Connect with us

Scouting Reports

Know The Enemy – Oakland Raiders

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

Oakland Raiders – Week 3

2017 Recap: (6-10, 3rdAFC West – No Playoffs)

After 2016’s aberration, Jack (Blackjack) Del Rio faced impossible expectations in 2017. The defense was still in shambles and the outlier season by his quarterback had many thinking this was a Super Bowl-worthy roster.

Derek Carr regressed back to the mean, Amari Cooper fell off the face of the earth and Marshawn Lynch’s return was more bark than bite.

Khalil Mack posted another monstrous season but the personnel surrounding him simply wasn’t good enough as Oakland limped across the finish line with four consecutive losses.

2017 League-Ranks:

 

Scoring Offense 23rd
Rushing Offense 25th
Passing Offense 16th
Scoring Defense 20th
Rushing Defense 12th
Passing Defense 26th
Turnover Differential 30th

 

2018 Coaching Changes:

Splashy moves are what built the team known as the Silver and Black. Throwing the game back to 1998, the Raiders penned a blank check for Jon Gruden to leave his cushy Monday Night Football job and return to the sideline.

Only the check wasn’t blank. It did, however, reach nine figures. Only six coaches have longer tenures than the length of Gruden’s 10-year mega-deal. Perhaps an even better reference, the Browns have employed six head coaches over the last decade. The Raiders have been through five of their own – but I’m sure they won’t regret this at all.

Outside of a pair of assistant positional coaches, Gruden’s staff is entirely new. Although Gruden will call the plays, Greg Olsen was brought in to help with the offensive game plans. On defense Paul Guenther takes over for a one of the league’s worst stop-units for nearly a decade.

Tom Cable returns to the Bay Area after washing out in Seattle – he’ll retain his title as offensive line coach.

2018 Notable Roster Changes:

 

Newcomer Role / Projected Snap Count
CB Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis) Starter / 100%
OLB Tahir Whitehead (Detroit) Starter / 100%
WR Martavis Bryant (Pittsburgh) 3rd WR / 70%
S Marcus Gilchrist (Houston) Starter / 100%
RB Doug Martin (Tampa Bay) RB committee / 50%
WR Jordy Nelson (Green Bay) Starter / 85%
ILB Derrick Johnson (Kansas City) Two-Down LB / 50%
DE Tank Carradine (San Francisco) Rotational / 20%
CB Shareece Wright (Buffalo) Depth / 25%
OLB Kyle Wilber (Dallas) Depth / 25%

 

 

Departed Role / Snaps Played
CB T.J. Carrie (Cleveland Starter / 98.5%
WR Michael Crabtree (Baltimore) Starter / 59.2%
CB David Amerson (Kansas City) Depth / 27.6%
DT Denico Autry (Indianapolis) Starter / 57.1%
RT Marshal Newhouse (Buffalo) Starter / 83.5%

 

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

QB Derek Carr – 25th/ 40
RB Marshawn Lynch 12th/ 60
WR Amari Cooper – 86th/ 118
WR Seth Roberts – 118th/ 118
TE Jared Cook – 59th/ 72
DE Khalil Mack – 2nd/ 46
DE Bruce Irvin – 23rd/ 46
OLB Tahir Whitehead – 9th/ 39
CB Gareon Conley – DNQ
CB Rashaan Melvin – 19th/ 120
SS Karl Joseph – 34th/ 89
FS Marcus Gilchrist – 50th/ 189

The Other Key Contributors:

A quick qualifier: Marshawn Lynch probably won’t make it to 75% of the Raiders’ offensive snaps, but Gruden is going to try. He wants the run to set up the pass and he built the team accordingly.

Continuing the commitment to winning in the trenches, Gruden beefed up his defensive line. Justin Ellis is a mountain that eats up space and double teams. Second-year pro Eddie Vanderdoes had a nice showing as a rookie and Mario Edwards can kick inside as a nickel rusher. P.J. Hall, Maurice Hurst and Arden Key were all drafted to supplement the lacking depth.

Obi Melifonwu is oozing with potential but missed most of his rookie season. He gives Paul Guenther some intriguing dime packages on the back end. Daryl Worley is expected to play the slot, but he has behaved like an ass off the field this spring.

Speaking of asses, Martavis Bryant was dealt to Oakland during the draft, but he could be facing a suspension that would cause him to miss this game.

