By Chip Turner
Near the end of The Big Lebowski, it seems most of the problems have been resolved. All is well with the bowling protagonists, things seem to be going splendidly…and then they find The Dude’s car engulfed in flames. The car almost made it through the entire movie. It had been stolen, defiled by vagrants, driven into a dumpster, and assaulted with a baseball bat, but it soldiered on until its spectacular demise at the hand of Nihilists. “Well,” The Dude grumbles, “they finally did it. They killed my <bleeping> car.”
As the Nihilists were to the Dude’s car, so are the latest DeShaun Watson rumors to the Miami Dolphins fanbase. We almost made it to the regular season without self-immolating, but now Dolphins Twitter is filled with flames, blood and spectacle. According to some, the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans are once again discussing a trade that would send Deshaun Watson to the Dolphins.
What do we know for sure? Very little, really. Some are saying no trade is imminent. Some are saying both sides are trying to work out a deal. Some are saying it’s already done. So let’s break this down a little bit with what we DO know, and whether or not to completely freak out.
1) “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire” – Part One.
Let’s be perfectly clear on one thing: Someone is talking. I've repeatedly chided people who make up "sources," but there are simply far too many legitimate reporters with histories of reputable sources for this to not to be true. The question is, who is talking, and how much do these sources know? Remember, the Miami Dolphins Front Office has become remarkably tight-lipped as of late, but as in any negotiation, there are two parties involved. Even if the Dolphins aren’t leaking anything, it doesn’t mean that the Texans front office isn’t.
2) “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire” – Part Two.
This is where things get extremely tricky, and is part of why Dolphins Twitter currently resembles the craziest parts of Backdraft. There are 22 civil complaints against Watson, which also include two accusations of sexual assault. The majority of the accusers give very similar accounts of what occurred, including one additional person who isn’t legally represented. The incidents are also being investigated criminally.
So we can talk about due process and reports of payoff requests all we want, but in the end, this can’t be denied: Deshaun Watson’s future, both inside and outside the NFL, is very murky, to say the least.
3) Chris Grier is not, as far as we know, completely insane.
Sure, we can debate his draft picks and when he actually had full control of the draft, etc. However, he doesn’t seem to be legitimately out of his mind.
And let’s be honest: The Texans reported asking price for Deshaun Watson, a player with a very murky future, is completely insane. Per Chris Mortensen, the Texans’ asking price for Watson was FIVE high draft picks (Read as: First or second rounders), even after the sexual misconduct allegations started.
Additionally, SOMETHING is going to occur between the NFL and Watson. The best-case scenario is a suspension in 2022. That’s legitimately the best case. Giving up multiple first and second round draft picks for Watson right now would be completely bat-poop crazy. And that’s why I don’t think Chris Grier makes that trade.
4) Deshaun Watson is a better NFL quarterback than Tua Tagovailoa right now.
Yes he is. And that’s the other part that’s gasoline to the current inferno. Because I absolutely cannot wait for the Tua era to kick off this year. I love what he brings athletically, as a person, as a leader, and as the future quarterback of the Miami Dolphins.
But if we’re going to set everything else aside, Deshaun Watson is at this very moment a better NFL QB than Tua. Tua may very well end up being a better QB than Watson long-term, regardless of how the investigations turn out, but right now? No.
So that’s where we stand, and I believe all four of the above points are accurate. Just because there are conversations taking place, it doesn’t mean that the Dolphins are doing all that much talking…they might just be listening.
And mark my words, the Miami Dolphins simply aren’t as tone-deaf as they used to be regarding public scrutiny of their organization. They’re fully aware of the backlash that would come with bringing a player like Watson to Miami as things stand right now.
Do I want Watson in Miami? No. I want Tua to lead the Miami Dolphins to a championship, which I firmly believe he’s capable of doing. I also believe Watson in Miami would be a huge distraction and misstep…but it isn’t up to me.
Furthermore, I believe that both Deshaun Watson and Tua Tagovailoa might end up on the Dolphins in 2021. And I believe the cost, at this point, would be considerably less than anyone thinks.
So...I don’t think it’s time to freak out.
Let’s wait until all this smoke clears.
By Hussam Patel
I’ve been ready for this from the moment the Alabama Crimson Tide throttled the Ohio State Buckeyes 52-24 in the College Football Championship game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Technically, the College Football season kicks off on August 28th with the Nebraska Cornhuskers squaring off against the Illinois Fighting Illini at 1 PM EST.
Other games slated on the 28th include:
-Connecticut at Fresno State
-Hawaii at UCLA
-UTEP at New Mexico State
-Southern Utah at San Jose State
-UAB at Jacksonville State
However, the biggest news story in college football is that the Big 10, ACC, and PAC 12 agreed to be a part of a “collaborative approach surrounding the future evolution of college athletics and scheduling.”
The PAC-12 is driving this alliance, as this comes on the heels of Texas and Oklahoma spurning the Big 12 to go to the SEC in 2025. This is a colossal shakeup for college sports, as it’s one of the biggest shifts of money and power in college sports history.
New PAC-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff explained, "The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student athletes." He believes “collaborating together, we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics."
The new alliance between the three conferences will also shape the future of the College Football Playoff expansion, along with other tournaments, as it will reshape college athletics as a whole.
It will not affect any scheduling this season or next, but three to four years down the line, conference alignments will shift, teams will begin new rivalries, and the college football landscape will change.
By: Jason Sarney
Following a pair of preseason games for the Miami Dolphins to start the 2021 NFL year, we now have a clearer picture of what the 53-man roster could look like. The following is my updated prediction for each and every member of the 2021 Miami Dolphins 53-man roster, including the 16-player practice squad that should be a safe bet to stay in Miami on the "junior varsity" level.
Keep in mind, the NFL has moved to 16 players on the practice squad like last season, due to Covid-19 protocols. There are also more lenient rules in protecting four players per week on the squad so other teams can't sign them. Having said this, please keep it all in mind when we build this 53...for Week 1, that is. You'll see what I mean.
Running Backs: (5)
Wide Receivers: (7)*
*Will Fuller – likely suspended Week 1 from 2020
Lynn Bowden Jr.
*Kirk Merritt or Malcolm Perry could get an opportunity to dress with Fuller suspended Week 1, so DONT count Merritt or Perry on the 53, but make them two of the 16 PS players for now.
Preston Williams explanation on the way...
Tight Ends: (4)
Offensive Line: (8)
Defensive Linemen: (5)
Andrew Van Ginkel
That's my version of the 53, but wait, there's more...
Preston Williams will likely start season on IR along with Elandon Roberts, so as early as Week 3 or 4, two players will have to be sent down, traded or cut to make room for these two.
Practice Squad: (16) - **Expansion of practice squad to 16 players, including up to 6 who have more than two accrued seasons. The ability to protect up to four practice squad players per week from being signed by other teams.
Malcolm Perry ** He can be protected and even moved up and down like last season
Kirk Merritt - See above.
Reid Sinnett - No need to dress him weekly.
