The Dolphins defense got gashed in last week’s 32-21 loss to the Detroit Lions, and adding injury to insult, Miami lost their two most productive receivers in Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson. While Stills looks like he’ll only miss a couple of games, Wilson has been placed on injured reserve and is done for the season. Let’s see what Miami’s loss to Detroit did to their national perception:
Last week: 15
This week: 18
Last week: 19
This week: 21
Last week: 17
This week: 23
Last week: 11
This week: 15
Last week: 14
This week: 21
Again, nothing too drastic happened with the rankings. The biggest drop came from Sports Illustrated, where Miami dropped seven slots from 14 to 21. CBS Sports continues to be the highest outlet on the Dolphins, ranking them at 15.
The Dolphins now face one of the toughest things to do in football: a road game on a short week. Miami travels to Houston to face the red hot Texans in a battle of two teams trying to maintain a winning record. The winner goes to 5-3 and can position themselves well for the home stretch, while the loser falls to 4-4.
What will happen on the Thursday Night Football showdown between these two teams? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Dolphins have the injury bug in a bad way and to make matters worse they are on a short week. Brock Osweiler will face his former team and be looking to prove they gave up on him too soon.
With Houston at home and the Dolphins on a short week, I don’t see this going well for Miami.
The offense’s success has a low ceiling so for now the difference between us winning and losing is our defense.
Matt Burke and Co. really need to right the ship and get things back on track. Houston has a blueprint on how to beat us with a strong run game so look for that to happen.
Unfortunately the defense will buckle again in my opinion. I can’t see us doing too great on offense to where the defense can benefit.
Prediction: Texans 27, Dolphins 17
The Dolphins are hurting right now and what makes this week worse is they are getting little rest from Sunday’s game to Thursday’s game.
A noticeable concern this week is their wide receiving corp. Albert Wilson was just placed on IR and Kenny Stills is hurt and will not be playing. In place of these two will be Devante Parker, who should finally be active.
One player the Dolphins need to look out for is Deshaun Watson. I could easily see him scrambling around and tiring out the Dolphins defense.
In order to win this game the Dolphins need to get the pressure going against Watson. Last week that pressure was nonexistent so hopefully it will change this week.
Prediction: Texans 24, Dolphins 21
It is time for the tragic Thursday Night Football Dolphins to return to action. Their most recent performance on TNF was a 40-0 loss to the Ravens last year that included the decapitation of Joe Flacco.
With the injuries piling up at a rapid pace for the Dolphins, I expect a loss to move the Dolphins to 4-4 on the year. Osweiler will be returning to the team who gave him the massive 4 year, $72 million deal after his Super Bowl run with the Broncos. The injuries will be too much for Miami to overcome on a short week and they will fall in easy fashion to the Texans.
Deshaun Watson should have an easy game as Matt Burke likely won’t come out with a good game plan, because when does he? And the Dolphins will fail to get to an injured Watson, allowing him to throw the ball and run at his leisure, creating problems all night. Easy win for the Texans.
Prediction: Texans 24, Dolphins 7
In grade school, we were taught every story has a climax, and a story isn’t complete without one. If this season were to have a climax, this game would be it.
This game is a huge test on all levels on the national stage. Unlike recent weeks where an opposing team strength matched up well against a Miami weakness, this week sees a rare week where this isn’t the case.
Can head coach Adam Gase prepare an injury-riddled team on a short week in prime time and deliver a riveting performance? Can Miami’s star players beat Houston’s stars play-in play-out? Can Miami show the national media the 3-0 start wasn’t a fluke?
The stage has never been brighter for this Miami team. A win against a team with a 4 game winning streak will only positively affect the narrative and course for this team.
It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just needs to happen, or it may be time to begin talking plans for the off-season.
Prediction: Miami 21, Houston 20
The Texans come into this game as a heavy favorite, and probably for all the right reasons. After starting 0-3 they’re on an impressive 4-game winning streak; defeating the Jaguars, Cowboys and Colts (and Bills…) along the way.
Miami is banged up on both sides of the ball. The team is relying on a less-than-100% Cameron Wake to provide some (any) kind of pass rush for this defensive line. They’re also relying on fan-favorite DeVante Parker to step up for the injured Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills.
