On the first day of training camp, the linebacker lineup was Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi, and Chris McCain. In the second day of camp, there was one substitution and some rearranging. Veteran linebacker Kelvin Sheppard took over Misi spot at middle linebacker, and Misi was moved back outside to a more familiar position.
It's been highly expected by Dolphins fans that Chris McCain would eventually emerge as the clear favorite to win the job at SLB, but there have also been opposing reports saying that the Dolphins would rather have Sheppard in the middle with Misi on the outside. Clearly, it's a combination of both in an attempt to see who the better choice is.
"This is the time where we want to create a competitive atmosphere at every single position, the job really of the coach is to put players in a position to be successful." said head coach Joe Philbin during his camp press conference. "We know all of those guys have some really outstanding traits and qualities and instincts and toughness and passion for the game."
It's clear to anyone that knows the team that both McCain and Sheppard have a great passion for the game, and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses in the game. As a result, the coaches have deemed it necessary to experiment with their players, which includes the linebackers.
"We're looking to find the exact right combination of who works best with one another, who communicates best with one another, who has the most production when they’re out there." Philbin said. "Obviously, playing linebacker in the running game is about getting off of blocks and making tackles."
McCain knows how to get off blocks, and he's got the potential to be an elite pass-rusher. But his biggest weakness is his inability to cover, which is likely why Sheppard is getting such a hard look in the middle in order to allow Misi back outside. There's also the factor that Sheppard is a better on-field communicator.
"It wasn’t necessarily that as much as we’ve liked the way he’s caught on to how we do things here, both from he’s fit into the locker room extremely well, we think he’s got an excellent grasp of the defensive scheme and so I think he’s just fit in well." Philbin said of Sheppard. "He’s got good enthusiasm for the game, he seems to be a good communicator out there. We want to provide an opportunity to see if he’s the best guy.”
Both Sheppard and McCain will be battling it out for the third linebacker spot, albeit at different positions. Now pads are on, and things are serious. We'll see how it turns out.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Ryan Tannehill has had control of the Miami Dolphins' offense for three years now and entering his fourth, chemistry is beginning to build, and the team is solidifying an identity with him leading the way. Similar to Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and his roster overhaul, (but to a much lesser extent,) the Dolphins have made an effort to remove players who did not fit into the system or the plan, and the locker room is better because of it.
Tannehill spoke to the media after training camp and had this to say concerning the new feeling in the locker room and on the field:
“There’s always excitement on day one. There’s always excitement to get on the field, to be together. But you feel it in the locker room, you feel it out on the field." Tannehill said. "This is a good group of guys, good people and we want to win. We want to win a championship. We’re all here for the same reason. I feel like we have a selfless team of guys that are here for the right reasons. It’s going to take us a long way.”
I would love to believe that unity and friendship are bringing this team together, but I would be lying if I didn't say that urgency is playing an equal role in this new sense of comradery. Although his contract was extended, Joe Philbin needs to turn in a winning record or major changes will have to be made in the front office.
When pressure is put on the head coach and general management it is felt all the way down to the players and everyone in between. This team is full of talent and they have been provided with the tools needed to succeed, and now it’s time to provide results.
Management has gone to great lengths to provide Tannehill with players that will help this team improve in the offensive game, as well as help the young quarterback grow and take the next step. When asked about his new weapons, and who he is most excited to play with, Tannehill expressed his excitement for the new additions:
“It’s tough to pick one because we have so many." Tannehill said. "We really have a stacked group all of the way around, from our backfield, to our tight ends, the receiver group, everywhere you look, we have weapons. It’s going to be fun for me to be able to spread the ball around.”
Tannehill is a very unselfish quarterback, and this is seen in his pass distribution from game to game. Last season Tannehill threw the ball to over 8.5 different players per game (a high number considering the teams that the Dolphins faced last season on average only threw to 6.9 different players per game.)
So not only will Tannehill have a great set of weapons around him, he will use every single one of them and defenses will have to take notice of every offensive threat on the field. Tannehill’s numbers will reflect this as these new and improved weapons will maximize the potential of Bill Lazor’s quick-hitting offense, putting the ball in players’ hands and letting them do what they were brought here for.
Stephen Ross fronted the bill for Tannehill’s $96 Million dollar contract, but if that wasn’t enough of an endorsement, he had this today after day one of training camp:
“Ryan has all of the ingredients to be an elite quarterback. If you look at his performance, he’s gotten better every single year. I think with the tools he has around him now, he will continue to get better and I think you’ll see that with our wins and losses." Ross said. "You’ve got to start with the quarterback. I can’t think of a better person, a guy with the talent, the brains and the athletic ability combined to really lead this team.”
Ross strongly expressed his desire to see this team reach a championship, and he is doing what he can to put that winning team on the field. After the first day of camp, players and coaches alike are optimistic and excited for the upcoming season. This is a new Dolphins team and it looks very different from last year’s team, but the new additions, paired with the development of Tannehill should help them get over the hump and into the playoff picture that has been painfully close the past two seasons.
This story was written by Efrain Ramos. Follow him on Twitter: @EfrainRamos
The Miami Dolphins have been catching a lot of flack the past couple of years because of mediocre play on the field. But one area the Dolphins seem to be leading in is “thinking outside the box.” Now the Dolphins have become the first sports team to utilize a new Twitter feature called ‘Collection’.
Basically, ‘Collection’ allows the user to create a custom timeline of tweets the user selects. But the Dolphins used it in a different way. The team released a series of tweets to unveil their throwback jerseys for the December 14th game against the New York Giants. The tweets are linked to the Twitter page that allows the user to stay on Twitter while browsing Miami Dolphins’ products. Covering the story for Forbes, @AnthonyDiMoro explains,
“Each product has a landing page that has product information, prices and a conversation. The landing page serves as a gateway to the team’s online shop where customers can complete a purchase.”
Here are some screen shots.
Dimoro had a chance to talk to Dolphins Senior VP & Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Walls about the ‘Collection’ feature:
“We saw this opportunity to reach fans where relevant conversations around the uniform unveiling were taking place. As an organization, we constantly strive to deliver content to our fans in the manner in which they want to consume it. In addition, we strive to be on the leading edge of technology.
Through the Collection, we were able to highlight our throwback uniforms and 50th season merchandise, making it easier for our fans to see what is available. As social platforms continue to evolve, we believe e-commerce will continue to play a larger role. We anticipate using the Twitter Collection feature throughout the fall as we release new lines of merchandise.”
For those of us that are avid users of social media it’s clear to see that the Dolphins understand its power. The team routinely wields this power and in doing so has “energized” the fan base. It should be evident to anyone watching the Dolphins that they care tremendously about the brand. They want to be seen as a progressive, innovative team with a “state-of-the-art” facility that will compete for championships.
The new stadium; the revamped roster; great looking throwbacks; sports science/analytics; and now the integration of e-commerce with social media platforms are all great examples of this effort. Now let’s see if the players and coaches can deliver.
This story was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
Day two of camp is in the books, and it was definitely a little more sloppy than day one of camp. There were random incompletions by the quarterbacks and there were a few instances where the corners let themselves get burned on deep passes.
There were also a few changes made to the lineups on defense that caught my attention. With this being the last camp before the pads come on, this is the last "fake" practice before things really get serious and evaluations can really be made. With that said, here's what I saw out there today.
The Dolphins are more than happy to rotate linebackers
Yesterday I reported that Chris McCain was the favorite to win the SLB spot. Today I learned that this may not necessarily be the case. Today, veteran linebacker Kelvin Sheppard got most if not all the snaps at middle linebacker today, with Koa Misi lined up outside. Chris McCain on the other hand, spent most of his time on the second team, some of it even at defensive end.
From what I could see, Sheppard wasn't all that exciting. He played solid but there was no real excitement like there was with McCain. Sheppard is better at covering people, but McCain is far superior when it comes to pass-rushing. However, Misi is also good at pass-rushing from the outside.
