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Miami Dolphins 2010 All-Decade Team: Defense

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins crawl to the end of a futile decade with some abysmal performances, plenty of false hope, and lots of room for improvement. Who knew you could waste an entire decade and only make the playoffs (or sport a winning record) once, but the Dolphins certainly proved it was possible.

Though much hasn’t gone right for the Dolphins this decade, there are some players that deserve to be praised and rewarded for their productive performance; even though they were surrounded by ineptitude.

See which legends(?) made the 2010 All-Decade team on defense:

For our 2010-All-Decade Offensive Team, click here.

Note: only stats that apply to the 2010-2019 seasons – as well as the player’s respective position – apply. For example, Bobby McCain’s stats at safety and Cameron Wake’s stats in 2009 are not included.

Defensive End: Cameron Wake
Games Active: 132
Sacks: 92.5

Tackles-For-Loss: 91
QB Hits: 204

There’s no debating Cameron Wake‘s place on this list, in the Dolphins Ring of Honor or even in the Hall of Fame. A locker room leader who spoke as professionally as he played, Wake was a phenomenal pass rusher for the Dolphins.

Playing on a bunch of mediocre Miami teams kept him out of the national spotlight, but Wake’s stats are both gaudy and productive:

  • 2nd most sacks in Dolphins history (98)
  • 3rd-most tackles among defensive ends in Dolphins history (278)
  • 2nd-most tackles for a loss (97)
  • 1st with 213 QB hits

If you were to build a Mount Rushmore of 21st-century Miami Dolphins, the only debate is where Cameron Wake deserves to be in that pantheon. Chances are, he’s #1.

Defensive End: Olivier Vernon
Games Active: 64
Sacks: 29

Tackles-For-Loss: 43
QB Hits: 74

Originally drafted in the 3rd-round of the 2012 draft as a player with potential, Olivier Vernon proved your college resume doesn’t dictate future success.

After three seasons with the University of Miami, Vernon was plucked from the Dolphins’ backyard and blossomed into a top-tier pass rusher; earning him a $85m contract with the New York Giants in free agency.

Vernon could have formed a fearsome duo with Cameron Wake, had the Dolphins’ front office had any foresight to extend Vernon while he was still “cheap”. Instead, the Dolphins let Vernon walk and used the money originally intended for him on Andre Branch.

Vernon may have only averaged 7.25 sacks a season while with the Dolphins, but his 10.75 tackles for a loss and 18.5 quarterback hits per year were extremely impressive, and show how forceful he was at defensive end.

Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh
Games Active: 48
Sacks: 15.5

Tackles-For-Loss: 37
QB Hits: 49

Some of you may be surprised to see Ndamukong Suh on this list and not Paul Soliai. Truth is, even if you include Soliai’s first two seasons (2008-2009), it doesn’t compare to what Suh was able to accomplish during his 3-year stint in Miami.

Just to show you how wide the gap is between them, Soliai accumulated 4.5 sacks, 160 tackles, 25 tackles-for-a-loss (TFL) and 18 quarterback hits during his 7-year tenure. Suh accumulated 15.5 sacks, 181 tackles, 37 TFL and 49 QB hits in just 3 years.

Soliai’s job was different than Suh’s – he was asked to absorb offensive linemen and open up lanes for the linebackers, but these numbers are too much to excuse.

Similar to players like Mike Wallace and Brandon Marshall, it’s not wrong of you to have expected more out of Suh. His hefty contract meant he was as valuable as a starting quarterback, and though he was productive, he did not dictate games the way other players on the field do.

But if we were to look at this objectively, and remove our expectations from the equation, Suh was one of the best defensive tackles the Dolphins have ever had. It’s just too bad his contract asked him to be the entire football team.

Defensive Tackle: Randy Starks
Games Active: 79
Sacks: 20.5

Tackles-For-Loss: 32
QB Hits: 42

Paul Soliai was busy absorbing double teams and opening up lanes that Randy Starks was able to cash in on.

