Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Looking Back, Looking Ahead, and Everywhere in Between

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

The Dolphins are unanimously projected to finish last in the NFL, how they got here, and where they’re going

A friend of mine, with connections to the Miami Dolphins operation, used to refer to Mike Tannenbaum as Crack Pipe. Every time a notable veteran hit the market, Tannenbaum would begin putting his ducks in a row to measure the requisite premium to acquire said veteran — hence, Crack Pipe.

Tannenbaum’s no-sleep method spilled over into his first and only head coaching search of as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations with the Dolphins. He found a fellow sleepless lunatic with a penchant for burning the midnight oil in Adam Gase.

The easy path to take here, would be a mention of former Dolphins Offensive Line Coach Chris Forester, but that’s not where this trail of breadcrumbs is leading.

Rather, the personality of Gase and Tannenbaum became the standard operating procedure by which Dolphins football was built. Bandaging problem areas by borrowing from future budgets, and position allocations, sacrificing draft picks for present needs over long-term developments, and thinking inside of a one-year scope. These core principles put Miami on a perpetual wheel of mediocrity.

That’s how the Dolphins wound up paying out the follow salaries:

 

Player Contract Signed with Miami
LB Kiko Alonso 4 years, $29M total, $18.5M guaranteed
DE Andre Branch 3 years, $24M total, $16.8M guaranteed
LB Lawrence Timmons 2 years, $12M total, $11M guaranteed
SS T.J. McDonald 4 years, $24M total, $10M guaranteed
QB Jay Cutler 1 year, $10M total, fully guaranteed
WR Danny Amendola 2 years, $12M total, $8.25M guaranteed

 

Some of the deals Miami signed were bargain buys. Albert Wilson was earning every cent of his contract before an injury. Frank Gore significantly outperformed his deal, and Josh Sitton’s injury derailed what would’ve been an upgrade on the line.

Mostly, though, it was bad free agent signings compounded by drafting for immediate need.

So, that’s how the Dolphins arrived at this stage. A roster that has some nice pieces, but one that saw Miami say goodbye to over 30 players, not one receiving a waiver wire claim.

And as Miami repositions itself for a long-term overhaul, we look at the players coming in, and those that departed this offseason.

2019 Notable Veteran Departures and Arrivals

Departures Arrivals
OT Ja’Wuan James CB Eric Rowe
DE Cam Wake QB Josh Rosen
QB Ryan Tannehill QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
DE Robert Quinn OT Julien Davenport
RB Frank Gore OG Danny Isidora
WR Danny Amendola OL Evan Boehm
SS T.J. McDonald LB Sam Eguavoen
WR Kenny Stills
LT Laremy Tunsil
OG Josh Sitton
DE Andre Branch
OG Ted Larsen

 

For your accounting records, that’s a lot of expenses cut and not many debts accrued. It’s clear the plan was to position the team for the coming seasons, not 2019 — a three-year vision opposed to the antiquated one-year vacuum approach.

The Dolphins racked up resources for the future while balancing the spreadsheet in the interim. Misappropriating those resources will only put the organization back in the same spot three years down the road, but the odds are that Miami are going to come out of this smelling like roses.

Let’s put this into a position-by-position focus. We’ll split each spot into three sub-categories:

  1. Current situation
  2. Future Need
  3. Projected Resource Allocation

With 18 draft picks the next two years (I think), and a limitless credit card designated for free agent use, we’ll assign those resources to the most pertinent areas.

Quarterback

Now: Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen — A 15-year veteran, a 22-year-old kid with the most adverse beginning to a career in recent memory, the current structure of the Dolphins Quarterback Room couldn’t be more polarizing. It’s only a matter of time before the Rosen audition begins. Or, as he puts it, “until the team is [his.”]

Future: Fitzpatrick’s contract expires after 2020, but Miami can get out of the deal next offseason with minimal penalty. Rosen’s value is tremendous to Miami — three years at an APY of $2 million, the Dolphins can retain Rosen’s rights for the foreseeable future, or pedal him for a draft pick.

Projected Resource Allocation: Miami will almost certainly spend a high draft pick on a quarterback in 2020 with that rookie competing with Josh Rosen.

Running Back

Now: First-contract players Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage sharing the bulk of the load with fellow first-contractors Mark Walton and Patrick Laird filling in for spot-duty. Myles Gaskin is likely a game day inactive with Chandler Cox serving as the fullback.

Future: Talks of extensions for Drake have been non-existent, though his talent might garner a new deal. Ballage is in year-two of his rookie deal, so he’s currently of best value to the Dolphins. The reclamation of Mark Walton is one of the top storylines for this team while Laird’s terrific camp and excellent fit form an offensive philosophy standpoint is intriguing.

Projected Resource Allocation: In the event that Drake walks, the Dolphins could spend one of its many mid-round picks on a back to step in as back 1b to Ballage. We’ll call it a 4th

Wide Receiver

Now: Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant were an explosive play waiting to happen last year until injuries shortened breakthrough seasons. Both return this year, and joining them are promising undrafted rookie Preston Williams, and former first-round Devante Parker. Allen Hurns rounds out the unit.

Future: Grant is fresh off an extension that’ll keep him here through 2023, barring a surprise cut (the option is built into the deal) next offseason. Williams is in year-one of a three-year UDFA contract while Wilson and Parker on under contract for two more seasons.

Projected Resource Allocation: This depends on the development of many unknowns. Is Williams the real deal? Is Grant healthy and ready to exceed 300 snaps for the first time? Is Devante Parker going to re-write his Dolphins legacy? If the answers to these questions are all no, then we’ll assign a significant resource. I’m projecting this group turns out better than satisfactory.

Tight End

Now: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, and Nick O’Leary each offer different strengths for an offense that wants to utilize the tight end frequently. It’s a big year for Gesicki to establish himself as a matchup problem while Smythe and O’Leary do more of the dirty work.

Future: Gesicki and Smythe have three years left on their deals and it’s a contract year for O’Leary. The performances of Gesicki and Smythe will dictate what Miami does with O’Leary, and with the position in totality in the offseason.

Projected Resource Allocation: Expectations are low for this group, and with O’Leary’s deal expiring in March, Miami could dip into those middle rounds for his replacement. We’re allocating the fifth-round pick, or a free agent equivalent to the position.

Offensive Line

Now: Swapping out Laremy Tunsil for Julie’n Davenport is one of the greatest imaginable downgrades in the league. The one redeeming quality, Davenport is cheap, where Tunsil was going to cost a fortune. Michael Deiter, Shaq Calhoun, Chris Reed and Evan Boehm all have multiple years on their deals and will likely start at some point. Jesse Davis is in a contract year and Daniel Kilgore has a team option for 2020.

Future: Not so bright. Or is it? The Dolphins put a lot of low-risk investments into the position (three newcomers over the weekend, Deiter in the third-round, Prince in the sixth and Calhoun undrafted). One solution among the group would be a victory at this point; two would be a godsend.

Projected Resource Allocation: This is where most of Miami’s shopping will occur next spring. With the newly minted, top draft pick quarterback, the next move is to protect him. We’re spending a second-round pick (potentially #33) on a left tackle. We’re spending top dollar on either La’El Collins or Joe Thuney (the former is far more likely to be available), and using a bargain contract on another player.

The hope is that this gives us four definitive starters, competition for the fifth spot, and a bunch of depth from the 2019 haul.

Defensive Edge

Now: Charles Harris’ strong preseason is encouraging, but it’s time for him to produce when the games count. Nate Orchard, Jonathan Ledbetter, and a pair of waiver wire acquisitions (Avery Moss and Trent Harris) make up the rest of the group.

Future: If Harris’ growth is fool’s gold, then the Dolphins might be left with only Jonathan Ledbetter at the position. The need for a rebuild shouldn’t be that surprising, the Dolphins completely shifted the schematic focus of the position.

Projected Resource Allocation: Like the offensive line, this will be a position of premium resource spending. Miami was in on Jadeveon Clowney and Trey Flowers this offseason, and figure to circle back around the Clowney prospects in free agency. We’ll double up on the top-market free agent buy with our other second-round pick.

Interior Defensive Line

Now: Christian Wilkins and Davon Godchaux make for a nice, complementary pair. Vincent Taylor’s conditioning issues and scheme fit resulted in a surprise cut.

Future: Wilkins is in year-one of a first-round rookie deal while Godchaux is signed through 2020; he should be in-line for an extension soon. The depth at the position is alarming.

Projected Resource Allocation: With role-specific players and depth as the only required addition, we can dip into late draft picks and low-level free agency to bolster this unit’s depth.

Linebackers

Now: Jerome Baker is poised for a breakout year while Sam Eguavoen might’ve been Miami’s best buy of the offseason. If Raekwon McMillan can return to his late-2018 form, this threesome is talented, built for today’s NFL, and under club control for multiple years.

Future: Baker and Eguavoen have three years left while McMillan has two years on his deal. Rookie Andrew Van Ginkel satisfies a sub-package role while the team could have some plans about Vince Biegel — Van Ginkel’s former Badger teammate — as Batman and Robin situation for the pair.

Projected Resource Allocation: Minimal, if any. The expectation is for Baker and Eguavoen to prove capable of eating the majority of the snaps with McMillan providing the two-down pop. The depth is good with the former Badgers.

Cornerbacks

Now: Xavien Howard is Miami’s lone, proven elite player. Inside of X is the next best bet for an elite talent to develop in Minkah Fitzpatrick — he’s perfect for the star position in this defense. Eric Rowe looks great so far, but his medical history causes some apprehension. Jomal Wiltz is a coach’s pet that looks the part for the defense.

Future: The top is solid, but the depth is incredibly suspect. Rowe’s development is one of the top storylines this season; he could earn an extension if he stays healthy. Howard and Fitzpatrick are here for the long-term and Wiltz the best bet to develop into a contributor.

Projected Resource Allocation: We’re going to assume Rowe stays healthy and earns a new deal; he plays well within the structure of this defense and the risky nature of his medical could make for a team-friendly deal. If not Rowe, another bargain level free agent plus a mid-round pick — call it one of the third’s.

Safeties

Now: Bobby McCain is transitioning to a new position while Reshad Jones’ age and contract make him a safe bet for an exit, sooner rather than later. The depth at this position is the second scariest roster hole on this team outside of the offensive line.

Future: This unit needs to be remade, especially if Fitzpatrick remains at his preferred slot corner position. McCain’s contract has an out if the experiment goes awry, and Jones is as good as gone by no later than 2020.

Projected Resource Allocation: We’re using the Texans first-round pick here to select Isaiah Simmons from Clemson. This position drove Flores’ defense in New England and he needs some help by-way of natural fits for this scheme. Simmons is penciled in specifically because of his versatility, and the flexibility Flores would have pairing him with Fitzpatrick. We’ll also spend a late pick and/or a bargain free agent contract here, we need at least three players.

We’ll be doing a lot of exercises like this throughout the season and offseason. The options are endless and the Dolphins brass has its work cut out in what sets up as the biggest offseason in team history.

The only safe bets at this moment are an early pick on a quarterback and flushing the offensive line with resources.

The pay-off for a potential last place finish could prove to be franchise altering; in homerun fashion, or pink-slips-for-everybody style.

@WingfieldNFL

Advertisement
7 Comments

7 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts

Jason Hrina

Published

on

Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa has IT.

Brian Flores is THE guy.

And I have to admit, Chris Grier has done a phenomenal job.

