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Speed Dating – Miami Dolphins 2019 Coaching Staff Edition

Travis Wingfield

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Wading patiently through four weeks of post-season football, the building at Nova Southeastern in Davie will finally be buzzing next week.

The assembling of Brian Flores’ staff is almost complete. So grab a name tag, hit the bar, and get ready to meet the new crop of restless, khaki donning, sideline-roamers.

Head Coach – Brian Flores

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
New England Patriots 2004-2018 Defensive Play-caller, Linebackers, Safeties, Offensive Assistant, Special Teams Assistant, Pro Scout, Scouting Assistant

 

Flores, age 38, played collegiately at Boston College. He has three Super Bowl rings to his name with a chance to add a fourth on Sunday. He calls the defensive plays for the Patriots and held Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs offense off the scoreboard for the first half of the AFC Championship Game. Flores was named recipient of the Legends Award from the YMCA in the Hockomock Integration Initiative.

Offensive Coordinator – Chad O’Shea

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
New England Patriots 2009-2018 Wide Receivers, Red-Zone Coordinator
Minnesota Vikings 2006-2008 Offensive assistant, Wide Receivers, Assistant Special Teams
Kansas City Chiefs 2003-2005 Assistant Special Teams, Volunteer Assistant
Southern Miss 2000-2002 Special Teams Coach and Recruiting Coordinator
Houston (NCAA) 1996-1999 Tight Ends, Special Teams, Recruiting Coordinator, Wide Receivers, Graduate Assistant

 

O’Shea, age 46, will call plays for the first time in 2019. Nearly a decade of experience working in the same headset as Tom Brady, O’Shea devises the Patriots offensive red zone plans. New England ranked 12th in touchdown percentage in 2018 and 3rd in 2017 under O’Shea’s watch. A two time Super Bowl Champion, O’Shea can add a third on Sunday in Atlanta.

Defensive Coordinator – Patrick Graham

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
Green Bay Packers 2018 Linebackers and Run Game Coordinator
New York Giants 2016-2017 Defensive Line
New England Patriots 2009-2015 Linebackers, Defensive Line, Defensive Assistant
Notre Dame 2007-2008 Defensive Graduate Assistant
Richmond 2004-2006 Tight Ends, Defensive Line
Wagner 2002-2003 Graduate Assistant

 

Graham, age 40, played defensive line at Yale. Graham’s connection to Mike Pettine, and history with the Patriots, creates an intriguing paralleled to pliable defensive fronts and packages. Graham has one Super Bowl ring to his credit.

Special Teams Coordinator – Danny Crossman

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
Buffalo Bills 2013-2018 Special Teams Coordinator
Detroit Lions 2010-2012 Special Teams Coordinator
Carolina Panthers 2003-2009 Special Teams Coordinator
Michigan State 2002 Linebackers, Special Teams Coordinator
Georgia Tech 1999-2001 Defensive Ends, Special Teams Coordinator
Central Florida 1997-1998 Defensive Backs, Special Teams Coordinator
Western Kentucky 1994-1996 Defensive Backs, Outside Linebackers
US Coast Guard Aca. 1993 Defensive Backs, Special Teams Coach

 

Crossman, age 52, has coached all over America and at nearly every position on the defensive side. He has been a special teams coordinator since the late-90’s, but his 31st ranking in Buffalo last year has raised concerns over the move. Crossman played his college ball at Pittsburgh at a cornerback and fullback. He had a cup of coffee in the NFL before winning a World Bowl title (and MVP) with the London Monarchs in 1991.

Quarterbacks/Assistant Head Coach – Jim Caldwell

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
XFL 2018 League Consultant
Detroit Lions 2014-2017 Head Coach
Baltimore Ravens 2012-2013 Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks
Indianapolis Colts 2002-2011 Head Coach, Quarterbacks/Assistant Head Coach
Tampa Bay Bucs 2001 Quarterbacks
Wake Forrest 1993-2000 Head Coach
Penn State 1986-1992 Quarterbacks
Louisville 1985 Wide Receivers
Colorado 1982-1984 Wide Receivers
Northwestern 1981 Offensive Assistant
Southern Illinois 1978-1980 Wide Receivers
Iowa 1977 Graduate Assistant

 

Caldwell, age 64, brings a bevy of experience to a young Dolphins staff. His Head Coaching stops include a Super Bowl appearance in 2009. His most relatable position to the current role he holds with Miami comes from his 2012 work with Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco. Baltimore fired its OC in Week 15 then proceeded to win five of the last six en route to a championship under Caldwell’s guidance on offense. Caldwell has two championship rings as a coach.

Running Backs – Eric Studesville

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
Miami Dolphins 2018-Pres Running Backs, Run Game Coordinator
Denver Broncos 2010-2017 Interim Head Coach, Running Backs, Assistant HC
Buffalo Bills 2004-2009 Running Backs
New York Giants 2001-2003 Running Backs
Chicago Bears 1997-2000 Running Backs
Kent State 1995-1996 Defensive Coordinator
Wingate 1994 Defensive Coordinator
North Carolina 1992-1993 Video Coordinator, Graduate Assistant Defensive Backs
Arizona 1991 Graduate Assistant

 

Studesville, age 51, is one of two holdovers from the previous staff. His work in the running game was arguably the best faction of the 2018 Dolphins team. A running back in his hay day, Studesville has been a part of some highly successful ground games. He served as the Interim Head Coach in Denver in 2010. Studesville has one championship ring.

Wide Receivers – Karl Dorrell

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
New York Jets 2015-2018 Wide Receivers
Vanderbilt 2014 Offensive Coordinator
Houston Texans 2012-2013 Quarterbacks
Miami Dolphins 2008-2011 Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers
UCLA 2003-2007 Head Coach
Denver Broncos 2000-2002 Wide Receivers
Washington (NCAA) 1999 Offensive Coordinator, Wide Receivers
Colorado 1995-1998 Offensive Coordinator, Wide Receivers
Arizona State 1994 Wide Receivers
Colorado State 1992-1993 Wide Receivers
Northern Arizona 1990-1991 Offensive Coordinator, Wide Receivers
UCF 1989 Wide Receivers
UCLA 1988 Graduate Assistant

 

Dorrell, age 55, makes his second stop in Miami. Coaching in the passing game most of his life, Dorrell has more than a decade of play-calling experience. A wide receiver at UCLA, Dorrell coached his alma matter to a 35-27 record in the mid-2000’s. Dorrell’s NFL career was brief lasting just one year on the injured reserve with the Cowboys.

Tight Ends – George Godsey

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
Detroit Lions 2017-2018 Quarterbacks, Defensive Assistant and Special Projects
Houston Texans 2014-2016 Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks
New England Patriots 2011-2013 Tight Ends, Offensive Assistant
UCF 2004-2010 Running Backs, Quarterbacks, Graduate Assistant

 

Godsey, age 40, comes from the Georgia Tech triple option as a player. His time in New England forged a relationship with Flores and O’Shea as he comes full circle to coach the tight ends in Miami. He has play-calling experience and has worked in quarterback rooms in the NFL and college.

Offensive Line – Pat Flaherty

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
Jacksonville Jaguars 2017-2018 Offensive Line
San Francisco 49ers 2016 Offensive Line
New York Giants 2004-2015 Offensive Line
Chicago Bears 2001-2003 Tight Ends
Washington Redskins 2000 Tight Ends
Iowa 1999 Tight Ends, Special Teams
Wake Forrest 1993-1998 Offensive Line, Tight Ends, Special Teams
East Carolina 1992 Defensive Ends
Rutgers 1984-1991 Offensive Line Assistant
Penn State 1982-1983 Offensive Line Assistant
East Stroudsburg 1980-1981 Offensive Line
Delone Catholic HS 1978-1979 Head Coach

 

Flaherty, age 62, was a college All-America as a center at little East Stroudsburg University in 1977. He’s worked under Tom Coughlin, Norv Turner, and Chip Kelly (among others) and has a pair of Super Bowl rings.

Defensive Line – Marion Hobby

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
Jacksonville Jaguars 2017-2018 Defensive Line
Clemson 2011-2016 Defensive Coordinator, Defensive Ends
Duke 2008-2010 Defensive Coordinator, Defensive Line
New Orleans 2006-2007 Defensive Ends
Clemson 2005 Defensive Ends
Ole Miss 1999-2004 Defensive Line
Tennessee 1998 Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach
Louisiana Lafayette 1996-1997 Defensive Tackles, Strength and Conditioning Coach
Tennessee-Martin 1995 Strength and Conditioning Coach

 

Hobby, age 52, played with the Vikings and Patriots from 1990-1992. He was All-SEC at Tennessee before being drafted in the third round in 1990. Hobby coached the supremely successful 2017 Jaguars Defensive Line that saw Calais Campbell finish runner-up in the DPOY voting and Yannick Ngakoue develop into a pro-bowler.

Linebackers – Robbie Leonard

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
New York Giants 2013-2018 Assistant Linebackers, Defensive Assistant
North Carolina State 2010-2012 Defensive Assistant, Graduate Assistant
Cardinal Gibbons HS 2009 Defensive Assistant

 

Leonard, age 35, is the least decorated of the new coaching hires. His connection to Patrick Graham suggests that Brian Flores trusted his DC to make this hire. Leonard played his college ball at Washington & Jefferson College.

Defensive Backs – Tony Oden

Coaching Stops

Team Years Position(s) Held
Miami Dolphins 2018-Pres Defensive Backs
Detroit Lions 2014-2017 Cornerbacks
Tampa Bay Bucs 2013 Defensive Backs
Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 Defensive Backs
New Orleans Saints 2006-2011 Secondary Coach, Assistant Secondary Coach
Houston Texans 2004-2005 Defensive Assistant
Eastern Michigan 2003 Defensive Backs
East Carolina 2000-2002 Safeties, Secondary Coach, Outside Linebackers
US Military Academy 1998-1999 Head JV Coach, Defensive Backs
Boston College 1997 Graduate Assistant
Millersville U of Penn 1996 Assistant Defensive Backs Coach

 

Oden, age 45, is well-traveled. Spending 2018 with Miami, he’s one of two holdovers from the previous staff. Oden played linebacker in college but has primarily coached defensive backs at the NFL level. He has a Super Bowl ring from his 2009 season with the Saints.

Assistants to the positional coaches will likely be added over the coming days, weeks, or even months. But, for the most part, this is the core group of coaches that will grace the sidelines next September at Hard Rock Stadium.

All things told, this staff has a combined 263 years of coaching experience, 10 Super Bowl rings, three offensive coaches that have called plays and two defensive coaches that have called plays.

Both Miami coordinators, however, have never called plays in a regular season game.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa has IT.

Brian Flores is THE guy.

And I have to admit, Chris Grier has done a phenomenal job.

After an exciting 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (5-3), the Miami Dolphins (5-3) solidified themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the AFC. Sure, you can say we’re getting a bit cocky – we’ve watched our team falter plenty of times before. But do you get the sense that these are the same Dolphins we’ve been watching this century?

Right now, are you skeptical or optimistic?

Do you have butterflies because you’re nervous or because you’re excited?

Do you think the Dolphins are trying to survive each game or do you have confidence that they’ll win?

Coming off of 4-straight victories, it’s easy to feel like we’re on top of the world, but this team looks different. It feels different. They act different.

Below are a few thoughts following Miami’s promising 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Monday Morning Thoughts

Tua Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for

Admit it, when they originally ruled that throwaway an interception, you saw shades of every failed quarterback to come since Dan Marino.

That play was so comically bad that it easily could have defined Tua’s career if it didn’t pan out. Thankfully, it was ruled that the receiver’s foot was out-of-bounds and it was an incomplete pass – but imagine the memes that would have been unleashed if Miami lost this game and that play counted.

But, it didn’t count….and the Dolphins didn’t lose….and Tua Tagovailoa out-dueled Kyler Murray when it mattered most.

When the Dolphins needed a game-winning drive, Tua delivered. When Kyler Murray had an opportunity to tie it, he didn’t (along with an obscure Zane Gonzalez kick).

Tua’s elite pocket presence, accuracy, decision-making, and ball placement were all on display. And none of that accounts for the plays he made with his legs.

If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re thrilled with what you saw. And though it’s only a small sample size, I think we can all exhale – he looks like he’s the guy.

Byron Jones is still a damn good Cornerback

After three-straight dominant performances, Byron Jones was a bit humbled this game. We’re so used to watching him shut down opposing receivers that a game like this really sticks out.

He was absolutely burned by Christian Kirk on a beautiful deep ball from Kyler Murray late in the first quarter, but that wasn’t his worse play.

Dolphins fans and Byron Jones both thought he hauled in his first interception since October, 2017. Instead, Darrell Daniels’ first career touchdown reception is one of the highlights of the year as he snatches the ball right out of Jones’ hands.

I mean, Byron Jones had that ball in his hands for an interception, and before they hit the ground Darrell Daniels steals it into his possession. AND somehow had his knee down so it would count as a catch. Crazy.

Miami’s (really, it’s Brian Flores’) now infamous “zero” boom-or-bust scheme is susceptible to the long-ball, as our corners are expected to cover their receivers 1-on-1; with no safety help behind them. So far this season, it has worked tremendously to their advantage (as seen below)

But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:

With all of that said, Byron Jones is still a great cornerback in this league. Was this a bad game? Definitely. But I don’t expect this to become a trend. Lets not take for granted the elite secondary we currently have.

Christian Wilkins should NOT stop celebrating

Just please celebrate responsibly.

One of the reasons Dolphins fans adore Christian Wilkins is because of his infectious personality. He’s notoriously running in and celebrating every offensive touchdown with his team. His trash talking is innocently intimidating. The way he pumps his team up is perfect for any locker room culture. On top of the fact that he’s a pretty good defensive tackle.

Which is why I want him to keep celebrating – and I want him to continue celebrating excessively.

Preston Williams‘ unfortunate injury during a touchdown celebration is a huge reason why professional coaches like to contain their million-dollar players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. It makes sense, they’re valuable commodities, but Wilkins’ spirit is too valuable to douse.

If something like this happens again, then we can talk about stifling his excitement, until then….celebrate smarter.

Xavien Howard’s “penalties” tell half the story

Xavien Howard was tasked with shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, and he ended up accounting for more penalty yards (43) than receiving yards against him (30).

The real testament to Howard’s coverage throughout the game? DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league, didn’t see a single target in the first half of the game.

A couple (terrible) penalties shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Xavien Howard and Byron Jones may be the best cornerback tandem in the league.

The Miami Dolphins need a Running Back in the worst way

Jordan Howard‘s 8-yard run on the last drive of the game – which helped seal the victory – was his biggest play as a Miami Dolphin. Up to that point, I was kind of rooting for Howard to continue his 1 YPC average. If you take away that 8-yard run (EASILY his longest of the year), Howard has gained 25 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts (0.93 YPC).

Rookie Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, with 7 carries for 38 yards (5.4 YPC). I’m not sure how reliable he is, but he can’t be worse than Howard. If Matt Breida is available for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure Howard will once again be inactive, giving Ahmed another shot to prove himself.

We probably should have given Austin Jackson the week off

Austin Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time in 4 weeks (due to a foot injury) and was “ok”. He was beat on a few plays, but it’s evident he wasn’t 100%. I wouldn’t make any presumptions based off of this game; if anything, the reps help from an experience/mental perspective.

Jason Sanders is a stud

Jason Sanders connecting on 56 and 50-yard field goals are that much more impressive when you take into account that weird Zane Gonzalez miss (where he was short from 49 yards).

The conspiracy floating around is that the ball died (on Gonzalez’s kick) because the roof was open. Yet, Sanders made his 50+ yard field goals with room to spare.

Today’s the day we will never take Jason Sanders for granted as he surpassed Olindo Mare‘s franchise record of 19-straight field goals made.

The Miami Dolphins are going to “have to” extend Emmanuel Ogbah

I think we all would love to see a contract extension, but it’s bordering on a “necessity” at this point. Not just because we want to lock up a top-notch defensive end, but because he’s going to (rightfully) demand more financial security.

Though it always felt like he was on a one-year deal, this is technically the first year of a 2-year, $15m contract for Emmanuel Ogbah, but there’s no guaranteed money tied to 2021 – and there’s no way he’s playing like a $7.5m defensive end.

Jordan Phillips averages $10m a year with his recent contract, and I think it’s fair to say that Ogbah is worth more than that. Expect a holdout if the Dolphins don’t give him a raise and an extension this offseason. That’s not to say we should be concerned – I think Miami will look to make this extension a priority – but if they don’t see eye-to-eye expect a holdout to occur.

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Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a team sport.

Wins don’t individually define a quarterback’s success.

Yet everyone agrees that the only way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback that is better than (just about) every other franchise in the sport.

Once you have an upper-echelon quarterback, then you can talk about the nuances of creating a team. Whether it’s surrounding that quarterback with the proper talent, ensuring you’ve built the right scheme around them, or complimenting them with a staunch defense to complete a championship run, developing an entire roster means nothing if you don’t have a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs.

38 years ago, the Miami Dolphins selected a quarterback that would revolutionize the NFL.

A man decades before his time, the immediate success Dan Marino brought us – after 13 championship-caliber years with Bob Griese – shielded us from the horrors of football purgatory. Maybe it’s this curse of #13 that has us clamoring for football relevance after almost 50 years without a Super Bowl Championship.

We watched our franchise devolve from the model of perfection to a team without an identity; floundering desperately to find a viable quarterback for two decades.

And with one swift decision, the Dolphins simultaneously expunged their football idiocy of years past and exhibited the type of football prowess that should lead them to salvation.

Image Credit: South Florida Sun Sentinel

As we’re destroying the team for wasting 2nd & 5th-round picks on Josh Rosen, we’re praising them for building the foundation for future success. Gone are these false prophets of yesteryear, as the real prodigy we’ve all been yearning for is one step closer to leading the helm.

Once Tua Tagovailoa was selected 5th-overall in the 2020 NFL draft, Rosen’s exile was cemented. He was never going to have an opportunity to make it here, it was always going to be Tua Tagovailoa backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The grizzly, 13-year veteran handles the nuances of a young football team while the young, energetic and extremely talented rookie spends valuable time learning and developing.

That move…that single transaction…will forever symbolize the moment the Miami Dolphins transitioned from football purgatory to football relevance.

The Purgatory We Built

No one remembers the cost of a successful trade.

Off the top of your head, what did the New York Giants trade to swap Philip Rivers for Eli Manning? How much did Carson Wentz cost the Philadelphia Eagles when they traded up for him? I bet you all remember the litany of picks the Washington Football Team paid for Robert Griffin III, or how badly the Chicago Bears missed on Mitch Trubisky when they gave up a bunch of picks to move up from #3 to #2.

It’s because mistakes are always magnified for franchises that fail. As a fan base, we’ve been groomed to remember all the negative aspects of our favorite football team, because that’s all we’ve known for the better half of our adult lives.

After trudging through this wasteland for so long, we are finally ready to move past all of the detrimental mistakes that have cost us 20+ years of our lives – including the Josh Rosen trade.

Sure, you have your classics like failing to draft (and then sign) Drew Brees, drafting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers with the 2nd-overall pick, drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick, and trading a 2nd-round pick for A.J. Feeley.

It’s not that the Dolphins haven’t tried, it’s just that they have failed almost mightily when doing so.

I respect that Miami was aggressive in their pursuit of Josh Rosen – or for any of the other quarterbacks they’ve attempted to put under center – but their aggression was either misguided, ill-informed, or even desperate at best.

A year prior to Rosen’s draft-day trade, another draft-day trade was occurring – one that would transcend the Baltimore Ravens organization for the prolonged future. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson – a quarterback some Dolphins fans wanted with the team’s 11th-overall pick.

To move back into the first round and secure a quarterback with the 5th-year option, all Baltimore had to give up was an additional 2nd-round pick (see the full trade at the end of the article).

With their draft-day trade, the Baltimore Ravens landed an MVP.
With their draft-day trade, the Miami Dolphins landed a quarterback that was released for nothing.

Again, I don’t fault the Dolphins for being aggressive, but their pursuit was often awry.

The frustrating part of all of this may be that this team actually “spent” both in assets and money, they just didn’t seem to take that extra step at the right time.

Spending 2nd-round picks was fine 3 years in a row (with Chad Henne, John Beck and Pat White), but spending 2nd-round picks then became “too much” when they could have moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – instead, they stayed put at #22 and drafted Charles Harris.

Think about it, Miami’s best quarterbacks since Dan Marino were:

  • Castaway by the New York Jets (and subsequently got his shoulder destroyed like everyone predicted)
  • (Allegedly) Forced upon us by Stephen Ross because he knew what a new quarterback would inject into a flat-lining brand (ie: making $$)

Between Chad Pennington and Ryan Tannehill there is 1 playoff appearance and 0 playoff wins.

There are definitive reasons why the Dolphins are executing a rebuild in 2019-2020 – after attempting to rebuild numerous times already this century – and you can say that lots of it has to do with the Head Coaches that have been in place.

Watching Ryan Tannehill lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship came was the most-conflicted I’ve felt in a long time as a Dolphins fan. I was thrilled he was able to prove himself, but frustrated that my team was once again watching from the couch.

Heck, for all the praise we give Brian Flores, he couldn’t get Minkah Fitzpatrick to buy into his system – ultimately losing a near-Defensive MVP player to an organization that has been breathing success since the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season.

Miami hasn’t lacked talent – it’s why they’re constantly hovering around 8-8. The problem is, they lack the most important piece on the football field combined with the right leader to mold them. Which explains why they constantly sit around 8-8.

The Future We Created

But thoughts of perpetual 8-8 seasons are a thing of the past. The Dolphins may have drafted their future franchise quarterback back in April, but they officially rolled out their #1 prize just a few days ago. Coincidentally, just 3 days after Rosen was released.

The timing is likely coincidental, but who says omens have to be a bad thing?

This Dolphins team is young (thanks to Chris Grier), determined (courtesy of Brian Flores’ mindset), talented (after accumulating so many draft picks) and they’re wise beyond their years.

With a bounty of draft picks at their disposal once again in 2021, and with a franchise quarterback seemingly set to take over by season’s end, the future for the Miami Dolphins looks EXTREMELY bright.

After most “experts” predicted the Dolphins would go nearly winless – some even calling for criminal investigations to be conducted – Flores showed off his leadership and led Miami to a 5-11 record.

If the worst roster in the NFL can win 5 games, what can an improved roster accomplish?

Last year, there were too many holes on the roster to count. Now, you’re desperate to find a missing piece. In 12 months, we’ve gone from cringe-worthy to dynasty-bound in some expert’s eyes.

So have the Dolphins finally returned to football relevance?

If this team really identified the right Head Coach, and if Tua’s hip can stay healthy, then there’s no reason why the Miami Dolphins aren’t about to embark on a successful crusade that takes the rest of the NFL by storm.

Earlier this year, we lost one of the greatest leaders to ever bless our organization. In honor of the all-time wins leader, the Miami Dolphins will wear a patch signifying Don Shula’s record-setting 347 career wins.

And who knows, maybe this renaissance is Shula’s last gift to an organization – and a community – that he spent his life already giving so much to. The symbolism would be all-too coincidental otherwise.

The Baltimore Ravens/Lamar Jackson Trade:

Yes, I understand every other team passed on Jackson. I also understand the Ravens passed on him once when they selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick that year, but Baltimore has built a championship-caliber organization over the past two decades, while the Dolphins have accomplished one playoff win – I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.

The Lamar Jackson trade can be broken down like this:

  • Baltimore traded pick 52 (2nd-round) to move up to 32nd-overall (1st)
  • Baltimore also sent Philadelphia pick 125 in the deal, but they received pick 132 in return – a downgrade of 7 spots in the 4th-round.
  • Otherwise, all Baltimore spent was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 (which ended up being pick #53).

Full trade:

Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)

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Miami Dolphins

There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Think Brian Flores & Chris Grier aren’t smart?

After successfully navigating through all of the pre-draft smokescreens better than teenagers can survive the high school rumor mill, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to flourish for the next decade.

Yes, it’s something we’ve said before almost annually, but this time, there’s a clear foundation that will allow the roots of this franchise to prosper.

We’ve Heard This Before

Tony Sparano blossomed under the Bill Parcells‘ coaching tree in Dallas, bringing with him an aura of prominence and a pedigree for smash mouth football.

After a miraculous 10-game turnaround that took Miami from #1 overall in the draft to division winners, fans felt they had the proper leadership in place.

That was soon debunked when the Dolphins followed an 11-5 (2008) season with 7-9 (2009), 7-9 (2010) and 6-10 (2011). It’s not that any of us feel that Sparano was a bad coach, but it was more-than-evident that he was handicapped at the quarterback position.

The Dolphins go 11-5 in 2008 because their quarterback was the runner-up in the MVP race, and they falter to 7-9 after that because they decided to build around Chad Henne.

Good coach, but poor coaching decisions.

From there, the Dolphins hired one of the best human beings on the planet – Joe Philbin. The notorious problem with Philbin was: he couldn’t lead a football team.

Failing to rein in Vontae Davis‘ hangovers, everything regarding Richie Incognito, the Chad Ochocinco saga (check out this damning ESPN article from 2012, which gives you a glimpse into how the player’s felt about Philbin early on), and all of the Mike Wallace drama. Those football teams had some decent talent, yet were never better than a mediocre 8-8 in Philbin’s 4 years.

Great person, but terrible with people.

Adam Gase then took a 1-4 season and made the playoffs at 10-6. All the optimism surrounding Ryan Tannehill seemed justified, and we were ecstatic for the future. But we came to learn that Gase’s coaching talents resembled more of a glorified offensive coordinator, which left players feelings ostracized and without a sense of direction – especially those on defense.

Like Philbin, Gase wanted a group of players that followed him, rather than developing a strategy that tailored to his players’ strengths. He traded away (or failed to re-sign) productive players drafted by Grier in years past, just because he couldn’t handle them.

After a 10-6 start to his coaching career (2016), we watched our hopes dwindle to 6-10 (2017) – accompanied with $10m worth of embarrassing Jay Cutler highlights – and then 7-9 (2018) after the “quarterback guru” couldn’t get any production out of a 2019 Pro Bowl & AFC Championship quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.

Offensive visionary, but he couldn’t see past his own shortcomings.

So Why is This Different?

This would be the definition of insanity….if it meant that we were following the same trend.

Yes, we understand the eternal caveat that we won’t know for sure until we see the results, but after a successful 2019 – and a stellar 2020 draft that features plenty of starting potential – we’re not going too far out on a limb to say that they have our trust.

Going into a vital 2020 NFL draft where the team held 3 first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins’ future rested solely on the leis of Tua Tagovailoa. For months we were on edge, because, as Dolphins fans, we just figured they would screw it up. But once they secured their quarterback of the future, the plan was simple: protect him.

Not only was the plan to build a wall in front of him, but Grier and Flores identified that some of these positions take more time to develop than others. Rarely do offensive and defensive linemen jump right in and become dominant players. The difference between pancaking teenagers in college to moving a mountain-of-a-man in the NFL is colossal.

Rookies go through such a strenuous process to improve their draft stock – immediately after completing a full college season – that they are burned out by the time their rookie year is over. That’s exactly what happened to Michael Deiter towards the end of last season; it’s no surprise we see their performance start to slide after putting in so much work throughout the year.

Drafting Austin Jackson (18th-overall pick), Robert Hunt (39th), and Solomon Kindley (111th) means Miami is giving their rookies time to grow before being asked to protect their most-important asset since Dan Marino.

Instead of a trying to learn the nuances of the NFL with a rookie quarterback, they can learn how an offensive play is properly setup, executed and audibled under a veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

When it comes time to protect Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, they won’t have to worry if they understood the protection, if they’ll make a rookie mistake, or if they’ll naively and unintentionally do something embarrassing or costly. They’ll be able to focus on executing the play properly, giving Tua an ample amount of time to handle his own “rookie” adjustments.

With Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins acquire another player at a position that tends to need some time to grow. This move makes me wonder what the future holds for Davon Godchaux, who is expected to receive a very nice payday in free agency after this season, but for now, Miami can rely heavily on Godchaux and their 2019 1st-round pick, Christian Wilkins. Davis has the opportunity to learn under these two as he prepares to take on a much bigger role in 2021.

With their final 1st-round pick, Miami selected another young player at a cornerstone position. The adjustments rookie cornerbacks need to make when guarding an NFL receiver are somewhat substantial, and Noah Igbinoghene will be able to learn and make these adjustments while covering the opponent’s third or forth receiver – with the added security that he has an array of established and Pro Bowl veterans behind him.

This might hint at an ugly and somewhat inconsistent 2020 season, as roughly half of this roster is new to the team, but all of these young players will start to excel as Tua begins to transition into our full-time starting quarterback.

Which means the Miami Dolphins are ready to make a legitimate playoff run in 2021.

Is it possible all of these risks falter? Of course! Austin Jackson just turned 21 years old, and he wasn’t viewed as the best left tackle in college last season – he is a projection. Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t viewed as a 1st-round caliber cornerback, as most “experts” think he’s restricted to covering the slot rather than becoming a boundary corner. And then you have the general, inevitable fact that some of these picks just won’t pan out.

But we watched players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Raekwon McMillan, Vince Biegel and Nik Needham take the “next step” under Brian Flores stewardship. It only makes us wonder who he’ll coach up next.

Now that Flores is more-comfortable as a sophomore coach, and the team understands his “win no matter what” philosophy, Miami should naturally thrive in year two….right?

Like all of these other coaches before him, Flores is an absolute genius after year one. And like all those coaches before him, he’s one season away from looking like a dunce.

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