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Miami Dolphins

Jakeem Grant, The Secret Weapon

Travis Wingfield

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Suspend your feelings, positive or negative, regarding Adam Gase for a moment. On a level-plane, one area he can stand to improve is the early-season self-scouting of his own roster.

Kenyan Drake was buried for far too long in 2017. The Byron Maxwell experiment lasted too long. Jermon Bushrod’s play, not his injury, should’ve been culpable for the switch to Jesse Davis.

So claiming absurdity for projecting big things for a pocket-sized wide out in 2018 equates to the definition of insanity: repeating the same action and expecting different results.

Jakeem Grant, the main attraction of ‘Small Sample Size Theater’, has his named etched alongside the league’s marquee pass catchers.

Yards-per-route ran, Pro Football Focus’ premiere advanced metric for wide receivers, is a who’s who of super star wide outs. The top five in that statistic are:

 

(Rank) Player Yards Per Route Ran
(1.) Julio Jones 3.08
(2.) Antonio Brown 2.87
(3.) Keenan Allen 2.55
(4.) DeAndre Hopkins 2.39
(5.) Michael Thomas 2.39

 

Reiterating for absolute clarity – Jakeem Grant has played a lot FEWER snaps than these players and garners far LESS attention from the defense than these proven stars.

Still, his measure in this category is eye-popping. If he qualified, his 2.21 yards-per-route-ran would nestle him tightly in the next group (others in the top 10 include Tyreek Hill, Adam Thielen and A.J. Green), 8thbest among NFL wide receivers.

Yards-per-target (a go-to data point in the argument against Jarvis Landry) is another authentic measure of a receiver’s impact on his respective offense. Grant chewed up 203 yards on 22 targets in 2017 – a 9.23 yards-per-target clip. Again, comparatively speaking, he’s the “name that doesn’t belong” in a group of perineal pro-bowlers.

Yards-Per-Target Among the NFL’s Receiving Yardage Leaders:

 

Antonio Brown 9.40
Julio Jones 9.76
Keenan Allen 8.76
DeAndre Hopkins 7.92
Adam Thielan 8.99
Michael Thomas 8.35

 

Perhaps a better measure for what type of big-play threat Jakeem Grant offers, is to compare him to other big-play specialists.

Yards-Per-Target Among the NFL’s Top Big-Play Threats

 

Juju Smith-Schuster 11.61
Tyreek Hill 11.26
Marvin Jones 10.29
Brandin Cooks 9.49
Robbie Anderson 8.25

 

While 65 of Grant’s 203 receiving yards came on one screen-pass, that play epitomizes the type of dual threat option Grant offers to his play-caller.

Grant slipped seven tackles on 13 receptions in 2017 – three coming on that one touchdown catch. Chalk it up to poor tackling if you’re not sold, but this is NOT something new to the diminutive Texas Tech alum.

Grant’s four kickoff returns for touchdowns tie him for the 17thmost in the history of the association. Making tacklers miss in the open field is kind of what the five-foot-six speedster does.

In the same vein that Tyreek Hill has reached stardom, it’s about much more than just the vertical route for these shifty play makers. The mere threat of Grant’s speed puts defensive backs in precarious positions with only one thought in mind – don’t get beat deep.

An effective option for containing him hasn’t been shown yet. Teams have attempted to press him with bail technique, while others attempted to get the inside hand jam. He is capable of releasing both inside and out regardless of his split. Perimeter, slot, or from the backfield, he is an imminent threat to any defense.

Jakeem enters year-three with very minimal tread on his tires. The Dolphins signed Albert Wilson to a healthy contract this off-season, but one has to wonder if Grant doesn’t get the first opportunity to be a breakout star (Wilson had to wait his turn for four years in Kansas City, but that chance never came).

Due to the nature of Wilson’s contract, if Grant turns into Tyreek Hill 2.0, the Dolphins can get out of Wilson’s deal after two years – precisely when Grant when be ticketed for unrestricted free-agency.

Wilson has his own unique set of skills that compare-and-contrast to Grant’s style, but the Dolphins have safe-guarded for the interim and the future at the position. Wilson figures to be a very nice part of the operation, but Jakeem Grant has the upside to take the league by storm.

Opportunity is the only obstacle standing in his way.

@WingfieldNFL

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    Ronald Hiatt Jr

    June 22, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    The signing of Amendola and Wilson signals to me that Gase has given up on development of young talents. The proof is in his track record and has a spotlight on it this past season. Miami had horrible TE play all season with 6 games left in the season the team promoted Thomas Duarte off the practice squad he ended up getting 1st team reps and from the coaches own mouths Duarte was stellar but game days he was never on the field even though he earned it through practice. Another example is Drake never got a chance till Ajayi got traded and both Perry and Williams got hurt leaving Drake as the only healthy RB on the roster. Another example is the Guard postion has been the worst on the whole team. In preseason the 2 best Gs were Anthony Steen and Isaac Asiata with Jesse Davis a close 3rd but Gase wont start young guys and if Larson was not on IR Davis would not of even gotten valuable playing time that ended up helping him develop. The real starters based on play was Steen and Asiata not Steen/Davis and Bushrod. Even after all the injuries Gase chose to play Young at RT who was literally not worth even keeping for the practice squad. Asiata practiced the last 4 weeks of the season yet got 3 snaps in the final game on special teams only. These types of historic mistakes are not new and I could bring up 3 more off the top of head like LB CB DT but the post is getting too big.

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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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