Signed as a free agent after spending the first four years of his career with the Tennessese Titans, Starks became a reliable and fearsome player for the Dolphins. He was active for all but one game throughout his Dolphins tenure, and seemingly never missed a tackle. His aggressive playing style turned him into a fan-favorite, while his versatility meant the coaches loved him.

Starks was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2012, though you can argue 2009 and 2011 were his best years with Miami.

Ironically, Starks was released after the Dolphins’ deal with Suh became official.

Linebacker: Kiko Alonso
Games Active: 46
Tackles: 354

Tackles-For-Loss: 14
Forced Fumbles: 6

Kiko Alonso‘s Dolphins’ career was as tumultuous as Ryan Tannehill‘s.

Both admired and loathed by many, Alonso was a smart and determined football player, but he was also grossly overpaid. Still, his bloated contract shouldn’t take away from the production he provided this team.

Statistically, Alonso was an average linebacker. He amassed plenty of tackles, but they were typically beyond the line of scrimmage or after an opposing receiver achieved a first down.

That being said, Kiko is the only Dolphins player to have annually accumulated over 1000 snaps each year he was on the team:

  • 2016: 1,049
  • 2017: 1,008
  • 2018: 1,004

Though you can knock him for taking valuable cap space away from other potential players, the Dolphins don’t get to the playoffs in 2016 without Alonso on defense.

Overall, I think Dolphins fans are happy with the Alonso for Vince Biegel trade that occurred this prior offseason, but we can’t forget that Alonso was one of Miami’s better linebackers this past decade.

Linebacker: Karlos Dansby
Games Active: 46
Tackles: 332

Tackles-For-Loss: 26
Forced Fumbles: 5

At the time, Karlos Dansby signed the richest contract for an inside linebacker in NFL history at $43m. Such an honorable designation comes with hefty expectations, and though Dansby was a very good linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, he was unable to change the game the way you expect the richest player in NFL history to do.

From his first year to his final year, the Dolphins went from being the 7th-best rushing defense to the 13th-best rushing defense. Statistically, Dansby was performing well, but Miami’s inability to cover opposing tight ends was as prominent as ever, and teams feasted on the middle of the field throughout his tenure.

Expectations aside, Dansby was a solid contributor and reliable performer for this team. His legacy is tarnished by his bloated contract, but his overall performance should be commended, especially when you look at the other results this decade.

Linebacker: Koa Misi
Games Active: 84
Tackles: 352

Tackles-For-Loss: 37
Forced Fumbles: 2

His final years in a Dolphins’ uniform cloud what was otherwise a productive career for Koa Misi.

Originally drafted in the 2nd-round of the 2010 NFL draft, Misi was a very good linebacker throughout his rookie contract. After completing three successful seasons with the team, he was extended for 4 years and $17m right before the start of the 2013 season.

Though he was never dominant, Misi performed well for three more seasons before injuries began to derail his career. 2015 was the first of three successive years in which Misi would land on injured-reserve (IR), with each season costing more time than the one before it.

  • 2015: active for 15 games before landing on IR with a back injury
  • 2016: active for 3 games before landing on IR with a neck injury
  • 2017: didn’t make it to the regular season before landing on IR with the SAME neck injury

It was evident during training camp prior to 2017 that Misi’s neck wasn’t entirely healed, and the chances of him playing that year were very slim to begin with. Still, this didn’t stop the Dolphins from renegotiating his contract and dedicating $2.8m of salary cap space to Misi, even though he wasn’t going to play another down in the NFL ever again.

Injuries aside, Misi was very productive as a starting linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. He may not have made a ton of highlight-reel plays, but he was always where he needed to be, and given Miami’s production at linebacker this past decade, we couldn’t be more thrilled with that kind of “generic” performance.

Cornerback: Xavien Howard
Games Active: 40
Passes Defended: 35
Interceptions: 12

The recent domestic battery accusation puts a stain on Xavien Howard‘s character, but his performance as a player can’t be debated.

After trading up in the 2nd-round of the 2016 draft to select the Baylor cornerback 38th-overall, the Dolphins coached and blossomed Howard into the elite cornerback he is today.

