Over the next two weeks, Locked On Dolphins will bring you your one-stop shop for all things Miami Dolphins 2019 training camp
For the majority of the Ryan Tannehill era, the Dolphins entered training camp as dark horse candidates to seize a wildcard playoff berth. Things have changed for the worse in 2019, but the step backward comes with the hopes of constructing a perennial AFC East contender capable of winning games in January.
That’s the big-picture snapshot of the Miami Dolphins rebuild. In the interim, however, establishing the core principles of the Brian Flores program, as well as developing young talent, both capture the forefront of this year’s training camp objectives.
Over the next two weeks, we will get you familiar with each player on the roster. With biographies, quick-hitter scouting notes, and a prediction on the player’s ultimate role on the 2019 Dolphins, this serves as your guide for Miami’s summer practice session.
One year removed from an embarrassing video leading to the dismissal of the Dolphins former offensive line coach, Miami makes its second change in as many years. Pat Flaherty departs from Jacksonville to lead-up the Dolphins offensive line room, but he’s not alone.
Miami solicited the help of Dave DeGuglielmo after the in-season firing of 2017 OL Coach (and Running Game Coordinator) Chris Forester. After the change, the Dolphins improved from the 21st-ranked pass blocking line to the 2nd-best in the NFL. Deguglielmo departed for Indianapolis in 2018 and turned around a historically awful Colts line. Indy improved from the 29th-ranked PBE (Pro Football Focus’ pass blocking efficiency) line to 10thlast year.
DeGuglielmo’s connection to the new Dolphins coaching staff led to his return. He spent two years with Flores in New England (2013-2014), and was a graduate assistant at Boston College — Flores alma mater. DeGuglielmo also has a connection to Flaherty from their time together with the Giants.
The room still belongs to Flaherty, however, and his resume is equally impressive. His first offensive line job came with the 2004 Giants where Flaherty learned Tom Coughlin’s style of smash mouth football. Flaherty brought that brand to Jacksonville when he joined Coughlin in 2017 en route to the NFL’s number-one rushing offense.
Flaherty’s work with the 2017 Jaguars line is more impressive considering the parts he had to work with. A second-round pick, two third-round picks, and a pair of UDFA’s is hardly a heavy investment into the positon. With the Dolphins, Flaherty gets a first-rounder, a third-rounder, a fifth-rounder, and two UDFA’s.
We start today’s guide with that first-round pick, perhaps the NFL’s most dominant Left Tackle, Laremy Tunsil.
Laremy Tunsil – 3 years of service (4th in MIA)
College: Ole Miss
Opening Day Age: 25.0
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $12.5M total, $0 guaranteed
After blanking Khalil Mack and Jadeveon Clowney in a three-week span, Tunsil etched his name among the best linemen in the game. He’s technically sound with the best feet at the position. He’s often left alone on an island against the game’s best, and wins with an effective kick-slide, initial punch, leverage, and a sturdy anchor.
Tunsil is no slouch in the ground game either. He can initiate contact and dictate the direction of his man with ease. He’s adept at combination blocks and more than capable of getting into space as the lead.
Tunsil allowed one sack in 2018 and has a case for the best player at his position. The one area he could stand to improve is in the penalty department — he has committed 21 fouls in the last two years.
Laremy Tunsil – elite left tackle pic.twitter.com/Kn8tkl9xLP
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) October 16, 2018
2019 Projected Role: Starting Left Tackle
Michael Deiter – Rookie
Opening Day Age: 23.0
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $3.8M total, $1M guaranteed
Expectations are high for Deiter. With a 53-game collegiate start-streak that spanned three positions (LT, LG, C), Deiter’s durability, toughness and competitiveness attracted Miami to the Wisconsin product. Deiter moonlights as a hockey player and has the feet and athleticism to prove it.
Deiter’s experience shows in the way he executes his combination blocks and his penchant for recognizing games from the defensive line. He figures to begin the year at left guard but some of his best college tape came from the center position, and with Kilgore’s injury history, that move feels imminent.
A nice four-play stretch for Michael Deiter. pic.twitter.com/mZBuTK4ybU
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) April 27, 2019
2019 Projected Role: Starting Left Guard
Daniel Kilgore – 8 years of service (2nd in MIA)
College: Appalachian State
Opening Day Age: 31.7
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $6.1M total, $0 guaranteed
The eldest member of the offensive line, Kilgore is a surprise holdover from the previous regime. A torn triceps muscle ended Kilgore’s debut Dolphins season after 4 games, but those four games were worrisome in their own right.
Kilgore needs to show better strength at the point of attack to sustain his position as the starting anchor on the middle of the Dolphins line.
