So, I'm sure plenty of you have heard the news regarding the Dolphins targeting Brian Flores as their next head coach. With this news, I can see on Dolphins Twitter that most are:
Disappointed - Due to the white hot rise in popularity of Kris Richard.
Worried - Let's face it, who was the last successful head coach to blossom from the Bill Belichick tree of coaching?
Angry - What has this team showed me to think that they are capable of making any good decisions towards winning?
I'm not going to sit here and pretend like these feelings are not valid. I too worry about these things and more. But...this team needs you all more than ever. There is a lot of negativity towards this potential move (not official yet) and I want to give you the opposite. I am going to try and help you see the bright side of this potential hire. I want to start with his career to date.
Now, I know Gase and Philbin more recently burned the team due to their "friends" being brought on. This feels different, being comfortable with people who have had success is different from being friends who don't know how to succeed. Say what you want about Belichick disciples and Flores' ability to succeed, but he has been a part of success, which is more than the Dolphins can say recently.
Second, Grier too worked his way up the ranks from the bottom. Ironically enough, he began as a scout for who?
You guessed it...those New England Patriots. If anyone knows how tough it is to succeed as a scout it's those two. There's a sense of comradeship with scouts and I respect those who do that work, let alone succeed in it. And say what you want, but these two have had, at the very least a say, in identifying talent and potential. Both having that background and perspective strengthens my trust in identifying talented players as well as a consistency that has been lacked in Miami's front office.
Lastly, I get that Belichick's tree has not been fruitful. I would be dumb to sit here and definitively say he will be the one that succeeds. I'm not that blind and naive my friends. But, there are rumblings that Flores has presented a strong plan for his coaching staff (headlined by former head coach Jim Caldwell). Regardless of his success as a head coach, I am encouraged that he understands the importance of having a staff that addresses his deficiencies.
The thought of having a coach on his staff who has succeeded as a head coach is promising. I'm encouraged that potentially there can be a staff that is not only balanced, but on the same page and with a track record of success (See Adam Gase's staff as well as Philbin's).
In closing, I get that there may be holes in some of the things I identified. I get that some of it is best case scenario and life doesn't work that way. I get that Flores and Grier probably don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. But what I do get is that the Miami Dolphins finally have one leader with one vision and the potential to have a unified direction with his chosen head coach shows me there is reason to believe.
This story was written by Carlos Camacho. Follow him on Twitter: @DolfansVoice
With the recent reports of the Miami Dolphins looking to find their franchise quarterback in the 2020 draft, this leaves the Dolphins looking for a band-aid quarterback for the 2019 season. They can either find him through the draft, trade, or free agency. Here are some option that Miami can do this offseason.
This story was written by Tanner Elliott. Follow him on Twitter: @Elliott302Tj
According to former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase in a June 9, 2018 article published by the Palm Beach Post, regarding 1st round draft pick Charles Harris’ disappointing 2017 rookie season, Gase said this:
“He’s of the guys I’m least worried about."
That statement, Dolphins fans, sums up why Adam Gase, and soon Matt Burke, are no longer a part of the Dolphins organization. In 25 career games, Harris has two sacks. Two. Furthermore, Gase also stated this:
“The more football he plays, the better he’s going to get. I thought he had a pretty good year. He did a lot of good things and we’re excited about what he showed us.”
For the sake of argument, we all know that NFL head coaches lie like cement with the media. Was the scouting department, Mike Tannenbaum and Adam Gase wrong?
It certainly appears that way.
Let’s examine the rest of the defensive ends in 2018. The predicted “four-headed monster" of veteran DE’s Cameron Wake, the addition of Robert Quinn, William Hayes and second year first round pick Charles Harris was anything but a monster. The lack of pass rush, QB pressures and sacks were some of the key reasons for a mid- season skid that made a mess out of Gase’s underwear.
Imagine if the DE’s were actually getting pressure on the QB, Xavien Howard may have had 12 picks. Hayes went on IR, Robert Quinn became the Julius Thomas of this year’s Gase signings, and Wake played like an aging 37 year old DE who made it clear he wasn’t happy. In this writer’s opinion, DE must be addressed in the NFL draft or through free agency.
I can live with bringing Harris back under a new regime due to his age and freakish athletic ability, but Wake, Robert Quinn and William Hayes should be jettisoned out of South Florida. Thank you to Cameron Wake for your amazing career but you were unfortunately imprisoned by one of the most dysfunctional franchises in professional sports…and now Father Time has finally caught up with you.
The 2019 NFL draft is loaded with quality pass rushers, led by the consensus top pick, Ohio State All-American Nick Bosa, brother of Chargers DE Joey Bosa and son of former Dolphins DE John Bosa.
Most likely, Bosa will go in the top seven picks and Miami is in no position to move up for a DE this year with a rebuild on the horizon. But not to worry, the talent at DE this year is rich with talent. Most likely, if Brian Flores is named head coach of the Dolphins, he will be running a 3-4 style defense.
The best alternative options other than Bosa in a 3-4 scheme are Michigan’s edge rusher Rashan Gary, who is 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, and ended the season with six sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and 65 total tackles while missing four and a half games with an AC joint sprain. His size, speed and athleticism make him a rare athlete who could turn into a dominant defender.
Clelin Ferrell, DE from Clemson is 6-foot-5, 270 pounds and runs a 4.77 forty yard dash. He finished 2018 with 55 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. He had a highly productive career at Clemson and will be an impact rookie wherever he lands.
Montez Sweat, DE from Mississippi State is another option for the Dolphins. He is 6-foot-6, 250 pounds and runs a 4.6 forty yard dash. He is built like Jason Taylor but much more explosive off the edge. Scouts are drooling over his footwork and hand techniques.
Other DE’s that are worth mentioning are: Jachai Polite, Florida; Zach Allen, Boston College; Brian Burns, FSU and Jaylon Ferguson out of Louisiana Tech. Honorable Mentions include Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion; Carl Granderson, Wyoming; Austin Bryant, Clemson.
The pure lack of a pass rush makes the rest of the defense vulnerable. In today’s NFL with the amount of mobile QBs who are playing out of their minds, a fierce pass rush is the essential ingredient to preserving the LBs and DBs. We need guys with speed on the ends who are explosive when chasing down QBs and I haven’t seen any of that for a while down in Miami.
Applying pressure in most cases creates panic in a QB’s psyche and that is one of the best friends a defense could ask for. While we have many glaring needs, pass rushers should be at the top of the organizations priorities this off season.
This story was written by James Barber. Follow him on Twitter: @thebigbear1997
Per reports coming from Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport, looks like Jim Caldwell will be joining Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins staff. As of now it doesn’t look like Caldwell has a set position. with Breer simply reporting Caldwell will be on the staff with no disclosed position as of yet.
"I expect him to be a part of the staff, but maybe not as OC. Even if Flores had landed Roman or Kingsbury, my understanding is that Caldwell likely still would have been in the mix in an associate head coach-type role."
No matter the position that Coach Caldwell is placed in we should all be excited as Dolphin’s fans.
To emphasize the hire expected to be made by Flores, investigate the staff changes made by Adam Gase. There is a long list of questionable changes made by Gase, but they all fit a similar mold: most of them had a history with Adam Gase but they weren’t winners. Most notably is Dowell Loggains.
Replacing Gase as the offensive coordinator in Chicago, Loggains led a poor offensive attack that lacked any bright spots. Before being the coordinator for the Bears, Loggains was the QB coach while Gase was the coordinator. Together they helped elevate Jay Cutler to his best year, but as Dolphins fans know, this doesn’t translate to wins.
Follow the trail for Loggains in his NFL coaching career and you don’t see playoff wins or championship caliber teams, you can say the same for most of the staff brought in by Adam Gase.
Jim Caldwell yields an impressive resume that boasts three Superbowl appearances and two wins. Caldwell was brought over to the Colts with Tony Dungy from the Buccaneers and held many titles, including QB coach, offensive coordinator, and assistant to the head coach. He was an important part of the staff that assisted in bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Indianapolis in 2007.
Following Tony Dungy’s retirement in 2008, Jim Caldwell was promoted to Head Coach for the 2009 season. In his rookie season the Colts went 14-2 with their two losses coming at the end of the season while they sat their starters. With one of the best regular season campaigns by a rookie head coach, the Colts marched on to the Super Bowl.
Although they were handed a defeat from the Saints, this season showed much promise for the future. Next year they marched right back into the playoffs and this was a common occurrence for Caldwell, making the playoffs twice with the Colts, twice with the Lions, and was the offensive coordinator for the Ravens during their Super Bowl win. Coach Caldwell has proven to be a winner, being an integral part in these Super Bowl campaigns by the Colts and Ravens.
Coach Flores is bringing along respected staff that not only have head coaching experience but are proven winners. Who you surround yourself with speaks volumes to who you are and if Flores wants to make Miami into winners, they need staff and players who know what it means and what it takes to win.
This story was written by Oliver Candido. Follow him on Twitter: @BrazilCandido
So...Brian Flores will most likely be the head coach for the Miami Dolphins, huh? Well, for those of you who see this as a forgone conclusion and wonder what that means next, it's your lucky day. I want to gloss over what his assistants would look like (Because let's be honest, nobody truly knows for certain until the announcement is made) and think about free agency.
I know it's still a long ways away and there's still so much that could change. But, what's more mouthwatering for me at the moment is what this Miami Dolphins defense could potentially look like.
Flores obviously specializes on the defensive side of the ball and we all know the Patriots play a combination defense with lots of 3-4 elements, perhaps even mainly so. Given the current needs of the team, the Dolphins most likely need to add at least one player at each layer of the defense aside from safety (that means DT, DE, LB and CB).
And I have an idea that most people won't like...I want to poach three specific players from the dark side.
Now let's think about this logically and start with Flowers. Flowers will be considered one of the top 10 (possibly top 5) free agents available this offseason. Yes, I know he will command at least $14 million dollars. I get it, but hear me out.
He is young (26 years old), Flores knows and has a relationship with him, he is able to play multiple positions and assignments, he fits an immediate need the Dolphins have.
This is different from rationalizing a huge contract for Ndamukong Suh or Mike Wallace. The Dolphins, where they stand, have approximately $22 million for free agents. This is without including possible relief that can fluctuate this number by moves that include releasing or trading guys like Ryan Tannehill, Robert Quinn, Andre Branch, and DeVante Parker.
That list also doesn't include guys like Reshad Jones, Kiko Alonso, T.J. McDonald, Cameron Wake, and more who at some point or another we have heard whispers about.
So money is honestly not an issue. And no, dropping money on a guy who will have the trust of our rookie head coach, knows the scheme, and inevitably weakens our rival's defense gives us plenty of reason to strongly consider this. Not to mention he will still be under 30 in four seasons. Plenty of time to draft the next great Miami Dolphins DE...right?
Also, this signing, albeit an expensive one, would allow the Dolphins flexibility in the draft. Drafting BPA is better because we have a plan for an edge rusher who can move around, and the sexy pick will be that Miami needs to draft a QB. Signing Flowers (along with the others mentioned) relieves the pressure of needing to address several holes the team has. It sets up flexibility to trade up, down, or stand pat (no pun intended) without feeling desperate enough to sacrifice the rest of the team's needs for a QB.
Now, let's move on to Brown and Rowe. These two are bunched together because they are not particularly considered high price and/or elite talent. But, that's not what this team needs. These two have shown a tendency to play within a system that will be foreign to players currently on our roster.
They know their assignments, they know the responsibilities of their position, and again they are trusted by Flores to do their job. They don't need to be top of the line talent. They won't impede Miami's ability to draft at those positions in the next couple of years due to their ages (both are under 26 years old). Imagine a rotation of Brown, Godchaux, and Taylor. Imagine Xavien Howard with Eric Rowe opposite of him with Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick playing deep.
Doesn't sound so bad after putting that out there, huh? Again, these moves just make sense on multiple fronts.
Rebuilding does not mean we cannot look to free agency to supplement building our team. Like I mentioned earlier, guys like Suh, Wallace, and more have damaged our thinking about free agency. We used free agency with the thought that we were one player away, not to mention disregarding the future consequences of the roster.
At worst, all these guys get cut in 2-3 years and they filled their roles long enough for Miami to draft and develop the most important position: quarterback. Best case scenario these guys play a huge role as consistent contributors on defense with a developed QB and a balanced team ready to truly (and finally) compete long-term. Would that really be such a bad thing?
This story was written by Carlos Camacho. Follow him on Twitter: @DolfansVoice
With Chris Grier now taking on more responsibility than before, the team's new football man in charge has called upon someone close to him to be his right hand man, as now former Bills National Scout Marvin Allen will be leaving Buffalo to join Grier and become the Miami Dolphins' assistant general manager.
Allen is greatly respected across the NFL for his scouting and talent, and before joining the Bills last season, he spent four years with the Kansas City Chiefs (2013-2016) as their Director of College Scouting (which means he likely had a hand in drafting players like Travis Kelce, Eric Fisher, Dee Ford, Marcus Peters, Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes), and now brings his expertise to the Dolphins to assist Grier as the team rebuilds after years of desperately trying to patch holes.
“Marvin started in the 90’s. He’s most recently been a college (scouting) director so he’s sat in that seat,” Bills GM Brandon Beane said when he brought in Allen in 2017. “He’s going to be a great resource not only for me, but for all our college scouts.”
Before his tenure with the Chiefs, Allen spent time with the Falcons as a national scout (2009-2013), and before that, spent around 16 years with the New England Patriots, not only as a scout, but as a running back from 1988-1991, which is likely where he and Grier first connected.
If Allen can help the Dolphins to hit on some great picks in the next year or so, then that will be an excellent start to what will hopefully be the foundation of a new dynasty. The team still has to bring in a head coach, which reportedly will also be a former member of the Patriots (once hired) in de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter:@LuisDSung
Bob Kuechenberg, one of the most dominant players to ever suit up for the Miami Dolphins, has passed away at the age of 71.
“Kooch,” as he was affectionately called by players, coaches, and fans alike, was the center on all five of the Dolphins Super Bowl teams, following the 1971, ’72 ‘73, ’82, and ’84 seasons. He dominated Hall of Fame defensive lineman Alan Page in Super Bowl VIII, while playing with a 10-inch rod in his left arm and a cast. Former head coach Don Shula calls that one of the best performances he’s ever seen by an offensive lineman.
In 14 seasons with the team, he was called just 15 times for holding penalties, a number almost unfathomable in today’s NFL.
A first team All-Pro in 1978, Kuechenberg was a 6-time pro bowler in his career, and played in 196 games with 176 starts. He played collegiately at Notre Dame, and was drafted in the fourth round of the 1969 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He never signed with the Eagles, and say out that season, signing with the Dolphins in 1970.
Players from every team he played on have said that he deserves to be in the hall of fame. He’s been a finalist several times, but has yet to be voted in.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
The Miami Dolphins signed quarterback Jake Rudock on Friday. Rudock is a Miami native that was a standout at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, leading the team to a state and national title in 2009. Rudock then committed to the University of Iowa where he was ultimately underwhelming.
He struggled in two bowl appearances, going 9-22 for 102 yards and one interception in the 2013 Outback Bowl. Then going 2-8 and 32 yards in the Tayslayer Bowl in 2014. For the 2013 season overall at Iowa he went 204 of 345 attempts for 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He followed up that campaign in 2014 going 213 of 345 attempts with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.
After two dismal showings in the bowl games, Rudock lost the support of the fans and program, and he then transferred to the University of Michigan with then new coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh was able to rejuvenate Rudock's career. He went on to set records for single game touchdown passes and also was the first quarterback to throw for 250 yards in three consecutive games. He then went on to become the MVP of the 2016 Citrus Bowl.
He was just the second quarterback in school history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. He finished 2016 ranked second in single season passing yards and first in single season completion percentage.
That turn around season propelled Rudock to become the sixth round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 2016. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he has ideal size, athletic ability, and arm strength to compete at the pro level. For that reason the Lions kept him as the third string quarterback for the 2016 season.
In 2017 he was not handed the backup job, rather he had to compete with then newly drafted quarterback Brad Kaaya for that job. Rudock succeeded in securing the backup job and did get limited playing time that season going 3 for 5 for 24 yards and an interception. He then spent 2018 mainly on the practice squad.
So what do I take away from Miami signing him? Well I think this means that Brock Osweiler and David Fales' days in Miami are now likely over. Rudock has some experience and will give the team a quarterback to compete with Luke Falk in training camp, likely for the backup QB role. I do expect the team to still draft a quaterback regardless if Ryan Tannehill stays with the team in 2019 or not. That will impact if Rudock has a chance to be more than a camp body.
On one final interesting note. Considering Rudock's biggest advocate is likely Jim Harbaugh, I think there is a good possibility that Ross and Grier may be interacting with Harbaugh. It could be a coincidence, but I find it interesting one of the first order of business post-Gase is to get rid of the Gase acquired veteran backups and replace them with a Harbaugh-coached QB. I am not meaning to speculate the team is hiring Harbaugh, just speculating they may be listening to his personal recommendations.
This story was written by Chad Ronnebaum. Follow him on Twitter: @Gofins4SB
Dear New York Jets Fans,
Congratulations! You’ve done it again! You’ve taken an ex-Miami Dolphins coach to lead your team for the foreseeable future following in Todd Bowles’s footsteps. Although Adam Gase may not be the new coach who many of you had hoped for, ultimately, he’s now yours. The Jets leadership, after interviewing many prospects, have decided that coach Gase is the guy who will lead your team to make the Jets great again.
But, let me be the first person to warn you about the coach that you are getting. After three seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Fins fans witnessed many issues that will most likely carry over to the Jets franchise that will also most likely lead to a short tenure for coach Gase with your team.
First, who’s your favorite player? Trumaine Johnson? Leonard Williams? Jamal Adams? Don’t get used to them for too long. If they have a voice on the team which differs from coach Gase, chances are that they won’t be with the Jets for too long. Just ask the ex-Miami Dolphins players Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey or Ndamukong Suh.
Coach Gase felt that these players were “cancers” in the locker room, although they were most likely players who had personalities that differed from the other players. Coach Gase had a major challenge with managing different personalities within the Dolphins locker room.
Second, do you like aged veterans on your team from the 2014-2016 Bears or Broncos? Coach Gase is the type of leader who is loyal to players and coaches who he worked with in the past that were good at one point. Jay Cutler, Julius Thomas, Brock Osweiler and Josh Sitton were all brought in from Gase’s prior teams. But, they each failed to have an impact with the Dolphins. Don’t be surprised if Gase brings in some retread players from the Bears, Broncos, or even the Miami Dolphins.
Third, its going to frustrate the New York Jets fanbase when Gase can’t be found on the sideline during a game. Gase is the type of coach that insists on being the offensive play caller. While in the head coaching role with the Dolphins, there were many games when he would be found on the player’s bench during pivotal moments of a game (mainly on defense) sitting down and writing up plays for an upcoming drive.
This created an issue as he would miss the action on the field. In addition, as an offensive play caller, you would rarely see him engaging with other player groups. This was evident midway through the season when Reshad Jones, the Dolphins top safety, had a disagreement with the defensive coordinator and sat out the second half of the game against the Jets. Gase stated in the post-game press conference that he did not know that an issue had come up.
Also, if you are a fan of the bubble screen play call, running the ball on 3rd and long, and not being able to pick up 3rd and one first downs, you are going to love coach Gase. Although he can be creative with his play calling, it became evident that he was infatuated with bubble screen plays. Maybe it was a lack of talent, or maybe it was Gase’s love of the play, whatever it was, the Miami Dolphins team ran the bubble screen play at least five to ten times per game. It became as predictable as the hat on his head covering his eyes.
And, Gase is VERY loyal to his quarterback. Sam Darnold is very raw. He had a tough rookie season, based on statistics. Similar to Ryan Tannehill, Darnold has shown moments of brilliance and moments of boneheaded decisions. Tannehill did show improvement under Gase, but nothing that led to consistent success.
In addition, some new reports after the end of the season reported that Gase lost some locker room players due to how he treated Tannehill like he was on a pedestal but did not treat others on the team similarly. If true, this would have easily created animosity within the locker room.
Lastly, you are going to get sick of Gase’s press conferences. At first, you’re going to love his “screw you” attitude during press conferences. But eventually, it’s going to get old. At the same time you get sick of his attitude, you’ll start to hear Gase come up with the many excuses why the Jets lose.
Some of the excuses Dolphins fans heard toward the end of last season were; the Dolphins caught the (put opponents team name here) on a hot streak, or our guys weren’t effective enough, or the other team had more to play for than we did, or the weather affected our guys, or the government shutdown affected our players (I’m kidding about that last one).
In closing, I’ll be honest. As a life long Miami Dolphins fan, it’s bittersweet to see Adam Gase now be coaching the New York Jets. Bitter for the Jets and sweet for the Miami Dolphins. I would have said that maybe giving Adam Gase a fresh start would have been good for him. Maybe with a new set of assistant coaches and a new team, it would be what he needed.
But, my understanding is that he is looking to take prior Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and probably other Miami Dolphins coaches and players. So it appears that Gase is planning to do the same thing in New York as he did in Miami.
Although there is not a lot of love between the Jets and the Dolphins, I wish you and your team luck in the upcoming season. We may not have a lot in common, but now we will have had coach Gase run our team and we’ll always hate the Patriots!
This story was written by Ian Berger. Follow him on Twitter: @ian693
On this episode of the PhinManiacs Podcast, the panel plays the role of general manager and details what their offseason plans would be, detailing why they make the decisions they make. Win now? Tank for later? Rizzi or Richard? All this and more on this week's episode.
Besides the YouTube link below, you can also listen via SoundCloud, Stitcher, and iTunes. Don't miss out!
Per a report by SiriusXM NFL Radio host Alex Marvez, the Miami Dolphins are believed to be leaning towards Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard as their next head coach.
Richard was a defensive back himself, playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, and Oakland Raiders over a 6-year NFL career. Following his playing career, he joined Pete Carroll as a graduate assistant for USC for two years before following Carroll to the Seahawks in 2010.
He served as a defensive backs coach for 5 years and then spent three years as the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks, and is largely credited for developing the ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary in Seattle with Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner, and Kam Chancellor. His defense ranked first in points allowed in the 2015 season.
Following the 2017 season, Richard was let go by Seattle, but was immediately hired by the Dallas Cowboys, where his development of a hard-hitting defense was again on prominent display.
He is renowned by his players as a respected teacher.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier completed a whirlwind tour of interviews last weekend, culminating with Richard after the Cowboys defeated the Seahawks in the Wildcard round of the playoffs. Richard’s Cowboys play the Los Angeles Rams this Saturday, and Richard will likely not be available for a second interview until his team is out of the playoffs.
With that being the case, Ross and Grier will interview current special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi on Friday.
If Richard is indeed the Dolphins top pick as their next head coach, they likely won’t face any competition from other teams for his services. Richard interviewed with the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Tampa Bay has since hired Bruce Arians and the Jets are reportedly looking for an offensive-minded coach to develop quarterback Sam Darnold.
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones doesn’t want to lose Richard, but is preparing for it to happen, saying, “Obviously we’d love to keep Kris, but I’m sure it’s just going to depend on the opportunity, and certainly we’ll sit down and discuss those things.
“He’s got all the qualities you look for in a head coach.”
Cornerback Byron Jones and linebacker Jaylon Smith have also heaped praise upon Richard. Jones says Richard is “destined for greatness,” but it was Smith’s comments that spoke the loudest when asked what he likes the most about Richard.
“The tenacity he brings, the love for the game, the love for his men that he’s teaching,” said Smith. “Getting a chance to learn from him, much more beyond football. He definitely has a purpose within athletics but beyond athletics as well.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
It's clear now that Vic Fangio will not be the new Dolphins head coach, but this does not mean that the team is suddenly incapable of changing up the base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4.
Whoever the new head coach is, there's no telling who their defensive coordinator is going to be or what their preferred defensive philosophy is going to be, so let's take a brief moment to best estimate what adjustments the Miami Dolphins will need to do in order to adapt to that particular scheme; particularly after operating under a 4-3 for so many years.
I think everyone who watches the team as a fan would appreciate a change of pace, after all.
The main difference between a 4-3 and 3-4 is the versatility of defensive alignments. In a 4-3, the defense is more predictable; two DEs, two DTs, and three linebackers lined up behind them with, with two corners and two safeties in the defensive backfield. This is the scheme Miami has been utilizing for years now, and it seems to have lost its effectiveness.
In a 4-3, all four defensive linemen must be solid pass rushers, and in run defense, this requires the middle linebacker (in this case, Raekwon McMillan, to be able to run from sideline to sideline and make quick reads to stop the run).
McMillan improved somewhat near the tail end of the season, but struggled overall in what was essentially his rookie season as a result of missing all of 2017 with a knee injury he sustained in the team's preseason opener.
This limitation was then exacerbated by the team's utilization of the Wide-9 alignment, which was built to give pass rushers Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn a favorable position to rush the quarterback; not only did that fail to increase the number of the sacks throughout the season - the team finished 29th in the league in sacks with a measly 31 - but it made the team vulnerable to giving up mountains worth of rushing yards per game, a whopping 145.3, only better than the Arizona Cardinals who gave up 154.9 rush yards per game.
Arizona finished the season in last place in the NFC West with a 3-13 record, and fired head coach Steve Wilks after only one season.
Needless to say, things need to change, and perhaps the time has come to switch to a 3-4 defense and mix things up a little. However, there are certain things the team will need before they can effectively make that transition, not the least of which is an honest-to-goodness nose tackle, something the team hasn't had since Paul Soliai.
Would Ndamukong Suh have qualified? Perhaps, he's playing the position now for the Los Angeles Rams. But he hasn't really stood out this season, particularly with the shadow of Aaron Donald looming over him, who's getting to shine as a 3-4 defensive end, lined up between an offense's guards and tackles.
As a matter of fact, according to those who cover the Rams, Suh has not done well at all as a nose tackle, with most of the offensive line still keying in on Aaron Donald and doubling him, preferring to ignore Suh. His most effective instances are when he's shifted to 3-4 DE, which is where he's suited.
Suh's skill tree would not have been enough to flourish as a true nose tackle, as insane as that sounds on paper.
