Bradford: 34-45-1 (.425%)

Facts don’t matter to someone who genuinely wants to see Tannehill – or the Dolphins – fail.

PS: in case you skipped it, that wasn’t the Stills drop you thought it was – that’s the Eagles they’re playing…cause yeah, there’s more than one…

The fans that openly root against the head coach and quarterback truly fascinate me.

It’s as if fans don’t want to get their hopes up because it hurts to be disappointed. As if they would rather have the lowest expectations possible so they can feel mildly disappointed if they lose, and overly excited if they perform well.

I choose to head into the season with a real sense of expectation.

I expect the Dolphins to win because they have built a team that can win. They have shown me that, despite having a legitimate starting quarterback for only 13 of the 32 (41%) regular season games Gase has coached, they can still win games.

It’s easy to go along with the national narrative and not have to defend the Dolphins. It’s actually quite hard to genuinely defend something when faced with pressure from the opposing side.

It’s really hard to defend this:

Or this:

When everyone sees this:

Even though it really shouldn’t be that hard to defend.

The fact is, Miami did this to themselves. After years of mediocrity, cocaine binges by assistant coaches, and acquiring the most apathetic quarterback the league has possibly ever seen, it’s safe to say Miami doesn’t have to look too far to find the culprit.

It’s easy to pick on the Dolphins right now, and that’s what everyone’s doing. It’s also very easy to go along with it instead of standing up for your favorite football team.

We’re not asking you to be a “homer”, just be a bit more realistic, drama queen. Have a sense of pride in your 2018 Miami Dolphins.

Because when they win, I know I’ll be able to kick my feet up, sit back, and gloriously sip that tea.

And if I’m wrong, and the Dolphins get that top-5 draft pick, you can damn well bet that tea is going to be a much harder liquor.

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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Don

    September 8, 2018 at 12:04 am

    Awesome article, this is the work all media should put in on their pieces. I couldn’t agree more on your take, great job jason

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      September 14, 2018 at 7:38 am

      Thank you, Don! I really appreciate that

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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 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.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Linden Stephens
Linden Stephens defending Los Angeles Rams tight end Johnny Mundt

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.

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.

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.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview

Travis Wingfield

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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

DolphinsGiants

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.

The Scheme:

Offense:

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.

Defense:

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.

The Players:

Offense:

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.

Defense:

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.

The Medical:

(Coming Friday)

The Opportunities:

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 Concerns:

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.

Dolphins 27
Giants 13

@WingfieldNFL

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