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Miami Dolphins

Quarterback Search Snapshot

Travis Wingfield

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Familiar, unwelcomed territory is upon us once more. A recent influx of talented youngsters leaves a small faction of the NFL devoid of viable long-term answers at the game’s most important position. Living among that faction, the QB-needy faction, are the Miami Dolphins.

Not that this is uncharted territory for an organization starving for a savior for the better part of two decades. Starving for something beyond a stabilizing force. If everything is cyclical, after 17 years of the curly-haired kid from Pittsburgh, the Dolphins are due to end the suffering – in fact, they’re overdue.

The most popular test trivia of a modern-day ‘Phins fan is also the most painful bar banter topic – list all the quarterbacks to start a game in the post-Marino era.

 

Quarterback Years with Miami (Games Started)
Jay Fiedler 2000-2003 (59 + 3 playoff starts)
Damon Huard* 2000 (1)
Ray Lucas 2001-2002 (6)
Brian Griese 2003 (5)
A.J. Feeley 2004 (8)
Sage Rosenfels 2002-2005 (2)
Gus Frerotte 2005 (15)
Daunte Culpepper 2006 (4)
Joey Harrington 2006 (11
Cleo Lemon 2006-2007 (8)
Trent Green 2007 (5)
John Beck 2007-2008 (4)
Chad Pennington+ 2008-2009 (19 + 1 playoff start)
Chad Henne 2008-2011 (31)
Tyler Thigpen 2010 (1)
Matt Moore 2011-2017 (30 + 1 playoff start)
Ryan Tannehill 2012-2018 (87)
Jay Cutler 2017 (14)
Brock Osweiler 2018 (5)

*Huard was with the team for the end of the Marino era in 1998 and 1999
+Runner-up in 2008 NFL MVP voting

Tumultuous, to say the least. The improvement from 2012 to the present, just in stability alone, is a massive upgrade to the eight previous years. Going from annual change, to a pair of quarterbacks whose tenures both outlasted any of the prior aspirants. Tannehill and Moore, providing the stability, were solid, yet unspectacular.

Fiedler was a limited gamer capable of doing enough to support a dominant defense en route to some early playoff exits.

Chad Pennington spun magic for one-year in gimmick offense sans Tom Brady competing for among his AFC East foes (missed 15 games with a torn ACL).

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

And then Ryan Tannehill teased Dolphins fans for seven years.

Three decent QB eras that will only be remembered those that done the aqua and orange on a regular basis.

So, now, Miami embarks on the search once more. It’s been 19 years, 19 men have tried, and Miami’s QB cupboard is as barren as ever.

The Dolphins figure to hire a coach in the coming days (or weeks) – that will certainly have impact on the impending assemblage of side arms.

Days of old, in the NFL, called upon one of two options to secure this ever-important role with little additional resources allocated to the position. Whether it was a highly-priced free agent, or a bright and shiny rookie, clearly defining the face of the franchise was commonplace.

And it still is – to a degree.

But the en vogue rebuilding process of a quarterback room, the most important room at any of the NFL 32 facilities across America, has become as much about quantity as it is quality.

Merely 9 months ago the Browns made Baker Mayfield the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. This selection was made a month after acquiring then Bills Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, for a 3rd round draft pick. Taylor brought his $16 million salary with him to pair with Mayfield’s $22.3 million earned in cash in 2018 – not exactly frugality at its finest.

The Cardinals inked Sam Bradford for $20 million in 2018. Arizona made a jump in the draft, from the 12th pick to the 10th spot, to select UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen.

In 2017 the Bears traded up one spot to select UNC Quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second pick in the draft. Trubisky’s $15 million in cash earned that season was narrowly outdone by free agent Mike Glennon – the former Buccaneer signed for $16 million.

The Eagles executed a similar approach, this time going for the trifecta, in 2016 with Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz.

Seattle pioneered the practice in 2012 with a marquee contract for free agent Matt Flynn. Flynn would never start a game when it was quickly realized that 3rd round rookie Russell Wilson was destined for stardom.

The Dolphins are next in line to go bulk shopping – the Quarterback’s section of Costo. And it might not be confined to the 2019 off-season. Even as four quarterbacks under the age of 25 started their first playoff game over the weekend (or will make that playoff debut next week), another crop is on the horizon.

From five-star recruits, to potential big-money free-agents, Miami has a three-year window to aggressively attack the position and put an end to the growing list of post-Marino failures.

Before we explore menu, let’s first take a look at how each present starting quarterback was acquired by his respective team.

 

Tom Brady 6th round, 1999
Ryan Tannehill 8th overall, 2012
Sam Darnold 3rd overall, 2018 (NYJ traded up from 6)
Josh Allen 7th overall, 2018 (BUF traded up from12)

 

Ben Roethlisberger 11th overall, 2004
Baker Mayfield 1st overall, 2018
Lamar Jackson 32nd overall, 2018 (BAL traded up from 52)
Andy Dalton 2nd round, 2011

 

Andrew Luck 1st overall, 2012
Deshaun Watson 12th overall, 2017 (HOU traded up from 25)
Marcus Mariota 2nd overall, 2015
Blake Bortles 3rd overall, 2014

 

Patrick Mahomes 10th overall, 2017 (KC traded up from 27)
Phillip Rivers 4th overall, 2004 (traded from NYG to SD)
Derek Carr 2nd round, 2014
Case Keenum FA signing – 2 years, $36 M, $25 M gtd.

 

Carson Wentz 2nd overall, 2016 (PHI traded up from 13; 8)
Dak Prescott 4th round, 2016
Eli Manning 1st overall, 2004 (traded from SD to NYG)
Alex Smith Via Trade (Sent CB and 3rd rounder to KC)

 

Aaron Rodgers 24th overall, 2004
Matthew Stafford 1st overall, 2009
Kirk Cousins FA signing – 3 years, $84 M, fully gtd.
Mitch Trubisky 2nd overall, 2017 (CHI traded up from 3)

 

Drew Brees FA signing – 6 years, $60 M, $24 M gtd.
Matt Ryan 3rd overall, 2008
Cam Newton 1st overall, 2011
Jameis Winston 1st overall, 2015

 

Russell Wilson 3rd round, 2012
Jared Goff 1stoverall, 2016 (LAR traded up from 16)
Jimmy Garappolo Via Trade (Sent 2nd round pick to NE)
Josh Rosen 10th overall, 2018 (ARI traded up from 12)

 

That’s 27 of the 32 starting quarterbacks acquired via the draft and still with the original team -84%. Nine of those 32 were not drafted by the team that organically held that draft position. More than a quarter of the starter signal-callers were acquired via a draft day trade-up.

If the Dolphins want to find that quarterback prospect in April’s draft, they might have to follow suit.

 

2019

Notable Free Agents: Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Day 1 or 2 QB prospects: Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, Will Grier, Brett Rypien

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This list of potentially available players has been universally criticized. The top two names on the draftable list are still undeclared and, frankly, are the only two that could be considered long-term answers.

The free agent crop offers up that trio of underwhelming players with recent, relevant starting experience. Bridgewater is the big mystery of the three. His last meaningful snaps (aside from a spot start in a mop-up game week 17) came in the 2015 playoffs.

Any free agent signing would provide a bridge to the imminent rookie selection.

2020

Notable Free Agents: Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Nick Foles,
Day 1 or 2 QB prospects: Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason

A little more attractive, isn’t it? Of course, several of those names are a sure-fire bet to retire or re-sign with their present teams. But that list of potential draft prospects is equally salivating for quarterback-starved franchises.

The one big name from the free agent list that has been rumored to potentially be on the move is Russell Wilson. That rumor is entirely unsubstantiated, however, and the Seahawks operate at too high of a level to do anything near the level of stupidity required to move on from an elite quarterback.

Tagovailoa is going be the most hyped prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012 – maybe even before. Herbert has plenty of growing to do as he returns to Eugene for his senior season and Jake Fromm has the make-up that will impress NFL decision makers.

Jacob Eason sat out 2018 after transferring from Georgia to Washington – he can spin it.

2021

Notable Free Agents: Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz
Day 1 or 2 QB prospects: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields

The pair of five stars in the draft column are worth a three year wait – especially Lawrence. The Clemson Freshman, set to play for a national title tonight, looks like he came straight from a quarterback production machine that spits out the perfect product.

Fields hasn’t started a game at the college level and his upside might be clouded by his decision to transfer and sit out the 2019 season.

Of course, all of this could change as quickly as a year – or even sooner. Player’s market value is constantly evolving and most years fail to prove impervious to that fluctuation. Entering the 2018 college season, for example, Michigan State Junior Brian Lewerke was believed to have QB1 potential. After a miserable season, Lewerke isn’t even considered a professional prospect.

The 2018 class staved off major change from early projections. Darnold, Rosen, Allen and Jackson each played under the spotlight throughout their final seasons as amateurs in 2017. Baker Mayfield, as he is wont to do, stormed the castle and stole the show rocketing up the draft board to be the first QB selected.

A couple of prospects have that same feel (Tagovailoa in 2019 and Lawrence in 2020). The accompanying names will surely jockey to round out those future first round draft slots.

As long as Miami can stay true to two principles, the long-awaited arrival of the “Next Dan Marino” should be obtainable in the coming years:

1.) Attack the position aggressively, in multiple facets. The draft, free-agency, trade, this is not a position to practice frugality with. Miami needs to sink resources into the quarterback until they find one good enough to permit the team from doing otherwise.

2.) Continue the aggressive nature once the draft target has been identified. If “THE” guy is out there, and the Dolphins are sure of it, sitting idly by would not be in the best interest of the franchise. The Chiefs, the Texans, the Eagles, the Rams – each pushed their chips to the center of the table and now each hold pocket aces at the game’s most crucial position.

The rebuilding process begins here. Get this right, and the entire fan base collectively, deservedly, steps off the wheel of mediocrity.

@WingfieldNFL

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    JOSE BELLON

    January 9, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Excellent Column agree 100%

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Miami Dolphins

Patriots-Dolphins Scheme Brief and Player Analogs

Kevin Dern

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With the Draft complete and undrafted free agents added, with a few other moves in the mix, we’ve finally got our first glimpse of Miami’s 90 (really 91) man roster as we head into summer OTAs and mandatory mini-camp.  If I were a betting man, I’d guess that Miami may not be quite done with roster additions.  I imagine we’ll see something between June 1st and the start of Training Camp.  With all that in mind there’s been a lot of speculation about Miami’s defense and how it will look.

This offseason has provided us with a few interesting bits about what we’ll see.  John Congemi state on “The Audible”, the Dolphins own podcast, that Raekwon McMillan asked Brian Flores about watching film and was told to look at Dont’a Hightower.  Eric Rowe also said that the scheme is the same as what he ran last year with the Patriots.  We also had Brian Flores answering a question during his OTA media availability saying that the formatting of defense would be different.  I would expect that answer given the personnel differences, perhaps better spelled “deficiencies” that Miami has in comparison to the Patriots defense from a year ago.  This is why I wanted to put together this piece – to examine what we’re likely to see and who from Miami’s roster is an analog of a Patriot defender from 2018.

The Scheme
Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat.  This isn’t a 4-3 defense.  This isn’t a 3-4 defense.  Forget about those ideologies.  This defense is multiple.  Very multiple.  As I detailed in my piece earlier this year, New England is in a sub-package more than anything.  The top three personnel groupings the Patriots used last year were all sub-packages sets:  4-2-5 (307 snaps), 3-3-5 (226 snaps) and 3-2-6 (162 snaps).  The Patriots were in a 4-3 (97 snaps) and 3-4 (13 snaps) much, much less.

Looking at the Pats top two formations, I think we’re likely to see these used by the Dolphins as well.  A good barometer for how the Patriots used them would be that if they were facing 12 or 21 personnel, they were in a 4-2-5 with three safeties instead of a slot corner.  If they were facing 11 personnel, they were in a 4-2-5 with two safeties and a slot corner or used a 3-3-5 formation.  Often times that formation saw one of the linebackers, often Kyle Van Noy, walked-up on the line of scrimmage effectively playing as a stand-up defensive end.

This defense will be versatile in that we’ll see some different things than what we saw under Matt Burke and Vance Joseph.  We’ll likely see more even fronts.

https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/sSpkRMR5QZSgWDvC-RHR8Hw/image?w=624&h=352&rev=5&ac=1

We’re likely to see their Diamond (nickel – 3-3-5) and Ruby (dime – 3-2-6) fronts quite a bit.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVOxHjUW0AE-_sj.jpg  (Courtesy of James Light – @JamesALight)

Coach Flores has often talked about wanting to see what players can and can’t do, and slot them into roles based on those results.  Rather than trying to find prototype players, the Patriots have searched for phenotypes – particular skillsets that players possess – and have plugged them into their scheme.  For example as it relates to Miami, there really wasn’t a player in this year’s Draft that was a direct analog of Kyle Van Noy.  There just wasn’t.  Jahlani Tavai was probably the closest and Detroit snatched him in the second round.

With that let’s take a look at the various positions Miami will use and who might be fits – and those who are close analogs with Pats players.  To help digest this I’ll break it down into:  Position – what they ask those players to do; Analogs – if any; and Players – guys Miami has on the roster that will likely get a crack at the role.

PositionDefensive Ends – Let’s start here.  Miami’s defense has undergone a seismic shift philosophically.  What was once the focal point of the wide-9, Miami’s no longer going to be in the market for defensive ends that could potentially hit double-digit sacks on a regular basis.  The Patriots have used different body type over the years, ranging from Rob Ninkovich to Chandler Jones to Trey Flowers to Deatrich Wise all in order to help set the edge against the run and be cogs in the machine in the pass-rush scheme, not the focal point.

Analogs:  Miami doesn’t have a guy who can replicate what Trey Flowers offered the Patriots.  It’s why Miami were in on him in free agency and were outbid by Detroit, where another Belichick disciple resides as head coach, in free agency.  They do have several guys who can be used the way Adrian Clayborn and Deatrich Wise were used, but until we see it on the field, I’m not comfortable labeling any as direct analogs.

Players:  For this defense, I think we’re likely to see guys classified as “Closed Ends” and “Open Ends” rather than left and right.  Closed meaning the strongside end, often with a LB outside or playing off of that player, and open side meaning the guy on the weakside of the formation, sometimes with no one outside of him.

Closed Ends:  Tank Carradine, Jonathan Woodard, Jonathan Ledbetter
Open Ends:  Charles Harris, Dewayne Hendrix, Jayrone Elliott*

*Jayrone Elliott may be more of a pass-rushing specialist in the mold of John Simon, whom the Patriots listed as a LB but played as a defensive end, sometimes standing up.  This is where I think Elliott slots in and he very well may have a shot to earn a roster spot.  He’s #91 for the Packers in the GIF below.

https://i2.wp.com/titletownsoundoff.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/12_elliott.gif

Position:  Defensive Tackles – The Patriots last year under Brian Flores used a rotation of four primary guys.  They also used DEs Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise as 3-techniques quite a bit, but the primary four were Malcom Brown as a 1-technique and shade NT, Lawrence Guy as a 3-technique, Danny Shelton as a true 0 and shade NT, and Adam Butler as a 0, 1, 2i or 3 technique – he was involved in a lot of the Pats’ pass-rush packages.  The Patriots would also use some packages with 3 DTs on the field at the same time, often having Lawrence Guy play as a “Big DE” as Brian Flores labeled it last week.

Analogs:  Davon Godchaux compares pretty favorably to Malcom Brown, in my opinion.  He’s country strong and has been Miami’s primary 2i-technique the past two seasons.  That’s not much of a variation from playing the 1-technique NT spot, which many fans seem to forget Godchaux played at LSU for two seasons before switching to 3-4 DE his final year in Baton Rouge.

Players:  For Miami, I think Davon Godchaux slots in as the primary 1-technique player.  Christian Wilkins and Vincent Taylor figure to handle the 3-technique snaps of Lawrence Guy, as well as potentially doing some of the 4i and 5-tech stuff, especially Wilkins.  Miami at the moment has setup a nice competition for that true NT spots.  They don’t really have a guy as yet but figure on a competition between Jamiyus Pittman, Joey Mbu, Kendrick Norton and Cory Thomas.  I think Wilkins will likely eat up the snaps that Adam Butler took, but Miami may keep Akeem Spence for that role.  Remember, Akeem Spence was traded to Miami last year by Matt Patricia because he didn’t fit the defense.  That’s Miami’s defense.