Robert Jones - Young UDFA with potential.
Trill Williams - If not a 53-man candidate, MIA will protect this UDFA.
Larnel Coleman - Could move up and down in-season as the 7th round pick is a bit raw still.
Tyshun Render - Last year's UDFA "it-guy" on defense, is still a developmental player.
Jason Strowbridge - Could see 53, but rules can retain him via PS.
Jonathan Ledbetter - See Strowbridge.
Jordan Scarlett - Too many RBs but a hometown kid will be on call.
Durval Queiroz Neto - NFL International Player Pathway Program
Kylan Johnson - FA Linebacker could make a case for LB/ST depth.
Jamal Perry - Has to fight off trill for the last CB spot, or "next man up" on depth chart if need be.
Benito Jones - A find as a UDFA last season, and one to develop.
Javaris Davis - Depth CB who could be cut, but with 16, why not develop another CB?
Cameron Tom - Center depth.
Elandon Roberts and Preston Williams are IR players to start the season, so while there are on the reserve list, there are two spots for a few weeks that Miami can retain a 54th and 55th player, technically. Will Fuller, who is likely serving a 1-game suspension Week 1 from a 2020 ruling, gives Miami another week of evaluation. This before having to cut a player or send one down to the practice squad to make room for Fuller, Week 2.
So, there are some loopholes here to building the 53-ish Miami Dolphins 2021 roster. There is a short list of players from last year who I believe will not be retained this season and they are, Calvin Munson, Adam Shaheen, Adam Pankey and Jakeem Grant to name a few.
Grant, although a superb punt returner, is not a consistent pass-catcher and there is a loaded receiver room. Also, about four other Dolphins can return punts. Waddle, Igbinoghene, Perry and even Lynn Bowden, Jr. can serve as that role in rotation until the job is won. Trading Grant will save Miami around 3-4 million dollars in cap space.
Of course, there are those who are on the fringe, and in my opinion the last few who made this predictive version of the team, and for a variety of reasons, could be expendable for Miami at some point this season, and certainly next season. They are, Malcolm Brown as he could be a version of what last year’s miss was in Jordan Howard but lets wait and see a bit. Jamal Perry may be the last CB on the chart, and with a potential hungry PS-player in Trill Williams looking for a spot, Perry is on notice.
Robert Foster is not a top-end WR nor the best special teams coverage man on the Dolphins currently, as Mack Hollins is the gunner extraordinaire on this roster. With the aforementioned WR situation regarding Week 1 in the absence of Will Fuller as well as the unknown timetable of Preston Williams, Foster could be the beneficiary in getting some more time.
Building this is no exact science, and decent players will be cut which is a good problem to have for a young, developing team. Should players get picked up following Dolphin cuts, this only means Miami is bringing in talent yet, in the NFL you can only keep so much of it.
The Dolphins, and their young players fighting for a roster spot, have one more preseason game on Saturday at Cincinnati against the Bengals.
By: Brandon Liguori
The Miami Dolphins’ lone preseason game Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium vs. the Atlanta Falcons was one to remember. Okay, wait, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. Well, first let me tell you what I saw in Saturday’s 37-17 victory: Tua Tagovailoa looked good and I mean really, really good.
The second-year quarterback, who played the entire first half (four total drives), led touchdown drives on Miami’s first two offensive possessions. Brian Flores’ group trailed early, 3-0, but the Falcons’ lead quickly diminished.
Tagovailoa led an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a Myles Gaskin one-yard scamper and an 11-play, 66-yard drive, a drive that finished with Gaskin scoring his second touchdown of the half.
Rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle, prior to Miami’s first scoring drive, appeared to have hurt his leg while making a block during Gaskin’s 16-yard run to set up the Dolphins 1st-and-goal at the Atlanta 1. Waddle, who took a bit of time before getting up under his own power and walking to the sidelines into the blue medical tent, was targeted four times and caught three passes for 21 yards.
From where I was sitting Saturday night (Section 102, Row 2), I have to admit that my heart sank a bit because of how long Waddle remained down on the field. All in all, Waddle was okay and the many, many spectators at Hard Rock Stadium were able to breathe a sigh of relief. On the defensive side of the football, Xavien Howard opened playing alongside Byron Jones at the cornerback position.
Now that Howard’s contract talks have been resolved and put to bed, the former Baylor product can now focus on remaining the most important piece of a dangerous defense. Sam Eguavoen, recently taken off the COVID-19 list, paved the way with four sacks and four quarterback hits, too.
The Falcons, who sat Matt Ryan to avoid a devastating injury in an exhibition game, started AJ McCarron, who exited early in the second quarter because of an injury to his right knee.
Feleipe Franks, a University of Florida graduate, replaced McCarron. All of Miami’s three quarterbacks were participants in a touchdown drive. (Tagovailoa, Jacoby Brissett, Reid Sinnett).
By: Hussam Patel
The lanky dude popping in with that sweet Afro has some sick moves; he would make you think we were on an 80’s disco floor. Mack Hollins rolls up with that swagger and classic drip with that Afro on and off the field.
Against the Falcons in Week 2 of the preseason, Mack Hollins was “letting all the people know that he was back to run the show.” The leading receiver on the night, he played the first half, with four catches for 49 yards.
You remember him last year for jaw-dropping play against the Las Vegas Raiders; possibly the Dolphins’ best play of the year in 2020. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw up a prayer while his head was almost torn off, and Hollins answered it with a catch along the sideline.
Now Hollins is fighting for a roster spot in a crowded WR room, but Miami has added talent in Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle, and gotten Albert Wilson back. We’ve seen Hollins do well as a gunner on special teams, which makes him special; I’s a contributing factor for him to make this roster.
Who would have thought Hollins would be making plays in the passing game during training camp and in the first wo preseason games?
Against the Bears, Hollins was on the field 30 times; 19 on Offense and 1 on special teams in which he was as sharp as ever as a gunner. Hollins tallied two receptions for 20 yards.
With the injuries to the WR room, it’s encouraging that Mack Hollins is currently producing. Hollins is showing the Dolphins organization that he can be a role player and be reliable as a WR. Hollins has been promising so far in training camp and pre-season.
If Hollins can rise to the occasion and continue making plays, he’ll be a valuable piece to this offense and the organization.
By: Chip Turner
As the 2021 Dolphins pre-season progresses, anticipation for the regular season is growing. Eye-popping plays on both sides of the ball are giving rise to hope under the South Florida sun, but everyone is watching one particular area of concern - the offensive line. Inconsistent play, regression, and uncertainty are all-too-familiar descriptors for Miami’s O-line, and the concern is that it will once again be an Achilles Heel for the Miami Dolphins.
But will it?
The simplest answer is: It’s too soon to tell, because so far all we have are reports that sound more like questions than answers. Austin Jackson looks like he regressed one day, then rebounded the next day. Solomon Kindley is third-string, or is he back on the first team now? Is Michael Dieter really NFL-ready as a starting center, or is he just the best option Miami has? Who’s going to play right tackle? And what the heck is going on with Liam Eichenberg?
Dolphins fans (and some of the media) have whipped themselves into a frenzy about the line nearly a month before the season starts, and all I can think of is a quote from the irreplaceable and legendary George Carlin: “Calm down…have some dip.” Here are a few thoughts and reasons for optimism regarding the line play headed into the 2021 season:
1) Coach Flores values versatility among his linemen - I wouldn't get too caught up in who's taking snaps where at this point. Does Eichenberg playing guard mean he's incapable of playing left or right tackle? No, it does not. Kindley playing with the third team line also wasn’t the end of the world; he and Matt Skura seemed to have plenty of success opening holes in the run game this past week. Coach Flores has repeatedly stated that the team is working toward putting the best five players on the field to start Week 1, and they’re not going to be able to determine which unit that is without mixing and matching different players at different positions.
2) This line is (once again) very young, and literally half of the Offensive Line is new to the team this year. Larnel Coleman, Liam Eichenberg, Jermaine Eluemonor, Robert Jones, Greg Little, Matt Skura and Cameron Tom were all playing elsewhere in 2020. Anyone familiar with line play will tell you that continuity and cohesiveness are absolutely essential. This takes time, and it certainly isn’t going to happen in three weeks of pre-season. Yes, the rookies and second-year players are going to get knocked on their butts sometimes. That doesn’t mean they won’t get better together.
3) Speaking of continuity, an area that simply hasn’t been addressed enough is continuity at the OL coach position. In the NFL, coaching changes happen frequently, but the turnstile of Offensive Line coaches in Miami has been ridiculous. Quick…do you know the last time the Miami Dolphins had the same OL Coach for more than two seasons in a row? I’ll save you the trouble – it was 2011. Here is your list of Offensive Line coaches since 2011:
2011: Dave DeGuglielmo
2012: Jim Turner
2013: Jim Turner
2014: John Benton
2015: John Benton
2016: Chris Foerster
2017: Dave DeGuglielmo
2018: Jeremiah Washburn
2019: Dave DeGuglielmo
2020: Steve Marshall
2021: Lemuel Jeanpierre
The Dolphins have simply not been able to fix their line under any coach; they even gave coach DeGuglielmo three tries under three different regimes. Now, I'm not going to pretend to know OL coaching better than anyone else, and the Dolphins have used a mix of man blocking and zone blocking (in their RPO) in the past. Zone blocking is more difficult than man blocking, but there have been multiple occasions under multiple OL coaches over the past few years when a lineman assigned to an area was simply walking forward and completely out of the play with his hands raised, blocking nobody. That's one of the more basic rules in a ZBS; don't chase air. Seeing that at the professional level, along with the OL's inability to handle simple stunts, is completely inexcusable...and that is 100% on coaching. If there's one specific thing to place blame on Grier/Flores for, it's their inability to get the right coach for the OL. This is their third try in three years; let's hope Coach Lem gets it right.
So what does all this mean? Does it mean that we should all just stop worrying about the line and start singing “Kumbaya” if Tua gets pressured on virtually every snap Saturday night against the Falcons? No. It’s just a suggestion to take a breath and have a little patience…once again. I’m well aware that patience with Miami’s O-line is in short supply, and if things don’t get better by the first few games of the season, I’ll revisit the torches and pitchforks crew.
Until then, just listen to my pal George:
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons will have joint practices this week, then a preseason matchup Saturday at 7:00 p.m. EST. This will be the 7th straight time MIA & ATL have met in the preseason (excluding 2020/Covid) MIA has won five preseason meetings in a row against Atlanta since 2015. Five Dolphins will be cut prior to game.
-The last regular season meeting between Miami and Atlanta came in 2017, a 20-17 win for the Dolphins. They meet Saturday, and then again in Week 7 of the regular season this year.
-Third year head coach, Brian Flores helped the Dolphins win 10 games in 2020 for the first time since 2016, even though he had the second-youngest roster in the NFL.
-The Dolphins did not allow a 100-yard-plus running back in 2020. They did however give up 106 to quarterback Kyler Murray in a victory in Arizona.
-Miami was 8 for 10 on 4th down conversions in 2020.
-Brian Flores preaches disciplined play and Miami has seen a massive decrease in penalties since he became head coach in 2019. That season, Miami finished 4th in the NFL committing just 92 accepted penalties. Their 769 penalty yards were also the 4th-best mark in the NFL.
-There is a nice punt returner battle brewing, and there should be. There were 7 punts by the Bears on Saturday. Rookie Jaylen Waddle returned 1 for 24 yards, and that was his lone chance which was a great one. Jakeem Grant and Malcolm Perry took in three each. Grant averaged 16.7 a return and Perry 10.0. It's Grant versus Waddle.
-SNAP COUNTS OF INTEREST From CHI game:
-Kirk Merritt played 31% of offensive snaps & 30% of ST snaps. He was targeted once & had 0 catches & had a penalty
-Robert Foster 43% on offense & 15% on ST. He was targeted twice for 0 receptions.
-C Snaps- Michael Dieter 49%
Matt Skura 40%
Cameron Tom 11%.
-Miami will feature many new linebackers in 2020 including Duke Riley, Shaquem Griffin, Brennan Scarlett, and Benardrick McKinney, who was a 2nd team all-pro in 2016. Add in rookie 1st-round pick Jaelan Phillips as well. The four veterans have collectively played in 239 career games with 124 starts and appeared in 17 playoff games.
-The Dolphins didn’t allow a touchdown in three games in 2020. Week 15 against New England and also didn’t allow touchdowns in wins over the N.Y. Jets in Weeks 6 and 12. The New Orleans Saints were the only other team to accomplish that in 2020. The last time Miami did this in one season was in 2011.
-In his last 24 games (since Week 8, 2019), DeVante Parker is 12th in the NFL with 1,711 receiving yards in that span.
-In 2020, Miami was third in the NFL in first-quarter scoring, averaging 6.4 points.
-Miami's defense was of course stellar in 2020, especially in the 1st quarter. The Dolphins 1st quarter scoring defense was 4th in the NFL at 3.4 points allowed last year. The team’s 8 takeaways were 4th in the 1st quarter across the league.
In 2020, three Dolphins scored a total of 4 successful 2-point conversions.
and Preston Williams twice.
-Let's not forget two NFL veterans will bring much-needed depth to Miami's defensive line. They added Adam Butler and John Jenkins. Butler has 15 sacks in 63 career games with NE and Jenkins enters his 9th NFL season and had 34 tackles for Miami in his first run with the team in 2019 before a year in Chicago in 2020.
-With Hurns out with a wrist injury for several months, the following wide receiver low-depth chart players are clearly on watch this Saturday against Atlanta. Kai Locksley, Kirk Merritt Isaiah Ford, and Robert Foster as well as Jakeem Grant are all on the bubble. The SAFE bets are DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Albert Wilson, Jaylen Waddle, Mack Hollins, and Lynn Bowden should be fine.
*Preston Williams is on the PUP and Malcolm Perry not on wide receiver chart at the moment and listed as the 3rd punt returner.
-Right now, Jason McCourty is listed as a starting S with Eric Rowe. Jevon Holland is behind McCourty, which I expect to flip by Week 1, & Brandon Jones is behind Rowe. Justin Coleman is the slot w/ Jamal Perry &Cre'Von LeBlanc & Jaytlin Askew behind him. Nik Needham is behind Xavien Howard & Noah Igbinoghene behind Byron Jones.
-The following players are on the Miami roster after being picked up off waivers, since 2019.
Mack Hollins (PHI)*
Zach Sieler (BAL)*
Salvon Ahmed (SF)*
Trill Williams (NO) - very solid chance, if not PS
Javaris Davis (KC) - not likely on 53
Adam Pankey (GB) - likely cut
-Miami used five different offensive line combos in 2020
Jackson Flowers Karras Kindley Davis
Davis Flowers Karras Kindley Hunt
Jackson Flowers Karras Davis Hunt
Jackson Flowers Karras Kindley Hunt
Jackson Kindley Karras Davis Hunt
No current Miami o-lineman played every game at same position last year.
-Tua Tagovailoa threw an interception in just three games last season. Only one time was it multiple picks. It was Week 17, the team's overall worst game when he threw three. In the other two games, there was a close loss against Kansas City and then a victory against the Patriots. Three Games. That's it for Tua as a rookie in his 9 starts. He did fumble in one other game.
-In the 1st half against the Bears, Miami's first team, down several starters all over the field, had an average drive start at their own 38-yard line. The Dolphins headed into the half up 13-3.
-I'd like to see more of Rookie Larnel Coleman. 7th rounder from the University of Massachusetts. 6'6'' and athletic. He played basketball as well as tight end and defensive end in high school. He had 28 consecutive starts to finish his college career. He played in 39% of the offensive snaps against Chicago and one special teams snap. There is potential here.
-Rookie Gerrid Doaks needs more work. At Cincinnati, he carried the ball 331 times for 1,712 yards, which was a career 5.2 YPC. He caught 35 passes for 407 yards, which was 11.3 yards per reception during his 3-season collegiate run. He scored 14 rushing TDs and 4 receiving TDs.
By: Jason Sarney
Re-watching Saturday’s Miami Dolphins preseason game against the Chicago Bears, there was hope, concern, and worry all within the 13-20 loss. Without beating around the bush, let’s get to the hope right off the bat. The first team defense in the 1st half was outstanding despite missing Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Emmanuel Ogbah and Jaelan Phillips.
Not having their top two cornerbacks and arguably their top two pass rushers, Miami’s first unit was still able to hold the Bears to only 79 net yards in the first half. They also did not allow a 1st down by the Bears until under :30 to go in the 2nd quarter.
In terms of the word hope, the definition of it is the performance and progression of undrafted 3rd-year free agent cornerback, Nik Needham. Needham, who is listed behind Xavien Howard on the depth chart in the CB 1 role, got his hands on two passes which is his specialty. He also had multiple tackles including one that lead to a Shaquem Griffin ball swipe and forced fumble. Chicago recovered.
It is clear that Needham is a versatile cornerback in which Brian Flores craves. We all saw it this weekend and during training camp that Needham excels the most in is his natural boundary corner position. As mentioned numerous times last year, he adjusted to a new job in his slot corner roll and did so admirably, minus one week which happened to have been many people’s last impressions of him. It was Week 17’s sloppy performance against Buffalo, which was bad. Not sugar coating it...
That just fuels Needham’s fire. In fact, I can tell you factually that even after the game Saturday, he was not 100% pleased with his performance because he is massively self-scrutinizing. Don't tell him he played flawless, as he watches film religiously and is always looking to correct, well, flaws.
Moving on but staying in the secondary, second-year cornerback, Noah Igbinoghene had his ups and downs like any young player adjusting to the NFL, mixed with adjusting to a position. The freak athlete transition to cornerback while at Auburn and only played a handful of games at the position. Against the Bears, on a 2nd quarter 3rd and long, he had a perfectly timed pass break-up on a long throw towards the sidelines.
In a split second he raised his hand and slightly redirected the ball causing a 4th down. Don’t get me wrong, there were negatives to his performance as well, and he has been a roller-coaster type of player in his early career so far. But there is hope there.
Moving on to the less silver-lined aspects of this piece, the concern is with the short yardage and goal line rushing attack which leads to the worry and that is the offensive line's run-blocking component. While pass-blocking for Tua Tagovailoa quite well in the 1st half, the first unit minus rookie Liam Eichenberg who was a scratch, gave Tua enough time in a clean pocket to make some excellent throws while moving the offense down the field.
While Malcolm Brown started the game off and had 9 carries in the 1st half, he only amassed 8 yards for a 0.9 yards per carry effort. This including missed opportunities inside the 5-yard line to score a touchdown. This is looking like horrible déjà vu from the Jordan Howard miss from last season. Miles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed played very well, and rookie Gerrid Doaks was solid in his effort and nearly had a highlight reel play, but a review called it back after his shin/knee grazed the grass.
After this performance it would not shock me to have the one-year contract and Brown on thin ice at the moment, and Doaks to get a major work-load spike against the Falcons later in the week.
Second year UDFA, Ahmed took his role as backup RB seriously, and spelled the runners for six carries in which he compiled 40 yards, a 6.7 average per carry. Ahmed, a major bright spot this weekend, added a gorgeous 23-yard TD reception on a wheel-route out of the backfield. Ahmed had a pair of catches for 31 yards including that score. Kudos to Jacoby Brissett for a nice pass for the lone Miami touchdown of the day.
The major worry now, is the continuity of the offensive of line. For example, when just a few yards were needed to move the chains or to put 6 points on the board, there was struggle. It is terrific to have Jason Sanders hit 50-yard field goals, but to have him needed from 25 or 30 yards just proves that the offense can’t push the ball into the end zone, and the onus on that is truly on the five offensive linemen and of course, the running backs.
The migraine-inducing worry is the task of finding the top -5 offensive linemen to start the season off. Starting at the center spot, where we saw Michael Dieter lead the way in Chicago, then he was subbed out for Matt Skura who got time with the other top-four at the moment. Jesse Davis, Solomon Kinley, Robert Hunt and Austin Jackson are the names penciled into the potential “top-5 guys” that Brian Flores has mentioned will start, along with one of those centers and presumably, rookie Eichenberg. There are 7 or 8 candidates for who could be in that “top-5 conversation Week 1.”
While not ready to push the panic button just yet, the next week of practice as well as the second preseason game against Atlanta, will be extremely important. Reasons being, that this could be the de facto dress rehearsal, due to the elimination of the 4th preseason game and addition of the 17th regular season game.
Regardless of which of the next two preseason games will act as that new dress rehearsal, every single offensive lineman is on notice, as there is no safety net within this front office. If there isn’t production or a solid progression and outlook, this Dolphins regime will cut bait in some way, if not demote.
Speaking of solid progression, let's Talk Tua. I didn’t mind that interception terribly, versus the body of his 1st half work. He looked poised in the pocket, had fine mechanics in his drops, and made the right reads. He placed the ball where it needed to be, and at times his targets made some outstanding catches in tough spots, especially a few tight end receptions.
Tua finished his day 8-11 for 99 yards. The pick came in the worst spot, the Bears red zone. It was a late-ish timed throw following what looked like split-second hesitations, and in fairness to Tua, Adam Shaheen was sitting and waiting for the ball a few feet deep in the endzone. Perhaps he could have made a better play on it. The turnover was on Tua more, but Shaheen isn’t fully innocent there. This is correctable, and nothing to worry about.
The play of the day was his dime pass to Mike Gesicki for 50-yards after number 88 pulled a lovely spin-move at the sidelines and headed further upfield for another dozen yards or so. Gesicki has all the talent to be one of the league's next premier tight end targets. He is a wide-receiver labeled TE.
While there is plenty of hope after preseason game 1, there is still a component of that worry and some concern. I’m not fully concerned about the offensive line just yet. Just, it’s started to worry me more. Let’s hope it all comes together before Week 1 in New England in a month’s time.
By: Brandon Liguori
The Miami Dolphins returned to the football field Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field in Chicago to open their 2021 preseason slate. Yes, the team sustained a seven-point loss, but forget about that. Preseason is meant to improve on your mistakes and focus on the task ahead. Below are six things I saw in the Dolphins’ 20-13 defeat Saturday
By: Jason Sarney
News, Notes and Stats leading to today's Dolphins at Bears Pre-Season Game at 1:00 on EST!
Today, the Miami Dolphins face off against the Chicago Bears. This is the 15th time these teams will meet in preseason. The last regular-season matchup was a memorable 31-28 OT win in MIA for the Dolphins back on 9/14/18 at Hard Rock Stadium.
Here are some fun notes leading into the unofficial kick-off to the 2021 season.
Football is back! Sort of.
-In 2020, MIA jumped out the gates red-hot. In 1st quarters last season, the Dolphins outscored opponents 103-55. That +48 differential was 2nd best in NFL. Getting out to leads early, with THIS defense, is clearly the key to their success.
-Since Brian Flores became MIA Dolphins head coach in 2019, the two LEAST penalized teams in the NFL in both number of flags as well as yards are the Miami Dolphins & the New England Patriots.
-As of 8/9/21- this is the make-up of the 90-man MIA Dolphin team:
-45 OFF players, 41 DEF & 4 specialists
-28 (31.1%) were drafted by MIA.
-16 Were UDFAs
-43 were NOT drafted into NFL
-44 started NFL career in MIA
-84 players are 28 years old or younger
-88 under 30 years old
-DeVante Parker needs just 863 receiving yards to move into the Top 5 of Miami Dolphins all-time leading WRs, taking that spot from @TheFishTank81 's own, @ojmcduffie81. Parker is currently 8th all-time for Miami with 4,212 yards.
-George Godsey is MIA's CO-Offensive Coordinator: The rest is for Fantasy Players too: He was in charge of the TE's last year. In 2020 the 91 recs & 1,061 receiving yards were the most by any MIA TE unit in a single-season in team history & the rooms 11 TDs were tied for the most.
-Jaylen Waddle is entering the NFL from WR U, Alabama. Waddle's 18.9 career yards per catch average is 2nd best in the history of that storied program's WR fraternity.
-Last season, Emmanuel Ogbah had a 6-game sack streak. This was tied for 2nd longest such streak in MIA history, behind HOFer Jason Taylor's 8-game streak in 2002. Ogbah tied with Myles Garrett for the longest sack streak of 2020. Garrett was the NO. 1 overall pick in 2017.
-Xavien Howard had 20 passes defense in his elite 2020 season. It was arguably MIA's best CB season ever. He had the most PDs for MIA since 2000 when legendary Patrick Surtain had 21.
-Michael Palardy is a hometown Punter. He played his HS ball at @STA_Football . The same HS that Jason Taylor is the current Defensive Coordinator.
-Lynn Bowden Jr. is a tricky call. In limited action last season, the rookie was utilized in all aspects of the offense. He caught 28 recs for 211 yards. Carried 9 times for 32 yards & was even 1 for 2 in passing, hitting a 32-yard pass completion to Myles Gaskin against BUF Week 17.
-Here is who I am watching fight for their opportunity to be a MIA Dolphin today
1- Kirk Merritt
2- Robert Jones
3- Durval Queiroz Neto (Time to cash in the investment)
4- Cameron Tom
5- Carl Tucker (He needs to hit someone hard. I mean - de-cleat them) NEED A LEAD BLOCKER!
Mike Gesicki Time:
-He had 703 receiving yards in 2020 which was the 2nd-most in a single season by a MIA TE. (Randy McMichael '04)
-Last season, while missing a game & a half, was still the 4th highest yards producing TE in the NFL (703) behind Travis Kelce (1,1416), Darren Waller (1,196) & TJ Hockenson (723).
-He has increased his Yards per reception in all of his three NFL seasons. 2018: 9.2 2019: 11.2 2020: 13.3 He has increased his receptions, his yards, his TDs, and his YPC in succession those years heading into a contract year in 2020.
-On 126 career catches he has 11 TDs. He scores a TD every 11.4 receptions. Travis Kelce scores a TD every 12.75 receptions. Darren Waller, in his career, takes 15.5 receptions per TD. Gesicki had 0 2018 TDs. So the last 2 seasons his ratio on 104 catches & his 11 TDs
-Will Fuller has a career avg. of 14.9 yds per catch. Last year, although only playing in 11 games, had 879 yds. Which was 16.6 per reception. Of all NFL WRs w/ at least 50+ catches in 2020, Fuller was 2nd in yds per catch. #1, in this case, was DJ Moore at 18.1. #3 Jerry Jeudy.
-Raekwon Davis finished his rookie season last year w/ 40 tackles. That was the 2nd highest for rookie D-linemen. The leader had 44 & was Chase Young. Davis played in 52% of MIA defensive snaps. Young played in 74% of WAS defensive snaps. Davis was the 56th pick Young 2nd.
-Myles Gaskin is lowkey a stud: In 11 games in 2020 he had 97.2 scrimmage yds per game, 10th in the NFL w/ a min. of 10 games. AND believe it or not... His 9.5 yards per catch (41 recs) last year versus the other NFL RBs w/ at least 30, was tied for NO. 1 w/ David Johnson
Going LIVE at 12:00 est w/ SPECIAL GUESTS including @AlexDonno! Talking Dolphins at Bears & previewing the 2021 season! We're Back! JOIN US as we will have LIVE Q&A & fun surprises! Live on Streamyard!
By: Chip Turner
There’s a scene in the boxing movie Cinderella Man in which James J. Braddock’s trainer (played by the criminally underrated Paul Giamatti) explains to Braddock’s wife why he’s risking his livelihood in support of the fighter. “Sometimes you have an instinct…” he explains, “…you see something in a fighter. You don’t even know if it’s real, you’re looking for it so bad.” Then he pauses and shakes his head. “You can’t have no hope at all.”
Did we see something in Miami Dolphins training camp so far? It certainly seemed like it. The problem, the danger is…do we trust it enough to get our hopes up again for the 2021 season? The 2020 Miami Dolphins season ended much in the way as every season in recent memory; with abject disappointment. Something has always gone wrong.
Additionally, it’s been a very, very long time since Dolphins fans had confidence in the man under center. From the mid-80s to the turn of the millennium, Dan The Man gave us all the reassurance that we had a good chance of winning on any given Sunday, and even if Miami was behind, they were still in it if the game was even remotely close.
Even though most of us are too young to remember a Dolphins coach raising a Lombardi Trophy, and those Marino teams never quite reached the NFL mountaintop, we were spoiled. My goodness, were we spoiled. We didn’t know it at the time, but the next two decades explained it to us quite clearly.
We’ve all seen the list of names who followed. Fiedler. Huard. Lucas. Griese. Feeley. Rosenfels. Frerotte. Culpepper. Harrington. Lemon. Beck. Pennington. Henne. Thigpen. Moore. Tannehill. Cutler. Osweiler. Rosen. Fitzpatrick. And now…Tua. Twenty-one starting quarterbacks in twenty-one seasons since Marino retired. Four playoff games. One win, by the gritty Fiedler.
We’ve been looking for that special QB so hard, we don’t even know if what we sometimes think we see is real any more. From this perspective, it’s understandable why Dolphins fans are jaded and callous. For twenty-one years, whatever could go wrong…has. Epic collapses, injuries, bad decisions, absurd organizational drama, and general ineptitude. It happened again in that “win and you’re in” game against Buffalo this past January. It was an all-too-familiar feeling as the Dolphins simply got lambasted in Orchard Park, overmatched by a superior team.
So when the Dolphins offense completely lit up Training Camp over the past few weeks, when even the most skeptical of reporters started giving glowing reports about offensive performance, when we think we see something in Tua at the beginning of his second year in the NFL, some of us are hesitant to hope.
Some of us have turned into Red from The Shawshank Redemption at the mention of hope. “Let me tell you something, my friend,” he grumbles. “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” He’s the embodiment of institutionalized Dolphins fans. Tua drops a pass over Wilson’s outside shoulder? “It was slightly underthrown.” Does it again with perfect placement? “The pass was wobbly.” Goes several practices with multiple TD passes and no INTs? “He’s holding onto the ball too long at times.”
We’ve gone from hoping for the next Marino to shooting down any semblance of seeing something in a prospect. Tua was clearly the most hyped college prospect Miami drafted in nearly 40 years. So when he didn’t look like what was promised coming out of Alabama in his rookie season, fans started bailing on him like rats from a sinking ship.
But here’s the thing, and I’ve stated this repeatedly: There has never been a parallel to Tua’s journey from college to the NFL. Sure, players have been injured and then drafted, but a Quarterback with a hip dislocation and fracture, recovering faster than anyone expected, then coming into an NFL season during a pandemic, with no training camp, with an offense that was clearly designed for Ryan Fitzpatrick? Not quite. Then, pair all of this with the reports that he was playing at 60% recovered from his injury last year.
I think maybe we can give the kid a break, and hope a little. And yes, it’s becoming more and more difficult to pretend that we’re not seeing something. Because Tua looks more and more like the prospect we all saw at Alabama. Jaylen Waddle looks blisteringly fast, even with his ankle potentially not being 100%. Albert Wilson looks like the 2018 version of Albert Wilson. Even without Gesicki, Fuller, Williams, and Parker, the offense has looked flat-out dangerous. And now, Xavien Howard has come to terms with the team on a re-worked contract, so the defense should be locked and loaded.
All of this is putting that dangerous element of hope back into the head of even the most pessimistic of fans. Instead of waiting for something to go wrong, we start thinking, “Wait. What if everything goes right for once? What if the offensive line goes from tragic to somewhat competent? What if X comes back, Parker stays healthy, and Tua plays in games like he’s playing in Training Camp? What if the passing game helps open up the run game?”
Dare we hope?
In the end, it’s not really up to us. It’s up to Tua. The Miami Dolphins are getting ready for preseason now; they face the Bears in a week. And if Tua shows out in preseason like he’s been in Training Camp, people are going to start noticing nationwide. And once more, we’ll have hope, and hype.
Will it all end in tragedy once again? Maybe. But as Andy Dufresne explains at the end of The Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever really dies.” Of course, good ol’ Andy was only institutionalized for 28 years. We’ve all been waiting almost 50.
I guess that goes to show just how resilient we Dolphins fans are. Because, once again…I hope.
By Hussam Patel
With the sixth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins chose Jaylen Waddle even though the Alabama wide receiver sustained an ankle injury that caused him to miss the majority of the 2020 season.
In four games before a season ending injury, Waddle caught 25 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns until he returned for the CFP national championship game. In that game, Waddle caught three passes for 34 yards in limited action during Alabama’s 52-24 victory over Ohio State.
There have been murmurs and reports of Jaylen Waddle limping around at Dolphins practice.
You could wonder if Waddle’s ankle injury from last October at Tennessee is nagging him a bit. However, Waddle was asked about it and replied “Yeah, I’m feeling good. I’m practicing, getting all my reps, so I’m good.”
If Waddle was truly hurt and “limping” around, he wouldn't be out there practicing. He’s out there catching passes, burning people and contorting his body to get big play after big play.
For reference, this is how he actually walks on the practice field before even sustaining the ankle injury last October at Tennessee.
The Dolphins WR room has had its fair share of injuries, and it’s fair to err on the side of caution, which the Dolphins staff has done with its injury ridden players - it honestly could be just the way he walks.
Heck, per Google “to Waddle” means to “to walk with short steps swinging the forepart of the body from side to side” kind of like a gait.
Maybe Jaylen is just in character to his name. Just enjoy the plays he makes and stop worrying.
By: Brandon Liguori
Brian Flores’ Miami Dolphins practiced Tuesday morning for the first time in pads at the Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens. When the pads are put on, you tend to see more physicality on the defensive side of the football and Dolphins fans who attended Tuesday’s practice saw just that. Here are Tuesday’s news and notes.
By: Jason Sarney
Today just may be one of the best days of the summer because of two undeniable facts. First and foremost, the pads are coming on today at Dolphins training camp, so we will have a better view of real football when there is actual hitting going on.
Secondly, and almost in more of an exciting way, is the fact that Season 3 of the Miami Dolphins podcast The Fish Tank debuted this morning! In a spectacular format enhancement, there will now be a sprinkle of current Miami Dolphin players “Diving In” to the best football podcast in the land, air, and sea.
In this outstanding interview with second-year sensation Raekwon Davis, OJ McDuffie and Seth Levit get to know the Mississippi born and bred defensive lineman who excelled at Alabama. Many remember when Raekwon was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft, leading coach Brian Flores to do some sort of a chair dance, while simulating driving an 18-Wheeler.
I won't go into any specific spoilers for the content of the terrific episode, but I will give you a couple of teasers. There is even a new segment called, “Explain Yourself.”
The guys compare Davis to one of my all-time favorite Dolphins, defensive tackle Tim Bowens. Like Davis, Bowens is another Mississippian.
A 4-year wearer of the number 99 at Alabama, it was a heavy realization immediately as Davis became a Dolphin that Jason Taylor has the monopoly on it, and there was less than a snowball snacks chance in hell, or Davis’ locker, that he would get those digits. The trio chatted about some other numerical situations that were once referenced on past Tank episodes. Remember the #81 story, y’all?
I won’t go into too much detail, because you all must listen for yourself, but it’s hard to love the Fish Tank, and still hate Nick Saban. Just listen in. I have come around and now respect the man. If Jason Taylor can as well, and pretty much every player who has played for him to boot, you all can too.
The stories and laughs are as plentiful as Davis’ rookie year tackles, and this was a perfect kickoff to what should be a phenomenal year on the field for the Dolphins, and In the Tank for all of us!
Well done Seth and Juice! And a shout-out to #98, Raekwon Davis!
By: Chip Turner and PhinManiacs Staff
The Summer Sun is shining, and even the most recalcitrant of Dolphins reporters are positively gushing over the Miami offense in training camp thus far. Only one piece of the offseason puzzle remains unresolved, and now we’ve heard that last bit of business is headed toward a resolution.
Based on a few indicators and intel we’ve heard, Xavien Howard’s camp and the Miami Dolphins are close to coming to terms on a contract that will keep the All-Pro cornerback patrolling the secondary for the foreseeable future.
You know those “sources” that we’ve poked fun at in the past, referencing times that some media outlets are quite simply making things up? This is not one of those times. Brian Flores wants to keep Xavien Howard on the team, Howard’s camp is open to patching things up, and he appears to be leaning toward keeping his family in Miami if possible.
And if this does proceed as anticipated, that last piece of the Miami Dolphins 2021 puzzle will fall into place.
By: Jason Sarney
Training camp at the brand-new Baptist Health training complex is nearly a week in, and we are on the cusp of putting the pads on where real football will be played and evaluated. Up until this point there has been a lot of positivity throughout the early going at Miami Dolphins training camp at their gorgeous, state of the art facility.
Over the weekend a number of tidbits were picked up and it was outstanding to see PhinManiacs like Brandon Liguori and Hussam Patel get into the action and deliver some outstanding Tweets while at open practice.
Both young reporters had some outstanding eyewitness accounts of some eye-opening moments during the public practice. On the strength of those reports, as well as my own digging, there are a number of newsworthy tidbits from the last few days.
Xavien Howard Update:
Mainly, the Xavien Howard contract situation is still very much fluid, however in the last 24 to 48 hours there seems to be a number of details and reasons why I believe the two parties are a lot closer than they were last week to a reconciliation. Not only did Brian Flores open this morning's press conference using the phrase “right direction” in terms of the trajectory of the Howard, “renegotiation of the extension,” there was some info that fell into my lap.
First off, the phrase “renegotiation of the extension,” I admit is a phrase I have not been able to get out of my head for about a month. Secondly, news surfaced that there was a nice support system in Xavien's corner on Saturday at practice, so it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel...potentially.
Michael Dieter Could Steal Center Job:
Third year offensive lineman Michael Dieter, has been playing very well thus far in camp. Former Baltimore Raven Matt Skura was signed to a one-year deal this off-season after Ted Karras left following his lone season in South Florida.
While at the time of the Skura signing, it seemed he could be penciled in at the center spot, however it is to my knowledge and prediction that Dieter is well on his way to earning the starting center role should he continue this early 2021 path.
Fellow lineman Robert Hunt sung his praises after practice on Monday. “Mike is a good guy. He’s a leader. He’s a damn good football player. Physical. Smart. Right now, the center in our offense is a vocal point, a main center piece for us and I think he’s doing a fantastic job. I think he’s doing well.”
Nik Needham Continues to Develop and Impress:
Of course as previously mentioned, the Xavien Howard situation has the Dolphins planning certain contingencies and with him on the sideline nursing an ankle injury, it has been Nik Needham and not Noah Igbinoghene that has been taking his reps. Logically, this tells us all that for whatever reason should Howard not be a Dolphin or should he be a Dolphin and miss time, it would be Needham that is taking that job responsibility, as opposed to his slot duties from last season. And let me remind everyone once again that his natural role is an outside boundary cornerback so last year he adjusted quite admirably to that slot position.
Needham truly is a student of the game, and a incredibly hard worker in the off-season and in-season. He spoke to media following today's practice. “You can never be good enough, so he just says keep grinding. Just work on my speed. You can never be fast enough. Always say that. So I’ve been working on that and just taking the mental jump from Year 2 to Year 3, just like Year 1 to Year 2, to really take that Year 3 jump and just focus on that. I’ve just been locking in, watching a lot of film.”
Albert Wilson is Back and Better Than Ever:
It should come to no surprise should anybody be following training camp regularly, that Albert Wilson has been stealing the show. This is not a shock here as there have been signs in the early going that Wilson is ready to reintroduce himself, following opting out in 2020 due to COVID-19 and him protecting himself and his family since there was a newborn baby in the equation.
Nobody should fault Wilson for taking the healthy option, and limiting risk for him and his family. He has been playing well enough to essentially shut anybody up who didn't understand his decision to not play last year. Wilson is looking to be an outstanding slot threat and potential mentor. That being to Jaylen Waddle, where there is seemingly a terrific connection between second year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and his former Alabama teammate.
Both Wilson and Waddle could be outstanding targets for Tua and utilized a number of ways, such as pre-snap motions, outside of the hash-mark routes, insides routes, as well as the loveable Jet Sweep or drop-pass, Mahomes-Hill Style.
It is to be noted that the South Florida media has been quite impressed as a whole with the Dolphins offense and this is without any type of significant presence from COVID-listed and PUP-listed Preston Williams. Will Fuller and Mike Gesicki have also been missing in action lately, so this offense could get really good once they get really healthy.
It has been great to hear and see a battle between fringe players Jakeem Grant, Lynn Bowden and even guys like Robert Foster, Mack Hollins and UDFA from 2020 Kirk Merritt. Hollins is safe no matter how he plays at WR, since he is Miami's top special teams gunner, and you can place Foster in that coverage category as well.
I cant see both Grant and Bowden on this roster, in my opinion.
Jason Sanders is as accurate as the calendar. That's all here.
Lastly – Michael Palardy is a potential upgrade from Matt Haack, and I type this with love and appreciation and respect for the former Miami punter. Palardy has been putting on punting displays that would make Pat McAfee weep.
Pads come on tomorrow, and pretty soon, the roster will be trimmed. It’s time to hit
By: Jason Sarney
Coach Brian Flores met with South Florida media Monday morning to give updates on training camp and of course the business of the game. We will get to training camp comments in a moment but first is the update on the Xavien Howard contract saga. Before reporting what coach Flores said, we must travel back to the spring where he let us all know about the uniqueness of the Howard contract situation.
He was very quick to tell reporters then, that this was a specific “renegotiation of an extension.” That original extension happened in 2019 and there were different parties involved with the drafting of that contract. Fast forward two seasons and All-Pro year for Howard and a new agent in DEC Management's David Canter, and we have the drama of the young decade unfolding in front of our eyes in South Florida and Social Media.
When Flores used his terminologies, it rang a bell in my own head as I tried to read in-between his words. In fact, it’s a term I have repeated to myself over and over again for several weeks. It just goes to indicate, in my opinion, that Brian Flores wants Xavien Howard on his team, and it also tells me what his way of communicating is to all of us. It is no coincidence that the term “communication” is one of coach’s favorite words.
Along with the word “dialogue," it is clear communication is key for the Miami Dolphins as a whole unit. "As far as the contract, I will continue to have dialogue with 'X' about that.” Flores told reports Monday morning. “I do think we are moving in the right direction."
This may not guarantee that Xavien Howard will be a dolphin in 2021 and beyond, but it certainly tells me that the Dolphins are making their efforts to keep Howard in town, and that there is not a “severed relationship.” I am convinced that information does not leave this front office, or at least accurate information does not leave his front office, and that is thanks to a number of personnel hires and organizational strategies this team has utilized.
The saga does continue, and the guess is still anybody’s on how this will end, however, there is a much higher confidence level this Monday morning then there was last Friday evening. As for football action in training camp, Flores mentioned “position flexibility,” as that is another one of his favorite terms. This term will be important on the offensive line as well as the defensive backfield and edge-rushers. Although it is still very early in camp as Flores realizes, the importance of versatility is top of the list for who will make this roster.
When asked where rookie Liam Eichenberg’s best spot on the line will be, Flores thought and paused. "I mean........it's early. It's so early. There is no long-term kinda thought here. It's one day at a time."
He then added, “I think position flexibility is important."
He also mentioned having "8" linemen available for games, so perhaps this is a slight tip of the hand on how many offensive linemen Miami carries. Currently, Miami has 16 offensive linemen in camp, and 17 when including the IR listed D.J. Fluker. It’s safe to say that half of camps big men up front, will not make the 53-man roster. Flexibility here is massively important and could make other areas of the team heavier in numbers; like wide receiver or cornerback, should Miami go with 8 offensive linemen on their main roster.
Flores also went on to mention that although early, Tua Tagovailoa has look good as well as the receivers, yet mentioned several times, “it’s still early.” He also handed out praise to rookie safety Jevon Holland.
Smart kid, he's hard-working. Football's important to him. He is trying to take in as much as he can." He adds, "he is trying to be a sponge." Flores mentioned veterans Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe and Xavien Howard as mentors to him.
The Dolphins hit the field this morning, as Training Camp and the Xavien Howard Saga continue.
By: Tanner Elliott
The Miami Dolphins went into this offseason knowing they needed pass rush help. Obviously trading away Shaq Lawson exacerbated this problem, but it seems that Miami always has some tricks up their sleeve. Miami didn’t address their pass rusher need until the draft, when they drafted Jaelan Phillips 18th overall. Phillips is a very versatile player, and here we break down how he fits in Miami.
Phillips best fit is to take over Kyle Van Noy's role, but I think multiple players take over his role as a whole, just not one player. The reason why I think Phillips could take over KVN’s role is because he has experience both playing with his hand in the dirt and standing up. That being said, here we take a look at how Phillips plays the run, pass, and what to expect him doing in his rookie year.
Phillips is known for his pass rushing skills, but he still is a decent run player. At UCLA, he played as an outside linebacker who was designated as an edge player. On film there were times Phillips would have to set the edge, which is something Miami desperately needs. Not only was Phillips very successful in setting the edge, but he was also disciplined enough not to over or under set the edge. In addition to that, Phillips was seen playing read options perfectly as he would play his role (stopping the quarterback), but also wouldn’t allow the running back to bounce outside if he had to. Phillips would also set the edge on run plays, which is something that Miami has been missing for quite some time. There were very few times where opposing running backs would get a huge chunk of yardage when trying to run outside on Phillips’s side. He made sure that no one got past him, or he would force the running back to redirect and go inside or hesitate in the backfield.
We all know that the reason Phillips was drafted to Miami was to rush the passer. As we saw last year at Miami, Phillips is capable of being a team's top pass rusher. He really had his breakout year pass-rush wise last year, when he tallied eight sacks. He has a very impressive swim move that he can use instantly on day one. As we have seen, Phillips has bulked up quite a lot recently, which will help him tremendously in the NFL. Adding what seems to be 15-20 pounds of muscle will allow Phillips to bull rush, which is something Brian Flores loves to do. Of course, it may take time for Phillips to adjust to the NFL and get the hang of Miami’s pass rushing techniques and schemes, as well as NFL offensive line techniques and schemes, but expect Phillips to be a big contributor in the pass defense this year.
Fit in Miami
Obviously, head coach Brian Flores has a plan for Phillips, but the question is: What type of plan? Given his elite athleticism, willingness to play anywhere, and familiarity with different systems, he’s a very interesting chess piece for Flores to move around. As I said above, I expect Phillips to be the lead guy taking over KVN’s role, but there's plenty of other responsibilities you can expect Phillips to have. PhinManiacs’ own Hussam Patel has called Phillips the potential “Josh Allen Kryptonite,” as he hopes Phillips puts an end to Allen’s ridiculous tear on Miami.
As of right now, from pictures and tweets, Phillips seems to be playing the position he did at UCLA, which is good news for Dolphins fans. Having Phillips in this position will force running backs to bounce back into the meat of the defense, so Raekwon Davis, Christian Wilkins, and Benardrick McKinney will get a ton of tackles. Teams with mobile quarterbacks may have a harder time moving in the pocket due to Phillips’s athleticism, and may cause them to throw a rushed ball or out of bounds. That being said, the reason why Phillips is here is to boost the pass rush, so players like Emmanuel Ogbah, AVG, and Vince Biegel don’t get as much attention from offensive lines.
Expect to see a much-improved run defense and pass rush in 2021 if Phillips is able to play to the ability we all know he can reach.
By: Brandon Liguori
Saturday afternoon marked the first time in two years fans were in attendance for a Miami Dolphins training camp practice, with the new complex now directly across from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Saturday afternoon also meant fans were able to take a closer look at quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, selected fifth overall in April 2020.
Wide receivers DeVante Parker, Will Fuller V and Preston Williams, along with tight end Mike Gesicki, did not participate, but that did not stop the former Alabama product, who was very, very productive on the offensive side of the football, connecting with first-round selectee Jaylen Waddle and Albert Wilson, back after opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous times. Below is a short analysis of things Brandon was able to see throughout the fourth day of training camp: