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Miami Dolphins

Staff Predictions for Week 5

Gabe Hauari

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Boy… That last game sure did escalate quickly, huh?

The Dolphins dropped to 3-1 after losing in Foxborough last Sunday. Not only did they lose the game, but Miami also lost a few key contributors due to injury.

This week, the Dolphins hit the road again to face the suddenly explosive Cincinnati Bengals. Who will win? Who will score? What will happen? Our staff takes a shot at predicting Sunday’s game:

Skyler Trunck:

Looking back at 2016 regular season, the last time we saw a Gase and Tannehill led Dolphins, in games where Miami lost by 10 or more points, they rebounded to win the next week save one game. Which, oddly enough, was against the Cincinnati Bengals.

If Miami wants to win this game, they will need to outpace Cincinnati’s offense. To do that, they’ll need their run game to re-emerge and control the clock.

This game has just as much at stake as last week did. It will show if last week was a fluke or if the Dolphins are who [the national media] thought they were.

It will be no easy task, considering recent injuries, but I fully expect Gase and company to rebound this week.

Prediction: Dolphins 30, Bengals 27

Will Rogers: 

Coming off a very disappointing loss the Dolphins look to rebound against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals look good so far this year thanks to Andy Dalton. The Dolphins have a pretty banged up team right now and a weak offensive line dude to another season ending injury, this time to Killgore. Miami’s rushing attack was already subpar and with this hurting line it could get worse.

Prediction: Bengals 31, Dolphins 24

Andrew Mitchell: 

After a disaster in New England, Adam Gase needs to use this game to get his priorities straight. RUN. THE. BALL. And I really think he knows this and will. I expect a big game from the RB group, two touchdowns at least. I think Miami can win on defense by pressuring Andy Dalton and forcing his hand to try to do too much. Hopefully with the secondary back on track they can come up with some interceptions to help change the tide.

Prediction: Dolphins 27, Bengals 21

Jason Hrina: 

After embarrassing themselves in front of the majority of the nation, Miami finds themselves back in familiar territory. They’re an afterthought expected to get battered by a Cincinnati offense that is averaging 31.5 points per game.

Miami is battered themselves, missing their starting cornerback (Bobby McCain), wide receiver (DeVante Parker), and 40% of their offensive line (assuming Ja’Wuan James plays after getting “dinged up” for playing poorly).

This is a game most expect the Bengals to easily win, but I think Miami matches up well. Their cornerbacks are capable of containing A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd; especially with Reshad Jones back.

The question – that can be asked every game – is whether or not Miami’s offensive line can contain Geno Atkins and the rest of the Bengals defensive line. Will they be able to give Kenyan Drake any kind of running room?

I’m confident Miami is better than this over-performing Bengals team and will go back to their winning ways.

Prediction: Dolphins 31, Bengals 23

Gabe Hauari:

I picked the Dolphins to win last week, and that absolutely blew up in my face. However, I think Miami has a much better shot at getting a win this week. The Bengals are about equal with Miami in terms of overall talent on the roster, and they’re also without a couple of key guys.

However, this is Miami’s second road game in a row, and the Bengals offense can score a ton of points. I think it will be a close game, but the home field advantage tilts the scale in Cincinnati’s favor just a little bit.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Dolphins 23

Travis Wingfield:

For Travis’ full analysis and predictions, check out his story: https://www.lockedondolphins.com/dolphins/dolphins-at-benglas-week-five-preview/

A lifelong Dolphins fan, Gabe graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in December of 2017 with a bachelors of science in mass communications, with a concentration on print & online journalism. He has interned with Source Media in New York City and with the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. When not watching sports, you can catch Gabe in line at Chipotle or Chick-Fil-A or binge-watching some of his favorite TV shows, such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Archer, or Impractical Jokers. You can follow him on Twitter @GabeHauari.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Place Jake Brendel on IR; Sign Hroniss Grasu

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Their players don’t just go on injured-reserve, they do it twice in the same season.

The Miami Dolphins official social media account announced that the team has placed center Jake Brendel on injured-reserve, ending his 2018 season. To fill the available roster spot, the Dolphins signed offensive guard Hroniss Grasu.

Brendel was first placed on injured-reserve with a calf injury prior to the start of the season. He was one of two players that received the IR tag with the ‘ability to return’; this meant that Brendel was eligible to return after Week 8. Since his return, Brendel started 3 games and was active for 4.

Earlier this week in practice, Brendel re-injured the same calf that originally put him on IR. Strategically speaking, we’re at the point in the season where players will be placed on IR simply due to the fact that they’re unable to recover in time to effectively play again this season. Miami has three games remaining and they essentially have to win out (or only lose to the Minnesota Vikings next week) if they want to make the playoffs. The team can’t afford to hold a roster spot hostage for a player who’s less-than 100%.

With Brendel hitting injured-reserve, the Dolphins now have 12 players out for the year.  It’s too bad we’re talking about the number of players on injured-reserve and not 12 Angry Men, because the only thing we can speculate at this point is how unlucky the Dolphins’ health has been this season.

The empty roster spot left by Brendel has been filled by former Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens offensive guard Hroniss Grasu.

Grasu was selected by the Bears with the 71st-overall pick (3rd-round) in the 2015 NFL draft. He started 8 games that season for Adam Gase‘s offense, but since then has only started 5. He played for the Bears from 2015-2017, though he missed the 2016 after being placed on injured-reserve. Grasu was signed by the Ravens this past September and was active for 3 games (making 1 start). He was released by the team on November 24th.

From one Hr to another: cheers, mate!

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Miami Dolphins

Squeezing Miami’s Tight Ends for Anything They’ve Got

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Gase, a hobbled Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the Miami Dolphins have been tasked with operating an offense that has received minimal production from its tight ends. As the team is currently constructed, the playbook, in essence, centers around their two starting running backs, the three starting wide receivers that are healthy and that’s it.

That’s all they can scheme around.

As an opposing defense, you’re well aware that the tight end position is effectively eliminated in Miami’s offense – it’s not a personnel group you have to scheme for.

  • You have a banged up Kenny Stills you have to watch, though you really only need to keep him in your peripheral vision as Miami isn’t going to maximize Stills’ speed and Tannehill’s deep ball with the quarterback’s injured shoulder.
  • You can monitor DeVante Parker, but his lack-of-enthusiasm helps keep his freakish athleticism at bay.
  • You can be on the lookout for Danny Amendola, but you’re probably content allowing the underneath reception (though at 9.8 yards per reception, why aren’t we getting Amendola the ball more on those crucial 3rd-down plays?)

All of the injuries aside, it’s hard to discount the voids created by Miami’s nonexistent production from the tight end position. When Laremy Tunsil goes down in the Cincinnati Bengals game, it’s the perfect time to utilize a tight end for quick passes. All those 3rd-and-short situations – where Miami runs a mind-boggling play – could be eliminated if Miami had a legitimate tight end that could box out an opposing defender on a quick hit. At the very least, a tight end that poses even a minuscule threat would make a defense hesitant to send an extra blitzer or blanket a receiver.

Running this offense without your tight ends is like trying to drive your car without power steering. Of course you can do it, but you’re going to have a difficult time driving it.

The fall of this position started back in training camp, when one of the most underrated Dolphins, MarQueis Gray, suffered a torn achilles and was placed on injured-reserve.

Fans initially thought this was an omen for Mike Gesicki, as they clamored for the possibility of having an Olympic-caliber tight end playing with Ryan Tannehill – a quarterback known to utilize the tight end position well.

At a glance, you would think Miami’s tight ends were going to be extremely productive. Up to this point in 2018, Miami rewarded one of their tight ends with a contract extension and spent 2nd and 4th-round assets to bulk up the position. How could this season have gone so poorly for a group that, at the very least, was supposed to be average?

Tight ends predominantly see a spike in production from their rookie years to their sophomore seasons, and this is the one saving grace each of us optimistically have for Gesicki to turn it around. On tape, he doesn’t look the part. But you don’t want to write a player off this quickly. Check out some active tight ends and their growth from Year 1 to Year 2:

When going through the list, the only tight end I came across that saw a dip in production from Year 1 to Year 2 was Jordan Reed of the Washington Redskins. His stats were: 45/499/3 in 2017 and 50/465/0 in 2018…really not the biggest dropoff (I’m sure there are other tight ends who saw a drop in production, but after going through half the league, Reed was the only one that applied).

Problem is, are we confident Mike Gesicki is going to be a tight end that makes this jump? Look at where Gesicki (and Durham Smythe) stack up with other rookie tight ends:

We all thought Miami was going to have a 1-2 punch with Gesicki as a receiver and Smythe as a blocker; and so far, half of the duo has held their end of the bargain. Smythe has performed very well when asked to block on the line. He’s had some misses this year, but for a rookie tight end being tasked with blocking an elite defensive end at times, we can’t really complain much. What the team is missing is the other half of that duet.

Coming into 2018, we understood that Gesicki would need some seasoning before he could become a legitimate blocker. And to an extent, we were quite content if Gesicki didn’t block too well, just as long as he was making plays on 3rd-down and in the red zone. We all thought he was the missing component this offense needed to finally be effective in the red zone. Instead, we’d probably be better off stacking the line with 6 offensive linemen.

The wildcard of the bunch is Nick O’Leary. The Dolphins have played him at both tight end and fullback, giving them flexibility and the ability to maximize his roster spot. But going into 2019, does anyone think any of these tight ends are safe? Check out the disparity in snap counts from the first week of the season until Week 14:

It’s evident which player this team trusts. Or, at the very least, which player they believe they can get any kind of production out of. He’s also the only player that wasn’t on the roster at the beginning of the season – telling you just how far the other players have fallen.

This team might need to fire Matt Burke. It might need to overhaul the defensive line or even the linebacking unit. The Dolphins might even need a new starting quarterback in 2019. But one thing we can certainly say is that Miami definitely needs a productive tight end; otherwise, this offense is about as stagnant, stale and unsuccessful as you’ve seen it this season.

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Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill’s Late Season Surge is Nothing New

Travis Wingfield

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Adversity is the Dolphins QB’s Biggest Weapon

The divisive topic of tanking filters its way through the fan bases of all mediocre franchises. The discussion about whether it’s healthier to lose and climb the draft board, or to establish a winning culture, reverberates for the perpetual .500 purgatory of the NFL.

Every time Dolphins fans are ready to prepare for what’s next at quarterback, Ryan Tannehill rises from the ashes and plays at an elite level.

The statistics are there. After a 1-4 start and a sub-90 passer rating in 2016, fans turned to Notre Dame tape to scout DeShone Kizer. They peeped the ultra-exciting Patrick Mahomes making jaw-dropping off-script plays at Texas Tech.

All those discussions became moot when Tannehill ripped off a stretch of eight games in which Miami went 7-1. During that time, Tannehill posted a 101.5 passer rating and fell back into the good graces of Dolphins fans.

Bruce Arians’ famous quote preaches patience while installing a new scheme. “It takes about eight weeks before things start to become second nature.”

If that’s true, Tannehill has been ahead of that curve.

Two games ahead of the pace, Tannehill finds his groove in the sixth game. In a 2016 win over Pittsburgh, Tannehill posted his highest single game passer rating of the year, and would top that high-water mark four times in the next seven games.

The 2018 season is shaping up very similarly. After a strong start, then stumbling in games four and five, Tannehill is back with a vengeance.

The Dolphins are 2-1 since Tannehill’s return and the veteran, held together by duct tape and Band-Aids, is posting career highs. His passer rating post-return is a ridiculous 129.9. He’s averaging a smidge under 9 yards-per-pass. He’s completing a fraction under 70% of his passes and throwing touchdowns at clip of 11.7%.

The numbers. The wins. The quantifiable metrics are all fun and an easy shortcut to display Tannehill’s recent success, but the it’s the complete control of the offense that best showcases Tannehill’s growth.

Watch this video with the audio on to see an example of Tannehill’s command at the line-of-scrimmage.

Perhaps the time away from the game, and the return from a reconstructed knee, was a detriment to his development within this offense.

Tannehill is dealing with yet another injury, but if he wants to prove this theory, he has every opportunity. Miami can run the table and jump back into the post-season under Ryan Tannehill’s guidance.

After all, last time, he wasn’t healthy enough to finish what he started.

@WingfieldNFL

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