Originally being deemed a bust, Howard made a name for himself towards the end of his sophomore season when he intercepted Tom Brady twice in the same game. It was that game that made Dolphins fans realize they had something special with Howard.

His 2018 season was dominant, ending the year as the league-leader in interceptions and earning a nod to the Pro Bowl.

A knee injury ended his 2019 prematurely, but Dolphins fans are excited to see what Howard can do with this coaching staff when he’s finally healthy.

That’s if he’s still around next year…

Cornerback: Brent Grimes
Games Active: 47
Passes Defended: 43
Interceptions: 13

The curious case of Brent Grimes gets weirder and more-convoluted by the year.

Signed as a “project” player with upside after tearing his achilles tendon with the Atlanta Falcons, Grimes came to Miami with a chance to prove that he was still the #1 cornerback he portrayed at the beginning of his career.

Consistently overlooked and notably undersized, Grimes regained his form and excelled as an elite, #1 cornerback for this team.

His one-handed interception off Matthew Stafford is the most-beautiful interception you’ll witness in Dolphins history. If you weren’t sure how much of a fan-favorite Grimes was, just look at his place as one of the top-50 Miami Dolphins of all time – that should tell you all you need to know about his place in Miami lore.

Then, his wife was tackled outside of Hard Rock Stadium after becoming belligerent. She decided the team was at fault for who knows what, and went on a crusade against them, which included:

  • Bashing the team’s starting quarterback
  • Attacking the fans
  • Threatening members of the media

It was clear she (and by obvious extension, Brent) wanted out of Miami, and successfully made such a scene that the team was all-but-forced to release him.

Grimes was revered, ostracized and despised by Dolphins fans everywhere. He was seen as malcontent and a reason for the organization’s overall failure.

His wife couldn’t stop the hate-fueled rants as she attacked Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross with anti-semetic slurs (not realizing….or not caring….that her husband’s new bosses in Tampa Bay were also Jewish), declared she was thankful her husband was with Jameis Winston and not Ryan Tannehill (how’d that work out), and became so unhinged that she was suspended from social media on multiple occasions.

Since then, plenty has come out about the toxic locker room culture that was brewing in Davie, and, to be honest, we can’t blame Brent for wanting out. The thing is, he took the most-public and, at times, immoral route to make it happen – and fans took his departure personally.

It’s one thing to have a family member make comments about an organization; Eli Apple and Kevin Durant‘s moms are two notorious examples of this. It’s another thing to have a family member vehemently burn a bridge to an organization that simply rooted for their success.

Today, you can still find Brent Grimes at Hard Rock Stadium, just in a much more subtle manner than he was in the past.

Stories aside, Brent Grimes was an elite player for the Miami Dolphins. With 3 Pro Bowl nods in 3 seasons, Grimes was recognized locally and nationally as a feared #1 cornerback. It’s just too bad his Dolphins’ tenure ended the way it did.

Slot Cornerback: Bobby McCain
Games Active: 48
Passes Defended: 17
Interceptions: 3

I’m not even sure if you can put Bobby McCain here anymore, but if you look back this decade, there aren’t many other players that can supplant McCain from this position.

Drafted as an outside cornerback and exposed early in his career, McCain found a niche in the slot and excelled towards the end of his sophomore season and throughout his third year in the league. McCain’s inclining performance, charismatic personality and leadership qualities earned him a 4-year, $27m contract extension to go along with the honor of being elected a team captain by Adam Gase.

Since then, both Matt Burke and Patrick Graham have continued to experiment with McCain in an attempt to evolve him into a versatile, Swiss army knife-type of defender. This constant shuffling has hindered McCain’s progress, and at the moment, the Dolphins have neither a versatile defender nor an excellent slot cornerback.

With all of that said, McCain has been the team’s best slot cornerback in recent history, and all of these “what ifs” further frustrate Dolphins fans looking for some kind of sustained success.

