The Miami Dolphins were wearing shoulder pads again today, which meant we would be in for a more exciting day of training camp.
It also meant that fans following training camp live in-person (or on social media) experienced the closest thing to a heart attack since August of 2017.
In an 11-on-11 drill, Ryan Tannehill was blasted by Cameron Wake. He went down, and was immediately stepped on by Daniel Kilgore, who was trying to retain his footing.
The next 120 seconds seemed like an eternity.
Tannehill was slow to get up, and walked gingerly to the sideline. His helmet was off to the side and he was talking to head coach Adam Gase briefly before getting together with his teammates for the final “cool-down” of practice – which had the team jogging up and down the sidelines.
Breathe easy, Dolphins fans. Our quarterback survived.
Maybe that heart attack was the hit we needed to calm ourselves down? Because us Dolphins fans know there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and a Tannehill sack on gameday. He’s going to have to absorb one (or five) sooner or later, it’s good to know he’s able to bounce back up.
Below are a few more observations from training camp earlier today:
1) Is Ja’Wuan James Injured?
Ja’Wuan James did not practice today. He dressed and didn’t appear to limp or strain, but he was seen with a big ice pack taped to his waist towards the middle of practice.
The Dolphins are trying to be careful about too many days in row in pads for Josh Sitton.
Ja'Wuan James has a muscle strain and that's the reason he didn't work much today.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) August 1, 2018
This doesn’t immediately appear to be a big concern, but this offensive line needs to build as much chemistry as they can before the start of the season, especially with the additions of Kilgore and Josh Sitton.
The Dolphins will be relying heavily on both of their young tackles keeping Ryan Tannehill upright throughout the season.
While Miami can survive Ja’Wuan James going down for a little while, it will ultimately lead to history repeating itself. We already saw flashbacks of 2014 and 2015 with Wake’s hard hit on Tannehill earlier today (coming off the right side against Sam Young), which led to the quarterback getting up and walking away gingerly.
T'hill INT to Alonso at goalline…more concerning T'hill went down hard as Wake broke thru…appeared Kilgore fell on T'hill…T'hill seems OK but was slow to get up
— Chris Perkins (@chrisperk) August 1, 2018
This offense will go as far as the offensive line will take it. This isn’t whether or not Tannehill can step up as a quarterback, it’s about the offensive line finally giving him the time he needs to do his job.
Miami is very deep at wide receiver and running back, which should compliment the return of Tannehill nicely, but if the offensive line can’t give him enough time to throw the ball, we’re going to be in for a long season.
James missed the final 8 games of the 2017 season after being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He also missed the final 9 games of 2015 with a dislocated big toe.
2) Miami has 3 Starting Cornerbacks
The battle between Cordrea Tankersley and Tony Lippett is only going to make the Dolphins a better team this season.
Now, I’m sure it’s different for them; they want the pride – and stats – that come with starting each game, but it’s not going to matter too much for defensive coordinator, Matt Burke.
This team is going to feature plenty of packages that require a third boundary cornerback on the field.
Tankersley at starring corner as three way battle continues…also, Reshad jones' stupendous camp continues.
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) August 1, 2018
They also have the luxury of being able to rotate their cornerbacks to keep them fresh. It’s a long season, and it’ll be nice to keep Lippett’s achillis from barking, Tankersley healthy for a full season, and Xavien Howard from getting run down.
This is certainly the most intriguing battle in camp, and it’s one that won’t really have a winner or a loser because both are going to be necessary to the success of the 2018 season.
This position is deep, it’s young and it’s extremely underrated.
Oh, and don’t forget Torry McTyer.
3) “Why Would Miami Replace Landry with a Backup?”
Is quite possibly one of the worst takes this offseason.
Albert Wilson has been spending a lot of time with the 2nd-team offense, it’s true. Hard to dispute that “fact”.
Most will have you believe it’s a failed signing by Miami – and a failed move to replace Jarvis Landry – but truth is, Miami’s wide receivers are so deep that there’s no room for Wilson to run with the 1st-team offense in every package.
Wilson and Landry are clones.
Both are premier slot receivers capable of creating missed tackles and getting a first down. These are the receivers that will grind out the tough yards and make those catches over the middle.
– 1st in missed tackles forced per reception (0.36)✅
– 1st in first downs per target (51.6 percent)✅
– 2nd in yards after the catch per reception (7.5)✅#FinsUphttps://t.co/yPwg8PtXkk pic.twitter.com/12BXCks5SS
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) July 23, 2018
If Wilson received anywhere close to the number of targets Landry had in 2017 (161 targets vs 62), his numbers could have been staggering.
It’s easy to correlate Wilson’s status on the second-team offense as a “backup” role, but the reasons Wilson is there have nothing to do with this being a poor signing.
The extra reps on the second-team offense allow him to practice and understand the playbook better. The only negative may come at the end of the season when Wilson’s body catches up to him from being overworked, though I wouldn’t expect that to be the case given how deep Miami is at receiver.
Let the national media make their assumptions about this Dolphins team, just know that there was a vision for how this team should be built and it was assembled perfectly this offseason. Now to see how it all comes to fruition.
–Brock Osweiler is not going to make the team. Matt Moore‘s dead arm can sling it better than Osweiler has been in camp so far.
-Seems like Tannehill and Danny Amendola have been together for 4 years, not 4 months. By all accounts, they have some solid chemistry. How Amendola learned the playbook so quickly is beyond me; this guy is a pro.
–Frank Gore and Cameron Wake need to open a health clinic after they retire…which will probably be another 5 years at the rate they’re going. They’re ageless.
Fits and Starts of the 2019 NFL Draft–Jarrett Stidham
Which 2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks fit for the Miami Dolphins, which ones could start, and which ones aren’t on the table?
Let’s dive into the first installment of Fits and Starts with Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham.
2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks and Fits and Starts intro
I hope you’re enjoying all the Kyler Murray talk; it’s not going anywhere for the next two months. So, with all the hype surrounding the Heisman winner and his decision to play in the NFL over the MLB, it makes sense that Murray shot up the draft boards in rapid fashion.
Murray has been connected with the Miami Dolphins, and it makes sense. The Dolphins need a quarterback to lead the franchise into the future, especially with the start of the Brian Flores era.
But what happens if the Dolphins can’t get Kyler Murrayin the 2019 Draft? Let’s take that a step further. What if the Dolphins don’t get any of the QBs that are pegged to go in the first round? Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, along with Murray, are all in the conversation to go off the board in the first round.
The 2019 QB class hasn’t exactly been lauded for its talent, but that doesn’t mean its totally devoid of untapped potential on Days 2 and 3. There are some diamonds in the rough and some could be on the Dolphins’ radar come April. The Fits and Starts mini-series will be focusing on these overshadowed mid-round prospects and who could fit into a role with the Miami Dolphins.
Let’s get into the first name on the list: Jarrett Stidham.
Jarrett Stidham and his NFL Future
The first quarterback on the docket is Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. He’s an enigmatic player. He was in the conversation last draft season (before he returned to Auburn) to go in the second round. He was also talked about as a dark-horse Heisman candidate before the college season started.
His junior season didn’t go exactly as scripted, though. Jarrett Stidham had an up-and-down season, and his draft stock has been all over the place, consequently. He’s polarizing in the Twitter Draft realm with many draftniks either loving or hating him. I predict that he’ll go in the third round, but I could see the need for the position pushing him into the second round.
In a lot of ways, I would compare Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Tannehill. With that being said, he’s a poor man’s Tannehill. He’s not as athletic and I wouldn’t put his arm strength or accuracy on the same level, but there are comparisons that can be drawn.
Jarrett Stidham Mini-Report
He has some starter qualities, and he’s very raw in that regard. He also did not get a lot of help from his receivers during the 2018 season. I saw a lot of dropped passes that should’ve been “gimmes”. Jarrett Stidham has a moderately high ceiling, I would say. He’s extremely rough around the edges, but I can see him becoming successful in the NFL; it’ll come with many growing pains, albeit.
He also has some accuracy issues from a lot of the film I’ve watched of him. He’ll make some unbelievable down-the-field bombs, but also make some passes that are too high, too inside or too outside. Many passes were underthrown and I saw plays where WRs had to turn and play some defense. The accuracy is a roller coaster, and that’s something that is hard to improve at the next level; accuracy is more a God-given ability than it is a teachable skill.
Something else that I wasn’t wild about was how Stidham reacted to chaos and pressure. When the line collapsed, I saw some ugly escapes. Those ugly escapes will be ugly sacks in the NFL. I saw flashes of decent pocket presence, but like many of Stidham’s qualities, they were inconsistent.
That’s one of the best words I would use to describe Jarrett Stidham: inconsistent. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s bad. Sometimes he’ll thread the needle for a 40-yard touchdown, sometimes he’ll undercut a route. But if the inconsistency is his biggest issue, which I believe it is, then I’m intrigued by his prospects at the next level with some next-level coaching.
At the End of the Day
So, if the Dolphins drafted Jarrett Stidham, it’d likely be on Day 2 and in the second round with the 48th pick. While the Dolphins are rebuilding, I could see them using a popular draft philosophy of taking a quarterback every year until one hits. If that’s the case, then Stidham could very well be a target if the Dolphins decide to address a bigger need or BPA with the 13th pick.
This could be a way for the Dolphins to hedge their bets while keeping an eye on the 2020 quarterbacks. Akin to the Redskins taking both RGIII and Kirk Cousins in the same draft in 2012, the Dolphins could take a flier on a mid-round quarterback and see what he could do in some games under the guidance of a veteran.
While I wouldn’t be upset by the pick, the Miami Dolphins would be wise to stay away from Jarrett Stidham, bottom line. I say that not because of Stidham’s shortcomings or upside but because of where the Miami Dolphins franchise finds itself.
If Jarrett Stidham goes out and has a decent showing in some live action during his rookie season, then that could affect the draft strategy regarding the 2020 class of quarterbacks.
I don’t want the Dolphins to keep waiting and waiting for someone to slowly develop as they did with Ryan Tannehill. Stidham is in a similar mold, looking at his tools and raw potential. I’m not sure how long it would take for Stidham develop, but I could see it turning into a situation where he takes a few steps forward every season.
Jarrett Stidham could be a quarterback that Chris Grier likes, but I would have a hard time believing that he’s a prospect that he would love–and that’s not what the Miami Dolphins need to right the ship.
State of the Roster – Linebackers
The 2019 off-season schedule had an unusual beginning for the Miami Dolphins. Not that the once proud, winningest organization in the NFL is suddenly new to coaching turnover (quite the opposite, rather). It’s the timing of the hire that provides the distinction from Stephen Ross’ three other head coaching appointments.
Typically, when the incumbent or new staff is in-place by Early-January, the roster dominoes begin to take shape. Waiting for Brian Flores to win his fifth Lombardi Trophy delayed that process by a month.
Now, with the majority of Coach Flores’ staff settling into their new offices, we can begin to speculate and forecast what will transpire over the next three months.
It’s not hyperbole to say that these next three months are the most important of Chris Grier’s professional career. Miami’s new General Manager is charged with resurrecting a franchise that, in the last 15 years, has fallen from the peak of the winning percentage mountain top, all the way down to fifth place on that obscure, yet illustrious list.
In this series we are going to explore the current assets on the roster and what their futures hold. Plus, we’ll explore the free-agency market and point out scheme fit pieces the Dolphins might seek to add in April’s draft.
Current Cash Owed: ~ $10.1 Million
NFL Average: ~ $18 Million
Players Under Contract – 2019 Cash Owed:
Raekwon McMillan – $892 K
After a slow start McMillan came on like gangbusters; at least in run-defense. From week-five on, McMillan was graded second by PFF against the run (trailing only Luke Kuechly). His first year off major reconstructive knee surgery, the upside is glowing.
McMillan has a knack for correctly hitting his run fits, shows a great first step, and plays exceptionally well downhill. The design of this new defense is going to have the former Buckeye shining.
McMillan’s Projected 2019 Action: Mike Linebacker
Jerome Baker – $654 K
Like McMillan, Baker was late to the party in 2018, but he too turned it on post-September. Baker was PFF’s #22 overall linebacker over the final 13 weeks of the season. Though Baker also excelled against the run, he was more balanced providing value in coverage and as a blitzer. His PRP was similarly low to McMillan’s, but when Baker arrive he sacked the QB (3 of 5 pressures).
Baker is the new-aged linebacker – run, hit, and cover; that’s his game. He will have to transition to a new role playing primarily on the ball and off the edge, likely the weak side, but he’s more than capable.
Baker’s Projected 2019 Action: Will Backer
Kiko Alonso – $7.9 M
Kiko Alonso is a living, breathing highlight reel. The problem, for Miami, is that he’s usually on someone else’s mixtape. Alonso does well when he I.D.’s his gap early, but those instances are few and far between. He hustles to the ball and has a knack for the takeaway, it’s just the other 995 snaps of the season you worry about.
Turned around by the athletic prowess of Josh Allen, Christian McCaffery, or just about every pass receiving specialist tailback, Alonso is fading towards irrelevance at the position. Moving on from the often burnt, often penalized Alonso, is a no-brainer.
Alonso’s Projected 2019 Action: Cut
Chase Allen – $645 K
New England’s Linebacker position, under Brian Flores, was the ultimate test of pliability. Chase Allen has a role lining up over the center as the nose-backer in one of Flores’ many defensive fronts.
Allen excelled in that role in Miami, albeit on a limited basis, and figures to be a core special teamer.
Allen’s Projected 2019 Action: Nose Backer/Core Special Teamer
Pending Free Agents – 2018 Salary
Stephone Anthony – $1.9 M
The ole’ Mike Tannenbaum specialty, Miami spent a fifth-round pick, and far too much cap allocation, on a player that never made a contribution. Anthony was toast in his limited defensive snaps and rarely found the ball on special teams.
Anthony’s Projected 2019 Action: Not Re-signed
2019 Linebacker Free Agent Market:
The Dolphins could spend this portion of the off-season on the sideline. The likely top three players on the depth chart are already signed, sealed, and delivered, finding backups and special teams is all that’s left to do.
Now if the ‘Phins are so inclined to spend on the big ticket item, Anthony Barr would make nice strong-side linebacker in this new scheme. His coverage limitations should drive his cost down, but that’s not how free agency works – he’ll be priced out of Miami’s range.
Deone Bucannon is an interesting option that could help Miami remain fluid as they implement dime and quarter packages on the back-end. A safety/linebacker hybrid, Bucannon affords the defense the luxury of changing personnel without substituting. Bucannon is an excellent match-up piece in the passing game as well. Like Barr, Bucannon would come at a cost.
More realistically, Miami are looking at former Patriot Marquis Flowers and Eli Harold (Detroit).
2019 Linebacker Draft Class:
It’s not inconceivable that the Dolphins make this position a priority with the undrafted crop post-draft. The same idea with Jerome Baker, the ‘Phins need to find players that can run, hit, and cover but, most importantly, start off on special teams.
New Mexico State’s Terrill Hanks had 11 sacks and eight picks in college. His vast coverage and range skill set should be no surprise, he’s a former safety. Hanks struggles taking on blocks but that’s not a trait he will have to worry about in this scheme.
Bobby Okereke (Stanford) fits the run/hit/cover bill in his own right. North Carolina State’s Germaine Pratt falls into that category as well.
2019 Linebacker Prediction:
There are plenty of intriguing options at the positon but, with the needs on the defensive line and in the secondary, Miami could punt on this off-season’s linebacker class. In a defense that frequently uses one true ‘backer, Raekwon McMillan satisfies that bill. Jerome Baker will be the second linebacker and the Phins will look to pair Chase Allen with more sub-package types.
I’m adding Marquis Flowers in free agency – he was with the Pats for the first four years of his career. I’m also drafting Stanford’s Bobby Okereke on day-three. He’s an intelligent player with plus range and will help Miami’s flexibility in sub-packages.
Mike/Primary Linebacker: Raekwon McMillan
Will/Secondary Linebacker: Jerome Baker
Nose Backer: Chase Allen
Sub-Package: Rookie (Bobby Okereke)
Depth: UDFA/FA (Marquis Flowers)
5 Viable Options for Miami at Pick 13
Mock drafts before April are about as futile as trick-or-treating before Halloween. Sure you might get miraculously lucky at one or two spots, but mostly you’ll just get weird looks from people. That being said, I’ve decided to mock up some scenarios the Dolphins may be presented with come late April.
Despite a flurry of updated scouting reports, trades, and free agent decisions that will ultimately happen before the draft, I couldn’t resist speculating what some of the most enticing options might be waiting there for Miami. I’ll be looking at these options under the assumption that Miami keeps the 13th pick come draft day.
1 – Trade Down
Trading down was something owner Stephen Ross reportedly pounded the table for last year. However, GM Chris Grier and company persuaded him to stay put and take Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick. While Fitzpatrick turned out to be a promising investment, I would expect the war room to try and gather as much draft capital as they can this time around.
The organization, specifically Ross, has put an emphasis on rebuilding the roster from the ground up these next few years, and there’s no better way to do that than by hoarding draft picks.
2 – Blue Chip Falls to 13 (BPA)
Much like the case with Fitzpatrick last year, there’s bound to be a blue chip player that falls out of the top 10 this year. If Miami’s war room decides not to trade back in the first round, it’s likely because they feel that a top talent has fallen into their laps at pick 13–similar to the Laremy Tunsil slide in 2016.
Unfortunately Nick Bosa is out of the question for Miami. I can’t fathom a universe where Bosa would fall to 13. Quinnen Williams would be a no-brainer here, but much like Bosa, its unlikely he’ll fall to pick 13. If he does however, he would fill a major need for Miami as well as add tremendous upside to a lack-luster defensive line.
Three prospects that also have top 10 grades are Greedy Williams, Josh Allen, and Devin White. These three are the physical definition of what you look for in a potential All-Pro football player. With all the shuffling expected to happen to Miami’s roster, these players could be immediate contributors and leaders as soon as they walk onto the field.
3 – Draft QB
I’m a firm believer that Miami needs to be patient with their quarterback situation. Miami isn’t expecting to win many games in the coming year or two, and this isn’t expected to be a great draft class for passers. Now as much as I like Kyler Murray, I can’t help but to think that other quarterbacks like Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence would provide more upside in the long run.
Despite the potential of future quarterbacks to come, this brain-trust of experienced scouts and well respected personnel guys might not let a guy like Murray slip past pick 13. Miami has many needs on paper, and quarterback is right up near the top of those needs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyler be the first step of this rebuild if the war room thinks he’s worth the risk.
4 – Attempt to Replace an All-Pro
Sadly enough, there won’t be a younger clone of Cameron Wake waiting there at pick 13. The end of an era is coming, and sooner or later the Dolphins won’t have the consistency off the edge that Wake has been able to provide for so many years.
Brian Burns reminds me of Wake at times, but he also reminds me of Dion Jordan at times. The general opinion is that Burns could end up being a project player. I have no doubt this coaching staff has the ability to maximize the potential of Burns, but they might not like the value here.
Rashan Gary would be another enticing option were he to fall to Miami. Gary’s flexibility across the defensive line coincides perfectly with Brian Flores‘ multiple defensive scheme. Gary has the potential to be an All-Pro early in his career wherever Folres decides to put him on the defensive line.
5 – Address the O-Line
I’m interested to see what happens with Ju’Wuan James. He’s been a quiet strength for Miami. The combination of him and Tunsil has proven to be a consistent force when healthy. If James is willing to come back for the right price, Miami would be lucky to have one less hole to worry about.
If a deal with James isn’t struck, then offensive linemen will be one of Miami’s top priorities in the draft. They may be tempted to take an early look at offensive lineman depending on how the board falls. I expect the war room to find at least one starting quality offensive lineman within the first three rounds.
Dolphins’ fans are at the beginning of a very long journey. The recent organizational hires have inspired widespread optimism across the fan base. For the first time in a long time the future is looking bright for the Dolphins. Needless to say this draft will be a pivotal start to the Dolphins’ rebuild. The difficult decisions that Grier and his new staff will soon be faced with will reveal the direction in which this franchise is headed.
- Fits and Starts of the 2019 NFL Draft–Jarrett Stidham February 19, 2019
- State of the Roster – Linebackers February 19, 2019
- 5 Viable Options for Miami at Pick 13 February 19, 2019
- Inside the Film Room – Dolphins New Defensive Scheme February 18, 2019
- Inside the Film Room – Dolphins New Offensive System February 17, 2019
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