Connect with us

Scouting Reports

Know The Enemy – New England Patriots

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

As the NFL comes to its summer crawl, we’re going to be looking into each of the Miami Dolphins’ 2018 opponents leading up to training camp.

Go to:
Week 1 vs. Tennessee 
Week 2 @ New York Jets
Week 3 vs. Oakland

New England Patriots – Weeks 4 (Foxboro) and 14 (Miami)

2017 Recap: (13-3, AFC East Champions – Playoffs 2-1; Beat TEN and JAX, lost to PHI)

Writing a New England Patriots blog must be the most redundant job in sports. Off-season adversity, .500 record in September, rip off wins in bunches and eventually find yourself still in contention in Late-January.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

2017 was a microcosm of the Bill Belichick Patriots. Panic erupts over one or two losses before the greatest coach-quarterback-pairing in the history of the sport find themselves playing on the game’s grandest stage. The only relatively dubious feature of the Patriots unprecedented run is the record in Super Bowls – which fell to 5-3 five months ago.

You don’t arrive in the land of nitpicking a .600 winning percentage in the most difficult football game ever conceived without playing terrific defense. Despite some moving parts and challenges with personnel in the front-seven, Belichick and Matt Patricia’s defense found a way to keep points off the scoreboard, as is annual practice.

On the other side, Tom Brady continues to defy the laws of time – he’s playing the best football of his career in tandem with arguably the NFL’s all-time greatest tight end, Rob Gronkowski.

2017 League-Ranks:

 

Scoring Offense 2nd
Rushing Offense 10th
Passing Offense 2nd
Scoring Defense 5th
Rushing Defense 20th
Passing Defense 30th
Turnover Differential 11th

 

2018 Coaching Changes:

 A winning environment cultivates successful individuals. As it has done so many times before, the Bill Belichick coaching tree grew when Matt Patricia was hired for the big chair in Detroit. It was set to double before Josh McDaniels weaseled out of his commitment to Indianapolis in the 11thhour.

McDaniels is back with the offensive staff unchanged. Patricia’s vacated position remains unfilled with the rest of 2017’s defensive staff intact as well.

2018 Notable Roster Changes:

 

Newcomer Role / Projected Snap Count
DE Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta) Starter / 60%
RB Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati) Backup/Short-Yardage / 20%
WR Jordan Matthews (Buffalo) Backup / 30%
TE Troy Niklas (Arizona) 3rd TE / 20%
DT Danny Shelton (Cleveland) Starter / 43.73%
WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Oakland) Backup/Return-Specialist / 42.66%
OT Trent Brown (San Francisco) Starter / 60.91%

 

 

Departed Role / Snaps Played
CB Malcolm Butler (Tennessee) Starter / 97.83%
LT Nate Solder (NY Giants) Starter / 97.81%
RB Dion Lewis (Tennessee) RB 1b / 35.56%
OT Cameron Fleming (Dallas) Swing Tackle / 32.4%
WR Danny Amendola (Miami) Starter / 49.87%
S Johnson Bademosi (Houston) Backup / 20.19% (62.97 special teams)

 

Projected Cornerstones (75%+ snap takers) – 2017 PFF Positional Rank:

QB Tom Brady – 1st/ 40
WR Julian Edelman – DNP (2016 – 44th/ 119)
TE Rob Gronkowski – 1st/ 72
DE Trey Flowers – 28th/ 110
LB Dont’a Hightower – DNP (2016 – 14th/ 88)
CB Stephone Gilmore –  31st/ 120
CB Jason McCourty – 17th/ 120
S Devin McCourty – 31st/ 89
S Patrick Chung – 28th/ 89
S Duron Harmon – 23rd/ 89

The Other Key Contributors:

Continuously ahead of the curve the Patriots rely on rotation more than any team in the NFL. Half of their cornerstone players are in the defensive backfield, a consequence of the plethora of dime packages employed.

Duron Harmon, the team’s dime safety, took 66.2% of the defensive snaps. While that number is shy of the requisite 75% cornerstone percentage, he’s a starter in this defense. Eric Rowe will compete with Jason McCourty for the other perimeter corner job and rookie Duke Dawson could win the nickel job and play extensively right away.

Fellow rookies Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn figure into the running back and offensive line equations respectively. Michel is a shifty, pass-catching dynamo that offers a glove-like fit for the match-up-centric offense of the Pats and position-diverse Wynn has a tough line-up to crack in front of him.

Newcomers Adrian Clayborne and Danny Shelton figure heavily into the defensive line rotation with Malcolm Brown and Lawrence Guy. Elandon Roberts and rookie Ja’Whaun Bently will get a crack of a share of reps at linebacker.

This team is full of hockey-line style position groups that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Tale of the Tape:

Offense: 

The first scheme on the schedule that won’t be entering year-one, the Dolphins can go back into the archive to study the Patriots. However, no team reinvents itself quite like Belichick’s Pats.

Dec 11, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) leaves the field after a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Seemingly constructing variations of previous offensive schemes every year, one thing remains constant: New England loves to create and exploit match-ups. Not afraid to nickel-and-dime a defense, Tom Brady can kill the opposition with a million cuts.

The ability to remain versatile across all personnel packages creates issues in communication and conditioning for unsuspecting defenses. Stuck in base? Brady flexes out his back and throws a five-yard hitch for an easy completion. Bring on the sub-packages? He’ll run the football right at you.

All of this ingenuity and mastery from the quarterback, then you factor in one of the league’s most uncoverable weapons and the offense is nearly unstoppable.

To play running back in this scheme requires pass catching prowess. The stable was already crowded with cross-trained skilled players, then it added Sony Michel. Michel is my pick for offensive rookie of the year for the same reasons I selected Alvin Kamara for the same award last year.

Julian Edelman is difficult to cover in a short-areas, but he will miss the first meeting with Miami due to a suspension. The Dolphins solved the puzzle to the Pats receivers last year in the Monday night win. Pressing to disrupt the timing and creating early pressure on Brady are the keys.

Offensive line coaching legend Dante Scarnecchia built a fortress in front of Brady. The tackle positions are solid, but the trio in the interior (Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason) is among the league’s best (14th, 4thand 8thamong their position groups on PFF).

Defense:

Just like the offense, the defense mixes it up as well as any program in the league. Playing with light fronts and loaded backfields, the Patriots scheme is built around corners and safeties that can cover and tackle.

Getting the glue to the front-seven back in 2018 should improve the worst yards-allowed-rank in the Belichick era. Dont’a Hightower is a unique blend of an off-the-ball ‘backer and a polished edge-rusher. His return allows the Pats to vary coverages between their big-nickel and dime packages.

Going back to the days of Vince Wilfork, Belichick loves plopping beef at the nose tackle position to disrupt the point-of-attack. Malcom Brown is something of an immovable object. Adrian Clayborne and Danny Shelton jump into the rotation looking to bolster the New England interior pass rush.

The defensive ends in this scheme are diluted a tad. With the variety of fronts, their jobs are typical of an interior defensive lineman – eat up blocks and sustaining gap-integrity. Trey Flowers is the front-man of a group that gets Derrick Rivers back from an injury that took away his rookie season.

No one does more with less than Belichick. No matter how many yards it allows, the Patriot defense always limits red zone production and takes the football away. With reinforcements on the way in 2018, there is no reason to expect that to change.

Match-Up with Miami:

The Dolphins were essentially the only team to figure out the Patriots offense in 2017. Playing a more physical brand of football on the perimeter and the spacing of the wide-9 created tougher passing lanes for Brady.

As always, the key is to create pressure from multiple channels on number-12. The Dolphins supped-up defense could get more creative with a Patriots-like blueprint of putting more defensive backs on to the field.

Opposed to allowing the likes of Kiko Alonso to become isolated on a back, perhaps T.J. McDonald sinks into a quasi-linebacker role. The problem most teams run into with this plan is the negative hit to the run-defense. Miami’s larger, more physically imposing DBs can support in the run game just as well as they defend the pass.

With the Patriots offensive line stout in the middle, a heavy-rush off the edge with Cam Wake, Robert Quinn and Charles Harris, while challenging the quick-hitting passing game, is the best recipe for success. And blitzing Brady remains out of the question – that’s when he’s at his best.

Jan 1, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain (28) and free safety Michael Thomas (31) provide pass coverage on New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) on a pass play in the end zone during the second quarter of an NFL football game at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby McCain versus Julian Edelman in the second match-up figures to be the headliner. Minkah Fitzpatrick could potentially be the answer to the decade-long question of ‘who’s got Gronk?’