Free Safety: Michael Thomas
Games Active: 56
Passes Defended: 6
Interceptions: 1

Most of you are going to put Reshad Jones here, but contrary to where Jones has lined up the majority of his career, he is predominantly a strong safety. Which means we have to find a free safety to add to this list. And that’s why you see Michael Thomas.

Often confused for his counterpart in New Orleans, Thomas was a stellar special teams player who was also a reliable safety (when needed) on defense.

Though there aren’t too many highlight-reel plays to bolster Thomas’ standing as a safety, he never allowed a big play to happen on his watch – which is essentially what a safety is there to do.

He is the definition of reliable.

Both smart and professional, Thomas was a well-deserved team captain for the Miami Dolphins.

The way he engaged with the fans, the organization and the community all deserve to be commended, and his recent contract with the New York Giants is a well-deserved reward for one of the most underrated Miami Dolphins in the history of the organization.

Strong Safety: Reshad Jones
Games Active: 128
Tackles: 766

Sacks: 10.5
Turnovers: 23

Reshad Jones has been in the process of quietly establishing a Hall of Fame-worthy career while being mightily overlooked in South Florida.

Calling Jones a two-time Pro Bowler is an insult to his entire career.

Annually snubbed the deserving reward, Jones inexplicably remained out of the spotlight for the majority of his career because he played on such mediocre teams. Place Jones in the conversation with other elite safeties, and casual NFL fans would look at you with a perplexed glare.

To an extent, I can’t help but feel bad for Jones as he watched less-deserving individuals make the Pro Bowl based on name or team recognition alone. However, down in Miami, you would have a hard time finding a Dolphins fan that didn’t know who Reshad Jones was.

He was elite. He was fierce. He was ferocious. And most importantly, he was all ours.

But of course, the longest-tenured Miami Dolphin of the 2010s is marred with drama.

Jones infamously quit in the middle of a game because he wasn’t happy with the way defensive coordinator Matt Burke was rotating him in and out of the game. He followed that up by purposely avoiding this year’s voluntary mini camp, even though it would have helped Brian Flores integrate his coaching philosophy and defensive style as a rookie head coach.

These may be some of the lasting impressions we have of Jones, but this shouldn’t negate the fact that he was a game-changing safety for an entire decade.

When Jones’ career is finally over, and we’re able to properly reflect on what he meant to our organization, fans will forget these minor incidents and realize that they were able to witness one of the greatest safeties in Dolphins’ history.

Honorable Mentions

Jimmy Wilson:
Games Active: 45
Passes Defended: 11
Interceptions: 3

Jimmy Wilson‘s road to Miami also tells a bit of an interesting story.

Originally expected to be drafted much higher in the 2011 NFL Draft, Wilson faced character concerns after being acquitted in 2009 of murdering his Aunt’s boyfriend. After nearly falling out of the draft entirely, the Dolphins selected him in the 7th-round, 235th-overall.

Wilson was shuffled all around the secondary. Acting as an earlier version of Bobby McCain, Wilson shifted from cornerback, to slot corner to safety throughout his tenure. He didn’t assume a full-time starting role until his forth (and final) season in Miami, in which he started 13 of the 14 games he was active for.

His performance that year earned him a 2-year, $4.85m contract with his hometown team, the San Diego Chargers, in 2015. He was released before the season ended.

Truth be told, it’s pretty difficult to pinpoint Wilson’s stats because he moved around so much. Though he was ultimately reliable in coverage, fans still felt a bit queasy when the ball was thrown in his direction.

Still, it’s hard to ask for much more out of your 7th-round draft pick, and fans felt a tad disappointed when he left in free agency because they had grown to like him so much.

Isa Abdul-Quddus:
Games Active: 15
Passes Defended: 5

Interceptions: 2

If Isa Abdul-Quddus hadn’t suffered a career-ending neck injury in Week 16 of the 2016 season, he would most likely still be a Miami Dolphin.

Instead, Miami has attempted to solve the position by drafting Minkah Fitzpatrick, rotating Bobby McCain, and signing Eric Rowe in free agency.

Originally signed to a 3-year, $12.75m contract, Abdul-Quddus was a reliable performer and a playmaker for the Miami Dolphins. As we approached the end of the 2016 season, it was evident the Dolphins found themselves a “steal”.

Then suddenly, one random play that resulted in a freak injury cut his entire NFL career short.

If he had played more than 15 games for Miami, he’d most likely be on this list. Instead, I hope Abdul-Quddus is doing well in his life after football. It’s yet another reason to enjoy every day and to not take life (or your health) for granted.

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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Miami Dolphins

Turning the Machine in the Right Direction

Kevin Dern

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Nearly a year ago, 11 months to be precise, I wrote this piece for Locked On Dolphins:  “Small, Important Steps in the Right Direction”.  It was me opining on what I felt like were a series of small steps Miami, specifically Chris Grier and the front office had taken in the right direction just after the Draft.  At the time, Miami had accumulated a Draft Pick haul of a: 1st rounder, two 2nd rounders, a 3rd, two 4ths, a 5th, two 6ths, and two 7ths.  We know war chest has expanded, and Miami’s sure to put that to effective use in just over a month at the 2020 NFL Draft.

So, where are Miami now?

Well, that’s an interesting question, but I’ll attempt to answer it.  With a haul of 11 free agents, counting TE Michael Roberts who was signed before the new League Year, Miami’s managed to fill some of the holes the exited 2019 with.  Perhaps most important, despite shelling out big money deals, all of them are structured in smart, team-friendly ways.  Kudos to Chris Grier and Brandon Shore for that.  It’ll pay dividends down the road.

With the Draft still a month away, at least as things stand with the COVID-19 outbreak right now, Miami’s needs have become clearer.  Quarterback was always and still is the top priority for the Draft.  Running Back is a need still, and there’s a plethora of top notch backs in this year’s class.  Offensive Line, obviously.  Miami can use help across the board there.  With the defensive free agent signings, I’m not sure edge defenders are a need anymore, but I think Miami will still bargain shop there.  Safety, specifically free safety, and a true nose tackle round out the needs list.  At lest in my mind.

With 14 picks, and Miami probably won’t use all of them to make actual picks – I think some get used in trade ups and some get pushed to 2021 – Miami will likely be able to fill that remaining chunk of needs, which is a great place to be in.  Perhaps Miami still shops around a bit in free agency, maybe for O-line depth or a cheap running back, but I think the focus now narrows to the Draft.  Since that’s next month, let’s review the free agent crop.

Free Agent Fits
Our pal Travis Wingfield has done plenty of in-depth reporting on all of Miami’s free agent signings, so I’m going to give you my broad stroke takes on what Miami’s added this past week.

Edge Setters
Miami added defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah to help set the edge against the run.  Kyle Van Noy is an outside linebacker with a sneaky amount of strength and ability to play with heavy hands and good leverage who can help set the edge too.  What this means for Miami’s defense is that we’ll likely see more 4-man defensive fronts.  Remember, when Brian Flores called the Patriots defense in 2018 his most used for formations were:

4-2-5 (307 snaps)

3-3-5 (226 snaps)*

3-2-6 (132 snaps)

4-3 (97 snaps)

* With the 3-3-5 package, there’s really two versions: The Bear front and the slide front.  The Bear front typically included bigger defensive lineman to cover the opponents G-C-G with Hightower and Trey Flowers or Kyle Van Noy on edges, with Van Noy or Elandon Roberts off-ball.  Think of the slide front as really a 4-2 front, but you have an OLB playing as a stand-up DE.

A potential hidden bonus here is that both Lawson and Ogbah have some experience playing in stand-up OLB/DE roles.  Shaq Lawson did it some at Clemson and Ogbah had some limited experience in doing so last year with the Chiefs.  I think Ogbah was used primarily as a rusher as I haven’t seen snaps of him dropping into coverage from that spot.  But he’s been aligned there.

With the additions of Lawson, Ogbah and Van Noy, Miami’s going to try and be able to find analogs similar to Van Noy himself, more on that in a minute; Ogbah compares pretty well in play style to how the Pats used Adrian Clayborn and Deatrich Wise that year; and Lawson’s versatility might lend him to be used in some, and I stress some, of the capacities in which they used Trey Flowers.  With Van Noy, in 2019 he was almost an exclusive on-the-LOS edge LB.  In 2018, his duties between being an edge player and off-ball linebacker were about 50-50.  I don’t know that we’ll see that, but I think Van Noy’s snaps won’t be as an exclusive edge – he’s so versatile in how he can be used.

As much as I love Khalid Kareem and really like guys like K’Lavon Chaisson, Curtis Weaver, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Marlon Davidson I have a difficult time picturing Miami spending a top-level resource on an edge defender.  I think they’ll take a stab on a guy that falls or try and find value later on like Trevis Gipson, Jason Strowbridge, Chauncey Rivers, James Smith-Williams, etc.

No Fly Zone Southeast
I’ll admit, I in no way shape or form saw Miami going after someone like Byron Jones.  In fact, I wonder if the Patriots franchise tagging Joe Thuney meant that money Miami might’ve offered to him was “freed up” to pursue other options.  And man, did Miami get a nice player in Jones.  Yes, he doesn’t have a ton of interceptions, but he does have 20 PBUs the past two years, and 44 for his career – nearly nine a year.

I’m a little dumbfounded that so many Dolfans think this signing means that Xavien Howard is on the trade block.  Why would he be? Why would you dismantle a CB tandem this good? I get that X had the legal issue, but that was dismissed.  I feel like if Miami wanted him gone, he’d have been gone by now.

What it means having a tandem like Byron and X is that you have a pair of corners that excel at press, can play off man, can both play on either side of the formation, and both can travel to the slot.  That gives them some really nice flexibility and the opportunity to get creative with coverages.  I’ll be really intrigued if they add a FS that allows Bobby McCain to play in the slot more, like he did in 2015-17.  Miami could disguise a lot if that becomes an option.

When you combine Jones with the additions of Lawson and Ogbah up front, and Van Noy as someone who can play on the LOS or off-ball, you have to tip your cap to Miami for adding help at all three levels of the defense.

Depth and Special Teams
Miami apparently isn’t bringing back Walt Aikens, who was their best special teamer the past few seasons.  Instead, Miami opted to bring in a trio of damn good special teamers, two of whom were captains.  The one that wasn’t, Elandon Roberts, figures to get a chance to play in some packages on defense, just as he did with New England, and is a core special teams guy.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he ate some of Chandler Cox’s reps as a fullback either.  He’ll be fun to watch on whichever unit he’s getting snaps at.

Kamu Grugier-Hill, a fellow 6th round pick mate of the 2016 Patriots Class with Ted Karras and Elandon Roberts, is an intriguing player.  While he might have been a better fit for Miami’s previous staff under Gase and Burke, he’s a fantastic special teamer and has shown well as a blitzer and coverage linebacker.  His presence probably means guys like Sam Eguavoen and Calvin Munson are in the danger zone.

Clayton Fejedelem is more a like-for-like replacement for Aikens.  A hard-hitting safety who’s a demon on special teams.  Fejedelem probably won’t get a lot of looks on defense, especially if Miami ends up drafting another safety, but the bonus with Fejedelem, as compared to Aikens, is if you have to call on him to play on defense, he’s going to be better equipped to handle it.

Improving the Ground Game
I’ll admit, with Ereck Flowers being the first reported signing of free agency, I was a little worried the ghosts of Jeff Ireland and Mike Tannenbaum were summoned by the Tequesta.  Flowers reputation carries stains, but he played well the second half of 2019 as LG for the Redskins.  I hope Miami leaves him there.  Ted Karras comes over after playing as center for the Patriots in 2019.  He’s a bigger guy than Daniel Kilgore.  He’s smart.  He’s tough.  He struggles a little in space and with power.  I do wonder if Michael Deiter gets a shot to compete with him at the C spot with Flowers at LG, where Deiter played last year.

Both Flowers and Karras will get the opportunity to block for newly signed running back Jordan Howard (a favorite of my wife’s as he’s a fellow Indiana Hoosier).  Howard’s a bigger back at 225lbs, but he’s more well rounded than he is a power back.  He can catch and be a weapon in the pass game.  He’s also pretty savvy with inside and outside zone runs.  With Chan Gailey and Eric Studesville working on the ground game, Howard’s sure to get plenty of use.

Tight end Michael Roberts has played just 12 games over the past three seasons due to injuries and poor play.  He was traded to the Patriots last year but failed a physical cancelling the trade.  Detroit waived him and he was claimed by Green Bay but failed a physical there.  He battled weight gain, depression and had his left shoulder surgically repaired.  More of a blocking TE, he roasted the Dolphins in 2018, naturally, when Detroit came to Miami.  If Roberts plays up to his potential, I think he’s got the ability to challenge Durham Smythe for that #2 TE role – being an inline TE.

Prepping for April
While the Draft won’t have the party that Vegas would’ve offered, that’s the next major step for Chris Grier.  Miami needs to get the Draft right.  We’re talking 2017 Saints right.  We’re talking 2019 Raiders right.  Miami has the opportunity to inject a lot of talent, in addition to the quarterback, into this team.

Go figure that the year Miami as FINALLY loaded up on picks, the COVID-19 breakout has forced Pro Days and 30 Visits to mostly be cancelled.  And unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks, Miami and the rest of the league aren’t going to have as much operating information as they normally do.  Miami will have to rely more on scouting than in the past.

The outbreak also likely puts a dent into each team’s offseason program.  Teams will have to head into their offseason programs storming to get ready for the season.  Let’s hope Miami doesn’t have a truncated offseason like they did in 2011 under Tony Sparano, which lead to an 0-7 start.

For now, with quarantines in place, there’s likely not going to be a lot happening for the Dolphins between now and the Draft.  Hunker down.  Watch tape (Game Pass is free).  Familiarize yourself with Flores’s scheme.  Watch “Humble and Hungry” – I highly recommend it! But above all, stay safe.  We can get through this together.

The Machine
You may recall Travis and I made a trip to Miami last year for the Bengals-Dolphins game.  We were credentialed for it, meaning we were members of the media for that day.  I think one of the most lasting impressions I have from that trip is just how many pieces work to create the “machine” that is each NFL team.  Miami have a lot of great people in place.

I’d only ever been to one other Dolphins game in Miami.  That was back in 2010.  I don’t remember what Hard Rock Stadium was called at the time; it’s had many different iterations since it was Joe Robbie Stadium.  But I remember walking around that stadium thinking it was dumpy.  And I’d been to some dumpy stadiums – Old RFK Stadium for a Washington Nationals Game, whatever they call the Coliseum where the Raiders played, and the A’s still call home.  Riverfront Stadium – the stadium of my youth.  These were the stadiums that Hard Rock rivaled in 2010.

What Mr. Ross and Tom Garfinkel have done to the place is INCREDIBLE! I’ve been to Lucas Oil Stadium and the renovated version of Lambeau Field (2010 and 2016).  Those two places are crown jewels.  Hard Rock Stadium as it stands right now is nicer than both!

Miami’s building a fantastic new team headquarters and training complex.  Travis and I stopped by Team HQ in Davie on our trip to pick up a parking pass for the game.  The current HQ is nice (I live in Cincinnati and drive by Paul Brown Stadium daily on my way to work – that’s my comparison, but Miami’s is nicer), but it’s small.  This new place is going to be world-class.

Brian Flores the Head Coach.  While it’s only been a year with him at the helm, just by being in his presence, hearing him speak and listening to what the players said about him – there’s not a man in that building that wouldn’t run to the TNT Wall for him.  Miami’s finally got the Head Coach they’ve longed for since Don Shula strode the sidelines.

