Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Journal – Day 3 (July 27)

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Day 1 Report
Day 2 Report
Day 3 Report
Day 4 Report
Day 5 Report
Day 6 Report
Day 7 Report
Scrimmage Report

For the first time, the pads come on, and some new stars emerge

“Tough, smart, disciplined has been beat into my head my entire life.” New Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores has quickly cultivated a mantra in Miami, and everything he says and does is with that adage in mind.

Asked what it means to play disciplined football, Flores responded in a manner that almost seemed rehearsed. “A team that doesn’t beat itself, a team that stays poised when it’s chippy and when they’re tired,” Flores said.

Every player in the National Football League is talented, but it’s the work ethic and drive that turns a good player into a superstar. “To maximize your potential you have to show the determination, grit, and discipline to work harder. Especially when you’re tired. When it’s hot, and you have to fight through it.”

Three days into practice, and it’s abundantly clear — this team has taken on the personality of the head coach. His energy and strict structure permeates through the coaching staff, throughout the roster, and the organization.

The practice structure and script is finely orchestrated to achieve maximum efficiency, and keep players engaged. Drill periods are brief. Players bounce from drill-to-drill with minimal downtime.

As has been the case all week, particular periods are the focus of the day. The team will split off into these drills, then gather for team periods, and then return to the specific fundamental drills. Players that may have struggled in the team period will get specific teaching sessions from their position coaches.

With players donning full pads for the first time, the focus of the day was about the basics of the game. “The stuff you learn in Pop Warner,” Flores said. “Shoulders over knees, knees over toes. You can never forget about the physicality of the game. You can’t make the tackle until you defeat the block.”

Tackling, blocking and defeating blocks; that was the message of the day. The team opened with blocking drills all across the field. A fun moment, the receivers were acting as dummies for their position mates in these drills. One such event brought Trenton Irwin in to block Jakeem Grant. Irwin nailed the hand placement and lifted Grant like Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing.

Quarterbacks

Game on! After a pair of difficult days, Josh Rosen was the best of the group; though it could’ve come as a default happenstance. Rosen’s struggles from day’s one and two spilled over into the individual and one-on-one portions of practice. In the same drill I discussed yesterday — throwing to stationary targets — Rosen put his first ball on the outside knee cap of the coach. Then, in combination route drills he threw a pick, missed a middle-of-the-field read, and had some more accuracy issues.

Rosen responded in a big way in the team and red zone periods. There’s no question about who throws the prettiest ball in this room. When Rosen gets his mechanics aligned, he drives the ball with elite-level spin and velocity. The concern is that these mechanics come-and-go too often. As I detailed in the Book On Josh Rosen scouting report this offseason, the leg-drive and hip-rotation both sometimes vanish, causing Rosen to open his front shoulder and lose power on his passes.

Rosen put on a touch-passing clinic, however. He picked up a pair of touchdowns that most quarterbacks probably aren’t hitting — one an over route to the pylon to Irwin; another on a wheel at the pylon to Nick O’Leary between an underneath corner and a rotating safety.

Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled from the first throw as well. The ball was coming out of his hand wobbly at times, he turned it over, and was sent to the T.N.T. wall, after receiving a tongue-lashing from Coach Flores. The cause of the verbal abuse came when Fitzpatrick and Chris Reed flubbed a quarterback-center exchange (more on the OL reps later). Maybe it was the pads, maybe it was an off-day, but Fitz just didn’t have the command on the ball (accuracy) today.

The difference can essentially be boiled down to this:

Rosen has the more talented, live arm. Fitzpatrick’s trust in his eyes and reads are on another level. The gap between the two in the latter category is greater than the gap in the former; especially considering Rosen’s accuracy digressions.

Offensive Line

I’ve neglected this group through the first two days because it’s difficult to get a good idea without the pads on. A nightmare goal line session to end practice — more on that on the defensive units — put an ominous cloud over what was an otherwise solid day from the group.

Chris Reed kicked ass in a veritable package of assignments, including some work at center. He looks the part of, not just a starting NFL guard, but an above average one. Jesse Davis operates well in space too, this has the makings of the best guard pairing the Dolphins have featured in some time.

Jordan Mills had a nice day including a nice block off the edge to spring a Kalen Ballage touchdown run. The nice thing about being here is the opportunity to see effort-level and how the guys interact with one another. The final period of the day was a hurry-up drill where the offense ran a play, and then the punt team sprinted onto the field. Mills beat everybody off the field — everybody. A nice finish to a promising day.

Daniel Kilgore had his best day as well. He looks healthy and ready to go after missing 12 games last season. His presence on the inside likely has an impact on this next bit.

The cohesion of the group appears to be ahead of where last year’s line was — even into the season. The protection slides, picking up blitzes, passing off…the first-team line might be best suited to stay as it has been when the season kicks off.

That first team line goes: Tunsil-Reed-Kilgore-Davis-Mills

Michael Deiter has been working in at left guard, right guard, and an occasional rep at center. He told me after practice that he basically only plays center when Dan [Kilgore] needs a breather. I followed up by asking him about his versatility in college and if he had a preferred position. Deiter doesn’t prefer a specific position, but he enjoys playing on the interior opposed to tackle.

The second team line wasn’t as effective and featured some shuffling. Newcomer Will Holden had a nice block on a pull, and name-UDFA Shaq Calhoun was beaten badly for a sack by Akeem Spence.

Defensive Line

The goal line stands at the end of practice wrapped up a solid day from this group. Spence was active, Vincent Taylor and Adolphus Washington knifed into the backfield several times, Davon Godchaux continues to play with one of the best pad-levels in football, and the edge position stood out both in good and bad ways.

Dec 30, 2018; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Jerome Baker (55) reacts to a sack with teammate defensive end Charles Harris (90) against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a couple of gaffes off the edge in the running game, the candidates for the five-tech position made some noise. Tank Carradine has been very effective thus far, and Charles Harris is playing faster and with more confidence. Harris made the play of the day when he worked down the line-of-scrimmage, after Godchaux blew the play up inside, and put a stick on the ball carrier resulting in a tackle-for-loss.

Minkah Fitzpatrick LOVED this — more on him in a minute.

Dewayne Hendrix versus Jonathan Ledbetter has quickly become one of my favorite battles of camp. I’d wager that at least one of them is on the opening day roster. Hendrix roasted Jaryd Jones-Smith for a would be sack in the team period.

Christian Wilkins has been quite so far. His best play came with a reaming, however. Wilkins blew by the line with his signature quickness, but didn’t finish the rep as the ball-carrier took it outside. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham came unglued after the fact.

The term starter is probably an antiquated word in this defense. The package will determine the line-up, and one such lineup saw Wilkins and Carradine bookending Spence and Godcaux on the inside.

Linebackers

Sam Eguavoen raised eyebrows when he opened with the first-team in practice number one. Then he did it again on day-two, and was right there again on day-three.

The former CFL star really got people chirping with his performance today.

In the initial period, Eguavoen embodied the things Flores alluded to in his media availability. The ‘backer met the lead back in the hole, smacked him in the mouth, came off the block, and wrapped up the back. That hit set a tone for the rest of the practice.

In addition to taking to the defensive scheme with innate instincts early, he was on the first team in red-zone seven-on-seven, he was out there with the ones on goal line, and he made plays in nearly every portion — he’s been a star of camp so far.

As is the case with the defensive line, the linebackers will likely be package-based. Jerome Baker continues to open practice with Eguavoen, but varying fronts change bodies out.

Raekwon McMillan looks like the same player attacking downhill against the run, and Kiko Alonso figures to use his reckless abandon and aggressiveness as a strength in this defense.

Alonso ran into a not-so-welcomed foe again, however — coverage. The ‘backers faced up on the running backs in coverage in one-on-ones and Alonso attacked Kalen Ballage downhill. Ballage cooked the veteran on the rep.

We’ve speculated all offseason about the use the Patriots style of committing bodies to gaps to force the offense into throwing against the aggressive press coverage. This brings linebackers down on the ball, off the edge, with one off-ball linebacker placed over the center (five yards off) — that was McMillan.

Without offering much detail, Chase Allen has found some unique roles in the defense. The same is true of T.J. McDonald.

Nate Orchard was pinned in a couple of times working the edge in the run-game.

Defensive Backs

Just about everybody from the first-team snatched a pick today. Bobby McCain undercut Rosen, Eric Rowe took down an under-thrown fade route to Devante Parker, and Xavien Howard pulled one down after matching Kenny Stills step-for-step up the perimeter. Howard almost nabbed another in seven-on-seven when he came off his man and robbed a seam route (looked just like the first INT in the Colts game last year).

An interception was about the only thing missing from Minkah Fitzpatrick’s practice resume on the day. The “defensive player” as I’m calling him — because pigeonholing him at one position is simply not accurate — not only handles his coverage responsibilities like an all-pro, he’s involved in the running game.

Turn on Patriots film and you’ll see safeties coming down with particular gap responsibilities in the run-game, and while this might be best suited for Reshad Jones, Fitzpatrick is certainly going to be the lynchpin in this regard, and many other aspects of the defense. I can’t say one negative thing about Miami’s 2018 first-rounder — he and superstardom are on a collision course for one another.

The same press and mirror drills happened again — that’s been a daily occurrence.

Tyler Patmon has had a nice start to camp. He’s savvy when it comes to using the sideline as an extra defender.

The punt teams worked out on the near field for the first time and we received a good, consistent look at the players involved. Anytime Walt Aikens is involved, you know the surrounding parts are being considered for work.

With Bobby McCain the marquee name of the group, Cornell Armstrong, Nik Needham, Maurice Smith and Montre Hartage saw a lot of work in these periods.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

The Dolphins receiving group has been denigrated by the national media, and that’s a mistake on their part. Kenny Stills wins consistently, regardless of split, alignment, or route. Devante Parker looks strong and more competitive at the catch-point. Fool me three times, sure, but he’s playing hungry right now.

Albert Wilson had a limited day of work, but his fellow speedster, Jakeem Grant, continues to wow the crowd. His releases off the line-of-scrimmage are daily must-see action. He created a solid five yards of separation on Jalen Davis on one rep in a particular, but dropped the pass.

Jun 4, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams (82) catches a pass during practice drills at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Grant consistently stacks the defensive back or puts them in the spin-cycle — Needham was a victim today.

Preston Williams had a nice practice. He got the best of NFL Network’s 55th-best player (Howard) in one-on-one. Williams is involved heavily in each portion, including some work as a gunner.

Trenton Irwin quietly makes plays every day, and he’s also back with Drake and Grant on punt return.

It was a quiet day from the tight ends in the passing game. The bulk of their work came in the ground game — understandable given the nature of today’s lessons. I’ll admit to not seeing a lot of Mike Gesicki action, but he wasn’t involved in the receiving game as much as he had been the first two days — possibly a concern given his penchant for struggling with contact.

Running Backs

Kalen Ballage continues to begin practice as the top back, but it’s more semantics than anything. The good news is that the Dolphins look to have two capable runners — Ballage was a perfect combination of explosive and patient. One run in particular saw him wait for Laremy Tunsil to gain leverage, throw a stutter step at the defense, and scamper into the end-zone from 14 yards out.

The knock on Ballage has been his poor vision — frankly, the most integral part to playing the position — but if he takes strides in that area, there’s no limit on how good he can potentially be.

Kenyan Drake scored a touchdown on an outside run and continues to get work on the punt return.

Undrafted free agent Patrick Laird had a nice day. He, like Ballage, showed some patience as a ball carrier and effectiveness in the passing game.

Chandler Cox is all gas no brakes. He either explodes the lead lane like a stick of dynamite, or winds up on the ground — very little in-between with him.

Recap

There are some plays I missed and some things I’m not permitted to discuss, but the day was a successful one from a team perspective. The pace of practice makes things difficult to track the entire thing, but also very entertaining for the fans.

Today had a little bit of everything. Highlight plays, big touchdowns, takeaways for the defense, quality communication, and varying packages on either side of the ball.

It hasn’t yet been announced if the pads will be back on for tomorrow’s work, but as always, I’ll be there with the Tweet machine running early and often.

@WingfieldNFL

Advertisement
3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    pacificfinfan1

    July 27, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I am ultra intrigued about Chase Allen and the packages he is in. I use 3 sources for play by play and today the only one posting anything on Day 3 is you Travis. I keep refreshing the site for the Day 3 pod on first day of contact. Its really good you finally get to be in Miami and at camp reporting. It would be super interesting to see more of your interviews with the players and coaches.

  2. Avatar

    Michael

    July 27, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    Travis, keep it up man you are doing great job. I can’t wait for the day three podcast.

  3. Avatar

    Henry

    July 28, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Loved the insight. Great to hear how Chris Reed is playing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Miami Dolphins

25 Things We’ve Learned 25 Days into the 2019 Miami Dolphins Season

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Camp kicked off 25 days ago, giving us a month’s worth of visual evidence; here’s what we know so far

Preseason reps are not the end-all-be-all, and training camp practices won’t put players in the Hall of Fame, but there’s a purpose every time the chinstrap is buckled. For a team that harps on the fundamentals and executing the job that has been asked on a down-by-down basis, every rep has meaning.

The NFL calendar never sleeps, but the true beginning of the 2019 Miami Dolphins season began on July 25, exactly 25 days ago. With 10 practices under my belt, an intra-squad scrimmage, and two preseason games digested to the max, these are the 25 things I’ve learned over this first month.

Some of these things are big, some are small, some are encouraging, some are concerning. We start with the biggest of them all.

Big Things:

1. Xavien Howard – Money Well Spent

Xavien Howard’s been targeted a lot over the last month. He’s allowed a few catches, mainly in unjust 1-on-1 periods, but he’s also pulled some down, too. A lot of them. And that trend has continued through a scrimmage, joint-practices with an opponent, and one live game. X, as he’s so aptly named, exemplifies Brian Flores’ message on and off the field.

2. Laremy Tunsil – Next in Line

There’s a term — set and forget — that refers to such a comfort level with said player, that you don’t even bother watching him. He’s got it. Laremy’s got it. The feet, hands, strength, athleticism, quickness; a trip to Tunsil island is a dreadful way to spend a Sunday afternoon for edge rushers.

3. Jerome Baker – Glow Up

His rookie year looked promising, but no one could’ve seen this coming, not this fast. Baker had a strong debut season, but he wasn’t a full-time player, and he had his vulnerabilities. Now, he’s doing everything under the sun with supreme professionalism and execution. He plays at a different speed and contributes in all three phases (blitz, cover, run-support).

4. Josh Rosen – Signs of Life

USA Today Sports Josh Rosen Miami Dolphins

Aug 16, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) throws a pass in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations always should’ve been low for a kid who is brand new to the league — brand new to his now third new home in three years, but that’s football. It was whatever in May. It was concerning in July. Then, in August, Miami’s second-round investment started playing a little freer. Getting into his second, third, sometimes fourth read, while moving away from a compromised pocket, things could be clicking.

It’s not a consistent theme yet — and it needs to be very good, and very consistent to push Miami off the 2020 QB Class — but that coveted trait, the consistency, is progressing. That much at least deserves monitoring.

5. Pass Rush Scheme – As Advertised

Saying goodbye to Cam Wake and Robert Quinn took a lot of juice off the edge for Miami. Those departures, and the Dolphins unsubstantiated interest in Trey Flowers, all but confirmed the shift to a new scheme that relied on games, gap integrity, and blitz packages to get after the quarterback.

Jerome Baker has been running free on QBs all camp and preseason. Charles Harris, Christian Wilkins, Tank Carradine, Dewayne Hendrix, Jonathan Ledbetter — a host of Dolphins blood-thirsty rushers are turning up the heat on opposing passers with regularity.

Encouraging Things –

6. Preston Williams – Star potential 

Despite his two-drop showing on the first-team Thursday, Preston Williams has shown true number-one receiver potential all summer. He’s crafty in the way he jostles for position, his strong hands are evident at the release from the line-of-scrimmage, as well as in catching the football. He transitions well enough out of breaks for a man of his size and stature.

At that build, with that catch radius, Williams’ deep-ball prowess has been the most encouraging. If he takes off in this capacity, once the games begin to count, this Miami receiving corps looks much more imposing.

7. Sam Eguavoen – Canadian Pipeline Still Flowing

Minor warts in Eguavoen’s game show up periodically, but his strengths far outweigh the parts of his game Miami will look to mask. He’s plenty adept at defending the edge, rushing the quarterback, and dropping into coverage.

The ability to close down on an underneath pass, but also fall off 15-yards downfield, is the type of versatility needed for a modern-day linebacker.

8. Bobby McCain – Experiment No More, He’s a Safety

Watch the broadcast version of a Miami preseason game and you might miss McCain altogether. He’s typically 12-20-yards off the football, but the opposition’s lack of interest in trying anything vertical is a testament to McCain’s quick acclimation.

All camp long, McCain was working on reading route concepts, flipping the hips, and taking proper angles in help-coverage. He has the makeup to do it, and so far it’s working out.

9. Mike Gesicki – Playing to his Strengths

Some writers suggest that Gesicki is falling out of favor, but I see a player doing exactly what he was drafted to do. He’s flexing out into the slot, in plus-splits (outside the numbers) and he’s uncovering with regularity in the passing game.

He’s only played a handful of snaps, and he’s created separation on all five of his preseason targets. Gesicki caught three of them, while the other two were misfires from the quarterback.

10. Jonathan Ledbetter – Aptitude for the Scheme

Eye-discipline, heavy hands, stout at the point-of-attack — you’ll often hear these phrases when the coaches discuss the prototype for defensive linemen. Ledbetter plays with his hands in front of his eyes, keeps his pad-level low, strikes first, and adheres to his responsibilities in the two-gap scheme.

11. Jason Sanders – Money in the Bank

If he missed kicks in training camp, I didn’t see them. Every time Sanders lines it up, he’s right down the fairway. This was true on hid 45- and 49-yard kicks on a soaked playing surface on Friday, as well as his 48- and 23-yard kicks in the preseason opener.Sanders added angled kickoffs to his game, and has been placing those chip shots precisely into the coffin corner.

Things that are Just Things:

12. Michael Deiter and Shaq Calhoun First-Team – Tipping the Offensive Plan

It doesn’t take a trained eye to see that this pair of rookies have similar strengths and weaknesses. Both players frequently create push in the running game, but are a bit of a coin-flip in regards to pass protection.

Brian Flores spoke all offseason about his affinity for running the ball, and starting the rookies — — over a player like Chris Reed — serves as a pretty sound indicator for that preference. Our next bullet point speaks a similar language.

13. Chandler Cox – 21-Personnel Back in Miami

“Defending a fullback in the running game is a difficult thing for a linebacker to do.” That was Coach Flores’ comment back in minicamp when asked about the Chandler Cox selection. Miami has to play small-ball this year to find wins, and that means staying on schedule offensively.

Cox has had his ups-and-downs, and Miami gives reps to Durham Smythe and Nick O’Leary as potential backups, but it doesn’t end with a fullback-tailback combination — Miami has regularly shown 21-personnel with dual tailbacks.

14. Jesse Davis – Tackle Tryout

A tackle in college, and position-less mutt through his first two years as a pro, Davis settled into a seemingly permanent right guard position last season. That didn’t go particularly well, and now Miami will kick him back outside with mixed results.

Davis, occasionally vulnerable in pass-pro, is better in the running game. He’s athletic enough to execute a number of pulls (counter trey, play-side), and should benefit from help by the running backs since Tunsil blocks out the sun on the other side.

Discouraging Things:

15. Devante Parker – Minor Ailments

Another ripping and roaring start to camp has since plateaued, both because of his play and another minor injury that sidelined the former first-rounder. Even if Parker posts career numbers this season, can Miami really trust him? The two-year contract was wise in that it gives the Dolphins the extended evaluation before pulling the trigger on a big extension.

At this stage, the emergence of Preston Williams might make that point entirely moot.

16. Chris Reed – Any Day Now

Training as the primary backup center to Daniel Kilgore, the chances are very likely that Reed has to come off the bench at some point this season, but I expected more. He has the intelligence and instincts to play above replacement level between a competent center-tackle bookend, but he’s not recaptured his first-team status since his day-three demotion.

17. Jalen Davis – Not Picking Up Where He Left Off

One of the pleasant surprises of yester-year, Davis’ strong finish to the 2018 season has yet to carry over. He’s been buried on the third-team and is struggling to find success at that level. It might be another year on the practice squad before Davis — primarily a slot — can contribute.

18. Matt Haack – Bottom Barrel Punting Average

Punting is not something I’m claiming expertise in, but I know that Haack ranked 25thin average last season, and he’s currently 27ththis preseason. He has the ability to boom balls into the atmosphere, but the shanks are far too common.

Bad Things:

19. Offensive Line – Offensive

Aug 9, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo reacts during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The Colts defeated the Seahawks 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not been good. It’s the one position with a considerable amount of stink — cumulatively spread about — on the roster. From firing the coach of the room, to the on-field execution, only one thing aspect is consistently coming up on the list of pros: 78. This is mostly an individual’s checklist, but this group needs its condemning.

20. Dave DeGuglielmo – Where’s the Expertise?

Firing Pat Flaherty was an upgrade, according to many. So far, DeGuglielmo’s group is failing to properly communicate and pass off games from the defense, there are blown protections each week, and the backup units are utterly futile. He wasn’t given a lot to work with, but DeGuglielmo’s returns have not been pretty — Miami QBs have been sacked seven times in two games.

21. Swing Tackle – Swing and a Miss

Jordan Mills was thrown into the fire for an absent Laremy Tunsil in week-one, and the returns were disastrous. Mills missed Thursday’s game; taking his place, former AAF player, Jaryd Jones-Smith. The results were the same. If Miami loses either of Tunsil or Davis, things could get ugly quickly.

22. Secondary – Paper Thin

Xavien Howard is an all-pro, Eric Rowe looks the part, Minkah Fitzpatrick is excellent in coverage, and the safety trio is capable. Beyond those six, there might not be enough competent players to get through the season. The Patriots defense (similar schemes) rolls double digit defensive backs into the game plan throughout the year — the Dolphins are several bodies short of being able to say the same thing.

23. Reshad Jones – Cashing Checks

Jones missed 10 games in 2016 for a shoulder injury. He played through another shoulder ailment in 2017 and did not have a good season. Last year, he missed two more games, and voluntarily removed himself from a third. This year, he skipped OTAs (the voluntary portion), and has missed more practices than he’s been a part of.

Jones was running with the second-team throughout those healthy days, and he’s perfectly content to do that at his current pay rate.

24. Kenyan Drake – Time is Running Thin

Drake’s explosive skill set, versatility, and big-play ability was on display throughout camp, but an injury puts everything on hold. Miami are being discrete about the severity of the injury, but in a contract-year, Drake needs a consistent, strong showing for 17 weeks.

25. Raekwon McMillan – More Health Concerns

McMillan entered camp as a second-team ‘backer, earned first-team work early in camp, but has been missing ever since with an injury. As youngsters around him emerge, McMillan’s lack of involvement casts a cloud of uncertainty over his position on this roster.

It’s pretty clear what this Dolphins team is going to be this season. A smart team that — hopefully — doesn’t beat itself, but comes up short on talent in key areas. The defense should improve considerably from last season, and the offense remains a major question mark.

The showing of the defense in Tampa Bay is a great step in that direction, and further help is on the way (no Howard, Jones, McDonald, McMillan, or Andrew Van Ginkel for that game). Regardless of what happens on offense, with Miami’s deep free agent pockets, war chest of draft picks, and desire for that coveted top-five drafted quarterback, a surge on defense would spell a successful 2019 season.

Things are trending in that direction.

@WingfieldNFL

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Lose in Tampa — Preseason Week 2 Recap

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Dolphins Defense Dominates, Offensive Futility Leads to Defeat

Stat Dolphins Buccaneers
Total Yards 280 312
Rushing 118 75
Passing 162 237
Penalties 13/122 8/81
3rd/4thDown 2/15 4/15
Sacks For 4 5
TOP 27:43 32:17

 

Did Not Play:

CB: Xavien Howard
WR: Devante Parker, Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant
S: Reshad Jones, T.J. McDonald, Walt Aikens
OL: Zach Sterup, Jordan Mills
LB: Kiko Alonso, Andrew Van Ginkel, Raekwon McMillan, Chase Allen, Quentin Poling
RB: Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage

The Skinny

Which would you like first, the good news, or the bad news?

The strong winds and heavy rain Friday night impacted both offenses at Raymond James Stadium. The Dolphins and Bucs exchanged field goals and punts in an exhibition game that went 54 minutes before its first touchdown (each team scored in the final 3:35).

Defensively, the Dolphins showed their collective teeth with some creative blitzes, constant pressure, and sound coverage on the back0end without the team’s best player (Xavien Howard).

After a demotion to the second-team before Tuesday’s practice, Charles Harris responded with a monster game. The 2017 first-rounder picked up two sacks and four additional QB hits on the night.

CFL signing Sam Eguavoen flashed on a similar level. The linebacker forced a fumble, made a pair of run stops and got his hands on a deep in-cut after falling back into coverage.

Jerome Baker — as you see by the above video clip — answered our question in the preview piece about his blitzing prowess. Baker was a menace in all three phases once again.

On offense, it was a struggle for the ‘Phins. The quarterback battle suddenly leans in a new direction — albeit it coming by-way of default scenario — and the offensive line has gone beyond catastrophically awful.

Let’s go position-by-position.

Quarterback

Josh Rosen played the entire first half and effectively moved the ball on a couple of series. Still, some accuracy issues, a late read on fourth-and-goal from the two, and another woeful interceptable pass (which was dropped) undid a lot of the goods Rosen showcased.

Those “goods” featured adequate pocket mobility, improved body language, and a continued strong effort when the plays mattered most (third down, two-minute drill). Rosen often had to get off the spot, find a new passing avenue, reset, and deliver the ball.

Miami dropped multiple balls in their own right, further putting Rosen at a disadvantage. The body language and demeanor that Brian Flores criticized his young QB for was demonstrably better in this game. He battled through difficult conditions, a fierce pass rush, and once again delivered a scoring drive in the final two minutes.

Rosen — as it stands right now — deserves the opening day nod. Though it doesn’t appear he’s going to get it; Flores quickly announced Fitzpatrick as the starter for next week’s game vs. the Jaguars.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s play hasn’t inspired a lot of hope if he is indeed declared the starter. Fitzpatrick matched Rosen’s poor decision making, and struggled with his own accuracy all night. The veteran was thrown to the wolves and was constantly under duress, but if you compare his second-team showing to Rosen’s effort last week, the youngin’ clearly won that battle.

It would be entirely disingenuous to leave this video out of the post-game column.

Jake Rudock threw an inexcusable interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, but responded with the go-ahead touchdown-and-two-point drive in the final moments.

Running Backs

Kenyan Drake is out with an injury and Kalen Ballage did not play. Mark Walton was the beneficiary with plenty of work in the first half, excelling particularly in the passing game. Walton stuck a big time blitz pickup on a five-man rush and caught a slant, from a plus-split- for a first down.

Walton is pretty clearly the third best back on the roster, though he bounced a goal-line run that was built for a B-gap lead.

Patrick Laird ran for 45 yards on six carries. He’s a patient runner with quality vision and enough burst to make his runs work. Myles Gaskin teamed up in a few two-back sets, but he didn’t have a lot of room to work with.

Kenneth Farrow busted a big run, but it was the result of a massive lane opened up by the Miami blocking on a split zone, backside dig-out.

Chandler Cox is mixed bag — and this feels redundant. He hit some nice lead blocks, but wound up on the ground too much again. He was hit with a holding penalty tonight as well.

Wide Receivers

Burn the wide out film from this one. Drops, minimal separation, failure to get clean releases against press — Miami’s deepest offensive position group did not hold up its end of the bargain in the loss.

Preston Williams had a dreadful night. He had at least two drops, both of which would’ve moved the chains. He nearly came down with another ridiculous highlight reel catch where he tipped the ball to himself, and brought it in at the pylon, but his foot was on the chalk.

Kenny Stills might’ve been credited with a drop on the first play of the game, though it’s unclear if the ball was tipped. He did, however, convert a third-and-short on a drag route. Stills came in short-motion to create a stack, and then won with a clean release.

Isaiah Ford and Brice Butler had the best nights among the group — they had two catches and moved the chains once each. Ford uncovered in the end zone on the fourth-and-two play, but Rosen was a beat late and a hair low.

Saeed Blacknail uncovered for a big gainer and Trenton Irwin caught the two-point conversion on a wide open flat route.

Tight Ends

Nick O’Leary’s block sealed the edge on the long Farrow gallop. He caught one pass for five yards, and did his usual work blocking the edge in both the run and the pass game.

Mike Gesicki is showing continual signs of progress. He uncovered three times, caught two of the targets, and the third was considerably behind him on an open slant route.

Dewayne Allen committed a hold on a run from inside the five, and Durham Smythe had a 22-yard reception.

Offensive Line

Laremy Tunsil returned and showed Dolphins fans exactly why he needs an extension. The pay-day is coming, but the price goes up every time Tunsil gets isolated in protection and handles the task with ease. He’s so quick to gain depth and prevent speed rushes, or underneath moves — he’s elite.

The rest of the line…is not. Though Michael Deiter looked the part the majority of the night. He still has some reps where he bends at the waist, and is left to the vices of the man across from him, but he’s picking up combination blocks and playing sound, assignment football in this game. He was the next best behind Tunsil and reason for optimism on that left side.

Jesse Davis surrendered a sack when he overset, despite help available from the back, and lost on a counter move working inside.

It’s difficult to assign blame on some pressure looks, but Shaq Calhoun is often part of blown protections with a variety of right tackles. He does, however, continue to get adequate push in the running game.

The rest of the interior line was not good, Daniel Kilgore got taken for a couple of rides and communication issues continue to persist.

Miami’s search for a swing tackle is not going well. Jordan Mills was down tonight and his replacement — Jaryd Jones-Smith — was an absolute train wreck. He was consistently beat with a speed rush off the edge and just doesn’t have the quickness to play the left side.

Defensive Line

Coach Flores is going to test the mettle of his guys. He wants to put stress on a player, and when things appear to be coming together, take that strain up another notch.

For Charles Harris, perhaps this is exactly what the doctor ordered. Harris was a menace. He whipped starting Left Tackle Donovan Smith (video below) helping to end the Bucs first drive, and then went to work on poor backup tackle, Cole Boozer. Harris won with speed, with a counter moves, and he defended the run.

Welcome to the NFL, Christian Wilkins. The first-round pick was disruptive. Number 97 recorded his first sack, another bone-crushing hit on the quarterback, and consistent penetration all night long.

Davon Godchaux is bordering on the territory where we don’t need to mention him any more — he’s as steady as they come and a true power-player. He throws those hands and gets under his man with regularity.

Tank Carradine looks good pushing up field, chopping the tackles hands, and bending the edge. He disrupted a throw on his newly patented move, and laid a hit on the quarterback hit.

Jonathan Ledbetter checked in for some first-team work, and he continues to show why the coaches love him. He’s like Godchaux in the way he plays low, with heavy hands, and can really control the point-of-attack in the two-gap scheme.

Linebackers

Jerome Baker played 15 snaps last week, made five tackles, three for run-stuffs, but never blitzed. That changed tonight.

Baker has an innate sense for angles to the quarterback, coupled with a rare burst that allows him to effectively move the quarterback off the spot from any gap he rushes. He also continues to defend the edge as a run-stopper — he’s ultra-impressive.

So was Sam Eguavoen. With four splash plays in the first half — including a forced fumble — Eguavoen displayed everything that has earned him first-team work. He’s athletic enough to get 10-yards deep into a pass drop (one PBU from that position), he’s strong enough to stack the edge in the run-game (one TFL there), and he’s instinctive enough to knife between blocks between the tackles (another TFL there).

The 26-year-old rookie’s most impressive play came in coverage (second clip in the video below). Carrying coverage up the seam, locating the hook zone, and then quickly pulling the trigger as the ball goes out to the flat, Eguavoen punished the receiver and forced a turnover.

Nick Deluca played with the first-team. It’s pretty clear what he does well and how he fits in this defense. He can scrape the edge and assist in the run game — something Miami needs with the injuries at the position mounting.

 

Cornerbacks

Xavien Howard was held out of this one, probably because of the weather, but we got our first look at Eric Rowe. Rowe’s appearance was brief and not memorable one way or the other.

Jomal Wiltz, Nik Needham, and Minkah Fitzpatrick struggled. Tackling was an issue for the two slots while Needham was bested in coverage again.

Minkah Fitzpatrick did contribute with a gorgeous pass breakup early on against former Bama teammate O.J. Howard, but these missed tackles are new for him — there’s no reason to think he won’t clean it up.

Torry McTyer competed for the second straight game, and this time against the two’s. He’s taking well to the press-man scheme this defense prefers to run.

Safeties

Chris Lammons flashed time-and-time again. A prominent fixture on special teams, his #30 jersey showed up against the run, the pass, and one very impressive tackle on a screen pass.

Bobby McCain is so often out of frame that it’s difficult to identify him on the broadcast. He did, however, come up once in run support like a missile, and has done well to click-and-close in deep coverage.

Montre Hartage is running as the second-team deep safety. He missed a tackle on a big play in the screen game, but it was whistled back on a holding call.

Maurice Smith was active in the middle of the field. If Reshad Jones and/or T.J. McDonald aren’t back for the season opener, Smith might be called on to play significant reps.

Recap

This is the team I expected to see last week. Strong defensive effort, creative and complex scheme that overwhelms the offense with its disguise, and an offense that can’t get out of its own way.

After the dominant first-half effort by the defense, Flores kept prominent defenders (Harris, Fitzpatrick, Eguavoen) on the field, which felt odd.

The primary specialist unit continues to look the same. Cornell Armstrong, Nick Deluca, Terrill Hanks, Cox, Smith, Hartage, Wiltz, Fitzpatrick, Smythe, and Lammons remain focal points of the unit.

Miami took the lead with only 34 seconds to play, and Flores will certainly express his displeasure for the inability to close. Not to mention the absurd number of penalties. This was simply a sloppy game on Flores’ road debut.

Jason Sanders is a hell of a kicker. He drilled kicks right down the middle from 45 and 49-yards out on a sloppy playing surface.

Regardless of who starts under center, this team needs several things to function on that side of the ball. Kenyan Drake, Albert Wilson, and Jakeem Grant need to get back, and Laremy Tunsil has to stay healthy.

All things told, Rosen has been making more out of a bad situation than Fitzpatrick, but the plan was probably to start the veteran on opening day all along — and we’re almost assured of that with the decision to start Fitz in the third preseason game.

Game Balls:

Charles Harris
Sam Eguavoen
Jerome Baker
Christian Wilkins
Patrick Laird

Don’t forget to check out the post-game recap on the Locked On Dolphins Podcast.

@WingfieldNFL

 

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins First-Half Jiffy Report v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Shawn Digity

Published

on

USA Today Sports Miami Dolphins Preston Williams
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Who are the Miami Dolphins’ risers and fallers in the first half of the second preseason game v. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Risers

Sam Eguavoen

The former CFL linebacker has continued to impress, and that was on full display during the first half. Eguavoen was shooting gaps and hitting the ball-carrier in the backfield.

He also was responsible for a forced fumble that was recovered by the Miami Dolphins. All arrows are pointing up for Eguavoen to make the roster and an impact for the team during the regular season.

Jerome Baker

Baker quickly made an impact as a blitzer as he rapidly got to Jameis Winston and at least got hits out of that exchange. While Baker needs to get stronger to bring down the quarterbacks and get sacks, it was a great sign to see Baker show this type of pressure.

Charles Harris

Have you noticed all the Risers are defensive players? Well, many of the defensive guys have flashed and surprised me so far in the game.

Harris showed some progression going into his third year, especially in this game. He showed improved hand-placement techniques and used it to get two sacks.

Fallers

Preston Williams

Williams had two major drops that could’ve been first downs. Williams has been a hot name for the past couple of weeks but has cooled down a little bit if this first half is any indication.

I don’t think it’s anything major; I’m sure he’ll get it cleaned up, but he’s fallen back down to Earth somewhat with the easy drops.

Williams did almost redeem himself with a nearly acrobatic touchdown catch but had just barely gone out of bounds.

Michael Deiter

It was only a matter of time before Deiter started struggling. He’s a still a rookie after all. He was responsible for a false start and got lucky that another was missed. It was just all-around rough for Deiter.

 

 

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

LATEST

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending