By: Tanner Elliott
The AFC East is shaping up to be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL for the next couple of years. Here, we take a look at the four teams in the AFC East and see if they are worth buying, holding, or selling. (All of the numbers used are from the day of writing which is May 22nd, 2021).
The SimBills are currently the third most expensive team in SimNFL with a price of $46.15 a share. The only teams higher than the SimBills are the SimChiefs and the SimBengals. As for the future price of SimBills it depends on if you believe in Josh Allen. Personally, the SimBills are one of the better teams to have in SimNFL currently but also have one of the higher prices. That is because the Bills have an outstanding young defense, great coaching, and management, and with the Jets and Patriots not quite being there yet, SimBills could get you some good win outs as well as increase in price.
Dolphins - 7th highest
The SimDolphins are the seventh most expensive team in the SimNFL which may be on the higher side to some. That being said, Miami has added a ton of weapons this offseason to catch up to the Buffalo Bills and Brian Flores is building something special in Miami. Does Miami have the potential to win the AFC East and be worth the price tag they are now? Yes they do, but could they have an average record and lose their investors some money? That is also yes. Overall Miami does seem like a pretty safe bet due to strength of schedule and overall improved team and should hold some value now and the future.
New York Jets
The SimJets are a tricky team to evaluate. The Jets have a promising new head coach in Robert Saleh and have some draft capital in the next coming years. Getting some shares of the SimJets would be a long-term investment as they have about four to five years until they can potentially become a threat to win the AFC East. Being the 29th most expensive team in SimNFL, the potential for growth is there. The SimJets may not get you a ton of win payouts in the upcoming years or even increase in price a ton, but in four to five years if Robert Saleh is able to build a nice team and Zach Wilson turns out to be worth the hype, the SimJets could be worth the wait.
New England Patriots
The SimPatriots are one of the biggest shocks in SimNFL. The SimPatriots have the fifth highest price per share in SimNFL. It seems to be that people are betting on Bill Belichick bringing the team back to its winning ways. This is highly unlikely unless they find a quarterback to produce at a high level and the team’s new additions mesh efficiently. That being said, I think that the Patriots are one of the riskiest teams in SimNFL. The Patriots are not a top five team in the NFL and for the price of them to increase, they either need to trade for Julio Jones or have a repeat of the 2007-2008 season.
How to make money?
SimBull offered win payouts for every team you own. For example, if you own a share of the SimDolphins, every time they win you get $0.50. The other way is of course having the value of your team go up. This can happen based on rumors, signings, hires, and playing well. That being said, the value of the team can also go down based on the same variables.
If you have any more questions about SimBull be sure to check out this informative podcast with SimBull CEO Ken Giles!
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins continued their offseason Zoom sessions Thursday afternoon and the duo-of-the-day was offensive lineman Austin Jackson and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. Jackson a 2020 first round draft pick and Van Ginkel a 2019 5th-round pick share a commonality. They both let their play speak louder than their words. Not atypical on this Dolphins team and getting much juicy info out of them is basically like trying to find pearls in oysters.
However, both seemed to open up a bit and show some more personality. Each player is wise beyond their years with Jackson being just 21 and Van Ginkel a bit older at 25, being he transferred a few times in college before landing and excelling at Wisconsin. Van Ginkel had a mini-breakout season in 2020, having been very productive in a crowded Dolphins linebacking corp. He played in just 46% of the season snaps, yet a team-leading 72% of Special Team snaps. Jackson showed potential and progress in his rookie year, hoping to be an anchor on this young Dolphins protective unit.
As a defensive role-player essentially, Van Ginkel recorded 5.5 sacks, 48 total tackles and seemed to get his hands on the ball and/or quarterback in every game he played. He had 10 QB hits and four passes defensed while forcing three fumbles, and recovering a NFL season-long 78-yard touchdown return.
Multi-tasking on defense and special teams is perfect on-the-job-training for Van Ginkel, who is about to know what multi-tasking really is like come July. He and his wife Samantha, are welcoming their first child, and you can see the excitement on the soon-to-be-new-Dad’s face.
“I’m super stoked, it’s under two months away….I’m excited for him to finally arrive.”
When asked about how he will juggle the rigors of training camp and parenting, Van Ginkel said without losing the smile, “first off with the baby; it's going to be tough first being a father, being a husband, but I am going to do everything I can,” as he adds he will get home from practice and find that balance.
Shifting back to the field, Van Ginkel was asked about his double-duty (baby pun) on two units in 2020 as he said, “you know [Coach] Flores prides himself and his team and special teams."
While Flores is a Genie of Defense, Andrew will soon meet the Genie of Diapers. (Andrew, if you are reading this - don't let "The Genie" pile up...)
Levity aside, Van Ginkel added in reference to his special teams play and coaches mindset, "I really took that to heart and made the most of my opportunities."
Similar words are said from many Dolphins, and Van Ginkel spoke a familiar company line. "Whatever my role is, I am going to try to excel at it." Van Ginkel stated his training in the off-season will focus on a few aspects he is already pretty darn good at. “Continue to work on my pass-rush” and to “explode off the line and bend the edge.”
Van Ginkel spoke with confidence in his teammates and coaches and stated, “everybody buying in…taking care of your job. Making sure your grass is green and not your neighbors.” Head coach Brian Flores embodies this, as the 3rd-year linebacker said of him, “he’s hard-noised, he is going to be competitive…he’s going to push you to be the best you can be.”
Before Jackson sat in, Van Ginkel was asked about his offensive teammates development and he said, "he's competitive, he's tough; he's going to do exactly what the coaches ask of him. He added, "I expect him to make a big jump in year two."
The USC Trojan, who is just 21-years old heading into his sophomore NFL season, spoke with his usual quiet confidence. When asked about some differences from 2020 to this season Jackson said, "being able to have way more access to resources this year as opposed to last year certainly helps a lot." He then said, “we have all our drafted guys down here already; my class, we weren't able to do that."
Jackson was one of three 2020 rookies drafted by Miami, and with a few signings in the off-season as well as drafting Notre Damn rookie Liam Eichenberg, there are new names that are being thrown into the mix. Jackson is happy to have Eichenberg, Miami’s 2nd-round draft pick in April’s Draft. "He's a great player, honestly, he always has been. You turn on his Notre Dame tape...I am a USC guy, I always respected what those guys are doing there."
Like most things in Miami’s positional groups, Jackson preached a welcoming of the newer Dolphins saying, “with us having new people in the o-line group, in general, we do a great job getting them on the same page." As for those fellow sophomores, Solomon Kindley and Robert Hunt, Jackson said, “we want to do our job well and know we don't have any errors and want to do it fast.....with urgency.”
Offensive line coach, Lemuel Jeanpierre, has done an admirable job in helping what is essentially a patch-work offensive line gel. Jackson sung his praises saying, “as offensive linemen, the first five have to work as one and in terms of being on the same page, he does a great job with that."
The conversation inevitably shifted to Tua Tagovailoa and when asked about the quarterback’s progression, and even physical appearance including biceps (seriously), Jackson let a smile show as well as a laugh.
“He's got a beard... a little more bass in his voice." The laughing then started, as Jackson admitted, "I haven't seen his biceps." However, confirms, “that's my guy; he's a great kid."
By: Tanner Elliott
Do you want to invest in stocks or cryptocurrency but have no idea what you are doing? Or do you already invest and want to add a new segment to your portfolio? Look no further than SimBull. SimBull the newest way to use your sport knowledge to make some side money.
What is SimBull?
SimBull is the stock market for sports, it is that simple. SimBull currently has the three major sports in the United States (NFL, MLB, NBA) and is a unique way for people to make some long-term money. All you need to do is just invest into your favorite team or a team you think will be good in the future and just wait. It is that simple.
How to make money?
SimBull offered win payouts for every team you own. For example, if you own a share of the SimDolphins, every time they win you get $0.50. The other way is of course having the value of your team go up. This can happen based on rumors, signings, hiring’s, and playing well. That being said, the value of the team can also go down based on the same variables.
If you have any more questions about SimBull be sure to check out this informative podcast with SimBull CEO Ken Giles!
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins opened the floor, virtually, on Monday to veteran Miami Dolphins, discussing the latest news and notes with South Florida media. Starting off the pair was second-year Dolphin linebacker Elandon Roberts, who unfortunately ended 2020 prematurely with a Week 16 knee injury leading to an off-season surgery.
In a funny moment in the presser, Roberts let everybody know he may in fact be built different as many social media individuals claim to be saying, "What you may call surgery, I may call a sprained ankle.” In all seriousness, he did confirm a surgery and looks to be ready, hopefully to start the year, but that was not specified exactly.
Roberts, a 2020 1-year free agent signing from New England was re-signed in this off-season despite that surgery.
Roberts was a team captain last season and a wrecking-ball-type of a hitter until that injury against the Las Vegas Raiders. Roberts finished the year with 61 total tackles, 8 for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and recovery and 4 QB hits.
When asked about his rehab, Roberts said he is taking it one day at a time, and in terms of getting another deal done with Miami he said, “me and the Dolphins; they knew I definitely wanted to be a part of the family, and we made it happen." Roberts acknowledged the departures of released defensive captains Bobby McCain and fellow ex-Patriot, Kyle Van Noy. “Oh man, you know, real great guys. I loved playing with those guys and stuff like that, but at the end of the day a business is a business," he said. Roberts added, “they are great people on and off the field and I wish them nothing but the best with their new teams.”
Speaking of former Patriots, he was asked about facing his ex-mates twice again and Roberts said, “another day on the job…"I don't hold grudges or nothing like that." Moments later, he did make a reference about seeing reporters' and social media accounts' posts and Tweets, so while he may not hold grudges, he sees all apparently.
“Omar [Kelly], I’ve seen your Tweets.”
In all fairness and honesty, there was a fun exchange between Roberts and the Sun-Sentinel reporter as Elandon even promised Omar a one-on-one interview. Roberts closed with praise of rookie edge rusher from the University of Miami, Jaelan Phillips, saying, “I feel like him and his rookie class, they are gonna, you know, do what they came here to do; and they are gonna have a great year."
Speaking of a great year, 7th-round draft pick from 2019, running back Myles Gaskin, had a tremendous 2020.
Omar Kelly pointed out that Gaskin was pacing to be a top-4 running back in terms of production from the line of scrimmage. Gaskin had a humble response and seemed to spin away from the grip of the question saying, “I have heard things like that, I guess it's like a complement, but I wasn't at the end of the day."
Gaskin acknowledged his healthy and missing a few games to injury and Covid-19 was a factor there, leading him to play in only 10 games. In those games, he piled up a total of 972 yards from scrimmage, which for math majors equates to 97.2 per game. To compare, in 14 games in 2020 Aaron Jones of the Packers averaged 7 total yards from scrimmage more per game at 104.2.
Perhaps that’s why Miami didn’t spend the free agent money on Jones?
Regardless of the lack of a big name free agent signed or a Day 1/2 draft pick selected at the position, Gaskin is aware he still has to produce, and this is a team mindset, especially with college and pro backfield teammate Salvon Ahmed. He referenced how close they are, essentially best friends who also share a competitive fire in all things, especially football. And much like the signing and selection process, the depth chart doesn’t seem to be a worry or concern for the 3rd-year veteran runner.
“Above my pay-grade to be honest with you; whatever they do upstairs they do upstairs,” Gaskin said. He then added, “I watched the draft, but whoever we drafted I was just excited to have on the team.”
There is that word again, much like from the weekend’s rookie conferences…” team.” That “team” will be guided on offense by co-pilots in a pair of Dolphin assistants, thrust into a joint coordinator role in George Godsey and Eric Studesville. While the offense is brand new it appears, it seems to be an early and steady process.
"It's super-basic right now. Just know where to be; you can't run a play if you don't know where to line up," the running back hinted. Gaskin did clarify, in perhaps one of the most detail-oriented answers in the last three Miami press conferences, we seem have a definitive answer regarding what type of offense we could see versus last season's.
"It's definitely different, it's a whole new playbook."
Well, there it is...
By: Hussam Patel
The big question, after drafting Jaylen Waddle, signing Will Fuller and adding them to the receiving corps that includes DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, is this: Who is Miami’s #1 WR?
First, let's take a look of what being a #1 WR entails:
A WR must envision himself as the “big play” guy on every play. He truly defines the skill position. He’s supposed to threaten defenses and attack defenders on every play. He dictates what defenders do, he’s the aggressor, and he dictates what the defender can and cannot do. The biggest thing a WR has to know how to do is catch the ball and make sure they can score every time they touch the ball.
In the past, you could have said a certain player’s role on many teams was X, Z, or slot. Now your role might be X, Z, or slot for a play, and then you move to a different role for the next play. NFL offenses are becoming more versatile and more diverse.
Another aspect is route running, and the best WRs are the best route runners. The illusion of speed is one of the most important parts of running a route. It gives defensive backs the impression that the WR is increasing their speed on a route (like an out route) and going deep. From what I have noticed in continuous studies is that WRs are slowing down to make a cut; they use the illusion of speed (head twisting, long strides, stutter steps) to create separation and get defenders out of their comfort zone. These moves make defenders run on their heels, and turn their hips and body away from the ball.
These are the qualities a WR must have in order to be a great WR
Position Needs and Traits:
Keys to success of being a successful WR:
Whenever you think of a “WR1” the players who come to mind are Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Evans; big-bodied WR who are always a part of the conversation. The simple description of a #1 WR in our minds is usually a large outside wide receiver who can rack up yards and double-digit TDs, usually the QB’s first read who gets double covered or bracketed in coverage.
It goes without saying that WR1 on the team is the receiver who commands extra attention from safeties, because he’s the first read. That's what makes them the best WR on the team. To me, the #1 receiver is the guy getting the most attention from defenses. Plenty of smaller stature players like DeSean Jackson, Steve Smith, Santana Moss and Tyreek Hill have been considered #1 receivers.
