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Miami Dolphins

Miami Collapses in Cincinnati – Week Five Takeaways

Travis Wingfield



It’s difficult to imagine a more frustrating winning team in the NFL through five weeks. Even after a two-game skid, the Dolphins are still surpassing most of their early-season expectations.

Perhaps it was the illumination of the 3-0 start that allowed fans to raise their level of expectation just one month into the season. That was certainly the case when Miami put up a three-score lead in enemy territory with a chance to make it four wins in five showings.

Just as those first three weeks were patently enthralling, the descent was equally devastating.

And it’s not for the current state of this Dolphins team. Currently, Miami are the seventh seed in the AFC separated from the Ravens and Chargers only by tie-breaking scenarios.

Rather it’s the precarious route to this 3-2 mark that presents the same questions fans have asked for the better part of two decades:

Can this team win a championship with “X” Quarterback and “Y” Head Coach?

Miami are two things is nothing else; really good at home, and horrendous on the road. With an opportunity to buck the latter trend, secure a massively important victory and sustain a lead in the AFC East, the play calling and quarterback became increasingly troublesome.

For years, the word is that Adam Gase didn’t value the guard position enough to invest in it. Ironically, some would argue that poor offensive line play did Gase’s lackluster offenses in during his first two seasons.

Now, in year-three, Gase recognized that to succeed with Ryan Tannehill, a quality offensive line was something of a necessity – and it is for most teams outside of a select few cities (Foxboro, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans).

Just five games into the season, Miami are without its planned starting left guard and center, and was without emerging left tackle Laremy Tunsil for most of the second half of the Bengals game.

Rather than dialing back his plan and simplifying the offense with a sizeable lead, Gase continued to trust the protection of an ailing line – and Tannehill did the same.

The result was a number of catastrophic plays that led directly to the Bengals comeback. At 3-2, Miami is very much in the thick of the AFC picture in 2018, but then what? Is this a team that is going to go into Foxboro and compete in January? Would they move the chains more than a handful of times in Jacksonville? How on earth would this offense keep up with Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs?

This loss doesn’t knock the Dolphins from playoff contention, but it feels like confirmation that the team is just as far away as it ever has been from becoming a relevant factor in the AFC.

Offensive Takeaways:

This is the second straight game in which Tannehill was awful. The lack of an internal feel for the rush conjures up a semblance of PTSD for Dolphins fans. Tannehill is looking more like his days under Mike Sherman opposed to the 2016 developing big-play quarterback that was flourishing under Adam Gase in year-one.

Tannehill’s first interception was unbelievably bad luck, but he put himself in that situation by getting loose with the football under pressure. The strip sack that went the other way for six was an example of Tannehill trying to make a hero play but, again, having little regard for his surroundings.

It’s difficult to articulate the things that are holding Tannehill back because, tangibly, it’s all there. But the big moment brass, navigating pressure, and overcoming less-than-ideal situations have proven problematic for the seventh-year pro time and time again.

Turn on another NFL game and you see quarterbacks operating at a different pace. The game is heading in one direction, and Tannehill doesn’t’ appear to be progressing with it.

It’s still entirely possible that things click, just as they did in 2016, and the offense gets back on track. But the repetition of the same errors, five weeks in, is extremely worrisome.

That’s not to excuse the pass protection Tannehill received in this game. Once Laremy Tunsil was lost, all hell broke loss. The Bengals rushers had a field day on backup Sam Young, who was given minimal help by his staff, failing to adjust accordingly to the new personnel.

Ja’Wuan James was a disaster.

Ted Larsen a nightmare.

Jesse Davis got smoked inside leaving Tannehill as lunch for a Geno Atkins sack.

Frank Gore ran hard and always finds maximum yardage on his carries. He won’t break big runs or make guys miss in the open field, but he’s dependable.

Kenyan Drake showed up both in the passing and running game. He caught a 22-yard touchdown on a beautiful corner route and had perhaps the play of the year for the Dolphins.