Typically, a 3-4 nose tackle needs to be someone who can eat up blocks and not give up any ground, which is what Soliai was so good at while the Dolphins ran a 3-4, allowing the likes of a then young Cameron Wake to rack up 14 sacks in his second year in the league in 2010 as an outside linebacker on the edge.
Soliai last weighed in at 6-foot-4 and a massive 344 pounds, that should give you some idea of what Miami needs for an effective nose tackle.
Another example, Vince Wilfork, made a name for himself playing nose tackle before the Patriots switched to a 4-3 defense in 2011. His size? 6-foot-2, 325 pounds.
And quite frankly, he looked like a bowling ball, and he played the part he was built for.
So this leaves the Miami Dolphins in a predicament. As of now, the team has no such player who can effectively fill that role. The best candidate at this point is veteran Sylvester Williams, who was signed later in the 2018 season after injuries started to pile up and is not expected to be retained. Williams stands in at 6-foot-2, 328 pounds.
No other defensive tackle on the roster even weighs in at 320.
So if the Dolphins want to run an effective 3-4 defense, they will need to invest in an actual nose tackle. With this upcoming draft filled with defensive line prospects, they might be able to find a candidate in the early rounds, which leaves the other positions to look at.
Frankly, things aren't as bad as they seem at the other positions.
For defensive ends, since we've already eliminated the team's current DTs (Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor) as potential nose tackles, we consider them for the 3-4 DE spots...and they fit the mold pretty well. While heavier than Aaron Donald (who weighs in at 6-foot-1, 280 pounds), they better fit the mold of Ndamukong Suh, who - again - finds most of his 3-4 success when lined up as a DE. Seems like a perfect fit.
For outside linebackers, Cameron Wake could still rush the quarterback even if his hand isn't in the dirt, he did get 14 sacks in his second year in that role, as previously mentioned. Using him as a weakside rusher in the 3-4 sounds intriguing. As for the other side, that might be the chance that former first round pick Charles Harris needs to finally shine.
Quick reminder, Harris actually played plenty of outside linebacker during his time at Missouri, moving around as needed from edge rusher as a linebacker to a defensive end as needed with the Missouri Tigers running a hybrid defense that incorporated a lot of 4-2-5 elements (four linebackers, two defensive tackles, five defensive backs). But he was converted to a full-time 4-3 defensive end. We all know how that went for Dion Jordan, who was supposed to revolutionize the team's pass rushing for years to come and become the next Jason Taylor.
At least Harris doesn't come with "other" issues. So for depth's sake, finding another player who can act as an edge and can spell Cameron Wake in downs that aren't obvious passing downs is crucial. This is, of course, assuming Wake is brought back on a new contract and doesn't go elsewhere in the offseason as the team rebuilds.
As for the secondary, coverage schemes don't necessarily have to change much based on which base defense is used, the Cover 2 would still work just fine, and unless the new defensive coordinator is inspired by having both Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald to pair with Minkah Fitzpatrick to switch to a Cover 3 (assuming the aforementioned veterans are still with the team by the start of the 2019 season), it stands to reason the new man will stick with the Cover 2.
Although he should seriously consider using three safeties, making McDonald a hybrid linebacker type.
Xavien Howard is a building block type player and has emerged as an elite corner. As the team rebuilds, Howard should be extended to a long-term deal unless they feel they can get a huge payday from a team looking for a stud cornerback: either a first round pick or a package of picks which includes a second rounder. He would easily lock down one corner spot, but then Miami has to go on the hunt for another corner who can handle the starting spot beside him.
Regardless of whether it's a 4-3 or a 3-4, they'll need to do this. Neither Cordrea Tankersley, Torry McTyer, Bobby McCain or Cornell Armstrong could handle the responsibility effectively in 2018, so barring a huge developmental jump for one of those guys, the Dolphins need another starting cornerback.
Safety is set unless they jettison both Jones and McDonald, and even then, there are always young players that can be given an opportunity, such as Maurice Smith, who plays hard and if given a fair shot, could impress some folks.
Now the tricky part...inside linebackers. Can the Ohio State duo of Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker effectively handle the responsibilities associated with 3-4 middle linebacker duties?
Maybe they can.
McMillan would likely be given the role of the SAM linebacker, which means that they line up on the strong side of the offensive formation, aka wherever the tight end is. Traditionally, the SAM's job is to make quick reads and stop the run, be the bruiser linebacker on the defense going downhill; given that McMillan is better as a run stopper, that seems like a job he could handle.
That leaves Baker as the WILL, the guy who goes in to clean up the mess and takes advantage of not having blockers on him so he can make plays. Baker's fast and he can go from sideline to sideline in a hurry, if he doesn't have to shed blockers, he's shown he can make those plays when given the chance.
Things are starting to look up for the hypothetical 3-4 Dolphins defense.
The main quid pro quo at this point is we don't know who on the Miami defense will remain as the team is set to presumably clean house. As previously mentioned, Wake could be gone, and most of the team's 4-3 DEs seem set to follow. That means no Robert Quinn (who struggled in a 3-4 anyway), no Andre Branch (overpriced and overrated), and no William Hayes (good player but old and often-injured).
At linebacker, the team could part ways with veteran Kiko Alonso, who can also make plays against the run but is a liability in coverage. And of course, there's no telling if the team will trade away their secondary players to stockpile draft picks as a result of their rebuild.
However, even if they do clean house of veterans, the Dolphins still have the basic pieces - on paper - needed to effectively run a 3-4 defense if whoever does get hired as the new head coach opts to bring in a coordinator who likes a 3-4 defense. Retain Howard, find another starting corner, an edge rusher, and a nose tackle.
Do that, and Miami's 3-4 starting lineup is set.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
On this edition of the PhinManiacs podcast, several website heads come together to discuss the end of the season and what seems to be in store for the Miami Dolphins in the near future. You will not want to miss this one!
You have an abundance of outlets to check out the show, including SoundCloud, Stitcher, and iTunes, as well as seeing the YouTube version below.
Adam Gase was relieved of his head coaching duties early Monday morning, less than 24 hours after the Miami Dolphins fell apart in a 42-17 loss at Buffalo, ending the 2018 season a frustrating 7-9. In three seasons at the helm, Gase compiled a total record of 23-25, including a postseason appearance in his debut season.
The ultimate search begins for the next head coach to lead a franchise that has been caught in mediocrity for over a decade and a half. Earlier Tuesday, one name was brought up: special teams coordinator coach Darren Rizzi. Rizzi is one of six head coaching candidates the Dolphins will sit down and interview between the next couple weeks, joining Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak and Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard.
Rizzi does not have any NFL head coaching experience, but previously paced the NCAA Division II Independent New Haven Chargers to a 15-14 record, from 1999-2001, and the Rhode Island Rams to a 3-9 mark in 2008. Earlier in a press conference during the regular season, when asked if he had any intentions to become a professional head coach, Rizzi offered some thoughts.
“It’s something that as I look forward in my personal career," He said. "It’s something that I want to do again down the road, to be a head coach again.”
Rizzi brings complete energy and passion to the table each and every day at work, and if the Miami Dolphins were to hire Rizzi to begin a rebuilding process, it may lead to success in the near future. The last special teams coordinator to move up to a head coaching job was Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, who has coached the Ravens since 2008.
Reports are also out that players in the locker room are lobbying for Rizzi to get the job, citing his coaching acumen and ability to relate to the players. Per the Palm Beach Post's Joe Schad, running back Kenyan Drake has high praise for Miami's special teams coordinator.
“Riz is the ultimate players coach." Drake said. "He has a way of balancing the personality of his players while getting the most from them. He’s intense but compassionate and that’s what makes him a great coach.”
Schad also cited linebacker Mike Hull, who echoed similar sentiments.
“He’s very thorough,” He said. “He makes great adjustments. He’s intense. He demands a lot of his players.”
Even players who are no longer with the team are throwing their hats into the ring, such as former Dolphins tight end Tim Semisch, who joined the Dolphins back in 2015 after a tryout.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and Patriots’ Bill Belichick also worked their way from special teams coordinator to head coaching duties. Rizzi has been with the Miami Dolphins organization since 2010, working alongside former coaches such as the late Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles (interim), Joe Philbin, Dan Campbell (interim) and Adam Gase.
The Dolphins are one of eight NFL teams searching for a permanent head coach, along with the Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
The Dolphins coaching search is currently headed in the wrong direction.
That’s my conclusion just days after the Dolphins fired head coach Adam Gase.
According to multiple reports, the Dolphins have five assistant coaches on their interview list with varying backgrounds. However, none of them has the right background. They are:
Name Current Position Current Team
Vic Fangio Defensive Coordinator Chicago Bears
Eric Bieniemy Offensive Coordinator Kansas City Chiefs
Brian Flores Defensive Coordinator New England Patriots
Mike Munchak Offensive Line Coach Pittsburgh Steelers
Kris Richards Secondary Coach Dallas Cowboys
Darren Rizzi Special Teams Coordinator Miami Dolphins
There is no claim that this list is complete and I certainly hope that is the case. Because none of these candidates has the one thing everyone, including Miami, needs: an offensive head coach who can coach quarterbacks.
Right now the trend in the NFL is toward offensive head coaches. And rightfully so. The success of Matt Nagy, Kyle Shannahan and Sean McVay, not to mention old hand Andy Reid, has undoubtedly put owners and general managers in the mood to follow the lead of these teams.
Head Coach 2018 Playoff Team Former NFL Coaching Position
Andy Reid Kansas City Offensive Coordinator
Bill Belichick New England Defensive Coordinator
Frank Reich Indianapolis Offensive Coordinator
Bill O’Brien Houston Offensive Coordinator
Anthony Lynn L.A. Chargers Offensive Coordinator
John Harbaugh Baltimore Special Teams Coordinator
Sean Payton New Orleans Quarterbacks Coach
Sean McVay L.A. Rams Offensive Coordinator
Doug Pederson Philadelphia Offensive Coordinator
Matt Nagy Chicago Offensive Coordinator
Pete Carroll Seattle Defensive Coordinator
Jason Garrett Dallas Offensive Coordinator
Of the twelve 2018 playoff teams above, nine have offensive backgrounds including three of the four top seeds (Belichick is always the exception, isn’t he?). Of those nine, all but Sean McVay and Anthony Lynn have a background coaching quarterbacks.
And given those numbers, offensive head coaches who can coach quarterbacks should be in high demand. Because more and more it becomes evident that is what the game is about and there are few losing teams who won’t either be looking for one somewhere or who won’t be looking to develop one that they already have.
Team Potentially Looking for Head coach Likely 2019 Draft Position Likely 2019 Quarterback
Arizona 1 Josh Rosen
New York Jets 3 Sam Darnold
Tampa Bay 5 Jameis Winston/Draft Pick
Denver 10 Case Keenum/Draft Pick
Cincinnati 11 Andy Dalton
Green Bay 12 Aaron Rodgers
Miami 13 Draft Pick
Cleveland 17 Baker Mayfield
Of the eight teams looking for a head coach, the only team without an established projected starter is Miami, and even then, the Bengals and the Packers may still take a QB with an eye towards developing him for the future.
Almost all of these teams certainly understand that the only way to keep a fertile offensive mind is to make him the head coach. Anyone else who is any good will almost certainly be pilfered the minute a head coaching position is open.
Yes, Miami tried this once with Adam Gase and it didn’t work. But the fact that Gase wasn’t the guy shouldn’t deter them from doing it again. And again and again and again. Until they get it right.
Miami should be looking to do two things in the offseason: draft a quarterback and hire someone who can coach him. The odds of winning consistently without both are low and the best way to establish stability is to make the second is the head coach. And that’s what they should be trying to do.
This story was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
Owner Stephen Ross flew home in record time after the disappointing 42-17 thrashing the Miami Dolphins took Sunday afternoon from the Buffalo Bills. Here it was, the end of another losing season: Another embarrassment. Another lackluster effort from the players. Another late season team collapse.
And, another bad display of coaching. Ross had a lot to think about. Did he need to hit the reset button or should he stay the course? Make no mistake that the decision to fire coach Gase was two years in the making and it had to happen.
In the first year of coach Gase’s tenure, a euphoric vibe was present with the Miami Dolphins. An unknown running back named Jay Ajayi emerged as a driving force to a Dolphins Wild Card playoff berth. Many things seemed to work. Every player that was cut during the season was a significant liability to the team (Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, etc). Coach Gase’s first draft consisted of Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, Leonte Carroo, and Jakeem Grant which were all contributors.
And, coach Gase had a strong relationship with players within the locker room and during game day, which you could see during his game day emotions. When things went wrong with the team, he took responsibility for not coaching his team up enough. When things went right, it was due to the hard work by the coaching staff and the team.
But something happened during his second year. Obviously, the Ryan Tannehill injury in training camp was a huge wrench in coach Gase’s plans.
But then the bad decisions started piling up one after the other. First, bringing in a 29 year old Julius Thomas, who had not been a relevant NFL player for four years. This was a loyalty selection, as Gase was familiar with Thomas during his Broncos days.
Then, a substandard draft with the only contributor being Raekwon McMillan, who ended up missing the entire season due to an injury in preseason. Then, paying an exorbitant amount of money to Jay Cutler, who clearly had no interest in playing football. (Passing up $10 million was a little hard to pass up). Cutler was another loyalty pick for the coach.
Then coach Gase aimed his focus on the culture within the locker room. It became evident that there was only going to be one Alpha Dog on the team, and that was coach Gase. Trading Jay Ajayi had more to do with Gase not wanting to deal with Ajayi’s A type personality than it did with what Ajayi was able to do on the field. Instead of adjusting his leadership style to coach these players with different personalities, Gase’s choice was to let the players go.
The Dolphins ended the 2017 season a depressing 6-10.
The 2018 season was supposed to be the big bounce back year. Alpha Dog coach Gase cleared the locker room of any player who appeared to have an opinion about the team which differed from his own opinion. Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh, and Mike Pouncey were no longer with the team. Ryan Tannehill, who Gase always stood behind, was to return from injury. The team picked up some veteran free agents to help shore up the offensive and defensive lines, and they had some solid selections during the draft in Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jerome Baker, and Jason Sanders.
After the team started 3-0, things couldn’t look brighter. But, after a 38-7 shellacking at the hands of the New England Patriots in Foxborough, the wheels began to come off. Injuries began mounting and the backup players weren’t good enough to compensate for the missing starters.
The offense struggled, especially when Tannehill was injured. The defense had significantly more bad games than good games. And, instead of blaming the coaches for the poor team performances, Gase’s blame was placed on other factors (the weather, the opponents' winning streaks, the opponents' health, the opponents' effort, etc).
And again, the coaches didn’t know how to effectively address players with individual personalities. This boiled over when Reshad Jones pulled himself out of the Dolphins vs. Jets game midway through and did not return. The 2018 season ended with a disappointing 7-9 record.
Stephen Ross needed to fire Adam Gase. Not because of the Dolphins unacceptable records the past two seasons, but because Gase made too many bad decisions, couldn’t be an offensive coordinator and head coach at the same time, and he lacked in one of the most important skills that any leader is required to have when managing people – good communication skills.
All in all, Adam Gase will probably be a great head coach somewhere. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be in Miami.
This story was written by Ian Berger. Follow him on Twitter: @ian693
As the Miami Dolphins move on from former head coach Adam Gase and spread their net far and wide in search of his replacement, the guy who will have the most say in that hire remains mostly anonymous.
Who exactly is Chris Grier?
The son of an NFL scout (Bobby Grier, the Houston Texans current Pro Personnel Director), it’s no surprise that Chris has a very heavy background in scouting. He started as an intern for the New England Patriots in 1994, and worked his way up to regional scout with that organization before moving to the Dolphins as an area scout.
Grier then spent 13 years involved with and directing college scouting for the Dolphins before being promoted to General Manager in 2016 when Adam Gase was hired. Those two, along with Mike Tannenbaum have been the triumvirate of power at the top of the Dolphins organization for the past three years. But Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, seeking a more streamlined chain of command, dismissed Gase and reassigned Tannenbaum to non-football duties, then elevated Grier to the top spot reporting directly to him. Grier will choose the next coach for the team.
So now you know Grier’s history, and it’s extensive. But what can we expect from the new guy in charge? How will he form this team to have, as Stephen Ross put it, “the heart of a champion?”
Having worked with Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, and Pete Carroll when all were in New England, Grier has learned from some of the best, including working under Nick Saban during Saban’s brief time with the Dolphins.
“There’s a lot of those guys; a lot of that has influenced me. And I talk to those guys still about a lot of different things,” says Grier. “I have strong beliefs of what I believe in, how football teams win, and how they’re built, so I shared that with Steve. We had a good conversation, and that’s going to be our plan going forward. It’s not about winning one year and then falling back,We want to build this thing the right way, where it’s long sustained success, where the fans are happy, Steve (Ross) is happy, and we’re winning for long periods of time.”
As far as what he’s looking for in a coach, Grier says, “There are good football coaches, pro and college. We’re going to investigate every avenue. For us, the important thing will be finding the right guy that kind of believes in some of the same things I do in terms of building a team.
“But I’m also flexible enough that if he presents his ideas and we think it’s good, it’s going to be collaboration with everything we do. I know we talk about having control, but it’s not going to work if he and I don’t share a vision to implement that plan throughout the organization.
“The ultimate goal is to win Super Bowls and championships and be a consistent winner.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
When the new boss Chris Grier took the stand to explain how he intended to handle the Miami Dolphins from this point on, he briefly mentioned how he would be looking far and wide for new candidates to take over for newly fired coach Adam Gase.
"You can’t rule out anything." Grier said. "There’s good football coaches – pro and college – and I think we’re going to investigate every avenue. For us, the important thing will be finding the right guy that kind of believes in some of the same things I do in terms of building a team, but I’m also flexible enough that if he presents his ideas and we think it’s good, it’s going to be a collaboration, everything we do still. I know we talk about having control and I’m over it, yeah; but it’s not going to work if he and I don’t share a vision to implement that plan throughout the organization.”
It sounds like a decent balance, Grier is in charge but he wants to be able to work with his head coach. Nothing wrong with that, and the names being thrown around as potential candidates for Miami to hire is one brimming with promise and potential; so far, they have requested interviews with five individuals.
First is New England Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores, who took over the role after Matt Patricia left to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions.
The 37 year old Flores has been with the Patriots in various roles for the past 14 years, spending time as a scouting assistant from 2004-05, a pro scout from 2006-07, special teams assistant from 2008-09, his title was changed to assistant coach of offense and special teams in 2010, then in 2011 he was named a defensive assistant, he coaches safeties in 2012-15, linebackers in 2016-17, before finally getting to call defensive plays this past season.
Flores actually got interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals job last season (which is now open again thanks to the firing of Steve Wilks), and now the Dolphins (among other teams) want to do so again. One thing to point about Flores is his ability to teach, which Bill Belichick himself praised back in August.
“I think Brian and our defensive staff has done a good job in teaching the players and installing our system,” Belichick said. “We haven’t done much game-planning to this point, but we’ll see how that goes as we get into the real games."
Next is veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who at 60 years old would buck the trend of young, offensive-minded "gurus" that seem to have made up the majority of recent coaching hires.
Despite being a respected defensive mind for many years, Fangio has never actually been a head coach before, but defenses he's coaches have always been stout, ranking in the top ten in the league for six of the last eight seasons he's been coaching, including the number two ranked defense with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and 2012, and the number one ranked defensive in the NFL in 2018.
Fangio has also worked under both Harbaugh brothers, and with Grier having roster control, it's unlikely either Harbaugh could be persuaded to come to Miami. With Fangio, the Dolphins would be hiring the closest thing to a Harbaugh, but Fangio would need to hire an offensive coordinator who can handle an offense since he's spent his entire coaching career working on defense.
The Dolphins are also looking at offensive minded coaches, the first of which is current Steelers OL coach Mike Munchak (58), who has some experience as a head coach as he coached the Tennessee Titans from 2011-13, leading them to a 22-26 record with no playoff appearances. Since being fired from that job, Munchak has spent the last five seasons (2014-18) as the OL coach for the Steelers.
Munchak was a former first round draft pick of the Houston Oilers (8th overall) back in 1982, where he spent 12 years as their starting left guard. During that time, he was nominated for the Pro Bowl nine times, a four-time All-Pro, a nine-time second-team All-Pro.
Given Miami's struggles with the offensive line for the past decade or so, Munchak would be expected to come in and fix the problems there, but his past head coaching stint does cause some skepticism. Maybe he's learned some things since then, but there's no way to know without trying.
The fourth coach Miami has requested to interview is Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (49), who young superstar QB Patrick Mahomes has stated would make an excellent head coach.
“He’d been an awesome head coach. He has that mindset, that work ethic, and that determination that you need to be a head coach in this league,” Mahomes said. “I know that he’s had the interest and stuff like that. You know he’ll still be 100 percent in on what we’re doing here. He’d be an amazing coach, and I’m excited that I still have him right now on this playoff run.”
Like Flores, Bieniemy would also qualify to fulfill the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires that all NFL teams at least interview a minority candidate before hiring a new head coach or senior football operation jobs. Bieniemy spent five years (2013-17) as the Chiefs running backs coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator, and comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, which has spawned many successful coaches in the past.
Besides the NFL level, Bieniemy has also been an offensive coordinator at the college level, and with his background as a former NFL running back, playing for the Chargers, Bengals and Eagles in his nine-year career, he'd be a fiery head coach that knows how to get players motivated.
Last, for now at least, is the Dallas Cowboys' passing game coordinator and DB coach Kris Richard (39), who is another Rooney Rule qualifier and is considered largely responsible for the success of the Cowboys this season.
“He’s an incredibly intense, unbelievable football coach who teaches Xs and Os, teaches technique, has brought an unbelievable amount of knowledge." Linebacker Sean Lee said earlier this year. "He’s a guy we rally around because of the intensity he brings every single day.”
Another intense candidate, Richard's teaching skills (like with Flores) are being cited. Given that technique has been an issue for the Dolphins in the past several seasons, he would be another excellent candidate for a team set to bring in a lot of young players in the next couple of seasons. He's been a defensive back coach for several years now and even got an opportunity to be a defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks back in 2015-17, in which time he earned the respect of star cornerback Richard Sherman, who expressed his support of the Dolphins requesting an interview.
Both Fangio and and Richard cannot yet be interviewed due to their playoff status, but Munchak can be interviewed due to the Steelers missing the playoffs, while Bieniemy and Flores both have first round bye weeks, meaning they can also be interviewed as well.
If there's one trend that can be taken from these candidates, it seems to be their abilities as teachers, something that young phenom coach Sean McVay has been heralded for with the Rams. If this is the initial list of candidates, then GM Chris Grier is doing a terrific job starting off the head coach search.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
For the longest time, the Miami Dolphins have been trying to use band-aids to stop bleeding that needed much more effort put it into it; signing big splash free agents like Ndamukong Suh, bringing in veterans with experience like Danny Amendola and Frank Gore in an attempt to shore up a roster that had potential but could never get over the hump.
And at the forefront of all of that was owner Stephen Ross, who was always accused of not seeing the big picture and seeing that a full rebuild was necessary, instead allowing his coaches and front office executives to continue going around in circles, desperately trying to escape the mediocrity of the past decade while never truly refueling to make a proper run.
On Monday morning, that all came to a screeching halt, as Ross addressed the media and informed everyone that it was time the Dolphins took a new approach, one that he hadn't taken during his entire tenure as owner.
"We’ve been operating under a philosophy that we had a good young roster and it needed maybe free agents and draft choices and we’d be very competitive." Ross said. "To keep operating under that philosophy would be like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing and really expecting a different result. So I thought it was time for the organization to take a different approach, much like when I do in my business. I know everything I’ve done, we’re always the best-in-class and we’re on top, and that’s what I expect to be on the football field as well as an organization."
That is perhaps the most interesting statement of all, that Ross realizes that continuing down this path is insanity, that endlessly trying to push for something that's so clearly out of reach is just not smart. So that makes what he said next even more telling.
"Basically, the thought is we’re going to look to really build this organization based on our needs," He said. "And if it takes a year or so – two years, three years – we’re going to be there and we’re going to be an organization."
There it is, right there. If it takes a year, two years, three years, whatever. That sounds like the definition of a rebuild, taking a step back and coming to the realization that the team isn't good, and despite what everyone in his ear tried to say, they aren't close to being good.
You have to rest for a while and recharge before you can sprint for the finish line.
So what does this mean? It means no more spending money on older free agents who would only act as progress-blockers for younger players, it means focusing on building through the draft and accepting that sometimes what's best for a franchise is to lose for a few years in order to pave the way for something elite.
It also means that the time has come to trade assets in order to build up resources for a roster rebuild in the future. What does this mean for the likes of Xavien Howard, Kenyan Drake, Andre Branch, Robert Quinn, Kiko Alonso, Reshad Jones, T.J. McDonald, Ryan Tannehill, and others on the roster?
In the case of Howard and Drake, those two would be the most likely to get high returns on the trading block: Howard still has one more year on his rookie deal, and he's already cemented himself as an elite cornerback. Drake has shown that he has the ability to be an elite weapon, and he was extremely frustrated with now former head coach Adam Gase's unwillingness to give him a larger workload.
By the same token, there is the matter of having cornerstone players who should be built around, and both Howard and Drake fit that bill. The Dolphins are expected to dump a lot of bad contracts in the upcoming offseason, leaving room to sign elite talent like Howard, Drake and possibly even Laremy Tunsil to the contracts they'll be looking for.
Ultimately, these decisions will now fall at the feet of Chris Grier, who was retained after the Gase firing and Mike Tannenbaum reassignment. Gone are the days where the coach and the GMs would all work together and speak directly to Ross. The hierarchy has been streamlined to the way it should have been long ago. Grier is in charge, and there will be no more asking questions regarding who did what.
"Chris (Grier) will have total responsibility of leading the organization." Ross said. "He will work together with a new coach. He will make all football decisions and report to me. I think that as we build this roster, we have a great young roster today with some key players to build upon, but we’re going to build it the right way, bringing in new people who will want to win, really creating that winning attitude."
It's a step in the right direction for a franchise that has been lost in the dark for far too long. It's time to start the painful trek towards true greatness again, and Ross finally seems to have learned how to make it happen.
"If you look back, look what we’ve done every year since I’ve been here." Ross said. "If we keep doing that, where are we going to be? We’ll be anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6. That’s not good enough. I would hope I don’t have to go 3-13; but whatever it’s going to take, we’re going to build that organization with the right players that want to win. They’re coming here to win.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Well that was quick.
The Miami Dolphins wasted no time after losing their final three games by combined scores of 100-41, firing head coach Adam Gase early Monday morning. His firing creates eight head coaching opening around the NFL.
Considered an offensive guru and one of the hot coaching names in 2016, Gase was brought to Miami to develop quarterback Ryan Tannehill and inject a spark in a previously moribund offense.
That didn’t happen.
Gase’s offenses ranked near the bottom of the league in all three years he coaches in Miami, and Tannehill, while showing improvement in 2016, never took that step to elite status. Injury played a part in that, as Tannehill missed 24 of Gase’s 48 games, plus their lone playoff loss to the Steelers following the 2016 season. Including that playoff loss, Gase finished his tenure in Miami with a 23-16 record. Tannehill's career in Miami could be drawing to a close as well.
In an era where high-flying offenses are evolving quickly, none of the Dolphins wins this season were by double-digit margin, and they gave up more than 16 points on average in their losses. After starting 3-0, the Dolphins regressed badly as the season wore on, with the only bright spot being a rousing win over the New England Patriots in Week 14. Gases’s teams always played the Patriots tough in Miami, but failed to score 20 points in 8 of 16 games this season.
Gase was given full control over the team’s 53-man roster, and owner Stephen Ross reportedly asked him to give that up after this season. That issue only added to a deteriorating relationship this season, and Ross apparently deemed them irreparable.
General Manager Chris Grier will be retained, and has been promoted to head of football operations, and Mike Tannenbaum, who previously held that role, has been reassigned.
More news to follow, as the Dolphins offseason gets off to an interesting start.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter, @EJFootball.
The Miami Dolphins (7-8) will conclude the season against a division opponent in the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Orchard Park. It has been a disappointing season for both the Dolphins and the Bills, in terms of their record. Miami opened the season 3-0, with home wins versus Tennessee and Oakland and a lone road win at the Jets, dating back to mid-September. Ironically, that was the only win away from Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami has been beaten and battered all season long on the road. Buffalo, sitting at 5-10, may have found the future of their franchise, in former Wyoming product and rookie quarterback Josh Allen. In the December 2 meeting at Hard Rock Stadium, Allen ran all around Miami’s defense, gaining 135 yards on nine carries.
If you are a Dolphins fan, not being able to stop the run should not surprise you whatsoever. Coming into the season finale, Miami’s defense coughs up 143.9 rushing yards per game, trailing only the Arizona Cardinals for worst in the league. Sunday will mark the 110th all-time meeting.
DATE: Sunday, December 30
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
SITE: New Era Field, Orchard Park, New York
LINE: BUF - 5.5, O/U: 39.5
Radio: Dolphins Radio Network, KISS 99.9 FM, 560 WQAM, 1210 WNMA (Spanish)
Radio Announcers: English broadcast - Jimmy Cefalo, Bob Griese, Joe Rose, Kim Bokamper; Spanish broadcast - Raul Striker Jr., Eduardo Martell
5 players to watch
1. QB Ryan Tannehill - Will Sunday mark the end of Ryan Tannehill’s tenure in Miami? If so, Dolphins fans witnessed seven seasons of ultimate mediocrity. Tannehill is coming off a lackluster performance against a four-win Jacksonville team at Hard Rock Stadium, which included a pick-six touchdown to seal the defeat. Tannehill is 0-4 against the Bills at Orchard Park, and with the temperatures expected to dip below freezing point, Tannehill is expected to have another poor performance.
2. QB Josh Allen - As mentioned in the opening segment, Allen absolutely toasted the Miami defense in the last meeting between the two, gaining 135 yards on the ground alone. The Dolphins’ front seven, paced by Akeem Spence, Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn must blitz on early-down situations to force Allen out of the pocket. Miami’s secondary, paced by Bobby McCain and Minkah Fitzpatrick, must have complete awareness for 60 minutes.
3. DT Kyle Williams - Williams announced Friday morning that Sunday will be his last game played in the National Football League. Drafted in 2006, Williams’ presence contributed to Buffalo’s success last season. It was the first time since 1999 that the Bills secured a playoff berth. In 22 career game against Miami, Williams produced 4.0 sacks, 54 tackles and 12 tackles for loss of yardage.
4. WR DeVante Parker - DeVante Parker’s future as a Miami Dolphins hangs in the balance. Parker is due $9,387,000 in 2019, but Miami has an option to trade him during the offseason. 2018 has been a similarity to Parker’s entire professional career: injury-riddled. Parker has eclipsed over 100 receiving yards in just one game this season (Week 8 at Houston).
5. DE Cameron Wake - During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Wake repeatedly stated he wants to remain a Miami Dolphin in 2019, but the sides have to agree mutually. At the conclusion of Sunday’s contest, Wake will become an unrestricted free agent, and the Dolphins owe Wake $8 million.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
Come the end of this upcoming January, Miami Dolphins veteran pass rusher Cameron Wake will reach the age of 37 years old, and he's merely two sacks away from reaching the vaunted 100 sack milestone, which as of now, only 32 other players have managed to reach in NFL history.
“It’s even an honor to even be speaking about this." Wake said on Friday. "Think about, again, the story has been told a lot of times, but to start from where I started, to get to even where I am now, I cherish that. I put a lot on that because … It’s something I definitely am looking forward to. I don’t know the numbers. You guys can look it up. I don’t know how many undrafted guys have gotten there.
"I don’t know how many guys spent a year out of football. I don’t know how many CFL guys have gotten there. But I do whatever I can every day to go out there and just fight and scratch and claw to do my job, and to be one of blank many guys to say they’ve had 100 or so sacks, to be mentioned with those names, that’s something special.”
However, there is a slight problem looming, and that's the simple fact that after the season is over, Wake is set to become a free agent, and there hasn't been much news about extending him. Numerically speaking, Wake has had a slow year by his standards, only logging six sacks entering the final week of the season.
Then again, based on analytics such as ProFootballFocus, which uses a formula that combines sacks, hits and hurries relative to how many times a player rushes the passer, Wake actually ranks sixth in the entire NFL, behind only Buffalo's Jerry Hughes, the Chargers' Uchenna Nwosu, Detroit's Ezekiel Ansah, Buffalo's Mike Love, and the Eagles' Daeshon Hall.
If Love and Hall get removed since they've only appeared in two games, then Wake moves up to fourth. So there's a huge gap in the evaluation, depending on what one considers important.
Even Wake himself is aware of the perception it creates.
"I’m not a numbers guy." He said. "I’m a production guy and sacks are just one metric to calculate what that production is. Again, nobody writes stories about setting the edge, nobody writes stories about pressures, things like that. Sacks are sexy and they usually get the most recognition; but at the end of the day there’s a lot of things that go into being a defensive end.
"You’ve got to be able to do a lot of different things, and so whichever way the ball swings sometimes, your sack numbers aren’t there; but you have to do your best to be an all-around total football player and that involves a lot of things you spoke about, even some other things too.”
The question now becomes this: how much is a pass rusher entering his 11th season in the league and about to become 37 years old worth? Can Miami afford to move on from him? Can they afford to keep him? More than likely, Miami will be moving on from Andre Branch, who has underperformed his contract extension and will save $7 million in the cap upon release; young DE Charles Harris is dangerously close to being labeled a bust, having only logged three sacks in two seasons.
For a former first round pick, that's very bad.
There's no doubt Wake can still get to the quarterback with as often as he came within inches of getting a sack only for the QB to run away from him, and it would mean a lot if Wake could finish his career having only played with one team, something that not even legendary former Dolphin Jason Taylor can boast.
It all depends on if the two sides can come to an agreement, which one can only guess if they will given that there's projected to be some big shakeups in the front office. Make no mistake, however, Wake says he wants to play in 2019, so the question is whether it will be in a Dolphins uniform or not.
And he does want to be.
“I would like to be." He said regarding remaining in Miami. "It’s probably a little bit out of my hands, a little bit in my hands. So stay tuned, I guess.”
Stay tuned, indeed.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
On Wednesday morning, four Miami Dolphins were given special awards for their contributions during the 2018 football season.
CB Xavien Howard, a former Baylor standout, was named the Dan Marino Most Valuable Player award. Howard is the third Dolphins CB in franchise history to earn this, joining Sam Madison (1999) and Brent Grimes (2013). Entering the final week of the regular season, Howard is tied with Chicago’s Kyle Fuller, pulling down seven interceptions. Howard has missed Miami’s past three contests, nursing a knee injury.
RB Frank Gore, a former Miami Hurricane and in his first season with the Miami Dolphins, earned the Don Shula Leadership Award. Gore is the fifth player in franchise history to win the award, connecting with Fred Barnett (1996), Junior Seau (2003), Chad Pennington (2008) and Karlos Dansby (2010). Gore has rushed for a team-leading 722 yards this season, but was placed on season-ending IR, after suffering a foot injury in the Dolphins’ Week 15 loss to Minnesota.
QB Ryan Tannehill was given the Ed Block Courage Award. This is the second Dolphins QB to be given this award, as Tannehill now joins Dan Marino (1995). Tannehill missed the entire 2017 season, after sustaining a knee injury during training camp. In a corresponding move, Adam Gase signed QB Jay Cutler to a one-year, $10 million deal, which wounded up producing a disappointing, but expected, 6-10 season.
In 2018, Tannehill missed five games due to a right throwing shoulder injury suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brock Osweiler filled in for Tannehill’s spot, leading the Dolphins to victories over the Chicago Bears and New York Jets. After this past Sunday’s 17-7 grueling loss to lowly Jacksonville, Tannehill’s future as a Miami Dolphin ultimately hangs on a thread.
Lastly, WR Kenny Stills secured the Nat Moore Community Award. Stills, who played college football at Oklahoma, is the second player in team history to win the award, partnering with P Brandon Fields (2011-13).
Stills has done numerous amount of work off the football field; the main being addressing society-based issues. The Nat Moore Community Award is offered to the player who puts his personal time in the South Florida Community.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
It’s the Christmas season, a time of good cheer. But I’m having a hard time generating the kind of enthusiasm this time is supposed to engender when it comes to the Dolphins, after they lost a must win game on Sunday to keep their dying playoff hopes alive against a very beatable Jacksonville team.
However, Christmas is also a season of renewal and hope. And this in respect, I may have something to offer.
Whatever else you thought about this Dolphins team this year, you could always say they were a different team at home where they were 6-1 going into last Sunday’s game. Now that notion is shot, along with any chance at the postseason.
And make no mistake, not playing in a playoff game this year is the key factor as we head into the offseason.
The story of the people in charge of the 2018 Dolphins begins and ends in the Miami draft room last April. That was when Dolphins owner Stephen Ross reportedly implored the team to trade back in order to acquire more picks. It was later reported that Ross wasn’t thrilled with the team’s draft, having concerns about both second round pick Mike Gesicki and third round pick Jerome Baker.
Most to the point, neither selection was a quarterback. And that’s what this was really about. Doing the same thing over and over again and believing that the result will be any different is the definition of insanity. Ross obviously did not believe that Ryan Tannehill, after seven mediocre NFL seasons, was going to be any different in his eighth. His front office believed differently. I’ll leave the conclusions to you.
The Dolphins reportedly liked Josh Allen but chose to sit and take him only if he fell to them rather than aggressively moving up in the draft the way that Buffalo did.
After the draft, Ross didn’t deny any of these reports. And this is the key point. When an owner is questioning your decisions, he’s telling you that he has doubts about your ability to run the team. And when he’s telling you to take a quarterback, he’s specifically telling you to start planning for the future. He’s telling you he thinks you need to start the rebuilding process. A limited rebuilding process to be sure. But a rebuilding process nonetheless.
Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier chose to ignore that advice at their own peril. When they did so and took a safety, a tight end and a linebacker instead of a quarterback, the message to their owner was clear: this team could win now with the guys they had. And at that point the line was drawn. Playoffs or bust.
Now we know. It’s a bust.
And for good reason as the “he’s telling you he has doubts about your ability to run the team” part of that draft day episode turned out to be well justified.
In fact, it’s probably even worse than Ross thought.
At that point in April, Ross was merely watching teams make aggressive draft day moves around him while his mediocre team leadership stood pat. That front office team, led by Tannenbaum, certainly wasn’t showing itself to be elite. But incompetence? That didn’t show itself until the season, itself to played out.
Dave Hyde at the Sun-Sentinel did a nice job of breaking down the poor way that this team was built on offense. From signing older players who were basically injured from the moment they joined the team to lack of a swing tackle, this was an offense that was on shaky ground that slowly disintegrated as the season went one. It certainly has less talent than most Dolphins observers thought, and still think, it does.
But Hyde didn’t address the most egregious failures - the ones on defense where the poor way that this team was built is flat out indefensible.
It starts up front where the team entered Sunday’s game ranked 30th in sacks with 24 before recording six against the hapless Jaguars. Robert Quinn has been a highly paid bust at one end and Cameron Wake at the other has had a poor season at age 36. The defensive tackles are non-entities that don’t bear mentioning.
But sacks aren’t the real issue. The real problem is the run defense which is ranked 31st in the league and has been putrid in big moments this year. And that problem starts up front.
The planning for the season in this regard actually started last year when Raekwon McMillan was drafted. McMillan is a “new style” linebacker who isn’t going to be particularly physical but who has the speed and instincts to be a difference maker in the middle of the defense. Baker has a similar skill set.
This wasn’t a bad plan in and of itself and it is certainly representative of modern NFL thinking. The problem is that the Dolphins implemented it poorly by not having a plan for the defensive front. In order for players like McMillan and Baker to succeed, they need to be protected by the men up front, whose job it is to either penetrate or otherwise occupy blockers to keep the linebackers clean, allowing them to roam and play to their strengths. The end result was an utter failure as the defensive tackles were easily moved and failed to man even their own gaps, let alone keep the opposing offensive linemen from getting to the second level.
The plan on the back end wasn’t any better. Xavien Howard had a Pro Bowl season and has developed into a wonderful player. But he was practically wasted because of the dysfunction at the other defensive backfield positions. The Dolphins overestimated the abilities of every other cornerback on the roster from Cordrea Tankersley to Walt Aikens to Torry McTyer, they couldn’t find a starter opposite Howard. They ended up with 5’11” Bobby McCain holding down the outside rather than the nickle back position where he belongs.
The safety spot was also poorly positioned for success when the Dolphins signed strong safety T.J. McDonald. The problem isn’t that McDonald is a bad player. The problem is that they already had one of him, a little known Pro Bowler named Reshad Jones.
A proud veteran, Jones did not react well. And more dysfunction followed.
Many believe that head coach Adam Gase is the primary problem with this team. And he hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory by using injuries as an excuse for failure while rightly telling players all season that they aren’t allowed to. Gase obviously isn’t the man we thought he was.
But the decision on Gase can wait. The decision on the Tannenbaum has already been made. It was made long ago in that draft room in April when he decided to take a safety rather than moving aggressively for a quarterback. It was a win now mandate. And, eight months and a poorly constructed roster later, its all over but the actual event.
The buck stops at the front office. And the organization will be cleaned in the offseason starting at the top.
This story was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
Minkah Fitzpatrick is used to success in his football career. As a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, he was a champion, a constant candidate to make waves in college football, and he was intent on taking that same attitude to his new NFL team the Miami Dolphins.
Unfortunately, success eluded them, as the Dolphins were officially eliminated from playoff contention after an embarrassing loss at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 17-7.
Now, as the team prepares to play a meaningless game in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick reflects on his first NFL season as a whole, and what the experience taught him.
“It’s not over yet. We’ve still got one more game." He said. "It’s been good. (There were some) up’s and down’s. I’ve been learning a lot and growing as a player. I’ve been moving around a lot so like I said, I’ve been learning a lot, having fun. I’ll definitely use this year as a learning experience, as a humbling experience. This offseason, we’ve got to do what we got to do as a team, stick together, train together, and do what we have to do to improve and just use this season as a stepping stone to where we want to go.”
Dolphins DB Minkah Fitzpatrick speaks to the media after a 17-7 loss to the Jaguars.
Obviously, the goal is to ultimately win a Super Bowl, but it's clear after the performance this season by the team as a whole - whether they want to admit it or not - there's a lot of work that needs to be done before the Miami Dolphins fight song becomes accurate again. For now, all Fitzpatrick can do is focus on the offseason and figure out what he can do to improve his own game.
Wherever he finally ends up.
"I gotta know what I'm gonna be playing first."
And that is an excellent point. Throughout the season, Fitzpatrick has played in the boundary, the slot, and at safety, sometimes all in one game. Versatility was one of the reasons he was so appealing in the first place, but ideally, Miami would want him to be able to focus on becoming elite at one position, rather than good at several.
Despite being put on a position carousel, Fitzpatrick impressed the Dolphins with his professionalism and ability to remain calm under pressure, no doubt honed during his Alabama days with Nick Saban. Though he struggled somewhat near the tail end of the season as he was asked to take on more responsibility, he still showed astounding promise and proof that he will eventually be an excellent player in the league.
One can only hope that he'll return to playing meaningful football in the near future, and that whoever is coaching him in the coming years will be able to put him in a position to be the best he can be.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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