Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick are still battling to see who will start week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.
On one hand, there really isn’t a competition and Fitzpatrick is already the clear-cut “winner”. On the other hand, Fitzpatrick hasn’t looked too great throughout the preseason, and it begs the question: “why bother” starting Fitzpatrick if he’s just going to suck? Why not see what you have with Rosen?
As Fitzpatrick would want us to know: “It’s just preseason”.
See what each quarterback had to say during their respective press conferences earlier this morning.
Note: since similar questions were asked of each quarterback, I’ve grouped the quotes into categories rather than separate them by quarterback (and then again by category).
On the Quarterback Competition:
Do you want to know if you’re starting?:
Rosen: “Maybe a little, not really. It’s not going to change my day-to-day.”
Fitzpatrick: “Obviously (it’s) something you want to know. Continuity is a good thing in this league, and having the right guys. Having the same guys….but really having the right guys in the huddle, that’s really important. But continuity really helps out.”
Both toed the company line. They showed some honesty, but otherwise gave the politically correct answer.
Have you been told anything?:
Ryan Fitzpatrick is an American treasurepic.twitter.com/0aSWcdhvUh
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 17, 2019
On Their Progress Throughout Training Camp:
Rosen: “You can always do better, but always do worse. (I’m) pleased, but also have goals to keep pushing more (towards).”
Fitzpatrick: “Every time you come into a new situation, new building, new staff, new people….(when you’re) starting from the bottom up and installing a system. This is one of the more difficult ones. And the volume you’re doing and you’re trying to get on the same page.”
Oh really, this is one of the more difficult systems you’ve had to learn? That’s interesting to hear, makes me wonder if it’s a way to compliment Chad O’Shea, or if he genuinely believes this offense is difficult.
“I’ve had a lot of fun going through it this offseason. Trying to get everybody on the same page and getting to know guys and work with them. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s always something where I know I can continue to get better. But really, I’ve had a good time this offseason and improving my game, but as a whole getting everybody on the same page.”
Rosen: “My understanding of the Front-7. I sort of came in with not a great understanding of the structure of the defensive line, and the linebackers, and sort of the difference between base and nickel and dime defenses. Not just in the sense that there’s another player on the field, more in the sense (of which) package you’re going to get and how the package ties into the coverage; so I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned since coming here.”
Josh Rosen played in 30 college games and 14 professional games, but he still has a hard time understanding a Front-7? This was worrisome to hear.
Are you able to see things develop as quickly as Fitzpatrick is (a question concerning their limited vs veteran statuses)?:
Rosen: “I think I’m getting more and more comfortable everyday. It’s not up to me to decide when it’s time to pull the trigger and really get after it on the field. But yes, better-and-better each day.”
What are you focusing on?:
Fitzpatrick: “A lot of the focus right now is on us and cleaning some stuff. Whether it’s timing on routes with the quarterback and receivers, or quarterbacks and tight ends, communication with the guys up front, the running backs, just a lot of the stuff that will apply to Baltimore……….really apply the whole season to all of our opponents just getting ourselves better right now.”
If you listen to the audio of Fitzpatrick answering this question, you can tell he didn’t mean to specifically say he was focused on Baltimore. Not like anything negative will come from it, it’s not bulletin board material. This isn’t Quinnen Williams nearly telling people how he felt about Kyler Murray last year.
Bama DT Quinnen Williams was real close to throwing shade at Kyler Murray 😂
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 27, 2018
On Andrew Luck:
Rosen: “Personally, I loved Andrew Luck. Growing up, that was my guy. Going to Stanford, and I looked up to him as a Architectural Engineer. (He) did everything right. I was a Peyton (Manning) fan coming out as well, so Andrew following his shoes was pretty cool. I don’t want to comment on the specific situation, because it’s still going on. Maybe once it officially settles down I’d like to give some more thoughtful comments. But he is probably one of my favorite players, and I was really bummed that he felt so tortured inside that he needed to leave the game in order for those demons to go away. I hope he’s ok, I hope he’s with some good people, some good family. It’s tough for the game of football…and him.”
Fitzpatrick: “Everybody is different and I can’t compare my career to his, being the first overall pick and all. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and different things, but I watched all 26 minutes and 43 seconds of his press conference, and it hurt my heart to watch. Because I love watching him play football, and you could absolutely tell that he loves the game of football. And he’s the ultimate competitor. His long list of injuries; I’m sure there’s a million more that weren’t out there. He played the position the right way. He was tough. Never complained. That one really affected me and hurt my heart to see him up there like that knowing how much he loved the game. (While) not having much of a relationship with him, he exuded all those great qualities that you want to see in a quarterback. That one was tough to watch.”
— NFL (@NFL) August 25, 2019
Is there anything a Quarterback can do to help his Offensive Line?:
Rosen: “Absolutely, everyone can help each other with regards to (the) plays that are called. (There are) multiple ways of blocking the same front. Defenses have tactics to try and build one-on-ones in the front-7. When a QB has full command, they can tie the routes into the protection a little more fluidly. If something is coming out quicker, they can sure up protection and lose a blocker or two. If we have to push something downfield, we need all of our guys out, (and) we can trust our guys with their one-on-ones. Having that control and dominance over (the) offense allows the quarterback can be completely fluid with regards to marrying not just the protection and pass routes, but the type of protection on a play-by-play basis……it’s actually really hard to describe without drawing it up.”
This question played out like a Jon Gruden Quarterback Camp segment.
How is Brian Flores keeping Rosen engaged?:
Rosen: “He was a really good defensive coordinator in New England. Any advice he has is from a perspective of a defensive coordinator that has won Superbowls and has played against the best quarterbacks in football….and actually, THE best quarterback in football on a day-to-day basis. So anything he sees I’m all ears, and I’d love to help my game as best I can.”
Bite your tongue, Josh. We already have to dodge enough accolades heaved at Tom Brady, we don’t need any more coming from us.
Are you a better Game player or Practice player?
Rosen: “I don’t know, it’s not really up to me to say that. I’d like to think I play better in games than in practice, but that’s not really up to me.”
We hope you play better in games than in practice, but we also understand it’s most likely the offensive line’s fault anyway.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 23, 2019
Do you still get input from Jim Caldwell?
Rosen: “Jerry (Schuplinski) stays in touch with him. And we’ll get updates every now and then, but not too much.”
Regarding the radio discussion involving Channing Chrowder and how Fitzpatrick is holding back during the preseason:
Fitzpatrick: “I mean, it’s preseason. Every year, it’s the only thing we have to talk about right now. I would just say, it’s preseason. Historically, if you watch me, and the way I play in real games, and the things that I do, I think my history speaks for itself in a lot of regard.”
On Laremy Tunsil:
How good is Laremy Tunsil?:
Fitzpatrick: “LT is obviously a very talented guy. I think everybody in that huddle feels safe around him; feels better when he’s out there. He’s done a really nice job this offseason of trying to get integrated into this system and feeling good. He’s a leader for us. He’s a guy we all take a lot of pride in and gain a lot of confidence in being out there.”
Can you (Fitzpatrick) help him become more humble as a leader:
Fitzpatrick: “I think the biggest thing is you have to be yourself. If that is him and who he is, then that’s fine. But it has to come from the right place. Sometimes guys if they’re not real vocal or don’t really lead all the time with their voice, sometimes it is once or twice during a game or the year where they say something and you really listen up. But I’m excited to be out there with him and see how he does because I enjoy having him out there.”
From this quote, I get the impression that Laremy Tunsil isn’t much of a vocal leader on this team. And while I understand that there are ways you can lead without saying much (Cameron Wake is a good example), I can’t say I’ve we’ve seen or heard much of this from Tunsil. Barring injury, he’s evolving into one of the top left tackles in the entire game. Status gets you far, but it’s not what makes up a leader. Given how young Miami’s core is, I wonder which one of them will emerge as a true leader. Anyone else have dibs on Jerome Baker or Minkah Fitzpatrick?
Dolphins Live: Josh Rosen meets with the media. https://t.co/ZSntj6rzOW
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 26, 2019
Dolphins Live: Ryan Fitzpatrick meets with the media https://t.co/3SlV5kgjOi
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) August 26, 2019
Turning the Machine in the Right Direction
Nearly a year ago, 11 months to be precise, I wrote this piece for Locked On Dolphins: “Small, Important Steps in the Right Direction”. It was me opining on what I felt like were a series of small steps Miami, specifically Chris Grier and the front office had taken in the right direction just after the Draft. At the time, Miami had accumulated a Draft Pick haul of a: 1st rounder, two 2nd rounders, a 3rd, two 4ths, a 5th, two 6ths, and two 7ths. We know war chest has expanded, and Miami’s sure to put that to effective use in just over a month at the 2020 NFL Draft.
So, where are Miami now?
Well, that’s an interesting question, but I’ll attempt to answer it. With a haul of 11 free agents, counting TE Michael Roberts who was signed before the new League Year, Miami’s managed to fill some of the holes the exited 2019 with. Perhaps most important, despite shelling out big money deals, all of them are structured in smart, team-friendly ways. Kudos to Chris Grier and Brandon Shore for that. It’ll pay dividends down the road.
With the Draft still a month away, at least as things stand with the COVID-19 outbreak right now, Miami’s needs have become clearer. Quarterback was always and still is the top priority for the Draft. Running Back is a need still, and there’s a plethora of top notch backs in this year’s class. Offensive Line, obviously. Miami can use help across the board there. With the defensive free agent signings, I’m not sure edge defenders are a need anymore, but I think Miami will still bargain shop there. Safety, specifically free safety, and a true nose tackle round out the needs list. At lest in my mind.
With 14 picks, and Miami probably won’t use all of them to make actual picks – I think some get used in trade ups and some get pushed to 2021 – Miami will likely be able to fill that remaining chunk of needs, which is a great place to be in. Perhaps Miami still shops around a bit in free agency, maybe for O-line depth or a cheap running back, but I think the focus now narrows to the Draft. Since that’s next month, let’s review the free agent crop.
Free Agent Fits
Our pal Travis Wingfield has done plenty of in-depth reporting on all of Miami’s free agent signings, so I’m going to give you my broad stroke takes on what Miami’s added this past week.
Miami added defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah to help set the edge against the run. Kyle Van Noy is an outside linebacker with a sneaky amount of strength and ability to play with heavy hands and good leverage who can help set the edge too. What this means for Miami’s defense is that we’ll likely see more 4-man defensive fronts. Remember, when Brian Flores called the Patriots defense in 2018 his most used for formations were:
4-2-5 (307 snaps)
3-3-5 (226 snaps)*
3-2-6 (132 snaps)
4-3 (97 snaps)
* With the 3-3-5 package, there’s really two versions: The Bear front and the slide front. The Bear front typically included bigger defensive lineman to cover the opponents G-C-G with Hightower and Trey Flowers or Kyle Van Noy on edges, with Van Noy or Elandon Roberts off-ball. Think of the slide front as really a 4-2 front, but you have an OLB playing as a stand-up DE.
A potential hidden bonus here is that both Lawson and Ogbah have some experience playing in stand-up OLB/DE roles. Shaq Lawson did it some at Clemson and Ogbah had some limited experience in doing so last year with the Chiefs. I think Ogbah was used primarily as a rusher as I haven’t seen snaps of him dropping into coverage from that spot. But he’s been aligned there.
With the additions of Lawson, Ogbah and Van Noy, Miami’s going to try and be able to find analogs similar to Van Noy himself, more on that in a minute; Ogbah compares pretty well in play style to how the Pats used Adrian Clayborn and Deatrich Wise that year; and Lawson’s versatility might lend him to be used in some, and I stress some, of the capacities in which they used Trey Flowers. With Van Noy, in 2019 he was almost an exclusive on-the-LOS edge LB. In 2018, his duties between being an edge player and off-ball linebacker were about 50-50. I don’t know that we’ll see that, but I think Van Noy’s snaps won’t be as an exclusive edge – he’s so versatile in how he can be used.
As much as I love Khalid Kareem and really like guys like K’Lavon Chaisson, Curtis Weaver, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Marlon Davidson I have a difficult time picturing Miami spending a top-level resource on an edge defender. I think they’ll take a stab on a guy that falls or try and find value later on like Trevis Gipson, Jason Strowbridge, Chauncey Rivers, James Smith-Williams, etc.
No Fly Zone Southeast
I’ll admit, I in no way shape or form saw Miami going after someone like Byron Jones. In fact, I wonder if the Patriots franchise tagging Joe Thuney meant that money Miami might’ve offered to him was “freed up” to pursue other options. And man, did Miami get a nice player in Jones. Yes, he doesn’t have a ton of interceptions, but he does have 20 PBUs the past two years, and 44 for his career – nearly nine a year.
I’m a little dumbfounded that so many Dolfans think this signing means that Xavien Howard is on the trade block. Why would he be? Why would you dismantle a CB tandem this good? I get that X had the legal issue, but that was dismissed. I feel like if Miami wanted him gone, he’d have been gone by now.
What it means having a tandem like Byron and X is that you have a pair of corners that excel at press, can play off man, can both play on either side of the formation, and both can travel to the slot. That gives them some really nice flexibility and the opportunity to get creative with coverages. I’ll be really intrigued if they add a FS that allows Bobby McCain to play in the slot more, like he did in 2015-17. Miami could disguise a lot if that becomes an option.
When you combine Jones with the additions of Lawson and Ogbah up front, and Van Noy as someone who can play on the LOS or off-ball, you have to tip your cap to Miami for adding help at all three levels of the defense.
Depth and Special Teams
Miami apparently isn’t bringing back Walt Aikens, who was their best special teamer the past few seasons. Instead, Miami opted to bring in a trio of damn good special teamers, two of whom were captains. The one that wasn’t, Elandon Roberts, figures to get a chance to play in some packages on defense, just as he did with New England, and is a core special teams guy. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ate some of Chandler Cox’s reps as a fullback either. He’ll be fun to watch on whichever unit he’s getting snaps at.
Kamu Grugier-Hill, a fellow 6th round pick mate of the 2016 Patriots Class with Ted Karras and Elandon Roberts, is an intriguing player. While he might have been a better fit for Miami’s previous staff under Gase and Burke, he’s a fantastic special teamer and has shown well as a blitzer and coverage linebacker. His presence probably means guys like Sam Eguavoen and Calvin Munson are in the danger zone.
Clayton Fejedelem is more a like-for-like replacement for Aikens. A hard-hitting safety who’s a demon on special teams. Fejedelem probably won’t get a lot of looks on defense, especially if Miami ends up drafting another safety, but the bonus with Fejedelem, as compared to Aikens, is if you have to call on him to play on defense, he’s going to be better equipped to handle it.
Improving the Ground Game
I’ll admit, with Ereck Flowers being the first reported signing of free agency, I was a little worried the ghosts of Jeff Ireland and Mike Tannenbaum were summoned by the Tequesta. Flowers reputation carries stains, but he played well the second half of 2019 as LG for the Redskins. I hope Miami leaves him there. Ted Karras comes over after playing as center for the Patriots in 2019. He’s a bigger guy than Daniel Kilgore. He’s smart. He’s tough. He struggles a little in space and with power. I do wonder if Michael Deiter gets a shot to compete with him at the C spot with Flowers at LG, where Deiter played last year.
Both Flowers and Karras will get the opportunity to block for newly signed running back Jordan Howard (a favorite of my wife’s as he’s a fellow Indiana Hoosier). Howard’s a bigger back at 225lbs, but he’s more well rounded than he is a power back. He can catch and be a weapon in the pass game. He’s also pretty savvy with inside and outside zone runs. With Chan Gailey and Eric Studesville working on the ground game, Howard’s sure to get plenty of use.
Tight end Michael Roberts has played just 12 games over the past three seasons due to injuries and poor play. He was traded to the Patriots last year but failed a physical cancelling the trade. Detroit waived him and he was claimed by Green Bay but failed a physical there. He battled weight gain, depression and had his left shoulder surgically repaired. More of a blocking TE, he roasted the Dolphins in 2018, naturally, when Detroit came to Miami. If Roberts plays up to his potential, I think he’s got the ability to challenge Durham Smythe for that #2 TE role – being an inline TE.
Prepping for April
While the Draft won’t have the party that Vegas would’ve offered, that’s the next major step for Chris Grier. Miami needs to get the Draft right. We’re talking 2017 Saints right. We’re talking 2019 Raiders right. Miami has the opportunity to inject a lot of talent, in addition to the quarterback, into this team.
Go figure that the year Miami as FINALLY loaded up on picks, the COVID-19 breakout has forced Pro Days and 30 Visits to mostly be cancelled. And unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks, Miami and the rest of the league aren’t going to have as much operating information as they normally do. Miami will have to rely more on scouting than in the past.
The outbreak also likely puts a dent into each team’s offseason program. Teams will have to head into their offseason programs storming to get ready for the season. Let’s hope Miami doesn’t have a truncated offseason like they did in 2011 under Tony Sparano, which lead to an 0-7 start.
For now, with quarantines in place, there’s likely not going to be a lot happening for the Dolphins between now and the Draft. Hunker down. Watch tape (Game Pass is free). Familiarize yourself with Flores’s scheme. Watch “Humble and Hungry” – I highly recommend it! But above all, stay safe. We can get through this together.
You may recall Travis and I made a trip to Miami last year for the Bengals-Dolphins game. We were credentialed for it, meaning we were members of the media for that day. I think one of the most lasting impressions I have from that trip is just how many pieces work to create the “machine” that is each NFL team. Miami have a lot of great people in place.
I’d only ever been to one other Dolphins game in Miami. That was back in 2010. I don’t remember what Hard Rock Stadium was called at the time; it’s had many different iterations since it was Joe Robbie Stadium. But I remember walking around that stadium thinking it was dumpy. And I’d been to some dumpy stadiums – Old RFK Stadium for a Washington Nationals Game, whatever they call the Coliseum where the Raiders played, and the A’s still call home. Riverfront Stadium – the stadium of my youth. These were the stadiums that Hard Rock rivaled in 2010.
What Mr. Ross and Tom Garfinkel have done to the place is INCREDIBLE! I’ve been to Lucas Oil Stadium and the renovated version of Lambeau Field (2010 and 2016). Those two places are crown jewels. Hard Rock Stadium as it stands right now is nicer than both!
Miami’s building a fantastic new team headquarters and training complex. Travis and I stopped by Team HQ in Davie on our trip to pick up a parking pass for the game. The current HQ is nice (I live in Cincinnati and drive by Paul Brown Stadium daily on my way to work – that’s my comparison, but Miami’s is nicer), but it’s small. This new place is going to be world-class.
Brian Flores the Head Coach. While it’s only been a year with him at the helm, just by being in his presence, hearing him speak and listening to what the players said about him – there’s not a man in that building that wouldn’t run to the TNT Wall for him. Miami’s finally got the Head Coach they’ve longed for since Don Shula strode the sidelines.
The Dolphins have added 11 pieces so far, and the have the opportunity to select a new franchise quarterback in a month. If Chris Grier, Marvin Allen, Reggie McKenzie, Brian Flores, the staff, and the scouts get this right Miami’s going to have built one hell of a machine. Just in time for the post-Tom Brady Era in the AFC East.
It’s a wonderful time to be a Dolfan! All is certainly not right in the world. Not by a longshot. But in these trying times where we all need to cling to some form of solace, the Dolphins are providing one. It’s a small part of my everyday life, but it’s one of my favorite parts. Always has been. Always will be. FinsUp!
Free agency opens; Reshad Jones, Mike Hull lead Miami Dolphins cuts
MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – While the two-day legal tampering period has already been underway, free agency officially opened on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Since many of the heavy-hitting signs and trades have already been announced, the start of the new league year will be more about ratifying all those moves.
The Miami Dolphins, at the time of writing, have announced 10 free agency moves.
And with that, there has been the consequential announcement of cutdowns to counterbalance the roster spots of incoming players.
Reshad Jones leads the list and is also the only technical release, but the Dolphins had already announced that.
Jones was going into his 11th season and spent the first 10 with the Dolphins.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jones sign with a new team in the coming days of free agency.
Nearly half a dozen players were also waived: wide receiver T.J. Rahming, cornerback Rashard Causey, tackle Chidi Okeke, interior offensive lineman Evan Brown, defensive lineman Kendrick Norton, and linebacker Mike Hull.
Rahming, Causey, and Okeke spent the 2019 season as practice squad members.
Brown saw playing time late in the 2019 season but had been plucked off the Giants practice squad.
Hull might be the most interesting name on the list. He had been a scrappy ‘backer presence for the Dolphins after signing with the team as a UDFA in 2015.
Hull re-signed with the Dolphins last spring.
But he spent the 2019 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a knee injury and didn’t play.
Norton was also kept on the team during the 2019 season by way of the Non-Football Injury list after a car accident last summer.
Miami Dolphins Bring On Another Ex-Patriot, Sign LB Elandon Roberts
The Miami Dolphins are loading up on leadership. If there’s one thing the Dolphins have made a priority this offseason, it’s adding smart, determined football players to their team. Under Brian Flores‘ stewardship, I doubt we ever see a broken locker room again.
According to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN, the Miami Dolphins are signing linebacker Elandon Roberts to a contract. Financial details are currently unknown.
Dolphins agreed to a deal with former Patriots LB Elandon Roberts, per source.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) March 18, 2020
Roberts is yet another ex-New England Patriot to leave Boston this offseason for warmer pastures down south, following fellow-linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and the recent addition of (center) Ted Karras earlier today.
Originally drafted as a 6th-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2016, Roberts has primarily served as a special teams ace, while also serving as depth at linebacker.
If you were impressed by Biegel’s production last season, you will be pleased with the type of versatility Roberts brings. Over the past four seasons, Roberts has been active for 60 games (starting 33 of them), and has accumulated 4 sacks, 6 passes defended, 206 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and 14 QB Hits.
Roberts is stout against the run, something the Dolphins have lacked over the past couple of seasons.
Run-stuffing LB/FB Elandon Roberts, a team captain in 2019, reunites with Brian Flores. The Patriots have Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley as top ILBs. https://t.co/yvYxvVgMV4
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 18, 2020
If you were curious what all the additions at linebacker meant for Vince Biegel, this doesn’t make things any clearer. Biegel is tendered at a “cheap” rate next season, so there’s no need to trade him or let him walk, but with the additions of Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill so far this offseason, it seems snap counts are becoming sparser.
Right now, the Dolphins currently have the following linebackers on their roster for 2020:
- Chase Allen
- Jerome Baker
- Vince Biegel
- Jake Carlock
- James Crawford
- Jamal Davis II
- Sam Eguavoen
- Terrill Hanks
- Trent Harris
- Mike Hull
- Deon Lacy
- Raekwon McMillan
- Calvin Munson
- Andrew Van Ginkel
They recently added:
- Kyle Van Noy
- Elandon Roberts
- Kamu Grugier-Hill
Sam Eguavoen was a budding linebacker and special teams player for the Dolphins last season, but it looks like he’ll need to have an excellent training camp to remain on the team. It’ll also be interesting to see what this means for last year’s 5th-round pick, Andrew Van Ginkel.
- Turning the Machine in the Right Direction March 22, 2020
- Free agency opens; Reshad Jones, Mike Hull lead Miami Dolphins cuts March 18, 2020
- Miami Dolphins Bring On Another Ex-Patriot, Sign LB Elandon Roberts March 18, 2020
- Miami Dolphins sign center Ted Karras March 18, 2020
- Miami Dolphins Bolster Their Running Backs, Sign Jordan Howard March 17, 2020