Just six clips for the running game this week. Basically the OL took turns getting whipped.
Up first, Dan Kilgore. Not a lot to ask on this minimal reach to his outside shoulder. A half decent block springs Drake, instead he grabs hold and turns 3rd and 4 into 2nd and 17. pic.twitter.com/hivhdk8Ewq
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) October 2, 2018
2019 Projected Role: Starting Center
Chris Reed – 3 years of service (1st in MIA)
College: Minnesota St.
Opening Day Age: 27.1
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $3M total, $500K guaranteed
The unheralded signing of the offseason, Reed has a chance to buck his label as a career backup. In spot duty for the Jags (under Coach Flaherty) Reed showed a knack for cohesive pass protection and the occasional push in the ground game.
Reed can play either guard spot and, at worst, serve as Miami’s swing interior lineman. Based on his tape (link above), Reed might be the team’s second best player at the position.
Footwork is key. Before throwing his punch Chris Reed establishes his base gliding into his pass set. Then he locks out and handles this rush with ease. pic.twitter.com/POL9p3jqLt
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) March 19, 2019
2019 Projected Role: Starting Right Guard
Jesse Davis – 3 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 28.0
Contract Details: 1 year remaining (RFA), $645K total, $0 guaranteed
Despite earning the distinction of only lineman to play all 16 games in 2018 for Miami, last year was a struggle for Davis. After bouncing around the line in 2017, David settled into his permanent residence at right guard, but struggled in pass protection. Prone to over-setting, Davis can get beat inside with a stab and dip or the club and swim move.
Davis’ limited work at right tackle was impressive in 2017 and gives the Dolphins more options to pull the backside of the formation. Davis competes against Jordan Mills and the guard combination of Reed and Deiter — he should win a starting job somewhere.
Favorite Jesse Davis rep ever pic.twitter.com/teIJt93E0d
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) March 21, 2019
2019 Projected Role: Starting Right Tackle
Jordan Mills – 6 years of service (1st in MIA)
College: Louisiana Tech
Opening Day Age: 28.7
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $3M total, $0 guaranteed
The swing tackle position is vital in today’s NFL — especially in Miami where the tackle tandem has missed a combined 11 games the last two seasons. Mills will compete for a starting job, and his durability is definitely something that attracted Miami to his services, but his performance leaves much to be desired.
Mills is a plodder that can be repeatedly victimized by speed-rushers. When Mills latches onto his man, the rep is usually over, it’s just a battle to get to that point; there isn’t a lot of pop in the ground game either.
Mills has played over 3,000 snaps going back three seasons, all at right tackle.
Throwback Thursday to the time Cam Wake threw Jordan Mills from Solider Field to Wrigley Field. pic.twitter.com/Q10XKHjpNt
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) May 9, 2019
2019 Projected Role: Swing Tackle
Zach Sterup – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 27.4
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed
The film has not been kind to Sterup the last two seasons. He allowed seven pressures (including four sacks) on just 58 pass blocking snaps, and in 2017 Sterup surrendered seven more pressures (albeit all seven hurries) on 53 reps.
Some natural talent, bend, and ideal size exist for Sterup, he is just yet to put it together and time may be running out.
2019 Projected Role: Camp cut
Tony Adams – 1 year of service (1st in MIA)
College: North Carolina State
Opening Day Age: 20.7
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed
Falling into the categories of required traits sought out by the Dolphins this offseason, Adams combines durability (a product of toughness) and size into a road-grading style. His initial punch is devastating, and when he’s properly aligned in his technique, he puts together teaching tape.
The issue is the consistency in that technique and the slow feet. Adams is a people-mover, not someone who will impress in the wave drill (tests for change of direction).
Adams clearly has fans in the building. Undrafted, Adams signed with the Jaguars (Pat Flaherty), but failed a physical and had his offer revoked. He then re-signed with the team, but was cut after training camp and eventually wound up with New England in December.
2019 Projected Role: Swing Interior Lineman
Isaiah Prince – Rookie
College: Ohio State
Opening Day Age: 22.1
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $2.7M total, $150K guaranteed
The Dolphins wanted to get mean on the offensive line and that trend continued in the sixth-round of April’s draft. Prince’s college career was one of peaks and valleys. On one series he’d appear undraftable, then Prince would follow it up with a punishing block to spring the Buckeye’s deadly ground game.
He is a work-in-progress and the Dolphins will have to hope he survives the practice squad in the interim. With Tunsil, Davis, and Mills on-board, there’s not enough room for another tackle on the active roster.
The struggles in new Miami Dolphins Right Tackle Isaiah Prince’s game are pretty consistent across pass protection fundamentals. Certainly a project player in the sixth-round. pic.twitter.com/CY9vX8sFS3
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) April 30, 2019
2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad
Michael Dunn – Rookie
Opening Day Age: 25.0
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed
One of seven Dolphins signings from the defunct AAF, Michael Dunn was a promising prospect at Maryland. In three years as a starter Dunn surrendered only 43 pressures on 1,151 pass blocking reps (3.7% pressures allowed rate).
At 6-5, 320 pounds, Dunn uses his wide frame and effective initial kick slide to wall off edge rushers. With a great camp, he could force the Dolphins hand and win a roster spot over potentially complacent veterans.
2019 Projected Role: Camp cut
Jaryd Jones-Smith – Rookie
Opening Day Age: 24.0
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed
The second of two former AAF linemen on the Dolphins roster, Jones-Smith is built like a tackle, but plays guard. Jones-Smith won the Pterodactyl Award — awarded to the player with the longest wingspan — at the 2018 NFL Combine. His 88.5-inch measurement matches that of basketball’s Dwight Howard.
2019 Projected Role: Camp Cut
Kyle Fuller – 2 years of service (1st in MIA)
Opening Day Age: 25.5
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed
A seventh-round pick in 2017, Fuller played in nine games as a rookie with the Houston Texans. He didn’t make the team in 2018, but was signed to the practice squad before eventually winding up on Washington’s practice squad to finish the season.
Fuller played a clean 26 snaps in pass protection (no pressures allowed) but never received a favorable run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
2019 Projected Role: Camp cut
Shaq Calhoun – Rookie
College: Mississippi State
Opening Day Age: 23.4
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed
A hot pick to make the opening day roster, Calhoun sliding all the way out of this year’s draft was a surprise. His birth name is Deion, but he goes by Shaq because of his size and basketball skill.
Calhoun is knocked by scouts for stiff, upright movement and a lack of instinctual awareness. Like the rest of Miami’s newly acquired linemen, though, Calhoun is built like an oak tree and plays with a high motor and nasty mean-streak.
2019 Projected Role: Swing Interior Lineman
Aaron Monteiro – Rookie
College: Boston College
Opening Day Age: 22.0
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed
Coming from Coach Flores’ alma mater is always a nice feather in the cap, but its Monteiro’s style that earned him a job with the Dolphins for the summer. Meeting with the Patriots, Ravens and Jaguars after his pro day, there’s an indication into which blocking schemes are best suited for Monteiro.
2019 Projected Role: Camp cut
*The Dolphins claimed former Cardinals Offensive Lineman Will Holden on July 21.
2019 Dolphins Offensive Line at a Glance:
This position group is a complete teardown of the previous, unsatisfactory protection units trotted out by the Dolphins. It could be something of a learning year with new techniques and a bevy of new players that offer a stark contrast in traits to the previous regime.
Miami wanted to get bigger, stronger, and tougher at the position. Evident by the offseason acquisitions, the Dolphins place a lot of value on durability and versatility, and that’s exactly what the team acquired in these lesser-known signings.
If Flaherty and DeGuglielmo can cultivate one quality starter alongside Tunsil, it’ll be a success. If the pair can uncover two hidden gems, then Miami will have hit the lottery at a position that has been a thorn for the better part of a decade.
Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts
Tua Tagovailoa has IT.
Brian Flores is THE guy.
And I have to admit, Chris Grier has done a phenomenal job.
After an exciting 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (5-3), the Miami Dolphins (5-3) solidified themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the AFC. Sure, you can say we’re getting a bit cocky – we’ve watched our team falter plenty of times before. But do you get the sense that these are the same Dolphins we’ve been watching this century?
Right now, are you skeptical or optimistic?
Do you have butterflies because you’re nervous or because you’re excited?
Do you think the Dolphins are trying to survive each game or do you have confidence that they’ll win?
Coming off of 4-straight victories, it’s easy to feel like we’re on top of the world, but this team looks different. It feels different. They act different.
Something special cookin’ down in Miami! 🤫 https://t.co/GDuC4Aogu5
— Jakeem Grant (@_TheDreamIsHere) November 9, 2020
Below are a few thoughts following Miami’s promising 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Monday Morning Thoughts
Tua Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for
Admit it, when they originally ruled that throwaway an interception, you saw shades of every failed quarterback to come since Dan Marino.
tua’s first career interception? pic.twitter.com/GkSn8KGeBw
— josh houtz (@houtz) November 8, 2020
That play was so comically bad that it easily could have defined Tua’s career if it didn’t pan out. Thankfully, it was ruled that the receiver’s foot was out-of-bounds and it was an incomplete pass – but imagine the memes that would have been unleashed if Miami lost this game and that play counted.
But, it didn’t count….and the Dolphins didn’t lose….and Tua Tagovailoa out-dueled Kyler Murray when it mattered most.
When the Dolphins needed a game-winning drive, Tua delivered. When Kyler Murray had an opportunity to tie it, he didn’t (along with an obscure Zane Gonzalez kick).
Tua’s elite pocket presence, accuracy, decision-making, and ball placement were all on display. And none of that accounts for the plays he made with his legs.
.@Tua said SEE YA
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 8, 2020
TUA WITH THE JUKES!!! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/FKScMk6wmR
— LasnerSport (@LasnerSport) November 8, 2020
If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re thrilled with what you saw. And though it’s only a small sample size, I think we can all exhale – he looks like he’s the guy.
Ted Karras on Tua
That one scramble where he split those guys was exceptional. I don’t think any moment is too big for Tua. He works hard and has earned the respect of everyone in that huddle.
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 9, 2020
Byron Jones is still a damn good Cornerback
After three-straight dominant performances, Byron Jones was a bit humbled this game. We’re so used to watching him shut down opposing receivers that a game like this really sticks out.
He was absolutely burned by Christian Kirk on a beautiful deep ball from Kyler Murray late in the first quarter, but that wasn’t his worse play.
Dolphins fans and Byron Jones both thought he hauled in his first interception since October, 2017. Instead, Darrell Daniels’ first career touchdown reception is one of the highlights of the year as he snatches the ball right out of Jones’ hands.
Darrell Daniels took it BACK. What a TD! #RedSea
— NFL (@NFL) November 8, 2020
I mean, Byron Jones had that ball in his hands for an interception, and before they hit the ground Darrell Daniels steals it into his possession. AND somehow had his knee down so it would count as a catch. Crazy.
Miami’s (really, it’s Brian Flores’) now infamous “zero” boom-or-bust scheme is susceptible to the long-ball, as our corners are expected to cover their receivers 1-on-1; with no safety help behind them. So far this season, it has worked tremendously to their advantage (as seen below)
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) November 8, 2020
But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:
Deep ball DIME from Kyler Murray to Christian Kirk.
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) November 8, 2020
With all of that said, Byron Jones is still a great cornerback in this league. Was this a bad game? Definitely. But I don’t expect this to become a trend. Lets not take for granted the elite secondary we currently have.
Christian Wilkins should NOT stop celebrating
Just please celebrate responsibly.
One of the reasons Dolphins fans adore Christian Wilkins is because of his infectious personality. He’s notoriously running in and celebrating every offensive touchdown with his team. His trash talking is innocently intimidating. The way he pumps his team up is perfect for any locker room culture. On top of the fact that he’s a pretty good defensive tackle.
Which is why I want him to keep celebrating – and I want him to continue celebrating excessively.
Teria sido Wilkins que machucou Williams? pic.twitter.com/RdR0rHfapJ
— Phins BR 🐬 (@PhinsBr) November 8, 2020
Preston Williams‘ unfortunate injury during a touchdown celebration is a huge reason why professional coaches like to contain their million-dollar players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. It makes sense, they’re valuable commodities, but Wilkins’ spirit is too valuable to douse.
If something like this happens again, then we can talk about stifling his excitement, until then….celebrate smarter.
Xavien Howard’s “penalties” tell half the story
Xavien Howard was tasked with shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, and he ended up accounting for more penalty yards (43) than receiving yards against him (30).
Xavien Howard has been flagged for pass interference 4 times now (3 accepted, 1 offsetting). It's the first time he's been flagged more than twice in a game.
Including the offsetting DPI, Howard's 4 PI penalties are the most by a player in a single game over the last 20 seasons pic.twitter.com/fanl15HP0i
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 8, 2020
The real testament to Howard’s coverage throughout the game? DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league, didn’t see a single target in the first half of the game.
According to @ESPNStatsInfo; DeAndre Hopkins has yet to be targeted; that has only happened one other time in his career where he wasn't targeted in the first half – ('13 vs. the Raiders).
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) November 8, 2020
A couple (terrible) penalties shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Xavien Howard and Byron Jones may be the best cornerback tandem in the league.
The Miami Dolphins need a Running Back in the worst way
Jordan Howard‘s 8-yard run on the last drive of the game – which helped seal the victory – was his biggest play as a Miami Dolphin. Up to that point, I was kind of rooting for Howard to continue his 1 YPC average. If you take away that 8-yard run (EASILY his longest of the year), Howard has gained 25 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts (0.93 YPC).
Rookie Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, with 7 carries for 38 yards (5.4 YPC). I’m not sure how reliable he is, but he can’t be worse than Howard. If Matt Breida is available for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure Howard will once again be inactive, giving Ahmed another shot to prove himself.
We probably should have given Austin Jackson the week off
Austin Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time in 4 weeks (due to a foot injury) and was “ok”. He was beat on a few plays, but it’s evident he wasn’t 100%. I wouldn’t make any presumptions based off of this game; if anything, the reps help from an experience/mental perspective.
Will take Austin Jackson time to get rust off; wasn't sharp there in that regrettable series. Though Jesse Davis is now at RG, I would expect to see Kindley again today. Fins trying to fit six guys into five spots, figure out what's best
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) November 8, 2020
Jason Sanders is a stud
Jason Sanders connecting on 56 and 50-yard field goals are that much more impressive when you take into account that weird Zane Gonzalez miss (where he was short from 49 yards).
The conspiracy floating around is that the ball died (on Gonzalez’s kick) because the roof was open. Yet, Sanders made his 50+ yard field goals with room to spare.
Today’s the day we will never take Jason Sanders for granted as he surpassed Olindo Mare‘s franchise record of 19-straight field goals made.
The Miami Dolphins are going to “have to” extend Emmanuel Ogbah
I think we all would love to see a contract extension, but it’s bordering on a “necessity” at this point. Not just because we want to lock up a top-notch defensive end, but because he’s going to (rightfully) demand more financial security.
Though it always felt like he was on a one-year deal, this is technically the first year of a 2-year, $15m contract for Emmanuel Ogbah, but there’s no guaranteed money tied to 2021 – and there’s no way he’s playing like a $7.5m defensive end.
Jordan Phillips averages $10m a year with his recent contract, and I think it’s fair to say that Ogbah is worth more than that. Expect a holdout if the Dolphins don’t give him a raise and an extension this offseason. That’s not to say we should be concerned – I think Miami will look to make this extension a priority – but if they don’t see eye-to-eye expect a holdout to occur.
The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises
Football is a team sport.
Wins don’t individually define a quarterback’s success.
Yet everyone agrees that the only way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback that is better than (just about) every other franchise in the sport.
Once you have an upper-echelon quarterback, then you can talk about the nuances of creating a team. Whether it’s surrounding that quarterback with the proper talent, ensuring you’ve built the right scheme around them, or complimenting them with a staunch defense to complete a championship run, developing an entire roster means nothing if you don’t have a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs.
38 years ago, the Miami Dolphins selected a quarterback that would revolutionize the NFL.
A man decades before his time, the immediate success Dan Marino brought us – after 13 championship-caliber years with Bob Griese – shielded us from the horrors of football purgatory. Maybe it’s this curse of #13 that has us clamoring for football relevance after almost 50 years without a Super Bowl Championship.
We watched our franchise devolve from the model of perfection to a team without an identity; floundering desperately to find a viable quarterback for two decades.
And with one swift decision, the Dolphins simultaneously expunged their football idiocy of years past and exhibited the type of football prowess that should lead them to salvation.
As we’re destroying the team for wasting 2nd & 5th-round picks on Josh Rosen, we’re praising them for building the foundation for future success. Gone are these false prophets of yesteryear, as the real prodigy we’ve all been yearning for is one step closer to leading the helm.
Once Tua Tagovailoa was selected 5th-overall in the 2020 NFL draft, Rosen’s exile was cemented. He was never going to have an opportunity to make it here, it was always going to be Tua Tagovailoa backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The grizzly, 13-year veteran handles the nuances of a young football team while the young, energetic and extremely talented rookie spends valuable time learning and developing.
That move…that single transaction…will forever symbolize the moment the Miami Dolphins transitioned from football purgatory to football relevance.
The Purgatory We Built
No one remembers the cost of a successful trade.
Off the top of your head, what did the New York Giants trade to swap Philip Rivers for Eli Manning? How much did Carson Wentz cost the Philadelphia Eagles when they traded up for him? I bet you all remember the litany of picks the Washington Football Team paid for Robert Griffin III, or how badly the Chicago Bears missed on Mitch Trubisky when they gave up a bunch of picks to move up from #3 to #2.
It’s because mistakes are always magnified for franchises that fail. As a fan base, we’ve been groomed to remember all the negative aspects of our favorite football team, because that’s all we’ve known for the better half of our adult lives.
After trudging through this wasteland for so long, we are finally ready to move past all of the detrimental mistakes that have cost us 20+ years of our lives – including the Josh Rosen trade.
Sure, you have your classics like failing to draft (and then sign) Drew Brees, drafting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers with the 2nd-overall pick, drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick, and trading a 2nd-round pick for A.J. Feeley.
Miami undertook rebuilds in 2005 and 2008 under Nick Saban and then Bill Parcells. In both cases the decision was made that they needed to build a TEAM, and THEN get a QB. As a result of those priorities, they passed on Aaron Rodgers for Ronnie Brown, and Matt Ryan for Jake Long.
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) January 15, 2019
It’s not that the Dolphins haven’t tried, it’s just that they have failed almost mightily when doing so.
I respect that Miami was aggressive in their pursuit of Josh Rosen – or for any of the other quarterbacks they’ve attempted to put under center – but their aggression was either misguided, ill-informed, or even desperate at best.
A year prior to Rosen’s draft-day trade, another draft-day trade was occurring – one that would transcend the Baltimore Ravens organization for the prolonged future. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson – a quarterback some Dolphins fans wanted with the team’s 11th-overall pick.
To move back into the first round and secure a quarterback with the 5th-year option, all Baltimore had to give up was an additional 2nd-round pick (see the full trade at the end of the article).
With their draft-day trade, the Baltimore Ravens landed an MVP.
With their draft-day trade, the Miami Dolphins landed a quarterback that was released for nothing.
Again, I don’t fault the Dolphins for being aggressive, but their pursuit was often awry.
The frustrating part of all of this may be that this team actually “spent” both in assets and money, they just didn’t seem to take that extra step at the right time.
Spending 2nd-round picks was fine 3 years in a row (with Chad Henne, John Beck and Pat White), but spending 2nd-round picks then became “too much” when they could have moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – instead, they stayed put at #22 and drafted Charles Harris.
I love draft grades! A few From 2017
8. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina PanthersGrade: D+
10. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs Grade: C-
12. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans Grade: C+
22. Charles Harris, Miami Dolphins Grade: A
28. Taco Charlton, Dallas CowboysGrade: A-
— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) April 26, 2020
Think about it, Miami’s best quarterbacks since Dan Marino were:
- Castaway by the New York Jets (and subsequently got his shoulder destroyed like everyone predicted)
- (Allegedly) Forced upon us by Stephen Ross because he knew what a new quarterback would inject into a flat-lining brand (ie: making $$)
Between Chad Pennington and Ryan Tannehill there is 1 playoff appearance and 0 playoff wins.
There are definitive reasons why the Dolphins are executing a rebuild in 2019-2020 – after attempting to rebuild numerous times already this century – and you can say that lots of it has to do with the Head Coaches that have been in place.
Watching Ryan Tannehill lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship came was the most-conflicted I’ve felt in a long time as a Dolphins fan. I was thrilled he was able to prove himself, but frustrated that my team was once again watching from the couch.
Heck, for all the praise we give Brian Flores, he couldn’t get Minkah Fitzpatrick to buy into his system – ultimately losing a near-Defensive MVP player to an organization that has been breathing success since the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season.
Miami hasn’t lacked talent – it’s why they’re constantly hovering around 8-8. The problem is, they lack the most important piece on the football field combined with the right leader to mold them. Which explains why they constantly sit around 8-8.
The Future We Created
But thoughts of perpetual 8-8 seasons are a thing of the past. The Dolphins may have drafted their future franchise quarterback back in April, but they officially rolled out their #1 prize just a few days ago. Coincidentally, just 3 days after Rosen was released.
First look at Tua Tagovailoa in a Dolphins uniform: pic.twitter.com/7N3Fh95Mqt
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) September 7, 2020
The timing is likely coincidental, but who says omens have to be a bad thing?
This Dolphins team is young (thanks to Chris Grier), determined (courtesy of Brian Flores’ mindset), talented (after accumulating so many draft picks) and they’re wise beyond their years.
Interesting stuff here. At press time, the Dolphins are the 2nd youngest team in the NFL by .1 years of age (Jacksonville). After having the 7th oldest roster in 2018, Miami had the youngest in 2019 and now 2nd youngest in 2020. https://t.co/Ns5IoesIQd
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 6, 2020
"He's a really good player. One thing that's really special about Noah is his maturity," Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones said of Igbinoghene. "It's really cool to see a young guy like that come into the league and be so prepared."
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) September 9, 2020
With a bounty of draft picks at their disposal once again in 2021, and with a franchise quarterback seemingly set to take over by season’s end, the future for the Miami Dolphins looks EXTREMELY bright.
After most “experts” predicted the Dolphins would go nearly winless – some even calling for criminal investigations to be conducted – Flores showed off his leadership and led Miami to a 5-11 record.
If the worst roster in the NFL can win 5 games, what can an improved roster accomplish?
Last year, there were too many holes on the roster to count. Now, you’re desperate to find a missing piece. In 12 months, we’ve gone from cringe-worthy to dynasty-bound in some expert’s eyes.
NBC's Peter King picks Dolphins to win AFC East and be 4th seed, behind Baltimore, KC, Tennessee. And (if you missed this), CBS/NFL Net's Nate Burleson said Dolphins have best chance of any team of becoming a dynasty excluding KC: https://t.co/dOm5zhhVkV
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) September 7, 2020
So have the Dolphins finally returned to football relevance?
If this team really identified the right Head Coach, and if Tua’s hip can stay healthy, then there’s no reason why the Miami Dolphins aren’t about to embark on a successful crusade that takes the rest of the NFL by storm.
Earlier this year, we lost one of the greatest leaders to ever bless our organization. In honor of the all-time wins leader, the Miami Dolphins will wear a patch signifying Don Shula’s record-setting 347 career wins.
And who knows, maybe this renaissance is Shula’s last gift to an organization – and a community – that he spent his life already giving so much to. The symbolism would be all-too coincidental otherwise.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 4, 2020
The Baltimore Ravens/Lamar Jackson Trade:
Yes, I understand every other team passed on Jackson. I also understand the Ravens passed on him once when they selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick that year, but Baltimore has built a championship-caliber organization over the past two decades, while the Dolphins have accomplished one playoff win – I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.
The Lamar Jackson trade can be broken down like this:
- Baltimore traded pick 52 (2nd-round) to move up to 32nd-overall (1st)
- Baltimore also sent Philadelphia pick 125 in the deal, but they received pick 132 in return – a downgrade of 7 spots in the 4th-round.
- Otherwise, all Baltimore spent was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 (which ended up being pick #53).
Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)
There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL
Think Brian Flores & Chris Grier aren’t smart?
After successfully navigating through all of the pre-draft smokescreens better than teenagers can survive the high school rumor mill, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to flourish for the next decade.
Yes, it’s something we’ve said before almost annually, but this time, there’s a clear foundation that will allow the roots of this franchise to prosper.
We’ve Heard This Before
Tony Sparano blossomed under the Bill Parcells‘ coaching tree in Dallas, bringing with him an aura of prominence and a pedigree for smash mouth football.
After a miraculous 10-game turnaround that took Miami from #1 overall in the draft to division winners, fans felt they had the proper leadership in place.
That was soon debunked when the Dolphins followed an 11-5 (2008) season with 7-9 (2009), 7-9 (2010) and 6-10 (2011). It’s not that any of us feel that Sparano was a bad coach, but it was more-than-evident that he was handicapped at the quarterback position.
The Dolphins go 11-5 in 2008 because their quarterback was the runner-up in the MVP race, and they falter to 7-9 after that because they decided to build around Chad Henne.
I really though back in 2011 after the first opening drive of the season that it was the Dolphins year. This drive by Chad Henne was BEAUTIFUL. pic.twitter.com/dt7WlZoINy
— Cedrick Allen (@SeeCeddyRun) April 16, 2020
Good coach, but poor coaching decisions.
From there, the Dolphins hired one of the best human beings on the planet – Joe Philbin. The notorious problem with Philbin was: he couldn’t lead a football team.
Failing to rein in Vontae Davis‘ hangovers, everything regarding Richie Incognito, the Chad Ochocinco saga (check out this damning ESPN article from 2012, which gives you a glimpse into how the player’s felt about Philbin early on), and all of the Mike Wallace drama. Those football teams had some decent talent, yet were never better than a mediocre 8-8 in Philbin’s 4 years.
Great person, but terrible with people.
Adam Gase then took a 1-4 season and made the playoffs at 10-6. All the optimism surrounding Ryan Tannehill seemed justified, and we were ecstatic for the future. But we came to learn that Gase’s coaching talents resembled more of a glorified offensive coordinator, which left players feelings ostracized and without a sense of direction – especially those on defense.
Like Philbin, Gase wanted a group of players that followed him, rather than developing a strategy that tailored to his players’ strengths. He traded away (or failed to re-sign) productive players drafted by Grier in years past, just because he couldn’t handle them.
After a 10-6 start to his coaching career (2016), we watched our hopes dwindle to 6-10 (2017) – accompanied with $10m worth of embarrassing Jay Cutler highlights – and then 7-9 (2018) after the “quarterback guru” couldn’t get any production out of a 2019 Pro Bowl & AFC Championship quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.
Jay Cutler really sold his involvement in the Wildcat 😂 pic.twitter.com/WsjyRHyzoC
— NFL on ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsNFL) October 1, 2017
Offensive visionary, but he couldn’t see past his own shortcomings.
So Why is This Different?
This would be the definition of insanity….if it meant that we were following the same trend.
Yes, we understand the eternal caveat that we won’t know for sure until we see the results, but after a successful 2019 – and a stellar 2020 draft that features plenty of starting potential – we’re not going too far out on a limb to say that they have our trust.
Going into a vital 2020 NFL draft where the team held 3 first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins’ future rested solely on the leis of Tua Tagovailoa. For months we were on edge, because, as Dolphins fans, we just figured they would screw it up. But once they secured their quarterback of the future, the plan was simple: protect him.
Not only was the plan to build a wall in front of him, but Grier and Flores identified that some of these positions take more time to develop than others. Rarely do offensive and defensive linemen jump right in and become dominant players. The difference between pancaking teenagers in college to moving a mountain-of-a-man in the NFL is colossal.
The 18th pick in April's draft turns 21 today! https://t.co/teEPyKtGSe
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) August 11, 2020
Rookies go through such a strenuous process to improve their draft stock – immediately after completing a full college season – that they are burned out by the time their rookie year is over. That’s exactly what happened to Michael Deiter towards the end of last season; it’s no surprise we see their performance start to slide after putting in so much work throughout the year.
Drafting Austin Jackson (18th-overall pick), Robert Hunt (39th), and Solomon Kindley (111th) means Miami is giving their rookies time to grow before being asked to protect their most-important asset since Dan Marino.
The Miami Dolphins have drafted a possibly transcendent QB, traded for an explosive, young, proven NFL RB, taken potential studs at LT and RT, added depth and strength to DL and interior OL and taken two talented, versatile DBs. How’s your draft going?
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) April 25, 2020
Instead of a trying to learn the nuances of the NFL with a rookie quarterback, they can learn how an offensive play is properly setup, executed and audibled under a veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
When it comes time to protect Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, they won’t have to worry if they understood the protection, if they’ll make a rookie mistake, or if they’ll naively and unintentionally do something embarrassing or costly. They’ll be able to focus on executing the play properly, giving Tua an ample amount of time to handle his own “rookie” adjustments.
With Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins acquire another player at a position that tends to need some time to grow. This move makes me wonder what the future holds for Davon Godchaux, who is expected to receive a very nice payday in free agency after this season, but for now, Miami can rely heavily on Godchaux and their 2019 1st-round pick, Christian Wilkins. Davis has the opportunity to learn under these two as he prepares to take on a much bigger role in 2021.
With their final 1st-round pick, Miami selected another young player at a cornerstone position. The adjustments rookie cornerbacks need to make when guarding an NFL receiver are somewhat substantial, and Noah Igbinoghene will be able to learn and make these adjustments while covering the opponent’s third or forth receiver – with the added security that he has an array of established and Pro Bowl veterans behind him.
This might hint at an ugly and somewhat inconsistent 2020 season, as roughly half of this roster is new to the team, but all of these young players will start to excel as Tua begins to transition into our full-time starting quarterback.
Which means the Miami Dolphins are ready to make a legitimate playoff run in 2021.
Is it possible all of these risks falter? Of course! Austin Jackson just turned 21 years old, and he wasn’t viewed as the best left tackle in college last season – he is a projection. Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t viewed as a 1st-round caliber cornerback, as most “experts” think he’s restricted to covering the slot rather than becoming a boundary corner. And then you have the general, inevitable fact that some of these picks just won’t pan out.
Austin Jackson is young. He needs time to develop his technique and his play strength. I don't think he's ready to start in the NFL right now. He's got the talent to develop into something special, but a bunch of these "high upside, raw technique" guys don't get better in the NFL
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) April 24, 2020
But we watched players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Raekwon McMillan, Vince Biegel and Nik Needham take the “next step” under Brian Flores stewardship. It only makes us wonder who he’ll coach up next.
Now that Flores is more-comfortable as a sophomore coach, and the team understands his “win no matter what” philosophy, Miami should naturally thrive in year two….right?
Like all of these other coaches before him, Flores is an absolute genius after year one. And like all those coaches before him, he’s one season away from looking like a dunce.
- Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts November 9, 2020
- The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises September 10, 2020
- There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL August 12, 2020
- Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts July 27, 2020
- In A Perfect World, Tua Tagovailoa Doesn’t Start a Single Game July 27, 2020