Tale of the Tape:

Offense:

Coincidence or not, Gruden inherited a team that’s built from the middle out offensively. From left guard to right guard, it’s difficult to find a better trio than Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson. Together, they lead a power-based running attack that affords Derek Carr the opportunity for traditional seven-step drops.

Nov 5, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook (87) hauls in a catch in front of Miami Dolphins free safety Reshad Jones (20) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Gruden took every opportunity to make it known that he was still deeply invested in the league despite last donning a headset one decade ago. His claim is that the offense will be a mix-mash of things he has picked up from around the league and college ranks, but that can often be easier said than done.

With Lynch, the power-running game and a roster full of blocking tight ends, 12 and 13-personnel could be commonplace in the Bay Area.

Amari Cooper received an emphatic endorsement upon Gruden accepting the job – he will be featured in this offense. The swap of Michael Crabtree for Jordy Nelson was a curious decision as Nelson is more of a name than a player nowadays. Johnny Holton can provide the deep threat if Bryant is indeed lost for any period of time.

Derek Carr has an anomaly on his resume and it isn’t one of positive connotation. His only impressive season statistically was in 2016 when the Raiders offense was clicking on all cylinders around him. When faced with more adversity, Carr’s ability to process and get the football to his hot read regresses.

The Raider offense will go as far as Carr takes it. For the third consecutive week, to open the season, the Dolphins get an offense that is being remade from the ground up.

Defense:

The staple of a Paul Guenther defense is to show the quarterback as much variety pre-snap possible. In Cincinnati, Guenther always had a four-man rush that could create pressure. This allows the secondary to mix up its zone and man concepts.

In 2017, Guenther’s Bengals only sent an extra rusher 16.6% of the time. With Irvin and Mack on the edges, there’s no reason to expect that trend to change. That means a crowded secondary for a group that has been completely revamped this off-season.

With T.J. Carrie, David Amerson and Sean Smith gone, the Raiders will hope for a more collaborative effort from the newcomers (Gilchrist, Melvin, Worley, Wright).

Guenther wears out the double-A gap pressure look, which can put the linebackers at a disadvantage when they bail out. This would’ve been a nightmare for Miami last year with the lack of cohesion generated by Mike Pouncey’s chronic injury problems. Now, in 2018, continuity should shore up puzzles just like this one for the Dolphins.

With those linebackers displaced, and a lack of general talent at the position, teams could feast in the middle of the Oakland defense.

Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu offer Guenther interesting match-up pieces inside the box and man-up against tight ends. Marcus Gilchrist would provide stability on the back-end allowing the tone setters to play closer to the line-of-scrimmage.

Match-Up with Miami:

Miami’s saving grace in this game will be the ability to go empty from any personnel grouping. The front-five absolutely has to hold up in one-on-one situations outside of whoever Khalil Mack is rushing against.

Chipping and helping on Mack, while leaving everyone else man-up emphasizes a match-up between Bruce Irvin and Laremy Tunsil. If Tunsil keeps Tannehill clean in that duel, the Dolphins offense will move the ball up and down the field.

Creating opportunities for receivers on linebackers (i.e. Danny Amendola versus Derrick Johnson) could quickly wear the Raider defense down. The Raider edges want to get up field, so running the football on split-belly looks and outside/stretch-zone, and incorporating the screen game, should keep their stars at bay.

Breaking in a new defense means Tannehill will have opportunities to carve up this secondary. Miami can dictate match-ups and play this game at their own pace and attack players possibly lacking confidence in their assignments.

Nov 5, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake (32) runs the ball against the Oakland Raiders during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Defensively, it all starts with handling the running game. Miami is at a distinct disadvantage in the interior trenches for this game. William Hayes may get his second heavy workload in as many weeks helping the young Dolphin defensive tackles take on this all-star trio inside.

We talked about Cam Wake obliterating Brandon Shell and the Jets in the last column. Before Shell, he took Breno Giacomini to the shed in New York – Giacomini could start at right tackle for Oakland. The get-off of Wake and Robert Quinn, plus the alignment of this defense could give the plodding offensive tackles for Oakland fits.

Last year the Raiders destroyed the Dolphin linebackers in the passing game. Ushering in defensive backs that can help against the run (the big nickel package) should mitigate that issue.

Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley will have to challenge Amari Cooper when he strolls to their respective sides of the field and Bobby McCain needs to dominate his match-up inside with Seth Roberts.

Trap Game Potential:

The Dolphins might be welcoming a desperate Raiders team into Hard Rock Stadium. The week one match-up against the L.A. Rams and a week two trip to Denver could spell an 0-2 start. In that instance, the Dolphins will need their A-game.

Playing a team after a road divisional game could prove beneficial, especially if the Raiders pick up that win. The Dolphins are coming off a divisional road of their own, so that advantage is likely wiped away.

The biggest impeding factor for the Raiders here could be the heat. A home game and a trip to Denver to start the season won’t exactly prepare the Silver and Black for the heat and humidity of Miami Gardens.

Week-Three in a Nutshell:

This is a game the Dolphins have to win. Jon Gruden has ten years to get his program built for Oakland/Las Vegas. He poured the foundation this year by gutting the roster and starting over aside from a few star players.

West coast teams playing in the early time slot are at a succinct disadvantage. The Raiders won’t be acclimated to the playing conditions and might have to park their philosophy because of it.

@WingfieldNFL

Advertisement
Click to comment

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.

Miami Dolphins

A Miami Guide to the 2019 Quarterback Draft Class

Skyler Trunck

Published

on

Miami is in the thick of their head coaching search, but let’s be honest, whomever the Dolphins hire won’t excite you quite like seeing a new quarterback line up under center.  Could Miami find the next Patrick Mahomes or Baker Mayfield in the draft? Maybe.

I assume most of you are like me and don’t have time to consume pages and pages of scouting reports to dissect all the prospects in this draft and how they’d fit in Miami.  In an attempt to solve that problem for quarterbacks, I have compiled the big-name prospects into a short, easily digestible list.

Please keep in mind it’s early in the scouting process as far as what information is available to the public.  As with the draft every year in January, it’s likely projections, analysis, etc. change as we close in on April 25-27.

I’d also like to credit and recommend sources such as The Draft Network and Rookie Scouting Profile who not only helped frame this write-up but also provide more in-depth detail and pros/cons of each prospect that go beyond the brief summaries used here.

Dwayne Haskins
*yet to declare

Accurate on all levels.  Has the velocity necessary for a NFL quarterback.  Seemingly-high football IQ. One year starter leading to questions on what he could be.

My take: Haskins is the top prospect in this class if he decides to declare.  He has potential, but not all experts are on-board with Haskins being a safe day 1 pick.  Being a one year starter removes the consistency and improvements some experts like to see year-to-year for quarterbacks worthy of an early round 1 pick.  As a Dolphins fan, if you’re wanting a quarterback to start day 1, this is one of the players you’ll want to keep an eye on. It’s likely Miami would need to trade up for a player like Haskins if they decide he is worth the gamble.

Projection: Round 1

 

Daniel Jones

Strong enough arm for the NFL and mobile.  Accurate at all levels but lacks consistency or experience in anything outside of a quick passing game.

My take:  Jones has climbed draft boards this year.  Miami will need to implement an offensive scheme to play to his strengths, the quick passing game.  A more complex system like the one ex-head coach Adam Gase featured likely won’t align well to Jones’ strengths.  Where we’re at today, it’s looking like Jones will be available when Miami selects at #13. Where Jones is a decent quarterback prospect, if Miami is targeting a high-ceiling prospect, it may be best to look over Jones, and truly at that point, look more towards the 2020 draft.  I’ll also add, which may not bode well with Miami fans, when I see Jones, I think of Ryan Tannehill.

Projection: Round 1-2

 

Drew Lock

Strong arm but can show some inconsistent accuracy across the field — still, mostly accurate at all levels.  Appears to have issues processing the field. Solid pocket presence. True boom or bust prospect.

My take: Intriguing quarterback who was hyped coming into this year.  He didn’t show the improvement you’d like to see in a four-year starter, but he has potential and could be something special in this league.  Due to his inconsistent play game-to-game and lack of major improvement in his four years at Missouri, it’s likely he falls more in the “bust” category when it’s all said and done.  He could be worth a day 2 pick for Miami if scouts find the high-end potential is there.

Projection: Rounds 1-2

 

Will Grier

Mid-level arm talent in regards to accuracy and strength but could improve with mechanical adjustments.  Smart, consistent player with ability to extend plays with his legs (for better or worse).

My take: “Freelancer” is a great term to describe Grier.  He has shown he can make almost every throw. For those who despise current Dolphins quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, for his lack of pocket awareness, a quarterback like Grier may be more to your liking.  To add on, he’d compare more to Jay Cutler as a player than Ryan Tannehill. He’ll want a coach who can help him improve his mechanics and design a scheme to fit his strengths, but Grier shows some potential for the next level.  Like most quarterbacks who’d be selected in this range, he’ll need a year or two on the bench for he’ll be ready to contribute.

Projection: Rounds 2-3

 

Easton Stick

Average arm strength made up for with good accuracy, top-notch athleticism, and a high football intelligence.  Lack of top-end competition is a sizeable drawback.

My Take: A smaller, more athletic Carson Wentz with a slightly less appealing arm is an appropriate way to describe fellow North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick.  Stick is just as smart with the football as Wentz, but unlike Wentz (to an extent) he can make plays with his feet when a play breaks down. On top of that, he has the tools you’d look for in an NFL prospect: adequate arm strength, accurate, and a high football IQ.  If Miami is looking for a mid-round pick with upside beyond a career back-up, Stick is certainly a target.

Projection: Rounds 3-4

 

Jordan Ta’amu

Mostly accurate on all levels.  Adequate arm strength for the NFL.  Can read the field and extend plays with his feet.

My take: Described as one of the biggest quarterback sleepers for this upcoming draft, Ta’amu is a relatively unknown quarterback who could check all the boxes for NFL scouts.  I expect Ta’amu to gain more visibility as we approach April. Ta’amu has potential and should be on the Dolphins radar as a quarterback who may be worth a mid-round, flier pick.

Projection: Rounds 3-4

 

Brett Rypien

Can make all the throws necessary both from an accuracy and arm strength perspective.  High football-IQ and risk-averse. Relatively consistent player.

My take: As far as players who could step in for the Dolphins, Rypien should be in the conversation.  He does the small things right.  There is more to be desired or to be seen as to if he could be true game-changer at the quarterback position, but he could be an adequate game manager.  In Miami’s case, if they’re looking for someone to come in and compete next year at a relatively low cost (mid-round pick), this may be the guy. However, I wouldn’t expect Rypien to be the savior Miami fans are looking for long-term.

Projection: Rounds 3-5

 

Ryan Finley

Accurate short, but inconsistent at anything further.  Questionable arm strength relative to the NFL level. Overall, not strong in most categories scouts look for in a quarterback.

My take: It doesn’t appear the upside is there for a player like Finley.  He’s experienced, having been in college six years, starting for the last three, but there isn’t a lot to show he’ll be a high-end starter in the NFL.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Jarrett Stidham

Accurate at all levels and has adequate NFL arm strength.  However, doesn’t seem to handle pressure well. Not much of a threat to run when things break down.

My take: Similar to most quarterbacks in this range, his ceiling isn’t too high.  Best case, Stidham could be a solid back-up or spot-starter in this league. For what Miami is looking for, Stidham most likely won’t be the long term solution.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Gardner Minshew

Inconsistent accuracy and processing which likely will not translate well to the NFL.  Playmaker who can extend plays with his feet. Not great but enough arm strength to make the necessary throws.

My take: For those who like the Russell Wilson type of quarterback in terms of extending plays, Minshew may gather some interest for you.  However, he lacks in the other departments which will limit him from being a Wilson-type quarterback. I’m gathering he’s best served as a solid backup or spot-starter in the NFL, which is likely not what Miami is in the market for.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Clayton Thorson

Mid/low level arm strength coupled with inconsistent accuracy.  Seems smart enough and has ability to recognize pressure. Has flashes in all categories but overall inconsistent.

My take: Another late round quarterback who has potential to be a good back-up in this league.  With Miami wanting that quarterback to take them over the hump, Thorson doesn’t appear to be the answer.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Bonus:

Kyler Murray
*yet to declare

Not-elite but good accuracy.  Most athletic, dynamic quarterback prospect with more than enough arm strength desired at the NFL level.  Can make plays when all things break down.

My take: It’s nothing new, but the Murray comparisons to Lamar Jackson are real.  Think Jackson but with a more accurate arm. There isn’t a lot out there on Murray regarding draft stock as Murray chose to take give up football in exchange for a baseball career.  In the event he changes his mind and switches to football, Murray could be a day 1 game-changing prospect for this Miami franchise. Sure, there are durability concerns when you run as much as he does with his small stature; however, a player like Murray is well worth the risk in a relatively weak quarterback class.  He could truly be a difference maker in this offense.

Projection: Round 1

Continue Reading

Scouting Reports

Know The Enemy – Chicago Bears

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
Week 4 @ New England
Week 5 @ Cincinnati

Chicago Bears – Week 6
2017 Recap: (5-11, 4thNFC North – No Playoffs)

While the results didn’t deviate from the recent norm in Chicago, hope sprang eternal. Making a move for a quarterback has a city that considers Jay Cutler the best in franchise history buzzing about the future.

Mitch Trubisky had the look of a one-year college starter in his debut season in the NFL. The offense was predicated around a pair of special backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, and Trubisky was merely a caretaker that was asked to make one or two plays per game.

Defensively, the Bears have been stockpiling talent for what seems like ages. 2017’s stop unit finally began showing signs progress under Vic Fangio. Without a definitive household name in the bunch, the Chicago defense is predicated on depth and consistency across all three levels.

With seven losses in games where the defense surrendered fewer than 24 points, Chicago had one priority this off-season: remake the offense around their sophomore quarterback.

2017 League-Ranks:

 

Scoring Offense 29th
Rushing Offense 16th
Passing Offense 32nd
Scoring Defense 9th
Rushing Defense 11th
Passing Defense 7th
Turnover Differential 15th

 

2018 Coaching Changes:

The Chicago Bears celebrated the New Year by relieving John Fox as head coach of the organization. He was replaced by former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, Matt Nagy.

With the Head Coaching change came a snowball of additional moves.

Nagy hired ex-Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand as his assistant head coach as well as the team’s offensive line coach. He then hired former Oregon Ducks head coach, Mark Helfrich, as the team’s offensive coordinator. Helfrich replaced Dowell Loggains, who was subsequently hired by Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins to be their offensive coordinator.

Though he was originally set to retire after the 2017 season, Nagy was able to persuade Brad Childress to join him in Chicago to be the team’s senior offensive consultant. Childress was the Chief’s co-offensive coordinator (along with Nagy) in 2016.

Some minor additions to the Bear’s coaching staff include Chris Tabor replacing Jeff Rodgers as the team’s special team’s coordinator, Kevin Gilbride replacing Frank Smith as the team’s tight ends coach, Charles London replacing Curtis Modkins as the team’s running back’s coach, and Mike Furrey replacing Zach Azzanni as the wide receiver’s coach. Brock Olivo was also hired to be the assistant special teams coordinator.

Despite a new coach, the entire defensive coaching staff (which was ranked 10thin the league in 2017) was retained. Vic Fangio, the team’s defensive coordinator in 2017, interviewed to be the team’s head coach, but was passed on for Nagy. Fangio signed a 3-year extension shortly thereafter to remain the team’s defensive coordinator.

2018 Notable Roster Changes:

 

Newcomer Role / Projected Snap Count
WR Allen Robinson (Jacksonville) Primary WR / 90%
TE Trey Burton (Philadelphia) Starter / 80%
WR Taylor Gabriel (Atlanta) Starter / 70%
DE Aaron Lynch (San Francisco) Rotational / 50%
WR Bennie Fowler (Denver) Backup / 30%
QB Chase Daniel (New Orleans) Backup

 

Newcomer Role / 2017 Snap Count
OG Josh Sitton (Miami) Starter /  72.06%
OLB Pernell McPhee (Washington) Starter / 36.39%
LB Christian Jones (Detroit) Rotational / 58.88%
WR Kendall Wright (Minnesota) Starter / 58.7%
WR Markus Wheaton (Philadelphia) Backup / 18.93%
QB Mike Glennon (Arizona Backup / 26.72%
DE Mitch Unrein (Tampa Bay) Rotational / 36.77%
OT Tom Compton (Minnesota) Swing Tackle / 34.62%

 

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

QB Mitch Trubisky – 28th/ 40
WR Allen Robinson – DNP 2017 – 2016 – 56th/ 119
TE Trey Burton – 14th/ 72
DE Akiem Hicks – 16th/ 124
OLB Leonard Floyd – 28th/ 46
ILB Roquan Smith – Rookie
CB Kyle Fuller – 36th/ 120
CB Prince Amukamara – 41st/ 120
CB Bryce Callahan – 35th/ 120
S Eddie Jackson – 51st/ 89
S Adrian Amos – 2nd/ 89

The Other Key Contributors:

Using snap counts as the cornerstone player requirement is disingenuous when a team is loaded in the backfield in the way Chicago is currently stocked. Jordan Howard is one of the game’s best zone runners and Tarik Cohen is a human-joystick capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.

The Chicago skill set is flush with talent for the first time in forever. Anthony Miller was arguably the most polished receiver in this year’s draft class and Adam Shaheen made impressive strides as a rookie. With proven talent ahead of them, there’s no pressure to make an immediate impact.

Eddie Goldman isn’t going to light up the stat sheet, but he’ll eat up snaps and blockers on the nose. Danny Trevathan and Sam Acho likely see their roles reduced in lieu of rookie Roquan Smith, but both are sound tacklers and quality players.

Tale of the Tape:

Offense:

The theme of the early opponent’s on Miami’s schedule is the influx of new coaching staffs. Occupying the big chair is a pupil of the innovative Andy Reid – Matt Nagy. Nagy’s fingerprints are all over the remade offensive personnel. The key will be accelerating the learning curve for Trubisky in year-two.

Drafting James Daniels to pair with Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair on the interior offensive line signals that this offense still flows through the ground game – and why wouldn’t it? Howard and Cohen are complete backs that can beat defenses in a variety of ways.

Just as the running back position goes, the tight end group is flexible and deep. Athleticism, length and the desire to play inline, each of the Bears three tight ends (Burton, Shaheen and Dion Sims) can contribute.

Allen Robinson was the Bears’ homerun of the off-season – health will be the biggest obstacle for the former pro-bowler (returns from a torn ACL).

Without a clear picture of Nagy’s own adaptation of the Andy Reid offense, it’s difficult to predict exactly what the scheme will look like.

A smart gambler would roll the dice on a match-up based offense that can use tempo and mask personnel groupings through versatility. Flexing backs and tight ends to the perimeter, running the zone-read and run-pass-option looks, and the occasional 13-personnel grouping to pound the ball down the opponent’s throat, this offense will take on the shape of its counterpart’s weaknesses. 

Defense:

As has become the trend in the NFL, the Bears defense is built through the secondary. The emergence of Adrian Amos, the opportunistic nature of Eddie Jackson’s game and the steady corner play from all three starters affords coordinator Vic Fangio a lot of ingenuity.

Fangio has been constructing this defense since 2015, and he might finally have the personnel for the rocket to officially launch. Fangio built a juggernaut in San Francisco with similar personnel and the varied fronts to confuse and frustrate opposing quarterbacks.

Akiem Hicks acts as Justin Smith in this iteration of the Fangio D, and the hope is that Leonard Floyd can fill the role of Aldon Smith pre-rap sheet. The weak link of this group is in the lack of depth up front.

Generating pressure via the scheme (blitzes, stunts, twists, etc.) is the blue print. The skill on the back-end allows Fangio to commit more rushers than the league average.

Ideally for Chicago, the defense will be a bend-don’t-break unit that capitalizes on mistakes and creates a lot of turnovers yet again in 2018.

Match-Up with Miami:

Chicago are liable to light the Dolphins run defense up at a moment’s notice. Miami has struggled immensely in dealing with a similar set of backs featured by the New England Patriots (James White and Dion Lewis). To boot, the Dolphins have struggled with tight ends just about on a weekly basis.

Ryan Tannehill had one of the best games of his career in Chicago in 2014. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago could, for all intents and purposes, hide Trubisky in this contest. Hitting the ‘Phins D with a steady dose of the running game, boots and play-action would make for a long day. Miami made a concerted effort to upgrade the depth and second level of the defense, but the Bears can hit defenses in waves.

Matt Nagy’s evolving offense will likely employ plenty of 12-personnel in this game to take advantage of the mismatches caused by Burton and Shaheen. Forcing the Dolphins to keep additional linebackers on the field (Kiko Alonso, for instance) could open up the Bears deadly screen game.

Offensively for Miami this game is going to fall on the shoulders of the quarterback. With a variety of blitz packages and one-on-one match-ups in the secondary, it’ll be paramount for Ryan Tannehill to identify the soft spots in coverage and get the football out of his hands as quickly as possible.

Creating penetration and running lanes will prove difficult. The Bears offer a lot of beef up front, something the Dolphins offensive line is not equipped to deal with. 

Trap Game Potential:

Chicago is coming off its bye week prior to this game. Nagy’s preparation, and the team’s rest should be firing on all cylinders. The ability to break some early tendencies, along with devising some clever screen concepts, could put the Dolphins up against it early.

The hope, for Miami, is that this team traveling from the Midwest down to muggy Miami will pull the cord out of the Bears’ proverbial backs in the fourth quarter.

Fresh legs vs. a weather advantage – those are the miscellaneous factors in this one.

Week-Six in a Nutshell:

These team’s seasons might mirror one-another. There is a lot of talent at key positions, quality depth all across the board and a pair of young coaches hoping to find their way.

The biggest concern for Miami, the strength of the Bears offense (the running game) can attack the Dolphins’ biggest weakness, the run defense.

In even match-ups, it typically comes down to quarterback play. Mitch Trubisky should have a better season, but he’s not close to Ryan Tannehill’s level… yet.

@WingfieldNFL

Continue Reading

Scouting Reports

Know The Enemy – Cincinnati Bengals

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
Week 4 @ New England

Cincinnati Bengals – Week 5
2017 Recap: (7-9, 3rdAFC North – No Playoffs)

Like the Dolphins, Cincinnati has been stuck in something of a perpetual cycle. The five consecutive trips to the post-season from 2011-2015 did not yield a single playoff victory. Since, the Bengals have toiled to just 13 wins over the last two seasons.

Marvin Lewis (a.k.a. Teflon Marv) survived his fifteenth season with the team despite accruing eight losing campaigns in his unparalleled tenure. 2017 was punctuated with back-to-back wins over a lifeless Lions team and division rival (Baltimore) that had everything to play for.

A.J. Green missed some time with an injury, the offensive line was a tire fire and Andy Dalton continued the sporadic arc of his dubious career.

Perhaps the silver lining: the Bengals uncovered one of the game’s best cornerbacks in William Jackson and the defensive line room continues to churn out productive pass rusher.

2017 League-Ranks:

 

Scoring Offense 26th
Rushing Offense 31st
Passing Offense 27th
Scoring Defense 16th
Rushing Defense 30th
Passing Defense 8th
Turnover Differential 27th

 

2018 Coaching Changes:

Bill Lazor took over the offense and play calling duties after an atrocious start that saw the Bengals fail to reach pay dirt in back-to-back home games to start the year. He remains in that position with Alex Van Pelt taking his previous digs as the quarterback coach. Bob Bicknell supplants James Urban in the wide receiver room, and Frank Pollack now mans the offensive line position previously held by Robert Couch.

Teryl Austin will now coordinate the defense previously coached up by Paul Guenther. Joining him is Daronte Jones taking over for Kevin Coyle in the secondary.

2018 Notable Roster Changes:

 

Newcomer Role / Projected Snap Count
LT Cordy Glenn (Buffalo) Starter / 100%
DT Chris Baker (Tampa Bay) Rotational / 50%
LB Preston Brown (Buffalo) Starter / 100%
QB Matt Barkley (Arizona) Backup

 

 

Departed Role / Snaps Played
C Russell Bodine (Buffalo) Starter / 100%
QB A.J. McCarron (Buffalo) Backup / 2.7%
LB Kevin Minter (NY Jets) Depth / 17.28%
RB Jeremy Hill (New England) Depth / 8%
DE Chris Smith (Cleveland_ Rotational / 34.99%
RT Andrew Smith (Arizona) Starter / 55.72%

 

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

QB Andy Dalton – 16th/ 40
WR A.J. Green – 17th/ 118
DT Geno Atkins – 2nd/ 124
DE Carlos Dunlap – 17th/ 64
LB Preston Brown – 63rd/ 90
CB William Jackson – 7th/ 120
CB Dre Kirkpatrick – 94th/ 120
CB Darqueze Dennard – 22nd/ 120
S Georg Iloka – 53rd/ 89
S Shawn Williams – 48th/ 89

The Other Key Contributors:

Joe Mixon enters year-two as the clear-cut number one running back. Mixon offers a rare blend of speed and power along with the traits that make him a coveted option on all three downs. Running behind rookie center Billy Price and new left tackle Cordy Glenn could lead to a breakout sophomore season.

The Bengals are flush with options off the edge every year it seems. Jordan Willis is an astute rusher as an end, but quasi-SAM backer Carl Lawson had an even bigger impact as a rookie. His role should expand in year-two – especially now that he’s working under Teryl Austin.

Vontaze Burfict is a bonehead, but he’s still a highly productive player. After serving his annual suspension, he brings a level of intensity and play-making to a Bengals defense that is lacking in that regard at the linebacker position.

Tale of the Tape:

Offense: 

As cliché as it sounds, everything starts up front for the Bengals. The tackle play was positively horrendous in 2017. Cedric Ogbuehi and Andre Smith were replaced, but Cincinnati will gamble that Jake Fisher can get it figured out in year-four.

Billy Price will serve as the lynchpin inside. The most important player for a zone-blocking scheme, Price displayed elite movement and technical traits at Ohio State. Price’s immediate emergence and the volume and deception of Lazor’s offense are keys to this group coming back from the dead.

After a start that had his future in jeopardy, Andy Dalton rebounded under Lazor’s tutelage. Dalton’s penchant for preparation and advantageous match-ups dictated by scheme allowed for the rhythm passer to go on a completion-percentage tear.

Then A.J. Green went down. And as has been the case for far too long in Cincy, Green is the engine that drives that offense. Without the blazing, leaping Green, the Bengals attack is devoid of play makers that can create separation and command the defense’s attention.

Cincinnati did very little to mitigate that issue this off-season. Brandon LaFell, Tyler Eifert and Tyler Boyd are being counted on to give Lazor substantial snaps.

On paper, this group has mega-implosion potential. Dalton is one of the game’s most inconsistent passers. Playing behind a leaky offensive line with minimal impact players on the edge is the recipe for another season of offensive ineptitude.

 Defense:

A surprisingly stingy defense is being built in the Queen City. Geno Atkins is the focal point of a defensive line that consistently creates pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Assuming improvements in their sophomore seasons, Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis provide Teryl Austin a bevy of pass-rushing lines.

Sep 29, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (L) tips the ball from Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) as Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Will Clarke (93) defends in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The primary ends, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, are incredibly disruptive in the passing game. Tampa Bay defect Chris Baker gives the Bengals another interior pass rush option. Baker figures to replace starting nose tackle Andrew Billings on passing downs.

Austin’s claim to fame is turning the Lions secondary into a ball hawking nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. In William Jackson, Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick, Austin has a trio of athletic marvels that can make plays on the football.

The issue with the Bengals is going to be the run defense. Slight at linebacker, and a wide-open scheme, there isn’t a lot of hope as far as filling the B-gap-to-B-gap weakness of Austin’s system.

If teams are able to line up and run it down the Bengals’ throats, and Dalton’s offense sputters yet again, the pass rush will prove irrelevant.

Match-Up with Miami:

This Bengals team could mirror the Dolphins in a few ways. Both teams want to create pressure on the quarterback and take the football away with a feisty secondary. It’ll be crucial for the Dolphins receivers to get off the early jams and disruption efforts of the Bengals’ stout secondary.

Dennard emerged in the slot just as Jackson did on the perimeter, but Kirkpatrick might be the area Miami can pick on. Despite his 6-2 frame, he tends to shy away from contact and could get bodied out by larger receivers like Devante Parker.

Miami has to handle Geno Atkins inside – he’s a game-wrecker. The issue there will be committing extra bodies with an edge rush that is entirely capable of doing the same.

As is normally the case, the Dolphins will want to get the football out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands early and establish a running game. Alleviating some of the pressure provided by the Bengals edge defenders will be paramount.

Defensively for Miami, it’s all about which Andy Dalton shows up. He’s liable to throw inaccurate passes all over the field and put the ball in the opposition’s hand. A.J. Green torched the Dolphins last time, though Xavien Howard wasn’t the accomplished player he became last season. That’ll be a crucial match-up and one that Howard can win. 

Trap Game Potential: 

Cincinnati hosts its most hated rival in week six (Pittsburgh), so a peak ahead is a possibility. However, with a coach on thin ice, a shaky roster and a tough opening slate, the Bengals could have their backs up against the wall early on. A desperate team is usually a good team.

The Dolphins will be fresh off a showdown in Foxboro and on their second consecutive trip to the Northeast/Midwest.

A clear advantage does not exist in this match-up as far as trap game scenarios go.

Week-Five in a Nutshell:

This game has the potential to provide either team with a springboard into the middle portions of their season. The Bengals are breaking in a new defensive coordinator and a re-made offensive line while the Dolphins are still trying to uncover its own identity.

Nobody on the field is better than A.J. Green in this game, and if Xavien Howard can frustrate him the way he did with Julio Jones in the second half of the Atlanta game in 2017, Miami will get out with a victory.

Playing on the road is never an easy task, but the Dolphins have enjoyed quite a bit of success in Cincinnati over the years. Perhaps the Bengals will be entering a rebuild with a slow start to the season.

Then again, Marvin Lewis has survived this long.

@WingfieldNFL

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending