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Miami Dolphins

How To Build a Mediocre Franchise – Round 1

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Successful franchises are built, not assembled. Free Agency is meant to patch your team’s remaining holes, not solve all of them.

The Miami Dolphins have been Free Agency Champions in recent years (Mike Wallace in 2013, Brandon Albert in 2014, Ndamukong Suh in 2015) and mediocrity continues to ensue for this team. None of these Free Agents are with the team any longer, which is in-line with Miami’s trend of failing to find the right talent.

Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to take a look at Miami’s (lack of) success at building a successful franchise.

While teams like the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are perfect examples of teams that draft well, the Miami Dolphins should be viewed as the opposite.

Below is a breakdown of Miami’s 1st Round Selections this century:

A couple things to keep in mind with this list:

  • Years in which Miami did not have a 1st round selection are considered 0. This is about building through the draft and Miami continues to fail at obtaining cheap, elite talent.
  • Since the book is still out on draft picks who haven’t finished their rookie contracts, I did not include draft picks from 2015 forward (DeVante Parker, Laremy Tunsil, Charles Harris)

Takeaways:

  • The average 1st round selection made only 2.53 seasons worth of starts with Miami.
  • The average 1st round selection didn’t finish their rookie contract with the team (3.7 years). Removing the 0’s, the players selected played for 4.71 seasons with the team – barely exercising the 5th year option.
    • Couple of notes on the averages:
      • Ja’Wuan James and the Dolphins agreed to play 2018 under the fifth-year option at $9.1m fully guaranteed. This will mean James is on Miami for 5 years, but, because the season hasn’t started and something drastic can still happen, he’s kept at 4 years for the sake of this average.
      • Although Dion Jordan was Dolphins property for 4 years, I can’t reward the Dolphins and increase their average by including the final two seasons (in which he was suspended and on the non-football injury list, playing 0 games during that time). For the sake of this average, Jordan was kept at 2 years.
  • The story on Dion Jordan:
    • Jeff Ireland trades Miami’s first round pick (12th overall) along with their 2nd round pick (42nd overall) to the Oakland Raiders to move up to the 3rd overall pick in the draft. If the story ended here, it would be great. Ireland got away with highway robbery – you’ll never see another team move to the top 3 of the draft at the expense of one second round pick. But the story doesn’t end here, this is where the highlights for Miami end.
    • The Dolphins select Dion Jordan, a “freak” athlete, and the prototypical football player. Built with the strength that’ll allow him to grow into a defensive end that can shed 300-pound left tackles, while being fast enough to keep up with tight ends and running backs in coverage.
    • He had a moderate rookie season in 2013; he was active for all 16 games and had 19 tackles to go along with two sacks, but he didn’t live up to his potential (partly due to a shoulder injury coming out of the draft). It just seemed like Jordan could have been better, though no one knew why he wasn’t.  It wasn’t until later he would admit that he didn’t prepare or study – he solely showed up and ‘performed’.
    • Prior to the 2014 season, Jordan was suspended for the first four games of the season and was actually able to get it reduced to two games. It didn’t take long for the second suspension to come however; Jordan was suspended an additional four games (tacked on to the first two) for failing a second test. He was active for the remaining 10 games of the 2014 season and started one game, recording 20 tackles and 1 sack while playing 222 defensive snaps (he had 184 snaps on special teams). These would be the last snaps he would play for the Miami Dolphins.
    • Two days prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, Jordan was suspended for the entire 2015 season. His representation claimed he didn’t fail a drug test, but that the sample was diluted and counted as a “strike” against him. Regardless of the reasoning, Jordan didn’t bother to appeal the suspension and sat out all of 2015.
    • He was reinstated in July of 2016, but had received a mysterious knee injury while he was away from the team and spent the first half of 2016 rehabbing. He was never activated from the Non-football injury list, and never appeared in another game for Miami.
    • Jordan was released by the team after failing a physical, due to his knee, in March of 2017. Jordan signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks, and was active for five games with them in 2017, accumulating more sacks in those five games (4) than he did in his entire career with Miami (3).
  • Vontae Davis is the perfect subject for the leaderless Dolphins during the Tony Sparano/Joe Philbin eras. Unable to get a talented player to focus, the Dolphins blamed immaturity issues for Davis’ average performance. They thought he was too old to be consulting his grandmother on life and shipped him off to the Indianapolis Colts prior to the 2012 season for a 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft (54th overall). Davis went on to be a shutdown corner for the Colts while the Dolphins used that 2nd round pick on Jamar Taylor. Fittingly, like Davis, the Dolphins gave up on Taylor too quickly as he has performed well for the Cleveland Browns since the Dolphins gave him away. While the Dolphins may have had the right mindset in getting rid of a problem player, it should be known that the player could have been contained if the Dolphins had an adequate coaching staff. This isn’t an Aldon Smith or even a Dion Jordan situation. This one is on Miami.
  • A career that teased of Hall of Fame potential quickly turned into a potential “bust” for Jake Long. Long started the first 48 games of his career for the Dolphins and was spectacular; fans thought they had a cornerstone left tackle for the next 10 years. Jake Long should have been to Miami what Joe Thomas was to the Cleveland Browns. But Long also saved the Dolphins from making this situation worse. In the midst of deteriorating health (that fans knew all too well about), the team, his teammates and fans were all clamoring for Long to return to Miami. Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito famously got on a plane to try and recruit Long to return. (Thankfully) It didn’t work; Long accepted a 4-year, $34m offer ($16m guaranteed) from the St. Louis Rams after the 2012 season. Long started 30 games between the Rams, Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings since his departure. In April of 2017, Jake Long announced his retirement.
  • Miami fans need to own part of this one. We were all stunned when Brady Quinn wasn’t the pick for the Miami Dolphins in 2007. Instead, head coach Cam Cameron tried to convince everyone that an injured Ted Ginn Jr – a projected 2nd round pick – was the right move at #9 overall. Although considered a “bust” by Dolphins fans standards, Ginn wasn’t too bad of a player, he just wasn’t worthy of the high draft pick. Though he had some flashes, it never came together for him as a receiver. Ginn always had the speed and ability, but his hands were rocks, dropping passes at a rate Brandon Marshall would be proud of. Where Ginn shined was as a returner. Over his Dolphins career, Ginn accumulated 3698 return yards (both punt return and kick return) versus the 1664 yards he had receiving. Since leaving Miami, Ginn has had a solid career as a receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints. He has accumulated over 700 receiving yards the past three seasons, while still being a return threat. Miami may have gotten it right by passing on Brady Quinn, but they also got it wrong by giving up on a solid player too soon.
  • Jason Allen was released in 2010 (to make room for Al Harris) prior to completing his 5th season with Miami.
  • Ronnie Brown was the 2nd overall pick in the 2005 draft and best known as the field general in the infamous Wildcat formation. Though he was an adequate player throughout his career, he never lived up to the billing as a 2nd overall pick. In his 6 years with Miami, Brown rushed for 4815 yards and 36 TDs, (barely) elapsing 1000 yards only once (in 2006 – 1008 yards). He missed the final 9 games of the 2007 due to a knee injury, and split time with Ricky Williams throughout his career, hindering his numbers somewhat. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry while with Miami and was a solid receiver out of the backfield. Unfortunately for Miami, the league began to swing from a running league to a passing league right around this time. If Miami had better foresight, they may have been able to utilize the 2nd overall pick better. This is the draft where Aaron Rodgers fell to the Green Bay Packers (24th overall).
  • Vernon Carey played his entire career for the city of Miami:
    • High School: Miami Northwestern
    • College: University of Miami
    • NFL: Miami Dolphins
  • The Dolphins traded their 2002 1st-round pick along with a conditional 2003 3rd-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for Ricky Williams. The conditional draft pick in 2003 turned into a 1st-round pick due to a performance clause that activated if Williams rushed for at least 1500 yards in 2002 (he rushed for a league-leading 1853 yards that year – to go along with 16 TDs).
  • Miami traded their 1st round pick in 2000 for the Carolina Panthers 2nd-round pick in 1998 (yes, those years are correct). With that 2nd-round pick, the Dolphins selected Patrick Surtain. I’d say that was a worthy swap. Carolina ended up with the #23 overall pick in 2000 and selected Rashard Anderson.
  • Only 4 players lasted longer than their rookie deals: Pouncey, Ryan Tannehill, Brown and Carey.

Check out Miami’s other mediocre rounds:

How To Build a Mediocre Franchise – Round 2
How To Build a Mediocre Franchise – Round 3
How To Build a Mediocre Franchise – Round 4
How To Build a Mediocre Franchise – Round 5
How To Build a Mediocre Franchise – Round 6
How To Build a Mediocre Franchise – Round 7

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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    crosseyedlemon

    January 12, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    The very fact that there is a salary cap and free agency rules out the possibility of building franchises the old way. The importance of first round picks always has been over hyped. The Patriots won a championship last season with no first round selection. George Allen never had a losing season in 12 years as a coach and every season he would trade the first round pick for a proven veteran.

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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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