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Miami Dolphins

Massacre in Miami – Dolphins Patriots Week 2 Recap

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins bring the tank to a new level with an astonishing 102-10 point-differential after two games

Nearly three-touchdown under dogs at home Sunday, Miami were among the greatest longshots in the league’s regular season history. Despite winning five of the last six against the Patriots in Hard Rock Stadium, odd’s makers had the Pats as 19-point favorites.

Still, that line was far too generous.

Stat Dolphins Patriots
Total Yards 184 381
Rushing 42 126
Passing 142 255
Penalties 4 (42 yards) 5 (54 yards)
3rd/4th Down 4/19 6/11
Sacks For 2 7
TOP 23:30 36:30

 

 

Brian Flores received a much more spirited effort from his players in his second showing as a head coach, but a comedy of errors late in the game resulted in a similar outcome to the week-one massacre.

The offensive line negates any hope of evaluating the Dolphins offensive skill set, and the quarterback play has quickly gone beyond epidemic levels. The Pats offense only scored 13 first-half points, but the New England defense did one better in the second act with 14 points of its own (a pair of pick sixes off the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick).

The Dolphins defense forced three times as many punts as last week, and even registered a takeaway. In the end, the unit wore down as the Miami offense had just 38 yards of offense, and two first downs into the fourth quarter.

A six-touchdown throttling was almost welcomed news after another week of reported turmoil in the Dolphins locker room. Now, with another swift smack down in the back pocket, the attention shifts back to disgruntled Dolphins defensive back, Minkah Fitzpatrick.

I could retrace my words, or just point you to the Twitter thread from Sunday morning — I’ll go with the latter.

Let’s go unit-by-unit.

Quarterback

Questions about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s job security are swirling, and rightfully so. After salvaging broken protection last week and doing all he could to keep the offense on track, Fitzpatrick succumbed to the pressure in week-two

He didn’t surpass 100 yards, he threw three interceptions, took four sacks, and posted a passer rating of 23.8. At this stage, Fitzpatrick is going down with the ship while Josh Rosen sets off in a life boat.

With the ship nearly submerged, Rosen’s time to captain the new vessel is coming, perhaps by next Sunday in Dallas.

Rosen threw a pair of well-located deep balls in mop-up duty, but both were dropped. He sailed a third down the middle that traveled into the waiting arms of Devin McCourty, but that too was dropped. Rosen wouldn’t get off that easy though, as Miami used its final timeout in an attempt to erase the shutout.

Rosen’s 18th pass of the day would get tipped at the line and picked off. Rosen finished with a 33.8 passer rating — 10 points better than the starter. He also shook off a left leg injury that bothered him enough initially to bring the training staff onto the field.

Rosen finished the game, however.

Running Back

Kalen Ballage has not been what the fan base hyped him up to be this season. He now has five yards on nine carries, and his hands have proven costly. After ducking under one pass in the first half, Ballage bobbled another in the second, tipping it into the waiting arms of Jaime Collins for New England’s second pick six.

Kenyan Drake’s pass protection issues are reaching code red levels. He’s often late to find the most urgent pressure, and is easily thrown out of his assignment by delays and games from the front-seven.

As a runner and pass catcher, though, Drake is the best on the team — by a large margin.

Mark Walton picked up 27 total yards in garbage time.

Wide Receiver

Preston Williams looks like the one hit at the position so far. Jakeem Grant has been invisible, and his issues with drops are resurfacing. Williams, on the other hand, creates the most consistent separation, and has also done well with contested opportunities.

Devante Parker was a goose egg on the stat sheet. On seven targets, Parker didn’t get into the box score. Through two games Parker has three catches on 14 targets.

Tight End

The blocking of the primary 12-personnel tight ends hasn’t been an impressive display through two games. Nick O’Leary missed a seal on Miami’s first drive that led to a TFL; a play could’ve been a substantial gain if O’Leary makes any contact at all.

Durham Smythe and Mike Gesicki caught a pass each. Both were largely absent in the game.

Offensive Line

We saw a new starting line and some new combinations in the fourth quarter. Newcomer Evan Boehm earned his first action of the season. Fellow newcomer Danny Isidora is a massive liability with any type of bull rush, or with speed, for that matter.

New Right Tackle J’Marcus Webb probably had the best day of the group. New England continuously hit Miami with picks, stunts, twists and delayed blitzes, and the Dolphins were not up to the task.

Jesse Davis hit a homerun with his quote during the week, but he’s been as bad as he could’ve been through two games. He’s not quick enough to deal with speed off the edge, and he’s not doing much to help Michael Deiter’s inside post.

Deiter and Daniel Kilgore do well to engage blocks, but they both fall off far too often. There isn’t a bright spot on this line through two games.

Defensive Line

Another game down, another game closer to the end of Charles Harris. Harris, after a stellar preseason, has been missing in the early going. He’s yet to hit the opposing quarterback and he’s getting washed out routinely in the running game.

That’s not true of Davon Godchaux. He has some losses today, but the veteran does well with this two-gap scheme to engage, shed, and find the football. Godchaux is positioning himself for a contract extension in the near future.

Christian Wilkins was in on a fumble with Minkah Fitzpatrick, but he too has yet to put a hit on the quarterback. It’s been a slow start for Miami’s first-round pick.

John Jenkins has the power to fulfill the Danny Shelton role. He sent Shaq Mason into Tom Brady’s lap for a sack on a bull rush.

Linebackers

It was much better from this group than last week, and it starts with Jerome Baker. He was much more effective against the run. He missed one play defending the edge against Rex Burkhead, but he did well to take on, and defeat, New England’s lead blocks and made 12 total tackles.

Raekwon McMillan was active in this regard as well. He’s the most physical of this Dolphins linebackers’ corps and creates some fun collisions against the run.

Sam Eguavoen is trending towards preseason superstar, but not much else. His biggest weakness is digging through contact and making plays in the ground game, and the scoreboard has allowed him to get out of that role. He’s sticking to just about every block thrown his way.

Vince Biegel picked up his first sack as a Dolphin — he’s got a bit of juice and motor working off the edge in Miami’s many defensive alignments.

Defensive Backs

Xavien Howard is the saving grace of this team in 2019. He traveled with Josh Gordon while Miami attempted to bracket Antonio Brown and Julian Edelman on occasion, and Howard won. Gordon was targeted five times but caught just two for 15 yards.

Howard did get tabbed with a pair of defensive holding calls, thought the validity of the first one is questionable.

Eric Rowe might not survive the week; he was awful again. Whether it was in the slot on Edelman, or out on the perimeter with Brown, Rowe got worked over to the tune of three penalties and multiple big plays in his coverage area.

Jomal Wiltz flies around the field and is an exceptional tackler, but he’s still getting his feet wet in coverage. He was in positon on a slot fade to Antonio Brown, but the veteran used a subtle push to create space and win for the touchdown. The game’s in-studio officiating expert thought the play should’ve been flagged for offensive pass interference.

Minkah Fitzpatrick played a much faster, more fundamentally sound game. He was exuberant with the few plays Miami did win, he recovered a fumble, and he didn’t have issues with tackling — quite the opposite, actually.

Bobby McCain was better in this game. He made a pair of open field tackles in the first half and didn’t have the coverage breakdowns on the backend like last week.

Recap

Miami are posting some record-breaking numbers through two games, and not the kind of records you want to be associated with.

Still, you can see the fruits of Miami’s labor coming to blossom. Eschewing high-priced veterans, and one exceptional player on a rookie deal, Miami secured its own poor performance for the season.

The team could’ve easily held on to Laremy Tunsil, T.J. McDonald, Akeem Spence, Vincent Taylor, and even Ja’Wuan James heading back to free agency. But the only thing those players would’ve accomplished, is keeping Miami close in too many games, and when you’re close, fluke occurrences have a way of divvying up parity in the league.

Miami’s commitment to the franchise quarterback, through securing the first pick, comes at the cost of the 2019 season. So go away for a year if you must, but understand that this is the result of two decades’ worth of a goose egg in the January win column.

This is the result of an owner so fed up with mediocrity, in anticipation of a generational quarterback’s draft declaration, that he pulled the plug on the standard operating procedure.

Half measures have led to 72 wins over the last decade, putting Miami in NFL limbo. Now, the Dolphins are taking a full measure, and it’s difficult to envision any team out pacing them in the race for ultimate ineptitude.

If you’re not convinced of the prize at the end of the game, perhaps THIS can persuade you.

@WingfieldNFL

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  1. Avatar

    da bu

    September 16, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Minkah doesn’t have problems tackling. He has problems when an OG engages him, of course. If Baker can’t shed blocks, Minkah sure as hell can’t.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are beginning to bulk up the depth of their roster as they head into free agency.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Dolphins have signed tight end Michael Roberts. The exact terms of the contract are currently unknown.

Originally a 4th-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Roberts has served mostly as a backup tight end; accumulating 146 yards on 13 receptions in 23 active games between 2017-2018.

Roberts was placed on injured-reserve towards the end of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, and was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional 2020 7th-round pick prior to the 2019 season. Due to medical reasons, the trade was voided a couple of days later.

The Green Bay Packers claimed Roberts off of waivers, but he was subsequently released by the Packers two days later for failing a physical. Roberts was not active for any games in 2019.

Signing Roberts doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins aren’t going to pursue tight ends in free agency or in the draft. Mike Gesicki is the only “lock” to make the 2020 roster, as Durham Smythe‘s blocking ability might not survive if the Dolphins find themselves in an advantageous situation at the position.

Look at this as a way for Miami to get ahead of evaluations.

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Miami Dolphins

A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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J.K. Dobbins 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.

Person B is ready to go with their mock.

Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.

I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.

They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.

Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida

As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.

Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”

Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”

Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”

Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”

[resends mock draft to Person B]

“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”

Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”

Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.

So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”

Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”

Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”

And that wraps things up with Person B.

What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).

Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…

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Miami Dolphins

Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins weren’t supposed to be a productive team in 2019.

A team meant to lose every game somehow ended up with a 5-11 record; simultaneously sabotaging their draft status and leaving us with a promising future at the same time.

Brian Flores, the former scout, scoured the transaction wire every day in an attempt to uncover potential “acorns” – as one former general manager infamously put it. And with a keen eye for development, his constant shuffling and retooling paid off for him.

You might think a 5-11 team wouldn’t have too many options for a Top 5 list, but the Dolphins were littered with productive “surprises”. Most have promising futures, while some have already solidified themselves as perennial starters.

Take a look at our top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019 down below. If you’d like to see who made our list of top 5 most disappointing players of 2019, click here.

5) Davon Godchaux

After two elite seasons, we’ve come to expect nothing less out of Davon Godchaux.

Starting 16 games for the second year in a row, Godchaux has continued to ascend as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. If the Dolphins weren’t so busy staying out of the lime light, Godchaux would be a household name across the nation.

His 52 solo tackles were tied for the most in the NFL among interior defensive linemen. His 2 sacks, 75 total tackles and 7 QB hits are all improvements over his 2018 campaign, which already had fans clamoring to extend the young, former 5th-round pick.

Though some might point to Miami’s overall defensive rushing numbers as a sign that Godchaux (and Christian Wilkins) weren’t good at their jobs, that’s wildly misleading. Godchaux was stout in the middle of the defensive line; inadvertently tasked with absorbing double teams and giving players like Vince Biegel or Jerome Baker room to blitz.

It’s quite possible that Godchaux is lower than he should be on this list, simply because we take his performance for granted.

4) Mike Gesicki

I’m going to hold my hand up high and admit that I thought Mike Gesicki was going to be an absolute bust for the Miami Dolphins.

More-notorious for not staying on his feet than Brian Hartline, Gesicki overcame a (very) rough rookie season and turned into a reliable seam threat for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Gesicki finished the year with 51 receptions, 570 receiving yards (an 11.2 yards-per-reception average) and five touchdowns – the first of his career. He proved to be a mismatch against linebackers; and whether he lines up in the slot or on the outside, the Dolphins are going to take advantage each time they see him 1-on-1 against an LB.

Athletic and deceptively quicker than we might realize, Gesicki honed his route running and displayed a much better catch radius than what we saw his rookie year. The image of Brent Grimes wide-eyed after Gesicki went up for a touchdown says more than a thousand words – but if nothing else, it tells us that the Miami Dolphins have a legitimate tight end.

3) Vince Biegel

Vince Biegel came to Miami as a complete afterthought.

The Dolphins traded incumbent linebacker Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints in an effort to alleviate cap space in 2020. In return, they received a little-known, former 4th-round pick who was about to play for his third team in 3 years.

For all the grief we’ve given Chris Grier over his scouting, we have to give him a ton of credit for this one. Saying the Saints got fleeced is an understatement.

In 13 games (4 starts) with the Saints, Alonso recorded 31 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss (TFL) and 2 QB Hits.

In 15 games (10 starts), Biegel accumulated 57 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 TFL, 13 QB Hits and an interception to boot.

Biegel was such a force at linebacker, that Dolphins fans forgot he was going to be a free agent this offseason and just assumed they had him for years to come. Most of us hope the Dolphins find a way to keep Biegel around at a reasonable (yet worthy) price.

The growth he, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker can make with another year together could all together eliminate the need to use assets on a linebacker in the near-future. Especially when the team will get Andrew Van Ginkel back for a full, healthy season.

2) Jerome Baker

Arguably Chris Grier’s best draft pick, Jerome Baker has evolved into one of the best all-around linebackers in the league. You can consider that an overstatement, but his versatility, durability and play-making ability make him a prime candidate to burst into the national spotlight in 2020.

Baker and Eric Rowe were the only players who logged over 1,000 snaps last season (1,079 for Baker, 1,071 for Rowe).

After a rookie season that showed a ton of promise, Baker’s sophomore season ended with 124 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, 4 passes defended and 1 interception. Versatile in coverage, as a spy, diagnosing the run, and when he blitzes, Baker may be the real Swiss-Army knife of this Dolphins’ defense.

The biggest question we now have to ask is: what do the Miami Dolphins do with Jerome Baker? He’s still two years away from free agency, but if his 2020 season is any improvement over what we’ve seen, Baker is going to command A LOT of money when he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

Don’t let Baker turn into another Olivier Vernon, Jarvis Landry or Lamar Miller. Pay the talent you successfully scouted and maintain a sense of culture and camaraderie.

Honorable Mentions:

Christian Wilkins:

Christian Wilkins came to the Miami Dolphins with a ton of charisma and a jovial personality unmatched by any top draft pick that came before him.

From the moment the 315lbs linebacker did a split after Clemson won their national championship in 2018, to the time he had Roger Goodell go up for a chest bump after he was drafted, Wilkins was a beloved figure.

But personality can only take you so far, and when the season started Wilkins needed to back up his charity work and infectious smile with the brutality necessary to win at the line of scrimmage. And boy did he live up to it.

Wilkins may not have finished with the most-gaudy numbers, but they’re still impressive nonetheless. For his rookie season, Wilkins totaled 56 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 passes defended. He’s caught every pass ever thrown to him (1), and it even resulted in a touchdown.

His 888 total snaps (between defense, special teams and the 2 he accumulated on offense) are noteworthy for a rookie defensive tackle.

The other 1st-round defensive linemen drafted in 2019 finished with:

  • Quinnen Williams (3rd-overall): 577 total snaps
  • Clelin Ferrell (4th): 716 snaps
  • Ed Oliver (9th): 572 snaps
  • Wilkins (13th): 888 snaps
  • Brian Burns (16th): 609 snaps
  • Dexter Lawrence (17th): 866 snaps
  • Jeffery Simmons (19th): 368 snaps
  • Montez Sweat (26th): 817 snaps
  • Jerry Tillery (28th): 436 snaps

The 2019 draft class was stacked on the defensive line, and yet, the Dolphins may have managed to draft the best one of the bunch midway through the round.

Nik Needham:

The Miami Dolphins signed Nik Needham as an undrafted free agent with the hope that he would provide depth for a position group that already featured plenty of expensive and starting-caliber players within it.

Instead, the Dolphins add another commodity to that list.

Competing for playing time with players like Xavien Howard, Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Minkah Fitzpatrick and a plethora of other roster invitees, Needham had an excellent camp, but found himself just missing the final 53-man roster.

That didn’t stop him from honing his craft and earning a promotion from the practice squad one day before the Dolphins were set to take on the Washington Redskins in Week 6.

Needham went on to start the final 11 games of the season, and ended the year with 2 interceptions, 11 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack and 54 total tackles.

As a rookie cornerback, you’re expected to be picked on, but Needham was bullied by the refs more than he was by opposing quarterbacks. Questionable calls against Needham towards the end of the year put a slight damper on his otherwise stellar season.

Though in the eyes of some Dolphins fans, that erroneous (non-existent) pass interference penalty that was overturned on the final drive during the New York Jets loss was a blessing in disguise.

1) DeVante Parker

It may have taken slightly longer than we originally hoped, but Ryan Fitzpatrick’s aggressive style highlighted just how elite DeVante Parker can be when you just throw him the damn ball.

Previously marred by the occasional health concern and offensive schemes that didn’t cater to his skillset, Parker was deemed a “bust” by most Dolphins fans. Drafted 14th-overall in the 2014 NFL draft, Parker was expected to transcend the offense. Instead, bubble screens became the focal point for an offense that was littered with deep threat specialists (Parker, Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant).

Parker’s recent 4-year, $40m extension is a reward not only for the production Parker put up in 2019, but for the potential Parker still has left in him.

In 16 games this past season (the first time he’s been active for 16 games his entire career), Parker caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. In his four years prior to 2019, Parker caught a combined 163 passes for 2,217 yards and 9 TDs.

As long as he can stay healthy, and the Dolphins don’t revert back to a scared, anemic offense, you can expect annual 1,000 yard seasons from the team’s #1 receiver.

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