Offensively, for the Dolphins, the key is Ryan Tanenhill not taking the cheese. Mixing up coverages requires the quarterback to prep a little extra, but identifying post-snap rotation and the Patriots’ penchant for under-cutting routes becomes paramount – giving Brady extra possessions by turning it over is not an option.

Kenyan Drake was key to victory in the 2017 meeting in Miami. Creating balance and throwing the football to the back is a viable option to get the Patriots out of their comfort zone.

Miami can handle the pass rush of the Patriots, but Tannehill has to be on his A-game to beat this team.

Trap Game Potential:

The Patriots have a game four days after the first match-up with Miami. But playing the lowly Colts, off a non-conference game in Detroit, should hone New England’s focus into where it needs to be.

This game is sandwiched between the Oakland and Cincinnati games for the Dolphins. There’s no reason to look ahead.

The week-14 match-up is conveniently scheduled between games with Minnesota and Pittsburgh for the Patriots – there’s Miami’s chance to catch the Pats napping in South Florida yet again. 

Week-Four in a Nutshell:

While the Dolphins have more success against the Patriots than any other team, beating Brady in Foxboro doesn’t happen. Literally. Ever.

And while the best time to pick off the Pats is early in the season, playing against that quarterback, that coach and the “atmosphere” of New England never bodes well for the road team.

Miami will be severe underdogs in the week-four game and have to play perfect to win. As for the December game in Miami, crazier things have happened.

And they seem to happen just about every year when these two teams get together.

@WingfieldNFL

Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Ronald Hiatt Jr

    June 29, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    I think this schedule is setup for dolphins to finally sweep the Patriots if if they can focus 1 game at a time like they did in 2016 in that winning streak. Week 4 without Edelman and before they get that offensive line set losing 2 Tackles is not easy and going against Wake Harris is not fun and if Quinn finds himself from 5 years ago Brady could be forced into a lot of mistakes remember those fumbles last year with Jones taking 1 for a score. The game in Miami will be tough sandwiched between Bills Vikings and Jags that 4 game stretch could show the early playoff pecking order if we are in it or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Best of the Rest

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report
Best of the Rest

Foreword:

7,094 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

Now, for the group battling to infiltrate the top four QBs — the best of the rest.

The Best of the Rest

Any prospect with professional aspirations would prefer to enter his final college season with considerable fanfare and expectations. More attention equals more eyeballs, and more eyeballs equals more opportunity to make an impression.

That’s not to say that expectations are the only path to a Thursday night selection during the NFL’s three-day draft extravaganza. Far from it. With the ever-changing landscape of the college game, each of the last two draft classes saw unknown signal-callers rise from afterthought, to bells of the ball.

Baker Mayfield was — at best — a distant fourth behind Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen entering the 2017 college football season. Kyler Murray was signed, sealed, and delivered to the Oakland A’s and off the radar of NFL scouts entirely. Yet, a short eight months after college football’s opening Saturday, both were standing on the podium with the commissioner before any of their peers.

Tua Tagovailoa is the prohibitive favorite to earn the honorable distinction of first overall pick. Dominant performances at a prominent school will have that affect.

Justin Herbert’s rare physical skills have scouts fawning over Oregon football this fall, while Jordan Love will garner similar jaw-dropping attention.

Then there’s the polished and professional Jake Fromm.

These four quarterbacks will take the field next month and begin their (potentially) final chapters before their NFL dreams are realized.

So who is the pick the rocket up the draft board from seemingly nowhere? The options are vast, and we’ll cover them right now (in no particular order).

D’Eriq King – Houston – 5-11, 195 lbs. (Senior)

The aforementioned Kyler Murray, one year after Baker Mayfield paved the way, ushers in a new way of thinking in regards to projecting passers from college to the professional ranks. King is an electric dual-threat QB — evident by his 50 touchdowns in 2018 despite missing 2.5 games with an ankle injury.

K.J. Costello – Stanford – 6-5, 215 lbs. (Senior)

With ideal size and natural arm talent Costello is a threat to climb draft boards next spring. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he can alter his release points and vary the velocity and touch of his throws for the circumstance. Costello took a big jump in 2018, but needs another significant climb in the mechanical portion of the game to garner first round consideration.

Khalil Tate – Arizona – 6-2, 216 lbs. (Senior)

The transition from Rich Rodriguez’s to Kevin Sumlin impacted Tate in the worst way possible. With game-breaking, dual-threat talent that rivals Kyler Murray, Tate was asked to play more within the structure of a traditional drop back game last season. The result, a dramatic efficiency drop-off across the board. Tate is electrifying with his legs and more than adequate with the arm — he’s a sleeper pick to join Tagovailoa, Fromm, Herbert and Love.

Jacob Eason – Washington – 6-6, 230 lbs. (Senior)

Eason barely has more collegiate accolades than anyone reading this piece. He was a five-star recruit that missed two years due to injury and ineligibility after transferring; this after showing minimal promise as a true freshman at Georgia. Eason is long, and a tad gangly, but he’s an accurate thrower with ideal size for the position.

Sam Ehlinger – Texas – 6-3 235 lbs. (Junior)

Following the trend of athletic quarterbacks taking over professional football, Ehlinger is another prototype player. He’s a threat to score on the ground on any given play, but that’s something of a cover up for some mechanical and arm talent short comings. Ehlinger exploded at the end of the 2018 season, and he needs to continue on that trajectory to vault his draft stock beyond day-three.

Brian Lewerke – Michigan State 6-3, 215 lbs. – (Senior)

Adding Lewerke to this list feels a little disingenuous because I’m clenching to his sophomore season. His junior year at East Lansing was an unmitigated disaster, but the processing, anticipation, accuracy, and off-script prowess were enough for some pundits to tab Lewerke as QB1 heading into 2018.

Honorable Mention: Bryce Perkins (Virginia), Nathan Stanley (Iowa), Cole McDonald (Hawaii)

If expectations play out this season for the Dolphins, a first round quarterback is likely the result at the conclusion of year-one of the rebuild. The future employment of everybody associated with the Dolphins would then depend on getting that draft pick right (Brian Flores, Chris Grier, and the entire coaching and scouting staffs).

Due to the urgency and importance of this evaluation for the ‘Phins, we will be covering the college quarterback landscape throughout the 2019 season with weekly progress reports.

As always, Locked On Dolphins is your exclusive provider of analysis, commentary, and news on the Miami Dolphins.

Way Too Early 2019 QB Prospect Ranking

 

(Rank) Player School
(1) Jordan Love Utah State
(2) Tua Tagovailoa Alabama
(3) Jake Fromm Georgia
(4) Justin Herbert Oregon
(5) Khalil Tate Arizona
(6) D’Eriq King Houston
(7) K.J. Costello Stanford
(8) Jacob Eason Washington
(9) Brian Lewerke Michigan State
(10) Sam Ehlinger Texas

 

@WingfieldNFL

Continue Reading

Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Jordan Love

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report
Best of the Rest – Next Week

Foreword:

7,094 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

Today takes us to a Group 5 school to look at the physically imposing Jordan Love.

Jordan Love 2018 Film Study

Playing at a group-of-five school will limit the exposure of any player, but it has become impossible to gloss over Utah State’s Jordan Love. At 6-4, 220 pounds, Love has the ideal build and makeup for the position. Some would argue that there’s a distinct advantage to playing outside of the nation’s powerhouse programs. Playing with a smaller program comes with unavoidable adversity that builds character and prepares the player for the challenges at the next level.

Heading into his junior season Love will face tremendous turnover on the roster and coaching staff.

The Utah State football program is under construction. In addition to playing for his third offensive coordinator, Love’s head coach is new, his top three receivers graduated, and his favorite tight end was drafted in April. That tight end, Dax Raymond, has a strong affinity for his former teammate.

“Anyone that watches, they know he’s a gamer and that’s the biggest thing I want in a quarterback personally,” Raymond said. “You sense the passion. He’s not out there just to throw the ball a couple of times, he’s out there to win.”

Love’s most recent OC and play caller, David Yost, slotted Love among the best quarterbacks he’s coached. “He’s right among them,” Yost said. “If he continues to progress with his skill set and his ability, he’s an NFL-level type quarterback as we go forward. That’s the expectation.”

That crop of quarterbacks includes Blaine Gabbert and Chase Daniel. All five of Yost’s QBs from his 12-year tenure at Missouri went on to play QB in the NFL.

When you see the traits — the perfect meld of school yard style honed in by prowess within the structure — you’ll see why Yost thought so highly of his former pupil.

Let’s get to the tape.

What Sets Love Apart:

Natural Thrower from Any Platform –

Some quarterbacks excel at drive throws and some are better at finessing the football. Some QBs are strictly confined to throwing from a clean pocket while others prefer getting on the move. Jordan Love is impervious to sacrificing accuracy under each of these circumstances. His arm has the natural elasticity to whip the football on-point from a variety of platforms and pass types.

Love has the shortstop trait that allows him to deliver accurate passes regardless of the arm-angle. Over the top, from the side, opening the gait on the move, it’s all the same to Love.

Quick Processing –

The majority of the video clips I made came from the season-opening game. Working under a brand new offensive system, Love showcased the ability to decipher coverage post-snap and beat the defense before it could rotate to plug windows.

Athleticism, Designed Runs and Goal Line Running Threat –

When the quarterback is a threat to run the football it puts another element in the mind of the defense. Love is just as big of a threat to sledgehammer the ball across the goal line — or in short-yardage — as and tailback or fullback. His big frame and aggressive style makes him a difficult tackle for any defensive back and plenty of linebackers.

Designed runs typically signal that the quarterback is adept at creating play off-script, and Love is no exception. He’s able to erase free rushers and create openings for his receivers down field as he surveys the coverage while attacking the line-of-scrimmage.

Focused Areas of Improvement:

Staying with the Play –

This is nitpicking, I want to acknowledge that. At times, Love will drift away from pressure rather than search for available escape routes. He tends to fall backwards hoping for something to uncover before he takes a sack and throws the ball away.

Of the four quarterbacks I watched, I had the toughest time finding areas of weakness in Love’s game.

Potential Fit with the Miami Dolphins:

We checked the leadership and character boxes in the initial category and we know Love is an accurate thrower. The one trait that Brian Flores and Chris Grier have mentioned this offseason that we haven’t covered with the other quarterbacks is athleticism and mobility. Justin Herbert has it, but Jordan Love is on another level.

For a team that wants to establish its identity as a tough, physical team, Jordan Love makes perfect sense. His presence can immensely upgrade the running game and force the defense to defend the entire field against both run and pass plays.

Conclusion:

Love vaulted to the top of my list of wants next offseason. I’m a sucker for the elite athletic traits and the big arm. If those inherent skills are married with a requisite level of processing, then that’s how superstars are born.

It’ll be a tall task for Love to supplant Tagovailoa, Fromm, and Herbert atop the QB prospect rankings list with a difficult set of circumstances at Utah State. Regardless, isolating the player for his traits and upside, no player in this class has more of the former than Jordan Love.

@WingfieldNFL

Up Next: Best of the Rest (Eason, King, Tate Ehlinger, Costello, Lewerke)

Additional Videos

No-look pass?

Easy transition from on-the-move to getting the ball up and out.

Continue Reading

Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Justin Herbert

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report
Best of the Rest – Next Week

Foreword:

7,093 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

Today brings us out to the Pacific Northwest and Oregon’s physical phenom, Justin Herbert.

2018 Justin Herbert Film Study

Thought by many to be a curious decision, Justin Herbert opted to return to the University of Oregon for his senior season. Had he declared, the 6-foot-6, 233-pound signal caller very well could’ve been the second quarterback off the board in a weak draft class. Now, Herbert will be available in next April’s draft, but faces much stiffer competition.

Herbert’s production regressed significantly in his junior season. After starting eight games each in back-to-back years (freshman and sophomore seasons), Herbert finally played wire-to-wire in 2018. His first full season saw a drop in completion percentage below 60% (59.4), his yard-per-attempt from 9.6 down to 7.8, and his is passer rating was the lowest of his three-year career.

“[I’m looking for a guy] that’s going rally everybody on this team,” former Ducks Head Coach Willie Taggart said of his quarterback competition prior to the 2017 season. “When we find that guy, that’s when we’re going to name a starter.

Herbert is said to be a quiet, reserved presence in the Oregon football program. Taking is a step further, Bleacher ReportsMatt Miller conveyed a report from an NFL scout who described Herbert as ‘aloof,’ and ‘soft.’

These reports should not be taken as gospel. Leaks and second-hand information have a way of materializing into false narratives. It’s all a part of the grand puzzle, and while there’s typically fire where there’s smoke, Herbert has one more season to change the perception of his character among the NFL community.

That’s not what has people raving about his professional prospect any way. It’s the raw package that Herbert offers as a passer, runner, and dual-threat quarterback. Let’s get to the film.

What Sets Herbert Apart:

Velocity –

If the only metric to consider were physical traits, Herbert would be the unanimous number-one quarterback in the 2019 draft class. No quarterback in college football can drive the ball down the seam, to the field, or into tight windows like Herbert.

Stationary, or on the move, Herbert can rip the football. Within the structure of the offense, he incorporates his lower half and drives the football on-point. When on the move, he’s naturally fluid enough to open his gait and get his hips and shoulders through the zone simultaneously.

These traits are especially helpful on stick throws, slants, and threading the middle portion of the field against cover-2.

Athleticism and Off-Script Ability –

The Oregon offense has been predicated on athletic quarterbacks for some time and Herbert is no exception to that rule. The run-pass-option is prevalent as Herbert can pick up chunks on designed runs, or when the play breaks down and he’s forced off-script.

Herbert’s pass protection had its leaky moments as he was often forced off of his spot and put into a position where he had to play hero ball. In the PAC-12, Herbert was more than capable as he often broke the pocket and made plays with both his legs and his arm.

Focused Areas of Improvement:

Pre-Determined Mindset –

Perhaps its systemic of supremely gifted quarterbacks, but the majority of said-physical marvels struggle with the cerebral portion of the game; Herbert isn’t any different. On multiple occasions, it would appear that Herbert has made his decision where the football is going pre-snap without any regard for the coverage the defense shows.

This flaw is a result of both pre-and-post-snap shortcomings as it pertains to deciphering coverage and rotation. As things evolve from the time the huddle is broken to the end of the play, Herbert often stares down his initial read and forces the ball in regardless of the defense.

Herbert’s decision to return to school could pay dividends. He needs to iron out this issues during his senior season if he wants to go off the board in the first round. To the perimeter, inside, against man or zone, it doesn’t matter — Herbert’s struggles are between the ears.

Touch Passing –

Dolphins fans saw it time-and-time again with Ryan Tannehill, the strong-armed quarterbacks tend to struggle with changing the pace of their throwing tempo. Slowing down the arm speed requires a more natural feel for aiming the football, and Herbert consistently demonstrates an inability to execute these throws.

Seeing Phantom Pressure –

Inconsistent mechanics, as a result of pressure, and dropping his eyes to anticipate pressure, forces Herbert to miss opportunities against the blitz. Often times, Herbert put his body in position to protect himself from an imminent hit opposed to standing in and delivering the football.

The Washington State game was an example of Herbert succumbing to a superb pass rush and allowing the constant pressure to change his game.

Potential Fit with the Miami Dolphins:

It’s difficult to imagine the Dolphins wanting to take this path again. The similarities to Ryan Tannehill are vast in the way he can do everything from a physical standpoint, but the mental development has a long way to go. Through seven years, it never materialized with Tannehill. Spending a first round pick on a project quarterback is a risky move for a General Manager that has to nail his next first round QB selection.

From a schematic standpoint, the fit isn’t there. Herbert’s specialties are in winning with physical gifts, taking advantage of perfect circumstances within the structure of the offense, and also beating teams off-script.

If we are to assume that Miami wants to replicate a system similar to the one ran in New England, it requires more of a point guard mentality. A point-man that can discern the defense pre-snap, and distribute the ball accordingly post-snap.

Conclusion:

If — and it’s a big if — the reports of Herbert’s character shortfalls are true, he won’t even make it onto Miami’s draft board next April. For the same reasons we speculate that Miami will love Jake Fromm, they’ll shy away from Herbert as leadership and connecting with his teammates are integral parts of the new program.

On top of the locker room and leadership principles, Herbert’s apparent lack of preparation (or failures to effectively prepare) removes him entirely from the list of options in the event that Josh Rosen doesn’t prove to be the answer in Miami.

@WingfieldNFL

Up Next: Jordan Love

Additional Videos

An under-thrown touch pass down the seam.

Impacted mechanics from pressure.

Poor location, with no regard for the defensive leverage, on a downfield throw.

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

LATEST

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending