Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Journal – Day 4 (July 28)

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

Sloppy practice results in harsh discipline, opportunity to set a precedent

The monotony of a NFL season can breed complacency — especially during the dog days of training camp. From the morning alarm, to lights out in the evening, the operation is one of repetition. Without sound leadership, players can slip through the cracks.

A key trait of leadership is consistency. Delivering an unwavering message, while maintaining an undeviating persona, is crucial for a quarterback to earn the respect of his teammates.

For a Head Coach, the imperative nature of that consistency is tenfold. And that’s who Brian Flores has been since his hiring back in February.

Toughness, fundamentals, and the will to compete regardless of the circumstances — those will be the staples of the Flores regime, for better or worse.

The second day of padded practice saw the team back in the South Florida heat drilling the same fundamentals from yesterday. Tackling, blocking, and defeating blocks. The rampant pace of each drill — some lasting less than five minutes — continues to keep the players active and moving about the practice field at Nova Southeastern University.

A watered down version of Oklahoma drills made two appearances on the day, and the goal line competition wrapped up the session for the second-consecutive day.

Perhaps it was the redundancy that made the team think it could coast through the final half-hour of practice, and into the first off-day of the season. Instead, that mentality was met with a harsh reminder that Brian Flores is all business.

Through the first three days of camp, individual players have made trips to the now infamous ‘Takes No Talent’ wall. On Sunday, however, the entire offensive unit made an excursion after multiple mistakes in the goal-line session.

The defense was sent packing on two separate occasions — one for a substitution error that saw the positional coaches join the players on the trek.

Flores spoke about the value of every minute during the work day, and he wasn’t about to let the team sleepwalk through the final moments under the grueling sunshine.

The new sheriff in town is developing a program that sets expectations, follows through on the standards of those expectations, and incorporates a rinse-repeat mentality until things are done the correct way.

Accountability isn’t the only drastic change under new management. Keeping tabs on Flores throughout the two-hour session is a difficult task. He spends time with each positional unit, but also finds the balance to allow the assistants to execute their jobs.

Quarterbacks

It’s probably best that the team is off tomorrow. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen can take the down time to learn from the first four days, and try to apply new lessons to correct mistakes — those mistakes were aplenty on Sunday.

Jul 25, 2019; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) during practice drills at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll start with Rosen. Once again, in the warm-up period, he was extremely erratic. On three consecutive throws against air, he located passes off the mark on a basic 10-yard out-routes. The first was on the back hip and uncatchable. The next was on the back shoulder, forcing the receiver to contort to make the grab. The third short-hopped the intended target.

This isn’t the type of thrower Josh Rosen is, not on air. Perhaps he’s adjusting to the humidity and all the sweat that comes with playing football in Miami in July — at the end of practice he removed and wrung out his wristbands; it looked like he was emptying a full 20-ounce bottle of water with each one — but he’s just not feeling it right now.

That is, at least until things go live. He improves in this area each day, and this corroborates what I saw on his tape with the Cardinals. He struggles with the routine, and then makes the splash plays on third-and-long and in the fourth quarter.

If the Dolphins start this version of Josh Rosen, Brian Flores risks undoing all the good groundwork he has laid over the last six months. Preaching competition does not coincide with playing this current version of Rosen on Sundays, no matter how bad you want to see his evaluation begin.

Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t any better. He was his usual sharp-self in the warm-ups, and he was once again on the field before anybody else, but his day was littered with mistakes. Missed throws will happen, but the number of failed exchanges is awfully strange for a 15-year veteran.

After the first team session, all other units returned to individual drills while the quarterbacks had a pow wow with Jerry Schuplinski (QB Coach) for at least five minutes. After regrouping, however, things did not get better.

Jake Rudock is doing his job just fine. His place on the roster is clear — he’s the scout team quarterback. He was sent to the side field to help throw passes to defensive backs while the other two quarterbacks were doing install on the near-field. He has a grasp on what’s expected of him and is every bit as valuable as a late-round developmental quarterback. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’s groomed as the long-term backup QB.

Tight Ends

This was an area of focus today for Flores, a position that will be important in this scheme. There are multiple alignments for these players from slot, flex, traditional Y, H-back, and even as a fullback.

The tight ends drilled blocking more than usual today, including Mike Gesicki. The second-year pro seems to have found some confidence in his game. He won a match up on Reshad Jones in one-on-one, nailing the hand placement, driving Jones’ shoulder pads up into his helmet.

Additionally, Gesicki continues to get a lot of red zone work and is paying it off with touchdowns. Today he ran a pivot route from the slot for an easy score. If he can add that element to his leaping prowess he’ll put some points on the board.

The Nick O’LearyDurham Smythe battle is heating up. If we are to assume Dwayne Allen comes back to a job, then there might only be room for one of these two (could be the case since there will be a fullback on the roster).

Smythe won the battle today. O’Leary was on the ground too often and Smythe is such a natural Y that it’ll be hard to supplant him. Today showcased why he was a focal point of Notre Dame’s 2017 nation-leading ground game.

Every rep from Clive Walford looks slow. Chris Myarick is a project.

Defensive Backs

Bobby McCain proclaimed himself as a full-time safety on Saturday, and that was apparent on Sunday. Brian Flores’ defense utilizes a lot of single-high safety with the rest of the unit on the line-of-scrimmage. McCain is the only one acting as that single-high in those cover-1 looks.

We probably don’t even need to mention Minkah Fitzpatrick anymore; everything he does is exceptional. Still, he found a way to outdo himself. In the way Patrick Chung supports the running game with a specific gap responsibility in New England, Fitzpatrick came down to fill the B-gap on a red zone snap, fought through traffic, and met Patrick Laird in the hole knocking the rookie backwards.

When your 205-pound nickel corner is making linebacker-type plays, you’ve found a gem.

Let’s put Xavien Howard in that category as well. He’s the perfect pairing of physical dominance matched by instincts and play-making ability. It’s easy to see why nobody has picked off more passes in the league going back to December 2017 — he’s always finding the football.

Fitzpatrick isn’t the only defensive back seeing time up around the line-of-scrimmage. T.J. McDonald has been everywhere from $LB to coming off the edge as a blitzer. Maurice Smith got involved in this way too.

McDonald had one of the plays of the day when he contested a tight end zone throw that started off in Trenton Irwin’s possession, but McDonald wrestled it away from the rookie and spiked the ball in celebration.

The depth in the secondary is a concern. The pass catchers tend to feast on the rest of the roster.

Fortunately, Eric Rowe has had a nice three-day stretch following a difficult day-one. He’s been challenging the bigger bodied receivers (Brice Butler, Devante Parker, Preston Williams) and is having success doing so. He did have one coverage gaffe where he jumped the flat and left Williams all alone for a touchdown.

Running Backs

I’ve stayed somewhat subdued over the Kalen Ballage hype, but I think it’s time to buy in. He was a versatile weapon at Arizona State, and he showed the receiving skill set on a seemingly impossible diving touchdown catch in 7-on-7 against Sam Eguavoen.

Jun 4, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Mark Walton (left) blocks teammate Kalen Ballage (right) during practice drills at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

He’s among the contenders for the best body on the field and it shows in his ability to maintain balance through contact — he was a force today.

Quick aside — Ballage and Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville came onto the field together to begin practice. Both were laughing and smiling for the duration of the 100-yard walk to the other end of the field. They have a pre-existing relationship that dates back to Ballage’s high school days.

Kenyan Drake should not be forgotten about by any stretch. He ran with the first team during install just as much as Ballage and continues to work on both kick and punt return units.

Mark Walton had a tough day. He tripped and fell on a swing route when the TURF monster — not the turd monster — got the best of him. He and Myles Gaskin have been relatively quiet so far.

Defensive Line

Vincent Taylor is fulfilling the prophecy of my foretold breakout season – he’s a menace inside. I’ve seen him win with power, with quickness, and I’ve seen him stack and shed with relative ease. He’s taking to the new system well.

So is Davon Godchaux. The precedent set by these two monsters in the goal-line drills provides an energy source for the entire defense.

Christian Wilkins was in at fullback yet again, and was even sent to the wall with the offense at one point. He had his best day on defense, however, showing that signature quickness, but also adapting to the read-and-react style this defense wants to play.

Between these three, and a quality start to camp from Akeem Spence, Adolphus Washington, and Joey Mbu, the panic over Miami’s defensive line is premature. There is a lot of power inherent to this group and the multiplicity is vast.

Whether it’s playing the even (over) front, or the odd (under) front, the defensive has flexibility to operate from the required 1-tech or 2i shade on the backside, as well as the play-side 3-tech. In an odd front, the play-side tackle will line-up in the 1-tech and Miami is adequately stocked to operate in that front should they choose to do so.

Jonathan Ledbetter and Dewayne Hendrix both showed up on my timeline today. Another day down, another step towards one — or both — making the 53-man roster.

Nate Orchard might be better suited to play in a different scheme. He’s one of the better pure edge rushers in a defense that doesn’t value pure edge rushers. He’s been a liability setting the edge in the run-game.

There are mixed opinions about Charles Harris’ showing, but I’m on the positive side. I saw him win back-to-back individual pass rush drills, and then I saw him dent the edge in the run game in the team period. He’s playing faster and stronger.

Offensive Line

This was the first day I really isolated Laremy Tunsil, and I was quickly reminded why I hadn’t bothered before. In that same drill that brought success to Harris, Tunsil locked out any contender foolish enough to think they could beat the future all-pro.

Both Jonathan Woodard and Tank Carradine tried to win with speed, were forced to counter because of Tunsil’s patient, efficient kick-slide, then were promptly stonewalled working back underneath — child’s play for Tunsil.

It wasn’t the best day for Jesse Davis and Chris Reed. They were largely responsible for some of the interior penetration in the goal-line drill. The first-team interior defensive line won the day rather convincingly.

Daniel Kilgore is off to a good start. He’s been used in some creative ways and is the unquestioned leader of the interior line.

Jordan Mills’ issues are — unsurprisingly — the same. He’s often victimized by speed-rushes, including a blow-by by Charles Harris.

Michael Deiter received some individual instruction from Pat Flaherty (OL Coach) at the outset of practice. As he worked on his hand fighting, something else stood out. He’s a natural knee-bender that can maintain his balance when he gets into his pass set and drops the anchor.

Deiter has been working at left guard, but has also been working extensively on his snapping in between drills.

Linebackers

Raekwon McMillan was back with the first-team and he showed why he always belonged there. He made two plays, in close succession, where he knocked some heads in the running game. The first was an off-tackle run from Ballage where he keyed, beat the block outside, and tagged off.

May 25, 2017; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan (52) catches a pass during OTAs practice drills at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The next one resulted in a pop that the folks in West Palm heard. Down around the goal line, McMillan shot the B-gap and met the back at the line-of-scrimmage for a loud, no-gain. The entire unit came to his side to give him dap after a collective “oooooh” reaction from the stick.

Jerome Baker flew around all day. The defense opened up some of the blitz packages and Baker found himself coming free in the A-gap a couple of times. His first step and explosiveness really stands out.

It was more of the same from Sam Eguavoen. In addition to taking more first-team reps, he was with the specialists during individual drills working on tackling.

Chase Allen didn’t practice today, and Terrill Hanks was the beneficiary. Hanks offers the inside-outside versatility and showcased some edge-setting skills, as well as working backwards in coverage.

Wide Receivers

It was a difficult evaluation because of the quarterback play, but Kenny Stills was the best of the bunch. He may be known for his deep-speed, but he consistently finds soft spots in the zone, and he knows how to chase the defender’s blind spot.

Stills and Isaiah Ford stayed on the field after practice and worked on deep passing with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ford had his best day of camp so far that started off with a blow-by of rookie Montre Hartage for a long touchdown in one-on-one.

Preston Williams isn’t going to wow you with his ability to get in-and-out of breaks, but his catch radius is rather absurd. He continued to rebound balls in one-on-one drills, and has found a penchant for working the end-line in red zone. The Dolphins likely prefer his size in that area to put the football where it’s either a leaping touchdown, or an incomplete pass.

Recap

It was a sloppy practice that was permeated throughout the offense, but the tone was set by the quarterbacks — they must be better. This provides us a great opportunity to see how effective the staff can be in getting a bounce back showing from this group.

A lot of the install work brought new looks into the offense, and perhaps that was the cause for the struggle (unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to discuss what I saw, but you will see it in games down the road).

Eguavoen wasn’t alone in skipping the individual drills to work with the specialists — Chandler Cox did as well; he’s set for a pretty big role this year. Defensive back Chris Lammons has seen extended run with the special teams packages as well.

The stands were packed despite the considerable perception that this team won’t be competitive. Either folks are excited about football coming back, or they’re buying into the program Brian Flores is developing — as well they should be.

We’ve got another week’s worth of practice before the scrimmage next Saturday. If things continue to progress as they have so far, Dolphins fans should have patience, but also faith in this process.

@WingfieldNFL

Advertisement
2 Comments

2 Comments

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

Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts

Jason Hrina

Published

on

Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises

Jason Hrina

Published

on

Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Image Credit: South Florida Sun Sentinel

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Full trade:

Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL

Jason Hrina

Published

on

Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

LATEST

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending