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Miami Dolphins

Miami’s Offensive Devolution

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

This offensive failure goes well beyond Kenyan Drake getting more touches. In fact, we shouldn’t have a single complaint about the Miami Dolphins running game – that phase of the offense performed proudly this season. If Miami’s passing attack was slightly better than pathetic, this team could have been in the playoffs.

The Dolphins averaged 289.9 yards per game in 2018, which was good for 31st in the league. For a team that scored an average of 19.94 points per game (26th in the league) with a backup offensive line, they had no trouble moving the ball on the ground. Which leads you to believe the issue lies somewhere else…and it’s kind of obvious where the issue is.

I’ll drop a quick note and say that these statistics are nothing more than utilizing numbers to create new numbers to explain this team’s ineptitude. This started out when my curiosity wondered how often Miami rushed for more yards than they passed for in a game this past season (the answer is later in the article).

With the NFL turning more-and-more into a pass-happy league as each new rule passes, having a running game that’s more dominant than your passing game is rare. Unfortunately for Miami’s case, their running game wasn’t necessarily dominant, their passing game was just putrid. So these numbers are really just another tool to measure how comical Miami’s aerial attack was.

Taking into account passing numbers from across the league, the average passing yards per game for all teams in 2018 was ~240 yards (this includes reducing yards due to sacks – a 300 yard quarterback that gets sacked twice for 20 yards leads to a 280 yard passing day for the team).

The average rushing yards per game for all teams in 2018 was ~116 yards.

Assuming a QB should throw for (at least) 2x more yards than a running back should run for, especially in this pass-happy league, let’s see just how successful Miami’s passing attack was:

You want your play-distribution to be even, not the number of yards you accumulate each game. We already know the following:

  • Miami averaged 181.3 yards passing and 108.6 yards rushing per game.

The Dolphins only had two 300 yard passing games this whole season: Brock Osweiler (Week 6, CHI, 380 yards, 3TDs/2INTs) and the combination of Ryan Tannehill and Albert Wilson (Week 3, OAK, 289 yards for Tannehill and 52 yards for Wilson) . For comparison, Miami had ten 100+ yard rushing games. Using our less-than-scientific gauge, Miami had 3 “good” passing games (in which they accumulated more yards than the season average) and they had 8 “good” rushing games.

The thing is, Miami doesn’t have an elite rushing attack that warrants such a disparity in yards. We’re not talking about Barry Sanders, Todd Gurley or even Ricky Williams when they were on bad passing teams. The Dolphins had a “good” group of running backs, but nothing spectacular. This isn’t about Miami’s amazing rushing attack, it just further exasperates Miami’s minimal passing attack.

This team threw for only 1.67 more yards than they rushed for the entire season. This passing attack couldn’t even ellipse 3000 yards (mostly due to the 52 sacks Miami absorbed this year, losing them 409 yards in the process).

  • Ryan Tannehill: 35 sacks / 279 yards
  • Brock Osweiler: 17 / 130

You’re going to read a lot more on Miami’s ineptitude through the air this offseason, but it was interesting to see how many times Miami ran for more yards than they threw. I thought the answer was going to be more than it was, but there were only two instances where Miami rushed for more yards than they passed for in a game this season:

  • Week 2 (NYJ): 135 rushing yards / 122 passing yards
  • Week 15 (MIN): 156 rushing yards / 37 passing yards

There was also this interesting note; the following teams ran for more yards than the Dolphins passed for:

  • Week 4 (NE): 175 rushing yards (by NE’s offense) / 116 passing yards (by Miami’s offense)
  • Week 7 (DET): 248 rushing yards / 215 passing yards
  • Week 10 (GB): 195 rushing yards / 163 passing yards
  • Week 13 (BUF): 198 rushing yards / 115 passing yards
  • Week 15 (MIN): 220 rushing yards / 37 passing yards
  • Week 16 (JAX): 126 rushing yards / 121 passing yards
  • Week 17 (BUF): 166 rushing yards / 126 passing yards

7 times the Dolphins’ opponent rushed for more yards than the Dolphins passed for in 2018.

Staggering statistics like this is how you lose football games. Yes, opponents rushing yards and Miami’s passing yards aren’t directly correlated, so, again, these numbers aren’t some new-age metrics, it’s just interesting to see the comparison. It really is amazing Miami was able to finish 7-9 on the year.

If the Dolphins passing game was able to put up just 5 “good” passing games this season, you’re looking at a completely different result this season. We can chastise Adam Gase, Dowell Loggains (whoever makes these calls) and the rest of the offense for failing to give Kenyan Drake the ball more, but this isn’t the reason why Miami’s offense was nonexistent. It has much more to do with the quarterback whisperer/offensive guru of a head coach failing to evolve his franchise quarterback into a legitimate threat.

There are plenty of variables that go into all of these numbers (such as the score dictating play calling, injures, etc). This isn’t meant to be scientific evidence that a real, professional NFL team should make decisions off of. All we needed to do was watch the games this season to see just how bad Miami’s passing game really was. These numbers put another spin on a forgettable 2018.

We have an entire offseason of misery and hope ahead of us, we’re going to have some fun where we can. A lot of that fun is just going to be at the Dolphins expense.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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Miami Dolphins

Pillaging the Pats

Travis Wingfield



Taking From the Rich and Giving to the Phins

De facto Patriots Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores is set to take over the big chair in Miami at the conclusion of New England’s 2018 season. Rumored to be coming with Flores are a pair of Pats staffers.

A master of delegation, Bill Belichick constantly maintains the smallest staff in the league. Flores’ intentions are to bring with him Pats’ Consultant Bret Bielema and Wide Receivers Coach Chad O’Shea.

*We’ll have a comprehensive breakdown of the offensive scheme that comes with O’Shea should this move push closer to official. And we’ll do so in the same capacity as the Defensive Crash Course piece.

If Flores is able to extract both Bielema and O’Shea, he’s plundering 16% of the 2018 Patriots’ staff (that includes Flores). Belichick’s coaching tree has yielded less than desirable results in their new destinations, but Flores is described as “different” from the rest.

By now Dolphins fans are tired of lip service. If Flores is the exception to the many before him, great – we’ll find out on Sundays. Flores is, however, off to a unique beginning compared to the lackluster rest.


Coach (Year Left New England) Additional Migrating Staffers
Charlies Weis (2005 – Notre Dame) 0
Romeo Crennel (2005 – Cleveland) 0
Eric Mangini (2007 – NY Jets) 0
Josh McDaniels (2009 – Denver) 0
Bill O’Brien (2012 – Penn State) 0
Matt Patricia (2018 – Detroit) 0


Goose eggs. I didn’t expect that when I began this study, hence the table. Interestingly, the greatest dearth in the Patriots run came between the 2008-2010 seasons. That sentence is a house of cards for two reasons:

1.) It’s sort of hilarious to call two playoff appearances and a combined record of 35-13 a dearth. Those three seasons were the last time New England weren’t participating in the Conference Championship – they’ve qualified for eight consecutive title games since.

2.) It’s something of a strawman to suggest New England’s 14-2 season was cut short at the divisional round because of a loss of coordinators. Not to mention the 2008 season that brought back 11 wins despite starting Matt Cassel for 15 games.

That three-year stretch did come after New England lost its offensive and defensive coordinators, and then Crennel’s replacement at DC (Mangini) two years later. No one is mistaking Flores, Bielema, and O’Shea for Weis, Crennel, and Mangini, but this would be a similar exodus – the difference being all at once opposed to three years.

It’s no secret that Belichick is a ruthless competitor that has no qualms about making enemies. The Patriots have blocked coaches from interviewing for outside positions in the past. Clearly, New England doesn’t block assistants from taking head coaching jobs, but the fact that zero staffers jumped ship might insinuate staffers are held hostage.

Maybe that’s where the idea that Flores is different from the rest comes from. His ability to separate himself from the Pats’ program. His intentions to implement his own initiative that doesn’t try to form as a carbon copy of Belichick’s well-oiled machine in Foxboro.

There are a million ways to splice this, but it all comes back to one conclusion: Brian Flores is beloved by everyone that knows him – even the heartless Hoodie.


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Miami Dolphins

Crash Course On 2019 Dolphins Defensive Scheme

Travis Wingfield



For a publication based primarily on analysis, these last two weeks have been a bit of a drag for content. We know the potential names but, as they say, potential doesn’t play on Sundays. In this case, the reference refers to the rumors and names linked to various positions with the Dolphins – rumors, meaning anything but finalized.

Enter Patrick Graham.

It has been reported that Miami, under Head Coach to Be Named Brian Flores, will tag the former Green Bay Packers assistant as the Defensive Coordinator position with the Dolphins in 2019.

Graham, a former staffer alongside Flores in New England, spent the 2018 season coaching the linebackers on Mike Pettine’s defense.

Another name linked to the vacant DC job is Bret Bielema. The former Wisconsin and Arkansas Head Coach spent the 2018 season working hand-in-hand with Bill Belichick as a Consultant to the Head Coach.

And so, from this, we glean some potential defensive structures, schemes and principles that figure to be migrating south this winter along with Flores.

For Flores, Graham, and potentially Bielema, the task is tall. Redirect a unit that ranked 29th in points allowed each of the last two years under the inexperienced watch of Matt Burke.

We start first in New England. After all, Flores will be a master of delegation, but he knows this scheme as well as anyone. Few teams mix up their fronts with more frequency than the New England Patriots.

The prevailing theme among these slight variances of defensive schemes is the “Bear” front. A Bear front simply refers to six defenders up around the line of scrimmage. Two of those players are positioned in a linebacker technique while the other four are down linemen.

This variation of the Bear front is a 3-3 look using three down-linemen, two outside ‘backers shaded off the 9-technique alignment.

In this image provided by the Twitter account of James Light, we can see the variations from the nickel and dime packages (yes, Miami will FINALLY be running some dime defense in 2019).

The more traditional look aligns those six players in a 4-2 set.

Bret Bielema last coached (on the field) in 2017 at Arkansas, so he’s no stranger to the evolution of the college game and its integration into the NFL. There, Bielema’s defense was based in the traditional 3-4, but the tight splits inside look an awful lot like the classic Bear front (nose tackle over the center and two fellow linemen in a variance between 2i and 4 techniques). Bielema helped institute some of these principles in 2018 – his one season with the Patriots.

The common theme between all of these looks is to prevent specific run plays. The inside run becomes increasingly difficult with all the bodies down around the line of scrimmage. The even bigger factor (both literally and figuratively) is the beef inside.

Lining up with three down-linemen (pushing 300 pounds a pop) and defending one gap makes it nearly impossible to pull, which means the end of any gap-scheming.

The scheme is also designed to shut down inside zone, but also free up the linebackers with fewer keys and responsibilities. Instead of asking the defensive ends to set the edge on the way to their pass rush (the design of the wide-9) this alignment puts that responsibility on the outside linebackers.

The widened pre-snap alignment gives the linebackers a quicker, unimpeded path to outside runs. Only the Mike Linebacker has to weed through trash and take on blocks in this defense. Raekwon McMillan would likely serve as the Middle Linebacker. McMillan’s instincts and physicality at the point-of-attack would capitalize on the things the former Buckeye does well.

Then there’s the influence of the actual Titled-Defensive Coordinator, Patrick Graham. Working under Mike Pettine, Graham absorbed the principles of the Bear front and the 46 defense. Pettine spent time with Rex Ryan in Baltimore and with the New York Jets and, as we all know, Rex’s Dad Buddy was the originator of the 46 defense.

The imagine comes from the Patriots defense, but it’s along the lines of what you see in Green Bay with Pettine (and Graham). Four down-linemen condensed to create space off the edge of the linebackers. This means more pass rushing opportunities from linebackers.

Later, as it inches near official status in the way it has with Graham, we will dive into the potential principles and concepts of Jim Caldwell’s offense in today’s NFL. Much like the Dolphins inclination to bring an experienced consultant along with the young defensive boss, the play on the attack unit is heading in that direction as well.

These consultants figure in as prominent fixtures early in this experimental tenure of young coaches. Caldwell (63-years-old with 41 years of coaching experience) and Bielema (48-years-old with 22 years of coaching experience) can ease the transition to the Flores/Graham grouping along with whomever (possibly Chad O’Shea of the Patriots) Flores chooses as his Offensive Coordinator.

The offensive crash course will be posted just as soon as we have more concrete news.


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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Mock Draft Roundup: A Kyler Murray Sighting

Skyler Trunck



It is that time of year again.  Yes, the time of year where we all jump to immediate conclusions, argue and judge each other on projections that, statistically speaking, have a less chance of happening than winning the lottery or being struck by lightning multiple times.

It’s mock draft season!  Well – it’s been mock draft season since December 30th but who’s counting…

Let’s get started on what I hope becomes a weekly (or bi-weekly depending on how many updates are made) mock draft roundup for Miami’s 13th overall pick:


Bleacher Report: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU

Greedy Williams, arguably one of the top corners in this draft — right up there with Washington corner Byron Murphy.  Someone to pair with all-pro corner, Xavien Howard, is a need for this Miami defense. Drafting or bringing in a reliable #2 corner also allows Miami to play players like Bobby McCain and Minkah Fitzpatrick in their proper roles, slot corner and safety respectively.

Williams is a tall corner, measuring in at 6’3”.  Add in the speed he possesses and simply looking at the metrics, he has what you want, physically, for a corner.


CBS Sports: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU

Right off the bat, two mocks having Miami select LSU corner, Greedy Williams.  It’s hard to argue against this pick when you watch Williams.

For those looking for a quarterback, this mock draft saw four — yes, four — quarterbacks go before Miami’s selection.  In between those selections saw a lot of the top defensive line players taken – both edge and interior. Assuming this is the case, a player like Williams would be a solid pick as far as value and need go.


The Draft Network: Kyler Murray – QB – Oklahoma

Now it’s getting exciting!  There isn’t a player in this draft with more hype than Kyler Murray.  As written here at Locked on Dolphins, Murray has the answers for this Miami team.

Some question if he will be available at #13.  As Ian Rapoport reports, maybe that idea isn’t so far-fetched.  Maybe it’s just early smoke-screens or maybe teams are actually concerned about his size.  Make no mistake, despite the round 2 or 3 grade, quarterbacks always find their name called much earlier.  Murray will be no exception.

2019 still may be a “rebuilding” year, but I promise drafting Murray would produce a season defined as anything but boring.  If you’re hoping for Miami to make a splash in the draft, drafting Murray would certainly be the biggest play.


Drafttek: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson

Dexter Lawrence did not play in Clemson’s final two games, which ultimately resulted in a national championship.  Although Lawrence wasn’t on the field, don’t misunderstand the impact Lawrence had on this Clemson team.

Lawrence has the size to play on the interior of a defensive line, coming in at 6’4” and 340 lbs.  He isn’t the quickest tackle in the world, but he can stop the run with the best of them and bring interior pressure to disrupt the quarterback.  Although I feel this is high for Lawrence and there may be more impactful positional prospects available at this pick (e.g. defensive end Jachai Polite, Montez Sweat), he would be a safe pick who would contribute day 1 for this Miami defense.


Pro Football Focus: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson

This now makes two choices for Clemson star interior defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.  

What is interesting, in this mock, players like Houston’s Ed Oliver were still available.  Oliver, also an interior defensive lineman, has a different skillset than Lawrence, obvious by Oliver coming in measured at 6’3” and 292 lbs.

Is Miami looking for that big man in the middle who doesn’t get moved around (like Minnesota defensive tackle, Linval Joseph), or the quick tackle, more built for pass-rushing (like Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald).  Who knows, but if both are in the board, Miami’s plan for the future at defensive line will be clear with this pick.


SB Nation: Daniel Jones – QB – Duke

It’s no secret Miami is in the market for a quarterback.  Although Duke quarterback, Daniel Jones, has potential, this would be a reach.  Jones doesn’t seem to have the high ceiling other quarterbacks slotted in the first round do, so why reach on a player who at best may be a slightly better version of Ryan Tannehill?  There are other options out there at a cheaper price.

When you thrown in Miami is supposedly eyeing the 2020 draft class for their franchise quarterback with the 2019 draft geared towards fixing the trenches, it only raises more questions at why this may be the pick.

All that said, it’s the NFL draft.  Smoke screens are a plenty and no one really knows what a team is going to do and how a player will or won’t turn out.  Pulling the trigger on your franchise quarterback is certainly alluring, but why not put your chips all in on a player who has the franchise-altering potential?  I just don’t see it with Jones.



I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on who Miami should take at #13.  Follow me on Twitter @skylertrunck and let’s discuss.

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