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Miami Dolphins

The Aftermath: Patriots 43 Dolphins 0

Travis Wingfield

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Snap Counts, grades, the tank, all things fallout from a record-setting home loss

Foreword:

As we develop a weekly content schedule for the season, I wanted something to bridge the gap between the Sunday night game breakdown column and the Tuesday film review. So, here we are with a smorgasbord of information, statistics, snap counts, and whatever is prudent to the Dolphins game from the Sunday prior.

We’ll dive into the game data from Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, grab some quotes from the player’s and coach’s pressers, and continue to provide the most comprehensive coverage on the Miami Dolphins you can find.

DolphinsPatriots

Team Stats

The Dolphins are outpacing their own futility. Miami’s negative 92-point differential is the worst through two games since the 1960’s, and the team is on pace to re-write the wrong end of the record book.

On-track to allow 816 points, Miami is set to demolish the previous high of 533 points allowed. The same is true for points scored. With 10 points through two games, a projected 80 points would eclipse the previous low of 113 points scored.

Miami are bottom in offensive yardage, interceptions thrown, yards-per-play, sacks allowed, first downs and time of possession.

Defensively, not to be outdone, the Dolphins are last in third down conversion percentage, yards-per-play allowed, sack yardage lost, and just about every category you can imagine.

Dolphins Offense:

Snap Counts:

 

Player Snaps Played (% of Offensive Snaps)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 38 (61%)
QB Josh Rosen 24 (39%)
RB Kenyan Drake 34 (55%)
RB Kalen Ballage 21 (34%)
RB Mark Walton 10 (16%)
FB Chandler Cox 6 (10%)
WR Devante Parker 57 (92%)
WR Preston Williams 42 (68%)
WR Jakeem Grant 38 (61%)
WR Allen Hurns 29 (45%)
TE Mike Gesicki 35 (56%)
TE Durham Smythe 25 (40%)
TE Nick O’Leary 14 (23%)
OL Jesse Davis 62 (100%)
OL Michael Deiter 62 (100%)
OL Daniel Kilgore 62 (100%)
OL J’Marcus Webb 62 (100%)
OL Danny Isidora 48 (77%)
OL Evan Boehm 14 (23%)

 

For the second straight week, the Dolphins offensive line made it through the battle without any casualties, though Danny Isidora was dishonorably discharged in the fourth quarter. Replacing Isidora was fellow cut-down day import, Evan Boehm.

Isidora was responsible for a sack and two hurries, which tied for second in pressures allowed with fellow-guard Michael Deiter (2 hits, 1 hurry). The newest Dolphin lineman, J’Marcus Webb, led the way with four pressures allowed.

Jesse Davis only allowed one pressure, but it was a sack.

Davis was the only lineman to grade positively as a run-blocker, according to Pro Football Focus.

Kalen Ballage is off to a miserable start. In addition to ducking one pass, and bobbling another directly into a pick-six, Ballage averaged 1.5 yards per carry, caught just one of five targets, and was last on the team in yards-after-contact average.

Kenyan Drake led the way in yards after contact, but averaged just 3.2 yards per carry of his own. Mark Walton led the way with five yards per clip.

Jakeem Grant and Preston Williams both dropped long balls late into garbage time. Grant caught just three of seven targets while Williams pulled in four of seven for 63 yards.

Devante Parker didn’t catch a pass despite seven targets — he’s now caught just three of his 14 targets on the season.

Josh Rosen was only slightly better than Ryan Fitzpatrick by the numbers. He passed for 5.4 yards per attempt (Fitzpatrick at 4.2) and both quarterbacks had two passes dropped. Miami completed less than 50% of its passes for the second straight game.

 

Dolphins Defense:

Snap Counts:

 

Player Snaps Played (% of Defensive Snaps)
DL Charles Harris 66 (92%)
DL Avery Moss 51 (71%)
DL Christian Wilkins 44 (61%)
DL Davon Godchaux 39 (54%)
DL John Jenkins 33 (46%)
DL Tank Carradine 31 (43%)
LB Jerome Baker 69 (96%)
LB Sam Eguavoen 64 (89%)
LB Raekwon McMillan 36 (50%)
LB Vince Biegel 16 (22%)
LB James Crawford 3 (4%)
CB Xavien Howard 68 (94%)
CB Eric Rowe 67 (93%)
CB Jomal Wiltz 39 (54%)
CB Chris Lammons 5 (7%)
CB Ken Webster 5 (7%)
FS Bobby McCain 68 (94%)
SS Minkah Fitzpatrick 68 (94%)
FS Steven Parker 16 (22%)
SS Walt Aikens 4 (6%)

 

It wasn’t bad till late for the Miami defense. On New England’s first seven possessions Miami allowed 16 points (2.28 points per drive, league average is roughly 2 points per drive), and just 3.6 yards per carry in the running game — it earned the Dolphins defense an overall 80.9 run defense grade from PFF.

The offensive futility wore the Dolphins defense down as it was on the field for more than two-thirds of the game for the second consecutive week.

Jerome Baker shook off a difficult week-one with a resounding response in week-two. Baker made six run-stops, 12 total tackles and missed just one. He was exposed in coverage, however, allowing 65 yards on just four targets. He didn’t pressure the QB on five pass rush reps.

Davon Godchaux was next in run-defense with three run stops (all three of his tackles). He too pitched a goose egg in pressures, and did so on 19 pass rush reps.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Raekwon McMillan, Bobby McCain and Tank Carradine all had two run stops. The foursome tallied one total pressure (Carradine with a hurry) on a combined 18 pass rush reps.

Miami cleaned up its tackling going from 11 missed tackles last week to just four in this game.

Vince Biegel generated more than 50% of Miami’s pressures. The newcomer had four of the Dolphins seven pressures with two hurries, a hit, and a sack — he did that on 14 pass rush downs.

Charles Harris and Carradine both had a hurry and John Jenkins picked up the other pressure with his sack of Tom Brady.

Miami forced only seven incompletions on the day; Xavien Howard was responsible for three. The Pats completed only two of five throws towards Howard for 19 yards — less than four yards per pass, including two pass breakups.

Eric Rowe had another nightmare game. He allowed four receptions for 54 yards and committed three fouls in the game.

Bobby McCain played much better with eight tackles, two run-stops, zero misses, and allowed just 16 yards into his coverage area.

Minkah Fitzpatrick bounced back too. He made four tackles, missed zero, two for run-stops, and allowed only 10 yards receiving in his coverage area.

Tank on Track

Losing all 16 games is difficult. Fluky occurrences are responsible for multiple outcomes in the NFL every year. Miami knows that the path to a quick turnaround is nailing the quarterback draft pick. The safest bet to accomplish that is with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa — the odds-on-favorite to go number one overall next April.

Rather than retaining high-priced talent, or even the cheap talent that was due for a large pay day down the road (Laremy Tunsil), Miami lopped off the lone leg it had to stand on to ensure the team would not play competitively and luck into multiple wins.

To be fair, the Miami defense showed the bite that has some fans encouraged on that side of the ball, but the offensive futility is simply insurmountable at this stage. The Dolphins have played two of the best teams in the league, so the blowouts were always likely, but this team might still compete with the bottom tier of the league.

In essence, Miami traded off parts to secure the quarterback of the future. In the Dolphins quest to obtain Tagovailoa, nine additional teams are currently 0-2 (or will be after Monday’s Browns-Jets tilt). The Dolphins will see five of those teams this season, including the lone primetime appearance against the suddenly Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers.

For now, enjoy your stress-free Sundays. When this team gets the quarterback, and uses its resources to round out Brian Flores’ defense, you’ll be back to sweating Dolphins game day Sundays once again.

@WingfieldNFL

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Papapickett

    September 17, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Stress free Sundays. Well said and great advice sir.

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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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Miami Dolphins

In A Perfect World, Tua Tagovailoa Doesn’t Start a Single Game

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

If everything goes right, Tua Tagovailoa isn’t going to start a single game for the Miami Dolphins in 2020.

Nope, you didn’t misread that last sentence. Tua Tagovailoa riding the bench is the best thing that could happen to the Miami Dolphins this season, and if you think otherwise, then you haven’t been paying attention to what Brian Flores has been preaching since his arrival.

The obvious factor everyone is taking into consideration is the health of Tua’s hip. And while that definitely plays a part, it has minimal affect on his playing time. You see, barring a trade, Tua is the third-best quarterback on the roster right now.

Combine his inexperience, a COVID-restricted offseason, and that pesky hip injury, and it’s safe to say our questions have already been answered.

The Better Player Plays

With this team, it’s no secret that playing time is awarded based on a player’s performance both in games and during practice. It doesn’t matter where you were drafted or how much money you’re making, if you aren’t better than the athlete next to you, you aren’t playing.

In fact, didn’t we just go through a very similar situation last year when the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals for a 2nd-round draft pick?

We all assumed that Ryan Fitzpatrick was keeping the seat warm until Rosen – a top-10 draft pick one season prior – was ready, but when Flores had the opportunity to simultaneously give a young quarterback experience and tank for Tua, he did neither. Instead, opting to (nearly) sabotage the opportunity to draft Tagovailoa and win as many games as possible with Fitzpatrick.

Rosen has much more upside than Fitzpatrick, but he couldn’t muster more than 197 snaps under center last season.

Just like that, the culture was set. Flores wasn’t fucking around – it was win at all costs, and the players bought in. One season later, that mantra certainly hasn’t changed.

Tua has more talent and better quarterback traits than Fitzpatrick and Rosen (probably combined), so there’s no arguing which quarterback we want to build a franchise around, but who is going to win the team more games this season?

I don’t doubt that Tua is a football genius that will pick up a playbook quickly, but knowing your plays and executing against an NFL defense are two completely different things.

Fitzpatrick has been in the league for 15 years while Tua has been in the league for 14 weeks; there is A LOT Tua has to learn before he can make the kind of reads Fitzpatrick can instinctively make after 139 starts in the NFL.

Josh Rosen may not evolve into an elite, franchise-saving quarterback, but he’s not terrible either. Two years of experience and a season-worth of starts (16) under his belt gives him an instant edge over Tua. The only thing that levels Rosen with Tagovailoa is they’re both learning Chan Gailey‘s offense for the first time – and for Rosen, this would be his 4th different offense in the past 4 years.

Otherwise, Rosen already has a rapport with the coaching staff, the medical staff, all of the workers in the building, and the receivers on this roster. In other words, he’s comfortable in his surroundings while Tua is trying to get acclimated to a brand new life.

There are going to be growing pains and a learning curve – two things we admittedly need Tua to experience in order to evolve. But the question becomes, when can Miami afford to experience those “opportunities”? Certainly not if they believe they are…

Playoff Bound

The Miami Dolphins – and most importantly, Brian Flores – believe they are in a position to make a legitimate playoff run.

Scoff however much you’d like at the notion that this team, one year removed from being “the worst team in the NFL”, is on a cusp of making a playoff appearance, but don’t tell anyone in the Dolphins’ organization that you think that.

A remastered secondary, a veteran presence among the front-7, an entirely new offensive line, and real, productive running backs means the Dolphins are all-but-guaranteed to improve on their 5-11 record.

In fact, the only thing holding them back from a legitimate playoff run is the quarterback position.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has won more than 6 games as a starter just once in his career, and Rosen only has 3 wins to his name (none as a Dolphin). If the team falters, it’s because these two quarterbacks couldn’t carry a well-built football team to the playoffs.

And that’s where the disappointment of another lost season is met with hope for the future. It won’t be until the Dolphins are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs that the team will trot Tua Tagovailoa out onto the field.

Waiting until so late in the season checks off every single box you need. It gives him time to:

  • Learn his way around the NFL
  • Understand the playbook better
  • Observe the game from the sideline
  • Gain chemistry with his receivers

Oh, and it also helps ensure that his hip is healthy, because…

I’m Sure He’s Healthy…

Being stuck inside during an international pandemic may have made it seem like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been three short months since we all clamored to a 14 minute video of Tua Tagovailoa throwing scripted passes; our eyes inexplicably glued to a man’s hips, unscientifically judging whether or not he was healthy. Try explaining that one to your significant other.

While we are all thrilled with recent medical reports and first-hand accounts from the quarterback himself, it would be downright idiotic to mess around with a hip injury.

The only reason Tua Tagovailoa was available at the 5th-overall pick was because of the uncertainty surrounding his hip, those concerns don’t suddenly disappear just because he’s on your roster and we’re excited to see our prized possession play.

Let his hip heal and let him practice against a secondary that includes Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Bobby McCain, Brandon Jones, Noah Igbinoghene, and Eric Rowe. He’s going to learn just how quickly throwing lanes close and how tight they are to begin with.

Don’t convince yourself that Tua has to start games this rookie season to be the elite quarterback he’s projected to be. Patrick Mahomes started one game his rookie year. Aaron Rodgers didn’t start until his forth season in the NFL. If all of the hype is real, then his career will be just fine.

The plan isn’t to count moral victories, but to win football games – and Tua Tagovailoa gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to do that for the foreseeable future. But for now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your starting quarterback, and until Josh Rosen relinquishes the job as backup, it won’t be Tua’s until 2021. Mission Accomplished.

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