Prologue: Come the morning of July 26, the sun will emerge over Nova Southeastern University and provide a glorious backdrop to the 54threndition of Miami Dolphins football.
The third year for the for the twelfth coach in team history will be met with heavy scrutiny. Exhausted by selfish players setting a poor example and creating an unsatisfactory atmosphere, Adam Gase took the reins of the organization.
Deviating from the recent operating procedure set forth by Mike Tannenbaum, Adam Gase, and General Manager Chris Grier, embarked on a new method of talent acquisition. Placing an emphasis on details, dedication and depth, the pair have heard criticisms from all channels.
General perception states that this roster is devoid of top-shelf talent and destined for a coveted top draft choice come April 2019.
Fact proves that this is the deepest roster the Dolphins have fielded since the days of Dave Wannstedt roaming the sidelines.
Who are the stalwarts? Who’s on the bubble? Who needs to update their resume?
This series will give you, the reader, a thorough report on each of the 90 players descending on Dolphins’ camp this August. Additionally, we’ll sort through the weeds and predict the final-53 men that will earn the right to wear the uniform draped in South Florida sports history.
Part I: Quarterbacks
Ryan Tannehill, Starting Quarterback – 6 years of service
College: Texas A&M
Acquired: 8th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft
Signed: Through 2020, $19,250,000 APY base / $45,000,000 guaranteed
Football fans love buzz words and nobody ticks the boxes on that proverbial checklist quite like Ryan Tannehill. Excuses, a synonym for reasons, are wearing thin for a majority of the fan base. While it’s imperative that Tannehill proves 2016 was no fluke, growth and stabilization within Adam Gase’s offense are key.
Tannehill is an athletic, big-armed gun-slinger that can win from both in and outside of the pocket. His touch passing has improved tremendously throughout his career, his footwork and pocket maneuverability took significant strides in ’16, and he can thread tight windows with the elite class.
Processing the defense, accounting for post-snap rotation and exotic blitz packages remain areas of weakness for the six-year vet.
The hope, in Miami, is that a year from a sideline perspective (Tannehill stayed with the team for the entirety of the 2017 season) will sharpen the sword of franchise quarterback.
All indications from Tannehill’s last healthy season point in that direction.
— TannehillGIFs (@TannehillGIFs) June 1, 2018
David Fales, Backup Quarterback – 3 years of service
College: San Jose State
Age: 28 (turns 28 in October)
Acquired: 2017 In-Season UFA Signing
Signed: Through 2018, $790,000 base / $90,000 guaranteed
Adam Gase is no stranger to surrounding himself with familiar faces. The backup quarterback job features two players with previous experience under the Head Coach.
Fales endeared himself to Gase so much so that Fales earned a promotion to the active roster as the Chicago Bears backup QB in 2014. That may not seem like much but, in doing so, Fales beat out former top-50 pick, Jimmy Clausen – a surprise to say the least.
Taking over the huddle on the second offensive possession in the week 17 game versus the Bills, Fales showed grit. Not a physical marvel by any measurement, Fales earned a reputation as a gamer. He navigated difficult circumstances and had the Dolphins in position for a late comeback against a team fighting for its post-season life.
If Tannehill goes down for an extended period, the Dolphins are cooked; but if forced into spot-duty for a game Fales can at least pilot the ship free of murkier waters.
Brock Osweiler, Cut – 6 years of service
College: Arizona State
Acquired: 2018 Unrestricted Free Agency
Signed: Through 2018, $790,000 base / $720,000 guaranteed
Like Fales, Osweiler enters his second tour of duty under the watch of Adam Gase – only the former Bronco isn’t here out of preference from Gase. Whether the paper-thin depth of the position or the coercion of Gase’s staff was the selling point, Osweiler is in camp with an outside shot to claim the backup gig.
Osweiler has taken a path-less-traveled to arrive in sunny South Florida. Playing behind Peyton Manning earned the former-second round draft pick a free-agency bounty from the Houston Texans. Utter failure in year-one led to Osweiler, and a second round draft pick, being shipped off to the NFL’s landfill in Cleveland.