Jakeem Grant continues to electrify with another huge play (71-yard punt return touchdown), but the wide receivers, as a whole, seem to struggle finding a rhythm with Tannehill – Albert Wilson led the way with 43 yards and did his best to elude some tacklers in the open field.

Offensive Conclusion:

The passing game finished with less than 200 yards for the third straight game, Tannehill now has five interceptions and four fumbles this season. A lot of punting and a lot of opportunity for giveaways are a perfect ingredient for an offense that ranks near the bottom of the league in every major category.

Miami did get some variety back in the running game incorporating the jets-sweep fly-motion, and the inside trap that gained some footing in week one.

The offensive line simply has to be better, the play calling continues to confuse and the quarterback is trending in the wrong direction.

Defensive Takeaways:

Things were much more pleasant on this side of the football. Reshad Jones’ presence was a welcome return to the line-up. Jones, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Xavien Howard set the tone in the back end of the defense.

Jones drove on a red zone pass from Andy Dalton that was tipped into the air and picked off. Fitzpatrick made a terrific play fighting through a block and thwarting a screen pass to bring up a fourth down. Howard did well in coverage and had a fantastic pass break up on a throw intended for A.J. Green.

Jerome Baker had his first two career sacks. He looks like a find at this point with his ability to blitz the A-gap, flow sideline-to-sideline, and correctly diagnose plays in front of him.

Robert Quinn was constantly threatening the edge, but failed to get home for any sacks. On the other side, Charles Harris played well in his first career start.

Inside, Vincent Taylor continues to provide problems for the opposition. He blocked his second kick of the year and the third of his career.

Defensive Conclusion:

Matt Burke called a great game, the Dolphins won most of their one-on-one match-ups. The Bengals only converted 2/11 third down opportunities and averaged only four yards-per-carry.

Two drives were extended on penalties. Though both were rather questionable, Chase Allen’s running into the kicker, and T.J. McDonald’s unnecessary roughness calls led to seven Bengals points (from the McDonald penalty).

This side of the football has a lot of young pieces that make up a quality defensive core for Miami. The end positon looks like it will need some retooling this off-season, but the Dolphins can certainly build around the identity of a stout pass defense that is nearly equally stingy against the run.

General Conclusion:

It’s easy to drop the anchor and jump overboard after blowing a 17-point lead. Perspective tells us the Dolphins were 1-4 this time two years ago with similar issues on the offense. That team ripped off six straight wins on the back of a quality offensive line, timely big plays and a takeaway-centric defense.

The Dolphins still have the parts to make all of that happen, except for the front-five. 10 wins is still very much within reach and very likely to put Miami back into the January party.

It would be quite a surprise if the Dolphins didn’t give the Bears all they can handle next week. These next four games will tell ‘Phins fans what their playoff plans should entail.




  1. Tricky

    October 8, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Why the heck a long pass attempt on a 3rd and 1 in the 3rd quarter??!! That decision gave Cindy the momentum and the game, smh.

  2. don v

    October 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Travis, seems your spending too much time on twitter…not the place to be when the dolphins have lost. Those folks are not for enlightened minds IMO.The expectations were simply too high in the first three weeks setting us fans up for an emotional letdown. I see most of what you see but disagree on the doom and gloom you predict based on these observations.Game was lost on two crucial mistakes and bad luck by our QB (14 points)and a questionable call on (TJ 22) leading to 7 points. That leaves Bengals with 6 points total earned two FG. All that other doom and gloom about Adam Gase not the right coach, plays are too complex, QB no feel for pressure? OL awful, TE awful, 3rd down converts awful, offense bottom of league etc. Sounds like typical national media recap of dolphin game. Your a pro, I like your stuff and you do the work but last two weeks sounding too much like the twitter negative drumbeat, don’t blame you I can’t read that stuff more than a few minutes. I saw many positives in this game but after a loss they can seem meaningless. Cheer-up the fan base needs you and for those that thrive on negative and hating who needs them.

    don v

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NFL Draft

Fits and Starts of the 2019 NFL Draft–Jarrett Stidham

Shawn Digity



USA Today
A shot of Jarrett Stidham during the Senior Bowl in January. Image courtesy of USA Today

Which 2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks fit for the Miami Dolphins, which ones could start, and which ones aren’t on the table?

Let’s dive into the first installment of Fits and Starts with Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham.

2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks and Fits and Starts intro

I hope you’re enjoying all the Kyler Murray talk; it’s not going anywhere for the next two months. So, with all the hype surrounding the Heisman winner and his decision to play in the NFL over the MLB, it makes sense that Murray shot up the draft boards in rapid fashion.

Murray has been connected with the Miami Dolphins, and it makes sense. The Dolphins need a quarterback to lead the franchise into the future, especially with the start of the Brian Flores era.

But what happens if the Dolphins can’t get Kyler Murrayin the 2019 Draft? Let’s take that a step further. What if the Dolphins don’t get any of the QBs that are pegged to go in the first round? Dwayne HaskinsDrew LockDaniel Jones, along with Murray, are all in the conversation to go off the board in the first round.

The 2019 QB class hasn’t exactly been lauded for its talent, but that doesn’t mean its totally devoid of untapped potential on Days 2 and 3. There are some diamonds in the rough and some could be on the Dolphins’ radar come April. The Fits and Starts mini-series will be focusing on these overshadowed mid-round prospects and who could fit into a role with the Miami Dolphins.

Let’s get into the first name on the list: Jarrett Stidham.

Jarrett Stidham and his NFL Future

The first quarterback on the docket is Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. He’s an enigmatic player. He was in the conversation last draft season (before he returned to Auburn) to go in the second round. He was also talked about as a dark-horse Heisman candidate before the college season started.

His junior season didn’t go exactly as scripted, though. Jarrett Stidham had an up-and-down season, and his draft stock has been all over the place, consequently. He’s polarizing in the Twitter Draft realm with many draftniks either loving or hating him. I predict that he’ll go in the third round, but I could see the need for the position pushing him into the second round.

In a lot of ways, I would compare Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Tannehill. With that being said, he’s a poor man’s Tannehill. He’s not as athletic and I wouldn’t put his arm strength or accuracy on the same level, but there are comparisons that can be drawn.

Jarrett Stidham Mini-Report

He has some starter qualities, and he’s very raw in that regard. He also did not get a lot of help from his receivers during the 2018 season. I saw a lot of dropped passes that should’ve been “gimmes”. Jarrett Stidham has a moderately high ceiling, I would say. He’s extremely rough around the edges, but I can see him becoming successful in the NFL; it’ll come with many growing pains, albeit.

He also has some accuracy issues from a lot of the film I’ve watched of him. He’ll make some unbelievable down-the-field bombs, but also make some passes that are too high, too inside or too outside. Many passes were underthrown and I saw plays where WRs had to turn and play some defense. The accuracy is a roller coaster, and that’s something that is hard to improve at the next level; accuracy is more a God-given ability than it is a teachable skill.

Something else that I wasn’t wild about was how Stidham reacted to chaos and pressure. When the line collapsed, I saw some ugly escapes. Those ugly escapes will be ugly sacks in the NFL. I saw flashes of decent pocket presence, but like many of Stidham’s qualities, they were inconsistent.

That’s one of the best words I would use to describe Jarrett Stidham: inconsistent. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s bad. Sometimes he’ll thread the needle for a 40-yard touchdown, sometimes he’ll undercut a route. But if the inconsistency is his biggest issue, which I believe it is, then I’m intrigued by his prospects at the next level with some next-level coaching.

At the End of the Day

So, if the Dolphins drafted Jarrett Stidham, it’d likely be on Day 2 and in the second round with the 48th pick. While the Dolphins are rebuilding, I could see them using a popular draft philosophy of taking a quarterback every year until one hits. If that’s the case, then Stidham could very well be a target if the Dolphins decide to address a bigger need or BPA with the 13th pick.

This could be a way for the Dolphins to hedge their bets while keeping an eye on the 2020 quarterbacks. Akin to the Redskins taking both RGIII and Kirk Cousins in the same draft in 2012, the Dolphins could take a flier on a mid-round quarterback and see what he could do in some games under the guidance of a veteran.

While I wouldn’t be upset by the pick, the Miami Dolphins would be wise to stay away from Jarrett Stidham, bottom line. I say that not because of Stidham’s shortcomings or upside but because of where the Miami Dolphins franchise finds itself.

If Jarrett Stidham goes out and has a decent showing in some live action during his rookie season, then that could affect the draft strategy regarding the 2020 class of quarterbacks.

I don’t want the Dolphins to keep waiting and waiting for someone to slowly develop as they did with Ryan Tannehill. Stidham is in a similar mold, looking at his tools and raw potential. I’m not sure how long it would take for Stidham develop, but I could see it turning into a situation where he takes a few steps forward every season.

Jarrett Stidham could be a quarterback that Chris Grier likes, but I would have a hard time believing that he’s a prospect that he would love–and that’s not what the Miami Dolphins need to right the ship.


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Miami Dolphins

State of the Roster – Linebackers

Travis Wingfield




The 2019 off-season schedule had an unusual beginning for the Miami Dolphins. Not that the once proud, winningest organization in the NFL is suddenly new to coaching turnover (quite the opposite, rather). It’s the timing of the hire that provides the distinction from Stephen Ross’ three other head coaching appointments.

Typically, when the incumbent or new staff is in-place by Early-January, the roster dominoes begin to take shape. Waiting for Brian Flores to win his fifth Lombardi Trophy delayed that process by a month.

Now, with the majority of Coach Flores’ staff settling into their new offices, we can begin to speculate and forecast what will transpire over the next three months.

It’s not hyperbole to say that these next three months are the most important of Chris Grier’s professional career. Miami’s new General Manager is charged with resurrecting a franchise that, in the last 15 years, has fallen from the peak of the winning percentage mountain top, all the way down to fifth place on that obscure, yet illustrious list.

In this series we are going to explore the current assets on the roster and what their futures hold. Plus, we’ll explore the free-agency market and point out scheme fit pieces the Dolphins might seek to add in April’s draft.


Current Cash Owed: ~ $10.1 Million
NFL Average: ~ $18 Million

Players Under Contract – 2019 Cash Owed:

Raekwon McMillan – $892 K

After a slow start McMillan came on like gangbusters; at least in run-defense. From week-five on, McMillan was graded second by PFF against the run (trailing only Luke Kuechly). His first year off major reconstructive knee surgery, the upside is glowing.

McMillan has a knack for correctly hitting his run fits, shows a great first step, and plays exceptionally well downhill. The design of this new defense is going to have the former Buckeye shining.

McMillan’s Projected 2019 Action: Mike Linebacker

Jerome Baker – $654 K

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Like McMillan, Baker was late to the party in 2018, but he too turned it on post-September. Baker was PFF’s #22 overall linebacker over the final 13 weeks of the season. Though Baker also excelled against the run, he was more balanced providing value in coverage and as a blitzer. His PRP was similarly low to McMillan’s, but when Baker arrive he sacked the QB (3 of 5 pressures).

Baker is the new-aged linebacker – run, hit, and cover; that’s his game. He will have to transition to a new role playing primarily on the ball and off the edge, likely the weak side, but he’s more than capable.

Baker’s Projected 2019 Action: Will Backer

Kiko Alonso – $7.9 M

Kiko Alonso is a living, breathing highlight reel. The problem, for Miami, is that he’s usually on someone else’s mixtape. Alonso does well when he I.D.’s his gap early, but those instances are few and far between. He hustles to the ball and has a knack for the takeaway, it’s just the other 995 snaps of the season you worry about.

Turned around by the athletic prowess of Josh Allen, Christian McCaffery, or just about every pass receiving specialist tailback, Alonso is fading towards irrelevance at the position. Moving on from the often burnt, often penalized Alonso, is a no-brainer.

Alonso’s Projected 2019 Action: Cut

Chase Allen – $645 K

New England’s Linebacker position, under Brian Flores, was the ultimate test of pliability. Chase Allen has a role lining up over the center as the nose-backer in one of Flores’ many defensive fronts.

Allen excelled in that role in Miami, albeit on a limited basis, and figures to be a core special teamer.

Allen’s Projected 2019 Action: Nose Backer/Core Special Teamer

Pending Free Agents – 2018 Salary

Stephone Anthony – $1.9 M

The ole’ Mike Tannenbaum specialty, Miami spent a fifth-round pick, and far too much cap allocation, on a player that never made a contribution. Anthony was toast in his limited defensive snaps and rarely found the ball on special teams.

Anthony’s Projected 2019 Action: Not Re-signed

2019 Linebacker Free Agent Market:

The Dolphins could spend this portion of the off-season on the sideline. The likely top three players on the depth chart are already signed, sealed, and delivered, finding backups and special teams is all that’s left to do.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Now if the ‘Phins are so inclined to spend on the big ticket item, Anthony Barr would make nice strong-side linebacker in this new scheme. His coverage limitations should drive his cost down, but that’s not how free agency works – he’ll be priced out of Miami’s range.

Deone Bucannon is an interesting option that could help Miami remain fluid as they implement dime and quarter packages on the back-end. A safety/linebacker hybrid, Bucannon affords the defense the luxury of changing personnel without substituting. Bucannon is an excellent match-up piece in the passing game as well. Like Barr, Bucannon would come at a cost.

More realistically, Miami are looking at former Patriot Marquis Flowers and Eli Harold (Detroit).

2019 Linebacker Draft Class:

It’s not inconceivable that the Dolphins make this position a priority with the undrafted crop post-draft. The same idea with Jerome Baker, the ‘Phins need to find players that can run, hit, and cover but, most importantly, start off on special teams.

New Mexico State’s Terrill Hanks had 11 sacks and eight picks in college. His vast coverage and range skill set should be no surprise, he’s a former safety. Hanks struggles taking on blocks but that’s not a trait he will have to worry about in this scheme.

Bobby Okereke (Stanford) fits the run/hit/cover bill in his own right. North Carolina State’s Germaine Pratt falls into that category as well.

2019 Linebacker Prediction:

There are plenty of intriguing options at the positon but, with the needs on the defensive line and in the secondary, Miami could punt on this off-season’s linebacker class. In a defense that frequently uses one true ‘backer, Raekwon McMillan satisfies that bill. Jerome Baker will be the second linebacker and the Phins will look to pair Chase Allen with more sub-package types.

I’m adding Marquis Flowers in free agency – he was with the Pats for the first four years of his career. I’m also drafting Stanford’s Bobby Okereke on day-three. He’s an intelligent player with plus range and will help Miami’s flexibility in sub-packages.

Mike/Primary Linebacker: Raekwon McMillan
Will/Secondary Linebacker: Jerome Baker
Nose Backer: Chase Allen
Sub-Package: Rookie (Bobby Okereke)
Depth: UDFA/FA (Marquis Flowers)

Tomorrow: Cornerbacks



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Miami Dolphins

5 Viable Options for Miami at Pick 13

Gabe Markman



Mock drafts before April are about as futile as trick-or-treating before Halloween. Sure you might get miraculously lucky at one or two spots, but mostly you’ll just get weird looks from people. That being said, I’ve decided to mock up some scenarios the Dolphins may be presented with come late April.

Despite a flurry of updated scouting reports, trades, and free agent decisions that will ultimately happen before the draft, I couldn’t resist speculating what some of the most enticing options might be waiting there for Miami. I’ll be looking at these options under the assumption that Miami keeps the 13th pick come draft day.

1 – Trade Down

Trading down was something owner Stephen Ross reportedly pounded the table for last year. However, GM Chris Grier and company persuaded him to stay put and take Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick. While Fitzpatrick turned out to be a promising investment, I would expect the war room to try and gather as much draft capital as they can this time around.

The organization, specifically Ross, has put an emphasis on rebuilding the roster from the ground up these next few years, and there’s no better way to do that than by hoarding draft picks.

Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number eleven overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2 – Blue Chip Falls to 13 (BPA)

Much like the case with Fitzpatrick last year, there’s bound to be a blue chip player that falls out of the top 10 this year. If Miami’s war room decides not to trade back in the first round, it’s likely because they feel that a top talent has fallen into their laps at pick 13–similar to the Laremy Tunsil slide in 2016.

Unfortunately Nick Bosa is out of the question for Miami. I can’t fathom a universe where Bosa would fall to 13. Quinnen Williams would be a no-brainer here, but much like Bosa, its unlikely he’ll fall to pick 13. If he does however, he would fill a major need for Miami as well as add tremendous upside to a lack-luster defensive line.

Three prospects that also have top 10 grades are Greedy Williams, Josh Allen, and Devin White. These three are the physical definition of what you look for in a potential All-Pro football player. With all the shuffling expected to happen to Miami’s roster, these players could be immediate contributors and leaders as soon as they walk onto the field.

3 – Draft QB

I’m a firm believer that Miami needs to be patient with their quarterback situation. Miami isn’t expecting to win many games in the coming year or two, and this isn’t expected to be a great draft class for passers. Now as much as I like Kyler Murray, I can’t help but to think that other quarterbacks like Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence would provide more upside in the long run.

Despite the potential of future quarterbacks to come, this brain-trust of experienced scouts and well respected personnel guys might not let a guy like Murray slip past pick 13. Miami has many needs on paper, and quarterback is right up near the top of those needs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyler be the first step of this rebuild if the war room thinks he’s worth the risk.

October 21, 2017 - Miami Gardens, Florida, U.S. - Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) celebrates a fourth-quarter sack at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Final score: Miami Dolphins 31, New York Jets 28 (Photo by Andres Leiva/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

October 21, 2017 – Miami Gardens, Florida, U.S. – Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) celebrates a fourth-quarter sack at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Final score: Miami Dolphins 31, New York Jets 28 (Photo by Andres Leiva/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

4 – Attempt to Replace an All-Pro

Sadly enough, there won’t be a younger clone of Cameron Wake waiting there at pick 13. The end of an era is coming, and sooner or later the Dolphins won’t have the consistency off the edge that Wake has been able to provide for so many years.

Brian Burns reminds me of Wake at times, but he also reminds me of Dion Jordan at times. The general opinion is that Burns could end up being a project player. I have no doubt this coaching staff has the ability to maximize the potential of Burns, but they might not like the value here.

Rashan Gary would be another enticing option were he to fall to Miami. Gary’s flexibility across the defensive line coincides perfectly with Brian Flores‘ multiple defensive scheme. Gary has the potential to be an All-Pro early in his career wherever Folres decides to put him on the defensive line.

5 – Address the O-Line

I’m interested to see what happens with Ju’Wuan James. He’s been a quiet strength for Miami. The combination of him and Tunsil has proven to be a consistent force when healthy. If James is willing to come back for the right price, Miami would be lucky to have one less hole to worry about.

If a deal with James isn’t struck, then offensive linemen will be one of Miami’s top priorities in the draft. They may be tempted to take an early look at offensive lineman depending on how the board falls. I expect the war room to find at least one starting quality offensive lineman within the first three rounds.

Dolphins’ fans are at the beginning of a very long journey. The recent organizational hires have inspired widespread optimism across the fan base. For the first time in a long time the future is looking bright for the Dolphins. Needless to say this draft will be a pivotal start to the Dolphins’ rebuild. The difficult decisions that Grier and his new staff will soon be faced with will reveal the direction in which this franchise is headed.

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