Three weeks in.
Three games played.
Three victories, zero losses.
The Miami Dolphins are on a roll and victory today puts this team in a great position to not only reach the play-offs but wrestle the AFC East back off the New England Patriots.
The Patriots are today’s opponents and here’s three things to watch out for once the game kicks off.
Wide receiver snap count
When Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson are on the field, magic happens.
— Pixel NFL (@pixelnfl) September 28, 2018
Despite this, Adam Gase seems to have decided that Devante Parker will be the near ever-present on the field, the former first round pick seeing three times the snap count than Grant and Wilson against the Raiders.
Many fans and journalists, including myself, were of the belief that Parker had fallen out of favour given the fact that he was a somewhat healthy scratch against the Jets in Week 2.
It could just be that Parker is regarded as the difference maker of the group and will be used to bully the Patriots corners and stretch the field in ways Kenny Stills and the aforementioned duo can’t.
However, the Patriots have shown so far this season they can’t stop speedy players, the one thing Wilson and Grant have in abundance.
The gameplan must be to get the ball into the hands of the quick, elusive guys as much as possible, thus limiting the impact Parker has today.
Where Minkah lines up
Minkah Fitzpatrick was moved back to his ‘natural’ position of safety against the Raiders to mixed success.
The Alabama product got off to a scintillating start for the Dolphins over the course of the opening two weeks but looked to have struggled a bit in Week 3.
Without Reshad Jones’ veteran presence against the Raiders, it could be argued that Minkah looked a bit lost at times and with reports that Jones may not be fit for today’s game, Tom Brady may choose to target the rookie.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 26, 2018
Do not be surprised if Minkah takes advantage of that and comes away with his first NFL interception.
In an ideal world, and it’s likely given that Jones was a full participant on Friday, #20 starts and allows Minkah to cover Rob Gronkowski, forcing the Pats to look for success on the perimeter.
Good luck with that given the form of Xavien Howard.
A breakout game for Kenyan Drake
Kenyan Drake has had a quiet start to the 2018 season, picking up 104 yards so far this season.
The running back excelled against the Patriots last season, picking up 191 total yards and a TD, with many seeing it as his breakthrough game.
Miami will need him to repeat that performance, controlling the ball on the ground and keeping Brady and the Patriots offence on the bench.
Kerryon Johnson gashed this Pats defence when the Lions dismantled them in Week 3 and Drake and Gase would have been drooling at the prospect of attacking this team on the ground.
The space will be there, Miami will just need to be patient.
Miami Dolphins Cut Sam Young; Promote Jamiyus Pittman
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Miami Dolphins have cut offensive lineman Sam Young.
Dolphins cut Sam young
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) October 13, 2018
In conjunction with releasing Young, the Dolphins promoted Jamiyus Pittman from their practice squad.
Sam Young’s release comes on the heels of a detrimental performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in which he was asked to fill in for Laremy Tunsil after Tunsil left the game in the 3rd-quarter with a concussion.
With Zach Sterup inactive for the game, Young was thrust into LT duties and is (somewhat unfairly) tabbed as one of the main scapegoats for that game. In truth, the entire offensive line played poorly, and gave quarterback Ryan Tannehill very little time to throw.
But, someone has to take the fall for a 17-0 collapse, and the team isn’t going to replace Tannehill with Brock Osweiler just yet.
Once Laremy Tunsil was cleared from the concussion protocol, the Dolphins felt confident in releasing Young.
Sam Young – “bet ya I can get you to the QB in less than 2 seconds.” pic.twitter.com/4YKPU03d7M
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) October 9, 2018
Young has been with the Dolphins since the 2016 season and has been active for 18 games during that time; 7 of which were starts. He was originally a 6th-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2010. Prior to coming to Miami, Young spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills.
To fill the empty roster space, the Dolphins promoted UCF graduate and undrafted free agent Jamiyus Pittman from their practice squad.
Dolphins Sign Wesley Johnson & Garrison Smith; Promote Malveaux
Apparently, releasing Jordan Phillips was just the first part of this chain reaction.
In conjunction with the Daniel Kilgore season-ending injury, the Miami Dolphins have signed center Wesley Johnson to their roster. The current details of the contract are unknown, but it’s expected to be for the remainder of the season and near the veteran’s minimum.
After releasing Phillips, the Dolphins needed to make a corresponding move to sure-up their defensive line. With such little time to get a player up-to-speed, Miami promoted Cameron Malveaux from the practice squad rather than looking outside of the organization.
To fill out the open spot on the practice squad vacated by Malveaux, the Dolphins signed a former defensive tackle of theirs, Garrison Smith.
Dolphins officially announce cutting DT Jordan Phillips and placing C Daniel Kilgore on IR.
Team signs backup C Wesley Johnson, formerly of the Jets and promotes DE Cameron Malveaux from the practice squad.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) October 2, 2018
Wesley Johnson is expected to compete with Travis Swanson for time at center. Similar to Swanson, Johnson has starting experience with his former team.
