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Miami Dolphins

Under New Executive VP, Chris Grier, Dolphins Introduce Future Plans

Travis Wingfield

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When he woke up Monday morning Chris Grier was the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins. With the exact details of his responsibilities shrouded by the presence of an Executive VP, Grier likely didn’t know the potential wreckage he was driving into on his Monday commute.

Unexpected to most, Stephen Ross acted swiftly. Reports of Adam Gase’s dismissal became public knowledge around 10 A.M. EST. Still, a cloud of mystery hovered about the next moves this once proud organization would enact in the coming days.

Or, in this case, the coming hours.

Ross took to the podium with Chris Grier. The announcement was made that the former General Manager would take a promotion up to the head of all football operations.

The man whose job Grier takes over, Mike Tannenbaum, has been re-assigned to a non-football working role within the organization. Essentially, he’s Jack Barker from Silicon Valley. Or Milton from Office Space – whichever you prefer, probably age-dependent.

Grier sat alongside Ross as the pair answered questions regarding Miami’s vision and plan going forward. Ross, visibly weary, announced his intentions to be a hands-off owner. Entrusting everything on the football side to a scout that rose up through the ranks within the organization.

“When you talk to people in the NFL, he’s one of the most respected people in the league. He’s been here a long time and he’s earned the respect of everyone in the organization. I’m confident that I already have the best person for this job.”

Ross’ glowing review of Grier isn’t unique.

Grier, the son of former Patriots Executive Bobby Grier, has worked alongside some of the more illustrious names in NFL lore.

Beginning as an intern in 1994, Grier was promoted to a position as a regional scout from 1995-1995. Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll were each able to call Grier a colleague during his tenure with the Patriots.

Grier would migrate south to Miami for eight years (2000-2007). Then when his former boss, Bill Parcells, signed on with Miami, Parcells made Grier the director of college scouting.

With Parcells leaving the franchise three years into his contract, Grier remained in the same role through the 2015 season.

After being named General Manager in 2016, Grier is now in the same chair previously occupied by Tannenbaum and Parcells before him.

Walking down Grier’s memory lane serves a purpose. Grier, himself, addressed the media today to talk about his vision moving forward.

“I’m not [going to] just throw it out there for you guys, but look at who I started with,” Grier said about his roster building philosophy. “Parcells, Carroll, Belichick, Saban a lot of those guys influenced me and I still talk to them.”

As a fly on the wall during the Saban, Cameron, Sparano, Philbin and Gase eras, Grier has seen it all. And the breadcrumbs of those mentors brings his philosophy largely to one area.

Defense.

Seeing the failures of previously renowned offensive guru Adam Gase (and may as well toss the milquetoast Joe Philbin into that pairing), Grier figures to turn back to his roots. Parcells defines the old school while Saban, Belichick and Carroll’s programs are featured defensive stalwarts.

Miami has made quick work of identifying a list of coaching interviews to conduct over the coming days and weeks. Before we uncover those candidates, a few more quotes from the 12-minute presser from Monday.

Stephen Ross [paraphrasing]:

– The decision to move on from Adam [Gase] was made last night (Sunday).

Nov 4, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (left) celebrates with Dolphins president and chief executive officer Tom Garfinkel (right) after a game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

– Today, we are no further than when I bought the team. We have a good young roster and attacked the remaining issues with some older free agents and a few draft picks. But to continue to operate under that practice would be the definition of insanity. We’ve done the same things over and over since I’ve been here and it lands us in that 6-10 to 10-6 range – that’s not good enough. It’s time for the organization to take a different approach.

Tom Garfinkel has done a terrific job with making the game day experience great for the fans. With that, and the stadium renovations, we’re proud of that, but we aren’t proud of what we’ve done on the football field.

– We want to build a sustainable winner. Even if it takes some time, we’re going to look to build this thing the right way.

Chris Grier is more qualified to do this job than anyone we could’ve found. He will have total responsibility, make all the football decisions and report to me. The Head Coach will report to Chris.

Chris Grier [paraphrasing]:

– It’s important to have an aligned vision with the Head Coach. I’m not going to be rigid in my views and dismiss new ideas, but we need to have the same vision.

– It’s about knowing who we want to be and staying with that vision and building this thing the right way.

– The process begins immediately, as soon as we’re done with this press conference.

The term immediately shouldn’t have been taken lightly – Grier meant it. Since that press conference, the Dolphins have announced their interest in interviewing five separate candidates for the vacant Head Coach position.

Vic Fangio –

Tied to Head Coaching jobs in the past, Fangio has instead kept to his craft of coaching dominant defenses – and boy did he ever in 2018. Fangio will not be available until the Bears are eliminated from post-season contention (they play Sunday vs. Philadelphia), but his work transforming that side of the football was instrumental in Chicago’s first trip to the post-season since 2010.

Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Fangio does two things; chew gum, and built great defense – and he’s all out of gum. Fangio directed the number one defense in the NFL in 2018, up from his 2017 work where he had the Bears in the top 10.

Those big jumps took some time as the Bears ranked 20th and 24th in total defense in Fangio’s first two years. The 2014 defense Fangio took over was 30th in the NFL.

The story was the same in San Francisco prior to his arrival. A good defense in 2010 (13thoverall), Fangio’s four years brought back two second-ranked defenses, a third-ranking and a fifth-ranked squad in 2014.

Fangio was at the forefront of the coaching vacancies around the league in 2017, but declined to move on because of what he was building in Chicago. He also felt that coaching defense in Chicago was a privilege and something he didn’t take lightly.

Fangio spent one year at the college ranks with Jim Harbaugh (who brought him to San Francisco for the 49ers job thereafter). Prior to that, Fangio was on John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens staff in 2008 and 2009 (a holdover from Brian Billick’s Ravens’ staff).

Fangio, age 60, has been coaching football since the 1970’s. He’s never been the Head Coach anywhere, but neither was Bruce Arians until his Coach of the Year 2012 season with the Indianapolis Colts.

“He’s an evil genius.” – Khalil Mack

“He’s a mob boss – the godfather all the way.” – Aaron Lynch

“Lord Fangio,” as he was referred to in San Francisco, has the admiration of his players and coaches alike.

Eric Bieniemy –

The next in line from the recent lineage of offensive geniuses, Bieniemy is the latest apple to fall from the Andy Reid Tree. With the success of Matt Nagy in Chicago, Bieniemy will likely have his pick of Head Coaching gigs this off-season – if that’s what he desires.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bieniemy just took a good offense and turned it into a revolutionary one in Kansas City. The running backs coach from 2013-2017, Bieniemy took over the offense along with new Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Under Bieniemy, Mahomes threw for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns.

His first year as a coordinator in the NFL brought back number one ranks across the board. Total offense, scoring percentage, scoring offense and yards-per-play, nobody outdid Kansas City’s 35.5 points-per-game in 2018.

A second-round draft pick in 1991, Bieniemy played for nine years before returning to his alma matter, Colorado, to coach the running backs. Playing with the Eagles in 1999 Bieniemy established a relationship with Andy Reid that would turn into a coaching job 13 years later.

Following up Reid’s mantra of being a teacher above all, Bieniemy is a stickler for the details.

And it works.

Eight of the 11 Head Coaches from the Reid Coaching Tree have gone on to make the playoffs. Three of them went to a Super Bowl (Ron Rivera) and two of them won it (Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh).

“He yells, he screams, he says funny things and it is awesome. We have affectionately termed these funny things Bieiniemyisms.”

“We rushed for 13 hundred yards last year, and don’t get me wrong, for the average back, that’s good year, but not for us. That’s extremely s——.”

Eric is a phenomenal football coach. I can’tcan’tspeakspeak for other people on that,butyougoout,openthedoorandtalktoeverybody. At the Senior Bowl, I talk to guys and say let’s talk some ball. As long as a guy loves ball, he’s got aptitude and is willing to work, I’m all in on it, man, and that’s what Eric is.” – AndyReid

Bieniemy won’t be available for at least two weeks – his Chiefs are onto the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

 

Mike Munchak –

The only man on this short-list with NFL Head Coaching experience, Munchak has earned the admiration of multiple teams in the league with coaching vacancies.

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Munchak took over the Pittsburgh OL job in 2014 after being dismissed from Tennessee (as the HC). During his time in Pittsburgh, Munchak has turned mounds of clay into one of the best offensive lines in the NFL – most notably with Alejandro Villanueva. The massive six-foot-nine, 320-pound tackle was a project after serving as a Captain in the US Army – now he’s one of the best in the business.

“What makes Coach Munchak, great first and foremost, is that he’s a great person. He’s a person that has a great set of values that works harder than anybody. He’s a person that truly understands the game from a technical aspect. He’s not going to really worry about things that just happen in football where other coaches might spend too much time thinking about those little mistakes.

He’s such a good person and he’s such an admirable man in every single way. The way he behaves, the way he carries himself. He’s very consistent, treats everybody the same. He’s always the same person. It gets to the point where you really don’t want to let him down. You want to play your best for him.”

There probably doesn’t need to be another character reference beyond that one.

Munchak was an underwhelming 22-26 with the Titans. He never found a quarterback (the team traded up for Marcus Mariota the year after his dismissal) and, frankly, never had a roster worth much more than the middling .500 returns he provided.

Brian Flores –

A member of Bill Belichick’s staff since the 2004 season, Flores has worked his way up the ranks. From a scouting assistant, pro scout, all the way up to the Defensive Coordinator in 2018, Flores is well-versed in the scope of an entire football operation.

Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With a patchwork group on the defensive side, Flores coached the Patriots defense up to the 7th lowest yards allowed in 2018. Only five teams allowed fewer points than Flores’ defense.

Something this blog has harped on is the lack of teaching being done by Miami coaches. The first thing Bill Belichick references with Flores is his ability to do just that – teach.

 “I think Brian and our defensive staff has done a good job in teaching the players and installing our system,” Belichick said. 

“I’m excited for where he’s at right now,” said safety Duron Harmon. “He’s worked to put himself in this position.”

“Obviously, the football knowledge is 100 percent there,” Jordan Richard said. “But he has so many other qualities that you have to respect.”

Flores won’t be available for two weeks at the earliest – his Patriots have a first-round playoff bye.

Kris Richard –

Coordinating the defensive passing game and coaching the DBs in Dallas, Richard’s connection to Chris Grier goes through Pete Carroll.

Richard spent the first 10 years of his coaching career in Seattle. He was promoted to Assistant Defensive Backs Coach in 2009 when Carroll arrived and his ascension would continue at a rapid pace.

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Richard became the Defensive Backs Coach in 2012 before taking over as the full time Defensive Coordinator in 2015.

Coaching the Legion of Boom could entice Richard to look at what Miami has to work with in the secondary. Xavien Howard (Richard Sherman), Minkah Fitzpatrick (Earl Thomas), Reshad Jones (Kam Chancellor) could make up an intriguing defensive scheme for Richard to build in Miami.

“He’s got a great presentation about him,” [John] Schneider said. “He’s got a great way of teaching guys like in a real, clear concise manner not like guys are having their heads spinning. That’s probably the best way to describe it.

“He’s had rooms where he’s had a lot of strong, alpha personalities, and he handled it.”

Richard’s Cowboys play the Seahawks Saturday in the NFC wildcard round.

 

As we know, both of the Harbaugh brothers bear a special interest to Stephen Ross. If the Ravens are eliminated from the post-season on Sunday, expect the rumors around a trade between Baltimore and Miami to resurface for the services of John Harbaugh.

Lincoln Riley is still nothing more than a hot name at this point on the college landscape. Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell declined an interview with the New York Jets, but remains open to the idea of a jump to the league.

Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule has been linked to some NFL jobs – he turned around a Baylor program that was headed for utter purgatory following a 1-11 season and its own scandalous nature.

Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) is another name that has been mentioned for HC jobs in the NFL. Colts DC Matt Eberflus, Saints Assistant HC Dan Campbell and Dolphins Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi all figure to garner interest as well.

We’ll have you updated with any and all changes the Dolphins make in the coming days both on LockedOnDolphins.com and the Locked On Dolphins podcast.

@WingfieldNFL

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Daddio

    December 31, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you Travis for all your hard work and dedication. If only all our beloved Dolphins players were so professional, we would have had far more success over the last few decades.

  2. Avatar

    Jerry

    January 1, 2019 at 12:13 am

    Rizzi needs to stay right where he is. He’s just damn good as Special-Teams coach

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Miami Dolphins

Taco Charlton: New Acquisition Analysis

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins go back to the 2017 first round defensive end well, claim Charlton from waivers

The 2017 Dolphins were, sadly, one of the more anticipated teams this organization has assembled in recent memory. Fresh off a surprise 10-win season, heading into year-two of the new system, and bevy of players returning from injury had fans feeling optimistic.

Patching up the perceived holes on the roster — like the defensive end position — started with an atrocious Andre Branch extension, and ended on the draft’s opening night with a handful of edge rusher prospects ripe for picking.

Derek Barnett came off the board before Miami could pluck the future Super Bowl hero, but everyone else was available. Jonathan Allen was selected five picks ahead of the Dolphins, but he was billed more as a three and five-technique inside player, not a true edge rusher.

That left Charles Harris, Taco Charlton, Tak McKinley and T.J. Watt. Two of those players are off to sterling starts in their young careers — the other two are nearing their respective last legs, and both are now Miami Dolphins.

Charlton received his release from the Cowboys earlier this week after an under-whelming 34-game stay in Big D. Taco’s snap count is revealing of the feeling about the player among the Dallas staff.

 

Year Taco Charlton Defensive Snaps Played (% of Cowboys’ Defensive Snaps)
2017 399 (38.2%)
2018 401 (39.2%)
2019 0

 

A 40-percent snap-taker is typically indicative of one of two things for an edge player. He’s either a situational savant — whether that’s to support the run game or pin his ears back and get after the quarterback — or that he’s the second option in the rotation, A.K.A. a backup.

Charlton’s production suggests that he was the latter, and only because of his draft status. His descent into a game day inactive signaled the end of his time with the club that drafted him.

Rumors of a trade were speculated as the reason Charlton was a healthy scratch for the season’s first two games, but Head Coach Jason Garrett referred to the numbers game. “We have 10 guys on the active roster on the defensive line and we dressed eight for the game. It felt like the guys we had up there gave us the best chance,” Garrett said via a report from Bloggin’ The Boys.

Still, we have 800 reps to look at to figure out where it went wrong for Charlton, and if he possesses a legitimate shot to fit this scheme and carve out spot in the future plans of the NFL’s most steadfast rebuild operation.

First, let’s start with the type of player Charlton was supposed to be coming out of Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan program.

The Dolphins are a team that adheres strongly to prototypes all over the field, but particularly in the trenches. Explosive metrics aren’t nearly as important as length, strength, read-and-react skillsets, intelligence to process and execute a variety of roles (stunts, twists, slants, picks), and most importantly, playing with heavy hands.

His fit begins with his build. At 6’6’’, 270-pounds with 34.5-inch arms, Charlton looks like plenty of defensive ends in a Brian Flores (Bill Belichick defense) before him. Charlton doesn’t check off all those boxes from the previous paragraph, but he hits enough of the buzz words to justify a flier.

This from Lance Zierlein of NFL Media.

That immediate get-off and quickness would’ve suited him better in Miami’s wide-9 alignment under Matt Burke. The length will benefit him, especially as he forces tackles to quickly get into their pass sets. The challenge will be developing a secondary move to work back inside and underneath the tackle.

The glowing praise for his twist, bend, and lower-body control will serve him well in a defense that will stunt, stunt, and stunt some more.

Most of all, the length will help him excel in this scheme as a run defender. To lock out and hold the point of attack are keys, and those are areas that put Charlton on the map as a first-round prospect.

The weaknesses from that blurb are alarming. Getting washed out of his gap by power and allowing blockers into his frame will earn him a quick ticket right out of town — those are the departments where the surprise cuts in Nate Orchard and Dewayne Hendrix struggled.

Lack of consistency, takes plays off, needs a coach that will push him — those are the final takeaways from Zierlein’s conversation with an anonymous AFC Executive.

If there’s any one thing you can point to with Flores as far as his football acumen — this excludes leadership and communication — it’s his ability to coach football (novel idea, huh?) This feels like a Flores pet project.

Let’s get into some of Charlton’s Dallas tenure, starting with his metrics from Pro Football Focus.

Charlton has 38 total pressures in his two years as a pro (4 sacks, 8 hits, 26 hurries). He compiled those numbers on 464 pass rush reps, a pressure on 8.2% of his pass rush snaps — not good. His 4.1 weighted pass rush productivity mark in 2018 ranked 132ndamong all edge rushers.

Charlton missed four tackles on 34 opportunities — an 11.8 missed tackle percentage, also not good. He made 23 run-stops on 346 snaps against the ground game. That mark — 6.6% — landed Charlton at 73rd among edge defenders in 2018, and 143rd in 2017.

The majority of Charlton’s work came from the right side of the defensive line (position vacated by Robert Quinn, currently held by a cast of many in Miami). Charlton lined up for pass rushing situations on the right side for 67.3% of his total reps.

Now, for the tape.

If Charlton can piece together the finer points of his game and develop a better arsenal or rush moves, he’ll stick as a building block. The decreased workload this year, his lack of production dating back to college, and inconsistencies makes one wonder about the drive and work habits.

We’ll quickly find out about the character of Charlton. If he embraces this opportunity, it’s a great landing spot for him. If not, he’ll be back on the unemployment line in short order.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen Named Starting QB vs Cowboys; Claim DE Taco Charlton

Chris Kowalewski

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Only minutes after the Miami Dolphins’ Week 2 loss against the Patriots, Head Coach Brian Flores maintained that Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starting quarterback… “Right now”.

By Thursday afternoon, it became clear that “right now” had passed as Josh Rosen was announced to take over the starting QB position ahead of Miami’s first road trip this Sunday against the Cowboys.

Fans had caught intermittent glimpses of Rosen’s abilities through the preseason and he has seen the field during replacement duty in Weeks 1 and 2, so far completing 8/21 passes for 102 yards, 2 INTs and a 38.1% completion percentage.

While Rosen has not yet led the Dolphins to regular season points, the second year passer will find his opportunity to do so in Dallas and the Dolphins will be able to make further evaluation of 2018’s tenth overall pick.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s veteran standing and experience had given him the early advantage, but the time has arrived in for the Dolphins to see what the future may bring – if anything – for Josh Rosen in Miami.

Whilst the national attention seems to be focused on Chris Grier’s rebuild of the roster, the Dolphins have claimed former first round pick, DE Taco Charlton, released by the Cowboys on Wednesday.

Charlton was the Dallas Cowboys’ first round selection in 2017, having played in 27 games (7 starts) and registered 4.0 sacks and 47 combined tackles.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Cowboys Week Three Preview

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins Search to Stop the Bleeding in Big D

Who: Dolphins (0-2) at Cowboys (2-0)
When: Sunday September 22, 1:00 PM East
Where: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, TX
Weather: Dome
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +21

The hits keep coming for Miami. Another prominent fixture of the roster has been jettisoned, and another loaded team is on the docket for the downtrodden Dolphins.

This current iteration of the Dallas Cowboys is akin to what Miami hopes to build in a couple years’ time — stout trench play, emerging young quarterback, and star-studded skill positions.

Three touchdown underdogs for the second consecutive week, the Dolphins are introducing college point-spreads into the National Football League. Miami’s 19-point home handicap last week was the biggest such spread for a host team since the 2007 season, and the Dolphins are now channeling the 2013 Broncos-Jaguars game that climbed up over 25 points before betting closed.

The Dolphins were far more competitive last week, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. Contributions from star Cornerback Xavien Howard, upstart Linebacker Jerome Baker, and surprising recent addition Vince Biegel were the silver linings in the 43-point thrashing; we’re looking for more of those in Dallas.

The Scheme:

Offense:

The switch from Scott Linehan to Kellen Moore might’ve been the biggest upgrade in the NFL this offseason. Moore, a coach’s son that made it to the NFL for his cerebral prowess at the quarterback position, is dressing up Dallas’ offense with disguise, misdirection, and tendency breakers.

Dallas varies it’s running scheme, but the talent to execute simple gap-schemes and power concepts allows Moore to get creative with the play action game. Cowboys players praise Moore for his nuance and emphasis on getting players in position to exhibit their best traits.

Scheming chunk-plays in the passing game, running the football to keep the offense on schedule, and devising red zone concepts to free up pass catchers in the condensed area already has Moore’s name circulating as the next hot head coaching candidate.

Defense:

On top of impeccable front-seven talent, the Cowboys borrow concepts from some of the most accomplished, revolutionary defensive schemes in the history of the league. Rod Marinelli still carries the title of Defensive Coordinator, but it’s a co-op with he and the up-and-coming Kris Richard.

With elements of the Tampa-2 from Marinelli’s days with the Bucs — and more recently in Chicago — fused with Richard’s rendition of the wildly popular scheme originated by Pete Carroll, Dallas is successful in a multitude of packages and pre-snap disguises.

Creating one-on-one rush opportunities from their elite pass rushers, while playing a variety of cover-3, 2, and 1 on the back-end, the Cowboys can apply pressure while dropping seven — the ultimate goal of every NFL defense.

Look for Chad O’Shea to attack this defense with more in-breaking routes. That means high-low and drive concepts (designed to displace zone coverage and attack the middle of cover-1 and Tampa-2 defenses) and seam shots with the Cowboys drop two deep.

The Players:

Offense:

Dak Prescott is off to an MVP-caliber beginning to his 2019 season. Prescott handles pressure in two ways — the type of pressure applied by ferocious fronts, and the pressure of big moments. He’s accurate, creates opportunities off-script, and allows Kellen Moore to utilize designed runs.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Then there’s Zeke Elliot, who’s just getting rolling. Zeke, behind arguably the NFL’s best offensive line with the healthy Travis Frederic, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and La’El Collins, Dallas can line up and push teams off the football.

The Dolphins must get big showings from Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins to hold the point-of-attack and free up Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan to meet Zeke in the hole.

Amari Cooper is one of the game’s best route runners, and he pairs that with size and speed. He’ll be a tough matchup for Miami, unless Xavien Howard wants to travel with the Cowboys play maker. That opens up another bag of worms, especially as Miami will be working in a new safety alongside corner-convert, Bobby McCain.

Jason Witten is back, but he serves mostly as an additional lineman and the forgotten man in the red zone (as far as the defense is concerned, Witten has two touchdowns already on plays that schemed him wide open). Michael Gallup will miss this game while the resurgent Randal Cobb will help keep the Miami defense honest horizontally in the misdirection game.

Defense:

Jaylon Smith leads the defense with his instinctive, urgent playing style that pairs well with uncommon physical traits. He and Leighton Vander Esch set the tone in the middle of the Dallas defense, and a lot of the scheme is designed to free these two up to wreak havoc. Smith’s athleticism allows Marinelli to keep the Tampa-2 concept alive.

Demarcus Lawrence is set to have a field day. Miami haven’t been able to block anybody this year, and now will have to handle one of the game’s best pass rushers against deafening crowd noise.

Byron Jones has fallen out of favor in Dallas. The dependable Jeff Heath, and the underrated Xavier Woods make it so, while Chidobe Awuzie locks down the opposition’s number one receiver. Dallas’ vulnerability in this position group from the perimeter corner position opposite Awuzie. Jones has been playing corner to pair with slot specialist Jourdan Lewis and Awuzie.

If Miami can create one-on-one passing opportunities into the boundary, look for O’Shea to attack vertically and hope to steal some points — the best bet here is likely Preston Williams.

The Medical:

The Concerns:

Quite literally all over the football field. Dallas can line up with power and milk the Dolphins defense dry. They can attack vertically, or in the controlled passing game with well-timed shot plays built into the offense, all on top of exceptional red zone production in the early going of 2019.

Demarcus Lawrence leads the team in pressures, but he’s only pulled the quarterback down once — that ties the team lead. This Cowboys pass rush is going to be champing at the bit to pad those stats, and there’s no reason to think Miami can handle the relentless pressure, even without blitzing.

The Opportunities:

Special teams might be the one area Miami can spark some magic. The Dolphins are off to a slow start in this department as well, but Jakeem Grant’s big-play ability will be needed if Miami are to pull the miracle upset.

Finding vertical shots — whether it’s Mike Gesicki splitting the Tampa-2, Preston Williams winning an outside release into the boundary without safety help, or getting a fly-by from Grant, Miami needs some fireworks.

The Projected Outcome:

The game plan came together defensively in the first half against the Patriots, but it’s a challenge for even the league’s best stop-units to carry a lifeless offense. Unless the Dolphins can finally sustain some drives and convert in the red zone, this game will get out of hand. It’s doubtful Miami can do that, so look for an aggressive offense that tries to hit the big play.

Dallas just has too much star power and excellent coordinators for Miami to pick them off — or even cover.

Dolphins 6
Cowboys 31

@WingfieldNFL

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