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Miami Dolphins

Tank Tracker Vol. 7: Xavien Howard to IR, Miami Dolphins still winless

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Ryan Fitzpatrick
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Tanking can be hard. It can be even harder to keep up with all the movers and shakers that go with it. Tank Tracker is here to keep you updated with all the newest headlines as it pertains to the Miami Dolphins tank as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Let’s keep things rolling with Volume 7; we’ll take about Jalen Hurts, the Steelers game, and the awesome throwback uniforms.

Pittsburgh Sinkhole Swallows NFL Team

The Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers had their primetime matchup on Monday Night Football. It was a tale of two halves; this seems to be the Dolphins’ modus operandi this year. The Miami Dolphins, under Ryan Fitzpatrick’s leadership, quickly jumped to a 14-0 lead before stalling and cracking at the seams leading into the half.

It was all downhill from there. It was so downhill, in fact, that the Dolphins substantially derailed into a sinkhole that opened up, kind of like the one that appeared in Downtown Pittsburgh on Monday.

No one was hurt, luckily, but it was a symbolic omen for the Dolphins’ second-half struggles. They went scoreless in the third and fourth quarters, and this allowed the Steelers to score 17 unanswered points and win the game.

Press X to Shut Down

The news broke yesterday that star corner Xavien Howard was added to the Injured Reserve, which will end his season. You could view this as a “shut down” in a pre-emptive move to preserve Howard’s health for the 2020 season.

The corner had been dealing with some knee problems the past couple of weeks and missed two games leading up to the Monday night game against the Steelers. He only played one half, though, and had an MRI on Tuesday. No ACL or MCL damage was detected, but it was better safe than sorry for the Pro Bowl corner’s future.

Cardinals Don’t Hate The Drake

After rumors swirled for most of this season, the Miami Dolphins finally dealt running back Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals. The Cardinals were suddenly looking at a running back deficit with David Johnson and Chase Edmonds both dealing with injuries.

The terms for the trade were different than usual. Worst case scenario, the Miami Dolphins will end up with a 6th-rounder for the 2020 Draft. That’s a mild surprise in and of itself considering Drake was halfway through the final year of his rookie contract. The Cardinals have no obligation to sign him long-term, either.

Here’s where things get interesting, though. There’s some unknown, unrevealed conditionality to the trade. The pick could become a 5th-rounder if the conditions are met.

And to add another facet to this potential 5, it would be the Dolphins original pick that was sent to the Cardinals as a kickback when they traded for Josh Rosen earlier in the year.

If the Dolphins can land the 5th instead of the 6th, it’ll project to be a high pick considering the Dolphins will be picking early in each round based on their record. Either way, it was a good-value move. The Dolphins will likely not get any compensatory picks in 2021 based on an expected spending spree next spring during free agency, so getting anything was a small victory.

Cornering More Draft Picks

In the hours leading up the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins pulled off a surprise. They traded for Rams corner Aqib Talib. The trade might’ve raised eyebrows at first, but the Rams sweetened the pot by throwing in a 5th-rounder to help facilitate the deal in an attempt to relieve their pocketbook.

The Miami Dolphins will eat $8 million to finish off Talib’s contract. Talib’s contract ends after this season, which was a six-year, $57 million deal back in 2014, so he will be a free agent when the next off-season begins. It was purely a pick-purchase; Talib won’t play for the Dolphins.

Draft Order Update

According to Tankathon’s newest update, the Miami Dolphins have the 2nd, 12th, and 22nd picks. The Bengals are still spiraling out of control for that first pick, and they will continue to have a worse record than the Dolphins until they reach their bye, AND the Dolphins continue to lose.

With those picks, I will assume that the Bengals select Tua Tagovailoa. Here’s what I would do with the 2, 12, and 22 if I’m making the decisions.

2. Chase Young

12. Jordan Love

22. Alex Leatherwood

The Hurts Locker

I’m dubbing the phrase “Hurts creep” and admitting that the Oklahoma quarterback, Jalen Hurts, is slowly growing on me week by week. I’m almost at the point where I’m ready to say that I’d prefer him over Jordan Love’s impressive palette of different qualities.

I’m not quite there yet. Still, something in Hurts’ performance in Oklahoma’s upset loss to Kansas State had me questioning everything I’ve ever held sacred, and I’m surreptitiously trying to sneak aboard the bandwagon for the Heisman contender.

Takes Tua To Tango

At this point in the college season, it’s become the Joe Burrow show. While Tua Tagovailoa is still my QB1, Burrow could tempt the Bengals enough for them to take him if they officially place before the Dolphins in the draft order.

On the other hand, the Bengals could also take Tagovailoa if they like him more, and that leaves a quandary for the Dolphins. Could Burrow be the pick if Tagovailoa is off the board? Does that create some breathing room to take the BPA at 2 or 3 or 4, and then they hold off to take the quarterback with the Steelers pick?

There are a lot of questions whirling around with all the terrible teams this year. There’s a lot of uncertainty around the draft order still. While I’ve been hell-bent on the Dolphins getting Tua, there are other quarterbacks I like, as well. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out.

Performance Review Pt. 2 or “Bad At Everything”

There’s not much I need to add to this.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap has another chart for Dolphins fans to sink their teeth into. There is an easily accessible legend for understanding the quality of the teams based on Points Allowed versus Opponents Average Performance. Without further ado…

Tiger Without Its Stripes

Locked on Dolphins’s Oliver Candido said it best when Andy Dalton’s benching was announced on Tuesday. While Dalton wasn’t the only or even the biggest problem with the Bengals, maybe Ryan Finley, who showed promise during his preseason reps, can squeeze out a couple wins for the Bengals. A.J. Green will be returning, too, which will also help the rookie. The shift in quarterbacking could light a fire for the winless Bengals.

Tank Formation

The 3rd and 20 defensive call that led up to the half in the Dolphins and Steelers MNF game caught a lot of flak after the Steelers scored. The staff was raked over the coals by innumerable analysts wondering why the defense was in Cover-0.

ESPN’s Mina Kimes seemed to have cracked the code and tweeted out an analysis of what was going on in Xs and Os terms.

Fin Vogue

One of the best parts of the MNF game and the season, in general, was the matching white throwbacks. The old school uniforms of the ’90s are ultimately why I, as a 7-year-old fashionista, became a Dolphins fan in the first place. Seeing any of the throwbacks always makes me extra excited for the game, and it’s a nostalgic homage to my small beginnings as a Fins fan.

FINishing Thought

This is just a random, parting thought I had, but why don’t more Dolphins writers end their articles with “Fin” like foreign or noire movies? That seems like low-hanging fruit to me. It’s a quick and clever way to end an article, especially when it pertains to the Dolphins.

 

Fin.

 

I am an Ohio University alum and I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for the last two years. I’ve been a Dolphins fan since I was a kid and I picked them because I liked the old-school logo. It grew from that as I got older and I luckily caught the tail end of Dan Marino’s career. It’s stuck ever since and now I’m an upstart, wild-and-free Dolphins beat writer, loving every second of it.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Christian Benvenuto

    October 30, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Good lord, Jordan Love. If they actually pick love before the 3rd round, I quit. That would be the ultimate eff you to Dolphins fans.

  2. Avatar

    tramadol-online

    November 1, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    I think the admkn of tis web page is in fact working hawrd ffor his site, as here every material is quality
    based stuff.

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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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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts

Chris Kowalewski

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As the doors of the Dolphins’ training facility open to the newly signed rookie class, they close for another former Miami-hopeful after an active weekend of roster moves.

The Miami Dolphins have today waived TE Michael Roberts.

Roberts began his NFL career in 2017 out of Toledo as a 4th round pick of the Detroit Lions, possessing ideal measurements (6’5”, 265lb) for a playmaking TE.

A shoulder injury in December 2018 cut short Roberts’ time in Detroit and he was waived by the Lions following a failed physical as part of an attempted trade with the New England Patriots and subsequently waived quickly again after being picked up by the Green Bay Packers.

Roberts underwent reconstruction of the injured left shoulder in August 2019, having struggled both physically and mentally as his career path veered away from his dreams. Signed by the Dolphins in February 2020, it was hoped that Roberts could revive his NFL career in Miami’s TE room, competing with Durham Smythe for the TE2 spot behind Mike Gesicki.

At only 26 years old, it remains to be seen whether the young TE will be able to regain full health and return to the game, but the craziness of 2020 only puts further hurdles in his path as training camp rosters are reduced across the league to 80 players in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t expect Brian Flores and his staff to sit on their hands when it comes to competition – 2019 highlighted on a regularly churning roster of names being given a chance to succeed – and this approach is expected to continue at certain positions. As such, Saturday’s news that former Chicago Bears’ TE Adam Shaheen had been acquired by the Dolphins ensures that healthy competition can continue to spread through the roster, and proves the willingness of the front office to give chances to promising players who may not have achieved during their first NFL stop.

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