Previously with the New York Jets, Johnson has started 23 games over the past two seasons. Saying he’s been adequate is being generous, though he brings starting experience to a team that desperately needs someone to play the position.
Jets in 12 personal with an extra tackle to the right. Run a weak side inside zone, Wesley Johnson gets handled by the play side 1 tech forcing Powell to bend the run back to where the Jets aren't blocking for. pic.twitter.com/SKqS1kO2MF
— Joe Blewett (@Joerb31) November 29, 2017
It’s likely that Johnson will need some time to learn the offense before he’s trusted with starting duties. If Ryan Tannehill can’t handle a hard snap by Swanson, I’m not sure I want to rely on a center he has even less chemistry with.
There’s some irony to this signing, and it has nothing to do with the Dolphins.
Going into 2018, the Jets were looking for an upgrade over Johnson and chose not re-sign him. In March, Johnson signed a contract with the Detroit Lions, who were looking for a replacement over their long-time center, Travis Swanson. Swanson realized he wasn’t going back to Detroit, and one week later, signed a contract with the Jets to replace Johnson.
Both players were cut before the season started; and now, both expendable players are currently vying to be the savior of the Miami Dolphins 2018 season.
Which is something Jordan Phillips is no longer part of.
To compensate for his release, the Dolphins promoted Cameron Malveaux from the practice squad, and signed Garrison Smith to take his place.
Though he’s fallen victim to the politics of manipulating an NFL roster, Malveaux has (essentially) been with Miami in some capacity since last season after going undrafted in the 2017 NFL draft.
He was promoted and active for the final four games of last season, accumulating 1 sack and 4 tackles on defense while participating in 107 snaps (or about as many snaps as Byron Maxwell played for Miami last year).
Garrison Smith is also an undrafted free agent by the Miami Dolphins, except his tenure was short-lived back in 2014.
He was released by Miami before the start of the 2014 season and signed with the New Orleans Saints practice squad. Smith spent time with the Saints and the San Francisco 49ers before signing with the Seattle Seahawks in 2016. He was active for 11 games with the Seahawks between 2016-2017, accumulating 7 tackles on defense in 171 snaps.
Smith signed with the Atlanta Falcons during this past offseason, but was waived before the season began and was claimed by the Arizona Cardinals. He was released by the Cardinals a few weeks ago and has been a free agent since.
Dolphins Cut Jordan Phillips
The enigmatic story that is Jordan Phillips finally has a conclusion, and it came earlier than most Miami Dolphins fans expected.
According to the defensive tackle’s Instagram post, the Dolphins have cut defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.
— Antwan V. Staley (@antwanstaley) October 2, 2018
The exact reasoning for his departure is unknown, but this move seems to correlate to the locker room culture Miami is trying to build.
Phillips was seen noticeably upset at coaches due to his playing time against the New England Patriots. The 4-year veteran saw only 25 snaps to Akeem Spence‘s 55. What’s odd is that this comes one week after Phillips participated in 46 snaps against the Oakland Raiders (versus Spence’s 15 – though that was probably due to Spence trying to knockout another Raiders player with a helmet).
What happened between Week 3 and Week 4 that placed Phillips in Adam Gase‘s doghouse?
Although he had all of the talent and athleticism in the world, Phillips never seemed to string together consistent starts.
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) November 6, 2016
Originally drafted 52nd overall in the 2015 draft, Phillips fell to the 2nd-round due to concerns about his “motor”. The draft pick was questionable at the time, as Miami just signed Ndamukong Suh and most pundits didn’t view defensive tackle as a “need” for the team.
The team figured they could draft Suh’s replacement and have Phillips learn from the Hall of Fame player until he was ready to blossom. Unfortunately for the Dolphins front office, that didn’t pan out, and the pick cost Miami in other, much more vital areas such as offensive line or linebacker.
With the addition of young defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor, Phillips became more expendable – especially if he wasn’t going to buy in to what Gase was trying to preach.
What’s interesting about this sudden move is how invested Phillips seemed to be in Miami. He was seen emphatically trying to pump the fans up at Home games, and also tried firing up the section of Dolphins fans at MetLife Stadium during the Dolphins away game against the New York Jets. It seemed like Phillips tried to take on more of a leadership role with Suh’s departure earlier in the offseason.
Whether it’s because Phillips was in a contract year (likely) or he was genuinely invested will never be known, but judging by his Instagram story, he wasn’t much of a fan of Miami.
Which is fine, because Miami wasn’t really much of a fan of his.
The Dolphins will most likely look for outside help to complete their defensive line after William Hayes was lost for the year with a knee injury. It’s possible they call up Jamiyus Pittman from the practice squad for the Cincinnati Bengals game this upcoming Sunday and work a veteran into the mix starting the week after (think Kendall Langford).