With that said, there are plenty of instances where this prototype of a #1 WR does not exist, or his responsibilities are taken away by other targets. We can use the example of Hakeem Nicks in 2014. He fits the mold on a prototypical WR and was in the “#1” role. However, the bulk of the production went to Victor Cruz, a slot WR, primarily dubbed as the 3rd receiver.
Julian Edelman isn’t a #1 WR in terms of physical measurements, but the Patriots used him as the Y guy on underneath routes for years and dubbed as “the guy.” Even recently on the Dolphins, Mike Wallace was used as a #1 WR, yet Brian Hartline was used as the first read. You want me to go back in time just a bit? I’ll do that too. Back in the 90s, Miami had a big-bodied WR in Oronde Gadsden, but who was really the guy that got the receptions? The guy who you could count on? None other than my friend OJ McDuffie, standing at 5’10” and 194 lbs.; he always made the play. I could also mention Jarvis Landry, but I’m not making a list.
Of course, it’s all contextual. The WR1 term refers to the top WR on the team, but a WR can be “top” in all different ways. It’s really about having the skill set and tools to put it all together and produce. It’s also about fitting into your QB’s strengths. With Tua, we have seen at Alabama and in Miami that his style of play is getting his pass catchers in space, distributing the ball to them, to let them work their magic.
The #1 receiver is your Quarterback's primary threat. There was no real “threat” in Miami last season. There wasn’t any one player who would strike fear into opposing DCs. Miami just drafted a guy who can beat anybody over the top, in the middle, and underneath…and he has all the tools to become a #1 WR- Jaylen Waddle.
I’m not saying he will immediately be the #1, he hasn’t even played a down in the NFL, but the potential is there, and it routinely showed at Alabama. I would say the current WR1 is Will Fuller, as he has NFL Experience, speed, pass catching ability, can gain separation and leverage and fits the type of pass catcher that fits Tua Tagovailoa strengths.
The QB-WR connection is ever-important, it leads to special moments, plays and occasionally deep playoff runs:
The best pairings are those that lead to the ultimate end goal- lifting the Lombardi Trophy:
Go ahead and take a look at this Twitter thread, highlighting how Waddle is able to use his speed to run routes, gain leverage, separate and most importantly catch the ball.
When the Dolphins were evaluating Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama, eyes were also focused on Waddle. The Dolphins did just that, hoping the spark between the two will propel Miami’s offense in the future. Waddle encompasses all the makings of a WR1 in today's NFL, checks off all the boxes in the article above.
On Waddle and the fit in the Dolphins offense, Coach Flores points out, “We think he’ll add a speed element…obviously, he has some value in the return game. I think his versatility is a big part of this. His ability to play inside, play in the slot, play on the perimeter, play in the return game. Again, we’re very, very excited to have him.”
The potential is certainly there. It’s going to be up to Miami’s offensive scheme to employ him as a #1 WR who scares opposing defenses, up to Waddle to make the plays, and up to Tua to get the ball to Waddle. He can be the guy Miami has been missing, the WR1.
By: Chip Turner
By now, there is plenty of analysis, breakdown, and hypotheticals available for you to read or listen to about the Miami Dolphins 2021 schedule. Who will start Week One for the Patriots? When will Tua, Fuller and Waddle all start working well together? What about revenge games for the Dolphins? What about a revenge game for the Raiders? What sadist decided Miami DIDN’T need a bye week after playing on another continent?
These questions have all been addressed by persons undoubtedly more intelligent than I. What is probably LESS common, however, is a road schedule breakdown that appeals to the heart of every player and fan. It, more importantly, appeals to their stomach.
Behold the first-ever Culinary Guide to the Miami Dolphins Road Schedule. One of the hardest-hit segments of our economy by the pandemic has been restaurants; I implore you to give them all a try as you’re able to.
Week 1 – New England:
Let’s get this out of the way; the thing that Patriots fans got a taste of most frequently in 2020 was humility. After two decades of dominance, their third-place divisional finish ended with a nice serving of humble pie…and we’re going to enjoy that as long as we can.
Oh, did I mention that Boston has some pretty good food? Like most Northeast cities, their culinary fare ranges from fine dining to food trucks. Here are a few places to check out if you’re visiting:
1 - Cheers: Yes, that Cheers, the place where everybody knows your name. Their Faneuil Hall location was forced to close due to the pandemic, but the original location remains open at the Bull & Finch pub in Beacon Hill.
2 - Brewer’s Fork: Boston beer, oysters, and wood-fired pizza (their specialty) gives a taste of Boston to their patrons. They don’t take reservations, but it is reportedly worth the wait.
3 - Jamaica Mi Hungry: Have you ever gone to another city and suddenly craved the same sort of dish you had at home? Have no fear, native Miami-ans (Miamians? Miamiites? Whatever), you can indeed get Jerk Chicken and coconut shrimp in Boston. I cannot vouch for its quality; I can only say that it exists and is apparently quite popular.
Week 3 - Las Vegas:
I love steak. Filet Mignon in particular. When I savor a particularly good Filet Mignon, I literally don’t want to speak to anyone; not out of rudeness, but because I want to savor every instant of the moment. That has only happened a handful of times. One of those was at Delmonico Steakhouse in Vegas.
To be honest, you’re not going to have a great deal of difficulty finding good eats in Vegas; there are simply so many outstanding places to eat at so many different price points; I loved the Taco Bar Restaurant as well, but you’re probably going to have a plethora of quality options. Just one bit of advice; stay away from the sushi at your hotel’s buffet. No…seriously.
Week 5 – Tampa Bay:
Disclaimer: This is going to be a very short food review, as there is apparently a culinary rivalry between Miami and Tampa that I was previously unaware of. Which city makes a better Cuban, Empanadas, BBQ, etc. It’s not entirely unlike the North Jersey/South Jersey debate about food. (South Jersey wins because of hoagies and cheesesteaks, by the way, although Iberia Restaurant in Newark makes it REALLY close.)
I’m going to not get too involved with this, other than to say Charley’s Steakhouse is phenomenal, and add what a close personal friend of mine and Tampa resident suggested: Try a local delicacy, Deviled Crab.
Week 5 - @Jacksonville in London:
Yes, technically, this is an away game. For full disclosure, I have never been to London. I *have* been to Dublin, though, which is apparently similar, much in the same way that BBQ in Kansas City is similar to BBQ in Moscow.
Much to the chagrin of Londoners (Londoners? Londonites? Whatever), I’m simply going to rely on cinematic and literary references to London food. Per Ted Lasso, “Fries are called chips. Chips are called crisps. And ‘bangers’ aren’t great songs, but they do make you feel like dancin’, cause they’re so darn tasty.”
Miami legend Dave Barry was far less complimentary: “English cuisine has received a lot of unfair criticism over the years,” he wrote, “but the truth is that it can be a very pleasant surprise to the connoisseur of severely overcooked livestock organs served in lukewarm puddles of congealed grease. England manufactures most of the world`s airline food, as well as all the food you ever ate in your junior high school cafeteria.”
If I manage to travel to London this year, I look forward to disproving this reputation, or at least avoid being stoned with London biscuits. I understand they’re more likely to be used as a weapon than consumed.
Week 8 – Buffalo:
I could probably write a good bit about Buffalo Cuisine, but let’s be honest. When you go to Buffalo, you’re going to want to find the best Buffalo Wings, because this is where it all started.
In 1964, Buffalo Wings were first created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, when one of the owners decided to make a snack for her children. She was, according to rumors, tired of her kids suplexing each other through her china cabinets, as the folding table hadn’t been invented yet. The Buffalo Wing was born, and shortly thereafter, the entire city of Buffalo became so entranced with the delicacy that the Bills lost 20 straight times to the Miami Dolphins in the 70s. That is not a typo. Undeterred by this streak, four straight Super Bowl losses, and a winter climate that is generally reserved for Polar Bears and masochists, the Anchor Bar still exists. Apparently their food is quite good.
Keep an eye out for the Buffalo Overthrow this year from PhinManiacs; folding tables will be optional.
Week 11 – New York:
So here’s the thing about going to a New York Jets game on the road: It’s not in New York City. It’s in East Rutherford, New Jersey. If you’re going just for the game, you’re probably going to get a hotel in New Jersey. And while traffic between New York City and East Rutherford isn’t horrific at its best, allow me to assure you that saying, “I’m going to stay in East Rutherford, hop into Manhattan on Saturday for dinner, and then hop back out to my hotel” is like saying, “I’m going to make a quick trip to Canada to pick up some milk.” It just doesn’t make any sense. If you want to experience New York City, make a day out of it.
Fortunately, the food in Northern New Jersey is very, very good. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Just trust me. Iberia Restaurant in Newark is 1t minutes away, and has some of the best ribs and chorizo you’ll ever taste. If you’re insistent upon experiencing a night in New York, MetLifeTakeover.com runs an annual event in which they hit Slattery’s Bar in Manhattan, then provide bus service to the game the next day. It’s very well-run, and you get to meet a ton of other Dolphins fan from around the globe.
Week 15 – New Orleans:
As a recent gumbo aficionado, I will say this: It’s difficult to make correctly, and roux is more than just mixing oil and flour together and hoping for the best. As such, I have newfound respect for gumbo. And some of the best gumbo in the world comes from New Orleans.
There are chains like Landry’s who offer perfectly good gumbo, but the best places are the legendary Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s, and Dooky Chase’s. The last of those three has been making gumbo the right way since World War II, and the first two have been doing so since World War One. History and good food; who could ask for more?
Week 17 – Tennessee:
Sometimes it’s easy and fun to poke fun at cities other than your own. And then…sometimes you visit Nashville. My stay at the Opryland hotel was like this, a few years back. Waking up and walking out into a resort-like atmosphere full of country, blues and things to do was summarized thusly: “This place is REALLY freaking cool!”
There are steakhouses, BBQ joints, burgers, seafood, and cool lounges, and that’s just inside the hotel. Outside, Nashville boasts a wide variety of cuisine. The city might not be specifically known for one thing, but it’s very, very good at almost everything. It you’re into cinematic references, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the way to go; it garnered a reference in Justified. It even inspired a fine dining experience at 400 Degrees restaurant.
That concludes the list for this year, and again, I recommend supporting local businesses as you’re able. As for the many pundits and talking heads who already picking Miami and Tua to fail in 2021, I have one more culinary question for 2022.
How do you like your crow served?
By: Jason Sarney
Day 2 of rookie introductions to Miami media continued on Saturday and “class” was once again in session for the freshmen Dolphins. Friday had a number of new members of the team dance around questions as if they were running through tires during an on-field drill. In what was a very interesting, intriguing, and well-planned strategy of question answering, it became clear that from top to bottom, this organization is all about a team mindset and constantly learning to master one's craft.
As referenced yesterday in a previous article, with speculation, this could be a direct correlation to infrastructure within the Miami front office that includes a fantastic new hire of ex-New England Patriot, Anne Noland, who is now Miami’s Senior Director of Football Communication. This means, in all likelihood, that what is disseminated to the media could very well be a strategic New England-like style that quite frankly… works.
It's with this sub-plot too, what is usually what some may find a mundane aspect of social media coverage in terms of player press conferences, but I certainly beg to differ. I very much enjoyed this potential strategy, and simply lost count of how many times the words “team,” “teammates,” “learn,” and “learning,” were used as well as, “playbook.”
Being that this is an educational minded two day coverage piece, I'm going to keep the school mindset and do a little bit of an experiment as this article was composed 1/2 hour before the first player began the presser. My hypothesis is that those four words will be used to redundancy exactly the way they were used on Friday with the first group of rookies.
And here we go, with my unscientific method of breaking the bad chemistry that plagued this team in previous regimes.
(Word Count from Friday:)
“Team” = 21
“Teammate” = 11
“Learn” = 16
“Learning = 6
“Playbook” = 8
First man up, Oregon defensive back, pick #36, Jevon Holland. His word of the day was “knowledge,” and also happens to be the son of a football coach.
"I'm trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible and do anything to help the team win," Holland led with when asked if he would play cornerback or safety.
A reporter asked Holland about coach Brian Flores singing his praises as a potential quarterback in the secondary, which is rare to do for a rookie. Holland responded, “Having a team mentality is what goes into that." He adds, “just trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible and at the end of the day help my teammates as much as possible."
And away we go with the word “knowledge,” as if Holland may be secretly endorsing a new energy drink of the same name…
When asked about Xavien Howard and creating interceptions, Holland had a savvy answer. “"I think in college it's a completely different beast than the NFL." He went on to say, "I have no knowledge of how to get an interception in the NFL." Then followed that up with, "when Xavien gets here, I hope to pick his brain & get as much knowledge as he can give me.”
Holland continued to preach the same gospel, and used the phrase, “absorbing as much knowledge as possible,” a few times.
Holland is as advertised in terms of his intellectual prowess and football IQ, which is evident in his answers.
Speaking of football IQ, first rounder and University of Miami star, Jaelan Phillips joined next and simply sounded like either a coach, or a version of a former Dolphin sack-master, but I hate to get ahead of myself.
Phillips was asked early if he had spoken with Hall of Fame Miami Dolphin superstar, Jason Taylor. While Phillips said he has yet to do so, he used the word “legend” to describe the franchises sack-king. Phillips, who talked shop as if he were a coach himself, used the buzz-word, “playbook” at least for the trifecta.
He stated. "I'm just trying to learn the new playbook and do whatever I can." A moment later, he added on another response, "there is no time to reflect right now, my head is full of playbook."
Another test "aced" by a prized pupil it seems.
Any pupil of Notre Dame is a terrific student. It’s a must. Liam Eichenberg is just that, and in terms of press-conference performance, he passed with flying orange and aqua colors. His word of choice was “improve,” and said, "I just want to improve. It's not about starting right now; I just want to improve."
He then added to that, saying, "being able to play wherever the team needs you..." as something to compare himself to when talking about former Fighting Irish teammates in the NFL he gets tips from. He is aware he could be used at a variety of spots, and says, “it doesn't matter if I'm playing guard, center, or tackle.... I’ll figure it out."
Figuring out seems to be an easy job for him or at least a solid bet, as he says, “it just goes back to fundamentals and technique...every rep is important, not just 1 in 1's." And when talking about reps, that word is extremely important to undrafted free agents Jerome Johnson and Robert Jones.
They both had their word that stood out, that being “opportunity” and “compete,” respectively. "It was a great opportunity for me to learn and get acclimated to the system." Jerome Johnson on his choosing the Dolphins as a UDFA.
Jones, who had an ear-to-ear smile in his first professional press conference said, “I just wanted a place where I can go and compete."
I think you are in the right place, Robert.
By: Jason Sarney
A group of Miami Dolphins drafted, and undrafted rookies introduced themselves to South Florida media on Friday, and consistency was the theme. The brand-new professional football players fielded questions and each and every answer seemed extremely similar from the new group of teammates. The common denominator in nearly every response, regardless of question, were the words “team," "teammates” and “learn.” Even though these players’ college days are over, it is very evident their time in the classroom may just be starting.
Leading it off was 7th round selection, running back Gerrid Doaks of Cincinnati. Right off the bat, when asked about the differences of college and the NFL and even what he expects as a rookie heading into the league, his answer was interesting. “When it comes down to just learning, playing football, it’s pretty similar; but I’m just trying to come in and learn everything and get to know my teammates as best as possible.”
He was then asked what was some “impressive” aspects of practice that he saw today, in a valiant effort from a report to get some “juice” from a rookie.
Doaks said, “I wouldn’t say anything specific. I’m just trying to come in and like I said, learn the playbook, get comfortable with being here and learning all my teammates and how they play, just trying to get to know everybody and become a better teammate.”
Learn. Learning. Teammates x 2
It was at this moment; a light bulb went off for me. This is perfectly planned, and perfectly needed.
As the following is purely speculation on my part, I attribute the answers of this press conference and each player that followed to a very important acquisition. Anne Nolan, the newly hired Senior Director of Football Communication is formerly of the New England Patriots. A team notorious and famous even for tight-lipped press-conferences and rarely, if ever, showing team cards.
Cards could be as simple as tipping the hand to a particular offensive strategy, a nuance to a team meeting, or anything that can give the other 31 clubs a peek inside the inner core of a franchise. If this speculation is close to accurate, we can expect very Belichick-ian responses from coaches and players alike moving forward. Doaks seems to have aced this orientation, as it’s pretty obvious NFL teams as well as the league as a whole, welcomes new players and advises as well as “orientate” them to their new profession…or potential one.
In the next few questions, Doaks went on to graduate school with his answers. When asked the type of running back he is, he recited a masterclass of a response. “I’m just trying to be a back that can do anything the team needs, really. I’m not going to limit myself, so I’m just trying to help the team.”
Moving on through the schedule the next student, er, player up was the first rookie selected in 2021 by Miami. Alabama star wide receiver, #6 overall pick Jaylen Waddle. Waddle, like Doaks, seemed to move away from self-praise and direct answers to the team. He was asked about the reunion with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and it seemed like a bit of a dance around it, much like him avoiding a cornerback.
“I’m just excited to just really be a part of the team and be a part of the organization. I’m just learning new things and going out there to compete, honestly. The call was great. I’m just trying to compete and just learn and fit in.”
Team. Learning. Learn. This is now a pattern, and it’s becoming a trend.
Further building on this consistency reporters pulled on the Alabama thread, mentioning other former Tide teammates like Raekwon Davis and their communication, or potential of it in this process. Waddle said, ““Yeah, just being around all of the new guys has been a great part of this weekend. Getting to know everybody, getting familiar with everybody, being in the facility, of course.”
He added, “we’re all just learning. It’s our first couple of days and we’re honestly just learning and trying to learn and really be in the right place and be in the right spots.”
See what I’m getting at?
In perhaps the funniest and best “get” of the process, Palm Beach Post reporter, Joe Schad, broke through. In a valiant effort to get something we could use outside the script, so-to-speak, Joe asked Waddle about the popular name “Jaylen” among athletes, yet a variety of spellings. Schad wisely hypothesized that this phenomena is due to NBA legend, Jalen Rose. Waddle’s response seemed to be a bit freestyle, like his YAC-ability.
“Yeah, as far as the name, my mom did name me after Jalen Rose. I don’t know how you knew that. That’s kind of weird.”
1 Point for Joe. Touchdown for Waddle.
Just when the Zoom room of reporters seemed to have outsmarted the rookies thanks to Mr. Schad smashing the ice, the football Gods sent us Hunter Long in…who could outsmart Bill Gates and probably make Elon Musk look like a fool. Long, the Boston College, Rubix Cube solving computer genius seems to be locked in on what the Dolphins mantra is.
He was asked about his NFL-readiness and instead of self-promoting why he belongs in this league, he stuck to the “plan.” “I’m just here ready to work and improve and do my best to get better,” said the tight end. Part of the tight end game of course is blocking, and that is a task that seems to be no short-sighted responsibility for Long.
“I’m here to improve all parts of my game and honestly, I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do. I don’t know if I can answer that directly, but I’m willing to do whatever they ask me to do; and whatever they want me to work on, I’ll continue to work on.”
You try out-smarting him.
Long realized the honor and prestige of donning these colors, and when asked about a person or a moment that stood out to him at his first day, he kept it in a vault, as expected. “I’m not going to answer that. Honestly, the coolest thing for me was just putting on the helmet for the first time. I have so much work to do, and I know that, and that’s what I’m going to do leading up to the season; but it was a cool small first step of my NFL career today, putting on the uniform and helmet for the first time, even though it was just a practice.”
Moving down the line literally, lets meet offensive lineman and Chris Grier UMass alma mater mate, Larnel Coleman.
Coleman followed suite in his answers, and when asked initial about his experience, the company line was feed right back, and I ate it up.
“It’s been going amazing. Just getting out there and being with the team, being with my teammates and whatnot, it is an unbelievable experience and everything. I’m really happy to be here, really happy to keep learning and keep improving.”
Then Coleman was asked about the offensive line as a whole, along with fellow rookies in the room, and the Minuteman gave a response in seconds. “Honestly, we’re all improving day by day. We’re taking each minute, each moment, just one step at a time. Right now we’re just focused on the current moment and getting better each day.”
What wont be clockwork, is the guesswork of all of us, and coaches preparing for the Dolphins as position flexibility will be a major factor to watch for once again in South Florida. “Everybody has been switching each position, just trying to get the best feel for us and whatnot. Everybody has been everywhere.”
Even when Travis Wingfield lobbed an alley-oop of a basketball question to the former hooper, asking if he has been challenged to a game of B-ball, Coleman was still vague under his laughter.
“Nothing just yet. Maybe soon.”
Well-played, Larnel. Well played.
Undrafted cornerback Jaytlin Askew was introduced as well as a fullback full of personality, Carl Tucker.
Askew was asked about his special teams’ potential and the theme continued. He said, “I just take it one day at a time, just continue to stack days, continue to learn, be in my playbook, learn from the great coaches here, and take everything one day at a time and enjoy the process while I’m competing every day.”
In an example of a name to fit a position, Carl Tucker mentioned his potential inclusion in a special club called “The Muscle Club,” which was the moniker given to the TE room by coach George Godsey. Tucker elaborated with some personality saying, “I think I fit in pretty well. I wouldn’t say I’m heavy set, but I’m a pretty buff guy.”
Ok, we went a bit off the rails…
Getting back on track, another “team-answer” was on the way when Tucker was asked about hitting in pads versus early walk-through type practices. “It’s definitely a perfect opportunity for me to of course be smart and take care of teammates and everything, but also at the same time, get better at the other things that don’t include heavy physicality, like with route-running and stuff like that.”
Collectively, this group seems to be on the same track, wavelength, and in terms of the classroom, the same exact page.
By: Brandon Liguori
Grab some popcorn and a bottle of water, Dolphins fans. Stay away from soda beverages, it is not healthy for you! Okay, I’m not Dr. Oz or anything, but I do have some breaking news: The 2021 schedule was officially released to the public Wednesday night and we now know where, what time and who Brian Flores’ group will face:
By: Hussam Patel
Hussam Patel of the Scouting Combine welcomes South Florida FOX Affiliate WSVN Sports Director Josh Moser
Josh Moser delivers terrific insight on local and national football news as he hears things directly from one of the most in-the-know agents and personalities in football, Drew Rosenhaus as well as his deep football connections across the league!
-Dolphins Draft fallout
-Aaron Rodgers News (I mean....the less is more theory is in play here)
-Thank you for the GREAT STUFF, Josh!
Josh and Hussam take a deep dive into all of the Dolphins' picks and drops some interesting tidbits of the cap situation, along with the Aaron Rodgers news coming out of Green Bay. Don't miss this information stacked Pod - only on the Blue Wire Hustle Network!
By: Hussam Patel
By: Shawn Williams
Welcome the Newest Members of the
1.06 WR JAYLEN WADDLE, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA
(5’9 1/2 , 180 LBS)
College Summary: 106 receptions for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns in two and a half seasons at Alabama. Averaged an absurd 44 yards on his 17 touchdown receptions. 2019 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year as a prolific kick/punt returner. 2018 SEC Freshman of the Year. First Team All-SEC (2019) Second Team (2020). CFB National Championship winner for the 2020 season. Suffered Ankle Injury that kept him out of most of 2020 season.
Analysis: Jaylen Waddle is widely considered to be the most “dynamic” wide receiver in this year’s draft class. He will likely be the fastest player on the field, any given Sunday. Despite his blazing speed, he’s very controlled in his movements. Waddle must be accounted for on every play. His ability to take any pass the distance, or by the deep safety makes him the ultimate weapon. His experience as a returner lends to his elite abilities with the ball in hands. He’s very skilled with splitting double teams and making defenders miss. Jaylen possesses very reliable hands and has a much wider catch radius than his size would suggest. He’s a very polished route-runner, yet still has the room to further develop those skills. The Crimson Tide product could easily become the best receiver from the ’21 class.
Fit: He’s likely going to spend the majority of his snaps lining up in the slot, but he shouldn’t be pigeon-holed there. Waddle, a former teammate of QB Tua Tagovailoa’s at Alabama, will bring comfort and familiarity to the second-year quarterback. Expect Miami to create numerous plays for Jaylen Waddle, especially when running their RPO offense, a scheme they excelled in for the Crimson Tide.
Miami, who already added a major field-spacer with the speedy Will Fuller, will be a tough task for opposing defenses to plan and prepare for. Miami incumbents, DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, add yet another layer to the receiving core with their ability to win tough, physical match-ups and secure the 50-50 balls.
Fun Fact: Waddle and Devonta Smith became the third and fourth Alabama receivers to be selected in the first round of the past two NFL Drafts.
1.18 EDGE JAELAN PHILLIPS, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
(6’5, 260 LBS)
College Summary: Jaelan Phillips was the top-rated high school recruit when he signed on with UCLA. After an unfortunate start to his college journey, that actually saw Phillips medically retire, he was offered a second chance, transferring to the Miami Hurricanes. That move proved to be the life-support he needed to “save” his football career. In his lone season playing for the Hurricanes, Phillips proved to be the monster he was once expected to be. He recorded 45 tackles, 15.5 for a loss, 8 sacks and an interception in 10 games. He not only managed to stay healthy but became one of the most dominant defenders in the country. Jaelan Phillips was named to the Second Team All-American and Second Team All-ACC rosters in 2020.
Analysis: Jaelan Phillips was the first pass rusher off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. That’s coming a long way since his disappointing end at UCLA. Phillips has elite level skills playing off the edge. He is a very fluid mover that has the ability. to change direction quickly. The former Hurricane is very fundamentally sound and plays with good technique. He measured off the charts showing freakish athleticism, displays excellent length, bend and speed. The list of what he “can-do”, is a long one. To put it simply, he’s an explosive player, with a very high motor, that can play with his hand in the dirt, or standing up, and has a GPS to the opposing quarterback installed into his DNA.
Fit: Miami has done a good job of “scheming” up sacks for their defense. Part of the reason for that, is their lack of players that can win one-on-one battles with opposing lineman. Jaelan Phillips changed that the second Miami sent in the pick. Phillips and Emmanuel Ogbah will give Miami a formidable duo to spearhead their pass rush attack. The Dolphins, who have already benefited from coverage sacks, and exotic blitz packages, now have a guy that can beat their man alone, allowing the team to keep an extra defender back.
Fun Fact: Jaelan Phillips is a talented musician. He’s the grandson of a pianist and was enrolled in Miami’s Frost School of Music. Although he has a deep love for music, he has proclaimed to “love football more”.
2.04 S JEVON HOLLAND, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
(6’1, 207 LBS)
College Summary: Jevon Holland decided to opt-out of the 2020 season. Scouts and analysts recognized Holland as a first-round level Safety, after only two seasons in college. That’s all it took him to accumulate 108 tackles and 9 interceptions. Aside from being an elite college safety, he also served as an explosive punt returner, averaging 15.3 yards on 16 total returns.
Analysis: It’s been reported that finding an intelligent and versatile free safety was one of the Dolphin’s top priorities in this draft. They found exactly that when they made him the first Safety taken off the board. Holland has the ability and instincts to play deep safety, or man coverage in the slot. A high school receiver, Jevon possesses elite ball-skills that led him to become one of the best defensive play-makers in the county. He is an explosive player with great ball-tracking and closing speed on receivers. His fluid hips allows him to move sideline-to-sideline with ease. Some were concerned that his slight frame might limit his ceiling, however he had an excellent Pro Day that quieted those concerns.
Fit: The longest tenured Dolphin, Bobby McCain has handled center field during the Brian Flores era, however he was one of the best slot corners in the league, prior. It’s uncertain whether McCain moves or not, but it should be noted that terminating his contact saves the team significant money. I don’t think that happens, as he’s the heart and soul of the Miami Dolphins and has a big fan in Brian Flores. The team also views last year’s third-round pick Brandon Jones as a strong safety, along with Eric Rowe. This will be an intriguing position to keep an eye on throughout the rest of the offseason. Regardless, Miami picked up a guy that’s well respected and highly valued in league circles. Brian Flores, a safeties coach “at heart”, gets full support on this selection. This was “his” pick. It’ll be exciting to watch how Holland develops under Flores, and how the team’s vision materializes.
Fun Fact: Jevon Holland became the highest drafted “Canadian born player” in the history of the NFL. His father played and coached in the Canadian Football League.
2.10 OT LIAM EICHENBERG, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
(6’6, 306 LBS)
College Summary: Long-time starting Left Tackle at Notre Dame. Eichenberg went thirty-three straight games without allowing a sack. Known for his toughness, he once finished and played a game with one of his eyes, completely swollen shut. Jacobs Blocking Award (2020). Consensus All-American and First-Team All-ACC in 2020.
Analysis: Miami has a young and developing line, having selected three starters in last year’s draft. Liam Eichenberg will be a welcome addition to that group. His biggest praise comes from his sound technique and efficient style. Excels at keeping his body square to defenders and seal the edge from oncoming rushers. He has shown that he can be a powerful run blocker, pushing defenders off the line and using leverage to his advantage. Eichenberg takes his job seriously, attacking the game like a true professional. He is a bit undersized and might find himself moving inside. At the end of the day, the Dolphins are getting a blue-collar prospect, who works hard every day and approaches his craft with passion and care. He could be a steal in the second round.
Fit: It’s been rumored that Brian Flores is looking to shuffle bodies on the line. He’s a man that covets versatility and his personnel displays that. Robert Hunt was PFF’s fifth rated right tackle between weeks 12 and 17, however his ceiling is higher playing at guard. Austin Jackson should remain at the left tackle spot, for development purposes. Eichenberg may man Tua’s blindside, with Hunt moving in next to him and Solomon Kindley sliding to the left side. Matt Skura will anchor the line at Center.
Fun Fact: Liam has a brother, Tommy Eichenberg, who’s a linebacker at Ohio State.
3.18 TE HUNTER LONG, BOSTON COLLEGE UNIVERSITY
(6’5 1/8, 254 LBS)
College Summary: Led all FBS Tight End’s with 57 receptions in 2020, Kyle Pitts was second. Long compiled 685 yards and 5 touchdowns last season for the Eagles. First Team All-ACC in 2020. 89 receptions, 1,297 yard and 9 touchdowns over his three years at Boston College.
Analysis: Hunter Long isn’t necessarily “elite” at anything, rather he’s good at everything. His stock saw a steady climb throughout the draft process as scouts saw his ability to check “all the boxes”. Not particularly stronger or faster than most, however he has good size, focus and intelligence. He’s a very “smooth” ball catcher with dependable hands. Looks the ball into his hands and does a good job of securing the catch through contact. Good route runner and excels at finding the soft spots in zone coverages.
Long is a determined blocker that uses good balance and body control. He will continue to look for defenders to block until the play is whistled dead.
Fit: Fans might jump to premature conclusions with this selection. While Mike Gesicki’s contract is up after next season, this does not foreshadow Miami letting him walk. The Dolphins like to run the 12-personnel system and that requires two solid tight ends. Hunter Long and Mike Gesicki are also two different types of players. Gesicki is a vertical threat and athletic matchup nightmare down-the-middle. Long is a coveted pass catcher, but he’s likely to be an in-line tight end. This pick should be looked at more like yin and yang, rather one or the other. Durham Smythe’s contract is also up after the 2021 season and Long is more like a next-level “souped up” Smythe than anything else. Miami now has a deep and exciting group of Tight Ends with high potential for what they can add to the offense.
Fun Fact: Long is a very intelligent player. He can solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than a minute. He also builds computers in his garage “for fun”.
7.03 OT LARNEL COLEMAN, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS
(6’6, 315 LBS)
College Summary: Three year starter for UMass. Played both left and right tackle spots. Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team (2019, 2020), Phil Steele Preseason All-Independent Second Team (2019, 2020).
Analysis: Larnel Coleman was certainly a bit of a surprise. That’s until the research provides clarity. Coleman is an athletic prospect that has the second-largest wingspan in the entire class, with a solid 40-time, vertical and broad jump. He has intriguing upside due to his athleticism and you can see that with his explosiveness of the snap and good initial power. He sets with a wide base, stays square and uses his long arms to manipulate his defender. Smart kid with good awareness. If he can work on bending his knees and getting to the next level quicker, he has a chance to develop into an NFL lineman.
Fit: Barring a training camp surprise, Coleman is likely to spend his time the early part of his career as a Practice Squad body. His determination and how he works to reach his upside, will go a long way in determining his fit on the Dolphins line in the future.
Fun Fact: Coleman was four-year basketball player (3-time All Star) in high school at the power forward position.
7.17 RB GERRID DOAKS, UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI
(6’0, 230 LBS)
College Summary: Started his college career with injury issues but finished strong the past two years. 331 carries for 1,712 yards and 14 touchdowns in his time at Cincinnati. This includes 7 TD’s in 9 games last season. 2021 First Team All American Athletic Conference.
Analysis: Gerrid Doaks is one of those guys that just fell through the cracks in the draft scouting process. He has a lot of tools that should give him closer to a mid-round grade. He uses a violent burst getting through the line and power going through and towards defenders. While he may not have a second gear, he does have a surprising amount of elusiveness and quickness. He’s an outstanding blocker in pass protection. Has shown to be a nice weapon in receiving out of the backfield too. Doaks is an aggressive football player and should exceed his late round selection.
Fit: Miami, again chose to ignore the running back position in the early rounds of the draft. It seems Miami is more content with its situation then analysts and fans seem to believe. Myles Gaskin is a shifty back and big play threat, while Malcolm Brown is a bruising, goal line type back. They also bring back Salvon Ahmed and Patrick Laird, as well as newcomer Jordan Scarlett. Doaks certainly has the personality and game to make an impression on the coaching staff, but expectations should be tempered with the seventh-round pick.
Fun Fact: Completed his degree as a Criminal Justice major.
By: Jason Sarney
The sports Bucket List is an important imaginary item for fans all over the world. For me, a top-sitting item on said List was always to attend an NFL Draft. While that dream was thwarted last season and all of us missed out on Las Vegas, the NFL returned to a Live Draft event, this time in Cleveland. Despite typical and expected weather, the experience was a hit, much like a classic Rock and Roll song.
Let's call it Dream On, my all-time favorite tune. (So typical, right?)
As I was standing on the banks of Lake Erie, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier was comfortable in Davie, Florida proving he was the literal Superior executive in a figurative ocean of suited-sharks. While the pick analysis will come in a following piece from smarter football minds than I, allow me to set the stage to what was the closest thing to a Rock concert that I had been to in years.
Starting my 7-hour journey from just north of Philadelphia in the early AM on Thursday, it was a smooth drive full of 80’s and 90’s music as well as Miami Dolphins podcasts. I rolled up to the hotel around 3:00 pm, met up with my PhinManiacs brethren of Chip Turner and Shawn Williams and we marched to "experience" the Draft.
In an immediate thrill and prior, I had the opportunity to meet and share a word with Professional Football Hall of Fame President, David Baker. This was a pure happenstance bump-into, as the "man-with-the-magic-door-knock is such a hulking figure, he was easy to spot in his blue blazer from across the street.
He easily hits the 6’9’’ mark.
I led with a heart-felt thank you for giving us all an amazing Jason Taylor Hall of Fame "Induction Knock," back in 2017. It was after this, with literally my 305 hat-in-hand, I stated my case to the man with the keys to the kingdom for the eventual induction of Miami immortal, Zach Thomas.
(Fist bumps to everyone else)
I felt the presence of holiness in a handshake I was not turning down as he extended his arm to welcome me.
Wanna know the feeling of that handshake? Think about when Thanos put on the 3rd Infinity Stone.
What a guy.
Miami has a pair of Infinity Rings...lets fill the gauntlet.
The Hall of Fame Guardian said in regards to Zach Thomas, and I will paraphrase to near verbatim, “I believe he gets in…maybe two years, but he deserves it.” What a way to kick it off, and I will hold Mr. Baker to this, or else I am paging Captain Marvel.
Moving into the NFL Fan Experience area, I was Miami-masked and ready to mingle with my brothers and sisters of Fin Nation. Miami was well represented in Ohio, as the place was obviously an AFC North mosh-pit of fans. There was too much Bills Blue for my liking being located so close to Cleveland and both national Chargers fans were there representing the team.
I digress. There were three of them....
As the rain stopped, but the Lake Effect wind blew, I felt nothing but the warmth of tons of Miami fans mixing it up as close to where we were allowed to the Draft stage. At around pick #4, I flocked to a group of Fin Fans all decked in #1 jerseys.
I started talking to a knowledgeable Fin Fan named Isaac Quinones. His pristine Tua jersey had a signature on it, but it was not the Miami QB. Isaac, at the pick #4 announcement time said, “this is Jaylen Waddle, dude!” I was impressed by the creative mix of memorabilia signing, mixed with premonition, and Isaac followed up with showing me a selfie of an airport run-in-to with Mr. Waddle en route to Cleveland. Isaac, clearly industrious and bright, thought quick and the foresight paid off. My man was wearing a Tua jersey signed by Waddle as the Alabama wide receiver was selected, as the pictured jersey was on his person at that moment.
Thank you Isaac Quinones for the time and for helping me get to the VIP Pit!
Follow this man.
Waddle also met THE Fan of the Year Ian "Big E" Berger! Our brand new WR landed Friday morning in Miami as our guy was heading to Cleveland! Maybe they sat on the same seat?
For those following my antics on Twitter, you’d know I was faux-interviewed by a fictitious Cleveland news outlet with not a microphone, yet a spatula. I didn’t see any wires, so not sure the validity of the outlet....which is normal these days on social media.
We were celebrating as cameras were on us, and Browns fans started to enjoy my company.
(I'm huge in Valley City, apparently)
Clearly Browns fans have lost their minds, because not drafting in the Top-5 is as odd to them as nice, consistent weather in April on the lakefront. In fact, while getting a trim at an OUTSTANDING local barber shop, The Refinery, the barber said, “the funny thing is, not a single Browns fan knows where we pick tonight.”
(Razor down, as I was ROTFL-ing)
Good for Cleveland...they deserve it. Terrific people, and they really were loving us Fin-Fans. I heard more Bernie Kosar stories than I ever had in a 24-hour period.
King of Youngstown. Trust me.
Suddenly, my spatula-view was interrupted by a pull on my waterproof jacket…my guy, Isaac. My new Fin-Friend-For-Life, who I had not seen in about 30 minutes, found me again and said, “yo, let’s go!” Moments later, we were whisked away into the magical land of the VIP Inner Circle (presented by Subway) while the Dolphins were in the hole, just a few picks away.”
I made sure to document this as the 1st round ended in hopes for at least a Free Sub....?
Any who, an NFL Network camera man took us to the Dolphins fan section, where I was close enough to potentially utilize my noodle QB arm if I wanted to, and could have thrown a football to “The Playmaker,” Michael Irving. In the madness of zero 5G service in areas close to the stage, I had no idea in the moment but was blown away by the amazing gesture of my guys, The Fish Tank, as they gave me a shout-out for “The Chair” over Twitter.
No, this was not a malicious wish against me in a punishment sense (I pray), however a Hail Shula for me to sit on the Draft Stage-based “fan chair” as Miami picked. Thankfully, that DID NOT happen as I do not dub myself worthy, although I am very appreciative of the thought.
Why? First off, that chair belongs to a person who paid for it and their experience. I did not, I got lucky enough. Secondly, and in literal seconds, I found out who the man was to sit in the seat, and it was too perfect.
Many, many Dolphins fans know the unmistakable patched-denim jacket of Nate “Igor” Smith. The man responsible for the MetLife Takeover with @DolfansNYC, sat on a throne, and it was well-deserved. Igor and co-founder Michelle Kramer, are on the Mt. Rushmore of Philanthropic Fin Fans and are responsible for one of the greatest traditions in our community. That being the annual taking over the Jets home and representing Orange and Aqua in New Jersey, which is essentially a North-East-based Miami Fan Base reunion.
Speaking of philanthropy and Mt. Rushmore, the Don Shula of the charitable world on social media is Danny Johnson. Danny is as kind and genuine as he is relentless and dedicated in working with Miami legends and our fan base. His Facebook group, The Positive Porpoise, helps raise money for charities near and dear to him and former players. I had my T-P-P mask in my pocket as it was used earlier (see Baker photo) and Danny and I hung out and chatted which was something I wanted to do for a while now. It was a perfect opportunity to meet a man I respect the heck out of, and the perfect setting.
Meeting guys like Igor and Danny for a guy like me from New York, was an honor. It also was very humbling as I am nowhere near the passion level of some die-hard, well-traveled, longer-suffering, PhinManiacs.
Believe that or not.
We all shared the Jaelan Phillips selection together. While we DID want Najee Harris collectively in a chant, the air was kinda deflated in the first nano-second, HOWEVER, there was an immediate celebration of acceptance with the dozen or so fans in "the Pit," when "The U" pass-rusher was selected.
(My Answer - I liked the pick a lot - slightly nervous of expectations on 1st-round pass-rushers)
In what was a surreal 24-hours in Cleveland, and although my total time in the car was more than my time at the NFL Draft…this experience was one I will never forget. It's one I will treasure forever, and look forward to repeating, but one thing stuck out to me.
When at our best, the Miami Dolphins fan base is a community that is more like family. A Motley Crew of rock-stars who just wants hit after hit on the field and in our Ring of Honor. Hopefully, Chris Grier is about to put the finishing touches on a classic album, years in production, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sat in the backdrop of the 2021 Draft Stage.
Thank you, Cleveland.
PhinManiacs Pick Grades and Analysis Shortly......
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