I still maintain that McCain will emerge as the favorite to take the job at SLB, his amazing pass-rush skills and athleticism will earn him that while he practices his coverage skills. I expect McCain to go back to being the starter in tomorrow's practice, as the rotation and experimenting continues.
Zach Vigil moving up the depth chart
We've been waiting to see which one of the undrafted free agent linebackers was going to emerge as the leader to make the 53-Man roster (because you know SOMEONE is gonna make it), and it appears that it's Zach Vigil - former Utah State Aggie - that is out in front of his competition.
Today, Zach Vigil found himself playing as the second-team middle linebacker, with Jordan Tripp and Spencer Paysinger flanking him on either side. Vigil posted 163 solo tackles in his time at Utah State, with 16.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. But he still has Jeff Luc and Mike Hull behind him breathing down his neck.
This is the second observation involving the linebacker position, but it's probably one of the biggest unknowns that the team currently has. The pads come on tomorrow, and we'll see who emerges as the favorite tomorrow. Will Vigil remain the favorite, or will Luc step up again?
Jamar Taylor not locked in as second corner
I understand, it's a competition, everyone's rotating in and out, just like at linebacker and offensive guard. But I was not expecting to see Taylor being rotated as much as he has been so far. The three automatic players in the secondary are still Brent Grimes, Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas, but apparently there are very few players not allowed to compete for the second starting spot.
Today, Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor flipped from boundary to nickel all throughout the day, and not only that, Will Davis also had chances to play on both the boundary and nickel. Davis, for his part, got burned on a deep ball that fell right into the hands of wide receiver Michael Preston from Matt Moore.
I had fully expected for Taylor to lock things down quickly, but it's pretty clear the Dolphins are giving every player - not named Bobby McCain or Tony Lippett - a good opportunity to become the starter. Davis has been able to ballhawk as usual, but he's struggled to stay with receivers.
Taylor and McCain are the two guys truly fighting for the spot, and I will have to be keeping a very close eye on this battle as camp goes on. I still think Taylor will take the job as McCain is better in the nickel, but it's obvious at this point the Dolphins want to try out every possibility at not just corner, but EVERY position.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
PRESS RELEASE: Miami Dolphins Ink Multi-Year Partnership with 1210 ESPN Deportes As Spanish Radio Partner
Miami – The Miami Dolphins and 1210 ESPN Deportes (WNMA-1210 AM) today announced they have entered into a multi-year agreement for the station to become the official Spanish radio broadcast partner of the franchise.
1210 ESPN Deportes, the first and only Hispanic sports station in South Florida, now holds the Spanish radio broadcast rights of all preseason, regular season and playoff games. As the sports leader in South Florida’s Hispanic market, 1210 ESPN Deportes will deliver the most complete and up to date coverage of the Miami Dolphins.
“This new partnership with 1210 ESPN Deportes Miami continues our 34-year commitment to broadcast games in Spanish in the South Florida market. The Miami Dolphins are proud to honor that tradition, and excited to partner in a strong relationship that will no doubt enhance our fan experience and benefit the community,” Miami Dolphins Senior Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer Todd Kline said.
"We are very proud to have the exclusive Spanish radio rights of the Miami Dolphins. Through our signal thousands of Spanish speaking fans will be able to follow this legendary team, which will celebrate their 50th season, step by step during the developments of every season. Our goal is to continue adding new fans season after season, thus contributing to the growth of the Spanish speaking football fan base by means of our programming and promotions,” announced Vice President & General Manager of 1210 ESPN Deportes Mariela Mea. “This partnership is the beginning of a long road that will certainly make history in our community. To our Miami Dolphins we would like to say Bienvenidos to the 1210 ESPN Deportes family.”
Additional elements of the partnership include events tailored for the Hispanic community in South Florida, including a Football Fiesta as well as support for the Miami Dolphins signature community initiatives around the Dolphins Cancer Challenge, AARP Foundation Million Meal Pack and Fins Weekend in support of City Year Miami through radio, digital and social mentions.
1210 ESPN Deportes will receive marketing and branding through social and digital platforms. 1210 ESPN Deportes as part of the deal will air a 60-minute pregame show and a 30-minute postgame show.
As he has done in the past, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross took questions from the media at the start of the season. And as usual, Mr. Ross was not shy about answering questions. More than anything he conveyed his confidence in the team.
When asked how he feels about the team, Ross had this to say, "When you look at this team and you look at the roster, I think everybody looks at it as saying, 'Hey, this is the best roster you've seen in Miami in many years’". Clearly the addition of high profile players such as Ndamukong Suh has Stephen Ross feeling like he has a competitive roster.
This would of course make me think that the expectations for Coach Joe Philbin would also increase. Coming into his fourth season without any playoff appearances certainly has the fan base losing patience with Philbin.
When asked if he expects Philbin to lead the team to the playoffs this year, Ross had this to say, "He's expecting to make it, and I'm expecting to make it." That certainly sounds like Ross will be unhappy with Philbin if the team does not make the post season.
Considering the amount of money Ross has invested in both players and facilities, it is not all that surprising he is expecting a playoff berth in return for those investments. Speaking of facilities, Ross was asked about his excitement level related to the stadium renovation, and he had this to say, "In being successful in any business, it's handling all of the details in every aspect of it. So I think yes, the fans want to go to a place where it's more comfortable, their experience is enhanced. And that's what we've done. I think, when you see it, though it all won't be there this year, you'll get a good idea. You've seen the tapes, you've been in the rooms, it's pretty exciting. It doesn't exist anywhere. People are buying tickets, buying suites, paying money that no one would have expected that they would have.
“We've really kind of changed the whole way that people look at stadiums,” Ross continued. “I think we're the model of what a stadium should be. Miami is getting really a brand new stadium."
It never has been a secret that hosting another Super Bowl has been a high priority for Ross. When asked if he thought Miami could win the bid for one of the upcoming Super Bowls, Ross replied, "I would hope so. When you see what we've done, I don't think there's a stadium in the country that really could compete with us, and it's going to be state of the art. It's Florida, everyone wants to be here, you're going to be coming off the (Super Bowl) in Minneapolis - is that the game that's the previous one before they award the next game? And I would think they would be ready for a little warm weather. You would hope. You would think. (laughing).”
After seeing the beautiful upgrades happening to the stadium, I personally can't imagine why the Miami Hurricanes (who want to opt out of their contract to play home games there) would not be excited to play at Sun Life Stadium. When asked what he thought about the Hurricanes wanting to opt out, Ross was right to the point. He simply said, "They have a long term contract, and I expect them to live up to that contract."
As for player expectations, anyone that follows the Dolphins knows that the local media has been highly critical of Ryan Tannehill. That did not sway Ross from signing Tannehill to lucrative long term deal this offseason. When asked about his thoughts on Tannehill, Ross offered the following, "Ryan has all of the ingredients to be an elite quarterback. If you look at his performance, he's gotten better every single year. I think with the tools he has around him now, he will continue to get better, and I think you'll see that with our wins and losses. You've got to start with the quarterback. I can't think of a better person, a guy with the talent, the brains, and the athletic ability combined to really lead this team."
Ross was also not afraid to comment on questions outside of the Miami Dolphins. He made it clear that he was in favor of how the NFL has handled the Tom Brady deflating ordeal. On that note, Ross said, "I have a lot of confidence in Roger (Goodell) and the league office. I've dealt with him, as you know, with a little controversy not too long ago, and they're very objective. I don't have all of the facts, I don't think any of us really have all of the facts, but I think the league takes everything into consideration, and I have a lot of faith in what the league rules.
“When it happens to you, everybody is always upset, it's a natural reaction. I have a lot of confidence that the league has done the right thing. They have the facts and I think Roger (Goodell) tries to treat everybody fairly."
Finally, in what ended up being a lightly controversial comment, when asked if Miami was still a "Dolphins City" or if the Miami Heat had taken over, Ross had this to say, "If you just look at our sales and how the fans are responding to that and the excitement, I think the Heat is a different organization now that LeBron James isn't there. I think the Dolphins are a team that's kind of capturing the imagination over the whole entire fan base here in South Florida."
Of course some of the hard core Miami Heat fans took exception to that, but it is hard to argue with Ross’s comment. Maybe, just maybe, the time has come for the Miami Dolphins to rise back to prominence.
This story was written by Chad Ronnebaum. Follow him on Twitter @Gofins4SB.
Edited by Eldon Jenson @EJFootball
Day 2 of training camp is under way for the Miami Dolphins and if you're following on Twitter or even TweetDeck, things can get a little confusing. Thus, we've made a list for you to follow right here on our page. Enjoy the practice and remember that it's early in the process so no need to over-react!
If you’re waiting for the Miami Dolphins to sign free agent All-Pro guard Evan Mathis don’t hold your breath. Dolphins executive VP Mike Tannenbaum told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that “the team isn’t looking for help outside” the organization.
“We are happy with what we have." Tannenbaum told Jackson. "Philosophically, when the right player comes along we’ll pursue him. [But] we’re happy with our roster.”
The Dolphins started camp yesterday and the guard spot received a heavy rotation of players including; veteran Jeff Linkenbach; second year player Billy Turner (who is essentially rookie after sitting out last year due to injury.); everyone’s favorite (sense the sarcasm?) Dallas Thomas; and the Dolphins’ fourth round pick out of Arizona State Jamil Douglas.
PhinManiacs.com’s own Luis Sung (@FLSportDebater) was at Day 1 of training camp. Read his report here.
But the media aren't the only ones giving Douglas his props, as Mike Tannenbaum also spoke to Barry Jackson about the rookie guard they drafted in the fourth-round, and why Mathis may not be that important to their plans.
“Douglas has done some good things; we’re encouraged by some of these guys,” Tannenbaum said. “We have belief in our guys at that position. I’m looking forward to seeing it sort out.”
I think at this point Mathis is too expensive. The Dolphins are not prepared to spend 4-5 million dollars on a guard that will be 34 in November. Like Jeff Darlington from the NFL Network said on the Finsiders, the Dolphins have too much time and draft picks invested in the position to give up now. If the young guards struggle to get it together I think the team will go a cheaper route.
There are certainly possibilities, some even nostalgic, as veteran lineman and former Dolphins favorite Jake Long has been visiting NFL teams looking for a landing spot. His frequent injuries have pretty much ruined his career as a Pro Bowl left tackle, but perhaps if he were moved inside, he could be effective again.
Whatever the case, it appears that the Dolphins are no longer interested in Evan Mathis, and perhaps that's for the best, as the Dolphins need the cap room to be rolled over into next season to bring back their own players like Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller.
You can breath now Dolphins fans, Mathis isn't coming, the stressing is over.
This story was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
Miami Dolphins starting left tackle Branden Albert has made an incredible comeback from tearing two ligaments in his knee. Just eight months into his rehab, Albert joined his teammates for the start of training camp today in Davie.
"The beginning was the most challenging, learning how to walk, learning how to do the simple things I've been doing all my life. All the little things I couldn't do," Albert said after Thursday's first practice of training camp. "I was praying. I just wanted to walk again. I told people I didn't think I was going to play football again, but now the time is here and I'm just happy to be here."
Due to Albert's relentless hard work rehabbing his knee, the team was able to avoid placing him on the physically unable to perform list. The 6’5” 320 pound tackle is not clear for full contact but if there’s anybody that’s happy to have him back it’s head coach Joe Philbin.
“Number one it was great to have him out there today,” Philbin said during his press conference. “I think it’s just good for him to get back in the football playing mentality. He's worked extremely hard to put himself in position to get back and contribute to this football team, that's a day-to-day process. I have a lot of faith in him."
With questions at the guard positions there’s no doubt Philbin wants the team’s best lineman on the field sooner than later. Ryan Tannehill has been one of the NFL’s most sacked quarterback since he entered the league. There’s no doubt that having Albert at 100% come game time is what everybody wants.
Until then, offensive tackle Jason Fox will be tasked with holding down the fort at left tackle until Albert can return to full strength, however long that takes.
"One day at a time. I told everybody it's going to be sooner than later," Albert said. "I'm just happy to be where I'm at, and I'm going to keep pushing."
Albert took up boxing in the offseason to try and get back into shape, and everything he's done thus far has helped him to slowly progress back to being who he was before the injury. But until he's ready, he'll be offering his assistance in other ways.
“I’m involved with the team; I’m not off on the side no more like a stepchild,” Albert said. “I’m happy I’m in the situation that I’m in. I feel blessed. It’s been a long, long road.”
And the road isn't over yet. The story of the Tortoise and the Hare has a very viable truth to it. Slow and steady wins the race, and in the NFL, it's more of a marathon. Albert will pace himself, and as a result, he may not return right away, but the chances are much greater that he comes back to form.
This story was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
Wide receiver Michael Preston was unknown to most Miami Dolphins fans until this week, but he’s making the most of his chances in training camp.
Preston, a fourth-year player who was signed with Miami in January, ran good routes and showed off his athleticism in Offseason Training Activities (OTAs) last May. And he continued to turn his coach’s heads with some diving catches on the first day of training camp.
Although buried on the wide receiver depth chart behind the shiny new toys that the Dolphins acquired at that position this year, Preston considers himself a route-running ‘artist’, with the football field as his ‘canvas’. And according to his Twitter profile, he likes to "paint picture perfect portraits against (defensive backs)." You can follow him on Twitter @BigMiiKE19. And if he keeps making plays, he could sneak onto the roster as the 5th wide receiver.
In an interview with Dolphins.com, Preston was asked what his goals are this year and he said, “Make my plays when I can, and be there when the coaches need me. I think it’s important that the coaches build faith and (that) I do everything possible to make this team and contribute.”
Preston was out of football last year after spending 2012-13 with the Tennessee Titans. He has appeared in eleven games and has 10 career catches. And he’s happy to be making some big plays for his new team.
“It’s just getting back to it,” he told Dolphins.com. “It’s a latent-type feeling. I can make those type(s) of plays. So it was good to come out here on the first day and make a big one and get the people excited, as well as my teammates. You just want to keep on doing those things, and carry that over to the preseason and down the road.”
Preston has received comparisons to another training camp warrior from a few years ago named Legedu Naanee, who was also a wide receiver. But before we go ahead and label him like that, let's take a look and see what he can do when the preseason arrives, shall we?
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
What does it mean to be a leader? How can you tell when someone has what it takes to be a leader? There are several different interpretations, and it all depends on one's personal outlook and lifestyle. For the Dolphins All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, he prefers to lead by example.
After the first day of training camp, head Joe Philbin talked to the media and discussed the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, and the things he revealed should prompt fans to give a lot of respect to the man who has labeled as the dirtiest player in the NFL.
“One thing he did is he encouraged Jordan Phillips to come out and train with him. That’s an example of leadership – of taking a young player, showing him obviously from a physical standpoint and a professionalism standpoint, a preparation standpoint, some of the things that he’s done to get himself ready." Philbin said. "Now, to take a young player under his wing so to speak and do those things, so that’s one great example that he’s done already in the short time he’s been here.”
Jordan Phillips' work ethic has come into question at times, and there's speculation that the rookie out of Oklahoma has something of a low motor. But if Suh manages to keep on him and continue to train him in how a professional football player should conduct himself, Phillips could eventually be a very good player.
But it isn't just his interaction with the younger players that makes Suh a great leader, he's also gone out of his way to ingratiate himself with a man who has been considered one of the league's best edge-rushers for several years now: defensive end Cameron Wake. And according to Suh, he's been doing it long before the first day of camp.
“If we just started communicating today, it would be too late." Suh said after the first day of camp. "We had to start that back in OTAs and mini-camp, like I said, and even before that. Once I knew I was coming down here reaching out to him, understanding this is his defensive line and I am coming to be a part of it.
"I just want to understand particularly my role – how I can help, how I can help him make more plays, get more sacks. I am a selfless player so I want to see him be successful and I want to be successful myself as a competitor and go from there. Communication is key.”
And it was communication between him and Mike Tannenbaum that began sparking this whole discussion of whether or not Suh could be a leader, and it's very clear at this point that Suh wants to prove he can be.
“Mike Tannenbaum definitely challenged me and it is a challenge that I always accept no matter what." Suh said. "As I have grown up and understood in the league, being hopefully one of the elite guys, to be good and to be great as I want to be you have to go out there and help the guys around you, especially younger guys bringing them along once you understand your role of what you have to accomplish.
"Jordan Phillips, (Anthony Johnson), guys like that you want to be able to help. Obviously they have great talent or they wouldn’t be here, but understanding how to be pros and I had to have that same thing when I was here. Kyle Vaden Bosch, Corey Williams, guys like that helped me get to where I am at right now.”
So you see ladies and gentlemen, sometimes it isn't always about being the loudest or most vocal player in the locker room, like some would have you believe. Sometimes the best form of leadership comes in the form of work ethic and inspiring others by example to follow that pattern. Suh understands that, and is doing his part.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
It's finally here Dolphins fans, the 2015 training camp is finally open and we've gotten to witness - some indirectly through Twitter - the team's first official practice. Naturally there was some rust to be shaken off but overall it appeared to be a very productive morning.
There were a lot of things that stood out in my mind about what I saw during the team's first practice, and here are the top three things that really got my attention.
Chris McCain still the frontrunner to earn the starting SLB spot
A report came out last night by Adam Caplan of ESPN that the Miami Dolphins were likely going to try and move linebacker Koa Misi back outside to replace Chris McCain, and put linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in the middle instead...well, as I watched the first day of training camp unfold, I found that report would turn out to be true.
For like five plays.
Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the vast majority of the practice had Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi and Chris McCain as the first-team linebackers, which left Sheppard in the middle on the second-team defense with Jordan Tripp and Spencer Paysinger flanking him.
There were a few instances where Sheppard was in the middle with Misi on the outside, but the majority of the practice had the lineup I expected. In the one instance I noticed McCain on the second-team, he leaped up and deflected a Matt Moore pass at the line of scrimmage.
If for some reason the Dolphins coaching staff still decides that McCain won't start, then I would really begin to question what's going on that they wouldn't let him play. It became abundantly clear today that even if the staff decides McCain isn't good enough to crack the starting lineup, he's way too good to play against the second-teamers.
Jamil Douglas beginning to push Dallas Thomas out of his spot
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone by now, but the Miami Dolphins have decided to rotate theie offensive linemen to see who functions best in what position. At right guard the rotations are between Billy Turner and veteran Jeff Linkenbach. But at left guard, the optimism level is much lower. The two players competing for that spot are Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas.
When the day started, Dallas Thomas was the one starting, but as the day went on, the rotation started shifting more towards the rookie Douglas, and there was one point where running back Lamar Miller got off a great run behind him.
To Thomas' credit, he did manage to hold back All-Pro Ndamukong Suh on one snap that actually got my attention, and Suh wasn't actually as dominant as I expected him to be. But there is a reason for this in my opinion. The pads will not be on until Saturday, and so the true hitting still hasn't started yet.
Tomorrow's practice will likely see Thomas as the starter all over again, but if today was any indication, then as camp goes on, we will start to notice Douglas getting more and more first-team snaps as he shows exactly what it is he's made of, and what Thomas isn't.
Michael Preston could possibly be a camp standout
There's always one player who you don't expect to standout but they do anyway. A few years back, the player was wide receiver Legedu Naanee. He fell on his face when the games started so the fans got a bad taste in their mouths. Last year it was both Damie(a)n Williams. The one with an "e" obviously made the team, the one with an "a" SHOULD have made the team.
This season, it appears that the surprise standout is going to be former Titans wide receiver Michael Preston, who stands at 6'5" and in just one day of camp has gotten the attention of both the fans and the media, as he caught two deep passes today, one as he dove to the ground to reach for it.
But remember when I mentioned Legedu Naanee? He too was being hyped as a great player in training camp, and as previously mentioned, he fell on his face when the games started counting. Since then, people have been incredibly skeptical of any dark horse players who make a showing in training camp.
Preston is likely fighting with the likes of Rishard Matthews and Matt Hazel for the fifth wide receiver spot, as the first four are already locked up by Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. If anyone has a chance to move those two out of the way, it appears it'll be Preston, as Tommy Streeter and LaRon Byrd both had unspectacular days.
Don't dismiss Preston just because he's performing well in camp when no one expected him to, there just might be something there that we'll get to see that'll give us another big target in the redzone, and heaven knows you can never have too many of those.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
And so it begins. The 2015 Miami Dolphins season is officially underway with the start of training camp today. The team has been putting in some solid work up to this point but now we see what’s what. Answers to questions like, who will start at guard and who will start at corner opposite Brent Grimes, will present themselves in the next month. But heading into Joe Philbin’s fourth training camp there are plenty of things for Dolphins’ fans to be optimistic about.
Year two in Bill Lazor’s offense should have an impact on offensive production. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will benefit the most from this. His decisions should come quicker this year and his familiarity with the playbook means we should see more audibles at the line. Obviously the receiver’s are new but teammates are encouraged by the way “people have stepped in and caught on quickly.”
When asked about year two in Lazor’s offense on the Finsiders, backup quarterback Matt Moore said, “Just like anything else times is good. You love to go into the huddle and spit out [terminology] like it’s your own. It puts confidence in yourself and your guys.”
The Dolphins are set at the quarterback position (feels so good writing that). After over a decade of has-beens and never-will-be’s, save Jay Fiedler and Chad Pennington, the Dolphins have a quarterback that is trending up. The Dolphins put their faith in Tannehill by rewarding him with a 96 million dollar contract this off season.
According to Moore, “if anything it’s made him work harder.” His completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdown passes have improved every year as a starter. Tannehill seems poised for a breakout season.
The Dolphins have a revamped wide receiver corps. Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, and Mike Wallace are all out. In comes world champion and veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings; third year speedster from New Orleans Kenny Stills; and the Dolphins were fortunate enough to land Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker in the draft.
Add second year slot receiver Jarvis Landry to the mix and the unit has some potential. Parker is recovering from foot surgery to repair a screw but is expected to be ready for week one. I think as a group this unit will be faster than last year’s receivers. The front office tailor-made this unit to suit Tannehill’s strengths. I think they’ll help him take it to the next level.
Adding All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the defensive line makes the entire defense better. Offensive coordinators and linemen are going to have nightmares trying to figure out how to block Suh and “the most complete 4-3 defensive end in the game” in Cameron Wake. And I’ve seen Earl Mitchell take on two blockers himself.
The left side of that defensive line is going to make right end Olivier Vernon a lot of money. He’s going into the last year of his rookie contract and will probably benefit more than anybody else from Suh and Wake’s fury. The linebackers aren’t great but they’re solid. Coaches pet Koa Misi returns from injury and is stout against the run. Jelani Jenkins led the defense in tackles last year.
Second year player and fan favorite Chris McCain will get a chance to show what he can do. The defensive line should make up for any deficiencies by the linebackers. I’m not overly concerned about the open cornerback position. The secondary should be fine under the leadership of Louis Delmas, Reshad Jones, and Brent Grimes.
Delmas is like the glue that holds that group together. We already know what to expect from Grimes. Jones’ season was overshadowed by his four game suspension for PEDs. When he returned to the team he went on a tear and ended up with 70 tackles (2nd on the team), 7 passes defended, 3 interceptions, and a sack.
Last but not least is my X-factor; tight end Jordan Cameron. Cameron has had three concussions in three years and missed some games last season with the Cleveland Browns. The Dolphins are hoping he can return to his 2013 form where his 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns and earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. If he can stay healthy he is an upgrade at the position and will be a great red zone target for Tannehill.
This column was written by Carlos Hernandez. Follow him on Twitter: @LosDez
This film analysis was completed by Efrain Ramos. Follow him on Twitter: @EfrainRamos
The Miami Dolphins are in the midst of an overhaul at the wide receiver position, and at the forefront of this reconstruction is fan favorite Jarvis Landry. Landry, who will enter the season as the de facto leader of the wide receiver unit, won the hearts of Dolphins fans with his hard working attitude, spectacular catches, and overall fun-loving demeanor.
These traits paired with his 84 catches for 758 yards and five touchdowns last season gives NFL fans little to dislike about the former LSU receiver heading into his second season. This is not to say that Landry is perfect, as he does have his blemishes.
Landry runs with the ball like a punter, constantly shedding tacklers and juking defenders, but with that comes the liability of fumbling, which is a concern, and he needs to work on this. Another issue that is often presented is his lack of top-end speed, which limits his home run potential. Landry did not notch a catch longer than 25 yards last year, and fumbled the ball seven times, losing four of them to the opposition.
With those two issues aside (and I’m nitpicking,) Landry possesses a great ceiling to go along with an already high floor, but enough talking, let’s take a look at the tape:
Almost seems like he was in a magic act. “Poof”, Josh Freeman is signed by the Miami Dolphins on April 2, 2015. Then, “Ala Peanut Butter Sandwiches” he’s cut on July 24, 2015. But then, on July 27th, “Abracadabra”, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and New York Giant is back.
So what’s going on? Why the Hocus Pocus? Well, it’s all about money. See, the Dolphins - had they not cut him - would have had a financial obligation to him. By cutting and resigning him, “presto chango” they no longer have an obligation.
If (and it’s a big If) Freeman remains with the Dolphins he is likely to hold the number 3 spot behind (need I really say it?) Ryan Tannehill who signed a long term contract earlier this year ( much to the dismay of some) that pretty much closed the discussion on whether he will be the Dolphins franchise QB. I’m OK with that because I am not a hater…at least not towards the Dolphins.
Tannehill has shown improvement over the last couple of years and though the Dolphins went 8-8 in 2014, he had his best numbers yet echoing the achievements of one Dan Marino. And then there’s Matt Moore who has already been paid a $1.6 million bonus and is a very solid backup. Following along in a fourth QB spot on the roster spot is McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
It will be very likely that although Freeman will compete for a spot on the roster in the upcoming preseason games, the odds are that the Dolphins will only have room for Tanehill and Moore which will mean that (can I come up with another magic incantation name?), “Walla, Walla Washington”, poof, Freeman will be gone. For his sake, let’s hope he catches the eye of another team.
This story was written by Peter Thorpe. Follow him on Twitter: @PeterThorpePM
PRESS RELEASE: Miami Dolphins Announce Top 50 Voting and Throwback Uniform as Part of 50th Season Celebration Presented by Pepsi
Miami, FL – The Miami Dolphins as part of the franchise’s 50th season celebration presented by Pepsi today announced additional elements to mark the milestone, including open fan voting for the team’s Top 50 players and a hallmark throwback uniform. The throwback uniform and the Top 50 players will be an integral part of the organization’s 50th Season Homecoming festivities on Dec. 14 when the Dolphins play host to the New York Giants at Sun Life Stadium.
Pepsi as presenting sponsor of the Dolphins 50th season celebration has inclusion in the team’s microsite at Dolphins.com/Since, presence within the campaign’s out of home signage as well as online voting for the Top 50 players.
Beginning today through Sept. 15 on Dolphins.com, fans have an opportunity to help select an all-time team of the 50 best players in Dolphins history. Fans, along with alumni, South Florida media who regularly cover the team and a blue-ribbon panel, will each contribute input in the team’s final composition.
Those four groups will vote from a list of 100 players throughout the team’s history compiled by the Dolphins organization. The 100 were selected based on a number of factors, with heavy emphasis on excellence (how well they played), longevity (how long they contributed to the team at a high level) and teamwork (how well they made the players around them better).
The Top 50 players can be selected from any position group, and there is no limit to the number of players who can be picked from any one position. The 50 players with the highest vote totals will all make the team collectively and will not be ranked in any particular order. The team will be announced in blocks of five players throughout the course of the season, and will be honored collectively on Dec. 14.
The Dolphins will wear a throwback uniform with a nod to the team’s storied history while incorporating innovative aspects of modern design and functionality for the Monday Night Football game. Aqua, orange and white were new to football when the Miami Dolphins hit the gridiron in 1966.
Since then, the team’s color scheme has remained, but the aesthetics have undergone a subtle evolution including, in the 1970s, the addition of contrast cuffs. In commemoration of the franchise’s 50th year, the Dolphins refresh their original uniform composition — a solid aqua jersey punctuated by white and orange numbers paired to white pants — with the NFL Nike Elite 51 Uniform.
The NFL Nike Elite 51 uniform is a completely integrated system of dress designed and engineered from the inside out. The uniform system features specific fabrics, ventilation and fabric placement in the baselayer, padding, jersey and pants so each element works in concert. An all-over four-way stretch fabrication provides a streamlined, shrink-wrap fit.
This will mark the first time that the Dolphins have worn throwback uniforms for a home game and just the second time overall in team history. The only other time the Dolphins wore a throwback uniform was on Nov. 27, 2003 in a 40-21 Thanksgiving Day win at Dallas, where the organization commemorated the 30th anniversary of the 1973 team that captured Super Bowl VIII.
While the team will don this uniform as part of the Homecoming celebration on Dec. 14, fan jerseys as well as a complete line of 50th season merchandise are available now for purchase on Dolphins.com.
Watch the official uniform reveal video here!
Photo/Video credit Miami Dolphins
It's no surprise to anyone that the new Miami Dolphins wide receiver corps is exciting a lot of Dolphins fans with their versatility, but now we know that it's not just the fans that are excited, the players themselves are too.
Second-year player Jarvis Landry, who has quickly become a household name for all Dolphins fans, spoke to the New Orleans Times-Picayune in a recent interview that he was excited about the opportunity to play alongside the former New Orleans Saint, Kenny Stills.
“I was excited. I was excited to have another weapon alongside me and another group of guys." Landry said in the interview. “As the Dolphins, we’ve always been known as a .500 team. Can’t get over the hump. Can’t make the playoffs. As many weapons as we can add, I’m really appreciative of it because it allows us to be that much more successful.”
As well as helping the team out, Landry has acknowledged that the addition of the young veteran receiver, Kenny Stills, will have a significant impact on how he plays his own game as well.
“Just his downfield threat. I think his speed doesn’t go unnoticed. His speed, his ability to stretch the field for me, and him being versatile. Being able to make plays in the redzone." Landry said. "I think that’s going to allow me to be successful in the immediate and eventually lead to some big plays.”
But while all that is true, the former LSU Tiger has made it abundantly clear that he isn't really interested in making sure his own numbers are good. What he's focused on most is making sure the team is successful, and that's what he wants to be known for.
"You know for me just as much as my success matters," Landry said. "The team's success matters most.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a true leader.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Per a report from the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley, Miami Dolphins rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker will start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Beasley spoke to Parker's agent, Jimmy Gould of Management One, who was also emphatic that Parker will be healthy for the start of the regular season, stating that "Everything points to him being ready for the regular season."
The young man out of Louisville has a very high ceiling and fits the criteria of exactly what quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs from his receivers. Early on, Parker showed the ability to catch the football at its highest point, he showed excellent hands, he showed an affinity for getting yards after the catch, and he's not afraid to go up and fight for the football with a defender.
With the report out that Parker will be placed on the PUP list to start out camp, it means he won't be able to participate in regular camp activities. Instead he will likely be doing rehab assignments on the side of the field, and reports are out that he will be ready to go come week one of the regular season.
But missing camp could set the wide receiver back significantly, as he'll need time to gain valuable experience that he won't be able to get thanks to his PUP status, and it's unknown whether he will be able to play in any preseason games. Expect Parker to get more involved near the middle of the season, when hopefully the Dolphins will already be making a case for the playoffs.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
Here we are folks, just a day from the beginning of Miami Dolphins Training Camp and with it the official start of the 2015 season as far as I am concerned. We sit just hours away from hearing how your favorite offseason stalwarts are performing and the true construction of the 53 man roster starts to take shape.
I, for one, am filled with excitement, consternation, coffee, nervousness, a sense of wonder at the universe, bourbon, and an all around feeling of wellness. All of that is to say I am optimistic about the upcoming season. Of course I was optimistic about every season the Dolphins have played, so maybe a grain of salt is advisable.
I can tell you some good news, there has been no news, which this time of year is really good news. This time last year, just as we all were feeling the collective tingle of anticipation, we were hit with the news of Dion Jordan’s and Reshad Jones’ four game suspensions.
That was coming off the news that Mike Pouncey was injured and would not be available to start the season. This year, a few days away from camp, the blessed silence that we all were hoping for has settled into place. While other teams are dealing with highly visible issues in the media, the Miami Dolphins are biding their time, preparing for what is a most important training camp and season.
There is a quiet confidence emanating from Davie in place of the normal rotted fish smell. A quiet expectation that Branden Albert will be ready for not just the regular season, but maybe even some of training camp, providing the linchpin to fortifying the offensive line.
There is the sense that DeVante Parker will not just be ready for the season, but will be a revelation when he appears on the football field. A feeling is growing around an idea that Ndamukong Suh will change the whole dynamic of not just how the defense performs, but eliminates the ceiling of what it can be.
As the hours tick by and that first whistle draws closer, all of us deserve the freshness of a new season. Right now, no one can say anything definitive about what’s to come this season, we can project and speculate, and opine all we want, but these moments as a new season opens are filled with deserved hope.
We are allowed to dream and hope, there is no obligation to keep yourself grounded and no real excuse to do so. Why care if you cannot even greet the start of a new season with hope?
There is a crackle in the air for me now. I can feel the tension building as the conversations grow more heated on the radio and the rebukes come more swiftly on social media. I hope you all will join me in my excitement because there is no other way to say it.
That time is here, football season is here, and it is about damn time.
This column was written by Ryan Winters. Follow him on Twitter: @WintersNFL
It's Christmas in July everyone. Perhaps the most important player in the Dolphins offense besides the quarterback Ryan Tannehill himself is the team's star left tackle Branden Albert, and per a report by the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley, the offensive lineman will not be starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Albert, who will turn 31 in November, suffered a season-ending knee injury in week 10 of the 2014 season against the Detroit Lions, and as a result the offensive line essentially fell apart as then rookie Ja'Wuan James couldn't adequately pick up the slack and protect Tannehill's blindside, and the right tackle position was taken over by utility lineman Dallas Thomas. Need I say more about that?
Speculation ran rampant that Albert would not be ready due to the fact that his recovery from injury was not going as smoothly as some would like to believe. Reports were that Albert was limping very heavily during OTAs and Mini-Camp, and it wasn't looking good for the offensive line's anchor player.
But people I have spoken to within the organization have refuted these claims, stating that Albert's limp is not really something to worry about, as the offensive tackle was looking much better as time went on. This report now adds a certain amount of credence to that statement.
I had been saying on Twitter for quite some time that Albert's limp was being overstated, that it wasn't as big a deal as others were trying to make it. With Albert successfully managing to avoid landing on the PUP list for training camp, the hope is that he will indeed be ready to go when week one of the regular season comes around, just as Albert said all along he'd been aiming for.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
It's actually happened Dolphins fans, the NFL has decided to uphold the original four-game suspension that was handed down to New England Patriots quarterback and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady over the alleged use of under-inflated footballs during the 2014 AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady was suspended by NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent in May following a league-sanctioned investigation by Ted Wells, who also was in charge of the BullyGate scandal a couple of years ago involving offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. The Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks. The team didn't appeal its penalty, but Brady and his lawyers made their case during a 10-hour appeal hearing on June 23.
It has been made clear over and over again by Brady's camp that if the suspension was upheld, the issue would be taken to federal court. That is the next step the 4-time Super Bowl Champion will take.
But there are certain things that can't help but be questioned. For instance, there's the report that was originally made by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith regarding the now confirmed fact that Brady destroyed his phone. Brady recently explained to Commissioner Roger Goodell that he regularly destroys his phones and SIM cards shortly after he's through using them.
Whether this is true or not is something we may never definitively know, as it sounds incredibly far-fetched that anyone would do something so drastic so casually. Nevertheless, it has been confirmed that the phone has been destroyed, whether to eliminate evidence or something else entirely.
One has to wonder whether or not something bigger is going on in Brady's life that is causing him to take such extreme measures to conceal the information on his phone. If it was merely personal messages between him and his wife Gisele Bundchen, the worst that could happen - at least in my mind - is that he would suffer some brief embarrassment. Perhaps that is also too much for him.
Should the federal courts uphold the NFL's decision, then the New England Patriots will be without their starting QB for four games, forcing backup Jimmy Garoppolo to step up and lead the Patriots into battle. For the Dolphins, this could potentially be a four game headstart as Garoppolo is not even close to Tom Brady's skill level, and with any luck, the Dolphins will be able to take an early lead in the AFC East thanks to this development.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Four AFC East websites get together each week to discuss the AFC East. This week we discuss one player on offense and defense for each team to watch in training camp. See what Matt Barbato of New York Jet Fuel, Ian Logue of PatsFans.com, Steve Saslow of Bills Daily, and Luis Sung of PhinManiacs has to say right here.
Matt Barbato (@NewYorkJetFuel): Offensively, I'm going with Eric Decker. This may not be exactly a breakout candidate, since he led the Jets in receptions last season, but I think Decker could exceed expectations this season. People may have been disappointed by Decker's inaugural season in New York. He caught 74 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns. Many people doubt his ability as a number-one receiver, but he doesn't have to be that anymore.
Brandon Marshall will draw the best coverage, which allows Decker to settle back into his number-two role, a role he thrived in with the Denver Broncos. In two seasons alongside Demaryius Thomas, Decker caught 172 passes for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns. Also, keep in mind that Decker is a 6-foot-3 target who should always posed as a red zone threat with the Broncos. He didn't cash in as much with the Jets simply because teams keyed on him in the passing game. With Marshall in town, Decker should be able to get a couple more scores.
There's no doubt Decker can get back to 80 catches and 1,000 yards even with Marshall getting more targets. Of course, this all depends on whether Geno Smith can finally develop into a competent starting quarterback.
Defensively, Quinton Coples is a prime candidate to surprise some people. He goes unmentioned when discussing the vaunted Jets defense because of bigger names such as Darrelle Revis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson.
Originally drafted as a defensive end, Coples plays primarily as an outside rusher in the 3-4 defense. He recorded 6.5 sacks in his second season at his new position.
The Jets have the defensive line and secondary to wreak havoc, but with Calvin Pace entering his 13th season, the onus will be on Coples to keep improving. The situation is perfect for Coples, he just has to continue his development.
Ian Logue (@PatsFans): Heading into 2015, there are a couple of Patriots players that fans outside of New England may want to be concerned with this season.
This is a team that on the offensive side of the football may surprise people this year, and one of the main reasons could ultimately end up coming from wide receiver Aaron Dobson. Dobson, who was a second-round pick in 2013, had a productive rookie year two seasons ago but a foot injury ended his first season early. Offseason surgery set him back and kept him from really ever getting started in 2014, which saw the second-year wideout end up on injured reserve following an apparent hamstring injury against Green Bay that made him a spectator during the team's championship run.
But Dobson showed a lot of promise in his first year, catching 37 passes for 519 yards, the second-most catches of any rookie wide receiver in Bill Belichick’s tenure behind Deion Branch’s 43 in 2002. The former Marshall standout is a player that has the physical tools. He's a big receiver at 6'3", which is something the Patriots have been lacking in past years. In an offense that has two big targets for Tom Brady with a 6'5" Rob Gronkowski and a 6'7" Scott Chandler, Dobson potentially provides another big target down in the red area. With Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola, they're already returning their entire receiving core from their championship season. If Dobson can return to form, Brady and the offense could be even more dangerous this season.
On defense, Logan Ryan is a player that was a forgotten man playing behind a secondary that featured Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner last season. With both players now with new teams, Ryan will have an opportunity to have a bigger role in New England's defense in 2015 and that could work out pretty well. Ryan's a solid player, and one of the things that has really stood out about him since the Patriots took him out of Rutgers in 2013 are his terrific instincts. He has a tendency to be around the football, with Ryan even leading the Patriots in his rookie season with 5 interceptions.
He wasn't as productive last year after getting less playing time, but for those who have watched Ryan, the more he played in his rookie year, the better he looked. He was a little shaky in a limited role in 2014, but having more reps should allow him to hopefully settle back in and become a playmaker in 2015. If that's the case, it will be great news for a team that lost two of them this offseason. But overall, Ryan does a lot of things well and while he's not a big name player, there's a good chance that by the end of this season opposing teams might end up knowing who he is.
Luis Sung (@PhinManiacs): The Dolphins have a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball, but there isn't a lot of respect being given to these kids from the national media, and even some of the fans are wary about putting faith in these young people due to the fact that the Dolphins have broken the hearts of fans over the past three years by falling apart at the end of the season.
With that said, I see a lot of potential for certain players on both sides of the ball to be great, and here's who I have in mind for a serious breakout season.
Offense: RB Damien Williams
While the Miami Dolphins drafted running back Jay Ajayi, and his potential has a lot of fans excited. But not many remember that there was a surprise player out of training camp named Damien Williams, who as the year went on showed potential to be a very good player. He showed ability to be an excellent rusher as he fought to stay on his feet and never give up on a play, as well as his prowess as a receiver.
Most fans have already written off Williams in favor of the rookie Ajayi, but I for one am not willing to write off Williams just yet. I've often compared Damien Williams to Darren Sproles, in the sense that he would be more valuable to the Dolphins as a receiver coming out of the backfield than as an actual rusher. A weapon like Williams could be very valuable to the Dolphins, and I expect him to make a strong case this year that he deserves the number two spot behind Lamar Miller.
Defense: LB Chris McCain
Patriots fans will remember McCain as the one who blocked the punt and sacked Tom Brady in the first game of the 2014 season where the Dolphins upset the Patriots and gave the Dolphins fans worldwide a spark of hope. Of course, after that game, McCain's playing time was severely limited despite the bright flashes he exhibited in that first game. Whether that was merely a choice of the coaching staff or a result of McCain's self-admitted failure to fully understand the playbook is debatable.
However, with the departure of linebacker Philip Wheeler, McCain instantly became the favorite to win the starting job at SLB, and truth be told, the majority of Dolphins fans felt that McCain would've been an upgrade over Wheeler in his rookie year. Now he has a year of experience under his belt, and he has said that he now understands the playbook fully. His ability as a pass-rusher is excellent, and if his coverage skills improve as well, I believe McCain will be a star in the NFL, and with Suh and Wake and Vernon on the defensive line, anytime the Dolphins send a blitz, teams should be prepared for the battle of their lives.
Steve Saslow (@BillsDaily):
Offense: Tyrod Taylor: Rex Ryan loved the kid so much he tried to trade for him when he coached the Jets. Taylor spent four years behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore and has only 35 NFL passes under his belt to show for it. He got to learn from a solid quarterback and is considered one of the fastest quarterbacks in the league with an arm. Ryan says he has Russell Wilson type qualities.
Ryan has made it clear that the battle for the starting QB job is a three man competition with Taylor firmly in the discussion. He left a more lucrative offer from the Broncos on the table to sign with the Bills because he was promised he will have a chance to earn the starting spot. He said recently so far that has been the case.
While EJ Manuel was drafted by the former regime (with input from current GM Doug Whaley and current team President Russ Brandon), Ryan isn’t tied to him. This regime did bring in Matt Cassel in a trade with Minnesota for two low round picks. He would be the perfect choice for a game manager to get the ball in the hands of the abundant playmakers on offense while controlling the ball to allow the defense to win games for them. This was the formula Rex Ryan used to get to two straight AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez at QB.
Cassel struggled in OTAs and isn’t a shoe-in to make the roster if he doesn’t win the starting job because of a high cap figure. This opens the door for Taylor who Ryan may favor and is likely the only one with a spot on the final 53 all but sewn up. If he performs well in camp people may be wondering who the new kid is leading the Bills offense on opening day.
Defense: Nickell Robey: Many people haven’t heard of the undersized nickel corner that packs a big punch. He has been the team’s slot corner for most of the two years he has been in the league after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He played much better in his rookie year than last year but that is because the defense used by former Ryan protégé Mike Pettine suited his skill set much better than the less aggressive Jim Schwartz defense of 2014.
Robey is the type of player Ryan loves and even though they drafted Ronald Darby in the 2nd round he will backup the outside starters of Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin. Robey will be the slot corner once again in 2015.
Joe Philbin is a smart man.
While enduring criticism in his first three seasons as an NFL head coach, some of it deserved, some of it overblown, it’s no secret that Philbin’s name figures prominently on most lists of NFL coaches on the hotseat. And Philbin is certainly aware of the warming under his backside as he enters his fourth season leading the Miami Dolphins.
Owner Stephen Ross set the bar with recent comments to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald regarding his expectations heading into 2015.
“There has to be improvement,” Ross said. “What is improvement? I mean, there could be other circumstances, but I’m looking to make the playoffs. And I think Joe’s looking to make the playoffs. And that’s the expectation for all of us.”
Most fans see 2015 as the benchmark season for Philbin and his staff. Simply put, if the Dolphins fail to make the playoffs, Ross will makes changes, and Philbin would likely be the first to be shown the door. And after one of the more promising offseasons in recent history, Philbin knows exactly where those expectations lie. He told Salguero that anyone paying attention to this team will certainly notice the differences this year.
“It’s kind of an ongoing process,” said Philbin. “The plan isn’t complete yet, but I know it isn’t going to be exactly the same, because exactly the same hasn’t been good enough, exactly the same has been average. We’ve been 8-8. I have to do better, and I plan on doing better.”
On Sunday, Philbin told ESPN.com, “I can honestly tell you ... we've had a couple of clunkers in three years. But we haven't had a ton of clunkers where we just got manhandled from start to finish ... I've gone into every game thinking we're going to win (that) game.
"I came here to win championships. I didn't come here to be average and be 8-8. Steve Ross doesn't own the team to be average. Our fans don't want to be average. Our players don't want to be average. So that's what we're here for. That's why we invest and put the effort (and) the time into what we do."
It’s refreshing to hear that Philbin knows where his shortcomings are, sees where he needs to improve, and is striving to do exactly that. And he wants to make it clear that while his coaching philosophy may be very much the same as it was during his rookie season, his approach has changed.
“We’re going to talk about how we interact with and coach our guys every single play during practice better than we have in the past,” Philbin told Salguero. “Sometimes you’re a coach and you’re looking at what you’re running - I right YAM 97 pitch X hook - and you’re looking at your script all the time. I want us to have more instruction and more feedback on the field.
“It doesn’t have to be more yelling or more screaming to be better. It’s just trying to make everything better. We got to have guys to step up, and that’s what the coach’s job is. That’s without a doubt. This profession is demanding, and we all want results, and I do too. For the fans, for everybody. We want to push this thing up another notch. We have to.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
Ryan Tannehill turned 27 years old today, and what better birthday gift can we give him than mentioning kudos and kind words from one of the all-time best players in Miami Dolphins history.
Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly the gift he was hoping for. C’est la vie, Ryan.
But in a recent interview with the Finsiders, former Dolphins and Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese offered his opinions of Miami’s current field general, noting some interesting parallels in his and Tannehill’s career paths.
When Griese was entering his fourth season in 1970, the Dolphins were in the midst of some moves that would change the face of the team for years to come. The year before, the Dolphins had sent their 1970 fifth round pick to the Patriots for future Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti. Then in the 1970 draft, they traded their top pick (third overall) to the Browns for wide receiver Paul Warfield. The top five remaining picks of that 1970 draft included tight end Jim Mandich, cornerbacks Tim Foley and Curtis Johnson, and safety Jake Scott.
Three weeks later, the team made arguably the best decision in their history, signing head coach Don Shula away from the Baltimore Colts (and creating a huge media controversy in the process). See any parallels there?
That 1970 team went 10-4 and made the playoffs, then went to the Super Bowl the next three straight seasons, winning twice, and culminating with the cementing of a legacy that other teams envy and Dolphins fans cherish - the Perfect Season of 1972.
Fast forward to 2015, and Ryan Tannehill is entering his fourth season. Recent drafts have been geared towards fortifying the offensive and defensive lines, and this offseason the team completely revamped the wide receiving corps. Fans and Harvard students alike are fully expecting the Dolphins to win the Super Bowl this year (shameless plug for my article on that subject here).
Okay, so maybe we don’t really expect the Dolphins to win it all this year, given that they’ve fallen short of making the playoffs in all three seasons of Tannehill’s young career. But expectations for the team are definitely higher than they’ve been in many years, and the excitement is palpable as we enter the preseason.
Griese sees the struggles of Tannehill’s first three seasons as a positive, giving Tannehill learning experiences that he can use as motivation, pushing himself and his teammates towards a winning season this year and beyond, in a manner similar to how that 1970 team took off. And from watching Tannehill, Griese is convinced that Tannehill is “going to be fine.”
“I’ve always said that you learn more from losing than you do from winning,” Griese said in his Finsiders interview. “Ryan is the type of guy that for every one of those losses he’s going to go back and say, ‘alright, why, how, and what did that defense do to us that the next one is going to do to us, and I’ve got to learn and be better from that.’
“I think he needs to be the go-to guy,” said Griese. “He needs to be the leader on the field. This is his fourth year, second year in this system, and he just needs to be the guy and carry everybody else, whereas before, (in) his first and second year, everyone was kind of carrying him along. When you’re in your fourth year and you’ve got some good players around you, there (are) high expectations, and I think Ryan knows that.
“And I think he’s ready.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
As I was looking over the current Dolphins roster, it occurred to me how intense this training camp will be. In my opinion, Dennis Hickey and Mike Tannenbaum have done a stellar job at acquiring talent.
That is good news for the Dolphins as they do appear to have a very competitive team to field this season. However, it will make for some very difficult cuts during the preseason. Here is my early prediction on the roster shaping up.
1. Ryan Tannehill – Starting QB
2. Matt Moore - Backup QB
3. Jarvis Landry - Starting WR
4. Kenny Stills – Starting WR
5. Greg Jennings – Starting WR
6. DeVante Parker - #4 WR
7. Matt Hazel - #5 WR
8. Lamar Miller – Starting RB
9. Damien Williams - Backup RB
10. Jay Ajayi - #3 RB
11. LaMichael James – KR/Backup RB
12. Jordan Cameron – Starting 1a TE
13. Dion Sims – Starting 1b TE
14. Arthur Lynch – Backup TE
15. Branden Albert – Starting OT
16. Ja’Wuan James – Starting OT
17. Jason Fox – Backup OT
18. Jeff Linkenbach – Backup OT/OG
19. Jamil Douglas – Starting OG
20. Billy Turner – Starting OG
21. Dallas Thomas - Backup Guard
22. J.D. Walton – Backup Center/Guard
23. Mike Pouncey – Starting Center
24. Cameron Wake – Starting DE
25. Olivier Vernon – Starting DE
26. Derrick Shelby – Backup DE
27. Terrence Fede – Backup DE
28. Ndamukong Suh – Starting DT
29. Earl Mitchell – Starting DT
30. Jordan Phillips – Backup DT
31. C.J. Mosely – Backup DT
32. Anthony Johnson - Backup DT
33. Koa Misi – Starting Middle Linebacker
34. Jelani Jenkins – Starting WLB
35. Chris McCain – Starting SLB
36. Spencer Paysinger – Backup SLB/MLB
37. Jordan Tripp – Backup WLB
38. Mike Hull - Backup WLB/Special Teams
39. Zach Vigil – Backup MLB
40. Reshad Jones – Starting SS
41. Louis Delmas – Starting FS
42. Walt Aikens – Backup FS
43. Michael Thomas – Backup SS
44. Brent Grimes – Starting CB
45. Jamar Taylor – Starting CB
46. Brice McCain – Nickle CB
47. Zack Bowman – Nickle CB
48. Bobby McCain – Backup CB
49. Will Davis – Backup CB
50. Tony Lippett – Backup CB/WR/S
51. Brandon Fields – Punter
52. John Denney – Long Snapper
53. Kicker - ( Not Sure Who)
• Some of the players are going to likely make it due to the position depth and talent. Dallas Thomas is paid peanuts and is not near as bad of a guard as he is a tackle. He will likely be kept for depth at guard based on what he is paid. If they were to sign someone like Evan Mathis that would change, but as of now I would expect him to make it do to the lack of depth at guard.
• I did not name Caleb Sturgis the kicker. I think he is going to end up going against a veteran like Jay Feely
• LB is a hard one for me – I kept Mike Hull and Zach Vigil over Kelvin Sheppard and Jeff Luc. I feel like Hull and Vigil offer more on special teams and the team may try to use Paysinger as the back-up MLB to Misi if needed.
• I kept Matt Hazel as my #5 WR. Rishard Matthews is probably a better WR currently. However, the Dolphins took steps to keep Hazel protected. Hazel will be around for years if he shows something. Matthews is almost certainly in his last year with Miami. I would not be shocked if the team only goes with 4 WR’s to open up another roster spot if needed. My thinking is the team can slide Jordan Cameron to WR in 4 WR sets. They will be doing this with motion a lot anyway. Also, I think Tony Lippett can serve as an emergency wide receiver
• Miami is completely stacked at DT – I kept AJ Johnson as a # 5 DT but that could easily go to AJ Francis or even Deandre Coleman as well. They may end up working out a trade during the preseason.
• I like to keep a lot of CBs. It is a passing league now and you simply get torn apart by guys like Tom Brady when you have a bad cornerback. So I tend to leave other spots thin to make sure I have plenty of DBs. It probably will be hard to keep both Will Davis and Bobby McCain but that is the direction I went.
There you have it, my 53 man prediction. The final 10 roster spots look very competitive to me. I would love to hear what other Dolphins fan predict the 53 will be.
This column was written by Chad Ronnebaum. Follow him on Twitter: @Gofins4SB