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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. Avatar

    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. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      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

Dolphins Browns Week 12 Preview

Travis Wingfield

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Phins limp into Cleveland, hope to return to winning ways

Who: Dolphins (2-8) at Cleveland (4-6)
When: Sunday November 24, 1:00 East
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium – Cleveland, OH
Weather: 42 degrees, 14 MPH winds
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +10.5

It’s a prevailing “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” from the odds makers in Vegas. The Phins six-point-underdog status against a 6-3 Buffalo squad was Miami’s first spread of less than a touchdown this season against a winning team.

The Browns are not a winning team, but they welcome Miami into Cleveland as double digit dogs fresh off the team’s best defensive performance of the season.

Of course, the only thing anybody remembers from that fateful Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium was the helmet swing heard ‘round the world. As a result, the Browns will be without their best player in Myles Garrett, and best interior defensive lineman in Larry Ogunjobi (both suspended for Sunday’s game).

Miami are reeling in their own right. Bobby McCain and Reshad Jones were on the field Sunday against the Bills, both are now on the injured reserve. I lack the historical knowledge to confidently make this claim, but it would seem that the Dolphins are approaching unprecedented territory in the secondary.

Of Miami’s 11 active defensive backs, 10 were added to the roster this year. Five of the 11 were added in-season, and two more were picked up on the September 1st league cut-down day. Suddenly, alongside Walt Aikens and Eric Rowe, the next longest-tenured Dolphins defensive backs are Jomal Wiltz, Nik Needham and Chris Lammons.

Victory in this contest seemed achievable just one week ago, but now Miami will have to pull off a considerable upset to get to the winner’s circle for the third time this season.

The Scheme:

Offense:

The Freddie Kitchens dynamic has been one of the more fascinating sub-plots of the 2019 NFL season. His pressers have been combative, and the only thing that’s been lacking more than Freddie’s accountability has been his ingenuity as a play caller.

Two weeks ago against the Bills, Freddie went eight consecutive goal-to-go situations (all inside the five) without knocking down the door to the end zone. That sequence demonstrated all of Cleveland’s issues on the season — no identity, no conviction, and no aggression.

An offense that produced the first back to gain 1,000 rushing yards on the season (Nick Chubb) has been more pass-centric than you’d assume for a team with the NFL’s second-leading rusher.

Cleveland runs a 60-40 split in favor of the pass. The Browns rank 22nd in total offense, 21st in passing, 12th in rushing and 25th in scoring.

Defense:

Steve Wilks knows one speed — and it’s measured in blitzes. With his full complement of pass rushers (no Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi or Olivier Vernon this week), Wilks likes to send pressure to create one-on-one matchups on every snap.

Cleveland ranks 4th in the NFL in blitz percentage at a clip of 39.5% sending five or more rushers at the quarterback. The Browns rank 11th in both pressure percentage and QB knockdown rate. With 30 sacks, Cleveland is 8th in sacks, but will they be able to get the same pressure without its most successful triumvirate?

With plenty of disguise on the back-end, Wilks will look to bait and trap Ryan Fitzpatrick into quick throws, funneling mistakes to his head hunting ball hawks in the secondary. The Browns will fly to the ball and lay the wood, but they will miss their fair share of tackles (11th most missed tackles in football).

The Players:

Offense:

Nick Chubb is a special player and deserving of the marquee among a cast of star-studded players. He’s a quick decision maker that hits the hole with acceleration, and pushes the second and third level of the defense into business decisions with his aggressive, physical style.

Chubb is paired with Kareem Hunt, who’s a pass-catching dynamo. Hunt converted three separate third-down-and-long plays into first downs against Pittsburgh, and his fresh legs will give Cleveland a nice boost down the stretch.

Baker Mayfield’s been much maligned this season for his brash attitude and minimal production to back it up. He’s turned the ball over too much, but he’s heating up and nothing will get him back on track like a date with the severely under-manned Dolphins defense.

The matchup between Nik Needham and O’Dell Beckham should give Dolphins fans a true test of whether or not the rookie is for real. Needham has played a pro-bowl level since seizing the starting job in the absence of Xavien Howard, and shutting down a player of Beckham’s caliber will further the former UDFA’s prospects as a starter in 2020.

Cleveland’s offensive line is a bit of a mess. J.C. Tretter captains the group at center, but it’s been a trial-by-fire situation at either tackle position. Miami’s edge rush has its best chance to get going Sunday in Cleveland.

Defense:

Without Garrett the spotlight turns to a couple of other players that don’t always get proper due. Joe Schobert has more than double the run-stops of anybody else on the Cleveland defense, and he’s made the splash play when the Browns needed it this season.

Denzel Ward is allowing a passer rating of just 68.1 against his coverage area, and he’s done that without the benefit of an interception to skew those numbers. He’s allowed just 15 receptions on 39 targets — a completion percentage of 38.5%.

Safety Morgan Burnett had a big night in the Pittsburgh win, but he left that game with an injury. He should be ready to play Sunday, and if he can’t, the Browns have depth with Sheldrick Redwine and Damarious Randall working in on sub-packages.

The Medical:

The Opportunities:

Mayfield’s issues rolling right are well documented, but does Miami have the front-seven firepower to put the quarterback under duress? A big game from Vince Biegel could be on the horizon, but it’s interior pressure that has been an issue for Mayfield and the Browns offense. When Miami does get Cleveland into long down-and-distances, they have to get pressure and create takeaways.

Where Miami have been one of the league’s most disciplined teams, Cleveland is a polar opposite. The Browns will attempt to beat themselves, it’s on Miami to capitalize on those opportunities.

The Concerns:

The inexperienced secondary up against a receiving corps of O’Dell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and the potential return of David Njoku is a terrifying thought for Miami. And that’s before we even get to the difficulties of slowing a top-five rushing offense with the league’s second-worst run defense.

Offensively, it’s the line — it’s always the line. Without a running game, things become exponentially more difficult on the pass protection in front of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Projected Outcome:

Miami should start strong in this game. The Browns will have to manufacture a pass rush in the absence of their two best pocket-collapsers in order to fully expose Miami’s thinnest position along the offensive line.

We can trust Chad O’Shea to develop a script that gets the ball out of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hands and keeps the veteran quarterback upright early, but we’ve seen how games devolve this season with this depleted roster. Fitzpatrick was limited in Wednesday’s practice after taking a beating Sunday against Buffalo.

Expect the same thing on the other side; a plan that hems Mayfield in, at least temporarily. The big days from Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt salt this game away in the second half.

Dolphins 17
Browns 31

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Bobby McCain and Reshad Jones to IR; Miami Dolphins Replace Both

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins placed three players on Injured Reserve (IR) earlier this morning, and have utilized a flurry of moves to replace each of them.

According to the Miami Dolphins, Bobby McCain, Reshad Jones and Gary Jennings are all headed to IR. To replace them, the team signed Adrian Colbert, activated promising 5th-round draft pick Andrew Van Ginkel from IR, and promoted Gerald Willis from their practice squad.

The biggest news buried in all of this may be the impending future of Reshad Jones.

A lifelong Miami Dolphin drafted in the 5th-round (163rd-overall) of the 2010 NFL draft, Jones has been a force at safety throughout his 10-year tenure.

Often overlooked nationally because he played on so many mediocre Dolphins teams, Jones contributed plenty of Pro Bowl-caliber seasons to this franchise, even if 2015 and 2017 were the only seasons he was actually selected to go.

Muddled by a contract dispute (that saw him handsomely rewarded) and his mid-game “quitting” fiasco, Jones should be viewed as one of the best players to ever brand the aqua and orange jersey. If it wasn’t for Dick Anderson‘s insurmountable record of 34 interceptions or 16 fumble recoveries, Jones would easily be considered the best safety in Dolphins history.

With 113 starts, 21 interceptions, 55 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, 10.5 sacks, 766 tackles, 41 tackles for a loss and 4 defensive touchdowns, there’s no doubt Jones will find his way into the Dolphins Ring of Honor. The question is, how long until he’s elected?

The 31-year old safety may not be worth his current contract (with cap hits of $15.6m, $14.5m and $12m between 2020-2022 respectably), but he’s still a good safety in this league and can easily help a playoff contender get over the hump.

Recency bias may trick us into believing that ousting Jones from a young Dolphins team is a good thing, but losing a legend like this is never easy to replace, and with the recent Minkah Fitzpatrick trade eliminating Miami’s talent at the position, there’s no reason to believe the Dolphins will have an impactful safety in the immediate future.

Bobby McCain, Miami’s iteration of a defensive Swiss army knife, is also headed to IR.

The defensive captain was having a productive season before a shoulder injury hindered his performance. It was evident McCain was hurt when he allowed John Brown to run right through him for a touchdown; a play in which McCain barely wrapped up his opponent as he waltzed in for the score.

Also drafted in the 5th-round (2015, 145th-overall), McCain has been a jovial character amidst a brutal game. His charisma annually wins over his coaches and teammates, but coaching staffs constantly experimenting on his position has hurt McCain’s production.

Once vastly defended by Dolphins fans on social media, it seems McCain’s contract extension prior to the 2018 season was a poor decision; though it’s not necessarily because McCain is a bad player. I’m sure you’re seeing what Minkah Fitzpatrick has done for the Pittsburgh Steelers in his limited time there. Imagine if our coaches just left McCain in his natural slot cornerback position and simply asked him to thrive there?

Just like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world will never know.

Unlike with Jones, it’s very likely McCain returns in 2020. His cap hit is $6.24m while his dead cap hit is $5.24m; that $1m savings isn’t enough to entice Miami to cut McCain loose – especially when you’ll need someone to replace him.

Recently-acquired wide receiver Gary Jennings was also placed on IR.

Originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 4th round of the 2019 NFL draft, Jennings became expendable when the team signed free agent Josh Gordon.

One day after his release, Miami claimed him off of waivers with the hope that they can evolve Jennings into a legitimate NFL receiver.

Jennings has yet to appear in an NFL game.

The Dolphins made a variety of moves to fill the three vacant roster spots made available.

The most-notable transaction involves the team’s 2019 5th-round draft pick, Andrew Van Ginkel.

After a promising training camp, Van Ginkel was expected to join Jerome Baker (and Sam Eguavoen) as the team’s starting linebackers. Van Ginkel had the luxury of utilizing 2019 to work through any growing pains, and with a young duo of Baker and Van Ginkel, the team finally thought it solved its longterm linebacker problem.

Ironically, Raekwon McMillan took advantage of his second chance after a subpar sophomore season led coaches and fans to look elsewhere for a solution. McMillan’s torn ACL prevented him from learning the NFL game his rookie year, and the hope here is that Van Ginkel’s injury doesn’t hinder him similarly. Those in-game reps are very hard to replace.

It’ll be nice to see if Van Ginkel lives up to his training camp promise.

To fill the void at safety, Miami signed former University of Miami safety Adrian Colbert. Seems the Dolphins enjoy picking on the Seahawks’ depth, as Colbert was poached from Seattle’s practice squad and signed to the team’s 53-man roster.

Originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 4th-round of the 2017 NFL draft, Colbert has been active for 21 games throughout his career, starting 7 of them. In these 21 games, Colbert has 0 INTs, 6 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles.

Miami also promoted defensive end Gerald Willis from their practice squad.

Willis played for the University of Miami and the University of Florida throughout his college career. He originally signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent earlier this year, but was released prior to the season starting. Willis has been on the Dolphins practice squad since the end of September.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Release Running Back Mark Walton

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE 11:55am: Mark Walton has been arrested in connection with a horrific (alleged) domestic violence incident.

According to the Miami Dolphins, running back Mark Walton was involved in another “police incident” earlier this morning (11/19/2019) and has been released by the team.

A former University of Miami sophomore standout, Walton has had multiple brush-ins with the law prior to finding his way on to the Dolphins.

Originally drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 4th-round (112th-overall) in the 2018 NFL draft, Walton was arrested multiple times during his minimal stint with the team.

  • First: Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession
  • Second: Misdemeanor Battery (on a neighbor)
  • Third: Reckless Driving (took the cops on a high-speed car chase), Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (carrying a rifle) and Marijuana Possession

Overall, this seems to be a consistent pattern in the young man’s life. The Miami Dolphins are wise to distance themselves from Walton, though he certainly needs some assistance changing his lifestyle and the hope is that he can turn himself around and learn from these incidents.

With the Dolphins, Walton accumulated 201 yards on 53 rushing attempts (3.8 yards-per-carry) and no touchdowns. Initially, it looked like the Dolphins found their #2 running back when Walton emerged. His productive play early in the season made Kenyan Drake that much more expendable, even though the team was likely going to part ways with the former Alabama running back when his contract was up at the end of the season.

For now, the Dolphins have Patrick Laird and Kalen Ballage as their top two running backs. Given how Ballage has played so far this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Laird receive plenty of additional snaps going forward.

It’s also possible we see a bit more from Miami’s 2019 7th-round draft picks, Myles Gaskin and Chandler Cox.

 

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