After an exciting 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (5-3), the Miami Dolphins (5-3) solidified themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the AFC. Sure, you can say we’re getting a bit cocky – we’ve watched our team falter plenty of times before. But do you get the sense that these are the same Dolphins we’ve been watching this century?

Right now, are you skeptical or optimistic?

Do you have butterflies because you’re nervous or because you’re excited?

Do you think the Dolphins are trying to survive each game or do you have confidence that they’ll win?

Coming off of 4-straight victories, it’s easy to feel like we’re on top of the world, but this team looks different. It feels different. They act different.

Below are a few thoughts following Miami’s promising 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Monday Morning Thoughts

Tua Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for

Admit it, when they originally ruled that throwaway an interception, you saw shades of every failed quarterback to come since Dan Marino.

That play was so comically bad that it easily could have defined Tua’s career if it didn’t pan out. Thankfully, it was ruled that the receiver’s foot was out-of-bounds and it was an incomplete pass – but imagine the memes that would have been unleashed if Miami lost this game and that play counted.

But, it didn’t count….and the Dolphins didn’t lose….and Tua Tagovailoa out-dueled Kyler Murray when it mattered most.

When the Dolphins needed a game-winning drive, Tua delivered. When Kyler Murray had an opportunity to tie it, he didn’t (along with an obscure Zane Gonzalez kick).

Tua’s elite pocket presence, accuracy, decision-making, and ball placement were all on display. And none of that accounts for the plays he made with his legs.

If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re thrilled with what you saw. And though it’s only a small sample size, I think we can all exhale – he looks like he’s the guy.

Byron Jones is still a damn good Cornerback

After three-straight dominant performances, Byron Jones was a bit humbled this game. We’re so used to watching him shut down opposing receivers that a game like this really sticks out.

He was absolutely burned by Christian Kirk on a beautiful deep ball from Kyler Murray late in the first quarter, but that wasn’t his worse play.

Dolphins fans and Byron Jones both thought he hauled in his first interception since October, 2017. Instead, Darrell Daniels’ first career touchdown reception is one of the highlights of the year as he snatches the ball right out of Jones’ hands.

I mean, Byron Jones had that ball in his hands for an interception, and before they hit the ground Darrell Daniels steals it into his possession. AND somehow had his knee down so it would count as a catch. Crazy.

Miami’s (really, it’s Brian Flores’) now infamous “zero” boom-or-bust scheme is susceptible to the long-ball, as our corners are expected to cover their receivers 1-on-1; with no safety help behind them. So far this season, it has worked tremendously to their advantage (as seen below)

But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:

With all of that said, Byron Jones is still a great cornerback in this league. Was this a bad game? Definitely. But I don’t expect this to become a trend. Lets not take for granted the elite secondary we currently have.

Christian Wilkins should NOT stop celebrating

Just please celebrate responsibly.

One of the reasons Dolphins fans adore Christian Wilkins is because of his infectious personality. He’s notoriously running in and celebrating every offensive touchdown with his team. His trash talking is innocently intimidating. The way he pumps his team up is perfect for any locker room culture. On top of the fact that he’s a pretty good defensive tackle.

Which is why I want him to keep celebrating – and I want him to continue celebrating excessively.

Preston Williams‘ unfortunate injury during a touchdown celebration is a huge reason why professional coaches like to contain their million-dollar players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. It makes sense, they’re valuable commodities, but Wilkins’ spirit is too valuable to douse.

If something like this happens again, then we can talk about stifling his excitement, until then….celebrate smarter.

Xavien Howard’s “penalties” tell half the story

Xavien Howard was tasked with shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, and he ended up accounting for more penalty yards (43) than receiving yards against him (30).

The real testament to Howard’s coverage throughout the game? DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league, didn’t see a single target in the first half of the game.

A couple (terrible) penalties shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Xavien Howard and Byron Jones may be the best cornerback tandem in the league.

The Miami Dolphins need a Running Back in the worst way

Jordan Howard‘s 8-yard run on the last drive of the game – which helped seal the victory – was his biggest play as a Miami Dolphin. Up to that point, I was kind of rooting for Howard to continue his 1 YPC average. If you take away that 8-yard run (EASILY his longest of the year), Howard has gained 25 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts (0.93 YPC).

Rookie Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, with 7 carries for 38 yards (5.4 YPC). I’m not sure how reliable he is, but he can’t be worse than Howard. If Matt Breida is available for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure Howard will once again be inactive, giving Ahmed another shot to prove himself.

We probably should have given Austin Jackson the week off

Austin Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time in 4 weeks (due to a foot injury) and was “ok”. He was beat on a few plays, but it’s evident he wasn’t 100%. I wouldn’t make any presumptions based off of this game; if anything, the reps help from an experience/mental perspective.

Jason Sanders is a stud

Jason Sanders connecting on 56 and 50-yard field goals are that much more impressive when you take into account that weird Zane Gonzalez miss (where he was short from 49 yards).

The conspiracy floating around is that the ball died (on Gonzalez’s kick) because the roof was open. Yet, Sanders made his 50+ yard field goals with room to spare.

Today’s the day we will never take Jason Sanders for granted as he surpassed Olindo Mare‘s franchise record of 19-straight field goals made.

The Miami Dolphins are going to “have to” extend Emmanuel Ogbah

I think we all would love to see a contract extension, but it’s bordering on a “necessity” at this point. Not just because we want to lock up a top-notch defensive end, but because he’s going to (rightfully) demand more financial security.

Though it always felt like he was on a one-year deal, this is technically the first year of a 2-year, $15m contract for Emmanuel Ogbah, but there’s no guaranteed money tied to 2021 – and there’s no way he’s playing like a $7.5m defensive end.

Jordan Phillips averages $10m a year with his recent contract, and I think it’s fair to say that Ogbah is worth more than that. Expect a holdout if the Dolphins don’t give him a raise and an extension this offseason. That’s not to say we should be concerned – I think Miami will look to make this extension a priority – but if they don’t see eye-to-eye expect a holdout to occur.

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises

Jason Hrina

Published

on

Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a team sport.

Wins don’t individually define a quarterback’s success.

Yet everyone agrees that the only way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback that is better than (just about) every other franchise in the sport.

Once you have an upper-echelon quarterback, then you can talk about the nuances of creating a team. Whether it’s surrounding that quarterback with the proper talent, ensuring you’ve built the right scheme around them, or complimenting them with a staunch defense to complete a championship run, developing an entire roster means nothing if you don’t have a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs.

38 years ago, the Miami Dolphins selected a quarterback that would revolutionize the NFL.

A man decades before his time, the immediate success Dan Marino brought us – after 13 championship-caliber years with Bob Griese – shielded us from the horrors of football purgatory. Maybe it’s this curse of #13 that has us clamoring for football relevance after almost 50 years without a Super Bowl Championship.

We watched our franchise devolve from the model of perfection to a team without an identity; floundering desperately to find a viable quarterback for two decades.

And with one swift decision, the Dolphins simultaneously expunged their football idiocy of years past and exhibited the type of football prowess that should lead them to salvation.

Image Credit: South Florida Sun Sentinel

As we’re destroying the team for wasting 2nd & 5th-round picks on Josh Rosen, we’re praising them for building the foundation for future success. Gone are these false prophets of yesteryear, as the real prodigy we’ve all been yearning for is one step closer to leading the helm.

Once Tua Tagovailoa was selected 5th-overall in the 2020 NFL draft, Rosen’s exile was cemented. He was never going to have an opportunity to make it here, it was always going to be Tua Tagovailoa backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The grizzly, 13-year veteran handles the nuances of a young football team while the young, energetic and extremely talented rookie spends valuable time learning and developing.

That move…that single transaction…will forever symbolize the moment the Miami Dolphins transitioned from football purgatory to football relevance.

The Purgatory We Built

No one remembers the cost of a successful trade.

Off the top of your head, what did the New York Giants trade to swap Philip Rivers for Eli Manning? How much did Carson Wentz cost the Philadelphia Eagles when they traded up for him? I bet you all remember the litany of picks the Washington Football Team paid for Robert Griffin III, or how badly the Chicago Bears missed on Mitch Trubisky when they gave up a bunch of picks to move up from #3 to #2.

It’s because mistakes are always magnified for franchises that fail. As a fan base, we’ve been groomed to remember all the negative aspects of our favorite football team, because that’s all we’ve known for the better half of our adult lives.

After trudging through this wasteland for so long, we are finally ready to move past all of the detrimental mistakes that have cost us 20+ years of our lives – including the Josh Rosen trade.

Sure, you have your classics like failing to draft (and then sign) Drew Brees, drafting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers with the 2nd-overall pick, drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick, and trading a 2nd-round pick for A.J. Feeley.

It’s not that the Dolphins haven’t tried, it’s just that they have failed almost mightily when doing so.

I respect that Miami was aggressive in their pursuit of Josh Rosen – or for any of the other quarterbacks they’ve attempted to put under center – but their aggression was either misguided, ill-informed, or even desperate at best.

A year prior to Rosen’s draft-day trade, another draft-day trade was occurring – one that would transcend the Baltimore Ravens organization for the prolonged future. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson – a quarterback some Dolphins fans wanted with the team’s 11th-overall pick.

To move back into the first round and secure a quarterback with the 5th-year option, all Baltimore had to give up was an additional 2nd-round pick (see the full trade at the end of the article).

With their draft-day trade, the Baltimore Ravens landed an MVP.
With their draft-day trade, the Miami Dolphins landed a quarterback that was released for nothing.

Again, I don’t fault the Dolphins for being aggressive, but their pursuit was often awry.

The frustrating part of all of this may be that this team actually “spent” both in assets and money, they just didn’t seem to take that extra step at the right time.

Spending 2nd-round picks was fine 3 years in a row (with Chad Henne, John Beck and Pat White), but spending 2nd-round picks then became “too much” when they could have moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – instead, they stayed put at #22 and drafted Charles Harris.

Think about it, Miami’s best quarterbacks since Dan Marino were:

  • Castaway by the New York Jets (and subsequently got his shoulder destroyed like everyone predicted)
  • (Allegedly) Forced upon us by Stephen Ross because he knew what a new quarterback would inject into a flat-lining brand (ie: making $$)

Between Chad Pennington and Ryan Tannehill there is 1 playoff appearance and 0 playoff wins.

There are definitive reasons why the Dolphins are executing a rebuild in 2019-2020 – after attempting to rebuild numerous times already this century – and you can say that lots of it has to do with the Head Coaches that have been in place.

Watching Ryan Tannehill lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship came was the most-conflicted I’ve felt in a long time as a Dolphins fan. I was thrilled he was able to prove himself, but frustrated that my team was once again watching from the couch.

Heck, for all the praise we give Brian Flores, he couldn’t get Minkah Fitzpatrick to buy into his system – ultimately losing a near-Defensive MVP player to an organization that has been breathing success since the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season.

Miami hasn’t lacked talent – it’s why they’re constantly hovering around 8-8. The problem is, they lack the most important piece on the football field combined with the right leader to mold them. Which explains why they constantly sit around 8-8.

The Future We Created

But thoughts of perpetual 8-8 seasons are a thing of the past. The Dolphins may have drafted their future franchise quarterback back in April, but they officially rolled out their #1 prize just a few days ago. Coincidentally, just 3 days after Rosen was released.

The timing is likely coincidental, but who says omens have to be a bad thing?

This Dolphins team is young (thanks to Chris Grier), determined (courtesy of Brian Flores’ mindset), talented (after accumulating so many draft picks) and they’re wise beyond their years.

With a bounty of draft picks at their disposal once again in 2021, and with a franchise quarterback seemingly set to take over by season’s end, the future for the Miami Dolphins looks EXTREMELY bright.

After most “experts” predicted the Dolphins would go nearly winless – some even calling for criminal investigations to be conducted – Flores showed off his leadership and led Miami to a 5-11 record.

If the worst roster in the NFL can win 5 games, what can an improved roster accomplish?

Last year, there were too many holes on the roster to count. Now, you’re desperate to find a missing piece. In 12 months, we’ve gone from cringe-worthy to dynasty-bound in some expert’s eyes.

So have the Dolphins finally returned to football relevance?

If this team really identified the right Head Coach, and if Tua’s hip can stay healthy, then there’s no reason why the Miami Dolphins aren’t about to embark on a successful crusade that takes the rest of the NFL by storm.

Earlier this year, we lost one of the greatest leaders to ever bless our organization. In honor of the all-time wins leader, the Miami Dolphins will wear a patch signifying Don Shula’s record-setting 347 career wins.

And who knows, maybe this renaissance is Shula’s last gift to an organization – and a community – that he spent his life already giving so much to. The symbolism would be all-too coincidental otherwise.

The Baltimore Ravens/Lamar Jackson Trade:

Yes, I understand every other team passed on Jackson. I also understand the Ravens passed on him once when they selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick that year, but Baltimore has built a championship-caliber organization over the past two decades, while the Dolphins have accomplished one playoff win – I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.

The Lamar Jackson trade can be broken down like this:

  • Baltimore traded pick 52 (2nd-round) to move up to 32nd-overall (1st)
  • Baltimore also sent Philadelphia pick 125 in the deal, but they received pick 132 in return – a downgrade of 7 spots in the 4th-round.
  • Otherwise, all Baltimore spent was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 (which ended up being pick #53).

Full trade:

Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL

Jason Hrina

Published

on

Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Think Brian Flores & Chris Grier aren’t smart?

After successfully navigating through all of the pre-draft smokescreens better than teenagers can survive the high school rumor mill, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to flourish for the next decade.

Yes, it’s something we’ve said before almost annually, but this time, there’s a clear foundation that will allow the roots of this franchise to prosper.

We’ve Heard This Before

Tony Sparano blossomed under the Bill Parcells‘ coaching tree in Dallas, bringing with him an aura of prominence and a pedigree for smash mouth football.

After a miraculous 10-game turnaround that took Miami from #1 overall in the draft to division winners, fans felt they had the proper leadership in place.

That was soon debunked when the Dolphins followed an 11-5 (2008) season with 7-9 (2009), 7-9 (2010) and 6-10 (2011). It’s not that any of us feel that Sparano was a bad coach, but it was more-than-evident that he was handicapped at the quarterback position.

The Dolphins go 11-5 in 2008 because their quarterback was the runner-up in the MVP race, and they falter to 7-9 after that because they decided to build around Chad Henne.

Good coach, but poor coaching decisions.

From there, the Dolphins hired one of the best human beings on the planet – Joe Philbin. The notorious problem with Philbin was: he couldn’t lead a football team.

Failing to rein in Vontae Davis‘ hangovers, everything regarding Richie Incognito, the Chad Ochocinco saga (check out this damning ESPN article from 2012, which gives you a glimpse into how the player’s felt about Philbin early on), and all of the Mike Wallace drama. Those football teams had some decent talent, yet were never better than a mediocre 8-8 in Philbin’s 4 years.

Great person, but terrible with people.

Adam Gase then took a 1-4 season and made the playoffs at 10-6. All the optimism surrounding Ryan Tannehill seemed justified, and we were ecstatic for the future. But we came to learn that Gase’s coaching talents resembled more of a glorified offensive coordinator, which left players feelings ostracized and without a sense of direction – especially those on defense.

Like Philbin, Gase wanted a group of players that followed him, rather than developing a strategy that tailored to his players’ strengths. He traded away (or failed to re-sign) productive players drafted by Grier in years past, just because he couldn’t handle them.

After a 10-6 start to his coaching career (2016), we watched our hopes dwindle to 6-10 (2017) – accompanied with $10m worth of embarrassing Jay Cutler highlights – and then 7-9 (2018) after the “quarterback guru” couldn’t get any production out of a 2019 Pro Bowl & AFC Championship quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.

Offensive visionary, but he couldn’t see past his own shortcomings.

So Why is This Different?

This would be the definition of insanity….if it meant that we were following the same trend.

Yes, we understand the eternal caveat that we won’t know for sure until we see the results, but after a successful 2019 – and a stellar 2020 draft that features plenty of starting potential – we’re not going too far out on a limb to say that they have our trust.

Going into a vital 2020 NFL draft where the team held 3 first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins’ future rested solely on the leis of Tua Tagovailoa. For months we were on edge, because, as Dolphins fans, we just figured they would screw it up. But once they secured their quarterback of the future, the plan was simple: protect him.

Not only was the plan to build a wall in front of him, but Grier and Flores identified that some of these positions take more time to develop than others. Rarely do offensive and defensive linemen jump right in and become dominant players. The difference between pancaking teenagers in college to moving a mountain-of-a-man in the NFL is colossal.

Rookies go through such a strenuous process to improve their draft stock – immediately after completing a full college season – that they are burned out by the time their rookie year is over. That’s exactly what happened to Michael Deiter towards the end of last season; it’s no surprise we see their performance start to slide after putting in so much work throughout the year.

Drafting Austin Jackson (18th-overall pick), Robert Hunt (39th), and Solomon Kindley (111th) means Miami is giving their rookies time to grow before being asked to protect their most-important asset since Dan Marino.

Instead of a trying to learn the nuances of the NFL with a rookie quarterback, they can learn how an offensive play is properly setup, executed and audibled under a veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

When it comes time to protect Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, they won’t have to worry if they understood the protection, if they’ll make a rookie mistake, or if they’ll naively and unintentionally do something embarrassing or costly. They’ll be able to focus on executing the play properly, giving Tua an ample amount of time to handle his own “rookie” adjustments.

With Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins acquire another player at a position that tends to need some time to grow. This move makes me wonder what the future holds for Davon Godchaux, who is expected to receive a very nice payday in free agency after this season, but for now, Miami can rely heavily on Godchaux and their 2019 1st-round pick, Christian Wilkins. Davis has the opportunity to learn under these two as he prepares to take on a much bigger role in 2021.

With their final 1st-round pick, Miami selected another young player at a cornerstone position. The adjustments rookie cornerbacks need to make when guarding an NFL receiver are somewhat substantial, and Noah Igbinoghene will be able to learn and make these adjustments while covering the opponent’s third or forth receiver – with the added security that he has an array of established and Pro Bowl veterans behind him.

This might hint at an ugly and somewhat inconsistent 2020 season, as roughly half of this roster is new to the team, but all of these young players will start to excel as Tua begins to transition into our full-time starting quarterback.

Which means the Miami Dolphins are ready to make a legitimate playoff run in 2021.

Is it possible all of these risks falter? Of course! Austin Jackson just turned 21 years old, and he wasn’t viewed as the best left tackle in college last season – he is a projection. Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t viewed as a 1st-round caliber cornerback, as most “experts” think he’s restricted to covering the slot rather than becoming a boundary corner. And then you have the general, inevitable fact that some of these picks just won’t pan out.

But we watched players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Raekwon McMillan, Vince Biegel and Nik Needham take the “next step” under Brian Flores stewardship. It only makes us wonder who he’ll coach up next.

Now that Flores is more-comfortable as a sophomore coach, and the team understands his “win no matter what” philosophy, Miami should naturally thrive in year two….right?

Like all of these other coaches before him, Flores is an absolute genius after year one. And like all those coaches before him, he’s one season away from looking like a dunce.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

LATEST

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending