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Miami Dolphins

The Savior – Ryan Tannehill

Travis Wingfield

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August 3, 2017: The seventh practice of the new football season. Fresh off a playoff run that laid an eight-year drought to rest, the Miami Dolphins were branded as a team on the rise.

When starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, went to the turf on a routine scramble drill, Miami’s hopes for a playoff encore went down with him.

Miami was saddled with three options:

1.) Proceed with backup Matt Moore.

2.) Inquire about the ever-polarizing Colin Kaepernick.

3.) Convince Jay Cutler to give up a studio gig, and saddle up for one last ride.

Options 1 and 2 were never options in the mind of Adam Gase. Hindsight has taught us that Kaepernick has proven to be an untouchable commodity throughout the 2017 season, and Matt Moore had started just three games in his previous five seasons.

Gase’s prior work-history with Jay Cutler made the most sense. The much-maligned former Bears and Broncos quarterback agreed, and the Smokin’ Jay brand made its way to South Beach.

Two months later, the Dolphins offense has yet to find its footing.

Scoring just 15.2 points per game (last in the NFL) and averaging just 4.5 yards per play (31st in the NFL), Miami’s offense is a shell of what it was in 2016.

Under Ryan Tannehill, the 8-5 Dolphins averaged 22.7 points per game (17th in the NFL) and 5.8 yards per play (7th in the NFL).

Jarvis Landry’s yards per reception went from a career best (12.1) in 2016, to a career worst (7.7) in 2017.

Kenny Stills yards per reception number is down 4.9 yards. Even Jay Cutler’s favorite receiver, Devante Parker, has seen a slight regression in his average.

Tannehill’s absence isn’t felt exclusively via the aerial attack – the ground game has had its share of struggles. In 2016, running back Jay Ajayi averaged 4.9 yards per carry. In 2017, that number dropped a yard and a half to a paltry 3.4.

Numbers typically only tell part of the story when it comes to football. Context is paramount when dealing with this esoteric sport. The Dolphins made three changes to the offensive personnel from the end of 2016 to this season:

Anthony Steen in for Branden Albert (Jesse Davis now because of an injury to Steen).

Julius Thomas in for Jordan Cameron/Dion Sims.

– Jay Cutler in for the injured Ryan Tannehill.

While Steen and Thomas haven’t had particularly good years in 2017, their predecessors hardly turned in quality film.

The answer for the decline of the offense is glaringly obvious – it’s the quarterback change. Dolphins fans never truly appreciated Ryan Tannehill and what he meant for the organization. Before Tannehill, the Dolphins had just one quarterback start back-to-back opening days since Jay Fiedler in the 2003 and 2004 seasons (Chad Pennington 2008-2009).

Tannehill started five consecutive opening day games from 2012-2016.

Aug 10, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is seen prior to a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The elusive quarterback (who just so happened to moonlight as a receiver in college) mitigated some of the black holes along the offensive line. Last year, Adam Gase cut Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglass, and he swung the hammer on all three, on the same day.

Combing back through previous years’ film conjures up haunting memories of just how bad some of the groups that played in front of him were.

Still, the offensive production never came close to the dip in production occurring in 2017.

Quarterbacks have long been described as the most important position in sports. If a case study were ever necessary to prove this theory, 2017 would be the year to examine. The drop-off in production isn’t just impacting the Miami Dolphins. The Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers went from contenders, to afterthoughts, after losing their respective starting quarterbacks.

Aside from the numbers, what are the big differences between Tannehill and Cutler? The laundry list is large, and ever-apparent on film. Mechanically and athletically, Tannehill is a far superior player. The decision making, the poise, all of these traits took considerable dips when #6 took the place of #17.

The lesser known aspect of the offensive struggles, are the quarterback’s ability to contribute in the running game. No one has ever mistaken Ryan Tannehill for a shifty runner. However, his straight-line-speed, and ability to chew up yards with his legs, presents an added element that defenses have to account for.

In 2014, offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, utilized Tannehill’s athleticism with the en vogue scheme of the time, the zone read. Coming from the Chip Kelly coaching tree, Lazor featured a high percentage of run-pass-options (RPOs).

Below are a few GIFs from a game played in Denver in December of 2014. Tannehill went back and forth with Peyton Manning in an old-west-style-shootout. The Dolphins loosened up a formidable Broncos defense with variations of zone-read and misdirection, and forced the Broncos to account for the extra body in the running game with designed quarterback keepers.

 

The threat of the quarterback keeping the football and sneaking out the backdoor on the weak side changes the way the defense attacks the running game. The outside zone scheme that Clyde Christensen brought to Miami, and heavily featured Jay Ajayi, thrived with Tannehill under center. It puts the linebacker’s feet in cinderblocks, and is the leading cause of false steps.

With Jay Cutler, the defense had no respect for the quarterback keeper, and allowed teams to fire off with A-gap blitz after A-gap blitz. Disrupting the timing and mesh-point of the outside zone scheme, Ajayi was constantly met behind the line of scrimmage.

GIF – Without the threat of the quarterback pulling it back, the defense can collapse the backside:

GIF -It isn’t exclusive to Jay Cutler — the same thing happened in Baltimore when Matt Moore was under-center:

Once the linebackers start respecting the quarterback run, that’s when play-action, bootlegs and rolling pockets can become even more effective. Rather than the defense flowing as one-way-traffic, the threat of misdirection and play action forces the defense to protect against each direction — both vertically and horizontally.

GIF- Tannehill’s athleticism allows the offense to leave a man unblocked since the quarterback is capable of creating his own throwing lane:

From his rookie year, a speed out to the boundary for a touchdown. This throw requires a short angle. Again, a mobile quarterbacks is required to get to the spot:

And, of course, escaping pressure on a standard five-step drop off play action:

Notice the linebackers. False steps are any steps taken that lead a player away from the action of the play. An athletic quarterback allows play callers to keep those linebackers in precarious situations throughout the course of a game.

When there is no threat of the quarterback winning with his legs, the defense can play fast and more aggressive.

GIF – If the defense doesn’t respect the ball fake, misdirection only slows the offense down.

Mechanically, Ryan Tannehill is as sharp as they come. His feet are always moving to stay in a threatening position, he squares his shoulders to his target, and he can let it rip from awkward arm angles when necessary.

GIF – Feet are always shuffling and following his eyes, shoulders squaring up to his target, searching for a passing lane. Perfect quarterbacking:

GIF – This incorporates everything. Zone read PA holds the LB, Tannehill slides away from pressure and into an open passing lane, and the throw is absolutely perfect moving to his left:

GIF – Pressure in his face, has to change the arm slot to deliver the football – no problem:

GIF – And here are some unbelievable gifted throws just as an added bonus:

Despite taking frequent abuse, (third most his quarterbacks since entering the league in 2012), Tannehill has never seen “ghosts” in the pocket. He always stands tall and climbs up the pocket as he surveys his options. In 2016, he improved his ability to recognize pressure early in the development of the play, and flee to either side. Unlike stationary pocket passers, Tannehill still presents a threat to throw regardless of which direction he is moving.

Jay Cutler, on the other hand, is not exactly a bastion of sound-mechanics. Below are a few GIFs showing poor footwork, as well as his propensity to drift in the pocket and take himself out of the play.

GIF – Any coach will tell you that you can point to feet when a throw isn’t accurate. Swings his hip wide open, no drive off the back leg.

In 2016, Tannehill flashed his play making ability on third down, and the Dolphins started piling up wins as a result.

During Miami’s 7-1 run last year, prior to Tannehill’s season ending knee injury, the Dolphins quarterback was man-possessed on the “money” down.

In those eight games, Tannehill completed 41/68 passes for 590 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on third down.

From an efficiency stand-point, that’s good for 8.68 yards per pass, a 9% touchdown rate, and a 3% interception rate. His passer rating on those downs was 105.6. For comparison’s sake, from 2012-2016 (since Tannehill entered the league), the best in football on that all-important-down, was Aaron Rodgers – his rating, 105.9.

Any scout will advise looking at how a quarterback performs on 3rd and 6 or longer. This is when windows are tighter, the pass rush is fiercer, and the volume is turned up by the opposing crowd. In these particular scenarios, the league average conversion rate is right around 30%. Tannehill converted 43% of his 3rd and 6+ opportunities during that eight game stretch.

A lot of measurements can be used in the case against Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins record in games he starts is just 37-40. Before 2016, his volume statistics were never all that impressive. Both of these arguments require a certain deal of context, and 2017 should be all the context Dolphins fans need.

Ryan Tannehill’s tenure with the Miami Dolphins is one that, to this point, is remembered as average – nothing special. Dolphins fans have been longing for the next “guy” ever since Dan Marino’s last game in 1999.

One could reasonably ascertain that Tannehill’s numbers, compared to the numbers of the offense in 2017 would be proof enough that he’s been something of a miracle worker given his surrounding cast. His talent jumps off the film, the flash plays are simply brilliant, and he was finally starting to put together consistency prior to the knee injury.

Still, there remains a large contingency of Phins fans that are imploring the Dolphins brass to seek his replacement.

Perhaps 2018’s return, and Tannehill’s empathic vengeance on the entire league, will finally put the debate to rest.

But probably not.

@WingfieldNFL

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Nb901

    November 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Interesting. But the fact is… Tannehill is not elite. He is an 8 -9 win QB. I want elite. Unless the dolphins build an elite defense (not easy to do) all we can ever hope for, with Tannehill as QB is 8-9 wins and every once in awhile get lucky and sneak in as a wild card

    • Avatar

      zeke

      November 16, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Yeah, that’s kind of how team sports work. Go through the past 2 decades of SB winners and tell me how many of them did not have a top or even an average defense to work with? Hell, go through all of the SB winners and see how many, I’m willing to bet it’s less than 5 if that.

      Wilson, Eli, Peyton, Brady, Brees, Ben and others would never have won those titles without the defense. But you expect Tannehill to be some miracle worker and do it by himself while playing behind quite possibly the worst o-line situation ever and a bottom ranked defense….gotcha.

      I’m willing to bet you didn’t know that in the 14′ season, Tannehill gave the team a late lead against GB and Det and in both games the defense allowed a game winning drive to lose them. They would have been 10-6 if not for those blown leads. Another one in 15′ against Carolina which would have them at 9 wins and others in his rookie season.

      The only QB’s in the game right now that get their teams to the playoffs just from their talent alone is Rodgers, Stafford and soon to be Wentz. Goes to show how important the whole team is when you get that far.

    • Travis Wingfield

      Travis Wingfield

      November 16, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      There are two elite quarterbacks in this league. They don’t exactly grow on trees.

  2. Avatar

    zeke

    November 16, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Everything I’ve been saying since his second year in the league. Well done, sir.

    He is by far the most underrated/underappreciated QB in the game. It drove me nuts that fans and the media kept writing this kid off like he was a nobody and I’m willing to bet none of them ever watched any games he’s played in or understood that the team was just so bad. All they did was just look at the record and draw their conclusions from that, or another way of putting it, the easy way out. This year should silence all of the critics about how vital he is to that team and what he could do for another team….but it won’t, like you said.

    Put Tannehill on teams like the Jags or the Vikings and he’s going to win a SB sooner than later. IF he gets cut or Miami throws trade feelers out there, I would be on the phone in a heartbeat if I’m one of those teams.

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NFL Draft

Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 Quarterback Prospects – Week 12

Travis Wingfield

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Recapping Week 12 of the College Football Season

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap
2019 Week 4 Recap
2019 Week 5 Recap
2019 Week 6 Recap
2019 Week 7 Recap
2019 Week 8 Recap
2019 Week 9 Recap
– No Week 10 Recap
2019 Week 11 Recap

*LSU’s Joe Burrow has been added to the prospect watch list.

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Week 12 Recap

Tua Tagovailoa vs. Mississippi State, Win
Stats: 14/18 (77.8%) 256 yards (14.22 YPA) 2 TD

Today was a collective “L” for the football community. One of the best collegiate players, and widely praised good guys, Tua Tagovailoa suffered a hip injury that leaves his football future in question.

What started out as an ordinary onslaught of explosive plays — a product of perfectly placed passes — ended in potential tragedy. Reports say that Tua’s hip is both dislocated, with a fracture of the wall that retains the ball joint. This injury calls for immediate surgery and significant recovery time, if a football career is possible at all.

Tagovailoa will do everything in his power for a full recovery, and hopefully the advances in modern medicine can allow him to make a triumphant return to the gridiron.

Jordan Love at Wyoming, Win 26-21
Stats: 18/29 (62.1%) 282 yards (9.72 YPA) 2 TD, 2 INT

This game was my favorite quarterback tape to watch this season. Jordan Love exhibited the sometimes unfathomably unique arm-talent that has endeared him to scouts nationally. After two interceptions — one a bad read, another bad luck — Love showed the shortstop-like arm, supreme athleticism, and general freaky traits that have scouts drooling.

The arm-strength to squeeze the football into a tight window from 40 yards away, the rare elasticity to sling it on a line across his body while on the move, the quick release to get the ball out in the face of pressure…it looks like he’s throwing a baseball.

The added element of a designed run package and RPO game, paired with the threat of throwing the ball to any blade of grass on the field, coaches will line up to get their hands on this prospect.

Jake Fromm vs. Missouri, Win 27-0
Stats: 13/28 (46.4%) 110 yards (3.93 YPA) 3 TD

Fromm hit his best throw of the season in another big SEC road victory. Few quarterbacks have the number of scalps that Fromm keeps in his back pocket, and he displayed tremendous poise in another hostile environment.

At times, the crowd noise was deafening, yet Fromm communicated his line checks and audibles with urgency and a steady heartbeat. He made cutch, accurate throws on third down, and beat the defense with his pre-snap prowess.

Fromm has quiet feet when he gets to the top of his drop. That’s not a trait he shares with a lot of the new-age, successful quarterbacks in the NFL. Kyler Murray went first in the draft for his ability to glide weightlessly about the pocket, creating passing lanes.

While Fromm is capable of mitigating some deficiencies with his ability to get the offense into the right play, and accurate passing, he’s not going to erase free rushers with his athleticism, and he’s not going to overcome situations with a fastball throw.

Joe Burrow at Ole Miss, Win 58-37
Stats: 32/42 (76.2%) 489 yards (11.64 YPA) 5 TD, 2 INT

And in one afternoon, Joe Burrow is left with nothing to prove. The now heavy favorite to come off the board with the first pick, the second half of Miami’s season would have to take some considerable turns to get the LSU Quarterback.

Burrow remains as cool as ever in this one. He rushed his Tiger offense out to a big lead with a couple of impressive improvisational plays. The big day was saddled by the two turnovers, but Burrow ends the day as the new QB1 due to Tua’s medical situation.

Justin Herbert vs. Arizona, 10:30 ESPN
Stats: 20/28 (71.4%) 333 yards (11.89 YPA) 4 TD, 1 INT

If this was your first viewing experience of Justin Herbert, you probably came away convinced he’s a top-10 draft pick — and he will be. If you’re a regular to his tape, this game was more of the same — flashes of brilliance when the circumstances permit, but the same inconsistencies in the most important aspects of the game.

Arizona’s defense hasn’t stopped a nose bleed this year, and they sure as hell weren’t going to stop the draft’s most physically impressive specimen behind the country’s best offensive line. Herbert’s long touchdown throws displayed the hand-cannon that has scouts conjuring up the prototypical quarterback build — particularly the toss in the second half.

On the rare occasions where Arizona got heat, you saw Herbert’s lack of quick-twitch to get off the spot, without the inherent ability to keep his eyes downfield to keep the play alive. You saw Herbert make an egregious decision to throw the ball into coverage (the INT was dropped) on a first-and-goal play from the two-yard-line.

The problem with Herbert, is that this has been the story for over 30 games. He still has no signature wins or moments, and the Oregon offense is still predicated on the running and screen game.

Herbert’s best bet at the next level is a run-heavy offense that can utilize his premiere weapon — throwing on the move. Lining up in 12-personnel (2 tight ends) and allowing Herbert to get out in space to throw into layers or flood concepts on the move will be the smoothest transition for the Oregon QB to have some success.

I’m of the belief that you have to put Herbert in an absolutely ideal situation, because he’s not going to mitigate your issues offensively.

Week 12 Conclusion

Reports from the University of Alabama doctor responsible for tending to Tagovailoa say the quarterback will make a full recovery, but he is certainly in for a long rehab process. If anyone can come back from this, it’s Tagovailoa, though his draft stock will surely be impacted. If Tua enters the draft and clears all the medical hurdles, he’ll still be a first-round pick.

Miami might be fortunate if Tagovailoa is still the target. With Brian Flores willing his team to underdog victories, the chances of obtaining the first pick was becoming grim, but so too are Tua’s chances at going off the board number one.

The Dolphins will have a difficult decision to make, though an apparent contingency plan is developing behind Tua.

Jordan Love is making progress the last two weeks in his overall effectiveness, and the highlights he produced today were utterly absurd. Though he has shortcomings in his approach for the game and playing the quarterback position, his physical tools give him — far and away — the highest upside in the class.

Miami’s interesting draft season took a jump to a whole other level of intrigue with the events of Saturday.

Week 13 Schedule

Fromm vs. Texas A&M, 3:30 CBS
Burrow vs. Arkansas, 7:00 ESPN
Love vs. Boise State, 10:30 CBSSN
Herbert at Arizona State TBD

@WingfieldNFL

Additional Prospect Videos

A.J. Epenesa – Iowa Defensive End 

Bravvion Roy – Baylor Defensive Tackle

Julian Blackmon – Utah Safety (former corner, invited to Mobile for the Sr. Bowl)

Ben Bredeson – Michigan Left Guard

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Miami Dolphins

Should the Miami Dolphins be interested in signing Colin Kaepernick?

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Colin Kaepernick
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Miami (Locked On Dolphins) – Should the Miami Dolphins be interested in signing Colin Kaepernick?

It was only a matter of time before someone posed the question, and maybe it’s already been asked. Does Colin Kaepernick make sense for the Miami Dolphins?

I think the answer could be yes but not in a vacuum. The circumstances would have to be aligned for it to work out.

As it stands, for 2019, I don’t think Kaepernick would be viewed as a starter to fuel any tank or non-tank talk, regardless of how good he looks in the jerry-built workout on Saturday.

Any potential for signing Kaepernick would come with a big asterisk. I think it would have more to do with the some of the draft-eligible quarterbacks that could be a Dolphin next year and the traits and abilities they possess than it does with Kaepernick and what he could do directly for the franchise.

It boils down to who the Miami Dolphins have on their quarterback short list in the 2020 Draft. A lot of this franchise’s future boils down to the quarterback. But I’ll save that lecture for another time.

I’m not sure who will be the quarterbacks on the roster next year. Josh Rosen is likely out, and I’m not sure about Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe he stays, maybe he goes.

Regardless, there will be a rookie quarterback on the team, maybe even two if the Dolphins double-dip like the Redskins did in 2012 with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. I’ll save that theory for another time, too.

But once the Dolphins have taken their guy next spring, I think they’ll look for an experienced veteran to fill in for a pedagogical role in the QB room.

One of them could still be Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it could be someone else, like Cam Newton…or Colin Kaepernick, but I’ll get to that in a second.

Newton would be a better fit for that role compared to Fitzpatrick, and he offers the ability to kill two birds with one stone. He can win games and bring up the rookie as he goes.

Travis Wingfield tossed around the idea of trading for Cam Newton on Tuesday’s LOD podcast. I liked the idea. Trade for Newton and draft someone like Jordan Love or Jalen Hurts, who are both much rawer than their Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa counterparts.

Of course, that’s Plan B. If Tagovailoa is still within reach, then draft him. If Burrow’s there, take him. If either of those two situations plays out, then all of the contingency plans go out the window.

But getting either Tagovailoa or Burrow is not a guarantee. So, having a scope on the other potential first-rounders is essential. I still like Jordan Love and his traits, but I also like Jalen Hurts, and I’m coming around on Justin Herbert. All three would benefit from redshirt seasons when entering the NFL.

And having the appropriate veteran guidance will be a huge blessing for the rookie’s development.

While I hope Plan A still comes to fruition, I also like the first backup plan. Here’s a caveat to Plan B, though. Trading for Newton is also not a guarantee.

There are several factors out of the Dolphins control, and that’s assuming that they are, in fact, interested in trading for Newton. If they are interested, then it becomes paramount that they can trade for him. At least they have their 2020 war chest of draft picks.

Now, back to my Kaepernick spiel. If Newton becomes a distant memory and Plan B crumbles, then Kaepernick jumps into the picture.

Kaepernick offers flexibility if the Dolphins do want Newton but can’t land him or if they’re going to save their picks outright.

If Newton is Plan B, then I’m viewing the signing of Kaepernick as a next-best Plan C. Newton and Kaepernick could both fit into the mold of teacher, but both also offer more upside than Ryan Fitzpatrick when it comes to winning games. It’s a way of having your cake and eating it too.

You wouldn’t have to trade for Kaepernick, and I doubt you’d have to fend off many other teams to sign him, either.

Allow an incubation period for the rookie quarterback while Newton or Kaepernick takes the reins for a season or two. Similar to how Patrick Mahomes held clipboards for most of his rookie season, grooming a rookie quarterback under the wings of a veteran could provide more sustainable growth for the rookie.

It’ll set up the rook to eventually blossom in a few years instead of being thrown to the wolves and also allow the Dolphins to find relevancy in short-term eras from one of the two mentioned veterans (Newton and Kaepernick).

So, would signing Kaepernick make sense? Yes, but only under certain conditions. I could see it become more likely that Kaepernick never joins the team, but there are scenarios, albeit limited ones, that could see him in orange and aqua.

But he could become a leader for the team and a teacher for the next-gen quarterback waiting in the wings.

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Miami Dolphins

Brian Flores – The Solution to Miami’s Two-Decade-Long Problem

Travis Wingfield

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The talent has been here all along, but the coaching hasn’t been, until now

Hot, muggy August mornings signal the best time of year for football fans in South Florida. As the Dolphins head to camp, the start of a new season looms on the horizon. This past August — Brian Flores’ first with the Dolphins — we saw a training camp in Davie unlike any before.

Individual drills, focusing on fundamentals and the core basics of the sport (blocking, defeating blocks, tackling, and drilling mental toughness and a mistake-free mindset), the practices featured very few team portions.

Boring as all get out for the fans in attendance, sure, but those foundational bricks have already laid the groundwork for the least-penalized team in the NFL. In the midst of a challenging season, those repetitive, grueling days have resulted in a team that ranks in the top 10 in tackling (9th-fewest missed tackles).

The 2019 Miami Dolphins training camp period was the most important month of Flores’ tenure as the man-in-charge, and it’s already paying massive dividends. The top-of-the-league rankings in the minute, yet crucial details of the game are tremendous, and even more valuable when considering the gems Miami discovered along the way.

Those gems aren’t exclusive to undrafted free agents and reclamation projects. The Dolphins are getting career years out of former top 50 picks in Devante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Raekwon McMillan.

Good coaching with premium talent is the best way to curate household names across the league, but a team without depth is a team that can’t succeed in this league. Uncovering both bonafide starters, and rotational parts from that scrap heap is the most encouraging aspect of Brian Flores’ first year in Miami.

Vince Biegel’s pass rush productivity marks are top 10 at his position from an efficiency standpoint.

Nik Needham was an undrafted free agent who’s gone from Conference USA to holding his own against NFL receivers. Needham’s coming off a two-game stretch where he made 14 tackles, and his first career sack and interception.

Jomal Wiltz was on the Patriots practice squad last season, and now he’s a valuable, versatile part of the defensive backfield. Ryan Lewis, Ken Crawley, Ken Webster have all contributed as in-season defensive back free agent signings as well.

Sep 15, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel (47) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

John Jenkins was a cut-down day acquisition, and all he’s done is led Miami in overall Pro Football Focus grade.

Eric Rowe was signed for close to nothing — a one-year, $3.5 million deal back in March. He struggled at cornerback early on, but since moving to a strong safety role — where he covers tight ends and plays a lot in the box — he’s playing some of the best ball of his career.

That list is impressive in its own right, and certainly inspires confidence in the Dolphins ability to succeed in this rebuild going forward. Even for the fan apprehensive to trust Chris Grier and company, it’s impossible to deny the widespread individual growth.

That’s where this next list comes into play. The Dolphins have had talent, and that’s evident by the players that have departed South Florida, and gone onto successful careers elsewhere.

For the sake of continuity and time elapsed relevance, we’ll go as far back as the beginning of the Joe Philbin era. Grier has been in Miami since 2007, but his role in each individual acquisition is impossible to gage. And that remains true even today as Miami — and all NFL teams — act as a gigantic collaboration.

With more than 30 scouts, college and professional personnel directors, a General Manager, Assistant General Manager, and nearly 20 coaches all serving underneath Owner Stephen Ross, nobody outside the walls in Miami knows who is responsible for which move.

To borrow the famed Bill Parcells mantra, the front office buys the groceries. From there, it’s up to the coaching staff to best prepare those ingredients and cook up a winning recipe. From Joe Philbin to Adam Gase, Miami have done very little to take on talent and produce an even better product on the other side.

We start in 2012 with the decision to trade the biggest name receiver this franchise has employed since Chris Chambers left at the 2007 trade deadline.

2012

Brandon Marshall – Marshall was an pro-bowl-level player at every stop except for Miami. His career fizzled towards retirement at the end, and he had a decent stretch in the 2011 season, but his two years in Miami produced the two worst statistical seasons out of the prime of his career. Marshall’s first year with the Bears resulted in a first-team All-Pro selection, a product of 1,508-yard season with 11 touchdowns — topping the two-year total (nine TD) with Miami.

Vontae Davis – The infamous grandma phone call request will never be forgotten, but Vontae got the last laugh on Miami. After three promising seasons with the Phins, Davis’ next four in Indianapolis produced two pro-bowls and 12 interceptions.

2013

Karlos Dansby – This move was a double whammy, as it was made to create space for all-time free agent bust in Dannell Ellerbe. Dansby didn’t make any pro-bowls after leaving Miami, but his first season in the dessert was a smashing success. He picked off four passes (two for touchdowns), broke up 19 passes, made 12 TFLs and registered his second-highest sack total of his career with 6.5.

Sean Smith – Smith infamously made a public comment during the Seahawks rise to prominence in 2012 about Richard Sherman and the freedom of Seattle’s cornerbacks within that scheme. Smith was promptly allowed to depart via free agency, but didn’t break the bank with the Kansas City Chiefs. Fresh off his new three-year, $18 million deal, Smith’s first year in KC resulted in an 84.7 passer rating against. Then, in 2014, Smith was PFF’s 6th-highest graded corner (Davis was 2nd.)

Tony McDaniel – Arriving via a conditional pick in 2009, McDaniel earned his way from the bottom of the depth chart into a rotational role. Then, in 2013, he left for Seattle and his career took off. His Pro Football Reference Approximate Value metric was never higher than 3 with Miami. His first two years in Seattle, McDaniel had an AV of 9 and 7. He made 94 tackles those two years, 12 more than his four-year total with the Dolphins.

2014

Nolan Carroll – A fifth-round pick in 2010, Carroll took some time to develop his game. Just as he did, the Dolphins allowed the Maryland product to walk in free agency. Carroll never became a lockdown cornerback, but he was a key role player for three years with the Eagles, starting 27 games his final two years there. His contract with Philadelphia paid him $5 million over two years — plenty affordable for cornerback depth.

2015

No notable losses. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay and Randy Starks never had jumps in production in their post-Miami careers.

2016

Olivier Vernon – Vernon received a monster contract from the Giants, but an extension could’ve reduced Miami’s cost on the hometown product. Drafted out of The U, Vernon’s breakout season happened in his contract year, and pushed Miami out of the market to bring him back entirely. Vernon’s highest AV mark in Miami was 8; his first season with the Giants nearly doubled that with an eye-popping 15 approximate value figure.

Lamar Miller – Another Miami native, Miller never took the league by storm the way some assumed he would, but he signed a cheap deal to move to Houston after the 2015 season. This is more of a nod to the Dolphins scouting staff to find a good player in the fourth round.

Rishard Matthews – Miami used a first-round pick on Devante Parker the year before, but that premium pick could’ve been used elsewhere if Miami were capable of self-scouting their own receiver corps. Matthews first season in Tennessee was the best of his career. His 945 yards and nine touchdowns were both career highs.

Billy Turner – A left tackle at North Dakota State, Turner was shuffled about the offensive line before flaming out in embarrassing fashion through a difficult 1-4 start to the 2016 season. Turner went on to start for the Broncos, where he impressed the Packers to the tune of a four-year, $28 million deal this past offseason.

2017

No notable departures

2018

Ndamukong Suh – The original signing was probably never a good idea, but Suh was an integral part of the Rams run to the Super Bowl last season. Again, this piece is to prove that Miami has done plenty to acquire talent over the years.

Mike Pouncey – Pouncey was a shell of his former self at this stage. Injuries were always the primary issue with Pouncey, but he was a first-round pick in 2011 that played in four pro bowls. There isn’t a football fan on earth that wouldn’t sign up for that return on the 15th pick in the draft.

2019

We can’t write the final story on Laremy Tunsil or Minkah Fitzpatrick yet, but those two, along with Kenyan Drake, provide Grier with quite the endorsement of the 2016 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick wasn’t a part of that class, but Xavien Howard was, and he remains in Miami.

We might look back on these trades of Tunsil and Fitzpatrick as catastrophic failures, but both will always hold superiority to Miami’s decision to part with so many of the names we just mentioned. The Dolphins received premium compensation for both players, including quarterback prices for Tunsil.

The Skinny

Now, with almost no considerable resources on his roster, Brian Flores is getting similar production from his stripped-down squad than what Adam Gase got the last two years. And Gase did it with far more money and accolades scattered throughout the locker room.

These types of blunders stretch all the way back to Rob Ninkovich, and Evan Mathis before him. The hope, with Brian Flores and his unique ability to develop players acquired off the scrap heap, is that those days are gone.

If they are, with all the premium resources Chris Grier, Marvin Allen, Reggie McKenzie and the entire front office has to work with, the Dolphins can quickly become a team to be reckoned with for years to come.

@WingfieldNFL

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