I do think there’s an opportunity for both Wilkins and Taylor to grab some snaps at 3-technique in the 3-3-5 “Bear” front with New England runs quite a bit *IF* Miami can find the OLBs to make this work.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1200/1*VBysJsaw3lxF0Mduc7-Ueg.png

Position:  Linebackers – The Pats primarily used two linebackers on the field in most of their packages, except on third downs.  Those two guys were their Mac (Mc) and Money ($) LBs – Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy.  Their responsibilities vary by formation and personnel grouping.  They’ll also use a Buck (B) when they have three linebackers on the field.  I’ll be working on a preview article as we get into Training Camp and preseason where I’ll do a deep dive on how they use these positions in each personnel package.  For now, I’ll summarize these parts.

Mac – This is Dont’a Hightower’s spot.  In the 4-2-5 and any 4-3 formations, Hightower is an off-ball LB or MLB in the 4-3 most of the time.  There are various formations, like the 3-3-5 picture above (see OLB Lee as Hightower was injured for this game), will line up on the ball in a position akin to where a 3-4 OLB would be, even though there’s only 3 LBs on the field.

$ – This is Kyle Van Noy.  Van Noy will line up off the ball in 4-3 formations or will be the SAM if they use an Under look – which is rare.  In the 4-2-5 groupings he and Hightower are the two main off-ball linebackers.  In the 3-3-5 “Bear” fronts, Van Noy is often at the MLB spot, with Hightower and John Simon as the OLBs.  However, he will also line up on the line of scrimmage as a stand-up DE in their Diamond and Ruby sets that were shown before.  In these spots, he’ll 1) pass-rush 2) cover a RB or TE 3) cover the hook, curl or flat, or 4) act as a blitzer – either in a green dog capacity, or as looper coming through the backside A or B gap.  See the formation below:

Notice that Hightower is off-the-ball as it looks like a 4-2-5 formation.  This is one of the subtleties that the Patriots will use.

Buck – This role is sort of two-fold.  It is essentially the WILL LB in 4-3 spots, but can be an off-ball ILB in 4-2-5 fronts, and on the line of scrimmage edge rusher in the 3-3-5 and other sub fronts.

Analogs:  None.  The closest one, in my opinion, is Raekwon McMillan to Dont’a Hightower.  As indicated by John Congemi, McMillan was told by Brian Flores to watch film on Hightower.  I think McMillan will likely fill the Mac role in the 4-2-5 and he had some experience playing SAM at Ohio State, so we may see him as a stand-up on the LOS edge LB in some of the 3-3-5 “Bear” fronts.  Though the fit in the “Bear” package may be dubious at best.  I do, however, think that Raekwon can line up as an on the line of scrimmage or “mugged up” ILB in the Patriots sub-fronts.  He’s got some familiarity with this playing “Nose-backer” in the wide-9 at times last year under Matt Burke.  I think Raekwon is big and strong enough to be used as a blitzer and “pin” player on stunts, much like this GIF of Hightower below, courtesy of Pro Football Focus:

https://media.profootballfocus.com/2019/02/HIGHT-GIFY-3.0.gif

Notice the stunt by Adrian Clayborn following Hightower, essentially a T-E stunt.  Miami’s defensive line coach Marion Hobby gives a great breakdown of those stunts here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2X2HjiynI0&t=5s

I included this here as Miami will likely have some of their linebackers playing on the edges or mugged up inside executing these pass-rush games and blitzes.

Players:   Separating these by position for simplicity:

Mac – Raekwon McMillan is your starter here.  As far as depth goes, I think we could see Chase Allen, Tre’ Watson and Quentin Poling compete here for the reps that are between-the-tackles.  I think guys like Charles Harris and Andrew Van Ginkel could very well get opportunities for some of the stand-up edge reps.  That said, the Patriots have always liked to find guys who can fulfill the entire role rather than piecemealing it.  Miami may not have that player in this case, but I think McMillan can handle the bulk of these duties and should thrive in this defense.

$ – Jerome Baker is likely who Miami starts with at this spot.  Baker recently reported on The Audible he’s trying to bulk up to 230lbs after playing last year at 220lbs.  This fit is dubious, in my opinion.  I know many Dolfans won’t like to read that, but it is what it is.  I think Baker can likely handle this role in the 4-2-5 looks and would likely be the lone off-ball MLB in the 3-3-5 “Bear” fronts.  But Baker is more of a blitzer than true pass-rusher.  He’s also 6’1” and 227lbs currently.  Kyle Van Noy is a full 6’3” 250lbs.  Perhaps Baker’s speed is the equalizer here, but that length will be important.  I think this is where Andrew Van Ginkel could absolutely thrive.  He did the on the line of scrimmage stuff all the time at Wisconsin.  Charles Harris should, in my opinion, get a shot here with the edge stuff; Miami might be able to squeeze some football out of him this way.

Buck – Travis and I discussed this on the podcast on Sunday.  If Miami had limited Kiko Alonso’s role in last year’s defense he’d have been a pretty effective, albeit overpaid, third linebacker.  I see him here, though perhaps not right away.  The new staff may be more inclined to give him a shot at the $ linebacker spot given his veteran experience.  That’d be regrettable in my opinion.  If they can pare down his snaps, he could likely handle a lot of the duties the Buck LB spot handles on first and second downs…that is for what snaps there are.  The Patriots would often use John Simon in this role for their 3rd down packages or as an extra DE.  This is where I mentioned Jayrone Elliott fitting in, purely in the pass-rushing role.

In short, Miami just doesn’t have the horses that the Patriots have at linebacker, and though they may not want to, I think the coaching staff will be forced to piecemeal these LB roles with multiple parts.  Gun to my head, I’d expect we’ll see McMillan, Baker, Alonso, Van Ginkel all playing at least solid snaps, with perhaps Charles Harris and Jayrone Elliott having niche roles.

Position:  Safety – I’m skipping the corner position for right now as I want to do a little more research on that.  Let’s just get this out of the way, Xavien Howard looks like an analog for Stephon Gilmore.  X got the bag, deservedly so, and will hopefully be around to see this rebuild take flight.

At Safety, Miami have some fits, but I’m very, very curious to see how the players are slotted into roles.  New England often employs three safeties in their 4-2-5 looks, most often against 12 and 21 personnel rather than playing a third linebacker.  Those roles seem to stack up in the following spots:

SS – Strong safety – This is Patrick Chung, and he’ll often be lined up on the edge or in the box, where a linebacker would often be.  They’ll also use him as a robber in split safety looks, or in disguised looks with a deep safety dropping bac.

* – Star – This is Devin McCourty.  He’ll line up EVERYWHERE.  He’s often a FS in split safety looks, but he’ll find his way to the slot as an overhang defender. He’ll cover Flexed tight ends man-to-man.  He’ll cover them split out wide.  He handles a lot of the single-high safety responsibilities when they have two safeties on the field, but on 3rd downs, he’s often lined up in the slot or in the box with a coverage responsibility close to the line of scrimmage.

FS – Free Safety – this is played by McCourty in two safety looks, but is also played by Duron Harmon when they bring a third safety onto the field.

This video, courtesy of Samuel Gold, is required defensive study viewing.  Samuel does an outstanding job of breaking down how the Patriots shut down the Rams in the Super Bowl.  You can see a lot of the versatility among the safeties in this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLmyRYJHt4o&t=202s

Analogs:  Minkah Fitzpatrick is our second true analog.  While we haven’t seen him do everything that the Patriots ask Devin McCourty, in large part due to Matt Burke using Minkah at three different spots as a rookie, if you view his Alabama tape and Dolphins tape, it’s not hard to see the match here at all.  While most football fans acknowledge that Derwin James was just a freaking monster as a rookie, he was used EXACTLY has he should have been.  Kudos to the Chargers for doing so.  Minkah Fitzpatrick was, well, not used that way.  He was still outstanding but received much less notoriety.  That should change in 2019.

Players:  Reshad Jones caught a lot of flak for “quitting” on the team during the Jets game last year.  I don’t care.  He’s been one of the top two or three Dolphins players since 2012.  He should be in the Ring of Honor, and if you’re in favor of putting Ricky Williams there, you damn sure better vote for Reshad.

SS – That aside, I’d like to think that if Reshad’s fully recovered from offseason shoulders surgery – he was boxing in a video on Instagram last week – that he’d be the strong safety.  He did a lot of what Patrick Chung does in 2017 and had a Pro Bowl season.  He’s best attacking downhill or playing close to the line of scrimmage, so I think he fits that role well.  However, if his shoulders are still balky, we may see T.J. McDonald here.  I have another theory on him.

* – We already talked about Minkah Fitzpatrick filling in this role.  It’s his.  Leave him in this role.  Watch him flourish.

FS – This should really be spelled out as third safety.  My guess for now is that T.J. McDonald is penciled, lightly, into this role.  Barry Jackson reported a while back that T.J. wanted to drop weight from the 230lbs he played at a year ago and get down to 215lbs.  He had a little bit of success as a deep safety in 2017 when he came back from suspension.  That being said, I don’t think he or Reshad Jones, again if Jones’ shoulders are balky, are great fits for this role.  Their contract situations are, how to put it…not team friendly.  So, unless there’s a trade that develops, I expect they’ll be given opportunities

Also in consideration for this role should be Maurice Smith and Walt Aikens.  One has been a fringe roster player and the other is our best special teamer (and one of the top 5 special teamers in the entire NFL – Walt’s really good), but I’d imagine they’ll get a trial run here.  Aikens looks the part and is athletic, but wasn’t able to put it together when given a shot as a starting safety back in 2015 when Louis Delmas tore his ACL in preseason.  I do wonder if safeties coach Tony Oden may try to convert one of the myriad cornerbacks Miami have on their 90 man roster to safety.  He did so with Charles Washington while with Detroit in 2016.  The Patriots did it with Teez Tabor last year.  Perhaps someone will emerge for Miami here if McDonald or Jones falter.

We’ve covered quite a lot of ground in this piece already, so I’m going to wrap this up without taking up any more time until my next piece.  Overall, Dolfans are going to be wide-eyed trying to catch up with the philosophical seismic shift we’re going to see with the defense this year.  It’ll be multiple.  It’ll use a lot of players.  It’ll be different in some capacities on a weekly basis given opponents’ strengths.

All of this should be welcomed with open arms.

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 17 at Seattle

Travis Wingfield

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Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

Week 4 vs. Seattle
Week 5 at San Francisco
Week 6 at Minnesota
Week 7 vs. Denver
Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Week 10 at Kansas City
Week 11 vs. Oakland
Week 12 at LA Chargers
Week 13 at Green Bay
Week 14 vs. Detroit
Week 15 at Atlanta
Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Week 17 at Seattle

Week 17 at Seattle –

By the time this season finale came to an end the entire Cardinals operation had to breathe a sigh of relief. A disaster season, that came to a crashing conclusion, was finally in the rearview. For Josh Rosen, the last month of the season was a recurring nightmare. Rosen threw 146 passes in December and the only one that crossed pay dirt was a busted coverage in this Seattle game.

Some of Rosen’s strong suits didn’t travel to the Pacific Northwest. Throwing into contested windows, play-action passing, and third down conversions each brought back less than satisfactory returns.

The Cardinal passing offense converted 3-of-14 3rd downs. Rosen was 2-of-14 for 23 yards on contested throws and 5-of-10 for 56 yards on play pass.

Rosen was chucking-and-praying once again. The average air yards per throw tallied 10.8 yards, while the Arizona receivers only amassed 51 yards after the catch (34.2% of Rosen’s passing total).

The short passing game was far more fruitful than the vertical attacks.

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

The game was littered with mistakes from the Cardinals QB. Rosen registered 14 mistakes (11 from accuracy, 2 ball security issues, and 1 poor read). Rosen lost two fumbles and had two would-be interceptions dropped by the Seattle defense.

The personnel deployment featured more versatility than recent weeks. Rosen’s passes were supplemented by the following personnel packages.

 

11-personnel 31 snaps
12-personnel 3 snaps
21-personnel 4 snaps

 

As has been the case all season, Rosen was under frequent pressure. Seattle arrived for 11 pressures (6 sacks, 3 hits, 2 hurries) at an average time from snap-to-pressure of 2.19 seconds.

The busted coverage touchdown was Rosen’s one red-zone completion (1-of-3). He was in the gun for 25 snaps and under-center for 13.

Another week, another low conversion rate. The Cardinal passing game converted 8-of-38 plays into first downs (21.1%)

It’s difficult to imagine a more trying rookie season than the one Rosen experienced. The offensive line play was poor, the only consistent pass catcher was Larry Fitzgerald, and Rosen had his own share of rookie mistakes to compound things.

This game goes into the losing performance category marking eight consecutive games that Rosen failed to reach the winning performance category.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 7 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR, @SEA)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen 2018 Passing Chart – Week 16 vs. LA Rams

Travis Wingfield

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Football, more so than any other sport, requires context to tell the full story. Box scores provide the casual fan with a general idea of the cumulative result of any given game, but without isolating each player’s performance, many details go unnoticed.

This project is entirely based around isolating the play of Josh Rosen. Traditional data points will tell you that his rookie season was one of the worst in the history of the league. Watching each drop back multiple times over, breaking down the most impactful plays, and charting the data that tells the true story, this is the 2018 Josh Rosen charting project.

Jump To:

Week 4 vs. Seattle
Week 5 at San Francisco
Week 6 at Minnesota
Week 7 vs. Denver
Week 8 vs. San Francisco
Week 10 at Kansas City
Week 11 vs. Oakland
Week 12 at LA Chargers
Week 13 at Green Bay
Week 14 vs. Detroit
Week 15 at Atlanta
Week 16 vs. LA Rams
Week 17 at Seattle

 

Week 16 vs. LA Rams –

For the second consecutive game Josh Rosen didn’t finish under-center for the Cardinals. In a blowout loss, where it seemed like the entire game plan revolved around making life easy on Josh Rosen, Arizona still managed to get ran out of the building. Mike Glennon completed the final series for the Red Birds offense.

Rosen threw the ball only 23 times, but scrambled more than he has all season. The game plan also featured the least amount of variety, from a personnel grouping standpoint, all season.

 

11-personnel 30 snaps
12-personnel 1 snap

 

Rosen’s typical third down heroics didn’t show up. The Cardinals converted only 2-of-10 third downs in the passing game (one a QB scramble). Converting, as it has been all season, was a challenge in general — Arizona converted just 6-of-31 drop backs (19.4%).

Rosen was in the shotgun almost exclusively (3 under-center, 28 in the gun). This led to a limited play-action passing game (only one throw from play pass).

The four mistakes attributed to Rosen were largely deep shots. He missed on short pass, but two of the three inaccuracies came on balls down the field. One of those deep shots was an ill-advised throw into coverage despite a wide open Larry Fitzgerald coming across the formation (seen in the video thread).

Rosen’s depth splits were as follows:

 

Portion of the Field Accurate Pass/Number of Passes
20+ yards 0/3 (0%)
11-19 yards 0/3 (0%)
0-10 yards (or behind LOS) 11/16 (68.8%)

 

More than half of Rosen’s 87 passing yards came from YAC (54%). The average depth of Rosen’s passes was 9.22 air yards per throw.

Throwing into tight window was a futile effort. Rosen completed 1-of-7 contested throws for 7 yards. Pressure was a regular fixture, yet again, as Rosen was under duress on 11 drop backs (4 sacks, 5 hits, 2 hurries). The average time from snap-to-pressure was 2.30 seconds.

The war of attrition seems to have finally broken the Cardinals spirit. The team’s execution was lacking all year, but this game was something of a “white flag” effort from the coaching staff. Rosen gets tabbed with a losing performance for a lack of big-time plays, a few mistakes, and an awful holistic result.

 

2018 Performance Results Number of Games
Winning Performance 2 (SEA, SF)
Inconsequential Performance 3 (@MIN, @LAC, @ATL)
Losing Performance 6 (@SF, DEN, @KC, OAK, @GB, DET, LAR)

Winning Performance – The QB played well enough to garner a victory. He limited mistakes and made plays in crucial situations.
Inconsequential Performance – More of a game-managing role, the QB didn’t have the big plays, but mistakes were limited.
Losing Performance – The QB limited his team’s ability to win the game with his performance.

@WingfieldNFL

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