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Miami Dolphins

Extend Laremy Tunsil Before Xavien Howard

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Other than Kyler Murray‘s hand size, the biggest mystery concerning Miami Dolphins fans this offseason centers around what the team is going to do with its premier cornerback, Xavien Howard. The former 2nd-round pick is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is looking to be rewarded for his performance throughout his career.

Coming off of a Pro Bowl year, Howard was tied for the league lead in interceptions (while missing the final 4 games of the season) and further proved the end to his sophomore season wasn’t just a hot streak. Xavien Howard is a legitimate #1 cornerback, and he wants to be treated as such going forward.

So while our focus has been on Howard and the hope that he’s not the next elite, homegrown talent to leave South Florida because of our front office’s ineptitude, we might want to look at another player who was drafted the same year as Howard; and, like his draft story, seems to be an afterthought.

Laremy Tunsil has anchored the left side of Miami’s offensive line for the past three seasons and, barring a Jake Long-esque injury arc, should be manning the left side of that offensive line for the next 7-10 years. Every team searches for a left tackle they don’t have to worry about, and the Dolphins already have one.

While both players are still under contract for 2019, it would be unwise to, once again, avoid having the foresight to extend football players you drafted with conviction.

Laremy Tunsil was a public relations nightmare that evening, and the team traded up in the 2nd-round for Xavien Howard. There’s no way to deny that the Dolphins wanted these players…so why not follow-through with that conviction?

This isn’t to say that Xavien Howard shouldn’t be extended or that he isn’t a priority; quite the contrary. He’s a top player at an imperative position; you can’t just let these players walk away. But let’s not overlook another player the front office should be looking to extend this offseason. Not just out of “good faith”, but to dedicate a level of consistency going forward.

Needless to say, Chris Grier and company have a hard decision to make, and I’m certainly glad I’m not the one who has to make it. Take a look at why Laremy Tunsil should be the Dolphins #1 priority this offseason:

Extending Our Misery

If long-term contracts are any indication of the consistency you’re trying to develop, the Dolphins have proven why they’re consistently mediocre.

You should never let the past results of a previous general manager cloud your judgement going forward; however, Chris Grier was still here in the organization when all of these moves were made. Was his opinion just shunned or did he have a hand in dictating how this team was built?

With that said, we can’t let these results contaminate our desire to extend Laremy Tunsil or Xavien Howard.

Miami’s latest contract extensions are relatively minimal, such as Nick O’Leary receiving $1.5m (500k guaranteed) for 2019 and John Denney returning for another season as well, but taking a look at the ‘bigger’ extensions Miami has done recently, they’ve been something like:

  • Bobby McCain: 4-years, $27m ($13m guaranteed)
  • Kiko Alonso: 3-years, $29m ($18.5m)
  • Andre Branch: 3-years, $24m ($16.8m)
  • Cameron Wake: 2-years, $19m ($11m)
  • Reshad Jones: 5-years, $55m ($35m)
  • Mike Pouncey: 5-years, $52.1m ($22m)

There isn’t much here to brag about.

Not like you need to be reminded of such, but the following is a short list of players the Dolphins drafted but decided not to extend for whichever (terrible) reason: Jarvis Landry, Olivier Vernon, Lamar Miller and Rishard Matthews.

Do we want to go as far back as the 2000s and recall players like: Vontae Davis, Sean Smith, Samson Satele or Ted Ginn Jr.?

No, Miami doesn’t extend these players, they just decide to give multiple contract extensions to Koa Misi and his broken neck.

The reason these players weren’t retained was because they became too extensive for Miami to justify. However, a little faith and foresight in their own player development could have kept most (if not all) of these players around for a longer period of time than their rookie contacts called for.

Laremy Tunsil and Xavien Howard need to buck this trend the Dolphins have been on. And if the team isn’t going to commit to their top talent, they need to strip each veteran bare and start anew.

Buying Your Foundation

This section of the article actually surprised me a bit; to the point that I had to completely change my thought process. What I originally had written (prior to crunching the numbers) centered around how an expensive contract for a “top” left tackle returns more value than an expensive contract for a “top” cornerback. And I have to admit, my perception didn’t match the reality of the NFL.