After another stop in Denver, Osweiler is on his last leg in Miami. It’s difficult to envision him earning a job if things don’t go well for him with the Dolphins. He’s a poor decision maker, his mechanics are wonky and the ball flutters out of his hand far too often.
Bryce Petty, Cut – 3 years of service
Acquired: 2018 Unrestricted Free Agency
Signed: Through 2018, $705,000 / Fully Guaranteed
Collecting misfit quarterbacks is supposed to be the hobby of new Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden, but Adam Gase is entering the fold. Petty flamed out with the Jets after consecutive years of dreadful tape and results.
His collegiate prowess was predicated on throwing to wide open windows created by a scheme, not quarterback talent.
Upon reaching the NFL Petty and his backers would soon learn that his skill level simply isn’t up to snuff. He’s incapable of anticipating and his arm leaves much to be desired.
2018 Dolphins Quarterbacks at a Glance:
Like just about every other team in the NFL, the success of this position hinges on the health of the starter, Ryan Tannehill. The personnel department propped this carnation of the Miami Dolphins around the skill set of the quarterback and are asking him to take on a bigger role both as a passer and leader.
The tools are in-place for success. The play-caller-quarterback relationship is in full bloom and Dolphins’ fans should expect the best quarterback season the organization has experienced since Chad Pennington’s incredulous 2008 year.
Dolphins vs. Raiders Week Three Preview
Who: Dolphins (2-0) vs. Raiders (0-2)
When: September 23, 1:00 East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: 88 degrees, 73% humidity, 60% precipitation
Vegas Slant: Dolphins -3
Dolphins vs. Raiders
Favored for the first time in three outings, the Miami Dolphins return home to the building where, under Adam Gase, the organization is bordering on elite. Since Gase’s hire in 2016, the Dolphins are 11-5, riding a six-game winning-streak with Ryan Tannehill under-center, and average nearly four touchdowns per game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Beating the Titans was a commencement that this team wasn’t the pushover many projected it to be. Throttling the Jets to the tune of a 20-point halftime lead, Miami asserted itself into the discussion of potential playoff outfits.
Now the expectation is that the Dolphins will hit the showers on Sunday with an unblemished record through three games. Winning as an underdog can be attributed to the emotional influence of the game but, winning as favorites, that’s a different ballgame.
The Patriots are on-deck. Miami are in a perfect situation to set-up a Late-September statement game – a potential changing of the guard game, perhaps.
But first, the Raiders.
The Raiders’ Scheme
Oakland have been a team of two halves under second-time Head Coach, Jon Gruden. Obliterated in the second half against a loaded Rams team, on national T.V. no less, the Raiders had an opportunity to right the ship with a 12-point halftime lead at divisional rival Denver.
Gruden’s play-script has yielded positive results. A healthy mix of 11 and 12-personnel focuses the offense around Amari Cooper and Jared Cook. Everything Oakland does offensively revolves around the running game. Establishing Marshawn Lynch and the zone running game early is the precursor for the play-action, bootleg layers’ concepts that we’ve seen regularly with Miami.
For a team that wanted to throw things back to 1998 (and they did, no roster is older than this veteran-laden group assembled in Oakland), Gruden’s offense sure struggles to convert third-and-short. On 10 attempts from five yards and in, the Raiders are moving the sticks just 40% of the time.
That issue, compounded by a lack of ingenuity once the game becomes about adjustments, are why the Raiders are starring an 0-3 start square in the face. Mixing plenty of variety early in the game (bunch 12-personnel followed up by an empty formation down in the red zone) kept the Broncos and Rams defenses guessing.
While the yardage ranks show success, the Raiders have the fifth-lowest scoring offense in the National Football League.
Coordinator Paul Guenther believes in three things: Blitzing, blitzing and, you guessed it, blitzing. Though it didn’t start that way this season, Gruden has specifically stated he would prefer that Oakland brought heat more often.
The Raider defense increased the blitz-package last week and, as the pass rush continues to struggle in the post-Khalil Mack era, that trend likely continues this week.
A-Gap pressure has been a favorite for Guenther. He’s a disciple of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who’s defense is predicated on showing pressure down up the gun-barrel.
On the back-end, Oakland will mix-up zone and man-coverage. Because of a lack of pressure from the Raiders’ lackluster four-man front, the Dolphins could take Guenther’s defense to task in two ways:
– Throwing the football to the backs
– Setting up the quick screen game early and often
Derek Carr has regressed back to the norm after an anomaly in 2016. His propensity to succumb to heavy pressure and poor decision making has resulted in a rough start for the fifth-year pro.
Carr’s passer rating under pressure is 33.1 – 32nd in the NFL. Miami had Sam Darnold under constant duress Sunday at the Meadowlands.
Donald Penn and Kolton Miller have surrendered eight pressures among the pair – keeping them each outside of the top 50 tackles in the league when it comes to pass blocking efficiency.
The interior of that offensive line is where the Raiders’ strength is supposed to lie – only it isn’t any better than the perimeter. Gabe Jackson and Kelechi Osemele have allowed a combined nine pressures.
Neither Raiders’ tackle is a top-50 graded run blocker and the guards check in at 42nd and 24th respectively. Marshawn Lynch’s elusive rating is 35th among NFL backs.
Miami has three wide outs with an average yards-per-route-ran over 2.0 – Oakland has one (Martavis Bryant on just four targets). Jordy Nelson’s diminishing speed has made him a shell of his former-self and Amari Cooper still hasn’t recaptured the magic of his rookie season.
Jared Cook, however, is fifth among all tight ends with 3.82 YPPR.
Miami have gashed teams on the ground through two games and that trend could continue in week-three. The Raiders interior defensive line is inexperienced and without much production. Jonathan Hankins arrives to reinforce a front that is allowing 5.7 yards-per-carry – worst in football.
The edge rushers might offer even less. The most efficient pass rusher through two games is Frostee Rucker. His pass-rush-productivity ranks 77th in the league.
Gareon Conley and Rashaan Melvin are off to solid starts on the perimeter of the Raider defense. Leon Hall, Oakland’s nickel corner has allowed 75 yards on just nine pass targets – Miami will make the grizzled-vet a target on Sunday.
Linebacker play isn’t any better. The collective group has just six run-stops and each of the three are allowing passer ratings over 100 in coverage.
Oakland cut Obi Melifonwu in order to keep Reggie Nelson on the field and the returns have not been great. His passer rating allowed is 150.7 (just 7.6 points shy of a perfect rating).
|CB Leon Hall||Illness||Limited|
|DT P.J. Hall||Ankle||DNP|
|WR Dwayne Harris||Foot||Full|
|C Rodney Hudson||Ankle||Limited|
|G Gabe Jackson||Pectoral||Limited|
|RB Marshawn Lynch||Shoulder||Limited|
|T Brandon Parker||Ankle||DNP|
|WR Danny Amendola||Non-Injury||DNP|
|LS John Denney||Shoulder||Limited|
|RB Kenyan Drake||Abdomen||Full|
|DE Williams Hayes||Finger||Full|
|S Reshad Jones||Shoulder||DNP|
|WR Devante Parker||Knee||Full|
|DT Jordan Phillips||Knee||Limited|
|QB Ryan Tannehill||Knee/Ankle||Full|
There’s an easy answer to this one and it would be ultra-contrarian to go away from said obvious conclusion. Jared Cook caused a multitude of problems for the Miami in last year’s meeting, and he’s off to a similar start this season.
Oakland’s ability to stretch him both vertically and horizontally doesn’t bode well for the Miami linebackers. Raekwon McMillan is struggling immensely in this area and Kiko Alonso has been problematic in this department in his own right.
Tackling and poor angles have been a bit of an issue on the back-end. It’s a team effort to get Marshawn Lynch to the ground – if he has success, the Raiders’ offense will have success.
Miami needs these three things to go in their favor:
1.) Contain Oakland’s first down offense – Oakland’s tackle play has been suspect. With a wave of edge rusher’s ready to capitalize, if Oakland can’t find success on early downs, it won’t fare any better on the money down.
2.) Unleash the passing game – A balanced attack has been the prescription so far with early double-digit leads. The same could happen against these Raiders, but Miami has advantages all over the field in regards to the passing offense v. Oakland’s pass defense. Expect Oakland to commit to stopping the run, meaning the aerial show begins at 1 ‘o’ clock eastern standard time.
3.) Shut down Amari Cooper OR Jared Cook – Miami will pick its poison here, but if they can blank one of these two and make the Raiders passing game one-dimensional, the Dolphins can start robbing Derek Carr and force the mistake-prone quarterback into turnovers.
Frankly, they’re everywhere. Miami’s edge rush against Oakland’s substandard tackle play, the young interior defensive line of Oakland against Miami’s ever-evolving ground-game, the perimeter match-ups, Miami ought to be able to draw their weapon-of-choice from a hat and attack accordingly.
The Projected Result:
An angry Adam Gase is a dangerous Adam Gase. The absurd rumblings around his quarterback are sure to ignite a fire and create a run-up-the-score mentality in the snarky third-year coach. This game could very well be all gas and no breaks with plenty of scoring opportunities schemed into the passing game down in the red zone.
Coming east in the early-game window has proven difficult for this Raiders team. Sure, change has been rampant since The Visor regained control of the operation, but that doesn’t make the challenge of an out-of-whack body clock any easier.
In 2017 Oakland was 1-3 playing in the eastern time zone. Three of those games were in primetime and the Raiders were collectively outscored in the four games 104-61. The lone early-window game was a 34-14 loss at the Buffalo Bills.
The Raiders are about to find out how much resiliency they have under Gruden. The loss in Denver was devastating and will either foster a hungry, desperate team, or send the lads in the opposite direction with no hope in sight.
With the Dolphins tempo-based-attack, playing back at home in the brutal South Florida conditions, not many aspects of this game favor the road team.
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Week 3: Miami Dolphins Power Rankings Round Up
How did Miami’s 20-12 win over the Jets in Week 2 affect their position in the eyes of the major national media outlets? Let’s take a look:
Last Week: 24
This week: 16
Last week: 23
This week: 17
Last week: 28
This week: 21
Last week: 17
This week: 12
Last week: 19
This week: 15
As you can see, there’s a pretty wide range of opinions on this Dolphins team. Bleacher Report continues to remain mum on Miami, saying “Undefeated or no, we’re still not ready to call the Dolphins contenders. Or even call them good.”
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports ranked the Dolphins No. 12, and said: “They are off to a 2-0 start and have a winnable game at home against Oakland. Adam Gase has this team playing good football.”
If the Dolphins get to 3-0 by beating the Oakland Raiders at home this Sunday, they may start to get some more national recognition as a team who could contend for a playoff spot.
5 potential landing spots should Miami trade Devante Parker
Following Miami’s 20-12 win over the Jets on Sunday, Devante Parker was upset he didn’t see the field, claiming he was fit and ready to go.
The reaction to the quote was mixed, some fans were pleased Parker wanted in on the action while others felt he was overshadowing the victory and making it all about himself.
We saw this with Jay Ajayi, complaining he didn’t see enough off the ball after the Dolphins won games and the last thing Adam Gase wants is another player putting his personal needs above the team’s.
Who are we getting in return? I’m legit worried about Parker spoiling the good vibes in the locker room so I’d trade him just about anything.
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 17, 2018
Parker has failed to live up the hype when he was drafted 14th overall in 2015.
Yet to get a contract extension, it may be time for #11 to move on.
The team are not short at receiver with Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant all proving to be Gase’s guys.
Parker doesn’t fit in to what Gase is trying to build in Miami and instead of letting him hit free agency when the time comes, it may be worth trading him to a WR needy franchise.
Below are five teams who could be interested in Parker should he be available:
Ajayi texts Parker.
“Hey, I agree Coach Gase doesn’t know what he’s doing.
“He didn’t give me enough touches when I was in Miami and I left to win a Super Bowl. JOIN ME!”
On a serious note, this is a move which we could actually see happen.
The SB champs are short at receiver due to a few injuries.
Eagles should scoop up DeVante Parker or Kevin White for a low price.
— 1-1 World Champ Birds 🦅 (@NationOfEagles) September 18, 2018
While they have Alshon Jeffrey to return, Mike Wallace may not see the field again this season and Mack Hollins is on IR.
Carson Wentz returns this Sunday and giving him a new shiny toy to play with in Parker could be the perfect welcome back gift.
Eagles Twitter want it to happen and know the franchise have a good relationship with the Dolphins after acquiring Ajayi for what seems to be a steal.
Can Howie Roseman do it again?
Howie Roseman boutta fuck around and get Devante Parker from the Dolphins like he did with Ajayi
— Adib (@Hadiibz) September 18, 2018
Landry texts Parker.
“Hey, I agree Coach Gase doesn’t know what he’s doing.
“He gave me loads of touches when I was in Miami and I left to lose with the Browns. JOIN ME!”
The Browns’ receiver core is shrinking.
Corey Coleman? Gone.
Josh Gordon? Gone.
For Thursday Night Football against the Jets, their current depth chart at WR reads:
1. Jarvis Landry
2. Rashard Higgins
3. Derrick Willies
1. Antonio Callaway
2. Damion Ratley
3. Rod Streater.
If Cleveland are serious about actually winning a game of football, giving Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield some actual weapons could be a start.
Should Miami work out a deal, better than the one they got for Landry, they could be looking at a pretty decent draft pick in 2019.
Cleveland has the cap room to offer him a long-term deal and Parker gets moved to a team looking to rebuild for the future.
The win against the Giants on Sunday Night Football didn’t mask the fact that Dak Prescott has a lack of good options to throw to.
The team has seven WRs after adding Brice Butler to give the receiver room some much-needed height but still lack an X-factor player on the perimeter.
Now wondering if any of these teams are calling the Dolphins about DeVante Parker’s availability (though Skins did sign Perriman) https://t.co/cYTLF2MU5O
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 17, 2018
Jason Garrett must be worried about the amount of snaps Tavon Austin and Cole Beasley are seeing and Parker can potentially bring to this team what they lost in Dez Bryant over the summer.
It would mean getting rid of two or three WRs but given the list of names on the Cowboys depth chart, that shouldn’t be too hard to make room for a former first round pick.
Russell Wilson needs help.
First and foremost, he needs an offensive line.
But he also has no-one to throw to.
Pete Carroll’s days seem to be numbered and he may not last the entire season given their start and the changes in Seattle the past 18 months.
But should he need a quick fix to try and save his job, Parker could help alleviate the pressure on Wilson while also taking some of the attention Doug Baldwin is shown by opponents.
Should trade talks take place, instead of going for a draft pick, Miami’s front office should see if Seattle would send Earl Thomas the other way.
Yes Miami has T.J. McDonald but would you turn down the opportunity to partner Reshad Jones with ETIII?
One can dream.
Like Seattle, this team needs all the help it can get.
Larry Fitzgerald cannot keep single-handedly saving this franchise.
Christian Kirk looks a nice pick up but if they want to give Josh Rosen the best chance to succeed when he does step in for Sam Bradford, he needs more weapons.
For those of you who wanted the #AZCardinals to get Dez Bryant or Josh Gordon how about we trade a 5th Rd Pick to Miami for Devante Parker?? Less of a headache. Also not a big loss because Keim can’t draft anyway.
— 2 Beavs Sports (@2BeavsSports) September 18, 2018
Parker can immediately step in and be productive in a team which failed to get past the half-way line until the final drive of the game against the LA Rams and were shut out.