A running joke on Dolphins Twitter revolves around the team re-signing a running back who is arguably the Miami Dolphins fanbase’s least-favorite player.
Well, it turns out the joke’s on us, as the Dolphins re-signed running back Daniel Thomas to pair with another running back signed earlier in the day, Isaiah Pead. The team also signed free agent tight end MarQueis Gray.
Now before everyone gets their panties in a bunch over the Daniel Thomas signing, it should be noted (nay, shouted from the rooftops!) that all three of these players are most likely being signed for roster depth during spring practices, and none are likely to be on the roster when the team takes the field this fall.
Okay, everyone? Deep breath… and exhale. We all good now? Okay then, moving on…
Thomas was a second round draft pick out of Kansas in 2011, and had a total of 1,480 rushing yards and scored 13 touchdowns for Miami through the 2013 season. He was cut prior to the 2014 season, but re-signed a month later when Knowshon Moreno suffered a season-ending knee injury. Thomas was cut again after that season, and signed briefly with the Chicago Bears in the 2015 preseason, but was let go prior to the regular season and didn’t play a down last year.
Gray was an undrafted free agent who signed with the San Francisco 49ers after the 2013 draft, and has played for the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, and Buffalo Bills, totaling 12 catches for 144 yards over those four seasons.
The career totals of these three players should speak for themselves, although to be fair, Pead has never had a chance to prove himself yet in his short and injury-riddled career.
The Dolphins are still expected to explore adding a running back in the draft at the end of April or possibly sign and/or trade for a running back sometime after the draft. With that in mind, fans can breathe easy knowing it’s very unlikely that Daniel Thomas suits up for Miami in September.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
There's no doubt that Miami is still looking for a serious contender to compete at running back for the 2016 season, and now the Dolphins have finally decided to bring someone in who will fight for a roster spot in former St. Louis Rams (not a typo) running back Isaiah Pead.
It was first reported by Alex Marvez of Fox Sports that the Dolphins had signed the Rams former 2012 second-round draft pick, and later confirmed by a league source.
Pead has been an overall disappointment during his limited playing time. In his rookie year with the Rams, he only ran the ball 10 times and averaged 5.4 yards for a total of 54 yards, and in 2013 he only ran the ball 7 times for 21 yards.
In 2014 he suffered a torn ACL that kept him out for the entirety of the season, and then on September 29th, 2015, Pead was cut by the Rams after Todd Gurley's emergence made him expendable.
He was signed on November 2nd by the Pittsburgh Steelers after Le'Veon Bell was placed in injured reserve, but he was then released again on November 27th before he even got a chance to play in a game.
Before he was drafted, Pead was being touted as one of the top running backs in the 2012 draft, citing his initial step out of his stance and his acceleration as being compared to some of the best in the NFL at the time. but one of the concerns was whether his skillset would translate from college to the big leagues.
So far, that concern has become reality.
Pead will likely compete with Damien Williams for the third spot on the depth chart, as Miami is still looking for a true backup or even someone to compete with Jay Ajayi for the starting position. Arian Foster recently came in for a visit and he's supposedly almost totally healthy.
Pead has upside, but it's going to take some serious magic from Adam Gase to bring it out. Hopefully the new Dolphins head coach has a plan in mind.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
On this week's episode of PhinManiacs Live, the crew will discuss what the team should do with the 13th pick, and if there are any OL options at that position.
Also on the block is what the team's biggest need currently is now that the first wave of free agency has just about ended.
Finally, the crew will discuss the visit of running back Arian Foster, and the seemingly boom or bust strategy that Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier are using this offseason to fill holes.
All this and more on this week's episode of PhinManiacs Live.
You can rewatch the show below on YouTube, or you can download the show for listening on iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.
When the Dolphins invested a first-round draft pick in a talented and raw wide receiver out of Louisville, it quickly became evident that DeVante Parker was not going to be a huge factor in the 2015 season thanks to a surgery he underwent for his foot meant to ensure his future in the long-term.
But despite his limited playing time, Parker showed that he had the potential to be an excellent wide receiver in the NFL, making 26 catches, 494 yards and 3 touchdowns, one of which was a leaping grab in the endzone on a deep pass from Ryan Tannehill against the Baltimore Ravens, instantly earning himself a spot in the hearts of Dolphins fans.
Now moving forward, Parker will get the chance to increase his role with the team and continue to improve, and that's what head coach Adam Gase is counting on.
“We’re looking for him to be a big fixture in what we’re going to do." he said. "I feel like we have a good group though, right now as a whole. And I don’t want to put any predictions on what he’s going to do or anything like that; but we are looking for him to just keep improving (and to) get better from what he did last year. But we are looking for him to make some strides this year.”
Miami has lacked a true number one wide receiver since Brandon Marshall was with the team from 2010-11, and Parker could potentially fill the void left by Marshall with his size and ability to highpoint the football, which would make QB Ryan Tannehill's job that much easier.
Gase was able to jury rig an offense in Chicago with Jay Cutler at QB and an oft-injured Alshon Jeffery as the number one wide receiver. Their first-round draft pick WR Kevin White was unable to play his rookie year due to injury, and still Gase was able to make an offense that worked. Now with Parker, Gase has made it clear he's looking forward to seeing where he fits as the Bears were considering drafting him too.
"Coming out (of college), we felt really good about him. When we were in Chicago, he was being talked about with Kevin (White)." said Gase. "I feel like going forward with DeVante, I love the skill set, love what he can bring to this offense. For me, it’s just going to be about developmental, making sure we bring him along as quickly as we can.”
Parker's development will be key to the future success of the Miami Dolphins, and if Adam Gase can find a way to get the best out of him, then he has the potential to be one of the best young wide receivers in the game, and that would give the offense a major boost.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Many Dolphins fans and members of the south Florida media are asking questions about the Dolphins offense. That's good. Asking questions always good. But how good it is depends upon how good the questions are.
Dave Hyde at the Sun-Sentinel is one such person.
"Is Adam Gase that good?"
"Here's the bottom-line on X's and O's: When Gase had a great Peyton Manning with talented playmakers in Denver, he oversaw an offense that scored 30.9 points in 2014, the second-best in the league."
"When he had a rehabbing Jay Cutler and limited Chicago talent last year, his offense ranked 23rd at 20.9 points."
The answer to Hyde's question may be "no." Adam Gase might not be that good. But not because some may question his offensive coaching prowess.
Everyone understands that coaching is a huge part of what it takes to win in the NFL. That's beyond doubt. Here's the problem: Gase is not the Dolphins offensive coordinator. If he were, as someone who lives in Chicago and saw every game that Gase coached there, I'd say that the answer would be that he's as good as you're going to find.
Don't get me wrong. Gase will still be very involved in coaching the offense. He'll surely concentrate most on that side of the ball. But he's never again going to be able to devote 100% of his time to it.
Gase is a head coach. Both sides of the ball. He's going to have to worry about a thousand things that he's never had to worry about before. A thousand things that he's never done before. A thousand things that will keep him away from the day-to-day operations of the offense.
Every team is a reflection of its head coach. His attitude will be their attitude. His response to problems and situations will determine their response. The head coach influences every part of the team. But not as directly as when he was an assistant. There's just no time for that.
The question isn't whether Gase is a good enough to turn around Ryan Tannehill and the offense. The question is whether he's a good enough head coach. Did he hire the right assistants? Will he oversee those assistants and provide the right direction such that they will be able to more directly get the most out of what talent is there? Will he handle the players in such a way that they will be in the proper frame of mind to perform every week?
None of the questions that we ask about Gase will even begin to be answered until the players hit the grass. But one thing we can do at this point is make sure that we are asking the right ones.
This story was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
I am not dumb to think we have a chance at Buckner at 13th overall, nor do I believe that Buckner is a fit for our scheme. But I started this article before FA, and the rumors were that we are moving to a 3-4 defense. But since we signed Mario Williams, which indicates we are staying in the 4-3 defense for at least the next two years, we are probably not moving to a 3-4 defense anytime soon.
This probably means we will not be looking at a player like Buckner, who in my opinion is an ideal 3-4 DE.
Buckner would be a foundation for a 3-4 defense, he has size - 6’6, 290 lbs - and he has heavy hands. When he plays with leverage and good technique he is unstoppable. but he shows lapses in leverage and technique which renders him ineffective.
This film review was done by Matthew Knowles. Follow him on Twitter: @blueflamespcl
Since moving from the Orange Bowl to their current stadium in Miami Gardens, the Miami Dolphins have had six different names for the place they call home. And soon there will be a seventh name for the stadium built in 1987 and currently undergoing a massive half-billion-dollar upgrade.
When first opened for the 1987 season, it was known as Joe Robbie Stadium, named after the team’s original owner, who funded the entire $115 million cost of building it. When Wayne Huizenga took over ownership of the team, he sold the naming rights to the highest bidder in 1996, and the stadium was known as Pro Player Park that year, then Pro Player Stadium until 2004.
Then for one season it was called Dolphins Stadium (2005) before becoming Dolphin Stadium for three years after that (2006-2008), until current owner Stephen Ross acquired majority ownership from Huizenga. Ross then partnered with singer/businessman Jimmy Buffett to name the stadium Land Shark Stadium for the 2009 season.
However, that naming deal didn’t include the rights to the upcoming Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV being played at the stadium that year, so naming rights were granted to Sun Life Financial in a multi-year deal, and the venue has been known as Sun Life Stadium until January of this year, when that deal expired.
With the current renovation underway, all signage for the stadium has now been removed, and the team announced it intends to have a new naming rights deal in place for the upcoming 2016 season.
So what should the team name the stadium, which has hosted five Super Bowls and is bidding for another in 2019 or 2020? Fans have suggested a myriad of options, including returning to the original name of Joe Robbie Stadium.
The trouble with that name is, it’s highly unlikely that a current owner would name a stadium after a previous owner, especially when he owns and has invested in excess of $450 million into renovating the site. If anything, fans can only hope it doesn’t end up named Stephen M. Ross Stadium.
Another suggestion is Tequesta Stadium, a nod to the fact that the stadium sits on a site previously used as burial grounds by the Tequesta tribes (and later by the Seminole tribes) native to the South Florida area. A conspiracy theory exists that the tribes have cursed the Dolphins since construction was completed four months after the Dolphins appeared in the Super Bowl, but the team hasn't been back since.
Other naming suggestions by fans allude to the glory days of the franchise. Dan Marino Field, Don Shula Stadium, and even one lone suggestion for No Name Stadium have popped up on social media. An imaginative mind might even want to see a reminder of the unforgettable undefeated 1972 season, simply calling it Perfectville.
My personal favorite for that era would be Don Shula Stadium, honoring the coach that has gained almost deity status amongst Dolphins fans, and whose career bookended the Super Bowl runs of the ‘70s with the Dan Marino era of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.
But as the overwhelming favorite, a marked majority of fans would prefer that Ross ignore sponsorships and the accompanying deals altogether, and simply call it Dolphins Stadium.
And I’m good with that, too.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
At one point, linebacker Kiko Alonso was one of the best young defenders in the NFL, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors back in 2013 after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the second round. That year, he accumulated 159 total tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 interceptions as the Bills' starting inside linebacker.
Since then, he's suffered two injuries to his ACL that have either kept him out of the game altogether or have limited his effectiveness, and now there's skepticism surrounding the former Oregon standout about whether or not he can go back to being the star he was in Buffalo.
Now on his third team in as many years, Alonso is determined to prove that he's bounced back from his injury and is ready to go back to being the linebacker he was with the Bills.
“I have all the confidence in the world in me." Alonso said in his introductory conference call. "I know what I’m capable of, and I’m just looking forward to getting down to Miami and having a great year.”
Miami is counting on Alonso to make a strong return this upcoming season, as the linebacker position has been a point of concern ever since veteran linebackers Karlos Dansby and the now-retired Kevin Burnett were shipped out in favor of Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, who were major disappointments.
Alonso on the other hand is extremely talented and, presumably, the only thing holding him back are his injury problems. If he can return to form, he would be an instant upgrade to the corps, but it's unknown at this time exactly where the 25-year old linebacker will be lining up.
Head coach Adam Gase spoke to the public for the first time since the NFL combine recently, and he was asked about where he envisioned Alonso would play.
"So right now, unless something changes, we are looking to put him at Mike. It could change, I’m saying right now that’s in pencil. If something happens where all of a sudden we add somebody and then he has to bump over to the Will linebacker and somebody else is playing Mike, then that’s always a possibility." Gase said. "I don’t want to handcuff our personnel people or our defensive coaches. Right now he’s penciled in at Mike and we’ll see what happens between now and the start of training camp.”
So far the Dolphins have made attempts to place Koa Misi and Kelvin Sheppard in the middle, while still experimenting with young players like Zach Vigil and Mike Hull. None have succeeded.
New Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams - who was a teammate of Alonso's in Buffalo - is confident that the young linebacker can fill that void that's been present in the Dolphins' corps for too long now.
“I think the biggest thing with Kiko… I definitely look forward to playing with Kiko again. He’s a natural football player." WIlliams said. "He can keep that ball up. There was no problem at that. I think the biggest thing is the plays he’s calling in the huddle. It’s kind of funny, because we always gave him a bunch of crap when I played with him before.
"He had that mouthpiece in and we might be on a long drive or something like that and he’d try to call a play. We were like, ‘What? What?’ It was really funny actually. I definitely think he has a high motor, and he’s definitely going to be going after the ball.”
But all that is dependent on Alonso's ability to come back from two ACL injuries in the same knee. Adam Gase is confident that he will do just that.
“I feel really great about our sports science department and our strength and conditioning program. I feel like those guys are going to be able to help him a lot. They’re going to be able to strengthen his lower body." Gase said. "We have a plan, as far as going forward with him, to help him out and to get him stronger in the lower (body).
"I feel like once he gets that lower body stabilized, which he played a year already under it; he’s just going to get better from last year to this year. So I feel great about what we are going to be able to do to help him and I think it’s going to show in his play.”
Gase is confident in Alonso, Williams is confident in Alonso, and Alonso is confident in Alonso. So with any luck, all that confidence will come to fruition on the field wherever the linebacker ends up lining up.
“I feel like I’m a versatile linebacker. I can drop into coverage; I play the run. I feel like I can do a lot of different things, which is why I think I can carry any of the linebacker duties.” Alonso said. “It’s definitely all behind me. I feel great. I don’t make excuses on my knee. I didn’t play very well, but that’s how it goes, and I just try to get better. But I feel great.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Satirist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg once said, “Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.”
Sports fans should be so lucky.
Most Dolphins fans and writers follow the sport because they have opinions. This inevitably brings debate which can be both good and bad.
It’s good because it invites investigation and usually people learn something while trying to defend a position.
But constant argument, especially with sports fans, often means being constantly critical. Sometimes I feel like I spend my life trying to pound things into the brains of people who simply don’t want to hear them. It’s very wearing, especially when you are trying to do it to someone you like.
So I woke up this morning and made a decision.
Not today, folks. Today it is going to be my mission to make Dolphins fans feel better about their team and, by proxy, about themselves.
And with that introduction I bring you ten (mostly) positive thoughts about the Dolphins as the first phases of free agency are completed and we head into the next period in the NFL year.
1. A young and high-potential safety
Buried in the news that the Dolphins signed flashy free agent Mario Williams and the trade for Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso was another virtually ignored signing that may have had far reaching long-term implications.
The first real free agent acquision of the new league year was actually that of Isa Abdul-Quddus. Abdul-Quddus is a 26-year old safety who went undrafted in 2011 to New Orleans. He fought for a roster spot and stuck for three years with the Saints followed by two years with the Lions.
Abdul-Quddus was the third safety on the Lions last year, locked in behind starters Glover Quin and James Ihedigbo. He’s a young, improving player who has simply been waiting for his chance to enter a starting lineup. Indeed, he started the second half of the year and Pro Football Focus rated him higher both in coverage and as a run defender than both Quin and Ihedigbo.
"He's pretty active most games," coach Jim Caldwell said before the week 17 game in Chicago. "He's out there on the field typically trying to find a way to get to the ball as quickly as he possibly can. But he throws his body, and he's a smart football player."
Abdul-Quddus is an in-the-box safety and will be a good compliment to the rangy Reshad Jones. Between the two the Dolphins will have one of the better safety tandems in the league. More importantly, they have a young player on the rise in Abdul-Quddus, the type a team that is truly committed to rebuilding needs to find.
2. An underachieving but talented defensive end
Another signing which got a bit more attention but which was still under valued was that of defensive end Andre Branch. When the Dolphins lost young defensive end Derrick Shelby, you couldn’t blame fans and media for wondering if the franchise undervalued a player who was down to do the dirty work of setting the edge and defending the run play after play. But Branch is such a player.
Branch was drafted out of Clemson in the second round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. To give you some idea of how athletic he is, most scouts considered him to be a fit as a 3-4 rushing outside linebacker even though he is 6’5”, 265 lb.
There’s no denying the fact that Branch was a disappointment who never lived up to his draft status in Jacksonville. PFF didn’t mince words after his rookie season in 2012.
“Andre Branch is a bust. He was not productive in 2012, has shown to be susceptible to injury and is now playing a backup role under a new regime. Branch was also inconsistent and soft in college. He’s a second-year dud in 2013 and beyond.”
Indeed, things did not improve significantly in that time period.
But at just 26 years old, Branch certainly has the raw talent and athletic ability to bloom. He is a gifted athlete with size who needs a team to harness that ability. Teams have to find those kinds of players if they wish to achieve sustained success. If the Dolphins can bring Branch to life, they’ll benefit for many years to come.
3. A veteran assistant coach known as one of the best
And that, of course, brings us to how they’re going to do that. Part of the rebuilding process is putting in the hard work in the film room to identify and bring in undervalued talent. But that’s only half the equation and, arguably, the less important half.
Players, especially young players, need proper coaching to continue to ascend and reach their potential. And the Dolphins hired one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the business last week in Jim Washburn.
Washburn is best known as the man who coached Albert Haynesworth when he was the defensive line coach with the Tennessee Titans from 1999 to 2010. He also coached Ndamukong Suh when he was the assistant defensive line coach in Detroit from 2013-2015.
Some have suggested that the Dolphins brought Washburn in to help Suh and there might be something to that. But in watching Suh’s tape from last year I can tell you that Suh was the least of the Dolphins problems. By the end of the year he was as dominant as he’d ever been. His major problem was that it was too easy for teams to avoid him.
In a Week 17 loss to the Dolphins, the relatively weak New England Patriots rushing offense handed the ball off to running backs 26 times. Every single run was to the opposite side that Suh was on. Previous games showed a similar pattern where the Dolphins allowed 2,019 rushing yards, ranking them 28th in the league.
The data highlight the biggest problem that the Dolphins had – poor play from the defensive tackles on the other side of the line. By the end of the season, that primarily meant rookie second round draft pick Jordan Phillips and second year man Deandre Coleman.
The Dolphins have to get more out of the other younger members of the Dolphins defensive line like Phillips, Branch, Coleman, Damontre Moore and Terrence Fede. And Washburn is exactly the type of coach to do it.
With 18 years of experience coaching in college including in such places as SMU, Arkansas and Houston, Washburn has a good idea of how to get the most out of young talent.
Upon being hired by the Detroit Lions in his last coaching gig, linebacker Stephen Tulloch spoke for many when he said, “Jim Washburn will make this defense that much better ... he's a legend.”
Now he’s doing it for the Dolphins.
4. A young and recovering star linebacker
Speaking of young players with potential, optimism amongst Dolphins fans has reigned since the acquisition of Kiko Alonso and with some justification. Alonso was traded from the Eagles along with Byron Maxwell for five spots in the first round where the Dolphins have moved back from 8 to 13. That’s the equivalent of a third round pick according to charts used by some NFL experts.
But many believe that the compensation was mostly for the acquisition of Alonso. Maxwell came with a large financial commitment from the Dolphins and some have suggested that the Eagles should have paid them to take on the contract. That’s an exaggeration, of course. But all things considered, Maxwell wasn’t worth much in a trade.
Alonso was the key to that deal and he could be a great pick up for the Dolphins. But the key caveat will be “if he remains healthy.”
He’s still young at 25 years of age and he’s on his rookie deal. The drawback is that since a wonderful rookie season when he was the only defensive player nominated for NFL Rookie of the Year was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, he’s had two ACL tears. The first of those came in 2014 and caused him to miss the entire season. The second was a partial tear of the same ligament in the second game of 2015.
It’s important that Dolphins fans be patient as they evaluate Alonso’s performance this year. As we all know, medical advances have done wonders for players in Alonso’s situation. It used to be that the only debate when a player tore an ACL was when the retirement party would be. Things are different now.
A 2010 study found that one third of the players who suffered an ACL injury still did not return to the NFL after the surgery. The ones who made it back needed an average of 11 months of recovery before playing again.
Even then players often don’t feel 100% until their second season after recovering from such an injury. Indeed, well known orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews has said that it may take more than a year for some athletes to get the strength back in their quads alone. Some NFL players believe they are not 100% back from knee surgeries until as many as three seasons after the injury.
The bottom line is that Alonso may turn out to be a wonderful young player for the Dolphins. But don’t be too disappointed if that doesn’t materialize this year.
5. Running back not necessarily a need
I see much consternation amongst Dolphins fans about the team’s running back situation. But personally I see no reason to panic. Though I can’t blame the Dolphins for seeking proven alternatives, I stand by my evaluation that the two backs they have in Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams are good enough. Neither need be capable of carrying the full load as Adam Gase will undoubtedly favor the multi-back system that he ran in both Denver and Chicago.
Nevertheless, many Dolphins fans seem to be worried and I’ve seen some thoughts floated that the Dolphins might draft Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
I very much doubt that will happen as my gut tells me that Elliot will be gone before the Dolphins pick. Although there are some who think that it is a mistake to draft a running back that high, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Elliot isn’t the reason why the Eagle traded up.
Many have looked at where Todd Gurley was drafted last year and figured that is the highest Elliot will go, putting the Dolphins in a position to draft him. Gurley is a wonderful runner but Elliot is a smooth, all around athlete that can do it all: run block and catch. He’s not just a running back. He’s a weapon.
I might add that after years of being de-valued, the running back position is experiencing something of a renaissance this year. C.J. Anderson, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, and Bilal Powell to name a few all got signed in a decent market this year
The Eagles have already traded running back DeMarco Murray and they have reportedly made it known that remaining running back Ryan Mathews is also available. Though Andy Reid often threw the ball an inordinate amount of the time as the Eagles head coach, he relied much more heavily on the run when current Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was his offensive coordinator in Kansas City.
Expectations are that he will carry that philosophy over from the Chiefs. But that can’t happen if he trades his starting running backs away. The bet here is that he has Elliot in mind as a replacement and will draft him at eighth overall.
6. Guard may not be as big a deal as fans are expecting
Similarly, I see a lot of hand wringing over the situation at offensive guard amongst members of Dolphins Nation. As things stand, the Dolphins will start two of the following four players: Jamil Douglas, Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas and the recently signed Jermon Bushrod and Kraig Urbik.
In some ways I understand the feeling amongst the fans. Bushrod is a good soldier but he’s a broken down war horse who the team wont want to count on to start 16 games. Douglas, Turner and Thomas were a disaster at various times last year, and Urbik was released from Buffalo.
I’d like to point out two things that I hope will make Dolphins fans fell better.
First, the problems at guard last year might not have been entirely driven by lack of talent. In reviewing the tape, it wasn’t the physical limitations of the players that resulted in the poor play. It was the mental breakdowns.
Virtually any time a player blitzed up the middle or stunted involving either of the guards of Douglas at center, the protection broke down. Players were almost paralyzed by anything unusual that came their way. In this respect, I’d like to suggest that the change in the coaching staff could be of benefit.
Chris Foerster is a veteran offensive line coach with 22 years of professional experience in the league including one year spent with the Dolphins in 2004. There’s every reason to believe that he’ll do a better job with the offensive line and that there won’t be a repeat of the disaster of last year.
Second, there’s every chance that the Dolphins are planning to draft an offensive guard. Though not strong at the top, there will be opportunities to find starting offensive guards in the middle to lower rounds of the draft.
Bottom line, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time wringing my hands over the lack of guards until I see how things develop over the course of the offseason and into the preseason.
7. Size may be on the menu for Miami at cornerback
The acquisition of tight end Martellus Bennett by the New England Patriots is going to have consequences for the other teams in the AFC East. Bennett will now be paired with All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and he’ll now be the second option at best and more probably the third or fourth. Nevertheless, Bennett has the ability to cause a lot of defenses headaches and will be motivated in what will be a contract season for him.
Like the rest of the AFC East, the Dolphins are going to have to have big defensive backs to cover the 6’6” Bennett and the 6’7” Gronkowski, not to mention Jets WR Brandon Marshall amongst others. No Dolphins fan will want to see a repeat of the kind of domination that Marshall showed over the 5’9” Brent Grimes in single coverage last season.
If the Dolphins draft a cornerback, as is widely expected, look for them to go for size at the position. That means Jalen Ramsey and Eli Apple at 6’1” and perhaps Artie Burns and William Jackson II, both at 6’0” will have the edge while Vernon Hargreaves and Mackensie Alexander won’t fit as well at 5’10’.
8. The obsession with compensatory picks is a bad thing
This one isn't really positive. As someone who has been writing about football for almost 20 years (man, I’m getting old), I have never seen a fan base more obsessed with the idea of accumulating compensatory draft picks than the Dolphins this year. With virtually every rumor of an interest of the team in a player, one of the first questions to inevitably be asked is, “Is he a free agent or was he released and will be cost the Dolphins a compensatory pick?”
Compensatory draft pick determinations are based on the salary, playing time and postseason honors of the free agents each team lost during the previous offseason. Not only do the teams that collect multiple compensatory picks (and picks in higher rounds) have to remain relatively inactive in free agency, they have to have significant losses. If you have significant losses, you better feel pretty good about what you have remaining on your roster to fill those holes to sit on your hands in free agency.
I don’t believe that building a team through the acquisition of compensatory picks is a viable strategy. Consider the case of Olivier Vernon. Most Dolphins fans seem to believe that the team will receive a pick at the bottom of the third round for the loss of the defensive end. But does anyone really believe that what amounts to a high fourth round draft pick is good compensation for the loss of a 25 year old ascendant talent at one of the most important defensive positions in football?
I’m not suggesting that the Dolphins should have shelled out the money to re-sign Vernon and the pick will be nice to have if you can’t do that. But, as is the case in every similar situation, it will never make up for the loss of talent to the team.
Turning the tables leads to a similar path of logic. Should the team fail to sign a free agent that it considers to be a significant talent because it may lose a compensatory draft pick? Never. Similar to the situation with Vernon, the talent gained will always be more than the worth of the draft position that you are giving up.
Compensatory draft picks are meant to be a consolation prize, not a reward with which teams will normally come out ahead.
9. Steps are being made to try and clarify the catch rule
The NFL's 32 owners are going to be busy when they convene in Florida next week for their annual meeting given the number of proposed rule changes that need to be considered.
One rule that is not changing despite a mass of confusion is the catch rule.
One of the most memorable quotes of the 2015 season was uttered by frustrated Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy after a playoff game against Arizona in January.
“I don’t know what the hell a catch is anymore,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”
Despite this statement and many like it, the NFL persists in believing that the relevant people associated with the league understand the rule. They believe that the problem might simply be in communicating the rule more clearly to fans and to the game broadcasters who influence opinion.
The league might continue to delude itself but the rest of us are more apt to believe the evidence of our eyes.
The good news is that, despite their declarations, the league might be taking steps to clarify the situation for the referees on the field. The first of those was having Dean Blandino on the phone for replay reviews to inject some consistency into the interpretation.
In January, during the divisional round playoff game between the Packers and Cardinals to which McCarthy is referring above, Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught a pass while going to the ground. He lost possession when he hit the ground, and the official on the field determined that Fitzgerald had caught the ball.
Unlike previous calls which had been reversed in such a situation, this one stood as the referee (and Blandino) ruled that “indisputable visual evidence” to overturn the ruling on the field that Fitzgerald had the ball long enough to become a runner was lacking.
The situation caused confusion because it was exactly the same as one that existed in the playoffs the previous season. In that case, the ruling was incorrectly reversed and Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was ruled to have not made a crucial catch. It arguably cost them the game.
The truth is that though the league never acknowledged that the Bryant ruling was incorrect, the Fitzgerald catch was effectively an admission of it.
Bottom line, the key to clarifying the catch rule isn’t educating the fans and broadcasters. It’s educating the referees. Once that’s done, the standard will be consistent and complaints will tail off.
10. The Jets will likely be back to having garbage at quarterback
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets are in a stalemate as they negotiate a contract with him in free agency. If he decides to go to the Denver Broncos – which all things being equal I’d bet money he will just to spite the Jets at this point, the Jets look like they’ll go with Robert Griffin III or Geno Smith.
Have a nice day, Dolphins fans.
This column was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
On this week's episode of PhinManiacs Live, the crew goes in on the latest news surrounding the Miami Dolphins, including comments made by owner Stephen Ross and new head coach Adam Gase.
You can download the show from various different outlets if you missed it, links down below.
PRESS RELEASE: Miami Dolphins Select Four Participants In Mexico City Audition For Cheerleader Finals in Miami
The Miami Dolphins selected four ladies from the Mexico City cheerleader auditions to participate in the Miami Finals. More than 200 registrants came from all over Mexico to participate in the NFL’s first international cheerleader audition at Universidad la Salle. The finalists are Abril, Carla, Holly and Tamara.
These ladies will join other finalists from cheerleader auditions in Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Miami to participate in the Finals on May 1.
Auditions will continue next in Bogota on Saturday, April 2 at Four Points by Sheraton. The following are the dates and locations for auditions:
Date Venue Location
March 3 JW Marriott Copacabana Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
March 6 Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel y Centro de Convenciones Buenos Aires, Argentina
March 12 Universidad la Salle Mexico City, Mexico
April 2 Four Points by Sheraton Bogota, Colombia
April 23 Doctors Hospital Training Facility South Florida
Photo/Video Credit: Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins shored up their defensive end rotation today, signing former Jacksonville Jaguar Andre Branch to a one year deal, with the entirety of the $3 million being guaranteed.
Branch, 6’8” and 258 pounds, was drafted by the Jaguars in the second round of the 2012 draft. A spot starter, he has totaled 14 sacks in his four years in Jacksonville, and he had four sacks last season, playing in ten games. He will provide depth along a Dolphins defensive line that has lost Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby to free agency.
The former Jaguars defensive end had mixed results during his 51 games in Jacksonville, he's accumulated 91 combined tackles and 5 forced fumbles to go with his 14 sacks, but there was speculation he was being misused and his inconsistency is what ultimately led to Branch leaving the Jaguars.
"I think there's a combination of things that go in it," Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said this past December. "I think he's had some good rushes, some good games and I think there's times when we have more of him like you saw two weeks ago (when he struggled.)"
Branch will act as depth on a defensive line that has several question marks on it with the only other sure backup being at the tackle positions and Terrence Fede at DE. Dion Jordan may return, but it's an unknown. Branch is a good depth signing who - if he pans out - will be very useful in the future.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
The Miami Dolphins entered the offseason needing a quarterback to back up starter Ryan Tannehill. They didn’t have to look far, as they re-signed Matt Moore to fill that spot on the roster. Moore’s deal will pay him a cap-friendly $3.5 million over two years.
More, turning 32 this summer, started his career in 2007 with the Carolina Panthers, starting 13 games over four years before becoming a highly-prized free agent following the 2010 season.
He signed with the Dolphins and started 12 games in 2011. When Miami drafted Tannehill in 2012, Moore has since served as his backup and mentor, attempting only 30 passes in games over the past four years, completing 16 of them for 219 yards and one touchdown.
Moore drew interest from the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts this offseason, but ultimately decided to return to the Dolphins for his tenth year in the league. And the Dolphins, who visited with former Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, feel comfortable turning to Moore should the need arise.
The Dolphins are rumored to still be looking for another quarterback to add to the roster, and have scheduled a private workout with Michigan State quarterback Conner Cook, a projected third rounder in the upcoming draft.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
On this week's episode of PhinManiacs Live, we continue to discuss all the latest regarding the Miami Dolphins offseason, including the team's failure to bring in key targeted free agents.
Then we'll delve into some history and discuss the Dolphins back in the days of Dan Marino.
All this and more on this week's episode of PhinManiacs Live. If you want to tweet the show, tweet us at @PhinManiacs or call in 1-954-376-5704
The NFL’s free agency frenzy has reached its peak and, though it isn’t done, the activity is on the decline. As expected, the Dolphins were active in the hours after the new league year began, adding reinforcements on both sides of the ball through both trade (cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso) and through free agent signings (defensive end Mario Williams, safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod).
So what should we make of the Dolphins' early activity? And how does it alter the path general manager Mike Tannenbaum and new head coach Adam Gase will continue down in the coming weeks? PhinManiacs writers Ron Canniff and Tom Shannon give their thoughts.
Tom Shannon: I’ve quite enjoyed my first free agency splurge as a Dolphins writer, even though it wasn’t quite the splurge I was led to believe that it would be. And that’s not a bad thing if you are a Dolphins fan. No one wants to see their team become the new Washington Redskins.
Nevertheless, context is important here and I’m wondering if it hasn’t been lost by Tannenbaum and company.
The Dolphins front office is doing a reasonable job of filling holes at spots such as defensive end (Williams), cornerback (Maxwell) and linebacker (Alonso). But their approach is a bit schizophrenic.
At 6-10, it would make sense for the Dolphins to build for the future. Though anything is possible, the idea that they will compete to win a Super Bowl this year is far-fetched. Owner Stephen Ross has said previously that he wants to be patient and does not expect the team to suddenly turn around after such a season. It would seem to me like losing young players that the organization has invested in and developed like Lamar Miller, Rishard Matthews and even Olivier Vernon would be inconsistent with that.
Though generally speaking I agree with not overpaying players like Vernon, even if they are your own, I find the idea of overpaying players that aren’t your own to be as bad and I find the idea of paying any player who quit on his last team on Williams to be a poor solution.
I also find the idea of paying a 31 year old Williams and a 34 year old Cameron Wake to be incompatible with the idea of taking on the time consuming task of re-building. Are they talented? Yes. Will they still be there when the team has adequately addressed all of its issues and is ready to win again? Doubtful.
Ron Canniff: I agree that the Dolphins have gone on a spending frenzy over recent years. Nothing wrong with that if you get the right players. Unfortunately for the Phins they usually haven't. In addition to that they have missed on too many of their draft picks.
What has this created? A roster with some gaping holes especially on the defensive side of the ball. This leaves the team with three choices.
1. Strip it down and totally rebuild. (Also shrug shoulders and tell themselves, "Well, guess we're going to be really bad this year.")
2. Go on another crazy free agent spending spree trying to build a playoff team (again) and likely failing (again).
3. Attempt to prepare and build for the future at the same time as trying your best to put the most competitive team on the field you can in 2016.
After years of choosing 2 they have decided number 3 will be the strategy this year.
As you point out, they acquired two starting caliber players and only moved down five spots in the first round. Now I can't tell you I love these players. After all they are on their 3rd team in 3 and 4 years respectively. But they did fill 2 of the biggest holes on their rosters with players, that at least in the past, have shown some great talent.
And chose the right year to move down since they weren't likely to have an elite player fall to them at 8. In my mind they gave up little just based off that observation alone.
Buy going the trade route instead of free agency it allows them to receive some compensatory picks for 2017 draft. Assuming they don't go free agent crazy all of a sudden which isn't likely this many days past the frenzy.
Tom Shannon: Yes, we don’t see many trades in the NFL anymore and this one was interesting. Most of the draft charts indicate that the move was worth a third rounder, which is a high price to pay. But you’ll note that there is some disagreement with that premise and that there isn’t much difference between the 8th and the 13th slots if you use Pro Bowls and All-Pros as a measure.
In terms of spending wisely, what intrigues me isn’t that the Dolphins are tying to do it this year but the way that they’re going about it.
For their front line acquisitions, most smart teams try to catch younger players that they have identified as someone who will do better in their system than they have over the course of their careers with another team either because of scheme fit, environment or better coaching. In this way they save money by paying for past production hoping the player will outperform the contract with his new team. This requires hard work and a certain degree of skill in the front office to pull off.
The Dolphins seem to be identifying high profile players who are coming off of a down year and hoping that they’ll recover. Alonso is coming off of injury. Williams and Maxwell had a down years with Philadelphia and Buffalo, respectively. The Dolphins seem to believe that they can pay these players less, hoping that they’ll recover to their previous level of production.
Unfortunately, there’s good reason to be skeptical that this will work.
Yes, the scheme fit might be better for Maxwell. But I’m inclined to believe that his problem last year wasn’t so much the scheme as it was that he was no longer surrounded by All-Pro talent, including one of the best corners in the game opposite him, as he was in Seattle.
And, yes, Williams was a 3-4 linebacker last year and claims it hurt his production because he was a bad fit. But there are a thousand reasons for failure and not a single excuse. It worries me that the Dolphins have signed a player that doesn’t buy into that philosophy.
And it might be a poor excuse at that. Williams had five sacks in five games as a 3-4 outside linebacker in 2011 before getting hurt and missing the rest of the season. The difference between 2011 and 2015? As far as I’m concerned, its four years of age. That’s not something you recover from no matter what position you are playing.
Ron Canniff: Well, free agency isn’t just about acquisitions. As you point out, it’s about letting some players walk out the door. In the Dolphins case, some young talent.
The Dolphins knew the talent they had in these players last year. But instead of trying to lock them up they settled on the 'grass is greener on the other side' approach and put themselves in this position to lose them once they became too expensive. They played it correctly this season given the hand they dealt themselves but the mistakes were already made a year ago.
I feel they should have locked up Miller, Shelby and Matthews and the trade for Kenny Stills last year was a mistake.
This is not Monday morning quarterbacking in regards to Stills. I am on record with this same opinion last year. Matthews would have been the better choice as a 2nd/3rd receiver and I think we can all see that now. Olivier Vernon would have likely been too expensive no matter what and I'm more than fine with letting him walk. Any first round DE they draft will likely be a better all around player than Vernon.
As far as this years approach of sticking to their price - well it's about time. But they may have chosen the wrong year to implement it. Between the Jags and Oakland throwing large sums of money around in addition to Houston and especially and unexpectedly the Giants. They have missed on some free agents they were targeting because market prices have gone up.
They still have some work to do. But free agency really is never over even after the draft. Oh, and there's the draft as well. If the Phins want to truly build for the future they need to hit on some talented players this year or the next few years are likely to see the same result as in recent ones.
Tom Shannon: Couldn’t agree more on all points. The Dolphins do need to stick to their price but, as you imply, I’m wondering if in some cases that “grass is greener” syndrome you mentioned won’t burn them.
I’m not confident that the Dolphins have quite grasped the new reality with the vast sums of money being thrown around this offseason. Signing many of those players you mentioned before the season would have probably gotten them at what turned out to be reasonable prices.
The Dolphins do have more work to do. Unfortunately, I’m wondering if the front office is up to it. I like the idea of putting forward an offer sheet for C.J. Anderson but otherwise, I’m left wondering if the roster has gotten any better even as it failed to get younger.
The idea that hoping big name players on the decline will rebound on medium contracts is a substitute for hard work in the film room to find and develop younger diamonds in the rough bothers me.
Yes, the draft is on the way. But this doesn’t seem to me like a good strategy in free agency to build a team with.
Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic.
Ron Canniff: You're being too pessimistic…
The strategy the Dolphins are implementing right now isn't to build a team. It's to stay competitive while they use the draft, the correct way to build a team, to work towards the future. The Phins are attempting to have their cake and it eat too.
Whether it will actually work is a different story.
This story was written collaboratively by Ron Canniff and Tom Shannon.
Follow them on Twitter: @unsquishthefish and @bearingthenews
Free agency is now a few days old and the smoke and hype has now passed. The Dolphins were unusually quiet leading many fans to feel like Miami is doomed. Of course the offseason is just starting with many days of free agency left to go as well as the NFL draft. In this article I will rate the 2016 moves vs what we had from 2015.
Addition: Mario Williams - Williams was an elite defensive end for Buffalo for several seasons. He has the size to stuff the run and the speed to rush the passer. Placing him beside Suh will allow Miami to dominate one side of the line of scrimmage against teams with suspect offensive lines.
Williams signing for roughly $8 million per year for two years does not commit Miami to a long term deal. On the downside, Williams is 31 and coming off a down season. So it is by no means certain he will get back to his 2014 form. However, I still think he is an above average player and Miami made the right move.
Subtraction: Olivier Vernon - It is my opinion that Vernon is on the light side to be an effective every down defensive end. He is a decent pass-rusher which is in high demand in this league. He signed a mammoth contract which is mind blowing considering he is not a dominant player, but rather more of an above average player.
It is hard to see a Miami player go, however, his contract is way above his production level and I think the Giants will regret this contract in the long run.
Subtraction: Derrick Shelby - Shelby is an all-purpose DE that is ideally used as a rotational player and high level depth. Fortunately, Miami handled this correctly by drafting Terrence Fede. He is far more affordable and I think he will replace Shelby just fine.
Conclusion: No change in talent - Miami may have actually upgraded their defensive line with Williams in place of Vernon. Miami is paying way less for Williams and is saving a huge amount of cap space. I expect they will add another veteran for depth to come and compete with Dion Jordan assuming he plans to return.
Addition: Byron Maxwell - Another player that was great in 2014 and had a 2015 down season. This move screams risky. Maxwell would have to have a significant improvement to be a long term option due to his contract.
The good news is Miami did not pay out the bonus portion of his contract so if he does not bounce back they can walk away from Maxwell without a bad cap outcome. Also, in theory, Maxwell fits better in the defensive scheme that Miami runs so I think it is likely his 2016 will be better than his 2015.
Subtraction: Brent Grimes - Grimes was the best CB Miami had since the Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison days. He showed some decline last year. At the age of 33 it would be logical to think he may be in decline for 2016.
With that being said he is still a solid corner back and Miami could have used him. The X Factor is his wife Miko who was nothing short of toxic the last season, openly attacking other players, coaches and management.
Conclusion: Downgrade in talent - Miami has no depth, little experience, and questionable starting talent at CB. As of this article they are looking at mid-level cornerbacks to provide depth. I assume they will sign another veteran cornerback and then will try to use the draft to address this position. Although Grimes is on the decline they have not replaced him. Maxwell is not a bad addition but they need a lot more.
Addition: *C.J. Anderson - Miami has made Anderson an offer and now they are waiting to see if Denver will match. Anderson is a very hard runner that can pick up hard yards between the tackles.
Miami has lacked this for years and their short yardage offense should dramatically benefit. On the downside Anderson has struggled maintaining his weight is not an overly explosive back.
*CJ Anderson is not officially on the team. Denver has the option to match his contract and retain him.
Subtraction: Lamar Miller - Miller continuously improved with Miami. He has excellent speed and also is a patient runner that sets up his blocks well. I felt he never was an overly physical back for his size and it was not common for him to gain yards after contact.
Similar to Olivier Vernon he was given a large contract for his production and I feel will not play out his entire contract due to the size of it.
Conclusion: No change in talent - What Miami loses in speed in Miller, they gain in power in Anderson. Assuming Anderson is in good shape, he should be a better compliment to go with Ajayi. Of course this all assumes Denver does not match the Dolphins offer so stay tuned.
Addition: Kiko Alonso - When he was healthy, Alonso was a dominant linebacker that was elite. However, he has struggled to stay healthy the last two seasons.
He is still a young player and all signs show he is healthy and ready to go. Alonso is a massive upgrade at linebacker and I really like this move by the team.
Subtraction: Kelvin Sheppard - Sheppard has always been an average player that is ideal for depth at the linebacker position. For some reason, the Dolphins felt he would suddenly become a great linebacker. Of course this did not happen and Miami struggled with the run all season.
Conclusion: Upgrade in talent - Miami has lacked talent at linebacker for several seasons now, so it is almost a no-brainer to suggest that Kiko Alonso is an immediate upgrade.
Addition: Isa Abdul-Quddus - This move is not getting its due credit. Abdul-Quddus is a solid football player that Miami got at a reasonable contract. He fits well with Reshad Jones and provides an immediate upgrade over Walt Aikens and Michael Thomas.
Conclusion: Upgrade in talent
Although there is a lot of discussion about the need for Miami to upgrade their talent at offensive guard, the tackle position has also been a major issue for the team. For the majority of games over the last several seasons, the Dolphins have played a player that is well below average at offensive tackle. Marc Colombo, Tyson Clabo, Dallas Thomas, and this past year Jason Fox have been the likes of players Miami has lined up at the tackle position.
The result has been an open season on Miami quarterbacks. Miami simply can’t afford to hope that they don’t sustain an injuries at the tackle position anymore. So what is the plan for 2016?
Addition: Jermon Bushrod - Bushrod has been a Pro Bowl player in the past and does have the potential to give the team a decent third tackle. They are also considering the idea of playing him at guard, a position he has never played.
He also had a recent shoulder surgery so it is not clear when he will be ready to play. I do feel he is a better third option than the team has had in a while. Just hope he can return to being healthy.
Addition: Sam Young - Young is an athletic tackle that played as reserve for Jacksonville. He did a decent job blocking Olivier Vernon which would suggest he is at least capable. However, on paper he would seem like a player of similar talent to Jason Fox.
Conclusion: Upgrade in talent - Jermon Bushrod would be an upgrade over Jason Fox and Sam Young would likely be at least even with Jason Fox so I have to consider the depth an upgrade. However, I still hope this does not deter the team from grabbing another one in the upcoming draft.
This column was written by Chad Ronnebaum. Follow him on Twitter: @Gofins4SB
One of the biggest reasons that Mario Williams was unhappy in Buffalo was that head coach Rex Ryan had him chasing players around in coverage as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 rather than doing what he does best, which is getting after the quarterback.
One of the biggest reasons that Williams decided to sign with Miami is that he'll be able to get back to doing just that, and the star pass-rusher can't wait to start terrorizing quarterbacks again.
"I know (Vance Joseph) and his mindset as that coordinator." Williams said during a conference call on Wednesday. "It’s going to be… the dogs are going to hunt. Guys who get after the quarterback are going to get after the quarterback.”
After a down season in Buffalo where he only recorded 5 sacks and 19 tackles, Williams is going to have a lot of naysayers to disprove who feel that the veteran defensive end is beginning to trend downwards in his talent. Williams explained that he always feels that he has something to prove as it is and he can't wait to get started in Miami.
“Every day I wake up I feel like I have something to prove." he said. "Like I was saying, you have bumpy roads. We all do. There’s nobody that can go out there and have a smooth path that is perfect. But I can honestly say that road is still going. We haven’t hit the end in the road and that’s what gives me so much excitement. It’s beyond believing. I can’t wait."
Williams, 31, recorded and he scoffs at the idea that his age is beginning to show, but what is showing quite clearly is his excitement at getting to be a pass-rusher again.
"It’s almost like one of those things where the first time you came to college, the first time you played NFL football, it is that same feeling. I don’t even look at age or whatever. I actually think I’m young." he said. "And I feel that way and I know as far as my body, every year, I’m stronger and faster than I was. What comes along with playing in the league for this amount of years is the knowledge."
Now Williams will have a chance to face off against Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills twice a year and remind the world exactly why he was considered one of the best defensive ends in football for three straight years before his role changed, and the knowledge that he'll be used accordingly fills him with excitement to be a proud member of the Miami Dolphins.
"When I look at being a Dolphin and knowing that wherever somebody is from, it’s going to be shown who Mario Williams is ... There’s nothing better than knowing, now, that I’m a Dolphin and how things are going to play out and (how I will) be used in the system… with my fellow teammates that everything is going to be fine. It’s going to be right back to where it needs to be.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
Miami Dolphins fans have been clamoring for the team to address the offensive guard position in free agency. And Thursday night they finally got their wish. Well, sort of. The Dolphins signed former Chicago Bears tackle Jermon Bushrod, a player that head coach Adam Gase is very familiar with after spending last year as offensive coordinator for the Bears.
Bushrod, 31, has played tackle his entire career, stretching all the way back to high school, and has never played the guard position. But Gase is hoping to slide him inside to compete with incumbents Dallas Thomas, Jamil Douglas, and Billy Turner. He could also push right tackle Ja’Wuan James, and of course can always be considered depth at left tackle should Brandon Albert suffer an injury.
Bushrod had been a starter his entire career until last year when he was replaced during the season. He has since admitted that a shoulder injury set him back more than he’d anticipated. He feels that injury in now behind him, and apparently Gase agrees and sees him as a legitimate contender along the offensive line.
The Dolphins have also signed tackle Sam Young and center Jacques McClendon, both of whom are expected to compete for backup spots along the offensive line. The team hasn’t shown any other indication that offensive line will be addressed until the draft, and said that Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner were on specific weight training programs, indicating that the team may feel they can improve their offensive line by coaching up and motivating the young in-house talent.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
The Miami Dolphins offered running back Cortrelle Javon Anderson a contract. You might know him as CJ Anderson, the current restricted free agent from the Denver Broncos.
Anderson, 5’-8” and 224 lbs, was tagged by Denver as a restricted free agent with matching compensation. The compensation would typically translate to a draft pick should another team sign him, but Anderson was signed as an undrafted free agent by Denver in 2013, so no draft pick compensation would be due should Denver decline to match the offer.
Reports out of Denver say that the contract offer is for four years and $18 million, giving Anderson a $4.5 million average salary, with at least $10 million guaranteed. It was suspected that the Dolphins would try to front-load the contract, possibly paying a signing bonus up front, in an effort to hamstring the Broncos, who have a tight salary cap situation and are looking for a couple of quarterbacks after losing both Peyton Manning (retired) and Brock Osweiler (signed with Houston Texans).
Early reports say Anderson will be paid $6 Million in 2016, plus a $5.25 million signing bonus, with the first two years guaranteed.
Officially, the Broncos have five days to decide if they will match the Dolphins offer. But local Denver reporter Benjamin Allbright reports that the Broncos have already stated that they are unlikely to match the offer.
Anderson began 2015 with nagging injuries, but once healthy, he became the Broncos workhorse at the end of the season and throughout the playoffs. His average of 4.68 yards per carry over the last two years (including playoffs) is third best in the NFL. In Miami he will pair with second-year running back Jay Ajayi to form a 1-2 punch in the Miami backfield.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
There is no shortage of documentation to prove that Miami has a tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again, whether it's drafting the wrong people, overpaying other team's free agents, or failing (or flat out refusing) to sign their own free agents.
This much is true, Miami has had a nasty habit of doing this very thing. Who can forget the Dolphins overpaying wide receiver Mike Wallace to be the "deep threat" that was needed in Miami? Folks blamed Tannehill for the failure but now Wallace is looking for his third team in three years.
What about paying for Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler? Two young and speedy linebackers - one of which was a Super Bowl champion the previous year - who were supposedly going to come in and be better than veterans Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett. That didn't work, and Miami paid the price.
As for re-signing their own free agents, the Dolphins are already receiving vitriol from national media (and several fans) for failing to re-sign talented players that they actually managed to find in the draft. Running back Lamar Miller (Texans), defensive end Olivier Vernon (Giants), wide receiver Rishard Matthews (Titans), and defensive end Derrick Shelby (Falcons) have all moved on to other teams this offseason.
Once again, talent has left Miami.
It's understandable that people would be upset over the fact that Miami is letting talent just walk out the door, all indications at this point are that Miami is on their way to yet another losing season.
They released cornerback Brent Grimes (and his...baggage) and replaced him via a trade with the Eagles that gave them an injured Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, and in the process they dropped from a top ten pick in the draft (8th overall) and went down to 13th instead.
And to top it all off, the Dolphins missed out on several free agents on Wednesday that could've at the very least refilled the cupboards so to speak and fill some holes that desperately needed to be filled.
The Dolphins had Adam "Pacman" Jones in Miami and extremely close to signing with his former Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph, but he chose to sign a 3-year deal and rejoin the Bengals instead.
The Dolphins had one of the top guards on the market - Alex Boone - practically in their grasp and all reports indicated he was theirs to lose. They lost him to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Dolphins wanted defensive end William Hayes to be a run-stuffing backup defensive end in order to spell Mario Williams and Cameron Wake when necessary. They made a "strong offer" according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, but Hayes ultimately chose to re-sign with the now Los Angeles Rams.
And that was the story all throughout the day. The Dolphins missed out on several more players: safety George Iloka (Bengals), running backs Matt Forte (Jets) and Chris Ivory (Jaguars), the list goes on and on and on.
Dolphins fans are raging and calling for the heads of Mike Tannenbaum and Stephen Ross as a result of the team's "failures" in free agency.
But if I may point something out, I feel that what's happening here is a severe case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Those same people who scream and holler whenever Miami overpays in free agency, who tirelessly point out the "indisputable fact" that you can't buy a championship and must win through the draft, are now the same ones angry over Miami not signing everyone available on the open market.
Mike Tannenbaum's biggest criticism (in the eyes of Dolphins fans) is that he ruined the New York Jets during his tenure as the Jets General Manager by signing several bad free agents to bad contracts. The two AFC Championship games with Rex Ryan as head coach and Mark Sanchez as the QB are irrelevant. He made bad decisions and in their eyes he's doing it again in Miami.
But let's just analyze for a moment what's happening here. Miami is missing out on players, not re-signing their own, and letting them go to teams that are...majorly overpaying them, the very thing that Dolphins fans lose their minds over. So is it really a mistake?
A lot of people often fail to take into account that a large majority of these players want to get as much money as possible, and it doesn't matter where they get it from. In the past, these players have either gone to Miami to get paid, or have used Miami to get another team to pay more.
Tannenbaum's reputation is that he will eat up cap space like nothing else and put the Dolphins in a very uncomfortable financial situation before long. But so far he's been picking numbers and sticking to them, and while the Dolphins may be missing out on free agents because they're not willing to back up the proverbial Brinks truck, they aren't overpaying and are looking for value as well as talent.
Already, this is a step in the right direction. Olivier Vernon got $17 million dollars a year from the New York Giants, a number that very few people actually believe is a good number for the kind of player Vernon is. Tannenbaum took Vernon off the transition tag and now Miami is eligible for a compensatory pick, perhaps even as high as a third rounder.
To replace Vernon, the Dolphins signed veteran Mario Williams, who when he's on his game is a far superior player to Vernon in both pass-rushing and run defending. Williams will be getting about $8 million a year on his 2-year deal. That's less than half of what Vernon, an inferior player, will be making with the Giants.
The Dolphins were already full up on wide receivers, so letting Rishard Matthews go to Tennessee was a decent move. He'll be making $5 million a year with the Titans, and Miami can continue to develop Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker, and see what they can get out of Matt Hazel at last.
Perhaps the only mistake was letting Lamar Miller go to the Houston Texans, but Miami was unwilling to match the demands being made by Miller and his agent, showing off the apparently new approach of not wanting to overpay players. Miller went to Houston and will earn about $6.5 million a year with his new team. Running backs appear to be getting expensive again.
Now here's the real kicker. Those who demand that building should be done through the draft are basically getting their wish. As it stands, the starter at running back will likely be former fourth-round pick Jay Ajayi, who impressed the teams and the fans in his limited playing time. Perhaps now is the time to let him see what he can do more often.
Drafted talent getting their playing time.
DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry stand to anchor the wide receiver corps in 2016, both of which are drafted players and are showing that they have great talent and potential. Miami is using their own players and removing "outsiders" from the equation. Greg Jennings was cut less than a week prior.
As for Miami missing out on the free agents, Alex Boone went to the Vikings and will make about $6.7 million a year, and Kelechi Osemele will get about $11.7 million a year from the Oakland Raiders. It's clear that Miami doesn't want to spend more than they feel is necessary, and are taking a more frugal approach to free agency.
This is a good thing, believe it or not.
I understand, I truly do. I too was extremely disappointed in the results of the first day of free agency, but there is plenty of time, and plenty of players will eventually become available later as June 1st cuts, so Miami not being big players in the first wave should not be viewed as failure on the part of the front office.
Miami needs to rebuild, and it appears that they're doing just that. It's painful, I know, but it was necessary. Now with the losses of Miller and Vernon, Miami can get their hands on some compensatory picks in the 2017 draft, which would them in a position to - as it should be - rebuild the team through the draft. Mario Williams doesn't count towards negating those picks as he was released by the Bills from his contract.
And perhaps that's what Miami is waiting for. Many very good veteran players will be released by their teams due to salary issues or other reasons later on, and those players - called street free agents - if they're signed by Miami, will not count when the team is considered for draft pick compensation in 2017.
Naturally, Miami will keep looking to bolster the roster for 2016, but the real judgment should be passed in 2017 no matter what. If Miami is careful and doesn't throw money around, they can go into 2017 with a lot of cap space carried over to potentially re-sign other players then, such as LB Kiko Alonso if he returns to form, and they'll have extra draft picks to make up for the loss of Vernon and Miller.
Is this their plan? Perhaps. Mike Tannenbaum said that he learned a lot during his time with the Jets and he seems determined so far not to make the same mistakes he did then. It hurts now Dolphins fans, but it's quite possible that a little pain now could make the team stronger in the future.
Maybe, just maybe, the Dolphins are finally learning from their past mistakes.
This column was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
It's déjà vu all over again for the Miami Dolphins defensive line.
Allow me to geek out for a moment. I'm a huge Star Trek fan. I promise this is a football article. One of my favorite episodes on Star Trek: Next Generation is one called Cause and Effect. The Enterprise-D gets caught in a time loop and keeps repeating the same day in time over and over and over again with only moments of déjà vu to clue them in that something wasn't right.
As I watch the Dolphins begin to make their moves and I read the fan chatter on Twitter I start to wonder if some of us are caught in that same loop. Once it appeared Miami would sign Mario Williams to a 2-year deal it began. Fan after fan tweeting out the new D-Line starting unit and bragging on how it will be "unstoppable"
Now correct me if I'm wrong but didn't we think that last year when they signed Suh? I recall being sold and believing that it wouldn't even matter who the linebackers were (Ah ehemm ehemm - Kelvin Sheppard). We all thought that the D-Line would be one of the best if not the best in the league.
But if memory serves it didn't quite work out that way. We could see from the first game there were still some major issues on the D-Line. And teams found a way to work around Suh because both Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake struggled to set the edge and teams knew that from day one.
I would also like to point out Miami has only really changed out one player. And this player, Mario Williams, brings with him 'ifs' and question marks. So before we start to get too excited and fool ourselves again, we should probably see what the play actually looks like on the field. Until then, time for another power watching session of Star Trek: TNG.
This column was written by Ron Canniff. Follow him on Twitter: @unsquishthefish
The Dolphins continue to rebuild their secondary. Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, on Wednesday afternoon, about an hour after the official beginning of the new league year, the Miami Dolphins signed former Detroit Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus to a 3-year, $12.75 million dollar contract.
This is the second time the Dolphins have brought in a former Lions safety to play opposite Jones, as Miami signed Louis Delmas to a contract a couple years ago and this past season.
Quddus, 26, was originally a UDFA out of Fordham, and for the first nine weeks of the 2015 season was primarily a special teams player and a backup safety option. He took over the starting job from James Ihedigbo in Week 10 and stated back in December that a focus on improved tackling is what eventually led to his promotion.
This should come as a great comfort to Dolphins fans, as tackling has become something of a lost art in the past couple of seasons.
"I had to adapt and get used to the run fits and stuff," Abdul-Quddus said back in December. "I’m a bit more versatile now because I started out at free safety. Last year I started playing more strong safety. I get to play a lot of different positions at safety and it’s helped me hone my skills."
Abdul-Quddus will be earning $4.25 million dollars a year and will presumably be starting opposite Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones at free safety where he originally played. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reported that the former Lions SS was actually Miami's second choice behind George Iloka, who signed a 5-year deal with the Bengals earlier.
It's been speculated that with the Dolphins likely running a defense strongly-based on Cover-2 and Cover-4 (as it was in Cincinnati), it will be easier for them to get away with not having an upper-echelon free safety, although there's still a chance that Abdul-Quddus may not repeat the success he had in Detroit.
There's still a lot more to do before Miami can say they're done working with the defense. Another cornerback is crucial and another linebacker would come in handy in case recently acquired Kiko Alonso doesn't come back to his Rookie of the Year form.
Abdul-Quddus should be viewed as a potential signing. He has some intriguing talent but he isn't proven just yet. We will see if Vance Joseph can turn him into something special for the Dolphins.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
As time went on, it became more and more clear that Lamar Miller would be moving on from the Miami Dolphins, and it finally came to pass on Wednesday afternoon when it was revealed that the Dolphins 2015 starting running back would be signing with the Texans on a 4-year, $26 million dollar contract.
Miller's deal includes $14 million in guaranteed money and will pay him $6.5 million a year. It was reported by Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports that another team had offered Miller a 5-year deal that would've given him $7 million a year, but he decided still chose Houston.
If it is indeed true that Miller was offered more for a longer period of time, then it could be that Miller simply believes in the vision that the Houston Texans sold him on. Now with Brock Osweiler at quarterback and the Texans making moves to bolster the offensive line, there's no doubt Miller will be used as a feature back, which is what he wanted in the first place.
Over the past two seasons, Miller racked up 1,971 rushing yards and averaged 4.8 yards a carry, which explains why the Texans pushed so hard to get him to sign with them as they're looking to replace their longtime (though often injured) starter Arian Foster. Dallas was also pushing to sign the underused running back but they weren't willing to go as hard as Houston.
Now the Dolphins will have to look elsewhere for a running back. A possibility would be to look to the draft and choose Ezekiel Elliot out of Ohio State at 13th overall. Another option would be to stand pat and go with Jay Ajayi, who was drafted in the fourth round of last year's draft and is viewed by Miami as starter material.
Miller was sorely underused these past two seasons and it frustrated him that he couldn't get many carries under the Joe Philbin regime. Now with the Texans under Bill O'Brien, Miller will presumably get to be a featured back at last, and get to show everyone just how good he is.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
It's been on, it's been off, and now it's on again. The Miami Dolphins have decided to give Byron Maxwell a passing grade on his shoulder, and so the trade will proceed as expected, with the Dolphins and Eagles swapping first round picks, dropping Miami to the 13th overall pick in the draft.
Alonso had a star rookie season with the Buffalo Bills, then suffered a torn ACL and missed the entire 2014 season. He was traded to Philadelphia for LeSean McCoy before the 2015 season. He had 43 tackles and one interception for the Eagles, and is heading into the final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him $941,000 in 2015.
Maxwell, 6’1” and 207 lbs, would give the Dolphins the big cornerback they need to cover the tall wide receivers in the AFC East. After gaining recognition as a member of the Legion of Boom in Seattle for four years, and playing in two Super Bowls, Maxwell signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, and had a disappointing year, leading many to criticize his play due to the size of his contract (6 years, $63 million).
However, Maxwell only allowed two receiving touchdowns all season, both in the first game against Atlanta, when Falcons receiver Julio Jones torched him for nine catches. That also happened to be the first time Maxwell had played in a man-to-man coverage scheme as a professional.
New Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph incorporates a zone scheme similar to Seattle, where Maxwell excelled. With the right pieces paired with him, Maxwell may or may not be a good fit for Miami.
It's already been a dizzying offseason for the Miami Dolphins and it doesn't look like anything is going to slow down anytime soon. Stay tuned for more!
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
As expected, the Miami Dolphins have rescinded the transition tag that they placed on defensive end Olivier Vernon last week, making Vernon an immediate free agent.
Vernon is expected to command one of the highest contracts of free agency this year, and will very likely sign for far more than the $12.7 million price that the transition tag would have guaranteed him this season. Most in Miami have known from the start that Vernon would likely be leaving, and while Vernon was hoping to stay, the salary cap dictated otherwise, and he wasn’t surprised with the way things unfolded. Bottom line, the Dolphins simply couldn’t afford to keep him.
By letting him off the tag, the Dolphins are now eligible for a compensatory draft pick in 2017, assuming they don't sign a bunch of free agents to make up the value. Mario Williams doesn't count towards this as he was released by Buffalo.
As Vernon told MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas and Emily Kaplan, “I can’t lie: As I drove up to Sun Life Stadium before our last home game, I considered that it might be my last game for Miami. Since I was a kid growing up, I’d pass that stadium all the time and dream about playing in the NFL. Everybody knew after this game there were going to be a lot of changes, and I knew there was a chance I’d be one of them.”
Is he nervous?
“I think my mom is probably more nervous than I am,” Vernon told MMQB. “I’m just really excited right now because I never thought I would be able to experience being a free agent.
“I don’t think the reality of it has actually soaked in yet. I guess you could say that it’s like being a kid on Christmas Eve, teams will be bidding on me … for the first time in my career. I’m thankful for the opportunity I got when the Dolphins selected me in the 2012 draft, but at the same time, nothing was ever given to me in my career … And now, I feel like I’ve earned this moment.”
The Dolphins agreed to a contract with defensive end Mario Williams on Tuesday, opening the door for rescinding the transition tag on Vernon. The team also continues to be in negotiations with Cameron Wake and Derrick Shelby to shore up the defensive end position.
Vernon is a favorite for many Dolphins fans, who hate to see the team lose a 25-year-old player who appeared to be coming into his own as an NFL player. But the business side of the NFL sometimes plays a more important part in a player’s career than the football side.
Said Vernon, “My mom has always told me, 'Everything happens for a reason.' And she’s always been right.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
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