The Dolphins have added 11 pieces so far, and the have the opportunity to select a new franchise quarterback in a month.  If Chris Grier, Marvin Allen, Reggie McKenzie, Brian Flores, the staff, and the scouts get this right Miami’s going to have built one hell of a machine.  Just in time for the post-Tom Brady Era in the AFC East.

It’s a wonderful time to be a Dolfan!  All is certainly not right in the world.  Not by a longshot.  But in these trying times where we all need to cling to some form of solace, the Dolphins are providing one.  It’s a small part of my everyday life, but it’s one of my favorite parts.  Always has been.  Always will be.  FinsUp!

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Miami Dolphins

Free agency opens; Reshad Jones, Mike Hull lead Miami Dolphins cuts

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – While the two-day legal tampering period has already been underway, free agency officially opened on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Since many of the heavy-hitting signs and trades have already been announced, the start of the new league year will be more about ratifying all those moves.

The Miami Dolphins, at the time of writing, have announced 10 free agency moves.

And with that, there has been the consequential announcement of cutdowns to counterbalance the roster spots of incoming players.

Reshad Jones leads the list and is also the only technical release, but the Dolphins had already announced that.

Jones was going into his 11th season and spent the first 10 with the Dolphins.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jones sign with a new team in the coming days of free agency.

Nearly half a dozen players were also waived: wide receiver T.J. Rahming, cornerback Rashard Causey, tackle Chidi Okeke, interior offensive lineman Evan Brown, defensive lineman Kendrick Norton, and linebacker Mike Hull.

Rahming, Causey, and Okeke spent the 2019 season as practice squad members.

Brown saw playing time late in the 2019 season but had been plucked off the Giants practice squad.

Hull might be the most interesting name on the list. He had been a scrappy ‘backer presence for the Dolphins after signing with the team as a UDFA in 2015.

Hull re-signed with the Dolphins last spring.

But he spent the 2019 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a knee injury and didn’t play.

Norton was also kept on the team during the 2019 season by way of the Non-Football Injury list after a car accident last summer.

 

 

 

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Bring On Another Ex-Patriot, Sign LB Elandon Roberts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are loading up on leadership. If there’s one thing the Dolphins have made a priority this offseason, it’s adding smart, determined football players to their team. Under Brian Flores‘ stewardship, I doubt we ever see a broken locker room again.

According to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN, the Miami Dolphins are signing linebacker Elandon Roberts to a contract. Financial details are currently unknown.

Roberts is yet another ex-New England Patriot to leave Boston this offseason for warmer pastures down south, following fellow-linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and the recent addition of (center) Ted Karras earlier today.

Originally drafted as a 6th-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2016, Roberts has primarily served as a special teams ace, while also serving as depth at linebacker.

If you were impressed by Biegel’s production last season, you will be pleased with the type of versatility Roberts brings. Over the past four seasons, Roberts has been active for 60 games (starting 33 of them), and has accumulated 4 sacks, 6 passes defended, 206 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and 14 QB Hits.

Roberts is stout against the run, something the Dolphins have lacked over the past couple of seasons.

If you were curious what all the additions at linebacker meant for Vince Biegel, this doesn’t make things any clearer. Biegel is tendered at a “cheap” rate next season, so there’s no need to trade him or let him walk, but with the additions of Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill so far this offseason, it seems snap counts are becoming sparser.

Right now, the Dolphins currently have the following linebackers on their roster for 2020:

  • Chase Allen
  • Jerome Baker
  • Vince Biegel
  • Jake Carlock
  • James Crawford
  • Jamal Davis II
  • Sam Eguavoen
  • Terrill Hanks
  • Trent Harris
  • Mike Hull
  • Deon Lacy
  • Raekwon McMillan
  • Calvin Munson
  • Andrew Van Ginkel

They recently added:

  • Kyle Van Noy
  • Elandon Roberts
  • Kamu Grugier-Hill

Sam Eguavoen was a budding linebacker and special teams player for the Dolphins last season, but it looks like he’ll need to have an excellent training camp to remain on the team. It’ll also be interesting to see what this means for last year’s 5th-round pick, Andrew Van Ginkel.

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