Last season Kenyan Drake created one of the best memories in the history of the Miami Dolphins, but with Frank Gore now being a part of the Buffalo Bills, now Kenyan Drake will have to carry the load. Drake last season had four touchdowns, and 53 receptions, for 477 yards, but this coming season he will definitely be named the starting running back for the Dolphins.
Training camp is coming up in July and my second question is who will be Drake's back up? The Dolphins have Kalen Ballage, a two-year back from Arizona State who did see playing time carried the ball last season 36 times for 191 yards and one touchdown.
The Dolphins also have a three-year running back in Kenneth Farrow, who did not see any playing time last season and rookie Myles Gaskin was drafted in the seventh round, 234th overall.
The Dolphins also signed Patrick Laird from Cal, as an undrafted free agency, but if he has any hopes of carrying the load he has to make it through, not just the first cut in training camp, but the 53-man roster.
I am not taking my eye off of Mark Walton last season he carried the 14 times, for 34 yards, and no touchdowns. Walton spent one season in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and I still think he has potential to play in this league and he is a South Florida native out of Booker T. Washington High School in Miami and went on to play college football for the University of Miami Hurricanes from 2015-2017 and was drafted by the Bengals in the fourth round with the 112th overall pick.
Dolphins first-year offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea and first-year running backs coach Eric Studesville should not have a real hard decision to make to see who earns the back-up role at the end of training camp at the end of August. Personally, I think we should see who carries the ball better through the preseason because that's when the front office can make the right and wrong decision on who to let go.
I trust Chris Grier though and definitely, Brian Flores comes from the most accomplished coaching tree and front office in the National Football League.
If any of these running backs have any hopes of playing the second string or even third string and see a good amount of playing time they are going to have to step up in training camp. Personally, I go by experience when it comes to learning an offense and playing so I think Kalen Ballage will earn the second string role at running back, due to the fact that he has already rushed for 191 yards in his limited playing time.
The third string spot should go to Kenneth Farrow, he has more experience than Ballage, but I will point out that Farrow has no carries as a Dolphin. I believe this is how the depth chart will look going into the first preseason game at home against the Falcons, but the Dolphins rising star at running back in my mind is definitely Mark Walton who I think will get a lot of carries in training camp.
Why don't I have Walton at least at third string? I see Walton more like a kickoff and punt returner and in Cincinnati last season he carried the ball 14 times, but he had no touchdowns. I bet signing Walton got Hurricanes fans attention big time, but it definitely turned my head because I watched him in college at Miami and I thought he was extremely talented due to the fact that he is a speedster.
The last Canes running back to make it big for the Dolphins was Lamar Miller, and Mark Walton definitely has a chance to do the same. Duke Johnson is doing well for the Browns, but he has fought injuries throughout his NFL career and I expect him to have a big year this year in a talented Browns offense and that should be a really tough game for the Dolphins.
Brian Flores retained running backs coach Eric Studesville from Adam Gase's staff a year ago so he knows these running backs quite well, but I think Flores should have cleaned house, in my opinion, to have a whole a new attitude on this staff.
I do have confidence though that Flores has brought a really a good attitude to South Florida from a really accomplished coaching staff in Foxborough from Bill Belichick's six Super Bowls. The Dolphins are coming into the 2019 season with hopes of returning to the playoffs soon, and they will also be in a quarterback triangle throughout training camp, but we will have just have to find out who Brian Flores decides to go with.
This story was written by Zach Blaine. Follow him on Twitter: @TheMiamiGator
“This conversational dust-up over Jones of the past several weeks was ritual nonsense. It missed the real issue of this simply being a bad marriage between Jones and the Dolphins.”
There are rumors that the Dolphins are tying to trade Jones but they can’t get what they want. They have evidently decided that the best thing to do is wait the league out in hopes that a desperate team on the cusp of winning will pay more if they lose a good safety in training camp.
If this is what they are doing, I do not agree with this decision. Good strong safeties are a dime a dozen this year and no one is going to give you much for an injured one, even one that is among the best in the league at it.
More importantly, every day that a player who put his pride ahead of the team and refused to play remains on this young, impressionable roster does irreparable damage to the mentality of the other players. Every time head coach Brian Flores talks about putting the team first with Jones in the room his credibility takes a hit.
Chris Perkins at The Athletic reported the Jones situation in the proper perspective when he highlighted the match up between first round defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and third round guard Michael Deiter in the same article.
Perkins recognizes that this year is about developing the younger players both physically and mentally. The Dolphins have to take what they can get for Jones, move on and do the same.
I’m not entirely sure where this is coming from but many reporters seem convinced that this is a real competition. Dave Hyde at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is one of the few that seems to be taking it a step further to see the "competition" as a good thing for Rosen. But at the same time, he knows that it's not exactly real:
“The question the Dolphins will wrestle with until the opening game — and probably beyond — isn’t if Fitzpatrick gives them a better chance to win the next Sunday. It’s how Rosen would look by November with a couple of months of starts under him.
What few people in the media seem to be acknowledging right now is that what the Dolphins aren’t actually deciding if Fitzpatrick is better. Of course he’s better. Rosen is only in his second year and probably has not had the best of coaching up to this point. What the Dolphins have to decide over the next few months is if Rosen is the future. And that’s more difficult because it involves projecting his development through this year and beyond.
One thing is certain. The Dolphins don’t have to show it externally but internally they have to totally commit to Rosen until they’ve made a decision on him. He has to be nurtured and every opportunity to help him and evaluate him has to be taken. And that means two things:
a. This isn’t a competition. Or more accurately, it isn’t a competition between Rosen and Fitzpatrick. Because Fitzpatrick’s performance isn’t relevant to the decision. What Rosen has to do - and his comments indicate that on some level he understands this - is to prove to the Dolphins not that he’s a franchise quarterback now but that he will be some time into the future.
b. The Dolphins have to start Rosen until they’ve made up their mind that he’s never going to be at least part of the answer to their quarterback problem, even if it's just as a cheap, long-term back up. If Rosen isn’t starting week 1, it means they’ve already made up their mind. And that will mean bad things for his future in the league.
“Already working to improve his production as a receiver, Gesicki also looks to shed the label of exclusively being a pass-catching tight end.
I was almost disappointed to read this. It means that Gesicki hasn’t totally moved on from his year with former head coach Adam Gase.
I’m not one of those guys who constantly bashes a coach or executive once they leave town. But in my opinion, Gase did Gesicki no favors by expecting him to block too much as a tight end. Gase came from the Mike Martz school of offense where tight ends are there to block and if you want to set up a mismatch, you go with the big wide receiver.
The modern NFL works differently and Gesicki is a modern NFL tight end. At 6’6”, 245 pounds he was drafted to catch passes, particularly as a red zone weapon, not block. The Dolphins have Dwayne Allen to do that and he’s pretty good at it when he’s healthy.
The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily mean that Gesicki will continue to be misused. When asked about Gesicki, current head coach Brian Flores didn’t mention Gesicki’s blocking.
“’I talked to him about this [Wednesday] morning,’ Flores said. ’One drop is one too many; one penalty is one too many; one missed assignment is one too many. That’s kind of the standard, the approach we’re taking.”’
“Bobby McCain experiment at safety could stick.
Count me among those who were surprised by this move. It's not that I don’t think McCain can be a good free safety - he can. But along with pass rusher, cornerback is probably the weakest position on the team this year. Xavien Howard is, of course, a given starter. But other than him, there isn’t much.
Now, in addition to the spot opposite Howard which the Dolphins are evidently counting on a relatively unproven Eric Rowe to fill, the Dolphins are creating another hole at nickel back. At the same time they have an apparent glut at safety with Minkah Fitzpatrick, Reshad Jones, and T.J. McDonald and now McCain.
The problem that Flores is evidently trying to solve has to do with the fact that Jones and McDonald, both paid like starters, are really best suited for strong safety. Kelly elaborates later in the article:
“Can Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald work together?
Hopefully the current coaching staff will do a better job of it than last year’s staff did. That’s assuming Jones isn’t traded, something I’d still bet will be the case. In any case, the situation demonstrates once again how poorly the 2018 version of the team was built by former executive Mike Tannenbaum and current general manager Chris Grier.
In any case, the bet here is that Fitzpatrick fills the hole at cornerback that the move has left in its wake. Reports indicate that Fitzpatrick will move around quite a bit week to week as required this year. But Nick Saban, Fitzpatrick’s coach at Alabama, claimed that Fitzpatrick’s best position was nickel back and playing him there will likely put him in a good position to do that as the extra defensive back on the field.
“So Dolphins coach Brian Flores wasn’t kidding when he told reporters a few weeks back, ’I’ll know what he’s doing. You guys probably won’t.’
In a way this is encouraging. And in a way it isn’t.
The odds are very good that, unlike the previous staff, the current staff will be able to decisively present Fitzpatrick with a game plan early in the week and in that respect he’ll be able to better prepare. They’ll have learned how to do that and to communicate clearly to Fitzpatrick exactly what he needs to do from Bill Belichick when most of them were in New England.
But playing in the NFL isn’t like playing at Alabama. Opponents surprise you more often on game day with what they are doing on offense and rapid adjustments are necessary. The odds are good that no one will have to adjust more than Fitzpatrick who will likely be at the center of the changes not only game to game but play to play.
Unlike in college, the odds are good that in his current role, Fitzpatrick is never actually going to be able to prepare the way he wants to because it's going to be impossible to thoroughly prepare for everything over the course of the previous week. Fitzpatrick is going to have to be flexible mentally in a way that he apparently wasn’t last year.
If we take Fitzpatrick at his word, it sounds like he’s might struggle with what the Dolphins are going to be asking him to do this year.
“There are too many positive pieces to this team heading into training camp, starting with Flores at the wheel, to not believe the Dolphins will a lot better than expected this season.”
See my entry above where I pointed out that the Dolphins at short on talent at cornerback and pass rusher. These are the cornerstone positions of every defense.
Sorry. I’m not buying it.
This story was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
The Dolphins come into the 2019 season with a brand new attitude, but there are a lot of questions especially at quarterback. Josh Rosen spent one season in the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals and Miami also brought in veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick from the other side of the state in Tampa Bay.
Brian Flores also brings in a good coaching staff of his own with Jim Caldwell as the quarterbacks coach and he has been a head coach twice with the Colts and the Lions. Personally, when you look at the schedule I think it is brutal from what I know from last season's record, but the usual AFC East schedule is very wide open from recent history since the Dolphins have had the Patriots' number whenever they have visited South Florida. Miami does have more winnable games on the schedule than what most experts think so let's find out.
Week 1 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Since 2013 the Dolphins are 1-4 against the Ravens, and last season Baltimore had one of the top defenses in the NFL. Miami's offense should be changed around whoever is named the starter in week one, but I think it will be Fitzpatrick and I think this game will result with some Fitzmagic with a Dolphins victory. 1-0.
Week 2 vs. New England Patriots
Tom Brady is still in New England, but no more Gronk to dig him out of holes during struggles. I think Miami will definitely have their confidence up from week one and the Dolphins will defeat the Patriots to get out to a 2-0 start.
Week 3 at Dallas Cowboys
This game will be a very tough one, but I'm going to be realistic and I expect a big year out of the Cowboys this season due to really good quarterback play out of Dak Prescott, and Ezekiel Elliott should be the team MVP. I think Miami will be ready to play, but this game will come down to mistakes and the Cowboys don't make those at Jerry World. 2-1.
Week 4 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are a lot like Dallas, they are a really good road team, but they were beaten badly by the Patriots in last season's AFC Divisional Playoffs. San Diego's last visit to South Florida resulted in a shutout loss to the Dolphins, but they were a different team at the time and they have a true leader in Philip Rivers. I'm going to be realistic and give the Chargers the road win in South Florida. 2-2.
Week 6 vs. Washington Redskins
Miami will come off of a bye week coming into the Washington game. However, the Redskins will have a rookie quarterback in Dwayne Haskins and when he is firing on both cylinders running and passing he is unstoppable, but that was at the college level.
The Dolphins will come into this game off of the bye playing mistake-free and I'm predicting that Josh Rosen will play in this game and I'm not saying he will start, but he will play. Miami's defense will get them the home win with leadership from Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary, Kiko Alonso, and Christian Wilkins in the front seven. 3-2.
Week 7 at Buffalo Bills
The Dolphins will travel up to Western New York for the first game of the series against Buffalo. Miami has not won up in Buffalo since 2016, but this should be a very evenly matched game. I think this one will come down to mistakes and turnovers, but this year I think the Dolphins are a way better team than the Bills so I'm giving Miami the road win, but it will be close. 4-2.
Week 8 at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are really beatable and the Dolphins' last visit to Heinz Field was one I'd like to forget, but I have a good feeling about this one. I'm going to give Miami a road win on Monday Night Football because I expect big plays on defense and really good game management from Fitzpatrick or Rosen. 5-2.
Week 9 vs. New York Jets
Adam Gase returns to South Florida just on the wrong side of the ball and also the Jets don't even have a general manager yet. Personally, the Jets are a mess and even though they were still mediocre, letting go of Rex Ryan was the worst thing that happened to them and I'm just stating facts. I'm going to give Miami a home win and they will win it big and I'm not saying it will get ugly, but it will be over by the fourth quarter. 6-2.
Week 10 at Indianapolis Colts
Frank Richt did one of the best coaching jobs last season and not to take anything away from him, but Andrew Luck played a huge part in it as well. The Colts are very tough to beat at Lucas Oil Stadium, but unfortunately, I have to give Indianapolis the home win in this one. 6-3.
Week 11 vs. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo comes to South Florida to close out the series with the Dolphins and last season's home victory over the Bills was a thriller. This game will feature two of the top quarterbacks from the 2018 draft Josh Rosen vs. Josh Allen, but I'm going to give Miami the sweep in this one with a home victory. 7-3.
Week 12 at Cleveland Browns
This game features again two of the top quarterbacks from the 2018 draft in Rosen and Baker Mayfield. The Dolphins will see a familiar face in Jarvis Landry across the field, but I'm expecting big things from the Browns this season and yet again this is another evenly matched game. I'm giving the Dolphins the road win in a thriller, but I think the Browns will outplay the Dolphins. 8-3.
Week 13 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Well Nick Foles is gone, but he is not around anymore to bail the Eagles out of a jam if Carson Wentz is injured or if he is struggling, and this game is in South Florida. The Eagles will be a lot healthier this season and to be realistic Miami will play a lot better than Philadelphia, but from all the years I have watched football this is just one of those games that don't go the Dolphins way when it matters the most. 8-4.
Week 14 at New York Jets
Sam Darnold should be a much better quarterback this season and to be honest Adam Gase will play a big role in that, but the Jets are not there yet. I'm giving the Dolphins the road win and the sweep over the Jets. 9-4.
Week 15 at New York Giants
The Dolphins are in New York for another week and it's against the Giants. New York has similar struggles to the Jets, but the Giants have a veteran quarterback in Eli Manning who is an interception magnet. If that happens they will turn to Daniel Jones. They also have a talented young running back in Saquon Barkley, but he can't do it all on his own. I'm giving Miami another road win and this win should earn them a playoff spot. 10-4.
Week 16 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati has a new head coach in former Dolphins assistant Zac Taylor and they still have a mediocre quarterback in Andy Dalton, but this game depends on which attitude Miami is in since they have already clinched a playoff spot. What could also be on the line is an AFC East title, or even maybe a home field advantage? I'm still giving the Dolphins the home win, but this one won't be easy. 11-4.
Week 17 at New England Patriots
This game will determine the AFC East Championship and it has been a long time since the Dolphins have a regular season game with a lot on the line like this since the Dan Marino era. The Patriots are very tough to beat at Gillette and I think it's just the way it is as long as Brady is around so I have to give the Patriots the win. 11-5.
If my 11-5 prediction is right then Brian Flores would have done the best coaching job than any coach in the league in 2019. I'm predicting that Josh Rosen becomes the Dolphins starting quarterback in week six against the Redskins, but he will play a lot before that week. The Dolphins defense should be one of the NFL's top defenses due to Christian Wilkins at defensive end, Kiko Alonso at linebacker, and Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary.
This story was written by Zach Blaine. Follow him on Twitter: @TheMiamiGator
As the calendar flipped to June, the Miami Dolphins opened the final portion of the offseason schedule: mandatory minicamp, which will run from June 4 to June 6.
One player who was present Tuesday morning? Two-time Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones, who chose to skip OTAs in order to fully rehab a torn labrum he suffered this past regular season.
“Voluntary means voluntary," Jones said after practice. "So I took the time to get physically ready to play a 16-game stretch coming off a surgery in February.”
Reshad Jones, in recent years, worked with the first team defense, but due to Jones being absent for a long period of time, the former Georgia standout worked with the second team, instead.
“Reshad is here and will work with us." head coach Brian Flores said. "He looks like he is in really good shape, too,”
Jones worked at the usual safety position Tuesday, quickly breaking up a pass intended for TE Clive Walford during 5-on-5s.
In 2018, started 13 games, creating 57 solo tackles, including four TFL’s. Jones also recorded three interceptions, one for a pick-six score against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. Rain poured throughout practice, but once day one officially came to a close, Jones walked over to the media and began explaining his thoughts on how he is feeling.
“I don’t really have nothing to prove to nobody." He said. "I’ve been one of the best safeties in this league for a long time. I put the work in year in and year out.”
The Dolphins will continue mandatory minicamp tomorrow morning, with practice open to media members only.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
“Under previous coach Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake’s workload would fluctuate from averaging 18 carries per game in the last five weeks of 2017 to having just 7.5 attempts per outing in 2018.
Even as Drake flashed potential last year, not many people around the team were advocating more playing time for him. No one said it outright but the suspicion is that his work ethic wasn’t up to snuff. Apparently working with the veteran Frank Gore didn’t bring it out of him.
It sounds like Drake is embracing his opportunity to work with the new staff and is looking at it as a fresh start. Here’s hoping it results in a more professional attitude and, as a results, benefits the Dolphins in a big way.
“There’s no doubt Miami must upgrade from last year’s starting duo of Davis and Ted Larsen, who is now with Chicago. Davis was the league’s 77th-rated guard last season according to ProFootballFocus, allowing seven sacks. Larsen, who started 14 games, was even worse, ranking 125th and allowing four sacks.”
This article highlights the past problem at guard and the fact that Jesse Davis is currently still the leading candidate to play right guard is an indication that the Dolphins have a long way to go at this position. And the fact that third round draft pick Michael Deiter will likely beat out current starting left guard Chris Reed doesn’t make me feel a lot better. The fact is that this problem probably won’t be solved this year, at least on both sides.
Many people have a habit of underestimating the importance of the guard position. In fact, I used to be one of them. But experience has taught me that this is the most important position on the offensive line. It's easier to find guards like Deiter in the middle to late rounds of the draft. But guard position, itself, is more important than tackle. Quarterbacks can step up in the pocket to escape defensive ends coming off the edge if the interior linemen do their job. But no quarterback can throw with pressure in his face.
This is a huge problem that will likely stunt the performance of both Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick along with the performance of the rest of the offensive players, which will have to be judged with this in mind.
“Four different assistants — [outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino, [safeties coach Sean] coach Desai, [defensive line coach Jay] Rodgers and new linebackers coach Mark DeLeone — suggested that new voices should help combat complacency from players.
This is why analysts who are predicting things like ridiculous 0-16 seasons for the Dolphins are wrong. It's because it takes more than lack of talent to result in historically bad teams.
No first year head coach has ever gone 0-16. Rod Marinelli was in his third with the Lions in 2008 and Hue Jackson was in his second with the Browns in 2017.
The Dolphins do have holes all over the field with important positions on the offensive line, at pass rusher and at cornerback filled with mediocre to less than mediocre players. But all of those players are, or should be, laser focused as new playbooks are installed and as relationships with new coaches are built. And every job is wide open as new coaches without preconceptions watch practices with a neutral eye that may decide that a long time starter shouldn’t be given his position and that maybe a relative unknown should be given a shot.
Dolphins coaches will naturally have an easier time getting the most out of their players this year. And that could produce a pleasant surprise with a better than expected season. But at worst, it won’t produce anything historically bad.
“Luckily for [Josh] Rosen, he has had some recent experience in a similar scheme.
Rosen is very lucky here and so are the Dolphins. Young quarterbacks can sometimes take a full season with a new coach before they get to the point where they can stop concentrating on their own offense and start concentrating on the gameplan for the upcoming opponent.
What is more likely to hold Rosen back is how the other players on the field adjust to the new scheme rather than how he does. Nevertheless, this is yet another reason why the Dolphins coaching staff should be able to get a good handle on Rosen over the course of just one season to make a judgment about whether he should be the franchise going forward.
Washington Redskins - 5/5
Oakland Raiders - 5/2
New York Giants - 3/1
Detroit Lions - 7/2
San Francisco 49ers - 9/1
I understand why Daniel Snyder’s Redskins might be the favorite. Snyder seems like just the entrepreneur who would see this as an opportunity rather than a detriment. Nevertheless my money’s on the Raiders.
Mark Davis has been adamantly against this team appearing in the past. But getting permission to move his franchise to Vegas undoubtedly came with a lot of strings attached behind the scenes. The bet here is that it’s not coincidence that the Rams both appeared on Hard Knocks and went to London to play after permission to move to Los Angeles was given.
Oakland plays a home game against the Bears in London this year and it would surprise no one if they ended up being forced to volunteer to be on Hard Knocks as well.
This story was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews