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Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Journal – The Scrimmage (August 3)

Travis Wingfield

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Quick Notes:

– Players absent from the scrimmage were as follows: Reshad Jones, Raekwon McMillan, Jakeem Grant, Chase Allen, Jonathan Woodard, Cordrea Tankersley, and Mike Hull.

– Albert Wilson and Dwayne Allen were dressed, but neither participated in the scrimmage.

– Kenyan Drake opened up as the first-team back.

– Jomal Wiltz continues to run as the first team nickel when Miami opens in two-deep coverage. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Bobby McCain the deep backs.

– Nik Needham and Tyler Patmon began practice working across from Walt Aikens on special teams — that’s good company for back-end of the roster guys to be around.

– Jason Sanders is automatic. I don’t know the count, but he didn’t miss, including a few 50+ yard kicks.

*photo credit to Tony Capobianco

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

Sloppy, penalty-filled showing overshadows strong defensive effort, resurgence from Rosen

Ominous weather approaching Hard Rock Stadium, at the originally scheduled time, forced the scrimmage back to the facility in Davie. While this was certainly bad news for the fans, the media got a private look at a full game simulation.

If this game counted towards the win-loss column, Miami would presently sit at 0-1.

Penalties, blown pass protection assignments, turnovers, it was a difficult day as the coaching staff operated with headsets to further imitate a game day situation.

The first-team offense took the ball right down the field for an easy touchdown; they wouldn’t revisit pay dirt until the final possession. On that final touchdown, Josh Rosen threw a pass directly into the hands of Xavien Howard, but the ball wound up in the waiting arms of Isaiah Ford off a drop by Miami’s star corner.

Brian Flores said before practice that he’s not much for star power. “It’s a team game, stars are kind of a ‘me’ thing,” Flores said. “You got a star that wants to do his own thing, that doesn’t work.”

Coach Flores is fortunate that his best player doesn’t act like a star. Howard spoke to a handful of media members after practice. Despite an utterly dominant camp, Howard remains humble despite catching (intercepting) more passes in the team period than many of the wide receivers.

The Dolphins offensive struggles went beyond testing Howard (who came down with another pick, should’ve had a second). After one nice touchdown drive, and a fluke touchdown series, the Dolphins went 1-for-3 on goal-line plays to close up the practice (scrimmage).

The defense was dominant, there’s plenty to work on, and we got some absolute humdinger quotes from the players post-practice. Let’s get into it.

Quarterbacks

Josh has Rosen.

Awful puns aside, this was the 22-year-old’s best day in a Dolphins jersey. I asked Josh after practice if it’s safe to call him a gamer — given his penchant for playing better when the stakes are at the highest. Rosen danced around the question ultimately telling me, “I don’t want to use labels,” but I’ll do it for him — he’s a gamer.

He was sliding away from a relentless pass rush (more on that in a minute), he was accurate with a variety of throws (drives, deep shots, check downs), and made good decisions throughout. His worst throw was the touchdown to cap off a two-minute drill that saw him complete a 50-yard bomb to Kenny Stills on third-and-forever.

It’s unfair to arbitrarily pinpoint this on Rosen, but he was in there for two delay-of-game penalties.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been on a steady downward slope after an excellent first two days of practice. He directed a seamless touchdown drive to open things up — including an anticipation curl route for 20-yards to Devante Parker — as well as the touchdown to Drake, but it was ugly after that.

Fitz missed a lot of throws and continued to test Xavien Howard, and paid the price. He floated a couple of passes out of bounds and turned the ball over — as the 15-year veteran said, “not good enough.”

Running Backs

The opening touchdown drive was due in large part to the insertion of Kenyan Drake into the first-team. Drake sprung a long run up the far sideline on an outside zone play. Drake stretched it out, created a gap wide of the tight end, then exploded through the lane for a big gainer — we’ve seen that time and time again on Sundays.

Drake caught the ensuing touchdown on a naked boot flat without much contention from the defense. Drake would later take a toss play on goal-line work in for six, but it was whistled back due to a penalty.

Kalen Ballage was limited, but he showed his strength as a goal-line back with a sledgehammer run to end the practice from the 1-yard-line.

Mark Walton was the next back in line. Walton, like the remainder of the Dolphins backfield, was uninspiring. Patrick Laird had a huge hole on a third-and-20 situation (lot of those today) and got tackled by the turf.

Chandler Cox is very much in the plans for this team, but his lead blocking leads quite a lot to be desired. He’s easily thwarted en route to the ball carrier on Miami’s lead-heavy ground game.

Wide Receivers

Dolphins rookie Wide Receiver Preston Williams continues to dominate training camp

“That guy is [going to] be special. He’s still learning, just a rookie with room for improvement. He’s [going to] be a number one receiver one day.” Xavien Howard didn’t mince his words when talking about undrafted rookie receiver Preston Williams.

When asked what makes him think that of Williams, X continued the praise, “I’ve been playing against receivers all my life so I know what it takes. When you see something special you know it.”

Williams was the offensive player of the practice. His reception on the perfect Rosen pass displayed excellent concentration up the sideline, and Williams is making his living between the numbers, on a variety on in-breaking routes, as well. He’s a chunk-play waiting to happen so far in training camp.

Howard waxed poetic about the next most impressive receiver so far in camp. “Devante’s coming out there ballin.’ It’s a big year for him so he’s just working to get better and try to stay healthy,” said Howard.

Parker and Williams led the way in receptions, but the most impressive catch of the day came from Kenny Stills. On that final two-minute drive, Rosen threw a prayer to a double-covered Stills on a third-and-20.

Stills elevated over Howard and Bobby McCain to pull it down, and set up the eventual touchdown.

Isaiah Ford continues to catch work with the first-team. He showed focus to clean up that dropped interception from Howard and had another nice stab during the scrimmage.

Tight Ends

Aside from goal-line work, there wasn’t much to look for from the tight ends in this one — especially in the passing game. Mike Gesicki caught a contested pass against T.J. McDonald on an over route.

Gesicki opened the practice with the first-team, for those keeping score at home.

Nick O’Leary is probably still atop the depth chart — so long as Allen is out. He caught a touchdown from Fitzpatrick in goal line work, though he is still giving way to Durham Smythe as the 11-personnel tight end.

Offensive Line

This is the most wanting unit on the team. The interior continues to struggle, especially the two rookies. Shaq Calhoun continues to look like an undrafted rookie while Michael Deiter has been the cause of lot of penetration.

The unit committed upwards of double-digit fouls — both pre-and-post-snap.

Even Laremy Tunsil got beat for a sack. The story was the same for the next left tackle in the game, Jaryd Jones-Smith.

Kyle Fuller opened a pair of big running lanes — one for Laird, one for Walton — and Jesse Davis had a nice escort on the big Drake run.

Will Holden had to leave practice after getting obliterated on a bull rush from rookie Jonathan Ledbetter.

Daniel Kilgore probably had the best day on the interior. The Dolphins sent pressure time-and-time again and he was able to drop the anchor a few times.

Defensive Line

This group won the scrimmage. Charles Harris picked up three sacks on the day (one against Tunsil) and contributed with a tackle-for-loss. His camp has been a steady progression and he continues to work in with the first-team.

Christian Wilkins also had his best day. His power became too much for the opposition (plenty against Calhoun, some lining up over the center as the nose). Big number 97 flashed in the backfield with regularity.

Apr 25, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Christian Wilkins (Clemson) is selected as the number thirteen overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Davon Godchaux is an immovable object. He was the focal point of Miami’s early-season elite goal-line defense last year, and he closed down the backside, winning against Deiter to shut down a run play from the 1-yard-line.

Wilkins and Godchaux will alternate between 1-tech and the 2i-tech on fronts that require those alignments.

Vincent Taylor and Joey Mbu worked in those same positions. Mbu has been quiet since the beginning of camp, but Taylor blew one play up by anticipating the snap count. His explosive get-off forced a failed quarterback-center exchange.

Jonathan Ledbetter made a number of plays in the scrimmage. He forced an end-around to bubble, he flashed a bull-rush, and he was the party that obliterated Holden on the play that caused an injury.

Dewayne Hendrix was in the backfield again — he’s racking up sacks just about every day. His solid camp earned him some first-team work, but he was properly blanked by Tunsil — which is to be expected.

Adolphus Washington picked up another sack. He’s also made plenty of noise against the run.

Jamiyus Pittman belongs among today’s positives — he was involved in a couple of run-stuffs.

Linebackers

This is Jerome Baker’s defense. He was calling the signals again and his burst, lean, and ability to change directions without decelerating is causing Miami’s line a lot of issues with the blitz. He came free on one blitz that saw him flash in the face of the quarterback within one second of the snap — he’s playing at a different pace than everyone around him.

Andrew Van Ginkel’s work continues to put him in a variety of positions. In addition to coming off the edge, he played off-the-ball inside in some even front formations. He had a nice recognition play on an end-around where he forced the ball carrier to bubble (go backwards).

Tre Watson’s solid camp continued with a bang. He sniffed out a lead power play by knocking heads with Chandler Cox, disengaging, and making the stop on the ball carrier. Watson has been the second-team stack linebacker when Raekwon McMillan isn’t out there.

If Kiko Alonso has made a play all camp, I haven’t seen it.

Players like Van Ginkel and Watson are making the high-priced veteran expendable, just as Sam Eguavoen is with his strong play. The former CFL star is making an impact against both the run and the pass. His speed is a serious asset in coverage and his instincts regularly make him the first man to the ball against the run — he looks the part.

Eguavoen’s role is expanding to one of multiplicity as well. He did some creative pre-snap rotation work lining up inside and then creeping down off the edge just before the snap.

Terrill Hanks’ speed shows up every practice. He’s one of the top pursuit ‘backers on this team — he quickly closes down the edge in the run-game.

Defensive Backs

It was difficult to gauge the defensive backfield because of the effectiveness of the front-seven (and coinciding ineffectiveness of the offensive line).

Of note, Montre Hartage continues to see extended backup safety duty — he’s the favorite for that third, middle-of-the-field, safety role. He also saw some time in two-deep looks with Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Xavien Howard’s work is as impressive as ever. His interception was the result of running the route for the receiver and under-cutting the play. He was tested time-and-time again and only allowed one catch all day.

Howard’s prowess is aligning well with McCain’s ability to properly angle into a help position. They can roll help away from Howard, and it’s making life easier on McCain — who has quietly had a strong camp.

Fitzpatrick made two nice plays in coverage. One came from zone where he peeped a backside crosser, stepped in front and nearly came up with an interception. The next was man coverage against Gesicki; Minkah was draped all over the Adonis tight end. Gesicki pushed off and drew a flag, which was later egregiously over-turned — much to the chagrin of the entire Dolphins defense.

Fitzpatrick is doing everything. From two-deep, to slot, to coming in to rob the middle, he’s going to be the lynchpin back there.

T.J. McDonald’s strong camp continued with excellent work in the running game.

Jomal Wiltz might’ve found a home in the slot. When Fitzpatrick goes back to patrol the deep third, Wiltz comes into the slot and has acquitted himself well in that role.

Walt Aikens is the next safety to come on for McDonald in that box position, though I think we’ve learned by now that Walt is a specialist exclusively.

Recap

An annual Dolphins scrimmage tradition, the defense was dominant yet again. The pressure packages, the multiple alignments, the increased speed of the unit…this side of the ball is your opportunity to enjoy some ‘Phins football this year.

The offense is a serious work-in-progress — particularly along the line. After Tunsil, Jesse Davis might be the only immediate solution to the group, though Deiter has shown a lot of promise. I think the Calhoun experiment needs to be shelved for now, though the options behind him aren’t promising. Kyle Fuller has probably been the most deserving for a crack at the spot.

The coaches were charged up trying to get things corrected, but yelling can only go so far. This is a rebuilding team that needs to make some major strides in the next month if it wants to survive September without going winless.

My 53-Man Roster (and depth chart) as of August 3

Offense (24)

QB (2) Fitzpatrick, Rosen
RB (4) Drake, Ballage, Walton, Cox
WR (5) Stills, Parker, Wilson, Grant, Williams
TE (4) Allen, O’Leary, Smythe, Gesicki
OL (9) Tunsil, Deiter, Kilgore, Reed, Davis, Mills, Calhoun, Fuller, Prince

 

Defense (26)

DL (9) Wilkins, Godchaux, Harris, Carradine, Taylor, Spence, Washington, Ledbetter, Hendrix
LB (7) Baker, McMillan, Eguavoen, Van Ginkel, Orchard, Watson, Hanks
CB (5) Howard, Fitzpatrick, Rowe, Wiltz, Patmon
S (5) McCain, McDonald, Jones, Hartage, Aikens

 

Practice Squad (11)

QB Jake Rudock
RB Myles Gaskin
WR Isaiah Ford
WR Trenton Irwin
TE Chris Myarick
OL Jaryd Jones-Smith
OL Durval Neto
DL Jamiyus Pittman
CB Cornell Armstrong
CB Jalen Davis
CB Nik Needham

 

@WingfieldNFL

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Rich McQuillen

    August 3, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Where is Kiko? He is not on you list of LB’s

    • Avatar

      pigskin101

      August 3, 2019 at 5:57 pm

      Kiko’s days are numbered my friend.

  2. Avatar

    pigskin101

    August 3, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    So you figuring on 7 UDFA’s and 1 CFL player to make the squad very interesting. This year is gonna be an interesting season to say the least.
    #FinsUp

  3. Avatar

    pacificfinfan1

    August 3, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I disagree with your 53 I believe and we both could wrong btw but I believe as follows
    OL Tunsil Deiter Kilgore Reed Davis Calhoun Prince Jaryd Jones-Smith FA pickup
    DL Taylor Godchaux Wilkins Mbu Pittman Ledbetter Hendrix Harris Carradine Washington
    LB Allen Baker Eguaveon Hanks Van Ginkel Watson
    CB Howard Fitzpatrick Davis Needham Tankersley
    S McCain Jones Hartage TJ Aikens

    I am not confident in Carradine or Washington on the DL but you are not the only guy on the ground handing out praise for both of them.

  4. Avatar

    mike sarantos

    August 3, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    So you think McMillan our second rd pick won’t make the roster…..pretty sure you’d be wrong on that

    • Avatar

      Curtis Knisley

      August 4, 2019 at 7:21 am

      Isn’t McMillan the second LB listed?

  5. Avatar

    Curtis Knisley

    August 4, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Great info and evaluation Travis. Thanks Much!
    I like the thought of Kiko not making the team. Send a message that just because you are big name vet that doesn’t equate to a guaranteed spot.
    As almost every preseason, I am excited about the future.

  6. Avatar

    Jeff

    August 5, 2019 at 9:15 am

    I found your twitter feed and subsequently this site on ck’s twitter feed. I like getting different perspectives aside from the local rag beat writers.

    I’ll be sticking to your feed as ck has done what so many self important sports people have done. Littered his twitter feed with his political views. Sports is a way to get away from that noise and your reporting of the phins is outstanding. Keep up the good work and keep up with the non political twitter feed.

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NFL Draft

Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 Quarterback Prospects – Week 12

Travis Wingfield

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Recapping Week 12 of the College Football Season

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap
2019 Week 4 Recap
2019 Week 5 Recap
2019 Week 6 Recap
2019 Week 7 Recap
2019 Week 8 Recap
2019 Week 9 Recap
– No Week 10 Recap
2019 Week 11 Recap

*LSU’s Joe Burrow has been added to the prospect watch list.

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Week 12 Recap

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Mississippi State, Win
Stats: 14/18 (77.8%) 256 yards (14.22 YPA) 2 TD

Today was a collective “L” for the football community. One of the best collegiate players, and widely praised good guys, Tua Tagovailoa suffered a hip injury that leaves his football future in question.

What started out as an ordinary onslaught of explosive plays — a product of perfectly placed passes — ended in potential tragedy. Reports say that Tua’s hip is both dislocated, with a fracture of the wall that retains the ball joint. This injury calls for immediate surgery and significant recovery time, if a football career is possible at all.

Tagovailoa will do everything in his power for a full recovery, and hopefully the advances in modern medicine can allow him to make a triumphant return to the gridiron.

Jordan Love at Wyoming, Win 26-21
Stats: 18/29 (62.1%) 282 yards (9.72 YPA) 2 TD, 2 INT

This game was my favorite quarterback tape to watch this season. Jordan Love exhibited the sometimes unfathomably unique arm-talent that has endeared him to scouts nationally. After two interceptions — one a bad read, another bad luck — Love showed the shortstop-like arm, supreme athleticism, and general freaky traits that have scouts drooling.

The arm-strength to squeeze the football into a tight window from 40 yards away, the rare elasticity to sling it on a line across his body while on the move, the quick release to get the ball out in the face of pressure…it looks like he’s throwing a baseball.

The added element of a designed run package and RPO game, paired with the threat of throwing the ball to any blade of grass on the field, coaches will line up to get their hands on this prospect.

Jake Fromm vs. Missouri, Win 27-0
Stats: 13/28 (46.4%) 110 yards (3.93 YPA) 3 TD

Fromm hit his best throw of the season in another big SEC road victory. Few quarterbacks have the number of scalps that Fromm keeps in his back pocket, and he displayed tremendous poise in another hostile environment.

At times, the crowd noise was deafening, yet Fromm communicated his line checks and audibles with urgency and a steady heartbeat. He made cutch, accurate throws on third down, and beat the defense with his pre-snap prowess.

Fromm has quiet feet when he gets to the top of his drop. That’s not a trait he shares with a lot of the new-age, successful quarterbacks in the NFL. Kyler Murray went first in the draft for his ability to glide weightlessly about the pocket, creating passing lanes.

While Fromm is capable of mitigating some deficiencies with his ability to get the offense into the right play, and accurate passing, he’s not going to erase free rushers with his athleticism, and he’s not going to overcome situations with a fastball throw.

Joe Burrow at Ole Miss, Win 58-37
Stats: 32/42 (76.2%) 489 yards (11.64 YPA) 5 TD, 2 INT

And in one afternoon, Joe Burrow is left with nothing to prove. The now heavy favorite to come off the board with the first pick, the second half of Miami’s season would have to take some considerable turns to get the LSU Quarterback.

Burrow remains as cool as ever in this one. He rushed his Tiger offense out to a big lead with a couple of impressive improvisational plays. The big day was saddled by the two turnovers, but Burrow ends the day as the new QB1 due to Tua’s medical situation.

Justin Herbert vs. Arizona, 10:30 ESPN
Stats: 20/28 (71.4%) 333 yards (11.89 YPA) 4 TD, 1 INT

If this was your first viewing experience of Justin Herbert, you probably came away convinced he’s a top-10 draft pick — and he will be. If you’re a regular to his tape, this game was more of the same — flashes of brilliance when the circumstances permit, but the same inconsistencies in the most important aspects of the game.

Arizona’s defense hasn’t stopped a nose bleed this year, and they sure as hell weren’t going to stop the draft’s most physically impressive specimen behind the country’s best offensive line. Herbert’s long touchdown throws displayed the hand-cannon that has scouts conjuring up the prototypical quarterback build — particularly the toss in the second half.

On the rare occasions where Arizona got heat, you saw Herbert’s lack of quick-twitch to get off the spot, without the inherent ability to keep his eyes downfield to keep the play alive. You saw Herbert make an egregious decision to throw the ball into coverage (the INT was dropped) on a first-and-goal play from the two-yard-line.

The problem with Herbert, is that this has been the story for over 30 games. He still has no signature wins or moments, and the Oregon offense is still predicated on the running and screen game.

Herbert’s best bet at the next level is a run-heavy offense that can utilize his premiere weapon — throwing on the move. Lining up in 12-personnel (2 tight ends) and allowing Herbert to get out in space to throw into layers or flood concepts on the move will be the smoothest transition for the Oregon QB to have some success.

I’m of the belief that you have to put Herbert in an absolutely ideal situation, because he’s not going to mitigate your issues offensively.

Week 12 Conclusion

Reports from the University of Alabama doctor responsible for tending to Tagovailoa say the quarterback will make a full recovery, but he is certainly in for a long rehab process. If anyone can come back from this, it’s Tagovailoa, though his draft stock will surely be impacted. If Tua enters the draft and clears all the medical hurdles, he’ll still be a first-round pick.

Miami might be fortunate if Tagovailoa is still the target. With Brian Flores willing his team to underdog victories, the chances of obtaining the first pick was becoming grim, but so too are Tua’s chances at going off the board number one.

The Dolphins will have a difficult decision to make, though an apparent contingency plan is developing behind Tua.

Jordan Love is making progress the last two weeks in his overall effectiveness, and the highlights he produced today were utterly absurd. Though he has shortcomings in his approach for the game and playing the quarterback position, his physical tools give him — far and away — the highest upside in the class.

Miami’s interesting draft season took a jump to a whole other level of intrigue with the events of Saturday.

Week 13 Schedule

Fromm vs. Texas A&M, 3:30 CBS
Burrow vs. Arkansas, 7:00 ESPN
Love vs. Boise State, 10:30 CBSSN
Herbert at Arizona State TBD

@WingfieldNFL

Additional Prospect Videos

A.J. Epenesa – Iowa Defensive End 

Bravvion Roy – Baylor Defensive Tackle

Julian Blackmon – Utah Safety (former corner, invited to Mobile for the Sr. Bowl)

Ben Bredeson – Michigan Left Guard

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Miami Dolphins

Should the Miami Dolphins be interested in signing Colin Kaepernick?

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Colin Kaepernick
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Miami (Locked On Dolphins) – Should the Miami Dolphins be interested in signing Colin Kaepernick?

It was only a matter of time before someone posed the question, and maybe it’s already been asked. Does Colin Kaepernick make sense for the Miami Dolphins?

I think the answer could be yes but not in a vacuum. The circumstances would have to be aligned for it to work out.

As it stands, for 2019, I don’t think Kaepernick would be viewed as a starter to fuel any tank or non-tank talk, regardless of how good he looks in the jerry-built workout on Saturday.

Any potential for signing Kaepernick would come with a big asterisk. I think it would have more to do with the some of the draft-eligible quarterbacks that could be a Dolphin next year and the traits and abilities they possess than it does with Kaepernick and what he could do directly for the franchise.

It boils down to who the Miami Dolphins have on their quarterback short list in the 2020 Draft. A lot of this franchise’s future boils down to the quarterback. But I’ll save that lecture for another time.

I’m not sure who will be the quarterbacks on the roster next year. Josh Rosen is likely out, and I’m not sure about Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe he stays, maybe he goes.

Regardless, there will be a rookie quarterback on the team, maybe even two if the Dolphins double-dip like the Redskins did in 2012 with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. I’ll save that theory for another time, too.

But once the Dolphins have taken their guy next spring, I think they’ll look for an experienced veteran to fill in for a pedagogical role in the QB room.

One of them could still be Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it could be someone else, like Cam Newton…or Colin Kaepernick, but I’ll get to that in a second.

Newton would be a better fit for that role compared to Fitzpatrick, and he offers the ability to kill two birds with one stone. He can win games and bring up the rookie as he goes.

Travis Wingfield tossed around the idea of trading for Cam Newton on Tuesday’s LOD podcast. I liked the idea. Trade for Newton and draft someone like Jordan Love or Jalen Hurts, who are both much rawer than their Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa counterparts.

Of course, that’s Plan B. If Tagovailoa is still within reach, then draft him. If Burrow’s there, take him. If either of those two situations plays out, then all of the contingency plans go out the window.

But getting either Tagovailoa or Burrow is not a guarantee. So, having a scope on the other potential first-rounders is essential. I still like Jordan Love and his traits, but I also like Jalen Hurts, and I’m coming around on Justin Herbert. All three would benefit from redshirt seasons when entering the NFL.

And having the appropriate veteran guidance will be a huge blessing for the rookie’s development.

While I hope Plan A still comes to fruition, I also like the first backup plan. Here’s a caveat to Plan B, though. Trading for Newton is also not a guarantee.

There are several factors out of the Dolphins control, and that’s assuming that they are, in fact, interested in trading for Newton. If they are interested, then it becomes paramount that they can trade for him. At least they have their 2020 war chest of draft picks.

Now, back to my Kaepernick spiel. If Newton becomes a distant memory and Plan B crumbles, then Kaepernick jumps into the picture.

Kaepernick offers flexibility if the Dolphins do want Newton but can’t land him or if they’re going to save their picks outright.

If Newton is Plan B, then I’m viewing the signing of Kaepernick as a next-best Plan C. Newton and Kaepernick could both fit into the mold of teacher, but both also offer more upside than Ryan Fitzpatrick when it comes to winning games. It’s a way of having your cake and eating it too.

You wouldn’t have to trade for Kaepernick, and I doubt you’d have to fend off many other teams to sign him, either.

Allow an incubation period for the rookie quarterback while Newton or Kaepernick takes the reins for a season or two. Similar to how Patrick Mahomes held clipboards for most of his rookie season, grooming a rookie quarterback under the wings of a veteran could provide more sustainable growth for the rookie.

It’ll set up the rook to eventually blossom in a few years instead of being thrown to the wolves and also allow the Dolphins to find relevancy in short-term eras from one of the two mentioned veterans (Newton and Kaepernick).

So, would signing Kaepernick make sense? Yes, but only under certain conditions. I could see it become more likely that Kaepernick never joins the team, but there are scenarios, albeit limited ones, that could see him in orange and aqua.

But he could become a leader for the team and a teacher for the next-gen quarterback waiting in the wings.

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Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores – The Solution to Miami’s Two-Decade-Long Problem

Travis Wingfield

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The talent has been here all along, but the coaching hasn’t been, until now

Hot, muggy August mornings signal the best time of year for football fans in South Florida. As the Dolphins head to camp, the start of a new season looms on the horizon. This past August — Brian Flores’ first with the Dolphins — we saw a training camp in Davie unlike any before.

Individual drills, focusing on fundamentals and the core basics of the sport (blocking, defeating blocks, tackling, and drilling mental toughness and a mistake-free mindset), the practices featured very few team portions.

Boring as all get out for the fans in attendance, sure, but those foundational bricks have already laid the groundwork for the least-penalized team in the NFL. In the midst of a challenging season, those repetitive, grueling days have resulted in a team that ranks in the top 10 in tackling (9th-fewest missed tackles).

The 2019 Miami Dolphins training camp period was the most important month of Flores’ tenure as the man-in-charge, and it’s already paying massive dividends. The top-of-the-league rankings in the minute, yet crucial details of the game are tremendous, and even more valuable when considering the gems Miami discovered along the way.

Those gems aren’t exclusive to undrafted free agents and reclamation projects. The Dolphins are getting career years out of former top 50 picks in Devante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Raekwon McMillan.

Good coaching with premium talent is the best way to curate household names across the league, but a team without depth is a team that can’t succeed in this league. Uncovering both bonafide starters, and rotational parts from that scrap heap is the most encouraging aspect of Brian Flores’ first year in Miami.

Vince Biegel’s pass rush productivity marks are top 10 at his position from an efficiency standpoint.

Nik Needham was an undrafted free agent who’s gone from Conference USA to holding his own against NFL receivers. Needham’s coming off a two-game stretch where he made 14 tackles, and his first career sack and interception.

Jomal Wiltz was on the Patriots practice squad last season, and now he’s a valuable, versatile part of the defensive backfield. Ryan Lewis, Ken Crawley, Ken Webster have all contributed as in-season defensive back free agent signings as well.

Sep 15, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel (47) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

John Jenkins was a cut-down day acquisition, and all he’s done is led Miami in overall Pro Football Focus grade.

Eric Rowe was signed for close to nothing — a one-year, $3.5 million deal back in March. He struggled at cornerback early on, but since moving to a strong safety role — where he covers tight ends and plays a lot in the box — he’s playing some of the best ball of his career.

That list is impressive in its own right, and certainly inspires confidence in the Dolphins ability to succeed in this rebuild going forward. Even for the fan apprehensive to trust Chris Grier and company, it’s impossible to deny the widespread individual growth.

That’s where this next list comes into play. The Dolphins have had talent, and that’s evident by the players that have departed South Florida, and gone onto successful careers elsewhere.

For the sake of continuity and time elapsed relevance, we’ll go as far back as the beginning of the Joe Philbin era. Grier has been in Miami since 2007, but his role in each individual acquisition is impossible to gage. And that remains true even today as Miami — and all NFL teams — act as a gigantic collaboration.

With more than 30 scouts, college and professional personnel directors, a General Manager, Assistant General Manager, and nearly 20 coaches all serving underneath Owner Stephen Ross, nobody outside the walls in Miami knows who is responsible for which move.

To borrow the famed Bill Parcells mantra, the front office buys the groceries. From there, it’s up to the coaching staff to best prepare those ingredients and cook up a winning recipe. From Joe Philbin to Adam Gase, Miami have done very little to take on talent and produce an even better product on the other side.

We start in 2012 with the decision to trade the biggest name receiver this franchise has employed since Chris Chambers left at the 2007 trade deadline.

2012

Brandon Marshall – Marshall was an pro-bowl-level player at every stop except for Miami. His career fizzled towards retirement at the end, and he had a decent stretch in the 2011 season, but his two years in Miami produced the two worst statistical seasons out of the prime of his career. Marshall’s first year with the Bears resulted in a first-team All-Pro selection, a product of 1,508-yard season with 11 touchdowns — topping the two-year total (nine TD) with Miami.

Vontae Davis – The infamous grandma phone call request will never be forgotten, but Vontae got the last laugh on Miami. After three promising seasons with the Phins, Davis’ next four in Indianapolis produced two pro-bowls and 12 interceptions.

2013

Karlos Dansby – This move was a double whammy, as it was made to create space for all-time free agent bust in Dannell Ellerbe. Dansby didn’t make any pro-bowls after leaving Miami, but his first season in the dessert was a smashing success. He picked off four passes (two for touchdowns), broke up 19 passes, made 12 TFLs and registered his second-highest sack total of his career with 6.5.

Sean Smith – Smith infamously made a public comment during the Seahawks rise to prominence in 2012 about Richard Sherman and the freedom of Seattle’s cornerbacks within that scheme. Smith was promptly allowed to depart via free agency, but didn’t break the bank with the Kansas City Chiefs. Fresh off his new three-year, $18 million deal, Smith’s first year in KC resulted in an 84.7 passer rating against. Then, in 2014, Smith was PFF’s 6th-highest graded corner (Davis was 2nd.)

Tony McDaniel – Arriving via a conditional pick in 2009, McDaniel earned his way from the bottom of the depth chart into a rotational role. Then, in 2013, he left for Seattle and his career took off. His Pro Football Reference Approximate Value metric was never higher than 3 with Miami. His first two years in Seattle, McDaniel had an AV of 9 and 7. He made 94 tackles those two years, 12 more than his four-year total with the Dolphins.

2014

Nolan Carroll – A fifth-round pick in 2010, Carroll took some time to develop his game. Just as he did, the Dolphins allowed the Maryland product to walk in free agency. Carroll never became a lockdown cornerback, but he was a key role player for three years with the Eagles, starting 27 games his final two years there. His contract with Philadelphia paid him $5 million over two years — plenty affordable for cornerback depth.

2015

No notable losses. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay and Randy Starks never had jumps in production in their post-Miami careers.

2016

Olivier Vernon – Vernon received a monster contract from the Giants, but an extension could’ve reduced Miami’s cost on the hometown product. Drafted out of The U, Vernon’s breakout season happened in his contract year, and pushed Miami out of the market to bring him back entirely. Vernon’s highest AV mark in Miami was 8; his first season with the Giants nearly doubled that with an eye-popping 15 approximate value figure.

Lamar Miller – Another Miami native, Miller never took the league by storm the way some assumed he would, but he signed a cheap deal to move to Houston after the 2015 season. This is more of a nod to the Dolphins scouting staff to find a good player in the fourth round.

Rishard Matthews – Miami used a first-round pick on Devante Parker the year before, but that premium pick could’ve been used elsewhere if Miami were capable of self-scouting their own receiver corps. Matthews first season in Tennessee was the best of his career. His 945 yards and nine touchdowns were both career highs.

Billy Turner – A left tackle at North Dakota State, Turner was shuffled about the offensive line before flaming out in embarrassing fashion through a difficult 1-4 start to the 2016 season. Turner went on to start for the Broncos, where he impressed the Packers to the tune of a four-year, $28 million deal this past offseason.

2017

No notable departures

2018

Ndamukong Suh – The original signing was probably never a good idea, but Suh was an integral part of the Rams run to the Super Bowl last season. Again, this piece is to prove that Miami has done plenty to acquire talent over the years.

Mike Pouncey – Pouncey was a shell of his former self at this stage. Injuries were always the primary issue with Pouncey, but he was a first-round pick in 2011 that played in four pro bowls. There isn’t a football fan on earth that wouldn’t sign up for that return on the 15th pick in the draft.

2019

We can’t write the final story on Laremy Tunsil or Minkah Fitzpatrick yet, but those two, along with Kenyan Drake, provide Grier with quite the endorsement of the 2016 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick wasn’t a part of that class, but Xavien Howard was, and he remains in Miami.

We might look back on these trades of Tunsil and Fitzpatrick as catastrophic failures, but both will always hold superiority to Miami’s decision to part with so many of the names we just mentioned. The Dolphins received premium compensation for both players, including quarterback prices for Tunsil.

The Skinny

Now, with almost no considerable resources on his roster, Brian Flores is getting similar production from his stripped-down squad than what Adam Gase got the last two years. And Gase did it with far more money and accolades scattered throughout the locker room.

These types of blunders stretch all the way back to Rob Ninkovich, and Evan Mathis before him. The hope, with Brian Flores and his unique ability to develop players acquired off the scrap heap, is that those days are gone.

If they are, with all the premium resources Chris Grier, Marvin Allen, Reggie McKenzie and the entire front office has to work with, the Dolphins can quickly become a team to be reckoned with for years to come.

@WingfieldNFL

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