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Miami Dolphins

The Greatest Experience of My Life (Dolphins Down Patriots)

Travis Wingfield



The Sunday post-game column typically focuses on individual praise, criticisms, and a general opinion on the individual performances from my vantage point on the couch.

Not today.

Never before, in the history of the franchise, have the Dolphins won a game with an offensive touchdown and no time remaining on the clock.

After the most miraculous come-from-behind win in Miami Dolphins history, and the most memorable trip of my entire life, I want to take this time to give a full recount of the day.

From my alarm clock awaking me from a deep slumber, to Kenyan Drake rushing towards the corner of the end zone adjacent to the press box, this is a story about the greatest sports memory I’ve ever witnessed.

The buzz from last Sunday’s thrilling finish had worn completely off as I fashioned my press pass to my belt. The expectation of a season-ending loss, at the hands of our own personal tormenter for the past two decades, gave this game more of a workman like feel.

We went down to the Fans Unite Tailgate event at 10:30 and were quickly washed away by a heavy South Florida downpour.

After it quickly cleared, we made our way back to the press box and watched the teams loosen up while enjoying one of the many amenities afforded to the press by the Miami Dolphins, a top-shelf buffet style meal.

Inactives rolled in, the quarterbacks began throwing routes on air, and the stadium filled up – mostly with Patriots fans.

Any time the visitors entered or exited the tunnel on the northwest side of the field, a roar of cheers serenaded the Band from Boston.

Those cheers continued on past the 1 o’clock hour as the Patriots marched down the field on a 12-play touchdown drive.

Miami answered back in a flash with a scoring drive on just five plays, including a 13-yard scamper from Ryan Tanenhill on a QB-keep.

The flow of the game continued on throughout the first half to the tune seven lead changes in the game’s first 30 minutes. All things told, the contest would see a different team seize the lead nine times – the most for either of these storied franchises.

The game appeared to turn when Ryan Tannehill left the field after having his foot stepped on by an offensive lineman to close out the first half. Tannehill walked very slowly to the home tunnel giving the fans a thumbs up gesture as he exited stage left.

Tannehill mentioned post-game that he had an X-ray on the foot/ankle and it came back clean. “It sucked. It hurt a lot,” the Dolphins QB said after fielding numerous questions regarding the final play of the game.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came when Tom Brady took a sack in scoring range with no timeouts and 10 seconds on the game clock prior to the half time break.

Brady admitted that he thought the Patriots had a timeout – a mistake not often seen by a 19-year-veteran and arguably the best to ever do it.

There was a buzz about the press box, both negative from the Patriots massive contingency, and positive from the Dolphins beat.

The botched opportunity opened the door for a Miami team that needed some breaks to pick off a red-hot football team.

The opposite occurred, however. Darren Rizzi’s elite special teams unit had its worst day of the year with two blocked punts. Making a halftime adjustment to adopt a rugby-style punting game, Miami put their deficiencies to bed

I asked Gase how much time the team put into working on the rugby-style punt operation.

“I mean we’ve been working on it all year. That was the first time it really kind of came up.”

While the special teams tightened some things up, the offense bogged down. Kenny Stills was the whipping boy of the media room, and rightfully so, after he slid down short of the sticks (which eventually led to a punt).

Stills’ drop on a crucial 3rd and 4 on the next series brought about even more groans, greeted by even more displeasure from the fans when Gase opted to punt the ball back to Brady.

Everyone had seen this movie play out too many times, and that’s exactly what happened.

But what no one had ever seen, was a 69-yard lateral play in which three Dolphins touched the football after Tannehill threw the rock, capped off by Drake’s miracle dash over the goal line.

“OH MY GOD!” This phrase was being repeated on loop by the Dolphins and Patriots reporters alike. After a brief review, the officials deemed the touchdown good and we headed straight down to the tunnel.

Players, as you can imagine, were hootin’ and hollerin’ throughout the concourse. Staffers, fans, media, there was an electricity I’d never seen before at a sport event.

We rushed directly down to the Patriots press room, and in came Bill Belichick. Salty, sour, instantly fed up with the paralyzing fear he inflicted on everyone in that tiny 10×10 concrete room, Belichick was a kid who just had his candy snatched from his hand.

Then, it was off to the Dolphins press room to hear from a much kinder-than-normal Adam Gase.

Finally, we moved next door to the locker room to catch the guys in their celebration. Chants of “TED! TED! TED!” rained down as the linemen, receivers, and Ryan Tannehill showed their appreciation for the embattled guard’s (Ted Larsen) ability to get downfield on that final play.

Kenny Stills was doing a live television hit. Kenyan Drake was setting up shop with Kim Bokamper for an exclusive interview, and Davon Godchaux had just retweeted one of my tweets, so I approached him.

I asked Davon about his leadership role growing and the growth he has felt from year-one to year-two. He praised Cam Wake for teaching he and the younger guys how to play and conduct themselves as professionals. (We’ll have this audio on tonight’s recap podcast).

Dec 9, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase (middle) celebrates with Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains (right) after defeating the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

He doubled down on the same answer everyone else gave – nobody had ever been a part of a game with a finish that inconceivable.

Finally, we went back into the Dolphins press room and heard Cam Wake and Ryan Tannehill take the podium.

Wake highlighted the work on every play and how the final miracle doesn’t occur without some efforts from earlier – notably the red zone stop at the end of the first half.

Then, very gingerly, Tannehill took the podium. He talked about some of the stress tests the team put him through regarding rolling out, escaping pressure, and some of the other requirements of playing in this scheme.

The Dolphins, after running it twice, didn’t use any more zone-read-QB-keepers the rest of the day.

Then it was back to the press box to write this piece. The usual suspects of the beat writing crew were all in the elevator expressing the gravity of what they just witnessed.

It was a day, a game, and a trip I will never forget. And as for ending on a high note, it’s impossible to beat the fashion in which Miami took its fifth game from the Pats in this building in the last six tries.

And with the Ravens and Broncos both going down on Sunday, Miami are very much a threat to make a post-season push.




  1. Alistair Henderson

    December 9, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    That is the best piece of writing I have experienced in following the Miami Dolphins for the past almost 50 years! Congratulations!

  2. Kou

    December 10, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Great article ! So much passion ! I love reading it ! Keep up the good work !

  3. David

    December 10, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Great article Travis! Can’t wait until you are hired full time as a beat writer!

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Miami Dolphins

Pillaging the Pats

Travis Wingfield



Taking From the Rich and Giving to the Phins

De facto Patriots Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores is set to take over the big chair in Miami at the conclusion of New England’s 2018 season. Rumored to be coming with Flores are a pair of Pats staffers.

A master of delegation, Bill Belichick constantly maintains the smallest staff in the league. Flores’ intentions are to bring with him Pats’ Consultant Bret Bielema and Wide Receivers Coach Chad O’Shea.

*We’ll have a comprehensive breakdown of the offensive scheme that comes with O’Shea should this move push closer to official. And we’ll do so in the same capacity as the Defensive Crash Course piece.

If Flores is able to extract both Bielema and O’Shea, he’s plundering 16% of the 2018 Patriots’ staff (that includes Flores). Belichick’s coaching tree has yielded less than desirable results in their new destinations, but Flores is described as “different” from the rest.

By now Dolphins fans are tired of lip service. If Flores is the exception to the many before him, great – we’ll find out on Sundays. Flores is, however, off to a unique beginning compared to the lackluster rest.


Coach (Year Left New England) Additional Migrating Staffers
Charlies Weis (2005 – Notre Dame) 0
Romeo Crennel (2005 – Cleveland) 0
Eric Mangini (2007 – NY Jets) 0
Josh McDaniels (2009 – Denver) 0
Bill O’Brien (2012 – Penn State) 0
Matt Patricia (2018 – Detroit) 0


Goose eggs. I didn’t expect that when I began this study, hence the table. Interestingly, the greatest dearth in the Patriots run came between the 2008-2010 seasons. That sentence is a house of cards for two reasons:

1.) It’s sort of hilarious to call two playoff appearances and a combined record of 35-13 a dearth. Those three seasons were the last time New England weren’t participating in the Conference Championship – they’ve qualified for eight consecutive title games since.

2.) It’s something of a strawman to suggest New England’s 14-2 season was cut short at the divisional round because of a loss of coordinators. Not to mention the 2008 season that brought back 11 wins despite starting Matt Cassel for 15 games.

That three-year stretch did come after New England lost its offensive and defensive coordinators, and then Crennel’s replacement at DC (Mangini) two years later. No one is mistaking Flores, Bielema, and O’Shea for Weis, Crennel, and Mangini, but this would be a similar exodus – the difference being all at once opposed to three years.

It’s no secret that Belichick is a ruthless competitor that has no qualms about making enemies. The Patriots have blocked coaches from interviewing for outside positions in the past. Clearly, New England doesn’t block assistants from taking head coaching jobs, but the fact that zero staffers jumped ship might insinuate staffers are held hostage.

Maybe that’s where the idea that Flores is different from the rest comes from. His ability to separate himself from the Pats’ program. His intentions to implement his own initiative that doesn’t try to form as a carbon copy of Belichick’s well-oiled machine in Foxboro.

There are a million ways to splice this, but it all comes back to one conclusion: Brian Flores is beloved by everyone that knows him – even the heartless Hoodie.


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Miami Dolphins

Crash Course On 2019 Dolphins Defensive Scheme

Travis Wingfield



For a publication based primarily on analysis, these last two weeks have been a bit of a drag for content. We know the potential names but, as they say, potential doesn’t play on Sundays. In this case, the reference refers to the rumors and names linked to various positions with the Dolphins – rumors, meaning anything but finalized.

Enter Patrick Graham.

It has been reported that Miami, under Head Coach to Be Named Brian Flores, will tag the former Green Bay Packers assistant as the Defensive Coordinator position with the Dolphins in 2019.

Graham, a former staffer alongside Flores in New England, spent the 2018 season coaching the linebackers on Mike Pettine’s defense.

Another name linked to the vacant DC job is Bret Bielema. The former Wisconsin and Arkansas Head Coach spent the 2018 season working hand-in-hand with Bill Belichick as a Consultant to the Head Coach.

And so, from this, we glean some potential defensive structures, schemes and principles that figure to be migrating south this winter along with Flores.

For Flores, Graham, and potentially Bielema, the task is tall. Redirect a unit that ranked 29th in points allowed each of the last two years under the inexperienced watch of Matt Burke.

We start first in New England. After all, Flores will be a master of delegation, but he knows this scheme as well as anyone. Few teams mix up their fronts with more frequency than the New England Patriots.

The prevailing theme among these slight variances of defensive schemes is the “Bear” front. A Bear front simply refers to six defenders up around the line of scrimmage. Two of those players are positioned in a linebacker technique while the other four are down linemen.

This variation of the Bear front is a 3-3 look using three down-linemen, two outside ‘backers shaded off the 9-technique alignment.

In this image provided by the Twitter account of James Light, we can see the variations from the nickel and dime packages (yes, Miami will FINALLY be running some dime defense in 2019).

The more traditional look aligns those six players in a 4-2 set.

Bret Bielema last coached (on the field) in 2017 at Arkansas, so he’s no stranger to the evolution of the college game and its integration into the NFL. There, Bielema’s defense was based in the traditional 3-4, but the tight splits inside look an awful lot like the classic Bear front (nose tackle over the center and two fellow linemen in a variance between 2i and 4 techniques). Bielema helped institute some of these principles in 2018 – his one season with the Patriots.

The common theme between all of these looks is to prevent specific run plays. The inside run becomes increasingly difficult with all the bodies down around the line of scrimmage. The even bigger factor (both literally and figuratively) is the beef inside.

Lining up with three down-linemen (pushing 300 pounds a pop) and defending one gap makes it nearly impossible to pull, which means the end of any gap-scheming.

The scheme is also designed to shut down inside zone, but also free up the linebackers with fewer keys and responsibilities. Instead of asking the defensive ends to set the edge on the way to their pass rush (the design of the wide-9) this alignment puts that responsibility on the outside linebackers.

The widened pre-snap alignment gives the linebackers a quicker, unimpeded path to outside runs. Only the Mike Linebacker has to weed through trash and take on blocks in this defense. Raekwon McMillan would likely serve as the Middle Linebacker. McMillan’s instincts and physicality at the point-of-attack would capitalize on the things the former Buckeye does well.

Then there’s the influence of the actual Titled-Defensive Coordinator, Patrick Graham. Working under Mike Pettine, Graham absorbed the principles of the Bear front and the 46 defense. Pettine spent time with Rex Ryan in Baltimore and with the New York Jets and, as we all know, Rex’s Dad Buddy was the originator of the 46 defense.

The imagine comes from the Patriots defense, but it’s along the lines of what you see in Green Bay with Pettine (and Graham). Four down-linemen condensed to create space off the edge of the linebackers. This means more pass rushing opportunities from linebackers.

Later, as it inches near official status in the way it has with Graham, we will dive into the potential principles and concepts of Jim Caldwell’s offense in today’s NFL. Much like the Dolphins inclination to bring an experienced consultant along with the young defensive boss, the play on the attack unit is heading in that direction as well.

These consultants figure in as prominent fixtures early in this experimental tenure of young coaches. Caldwell (63-years-old with 41 years of coaching experience) and Bielema (48-years-old with 22 years of coaching experience) can ease the transition to the Flores/Graham grouping along with whomever (possibly Chad O’Shea of the Patriots) Flores chooses as his Offensive Coordinator.

The offensive crash course will be posted just as soon as we have more concrete news.


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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Mock Draft Roundup: A Kyler Murray Sighting

Skyler Trunck



It is that time of year again.  Yes, the time of year where we all jump to immediate conclusions, argue and judge each other on projections that, statistically speaking, have a less chance of happening than winning the lottery or being struck by lightning multiple times.

It’s mock draft season!  Well – it’s been mock draft season since December 30th but who’s counting…

Let’s get started on what I hope becomes a weekly (or bi-weekly depending on how many updates are made) mock draft roundup for Miami’s 13th overall pick:


Bleacher Report: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU

Greedy Williams, arguably one of the top corners in this draft — right up there with Washington corner Byron Murphy.  Someone to pair with all-pro corner, Xavien Howard, is a need for this Miami defense. Drafting or bringing in a reliable #2 corner also allows Miami to play players like Bobby McCain and Minkah Fitzpatrick in their proper roles, slot corner and safety respectively.

Williams is a tall corner, measuring in at 6’3”.  Add in the speed he possesses and simply looking at the metrics, he has what you want, physically, for a corner.


CBS Sports: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU

Right off the bat, two mocks having Miami select LSU corner, Greedy Williams.  It’s hard to argue against this pick when you watch Williams.

For those looking for a quarterback, this mock draft saw four — yes, four — quarterbacks go before Miami’s selection.  In between those selections saw a lot of the top defensive line players taken – both edge and interior. Assuming this is the case, a player like Williams would be a solid pick as far as value and need go.


The Draft Network: Kyler Murray – QB – Oklahoma

Now it’s getting exciting!  There isn’t a player in this draft with more hype than Kyler Murray.  As written here at Locked on Dolphins, Murray has the answers for this Miami team.

Some question if he will be available at #13.  As Ian Rapoport reports, maybe that idea isn’t so far-fetched.  Maybe it’s just early smoke-screens or maybe teams are actually concerned about his size.  Make no mistake, despite the round 2 or 3 grade, quarterbacks always find their name called much earlier.  Murray will be no exception.

2019 still may be a “rebuilding” year, but I promise drafting Murray would produce a season defined as anything but boring.  If you’re hoping for Miami to make a splash in the draft, drafting Murray would certainly be the biggest play.


Drafttek: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson

Dexter Lawrence did not play in Clemson’s final two games, which ultimately resulted in a national championship.  Although Lawrence wasn’t on the field, don’t misunderstand the impact Lawrence had on this Clemson team.

Lawrence has the size to play on the interior of a defensive line, coming in at 6’4” and 340 lbs.  He isn’t the quickest tackle in the world, but he can stop the run with the best of them and bring interior pressure to disrupt the quarterback.  Although I feel this is high for Lawrence and there may be more impactful positional prospects available at this pick (e.g. defensive end Jachai Polite, Montez Sweat), he would be a safe pick who would contribute day 1 for this Miami defense.


Pro Football Focus: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson

This now makes two choices for Clemson star interior defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.  

What is interesting, in this mock, players like Houston’s Ed Oliver were still available.  Oliver, also an interior defensive lineman, has a different skillset than Lawrence, obvious by Oliver coming in measured at 6’3” and 292 lbs.

Is Miami looking for that big man in the middle who doesn’t get moved around (like Minnesota defensive tackle, Linval Joseph), or the quick tackle, more built for pass-rushing (like Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald).  Who knows, but if both are in the board, Miami’s plan for the future at defensive line will be clear with this pick.


SB Nation: Daniel Jones – QB – Duke

It’s no secret Miami is in the market for a quarterback.  Although Duke quarterback, Daniel Jones, has potential, this would be a reach.  Jones doesn’t seem to have the high ceiling other quarterbacks slotted in the first round do, so why reach on a player who at best may be a slightly better version of Ryan Tannehill?  There are other options out there at a cheaper price.

When you thrown in Miami is supposedly eyeing the 2020 draft class for their franchise quarterback with the 2019 draft geared towards fixing the trenches, it only raises more questions at why this may be the pick.

All that said, it’s the NFL draft.  Smoke screens are a plenty and no one really knows what a team is going to do and how a player will or won’t turn out.  Pulling the trigger on your franchise quarterback is certainly alluring, but why not put your chips all in on a player who has the franchise-altering potential?  I just don’t see it with Jones.



I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on who Miami should take at #13.  Follow me on Twitter @skylertrunck and let’s discuss.

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