The Most Captivating Game on Miami’s Schedule So Far Between a Pair of Winless Teams
Who: Dolphins (0-4) vs. Washington (0-5)
When: Sunday October 13, 1:00 East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: 84 degrees, 64% humidity, 14 MPH winds
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +3.5
As underdogs by a touchdown on opening day, Miami’s 49-point defeat quickly shifted the perception of this team in the eyes of the odds makers. After three weeks as three-score dogs, Miami aren’t favored Sunday at home, but it’s the most winnable game of the season in the eyes of Vegas.
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Miami a 37% shot at victory. Since the turn of the century, no winless team with four or more games played has been favored to win on the road, until now.
Players are trained to block out the noise, but avoiding the chatter is impossible in 2019. That chatter crept into the Dolphins locker room, and reporters are getting genuine answers from all ends of the spectrum. Second-year pro, 22-year-old Linebacker Jerome Baker went as far as to say that fans rooting for a tank aren’t actually real fans.
Veteran Center Daniel Kilgore made his feelings known about the fan base’s desire to obtain the first pick.
Dolphins C Daniel Kilgore on the tank brigade rooting for a winless bowl loss: “This team is going to compete their asses off. We’re going to go out on Sunday and go to win. As much as I’m sure everybody wants us to lose to secure that No. 1 overall pick, I don’t give a damn.”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) October 9, 2019
For Washington, this might be the Dan Campbell moment. Promoting longtime Offensive Line specialist Bill Callahan comes with an attitude adjustment. Washington spent the week running gassers, utilizing more padded practices, and taking a throwback approach to this game.
We’ve seen first-hand the type of immediate impacts coaching changes can have, even if the message fades a few weeks down the line. Adam Gase infamously used the excuse that Minnesota changed coordinators prior to Dolphins-Vikings meeting last season, which harkens back to when Campbell brought a 1-3 Dolphins team back to life in 2015 with two emphatic wins.
This game is a conflicting one for the fan base. The Dolphins remain the odds-on-favorite for the number-one pick in next April’s draft, but a victory here gives Washington the inside track.
A quality performance speaks well for Brian Flores and his staff, but if the ultimate prize is the best available quarterback of the 2020 offseason, that isn’t the desired outcome.
A quick film study thread on Miami’s week 6 opponent, the Washington football team.
First, the Dolphins like to take vertical shots into the boundary. They could sneak Williams/Parker/Gesicki to the post for a big play. pic.twitter.com/GN3bBB4vWb
— Miami Dolphins Video Breakdowns (@PhinsBreakdowns) October 9, 2019
This will be brief. With a new brain trust taking over for the dismissed Jay Gruden, it’s impossible to know what the Washington offense will look like. Or is it?
Just turned on Bill Callahan's press conference in time to hear him say his offense is more about rush attempts than yards-per-carry. He also said if you run the ball more times than your opponent you'll probably beat them. pic.twitter.com/qiAF0W8Kpc
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) October 9, 2019
Despite the league’s fourth-highest first down run rate in the opening half, Callahan wants Washington to run it more. Despite the third-worst rushing average on these runs (3.3 YPC), Callahan insists that Gruden’s operation was too pass-friendly.
That information is made available by the venerable Warren Sharp.
The passing concepts are anybody’s guess. In the running game, there were variations of man and zone with Gruden in-house, and those calls were typically determined by which back was in the game. With Adrian Peterson, we’re likely to see more man-gap scheme. When it’s Chris Thompson, Washington is more likely to run zone.
Washington’s defense is well-coached. Greg Manusky has been a coordinator in the league since 2007 (aside from his first year with Washington in 2016 when he was the OLB Coach). From the tape the last two weeks (one against Daniel Jones, the other against Tom Brady), Manusky’s plans are fluid.
Against the Patriots, Washington dropped eight into coverage with regularity and tried to win with a three-man rush — and they were successful. Three of the four sacks on Brady came from three-man rushes, while the fourth was a four-man rush.
They mix in zone and man-coverage, altering a lot between quarters and cover-4/cover-6 when in zone. Their man coverage usually comes in longer down-and-distances and plays with a single-high safety.
The Dolphins can attack the two-deep looks with the bigger-bodied X receivers (Preston Williams and Devante Parker).
Washington are currently fielding an offense that can compete with Miami for most feeble attack unit in the league. The good news (or bad, depending on which side you’re on) is that Case Keenum was a full participant in practice. He is set to return to the lineup this week.
The statuses of three limited practice participants loom large. Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses and Vernon Davis should be ready to play Sunday, and that will go a long way towards Washington’s desire to grind the Dolphins defense into a pulp.
Terry McLaurin has been the best rookie receiver in the NFL this year. He’s currently PFF’s 15th-overall graded wide out. He’s averaging 3.6 yards after the catch with three touchdowns and 308 receiving yards. Washington quarterbacks are enjoying a 126.8 passer rating when shooting it towards the rook.
Xavien Howard will likely travel with McLaurin, provided X is healthy and ready to go (limited in Wednesday’s practice).
Tim Settle was a 320-pound space eater at Virginia Tech. Now, he’s a 308-pound versatile pass rusher that can win from a variety of techniques along the defensive line. He dumped Brady for a pair of sacks Sunday (both in the video thread). One of those sacks came from his natural nose position, another came as an end lined up over the tackle as a five-tech.
Da’ron Payne and Jonathan Allen were selected in back-to-back years out of Alabama, and both have been hits for Washington. They’re big enough to eat up blocks in the running game and offer enough explosiveness to win one-on-one matchups as pass rushers.
That front line funnels everything for this defense. Ryan Kerrigan is still a crafty edge rusher that will give [Miami’s Right Tackle] all he can handle. Kerrigan uses an explosive first step up field, and then shows his nuance to chop the hands and bend the edge.
Landon Collins is the best defensive back on the team and Washington will need him to make a play. Expect the high-priced safety to hang out in the middle of the field and try to rob Josh Rosen on the many crossing routes Miami runs.
— Kareem Copeland (@kareemcopeland) October 10, 2019
Washington’s offensive operation has been an eyesore all year. The offensive line is just as bad as Miami’s — though it will improve with the return of their pro-bowl guard in Brandon Scherff — and the skill positions aren’t a whole lot better.
Colt McCoy was a disaster last week, and Dewayne Haskins was even worse the week prior. If Keenum can make it through the whole game, that gives Washington the best chance, but there are still opportunities for takeaways. The Dolphins will need a few to give the offense favorable starting field position.
Washington is going to run the football regardless of the looks they get. If Miami can consistently shut down the early down runs, Keenum will have no chance.
The concern all year will start on Miami’s front line. Josh Rosen doesn’t get rid of the ball fast enough to mitigate Miami’s protection issues, and the Washington front-seven might be able to tee off in this game — they did against Brady for a half.
If Miami can’t establish any run game, or effectively get out in front of the chains on first down, it’ll be a nightmare performance for Rosen. This is the first time all season that he’s going to play in a competitive game, and the way he responds should be telling.
The Projected Outcome:
Fans of the tank ought to be thrilled with the presumed health of Case Keenum. Haskins simply isn’t ready to play and McCoy consistently bailed on quality pockets last week, giving the offense no chance.
Washington is going to line up and run the ball off the right side of the offensive line. That means a downhill approach right at Taco Charlton and Sam Eguavoen. When Charlton needs a breather, Charles Harris will check in at that position — hardly inspiring.
This is going to set football back a few decades. Special teams and the turnover battle will likely settle the winner. I’m taking Washington because I think this will be a disaster game for Rosen, and Keenum will manage the game effectively enough to support a dominant showing from the Washington defense.
Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker
One of the longest-tenured players on the team may very well be a Miami Dolphin for life.
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Miami Dolphins have extended DeVante Parker through the 2023 season.
The #Dolphins and WR DeVante Parker are finalizing a four-year extension worth over $40 million, source said. Lot of guaranteed money. Another step in his remarkable turnaround. 💰
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 13, 2019
All of the details are still being flushed out, but the deal is a 4-year, $40m extension, with an $8m signing bonus (which is guaranteed).
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Parker will earn $4.5m guaranteed in 2020, and $7.7m guaranteed in 2021.
… Parker will make 4.5 M guaranteed in 2020 and 7.7 M guaranteed in 2021. Also, he's five catches and 120 yards from making another 1.5 M in incentives this season
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) December 13, 2019
Parker signs this extension in the middle of a career year. His 55 catches are 1 shy of his career-high (56, 2016), his 882 receiving yards surpass his prior career-high by 138 yards (2016), and his 6 touchdowns are only 3 less than his career total coming into the 2019 season.
Whether it’s Chad O’Shea‘s offense, a shift in Quarterback mentality, or the receiver finally coming into his own, Parker has shown that he can be a #1 receiver in this offense. Though some fans may be hoping for DeAndre Hopkins or Odell Beckham Jr. “elite”, the truth is, Parker isn’t that far behind.
His extension is in line with his production, and it’s fair to say that Parker’s potential still hasn’t been tapped. It’ll be interesting to see how much Parker builds off of his career-year, especially if the Dolphins can solidify their offensive line and give their receivers a chance to get open (more often).
Parker joins Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey as the only other 1st-round picks drafted this decade to have signed an extension with the team.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 13, 2019
Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes
MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – Miami Dolphins continue to change up the roster
The Miami Dolphins have continued their roster churning in Week 15, leading up to their prizefight against the New York Giants on December 15.
While it’s been a mainstay strategy for the Dolphins this year, to comb over the waiver wire and the free agency market, there was a significant uptick in waiver wire awards last, totaling four new players being claimed.
Last week’s claimed players included Trevor Davis, Mack Hollins, Zach Zenner, and Zach Sieler. Zenner’s Miami stint was short-lived; he was waived on Tuesday, December 10 to make room for the newest wave of Dolphins signees.
Along with Zenner’s release, the Miami Dolphins added cornerbacks Ken Webster and Ryan Lewis to the Injured Reserve list.
Those three transactions allowed the Dolphins to scoop a player from the New England Patriots’ practice squad, defensive back Nate Brooks, a second player from the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, linebacker Jamal Davis II, and a third player, offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who was waived by the Green Bay Packers.
Nate Brooks is a rookie defensive back that played at North Texas and has spent time with the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.
Jamal Davis II is also a rookie. He entered the league from Akron. As mentioned above, he spent time with the Titans earlier this year before the Miami Dolphins signed him.
Adam Pankey is the most traveled player the Dolphins have added. Pankey went undrafted in 2017 out of West Virginia and has had two runs with the Packers and a short one with the Titans.
We have signed DB Nate Brooks off New England’s practice squad, signed LB Jamal Davis off Tennessee’s practice squad and been awarded T Adam Pankey off waivers from Green Bay.
We have also placed CB Ryan Lewis and CB Ken Webster on injured reserve and waived RB Zach Zenner.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 10, 2019
On December 7, cornerback Linden Stephens was added to the roster in a last-minute shuffle before the Dolphins-Jets game. Cornerback Chris Lammons was released to make room for Stephens on the squad, per Adam Beasley.
Stephens has had tenures with the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. He formerly played at Cincinnati in college.
Dolphins add their sixth new player of the week, signing cornerback Linden Stephens off Seattle’s practice squad. To make room, they waived cornerback Chris Lammons.
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) December 7, 2019
In practice squad news, cornerback Rashard Causey was added to the group on December 12, per Safid Deen. Causey played college ball at UCF and has spent time with the Denver Broncos.
The #Dolphins have added former UCF and Davie University School DB Rashard Causey to their practice squad today.
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) December 12, 2019
Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview
Dolphins set to run it back in New York
Who: Dolphins (3-10) @ Giants (2-11)
When: Sunday December 15, 1:00 East
Where: MetLife Stadium — East Rutherford, NJ
Weather: 35 degrees, partly cloudy
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +3
The Miami Dolphins did not equip Brian Flores with a competitive roster for the 2019 season. Despite taking a path traveled by nobody else in the league, Miami sits with a better record than three teams in the league, and Sunday will pit the Fins up against one of those teams.
The Giants thought they were constructing a playoff roster that could run the football behind former number-two overall pick Saquon Barkley, and disrupt both the run and pass with an influx of high resources spent on the defensive line.
Even with half the cash payroll of the next lowest team on that notorious list, and 11 of its original opening day starters gone for one reason or another, Miami enter a week-15 road game as mere three-point dogs.
Still, with three or four new bodies working into the rotation every week, Brian Flores’ Dolphins have won three games since the bye week, and been within a score in the fourth quarter for all nine games.
Does either team want to win this game? Of course the players and coaches will want to be rewarded for a long, arduous work week, but what good does a victory do in the grand scheme of things? Flores has proven that he can coach his ass off, while Pat Shurmur is assured to lose his job whatever happens these final three weeks.
The cost, for the Giants, could be Chase Young. For Miami, perhaps even more severe as the best quarterback prospect of the last several years could suddenly be available because of medical concerns, should the team land in the top five.
A victory Sunday will likely remove Miami from that perch as the Lions and Cardinals are both underdogs, and would each jump the Dolphins with a one-game difference in the standings.
Mike Shula’s scheme is as 11-personnel heavy as any in the league, but things have changed due to injuries. Without Evan Ingram to provide the ultimate flexibility between 11 and 12-personnel packages, the Giants have lacked much variety in his absence. Using 81% one back, one tight end (3rdmost in football), Miami will be afforded the opportunity to get creative on defense altering its pre-snap look from the same package.
The Giants are successful on just 41% of their plays from this personnel grouping, including 12 interceptions, 31 sacks and just 6.6 yards per passing play. New York only runs one other package (12-personnel) and also doesn’t have a lot of success out of that grouping. Adhering to old school principles, the Giants don’t throw from run formations, and the predictability has the Giants averaging just 5.7 YPA from 12-personnel.
The Giants rank 26th in total offense, 22nd in passing, 26th in rushing and 25th in scoring.
James Bettcher is a fan of sending pressure, and he will certainly try to heat up Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday. Fitzpatrick might have the last laugh with his ability to get the ball hot to the interior receivers working in behind the linebackers and winning one-on-one matchups with a young defensive backfield.
The Giants base is a 3-4 look, but elements of that defense are always sparingly used because of the nature of modern day football. Bettcher wants to get pressure out of his outside backers in Markus Golden, Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, using his interior backers in a more traditional, off-ball sense.
New York blitzes 28.7% of the time — exactly the middle of the pack at 16th— but it’s safe to assume they’ll turn that number up on Sunday. The G-Men are in the middle of the pack in hurry rate, knockdown rate and pressure rate. The Giants 94 missed tackles are 13th most in the league.
The Giants rank 27th in total defense 26th in passing, 20th in rushing and 28th in scoring defense.
Eli Manning is Eli Manning. The Giants hung onto him for three years too long, and his storied career appears to be coming to an end in three weeks. Filling in for the injured Daniel Jones gives the Miami defense a chance to tee off on a quarterback for the first time since the home win over Sam Darnold and the New York Jets.
Manning can’t move, he can’t drive the ball, and there’s really no reason for him to be on a roster at this point. The Dolphins will hit him, turn him over, and dominate the Giants offense is he plays.
New York funneled a lot of resources into its offensive line, and it’s still one of the worst in football. Miami lacks true pass rushers, so it’ll be up to the stunts and games up front to get pressure. Expect Flores to blitz Manning relentlessly, likely with a lot of zero looks.
Holding Saquon Barkley has been easier for opponents this year. A lot of the Giants running game gets Barkley going horizontally, and he’s been able to make the big plays due to poor blocking and a nasty ankle sprain earlier in the year.
This game will be a big test for Taco Charlton, Vince Biegel, Andrew Van Ginkel, Charles Harris and the rest of the Miami edge players.
Markus Golden stands to wreck this game for Miami. He’ll come down off the offense’s left edge, and that position has been an issue for the Dolphins all year long. Sliding protection and using a back or tight end to chip Golden is the only way Fitzpatrick will have any time to throw.
On the inside, the Giants offer the beef that Miami’s interior line struggles with the most. Dexter Lawrence is massive, and those are the kind of players that give Daniel Kilgore problems up front.
Alec Ogletree remains a focal point of the Giants defense, and that presents a lot of opportunities for the Dolphins. Look for Miami to empty out the backfield from 12 and 11-personnel, find Ogletree in coverage, and go to work.
The New York secondary is full of inexperience. Rookie DeAndre Baker has worn the rabbit hat (teams go after him) all year long while Janoris Jenkins appears to have past his prime.
This is a slow defense and I’d be surprised if Chad O’Shea doesn’t have his way with it in the passing game.
If Devante Parker can go, there isn’t a player in the Giants defensive backfield that can handle his skill set. Regardless, Miami’s passing schemes will create opportunities for whichever players are healthy, especially Allen Hurns inside on mismatches from 12-personnel against linebackers. Patrick Laird should draw some favorable matchups in the passing game in his own right — expect a big day for The Intern.
If it’s Eli, expect a lot of pressure sent to overwhelm a bad Giants line and quarterback. If it’s Daniel Jones, expect Miami to play coverage and take the ball away from the rookie. Either way, this is the day the Dolphins defense gets healthy.
The Giants skill players can make some noise. Darius Slayton’s speed is a problem, and he’s been producing regardless of who’s under center. The Dolphins added yet another pair of defensive backs to the injured reserve, and that’ll provide a challenge against Slayton, Golden Tate and Sterling Sheppard.
Miami haven’t been able to block many pass rushes, and they’ve created almost nothing by way of the ground game, so the Giants talented front is an issue. There will be one-on-one opportunities aplenty for Markus Golden, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams.
The Projected Outcome:
It doesn’t matter if it’s Daniel Jones or Eli Manning. Both are going to give the Dolphins defense opportunities to take the football away, and neither presents much fear to a unit that is full of undrafted free agents are largely unknowns. Manning doesn’t have the physical traits to scare anyone and Jones is on track for the most turnovers at the position per game of all time. If Jones plays, it will be on a tender ankle that robs the one trait he has — his mobility.
Miami beat the Jets in November in convincing fashion. Every other game since the bye week — with the exception of the Cleveland and Buffalo (home) games — have been white knuckle affairs. This game has the makeup of a blowout, but in favor of the road team.
A bitter, angry team off the loss last week responds to Brian Flores’ message and puts a beating on the Giants.
- Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker December 13, 2019
- Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes December 13, 2019
- Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview December 12, 2019
- The Aftermath: Dolphins 21 Jets 22 December 10, 2019
- Fins Fall to Rivals, Officials – Dolphins Jets Week 14 Recap December 8, 2019
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