Left Tackles are essential for keeping your opponents’ best pass rushers at bay, and to keep your quarterback’s blindside upright. An entire offense can collapse with even an average left tackle. It’s why their values surge far beyond their skill – similar to every quarterback’s value around the league.

Take a look at the most expensive contracts for left tackles compared to cornerbacks:

The most-telling statistic to me is the Average Annual Contract for a top-16 player at each position. The top-16 LT contracts average $12.54m a year while the top-16 CB contracts average $12.42m a year. That differential is semantics, and has more to do with the timing of when the player signed the contract – they’re basically “worth” the same annually in terms of their contracts. Cornerbacks have the luxury of requiring more roster spots (since you need at least 3 on the field most of the time), so they have a slight advantage in terms of having more possibilities to receive the rich contract.

The advantage the Dolphins have is selling Tunsil on the fact that they can make the 4th and 5th years of his rookie contract much richer than they would be otherwise. They also have the most important chip at the bargaining table, and that’s the fact that they essentially have team control for 3+ years (accounting for the franchise tag).

If you take an average of the top-5 left tackles today, the amount Tunsil would make on the franchise tag would be: $16.44m

Now, this will obviously go up in two years as contracts get richer, but the following 5 players make up those top-5 salaries:

  • Nate Solder: $17m cap hit
  • Taylor Lewan: $16.7m
  • Andrew Whitworth: $16.7m
  • Russell Okung: $16m
  • Terron Armstead: $15.8m

It’s safe to say, given his age and upside, that most of us would rather have Laremy Tunsil than anyone else on this list.

At $16.44m, Tunsil would be 4th on this list and that would still be considered a bargain.

By locking up Tunsil before he enters Year 4, you might be raising 2 years of his contract (in what may be deemed an unnecessary raise), but you’re lowering the cap hit against your team in years 3-5 (let’s just say it’s a 5-year extension for all intents and purposes). You might be able to sell Tunsil on a deal that’s closer to Cordy Glenn (5-years, $60m – $38m guaranteed) than a deal that will easily surpass Taylor “Bodybag” Lewan‘s 5-year, $80m ($50m guaranteed) contract the closer Tunsil gets to free agency.

Deciding Tunsil Over Howard

Right now, Tunsil is set to cost ~$4m against the cap in 2019 – which is astronomically low for one of the best left tackles in the game. Xavien is an even better bargain at ~$2m. You could choose either player to extend first, and you wouldn’t really be wrong. Frankly, Miami should extend both of them and establish two of the most difficult positions to lock down.

But, if you have to choose one, you reward Laremy Tunsil, and here’s why:

A left tackle is essential for a team that’s looking to establish a franchise quarterback. It’s not just about the fact that you don’t have to worry about his position, it’s more about the fact that your quarterback won’t have to go through the same punishment Ryan Tannehill absorbed at the beginning of his career.

It’s debatable which player will “win you” more games than the other – both are necessary. But Miami isn’t looking to win games right now, they’re trying to create long-term success. Xavien Howard is going to be one of the top cornerbacks for the next 3-4 years, but how much winning is Miami going to do during that time? How many games do we actually want Xavien Howard to sway in our favor when we’re trying to ‘Tank for Tua’ in 2020?

Between the two, both would net a haul in a trade. Prime players that would be under their new team’s control? Of course they would both warrant a first-round pick! They’re probably more valuable than Josh Rosen is at this point, and people would have thought you were crazy to say that before last year’s draft.

In a situation where Xavien Howard’s best return for this team is a valuable draft pick, it’s hard to say he should be paid more than the player drafted one round ahead of him.

Would it suck to watch Howard lead the league in interceptions with his new team? You bet it will. But how much are we willing to risk on an expensive cornerback that has only played in 73.4% of the games he’s been eligible for? Or would you feel more at ease giving that money to someone who’s participated in 91.8% of the games he’s been eligible for?

If you’re under the impression that the Dolphins can become the next version of the Los Angeles Rams or Philadelphia Eagles and make/win the Super Bowl within a couple years of drafting a young quarterback, then you probably want both Tunsil and Howard to be around for awhile. Those teams had top talent surrounding their young quarterbacks, and while it’s a completely different debate whether or not Miami is 1-2 years away from being a serious playoff threat, if you want the team to retain their best players, you don’t let either of them follow Landry, Jay Ajayi, Vernon, or Miller out the door.

Your main reason for extending Howard first is the fact that his rookie contract ends one year earlier – in a literal sense, you have to make a decision on Howard earlier than you have to decide on Tunsil. That advantage Miami has with Tunsil in extension talks (3+ years of team control when you institute the franchise tag) is the reason Howard gets paid before Tunsil, but all other signs point to rewarding the best public relations move the Dolphins ever made prior to (or alongside) their best defensive playmaker of the past two years.

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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    corners

    March 1, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    ” Jay Ajayi, Vernon, or Miller”

    I didn’t have a problem with all of those 3 gong. Ajayi was causing problems and is injury prone. Vernon was way overpaid and still is (its why hes on trading block after just 3 seasons) and Millers been pedestrian.

    I hope we resign both, both can be building blocks for this team.

    Good read, ty

  2. Avatar

    PapaPickett

    March 1, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Sign both. Problem solved. Although I am completely opposed to bumping rookie contracts into rich contracts. Work a deal on the fourth year. If it fails you have the tender for Tunsil and tag for Howard.

  3. Avatar

    CHRIS BIGGINS

    March 1, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Excellent points. I believe in both players. It’s hard to find a #1 CB. But it’s even harder to find a #1 LT. Tunsil is only getting better and Howard too.

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 17 at Seattle

Travis Wingfield

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Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

Week 4 vs. Seattle
Week 5 at San Francisco
Week 6 at Minnesota
Week 7 vs. Denver
Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Week 10 at Kansas City
Week 11 vs. Oakland
Week 12 at LA Chargers
Week 13 at Green Bay
Week 14 vs. Detroit
Week 15 at Atlanta
Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Week 17 at Seattle

Week 17 at Seattle –

By the time this season finale came to an end the entire Cardinals operation had to breathe a sigh of relief. A disaster season, that came to a crashing conclusion, was finally in the rearview. For Josh Rosen, the last month of the season was a recurring nightmare. Rosen threw 146 passes in December and the only one that crossed pay dirt was a busted coverage in this Seattle game.

Some of Rosen’s strong suits didn’t travel to the Pacific Northwest. Throwing into contested windows, play-action passing, and third down conversions each brought back less than satisfactory returns.

The Cardinal passing offense converted 3-of-14 3rd downs. Rosen was 2-of-14 for 23 yards on contested throws and 5-of-10 for 56 yards on play pass.

Rosen was chucking-and-praying once again. The average air yards per throw tallied 10.8 yards, while the Arizona receivers only amassed 51 yards after the catch (34.2% of Rosen’s passing total).

The short passing game was far more fruitful than the vertical attacks.

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

The game was littered with mistakes from the Cardinals QB. Rosen registered 14 mistakes (11 from accuracy, 2 ball security issues, and 1 poor read). Rosen lost two fumbles and had two would-be interceptions dropped by the Seattle defense.

The personnel deployment featured more versatility than recent weeks. Rosen’s passes were supplemented by the following personnel packages.

 

11-personnel 31 snaps
12-personnel 3 snaps
21-personnel 4 snaps

 

As has been the case all season, Rosen was under frequent pressure. Seattle arrived for 11 pressures (6 sacks, 3 hits, 2 hurries) at an average time from snap-to-pressure of 2.19 seconds.

The busted coverage touchdown was Rosen’s one red-zone completion (1-of-3). He was in the gun for 25 snaps and under-center for 13.

Another week, another low conversion rate. The Cardinal passing game converted 8-of-38 plays into first downs (21.1%)

It’s difficult to imagine a more trying rookie season than the one Rosen experienced. The offensive line play was poor, the only consistent pass catcher was Larry Fitzgerald, and Rosen had his own share of rookie mistakes to compound things.

This game goes into the losing performance category marking eight consecutive games that Rosen failed to reach the winning performance category.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 7 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR, @SEA)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 16 vs. LA Rams

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

Week 4 vs. Seattle
Week 5 at San Francisco
Week 6 at Minnesota
Week 7 vs. Denver
Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Week 10 at Kansas City
Week 11 vs. Oakland
Week 12 at LA Chargers
Week 13 at Green Bay
Week 14 vs. Detroit
Week 15 at Atlanta
Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Week 17 at Seattle

 

Week 16 vs. LA Rams –

For the second consecutive game Josh Rosen didn’t finish under-center for the Cardinals. In a blowout loss, where it seemed like the entire game plan revolved around making life easy on Josh Rosen, Arizona still managed to get ran out of the building. Mike Glennon completed the final series for the Red Birds offense.

Rosen threw the ball only 23 times, but scrambled more than he has all season. The game plan also featured the least amount of variety, from a personnel grouping standpoint, all season.

 

11-personnel 30 snaps
12-personnel 1 snap

 

Rosen’s typical third down heroics didn’t show up. The Cardinals converted only 2-of-10 third downs in the passing game (one a QB scramble). Converting, as it has been all season, was a challenge in general — Arizona converted just 6-of-31 drop backs (19.4%).

Rosen was in the shotgun almost exclusively (3 under-center, 28 in the gun). This led to a limited play-action passing game (only one throw from play pass).

The four mistakes attributed to Rosen were largely deep shots. He missed on short pass, but two of the three inaccuracies came on balls down the field. One of those deep shots was an ill-advised throw into coverage despite a wide open Larry Fitzgerald coming across the formation (seen in the video thread).

Rosen’s depth splits were as follows:

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

More than half of Rosen’s 87 passing yards came from YAC (54%). The average depth of Rosen’s passes was 9.22 air yards per throw.

Throwing into tight window was a futile effort. Rosen completed 1-of-7 contested throws for 7 yards. Pressure was a regular fixture, yet again, as Rosen was under duress on 11 drop backs (4 sacks, 5 hits, 2 hurries). The average time from snap-to-pressure was 2.30 seconds.

The war of attrition seems to have finally broken the Cardinals spirit. The team’s execution was lacking all year, but this game was something of a “white flag” effort from the coaching staff. Rosen gets tabbed with a losing performance for a lack of big-time plays, a few mistakes, and an awful holistic result.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 6 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 15 at Atlanta

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

Week 4 vs. Seattle
Week 5 at San Francisco
Week 6 at Minnesota
Week 7 vs. Denver
Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Week 10 at Kansas City
Week 11 vs. Oakland
Week 12 at LA Chargers
Week 13 at Green Bay
Week 14 vs. Detroit
Week 15 at Atlanta
Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Week 17 at Seattle

 

Week 15 at Atlanta –

We’ve reached the point in the season where the Cardinals coaching staff had to make a switch to prevent further damaging their 21-year-old quarterback. Josh Rosen, under duress all game, with very little help from the route concepts and plan to attack the Atlanta defense, was pulled for Mike Glennon in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons pass rush would’ve crippled the most grizzled veteran in the NFL; it completely debilitated Rosen. The Cardinal QB was under pressure 15-of-27 drop backs (6 sacks, 6 hits, 3 hurries) with an average snap-to-pressure time of 2.17 seconds.

Atlanta’s unrelenting pressure led to a season-low in average air yards per attempt (4.6 AYPT). The Arizona receivers picked up 82 yards after the catch counting for 62.1% of Rosen’s passing total.

Once again, a lopsided scoreboard forced Arizona into very little variety from a personnel grouping standpoint. Rosen was 4-of-5 with 37 yards on non-11-personnel calls. The issue there — Arizona was always in 11-personnell.

 

11-personnel 22 snaps
12-personnel 4 snaps
21-personnel 1 snap

 

Rosen only committed two mistakes in the game (one accuracy, one a poor decision). The biggest mistake was an example of nervous antics in the pocket and a decision Rosen would prefer to have back (available in the Twitter thread).

Rosen was under-center just 5 times (gun 22), and only threw from play action three times; Rosen was 2-of-3 with 13 yards on play pass.

The Arizona offense converted only 18.5% (5-of-27) passing plays into first downs. Throwing into contested windows was a 50-50 proposition — Rosen threw for 68 yards on 4-of-8 passing into tight windows.

Rosen’s depth splits were as follows:

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 1/1 (100%)
11-19 yards 2/3 (66.7%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 12/15 (80%)

 

It was a miserable day for the Cardinals all the way around. Rosen never stood much of a chance to make a big time paly, or to make a game-changing mistake — but the one time he did make a crucial mistake, the game was already out of reach. This showing goes in the inconsequential column.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 5 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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