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Miami Dolphins

Why is Kris Richard My Savior?

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe I’m a bit naive for thinking this way, so help me understand the logic a bit more: why do you want Kris Richard to be the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins?

What evidence can you bring to me that proves that Kris Richard is the man who’s going to bring the Miami Dolphins out of the depths of mediocrity?

I hear some of these reasons loud and clear, but I have a hard time grasping why they’re captivating for Richard and why they’re hollow for Darren Rizzi. Can anyone cure my confusion and bring me aboard the Richard train everyone seems to be on? I seem to be missing out…

Note: this article is going to come across like an endorsement for Darren Rizzi as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, and that’s not the case. I realize after writing this that a lot of the language comes across like I’m skeptical of Richard and convinced about Rizzi. This article was generated because of all the amazing feedback/reasons I heard for making Richard the head coach and this is a bit of a devil’s advocate perspective on it. I’m open to selecting the best candidate for the job; whether that’s Richard, Rizzi or even Brian Flores. But I’m also looking for an answer that’s more convincing than assumptions made off of 64 seconds worth of video.

Passion

There are a couple of videos circulating around social media that portray Kris Richard as a passionate coach who is yearning to get the best out of his players.

These videos were taken when Richard was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. Notice how loud and in-your-face Richard gets with is players. And I don’t mean that as a negative, it’s actually refreshing to see a coach that isn’t afraid to challenge their players right to their face. This is the kind of passion and enthusiasm that Dolphins fans desire.

This seems to be the main reason why Dolphins fans have concluded Richard is the obvious choice. And this seems wrong for plenty of reasons, but I’ll stick with two of them:

  • One: what’s the difference between Kris Richard’s passion and Darren Rizzi’s?
  • Two: since when does passion = results?

We’ll get to the results later in the article, because there’s plenty to go over there, for now, let’s address how young, energetic and passionate Richard is.

I believe most of us can agree that we are “over” selecting the next best offensive mind or defensive mind in the NFL. We’re beyond looking at a head coach because this microscopic aspect about them is desirable and thus, all of them must be desirable.

Most of us would like the Dolphins to select a head coach that can lead a group of men out on the football field each week and have those players play their hearts out. This person needs to manage personalities, the media, locker room drama and everything else that comes with babysitting a 53-man roster.

This charisma is much more desirable than having the knowledge to deploy complex schemes. Adam Gase and Matt Burke deployed very complex systems and it was (partially) their downfalls in Miami. It’s hard to outsmart your opponent when you complex systems don’t maximize two of your best draft picks this decade (Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi) and your charisma allows them to walk right out the door.

Thus, we’ve concluded that Richard is the guy because it’s evident he’s a leader based on a couple of videos.

If that’s the case, what do these videos about Darren Rizzi mean?

Are we going to ignore years of these memes or are we going to give Rizzi the same benefit we’re giving Richard?

Maybe it’s because we’ve seen Rizzi all of these years that we overlook just how passionate he has been up-and-down the Dolphins sidelines each Sunday. You wanted someone that held their players accountable; yet, you already have that. Why are we turning him away just so we can take a chance on another unknown commodity that might portray the same aspects?

Maybe Richard is the more-passionate option, but why is this passion dismissed for Rizzi when it’s a hiring-point for Richard?

Experience / Results

Kris Richard has been working in an NFL coaching capacity since 2010. His NFL resume reads something like this:

  • Position Coach (defensive backs): 2010-2014; 2018
  • Defensive Coordinator: 2015-2017

Take it with a grain of salt because of all of the talent he was given, but you can’t dismiss what Richard accomplished during this time:

  • 2010: 27th ranked passing defense
  • 2011: 11th ranked passing defense
  • 2012: 6th ranked passing defense
  • 2013: 1st ranked passing defense
  • 2014: 1st ranked passing defense
  • 2015: 2nd ranked overall defense
  • 2016: 5th ranked overall defense
  • 2017: 11th ranked overall defense
  • 2018 (with Dallas): 13th ranked passing defense

Richard was in charge of the “Legion of Boom” when it was at its peak, taking Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and winning the title in 2013. His attitude and moxie are prevalent in how he talks to his players.

This reminds me a little bit of Adam Gase. His “creativity” and brashness while working with one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL (Peyton Manning) was a desired trait by many NFL front offices. What many have come to conclude is that Gase was a product of Peyton Manning and not the other way around.

So if we want to apply the same logic to one of the greatest secondarys the NFL has ever seen in its history – as well as one of the best overall defensive units the NFL has ever seen – why are we applauding the coach when it’s probable the players are the catalyst behind the results?

Recreate the 2013-2015 Seattle Seahawks defense and I’m pretty sure we aren’t looking for a new head coach in 2019.

Darren Rizzi took over for as the Special Teams coordinator in 2010 and has been the team’s assistant head coach since 2017. His results look something like:

What hall of fame players did Rizzi have helping his unit throughout this time?

This goes back to the argument: do you want someone who is a “leader”, or do you want someone who has a track record of results? Regardless of your answer, the options are the same. Both candidates have given you both.

Endorsements

So a few Cowboys fans in the comments section of social media, Rod Marinelli, and a couple headlines that proclaim “The Cowboys Don’t Want To Lose Richard” have convinced you that Richard is so coveted that reverse-psychology says he must be good?

That thought alone has flaws with its logic, but if we wanted to apply the same logic to Darren Rizzi, then what do endorsements by current and former Dolphins players mean to you?

Brian Hartline and Reggie Bush didn’t even play for Darren Rizzi’s unit and they had great things to say about him.

We convince ourselves that the grass is always greener on the other side because it’s different than what the Dolphins have currently and different must be good because different isn’t mediocre.

Don’t be surprised if Richard uses this head coaching vacancy as leverage to receive more money from the Dallas Cowboys.

Let’s be honest, none of us actually know what Richard was like all of these years. We are all relying on the minuscule amount of (new) information that has been presented to us over the past 7 days. No one in South Florida genuinely knows how good Kris Richard will be as a coach. Is it because Richard is different and Rizzi has been with the organization for 9 years already?

If you have something convincing, by all means, step forward, because the alter is a bit barren right now and the wedding is going to begin soon.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Kent Taylor

    January 10, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Excellent. I hope Steve Ross and Chris Grier will read. Let’s not be deceived by the hype surrounding Richard.

  2. corners

    January 10, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    Landry yes, Jay Ajayi as one of our best picks of the decade? No way….
    Id put Tunsil, and Howard easily above him. Landry i think will be a HOF. But Ajayi had 4 games over 100 yards ([email protected] 200 yards) as a dolphins. He wasnt some awesome great pick. Hes going to be a one hit wonder.

    I do hope we get Richards also

    • william burke

      January 10, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      and i wouldnt be bothered if it was Rizzi. Cant we have them both on our team!

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Miami Dolphins

Pillaging the Pats

Travis Wingfield

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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.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Crash Course On 2019 Dolphins Defensive Scheme

Travis Wingfield

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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.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Mock Draft Roundup: A Kyler Murray Sighting

Skyler Trunck

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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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