If Miami is lucky, they might be able to snatch this game from the Texans. Their secondary will be able to handle Houston’s passing game, the question becomes whether or not Miami’s linebackers bounce back after a poor game against the Lions.
Not much is pointing in the right direction for Miami, and come Friday morning, the 3-0 start will be a distant memory.
Prediction: Texans 30, Dolphins 17
The guys touched on pretty much everything so I’ll keep this fairly short. The Dolphins have injuries all over the place, the defense looked terrible against the Lions last week, and Miami has a horrible track record recently during primetime games.
The Texans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and they have the benefit of playing at home on a short week. Deshaun Watson has been battling a chest injury, but he’s been healthy enough to play.
The only scenario I can see Miami winning this game is if the defense plays lights out and Brock Osweiler can manage the offense, allowing Kenyan Drake and Jakeem Grant to make explosive plays and not turn the ball over.
There is just too much stacked against the Dolphins right now for me to comfortably pick a Miami victory.
Prediction: Texans 24, Dolphins 17
Check out Travis’ preview piece here: https://www.lockedondolphins.com/dolphins/dolphins-at-texans-week-eight-preview/
Fits and Starts of the 2019 NFL Draft–Jarrett Stidham
Which 2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks fit for the Miami Dolphins, which ones could start, and which ones aren’t on the table?
Let’s dive into the first installment of Fits and Starts with Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham.
2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks and Fits and Starts intro
I hope you’re enjoying all the Kyler Murray talk; it’s not going anywhere for the next two months. So, with all the hype surrounding the Heisman winner and his decision to play in the NFL over the MLB, it makes sense that Murray shot up the draft boards in rapid fashion.
Murray has been connected with the Miami Dolphins, and it makes sense. The Dolphins need a quarterback to lead the franchise into the future, especially with the start of the Brian Flores era.
But what happens if the Dolphins can’t get Kyler Murrayin the 2019 Draft? Let’s take that a step further. What if the Dolphins don’t get any of the QBs that are pegged to go in the first round? Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones, along with Murray, are all in the conversation to go off the board in the first round.
The 2019 QB class hasn’t exactly been lauded for its talent, but that doesn’t mean its totally devoid of untapped potential on Days 2 and 3. There are some diamonds in the rough and some could be on the Dolphins’ radar come April. The Fits and Starts mini-series will be focusing on these overshadowed mid-round prospects and who could fit into a role with the Miami Dolphins.
Let’s get into the first name on the list: Jarrett Stidham.
Jarrett Stidham and his NFL Future
The first quarterback on the docket is Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. He’s an enigmatic player. He was in the conversation last draft season (before he returned to Auburn) to go in the second round. He was also talked about as a dark-horse Heisman candidate before the college season started.
His junior season didn’t go exactly as scripted, though. Jarrett Stidham had an up-and-down season, and his draft stock has been all over the place, consequently. He’s polarizing in the Twitter Draft realm with many draftniks either loving or hating him. I predict that he’ll go in the third round, but I could see the need for the position pushing him into the second round.
In a lot of ways, I would compare Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Tannehill. With that being said, he’s a poor man’s Tannehill. He’s not as athletic and I wouldn’t put his arm strength or accuracy on the same level, but there are comparisons that can be drawn.
Jarrett Stidham Mini-Report
He has some starter qualities, and he’s very raw in that regard. He also did not get a lot of help from his receivers during the 2018 season. I saw a lot of dropped passes that should’ve been “gimmes”. Jarrett Stidham has a moderately high ceiling, I would say. He’s extremely rough around the edges, but I can see him becoming successful in the NFL; it’ll come with many growing pains, albeit.
He also has some accuracy issues from a lot of the film I’ve watched of him. He’ll make some unbelievable down-the-field bombs, but also make some passes that are too high, too inside or too outside. Many passes were underthrown and I saw plays where WRs had to turn and play some defense. The accuracy is a roller coaster, and that’s something that is hard to improve at the next level; accuracy is more a God-given ability than it is a teachable skill.
Something else that I wasn’t wild about was how Stidham reacted to chaos and pressure. When the line collapsed, I saw some ugly escapes. Those ugly escapes will be ugly sacks in the NFL. I saw flashes of decent pocket presence, but like many of Stidham’s qualities, they were inconsistent.
That’s one of the best words I would use to describe Jarrett Stidham: inconsistent. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s bad. Sometimes he’ll thread the needle for a 40-yard touchdown, sometimes he’ll undercut a route. But if the inconsistency is his biggest issue, which I believe it is, then I’m intrigued by his prospects at the next level with some next-level coaching.
At the End of the Day
So, if the Dolphins drafted Jarrett Stidham, it’d likely be on Day 2 and in the second round with the 48th pick. While the Dolphins are rebuilding, I could see them using a popular draft philosophy of taking a quarterback every year until one hits. If that’s the case, then Stidham could very well be a target if the Dolphins decide to address a bigger need or BPA with the 13th pick.
This could be a way for the Dolphins to hedge their bets while keeping an eye on the 2020 quarterbacks. Akin to the Redskins taking both RGIII and Kirk Cousins in the same draft in 2012, the Dolphins could take a flier on a mid-round quarterback and see what he could do in some games under the guidance of a veteran.
While I wouldn’t be upset by the pick, the Miami Dolphins would be wise to stay away from Jarrett Stidham, bottom line. I say that not because of Stidham’s shortcomings or upside but because of where the Miami Dolphins franchise finds itself.
If Jarrett Stidham goes out and has a decent showing in some live action during his rookie season, then that could affect the draft strategy regarding the 2020 class of quarterbacks.
I don’t want the Dolphins to keep waiting and waiting for someone to slowly develop as they did with Ryan Tannehill. Stidham is in a similar mold, looking at his tools and raw potential. I’m not sure how long it would take for Stidham develop, but I could see it turning into a situation where he takes a few steps forward every season.
Jarrett Stidham could be a quarterback that Chris Grier likes, but I would have a hard time believing that he’s a prospect that he would love–and that’s not what the Miami Dolphins need to right the ship.
State of the Roster – Linebackers
The 2019 off-season schedule had an unusual beginning for the Miami Dolphins. Not that the once proud, winningest organization in the NFL is suddenly new to coaching turnover (quite the opposite, rather). It’s the timing of the hire that provides the distinction from Stephen Ross’ three other head coaching appointments.
Typically, when the incumbent or new staff is in-place by Early-January, the roster dominoes begin to take shape. Waiting for Brian Flores to win his fifth Lombardi Trophy delayed that process by a month.
Now, with the majority of Coach Flores’ staff settling into their new offices, we can begin to speculate and forecast what will transpire over the next three months.
It’s not hyperbole to say that these next three months are the most important of Chris Grier’s professional career. Miami’s new General Manager is charged with resurrecting a franchise that, in the last 15 years, has fallen from the peak of the winning percentage mountain top, all the way down to fifth place on that obscure, yet illustrious list.
In this series we are going to explore the current assets on the roster and what their futures hold. Plus, we’ll explore the free-agency market and point out scheme fit pieces the Dolphins might seek to add in April’s draft.
Current Cash Owed: ~ $10.1 Million
NFL Average: ~ $18 Million
Players Under Contract – 2019 Cash Owed:
Raekwon McMillan – $892 K
After a slow start McMillan came on like gangbusters; at least in run-defense. From week-five on, McMillan was graded second by PFF against the run (trailing only Luke Kuechly). His first year off major reconstructive knee surgery, the upside is glowing.
McMillan has a knack for correctly hitting his run fits, shows a great first step, and plays exceptionally well downhill. The design of this new defense is going to have the former Buckeye shining.
McMillan’s Projected 2019 Action: Mike Linebacker
Jerome Baker – $654 K
Like McMillan, Baker was late to the party in 2018, but he too turned it on post-September. Baker was PFF’s #22 overall linebacker over the final 13 weeks of the season. Though Baker also excelled against the run, he was more balanced providing value in coverage and as a blitzer. His PRP was similarly low to McMillan’s, but when Baker arrive he sacked the QB (3 of 5 pressures).
Baker is the new-aged linebacker – run, hit, and cover; that’s his game. He will have to transition to a new role playing primarily on the ball and off the edge, likely the weak side, but he’s more than capable.
Baker’s Projected 2019 Action: Will Backer
Kiko Alonso – $7.9 M
Kiko Alonso is a living, breathing highlight reel. The problem, for Miami, is that he’s usually on someone else’s mixtape. Alonso does well when he I.D.’s his gap early, but those instances are few and far between. He hustles to the ball and has a knack for the takeaway, it’s just the other 995 snaps of the season you worry about.
Turned around by the athletic prowess of Josh Allen, Christian McCaffery, or just about every pass receiving specialist tailback, Alonso is fading towards irrelevance at the position. Moving on from the often burnt, often penalized Alonso, is a no-brainer.
Alonso’s Projected 2019 Action: Cut
Chase Allen – $645 K
New England’s Linebacker position, under Brian Flores, was the ultimate test of pliability. Chase Allen has a role lining up over the center as the nose-backer in one of Flores’ many defensive fronts.
Allen excelled in that role in Miami, albeit on a limited basis, and figures to be a core special teamer.
Allen’s Projected 2019 Action: Nose Backer/Core Special Teamer
Pending Free Agents – 2018 Salary
Stephone Anthony – $1.9 M
The ole’ Mike Tannenbaum specialty, Miami spent a fifth-round pick, and far too much cap allocation, on a player that never made a contribution. Anthony was toast in his limited defensive snaps and rarely found the ball on special teams.
Anthony’s Projected 2019 Action: Not Re-signed
2019 Linebacker Free Agent Market:
The Dolphins could spend this portion of the off-season on the sideline. The likely top three players on the depth chart are already signed, sealed, and delivered, finding backups and special teams is all that’s left to do.
Now if the ‘Phins are so inclined to spend on the big ticket item, Anthony Barr would make nice strong-side linebacker in this new scheme. His coverage limitations should drive his cost down, but that’s not how free agency works – he’ll be priced out of Miami’s range.
Deone Bucannon is an interesting option that could help Miami remain fluid as they implement dime and quarter packages on the back-end. A safety/linebacker hybrid, Bucannon affords the defense the luxury of changing personnel without substituting. Bucannon is an excellent match-up piece in the passing game as well. Like Barr, Bucannon would come at a cost.
More realistically, Miami are looking at former Patriot Marquis Flowers and Eli Harold (Detroit).
2019 Linebacker Draft Class:
It’s not inconceivable that the Dolphins make this position a priority with the undrafted crop post-draft. The same idea with Jerome Baker, the ‘Phins need to find players that can run, hit, and cover but, most importantly, start off on special teams.
New Mexico State’s Terrill Hanks had 11 sacks and eight picks in college. His vast coverage and range skill set should be no surprise, he’s a former safety. Hanks struggles taking on blocks but that’s not a trait he will have to worry about in this scheme.
Bobby Okereke (Stanford) fits the run/hit/cover bill in his own right. North Carolina State’s Germaine Pratt falls into that category as well.
2019 Linebacker Prediction:
There are plenty of intriguing options at the positon but, with the needs on the defensive line and in the secondary, Miami could punt on this off-season’s linebacker class. In a defense that frequently uses one true ‘backer, Raekwon McMillan satisfies that bill. Jerome Baker will be the second linebacker and the Phins will look to pair Chase Allen with more sub-package types.
I’m adding Marquis Flowers in free agency – he was with the Pats for the first four years of his career. I’m also drafting Stanford’s Bobby Okereke on day-three. He’s an intelligent player with plus range and will help Miami’s flexibility in sub-packages.
Mike/Primary Linebacker: Raekwon McMillan
Will/Secondary Linebacker: Jerome Baker
Nose Backer: Chase Allen
Sub-Package: Rookie (Bobby Okereke)
Depth: UDFA/FA (Marquis Flowers)
5 Viable Options for Miami at Pick 13
Mock drafts before April are about as futile as trick-or-treating before Halloween. Sure you might get miraculously lucky at one or two spots, but mostly you’ll just get weird looks from people. That being said, I’ve decided to mock up some scenarios the Dolphins may be presented with come late April.
Despite a flurry of updated scouting reports, trades, and free agent decisions that will ultimately happen before the draft, I couldn’t resist speculating what some of the most enticing options might be waiting there for Miami. I’ll be looking at these options under the assumption that Miami keeps the 13th pick come draft day.
1 – Trade Down
Trading down was something owner Stephen Ross reportedly pounded the table for last year. However, GM Chris Grier and company persuaded him to stay put and take Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick. While Fitzpatrick turned out to be a promising investment, I would expect the war room to try and gather as much draft capital as they can this time around.
The organization, specifically Ross, has put an emphasis on rebuilding the roster from the ground up these next few years, and there’s no better way to do that than by hoarding draft picks.
2 – Blue Chip Falls to 13 (BPA)
Much like the case with Fitzpatrick last year, there’s bound to be a blue chip player that falls out of the top 10 this year. If Miami’s war room decides not to trade back in the first round, it’s likely because they feel that a top talent has fallen into their laps at pick 13–similar to the Laremy Tunsil slide in 2016.
Unfortunately Nick Bosa is out of the question for Miami. I can’t fathom a universe where Bosa would fall to 13. Quinnen Williams would be a no-brainer here, but much like Bosa, its unlikely he’ll fall to pick 13. If he does however, he would fill a major need for Miami as well as add tremendous upside to a lack-luster defensive line.
Three prospects that also have top 10 grades are Greedy Williams, Josh Allen, and Devin White. These three are the physical definition of what you look for in a potential All-Pro football player. With all the shuffling expected to happen to Miami’s roster, these players could be immediate contributors and leaders as soon as they walk onto the field.
3 – Draft QB
I’m a firm believer that Miami needs to be patient with their quarterback situation. Miami isn’t expecting to win many games in the coming year or two, and this isn’t expected to be a great draft class for passers. Now as much as I like Kyler Murray, I can’t help but to think that other quarterbacks like Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence would provide more upside in the long run.
Despite the potential of future quarterbacks to come, this brain-trust of experienced scouts and well respected personnel guys might not let a guy like Murray slip past pick 13. Miami has many needs on paper, and quarterback is right up near the top of those needs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyler be the first step of this rebuild if the war room thinks he’s worth the risk.
4 – Attempt to Replace an All-Pro
Sadly enough, there won’t be a younger clone of Cameron Wake waiting there at pick 13. The end of an era is coming, and sooner or later the Dolphins won’t have the consistency off the edge that Wake has been able to provide for so many years.
Brian Burns reminds me of Wake at times, but he also reminds me of Dion Jordan at times. The general opinion is that Burns could end up being a project player. I have no doubt this coaching staff has the ability to maximize the potential of Burns, but they might not like the value here.
Rashan Gary would be another enticing option were he to fall to Miami. Gary’s flexibility across the defensive line coincides perfectly with Brian Flores‘ multiple defensive scheme. Gary has the potential to be an All-Pro early in his career wherever Folres decides to put him on the defensive line.
5 – Address the O-Line
I’m interested to see what happens with Ju’Wuan James. He’s been a quiet strength for Miami. The combination of him and Tunsil has proven to be a consistent force when healthy. If James is willing to come back for the right price, Miami would be lucky to have one less hole to worry about.
If a deal with James isn’t struck, then offensive linemen will be one of Miami’s top priorities in the draft. They may be tempted to take an early look at offensive lineman depending on how the board falls. I expect the war room to find at least one starting quality offensive lineman within the first three rounds.
Dolphins’ fans are at the beginning of a very long journey. The recent organizational hires have inspired widespread optimism across the fan base. For the first time in a long time the future is looking bright for the Dolphins. Needless to say this draft will be a pivotal start to the Dolphins’ rebuild. The difficult decisions that Grier and his new staff will soon be faced with will reveal the direction in which this franchise is headed.
- Fits and Starts of the 2019 NFL Draft–Jarrett Stidham February 19, 2019
- State of the Roster – Linebackers February 19, 2019
- 5 Viable Options for Miami at Pick 13 February 19, 2019
- Inside the Film Room – Dolphins New Defensive Scheme February 18, 2019
- Inside the Film Room – Dolphins New Offensive System February 17, 2019
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