Durval Queiroz Neto

Durval Queiroz Neto may soon hold key to Dolphins OL stability

It’s been a long time coming, but Brazilian superstar Durval Queiroz Neto is finally starting to show signs that he’s ready for the NFL level.

“The credit goes to Durval.” Head coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday. “I think he’s done a great job of training, nutrition, all the things you need to do to give yourself an opportunity or give yourself a chance. He’s gotten some opportunities in these preseason games and done a good job. We’ll see. I think he’s eager to play. He’s as competitive as anyone on this team. He’s eager to learn and we’ll just keep working with him. If we feel like he can help us in regular season games, we’ll make that decision.”

Naturally, when the time came to trim down to 53 players, Durval Queiroz Neto did not make the roster. Miami still has one more year through the International Player Pathway Program to have a roster exception for him. But just being able to play means a lot to Neto. He’s played in the preseason, but what he wants more than anything is to suit up in the regular season.

“This is everything I want since I came here.” Neto said last month. “Every day I practice, practice and practice. For the last two years, I’ve been watching all of my teammates on the weekends go for the game and I have to stay. Every week has made me more hungry for that. I want that. I want to be in a game. Nothing is more important for me than being in a game to help my team.”

If nothing else, Durval Queiroz Neto serves as a perfect example of what can happen when an athlete is given time to learn, develop, and grow into the role he’s being groomed for. Throughout the preseason, Neto showed an amazing level of strength and explosiveness as a blocker.

 

 

Considering where he came from, this is no small feat. This is the Miami Dolphins coaching staff tutoring him from the ground up. Neto comes from a background as a judo champion. Much has been said about how that’s helped his footwork and hand placement. But Neto came to Miami as a defensive lineman. It’s what he always wanted to do. So when he got the news he was being moved, he was shocked.

“When I first came here, they had a coach, Dave DeGuglielmo, the o-line coach.” Neto said. “He was watching my practice every day and saying, ‘hey ‘Q,’ we have a white jersey ready for you. You need to make that move.’ I’d say ‘coach, I was born to play d-line.’ When they signed him to be the main o-line coach, he asked for me and ‘Coach Flo’ (Brian Flores) talked with me and I decided to make the move. From there, they spent a lot of time and patience teaching me everything I know right now as an o-lineman.”

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His hard work and dedication to his craft have made him a fan favorite player. It’s also earned him the respect of his teammates, including veteran lineman Jesse Davis, who’s watched him from the very beginning.

“I think ‘Q,’ from the day he’s got here from switching from defensive line to offensive line, he’s improved greatly.” Davis said last month. “He’s done everything the coaches asked him to do and he’s still trying to do everything he can. I think he’s done a really good job with it.”

Durval Queiroz Neto is all but dominating the competition he’s facing at this stage. Perhaps with one last year of training, Neto will be able to not only make the 53-man roster, but compete for a starting position as well. That would finally give Miami some level of stability on the offensive line.

May patience prevail.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

Thrive Fantasy takes away the hours of research required to make the most out of your fantasy sports experience. Thrive’s featured $100K guaranteed contest is only $20 to enter, and the first-place winner takes $20K.

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The Importance of Elbow Touches in Heat Offensive Scheming

When a team doesn’t have a true play-making point guard to run the show offensively, there’s always a slight change of pace in terms of the way they trigger actions. Luckily for the Miami Heat, a young play-making big like Bam Adebayo makes the game-plan pretty clear heading into a season.

There’s two ways that he has been highly effective as a passer within the team’s offensive sets: 1) Creating on the move following the roll on the screen and 2) Setting up on the elbow.

Adebayo really began to take some major offensive leaps when his shooting reluctancy faded slightly and grew comfortable with taking shots in the mid-range area. That led to a very high frequency of elbow touches for him this past season.

Kyle Lowry being added to this roster definitely takes away some play-making duties from Adebayo in those spots, but it definitely doesn’t change his overall usage in that area.

Why not look back at Adebayo’s scoring masterclass, putting up 41 points against the Brooklyn Nets in a multitude of ways. He wasn’t doing it in ways that most bigs acquire 40 points in this league. He was doing it like a skilled perimeter player.

Facing up at the elbow and flying in plenty of different directions. Jab steps immediately into a jumper, swiping through for clear paths to the rim, and shot creating in ways we truly hadn’t seen up to that point.

Those are the elbow touches many want to see from Adebayo. He no longer has the pressure to play-make over the top of the defense for simple sprays or back-cuts, even though he will still sprinkle that stuff in due to his unselfish mentality.

But it’s now about opening up the scoring role from that spot in true Barclays Center fashion.

It’s not even just about him putting the ball in the basket, since it’s much more about the big picture effectiveness of a Heat offense. As stated in the past, we’re going to see a lot more diversity in this motion offense with the new weapons added to the roster. So, it’s up to him to maximize the spacing in that environment.

If he can add any bit of stress to help defenders when he stations himself at the elbow or free throw line, that’s an automatic win for the Heat. Once he builds the scouting report for teams to double him in that area so he can’t iso bigs inside the arc, the play-making opens right back up, which is the ultimate goal.

It shouldn’t be picking times to play-make and picking times to score. It just has to be natural. And if the surrounding spacers can do their job consistently, I have no doubt that Adebayo will flow much more naturally with those elbow touches next season.

Now, when talking about offense being run through the elbow, this isn’t just an Adebayo topic, even though it’s necessary to start there. A bunch of different players can benefit from this, and it begins with Kyle Lowry.

Looking at the play above, this is something Toronto did a lot of last season, using Lowry in more than one way in this specific action. Fred VanVleet inserts the ball to Lowry in a high post position, which sometimes will be a bit lower on the floor, before sprinting into a pin-down for a good look from three.

When seeing this, I bet many of you are picturing Duncan Robinson in that spot. But well, I’m not sure I agree exactly.

Robinson is a unique player in terms of the way he is guarded. As we saw last years, simple pin-downs just aren’t really going to work for him anymore with the amount of attention that he gets on a regular basic.

Tyler Herro, on the other hand, fits this set perfectly.

The Lowry-Herro back-court is an interesting one when projecting forward, due to the fact Lowry can enhance the one skill of Herro’s that he struggled with this past-season: spot-up threes.

Inserting him into these sets allow him to get good catch and shoot looks early on, which may be one of the most important stat-line improvements for this Heat team to have success. Combining Lowry’s wide frame and passing ability in these spots of the floor is very intriguing from a game-planning perspective.

Now, as mentioned previously, they’re going to shift Lowry around a bit. He’s an incredible player off the ball as a spot-up shooter and decoy, meaning these pin-downs can be the set up for him above the break. And well, it isn’t the worst thing in the world to put Jimmy Butler in high post positioning for play-making.

His downhill gravity when facing up always attracts those corner defenders. So if they jump that pin-down action, it means plenty of open space to navigate as an attacker, or potential lob pass to the roller off that initial screen.

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Working things through the elbow will mostly be seen in a similar way next season, except it’ll be used completely different. The mind-set and go-to moves in that spot will be changing for each player who fills up that area of the floor.

And once again, all of these pieces on the Heat’s offensive scheming come back to the same point: the effectiveness will largely ride on the shooting of their corner spacers. If this team makes defenses pay on open corner sprays, it changes the entire offensive dynamic in both the regular season and post-season.

 

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Deshaun Watson

Should the Dolphins Trade for Deshaun Watson?

The Deshaun Watson trade rumors began to heat up again Saturday when multiple reports came out saying that the Miami Dolphins were considered to be  “frontrunners” to land the 25-year-old star quarterback.

Why the Dolphins should trade for Deshaun Watson:

Miami’s front office has constructed one of the best overall rosters that the Dolphins have had in decades. They arguably have one of the best defenses in the league, demonstrated last season by leading the league in defensive takeaways. They’ve also done a good job of bolstering their offense by adding speedy receivers Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. In addition to that, it seems that they have finally found the right coach in Brian Flores.

For years, the biggest question mark in Miami has been the quarterback. Tagovailoa looked shaky in the nine games he appeared in last season as a rookie. A superstar quarterback like Deshaun Watson could be just what the Dolphins need to take them to the next level. Watson already has good chemistry with Will Fuller from their days in Houston. If the Dolphins feel this team is a quarterback away from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders, then it might be time to get aggressive and go all-in on Deshaun Watson. 

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Why the Dolphins should not trade for Deshaun Watson:

There’s no denying Watson is a greater talent than Tagovailoa. However, there are many possible cons to bringing a guy like Watson in. The number one concern with Watson is his legal issues. There are currently 22 ongoing civil lawsuits against Watson from massage therapists claiming Watson engaged in some form of sexual misconduct with them. The Dolphins could be making a colossal mistake bringing in a guy who might have to go to jail midseason.

Also, the Texans are currently asking for a King’s ransom in return for Watson. The current asking price is three first round picks and two second round picks. Also, isn’t it a little late to be trading for a starting quarterback? Tagovailoa has been running this offense for the entire preseason and training camp. Bringing in Watson this close to the season could result in early season struggles for Miami while Watson gets adjusted to the Dolphins scheme. 

Goldman’s Opinion:

Before all of the legal allegations surfaced, I was the number one supporter of a trade involving the Miami Dolphins and Deshaun Waston. I believe in the way this roster is constructed. And I think a quarterback like Watson would put the Dolphins in the same category as the Bills, Chiefs, Bucs, and Packers. The Dolphins have a history of “almost” landing big name quarterbacks. First with Drew Brees not passing his physical, then failing to land Peyton Manning in 2011.

Missing out on Watson would have the Dolphins going for the hat trick. Also the Dolphins have the best assets to make a deal with the Texans. Tua Tagovailoa would most likely be used as a bargaining chip in this deal. In addition to Tua, the Fins would probably have to give up at least one first round pick. That isn’t that big of a deal for Miami because they stocked up on draft picks by moving back in this offseason’s draft. On paper this seems like a no-brainer for Miami. However these legal allegations do raise a high level of concern.

Grier needs to do his homework on this one. If there is any part of his mind that thinks these legal allegations could become a big problem then he should not make the trade. He needs to be 100% sure, but if Grier and the rest of the Dolphins front office can get 100% sure about this then I would absolutely advise them to pull the trigger on Watson. Generational QB talents like Watson don’t become available all too often.

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

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Diving into Heat’s Usage of Double Drag Ball Screens

Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat are known for being pretty creative offensively, especially when the post-season comes around to surprise opposing teams’ defensive scheming.

Another thing to note about the actions they base things around is that they aren’t afraid to take chances. Just look back at the sharpshooting undrafted player, Duncan Robinson, who immediately transformed the way the offense was being ran.

If Spoelstra and company can do that with limited resources, it just makes you think about the creative scheming that will occur this upcoming season with plenty of versatile players who carry different strengths.

So, in this new series, I will be diving into a different offensive set every single day, highlighting the reasons it can be so effective and which players will be utilized within it.

We’re going to be starting out with a personal favorite, double drag, due to the fact it maximizes the skill-sets of the current squad. A high-level catch and shoot guy, multiple facilitators to run the set, corner spacers, and a dynamic and athletic roller.

We’ve seen it with this team in past years, but there’s no doubt in my mind the frequency of it will increase majorly next season. So let’s take a look into why it should be used exactly….

As you’ve seen with Miami in recent years, there’s not one way to run double drag in terms of spacing. They’ve always pretty much had diversity in play set-up, but there was never any diversity in who was running it.

Looking at the clip above, we see Goran Dragic setting up the action with Duncan Robinson about to pop out and Bam Adebayo ready to roll. But when dissecting these plays, the effectiveness is always about the players outside of the action.

With this specific spacing, Dragic is flowing into the side of the floor that Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk are setting up shop, meaning the options are either a lob to Adebayo or a corner kick-out.

And well, everything revolves around that corner shooter.

We’ve seen these type of sets being run in the past with Andre Iguodala waiting in the corner, but that was pretty much a signal for the defender to become a premium tagger, daring the ball-handler to make that kick-out.

Even with Olynyk on this play, there’s a little more reluctancy. He recovers late for the contest and Olynyk buries it, which is why a lot of this will revolve around the corner shooting of PJ Tucker.

If that corner triple is falling for him consistently throughout the season, this action will be pretty close to unstoppable for opposing defenses due to their being zero weaknesses in the specific positioning.

Now, it’s not always about the ball-handler flowing into the two shooters, since positioning can always be flipped. Take a look at this screen-shot above, and you can pretty much tell why I don’t love this type of spacing for Miami.

Butler would flow into an empty corner with the hope a 2 on 1 will be forced with him and Adebayo, but that just isn’t likely. Layers were added to this play, ending in an eventual Robinson three, but the point is that baseline defender can cheat over as the other weak-side defender slides down.

Basically, it doesn’t maximize this team’s skill-set as much. If they had a speedy guard who can turn the corner with some explosiveness, that’s a different story. But they have two ball-handlers, in Butler and Kyle Lowry, who just want time to dissect defenses instead of getting out in front.

Before looking into another form of double drag above, it should be mentioned the different ways players can be utilized.

Of course Robinson will exclusively be a popper in this set, but there’s ways to mix him around a bit. Putting him in the action pulls defenders away when he slips the screen, but allowing him to sit in the corner will do wonders as well.

Allow the team’s three best players to navigate the defense, while Robinson sits in the corner daring his man to duck down even in the slightest fashion. We all know Robinson is Erik Spoelstra’s weapon, which is a main reason this action makes so much sense at a higher frequency level.

Now, the addition of Lowry makes things much more interesting. Butler and Lowry can switch off being the ball-handler in this set, and there’s a case to be made for both of them.

Using Butler as the ball-handler means that Lowry can be used as a popper/corner spacer, which definitely makes the most sense. If you’re sticking Butler in the corner, the free-lance tagging begins to occur which makes things quite pointless.

With that said, Lowry feels like the guy who will be running it more in the big picture. It’s the perfect go-to when Butler takes a quick breather, and allows Lowry to play to his strengths for possible above the break pull-up threes or simple lobs.

Anyway, back to the original clip above, it’s once again a bit different than the last. Instead of packing one side of the floor, they put one player in each corner, which is a sign that they’re confident in that open corner three.

The corner kick-out is usually the end result if the defense doesn’t have a miscue, but as seen above, that’s exactly what happens. LeBron James makes sure to communicate he’s staying on Robinson, which is most team’s main focus, but the other two defenders go to Butler. Olynyk slips, Butler feeds, and it ends in 2 points.

The original point of double drag ball screens are early offense. It’s kind of the initial call when flowing down the floor, waiting for this type of miscommunication to occur. But could we see it go from early offense to late-game offense?

Absolutely.

While it’s used mostly in the first half of the shot-clock, it may be a go-to down the stretch of games this season.

And after Miami has had some trouble recently with their back against the shot-clock, early offense will be key for them, which will be a big part of Lowry’s job to begin the season. He may be a veteran, but he plays at a fast pace.

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Adding a point guard wasn’t just to set up specific players on the perimeter or alley-oops to Adebayo. It was to take control of offense in this way so Butler doesn’t constantly have to.

Since I’ve continued to bring up the point about “adding layers” to these things in a Heat offense, here’s a glimpse of how that could look.

A lot of times in this action, the initial double drag can be used as a distraction for the off-ball movement that’s being set-up on the weak-side. In the clip above, this is an example why they may not always put Robinson in the screening role.

After Reggie Jackson goes through the two screens, Kawhi Leonard is setting a pin-down for Paul George to fly off of. In this case, Robinson would be playing the George role.

And well, that probably would’ve been more than enough room for him to fire for a good look. But aside from that, this is why the Heat will need that one-dribble pull-up option from Robinson. When defenders are running at full speed for the expected movement shot from deep, that simple combo changes the game for these type of layers.

This is also stuff I see them running for Herro, due to the fact it could get him flowing downhill without needing an on-ball screen. Giving him the reigns to the bench unit is one thing, but giving him actions that he’s comfortable in will be even better for him, which will consist of him running double drag screens as the ball-handler as well with the reserves.

I could go on all day about the different things they can, or will, add on to this, but you probably get the idea: offensive weapons = very good things.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to run a high-level motion offense without a true point guard, but that hole has finally been filled. And now, Spoelstra can open up the play-book exactly the way he likes to.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

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Miami Dolphins

Preseason Week 3 – Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals: 5 players to watch

The end is near. Preseason is nearly over, and so is the tenure of some players on the Miami Dolphins roster bubble. Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, many of these players are getting one last chance to shine and prove they’re worth keeping on the team. Whether that’s with the Dolphins, or another team, remains to be seen.

But regardless, the game still has to be played. Amidst the dramatic rumors once again surfacing of a trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, and the return of linebacker Vince Biegel to the injured reserve list, here are the top five players to watch on Sunday.

1. Shaquem Griffin – LB

Perhaps no one has more to gain in this final preseason game than Shaquem Griffin. For what his role on the team is, Griffin has a lot of competition. But now that Vince Biegel is back on IR, Griffin’s chances of making the final roster have increased drastically. Like Biegel, Griffin’s best attributes are speed and raw effort. He can be useful as an extra blitzer on passing downs, and he’ll get plenty of action on special teams.

Griffin still has a lot to overcome, however. The linebacker corps is loaded with talent, and it’s unlikely the Dolphins keep a surplus of linebackers just to keep Griffin. He’ll have to put on a drastic performance if he really wants to stick in Miami.

There is some extra hope, however. With the practice squad retaining last season’s COVID-19 rules, the Dolphins can retain six players on their squad with more than two accrued seasons of NFL experience. So if no one else decides to sign him, Griffin can be stashed there. If he does well enough, some other team may add him to their roster. If not, it isn’t hard to speculate Griffin will be a top priority addition.

2. Jason Strowbridge – DE

While Jason Strowbridge is likely to be another quick candidate for the practice squad if he’s waived, he would like to make the final 53-man roster. Problem is, Strowbridge hasn’t done much to really stand out above the rest of his teammates.

He does have one thing going for him, however. Unlike Jonathan Ledbetter and Tyshun Render, his main competitors at defensive end, Strowbridge was actually drafted by the Dolphins. Miami’s front office thought so highly of him, they drafted him in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL draft. Both Render and Ledbetter were undrafted free agents. Teams have a tendency to give a certain amount of bias towards players they invested assets into.

Of course, head coach Brian Flores has never been shy about moving on from players, even higher profile ones. If Render or Ledbetter flash more than Strowbridge does in this last game, they may get the nod over him.

3. Greg Mancz – OL

Once the Miami Dolphins traded for Greg Mancz, the competition got that much tighter for everyone else. More than likely, the veteran Mancz will be viewed as a center, which does not bode well for the likes of Matt Skura, who hasn’t lived up to his lofty expectations. Skura hasn’t even managed to beat out Michael Deiter for the starting center position. Granted, Deiter has been decent for the most part, but certainly not dominant.

So where does this leave Mancz? Reports out of Baltimore indicate that Mancz would not have made the 53-man roster for the Ravens. But apparently GM Chris Grier thinks highly enough of Mancz that he didn’t want to risk another team picking him up first. Mancz’s history with co-offensive coordinator George Godsey from his Houston Texans tenure doubtlessly has something to do with it as well.

Mancz can play at multiple positions on the offensive line, so as a depth move this makes sense. The reason for watching him is not to see if he makes the roster or not. It’s to see if the Dolphins can get something out of him the Ravens weren’t, because many Ravens fans are calling their GM a genius for making this move.

Losing trades isn’t something Chris Grier is known for, but it’s not unheard of either. A strong performance from Mancz on Sunday will alleviate some of the concerns.

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4. Patrick Laird – RB

This slot could have gone to either Laird or rookie Gerrid Doaks. This time the dubious honor goes to Laird simply because his effort hasn’t been enough for the eye test this year. Doaks isn’t a superstar by any means, but he has flashed enough to garner attention. And with the top three spots almost certainly going to Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Brown, that leaves maybe only one slot for another running back. Even Laird himself has nothing but good things to say about the 7th round pick.

“I think he’s done a really good job of transitioning into the NFL.” Laird said on Friday. “I think you guys have seen the clips. He runs hard. Gerrid is a good running back.”

Of course it’s unlikely that Laird would say anything else. He’s been nothing but the model teammate since arriving in Miami. However, he and Doaks will be having quite a battle for that final roster spot. If Laird gets cut, Miami would need to sacrifice one of their veteran practice squad spots to retain him. If Doaks is waived, he’ll need to get through waivers before the practice squad is even a possibility. That makes his situation much riskier.

Laird has always gotten by with his sheer effort and determination. But his physical ability is nothing to write home about. If Laird wants to be the team’s fourth running back, he’ll need to outplay Doaks, and by a rather significant margin. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably be on the outside looking in.

5. Malcolm Perry – WR

The former Navy superstar was really hyped up for his versatility when he was drafted in the 7th round last season. Unfortunately, none of the fantasies have become reality as of yet. No wildcat craziness, no surprise passes, no shifty running of the football. The Miami Dolphins have treated Malcolm Perry as just another normal cog in the machine. One could argue they’re saving his talents for an extreme emergency, but it’s hard to justify a roster spot for a gimmick.

With Lynn Bowden Jr. on IR for the season, Perry is the default gadget player. His skillset offers options that his biggest competition, Kirk Merritt does not. Perry can actually play running back and even quarterback if an extreme emergency happened. But Merritt is a more accomplished wide receiver as of this moment, so it boils down to what do the Miami Dolphins think they need more?

Even without Merritt, Perry will have to fight for his spot. His best chance to make the roster at this point is the unexpected departure of either Jakeem Grant or Preston Williams, two more established players who have rumors swirling around them whether Miami will continue to invest in them. Perry showing up and making plays against the Bengals will make the decision much more difficult for Brian Flores.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

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Miami Dolphins trade for offensive lineman Greg Mancz

The Miami Dolphins are making yet another move on the offensive line. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Miami Dolphins have received offensive lineman Greg Mancz from the Baltimore Ravens by swapping late round draft picks.

It’s notable as Miami continues to make a flurry of moves along the offensive line to protect its franchise QB in Tua Tagovailoa. So far, the Dolphins have invested in assets such as Liam Eichenberg and Larnel Coleman through the draft.  Furthermore, they have signed players such as Matt Skura and Jermaine Eluemunor while trading for Isaiah Wilson and Greg Little.

Skura and Little are the only outside players remaining with the team.

Greg Mancz started off his career in Houston with the Texans and current offensive coordinator George Godsey. He started all 16 games at center with Houston in 2016. More than likely, center is the position Mancz will play with the Dolphins. This puts some added pressure on Michael Deiter and the aforementioned Skura.

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The Dolphins have a knack for having versatile lineman along the trenches and Mancz is just that. With Miami’s final preseason game on Sunday against the Bengals, Greg Mancz will be thrown right into the fire to see if he can potentially claim Skura or even Deiter’s spot.

Obviously, the Dolphins offensive line is still in question. Their decision to trade for Greg Mancz only further indicates they’re not keen on the idea of starting the season with what they already have. Even if Mancz works out, there will still be questions.

With any luck, the Dolphins will finally be fortunate enough to have one of their bargain hunts turn out right.

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

Thrive Fantasy takes away the hours of research required to make the most out of your fantasy sports experience. Thrive’s featured $100K guaranteed contest is only $20 to enter, and the first-place winner takes $20K.

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Dolphins

Dolphins players on roster bubble getting last chance Sunday

The end of training camp and preseason is always laden with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s the mark of real football fast approaching. Games will soon matter as teams fight for the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy. But on the other hand, it also marks the end of the road for many players just trying to prove they’re worthy to make the team. The Miami Dolphins are no exception to this.

With the level of depth the Miami Dolphins are boasting this season, many deserving players are going to have their hopes dashed. It’s never fun to watch these players go, but the NFL is a business first and foremost. On Sunday, the players on the roster bubble are going to get their last chance to show the Miami Dolphins – or another team watching – just what they have to offer.

“There’s always excitement when you get to go out and play.” Quarterback Reid Sinnett said on Friday. “So these guys that aren’t sure through the first couple preseason games if they’re going to play; now they know they’re going to get an opportunity to go out and showcase what they’ve improved upon and that’s always a challenge as a quarterback to make sure that we’re focused on what we’re trying to do. There’s always excitement when you get to go out and play. You feel the excitement at practice even every day when guys are getting a chance to play the game they love.”

One player who always seems to be on the roster bubble is running back Patrick Laird. Head coach Brian Flores always says that it takes no talent. Laird is the embodiment of that philosophy. He doesn’t have elite speed, agility, strength or size. But he does have determination and drive that always stands out. That’s how he manages to make the roster each year. Thanks to that, he was lucky enough to be the one who caught QB Tua Tagovailoa’s first ever NFL pass. But that doesn’t matter in the long run. Laird is fighting for a spot on the roster, this year is tougher than ever.

“It’s just what I’ve been used to.” Laird said on Friday. “I was a walk-on in college, kind of a very similar situation as an undrafted guy. I knew since I tried out for the NFL that I was probably going to have to fight for a spot every year and that’s the way I like it. It’s challenging but it’s one of the best job interviews you can be a part of. It’s a long job interview process; but I like it, I enjoy it and I’m still loving football. I’m just going to focus on playing the best football I can and hopefully help the Dolphins win this year.”

Sunday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals is crucial for Laird and everyone else on the bubble. Head coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday that, in reality, there are only about two or three open spots available on the roster. That means the coaches have already chosen most of the team. For those open spots? Flores had very direct advice.

“Work hard. Keep improving.” He said. “Take advantage of your opportunities. I mentioned that to our team many times. In life, it’s about taking advantage of your opportunities. Whether it’s football or business or really anything that you’re working towards, if you get an opportunity, you want to take advantage of it. For those guys who are two, three spots that are available, they’ll have some opportunities to practice, they’ll have opportunities in the game. If they play well, then they give themselves the best opportunity to maker the team and if they don’t, then they don’t give themselves the best chance.”

One of those players under a lot of pressure to perform is defensive back Trill Williams, who is an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse. Williams originally signed with the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.

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“That process was crazy because I get there and they put me on waivers and I was only there for three days at the time.” Williams said on Friday. “Then that Monday, I’m here. God works in mysterious ways and he put me where I’m supposed to be and I’m supposed to be here. I can only control what I can control. I’m just blessed to be here.”

Williams is a very intriguing prospect. He was solid all throughout college. Now with the Dolphins in training camp, he’s regularly made plays, including very recently intercepting a Jacoby Brissett pass that got all his teammates excited. So what does he think the coaches want to see from him?

“Honestly, I think they just want to see me go out there and play football how I’ve been doing and what they saw on film from me coming out of college.” Williams said. “Like I said, I can only play football and control what I can control. I’m going to go out there and give it everything I’ve got every time I go out there.”

Finally, there’s linebacker Shaquem Griffin. Everyone knows his story. He was born with amniotic band syndrome. His left hand didn’t develop properly and was amputated when he was four years old. But he refused to let that stop him. Griffin earned All-American honors at UCF, and was drafted in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL draft. He is the only player with one hand to ever be drafted.

Griffin is already a fan favorite at practice. He’s exciting to watch on the field and makes plays when given the chance. However, it hasn’t been perfect. He’s had his moments where he loses matchups as well. Naturally, this won’t be the first time Griffin faces adversity. He intends to rise to the challenge on Sunday and whatever happens after, he’ll cross that bridge when he gets to it.

“This has definitely been my best camp since I’ve been in the league.” Griffin said Friday to local media. “So as far as that, no matter what happens, no matter what’s the outcome of the situation or a roster (spot), I know I’ll be in a good position because I handled my business as far as making sure I learned the plays, making sure I’m a guy who has energy, making sure that I’m making plays, making sure that I’m running around. The only thing I can do is control the controllables and when the decision is made, I’ll be happy with any decision, there on the team or not.”

Brian Flores clearly has a difficult job ahead of him. There’s so much talent to choose from, it’s like splitting hairs. Normally, preseason is considered boring, especially at the end. This year is going to be very different. There’s simply too much competition to just turn a blind eye.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

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How Will Gabe Vincent Benefit from his New Rotational Role?

Before free agency even truly began for the Miami Heat this off-season, two things were clear in my eyes in terms of guard play: a starting point guard would be added, and Gabe Vincent would be bumped up to back-up PG.

As Miami continued to fill the holes on the roster, it was pretty obvious that a role was opening for the guy who just received a regular contract following his two-way year. The unique thing about being a two-way player this last season was that it was basically a “one-way.” There was no G-League, and he was needed on the regular roster.

It was known that Coach Erik Spoelstra trusted him greatly out the gate. Some contract tracing issues led to games with eight available players, meaning Vincent was the starting point guard for certain stretches. And well, the way he was originally perceived quickly flipped.

When he originally got a chance with Miami two years ago, many felt like Vincent was strictly a spot-up shooter, who would fly off screens and not put the ball on the floor much. Yet, his role ended up being the exact opposite.

After playing as an off-ball guy for most of his life, he was asked to quickly transition into facilitating mode for their offense. But as time continued, a realization occurred that offense may not even be his best side of the ball.

When defensive issues were at its peak, the Heat went to plenty of 2-3 zone, which usually meant a 2-2-1 press. And to give it a nickname, the 2-2-1 press could’ve been called “Vincent minutes” this past season, due to the fact it was only used when he was in there pressuring the ball.

But heading into this season, he’s no longer the two-way wild card or an all-around spark. He’s a rotational piece who will be relied upon in crucial moments, so let’s hop right into some of the film of how some things will look in his role, as well as certain lineup combinations…

Immediate Off the Catch Production

Like I said previously, Vincent came into this league as an off-ball player with his ability to shoot off the catch. And although that slightly changed for him this past year, it feels like he will shift back into that role much more frequently.

One reason for that is his projected back-court pairing, Tyler Herro, since it seems he will get plenty of touches off the bench, which I’ll dive much deeper into down the line.

The other reason that role wasn’t very fitting this past year was due to his struggles from beyond the arc. He finished the season shooting 31% from three, and part of that was a developing jumper behind the scenes.

When he spoke with media after the season, he mentioned that he began to alter his jumper mid-season to maximize both consistency and range. And now with a full off-season, including plenty of reps with Team Nigeria, that jumper should be as comfortable as ever heading into the season.

Some players on the roster will have a changing offensive focus this year, but Vincent’s will be really simple in terms of being effective in the offense: knocking down the open triple. If he can provide high level shooting off the catch on that bench unit, it helps Miami’s initiators like Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler tremendously.

As seen in the clip above, we’ve seen him time and time again being the guy who plays off the strong side action. It is known that he can take advantage of defenses in those spots as well, but it just comes down to the overall consistency he brings in that space to begin the year.

Two-Way Contracts to Two-Man Sets

Vincent and Max Strus aren’t the first undrafted guys in the Heat system to propel onto the scene into true production in the rotation. There’s been a theme of certain groupings doing it together, like Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, which is exactly where Strus and Vincent will fall.

After Nunn and Robinson played well in Summer League, it felt like the two always shared the court together when the season began. There was a known chemistry there, and the coaching staff was testing the young guys. Obviously, the new situation is a bit different.

For one, Vincent and Strus won’t be jumping into the starting lineup like the other two did. And secondly, this won’t be as much of a surprise when they get a true role on the team. This isn’t a trial thing for Miami, since they’ve developed them in real NBA games for quite some time now.

Now, the two of them will be a big part of the benches scoring outlets. As much as Vincent will benefit off the ball at times, there’s no doubt he will have the ball in his hands quite a bit with Strus running off screens, Markieff Morris spacing the floor, and Dewayne Dedmon going through the usual screen and rolls.

Getting Strus going from deep will be important in terms of Vincent’s facilitating skills, but it all falls back to previous points. In the two clips above, there’s a mutual outcome between both plays: the spacing between Vincent and Strus.

When skip passes aren’t being involved and it’s just natural swings or base pin-downs, Vincent will have to make his defender afraid to leave him. If he can become a respectable deep ball threat, it leads to defensive reluctancy which eliminates those easy doubles or switches onto shooters.

They found a solution to that problem with Robinson, but he was surrounded by starters. In this situation, it feels like Vincent and Strus will be working off each other more than expected, since they’re both responsible for the other getting good looks.

A Chance to Navigate in Space

We all know that numbers don’t always tell the full story. Vincent obviously wasn’t consistently taking advantage of the wide open threes either, but a lot of it had to do with circumstance and spacing.

When I say circumstance, I mean the Vincent card was always used when the team was in a bad spot. Starters going down due to injury or contact tracing, Vincent was then asked to fill some big shoes.

The team needed some bench production from him, along with other guys at the bottom of the roster, he was forced to be the creator. And well, that task is far from easy.

Looking at the clip above, let’s take a look at the lineup on the floor for Miami. They have floor spacers in Herro and Robinson lined up on the weak-side, while Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala are filling up the lane for their defenders to essentially collapse on the ball-handler, which in this case was Vincent.

These lineups were one of the main reasons half-court offense was problematic at times. Vincent is forced into taking a very tough baseline step-back, which he somehow finds a way to bury it. Although this ended in a make, you don’t want to put this type of burden on Vincent.

He is at his best when he’s able to flow in the offense with true spacing around him, and up to this point, he hasn’t been given any open floor in the half-court with these type of reps.

But when running with Herro, Strus, and Morris in that bench unit, he won’t have the same problems, which truly makes me confident in his offensive usage.

A Big Man Adjustment Period

This should quickly be touched on since I don’t think it’ll be a big deal in the long-term. When I say that Vincent is better when offense is flowing, part of that means running pick and rolls, which forces 2 on 1’s by the rim.

He loves throwing that lob pass to rolling, athletic bigs in Adebayo or Achiuwa, but there will be a shifting big man combo. Vincent will be seeing quite a few minutes with veteran big man Dewayne Dedmon, which is a change in pace for a pick and roll ball-handler.

The reason I don’t think it’ll be a big deal is due to the fact that adjustment period won’t last long, but it is something to monitor. While it may be one less weapon for the young guards in that sense, it’s a positive thing from every other window you look through.

The bench back-court is going to be very inexperienced this season, and as we saw down the stretch this past year, Dedmon can grab a hold on specific lineups just through his veteran leadership.

Vincent and Herro may be losing an option in PnR sets from the rolling big, but it’s clear they are gaining much more from it.

The Tyler Herro Factor = Balancing Reps

And finally, the combination with Tyler Herro. The Miami Heat basically opened up a clear path for the role of Herro heading into the season, which will be a straight bucket getter off the bench when the team needs it.

As I’ve said in the past, although he will have the ball in his hands a ton, more spot-up opportunities will be mixed in. He struggled in that area this past season, and I would believe that’s an area of focus in off-season training. So, if he’s going to try and create space off the ball at times, who will have the burden of feeding him?

Well, I think we know the guy.

One surprise to Vincent’s facilitating development was smart perimeter passing. He can read the floor well, meaning he watches off-ball actions to await the perfect time to throw that lead pass for the movement shooter, which also refers back to my points about his combination with Strus.

But that doesn’t mean the Herro-Vincent duo will be a one-dimensional one.

Looking at the first two clips above, you can see that Herro will be creating for others when initial sets breakdown very frequently. Hence, the quick trigger of Vincent will do wonders.

On the other side of things, though, Vincent’s creation for Herro won’t just be for triples on the outside. As seen in the last two clips, it’s mostly about hitting Herro in stride to get to the basket, which will be one of his many avenues for success.

When I say Herro will play off the catch, this is what I mean as well. Finding ways to get him to the basket, other than an on-ball screen, will be a specific scheme that will be focused on as the season progresses.

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When the new season officially begins, that spot will be waiting for Vincent to fully hold onto. He gets the first shot at it, and I fully believe it’ll be his for good if he can just utilize some of the things mentioned here, which all comes back to three-point shooting.

If that jumper that we’ve seen flashes of a few times in the past shows up to begin the year, the outlook of the team could look a whole lot different.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

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Liam Eichenberg

Dolphins still debating best place for Liam Eichenberg

When the Miami Dolphins drafted Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft, the instant assumption was that he would secure the right tackle position for himself.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case so far.

Anyone who watches the way the Dolphins run things, they know that they love cross-training offensive linemen. Their desire for versatility on the offensive line is astounding. For years, fans and analysts have lamented Miami’s apparent refusal to allow players to develop in one specific spot. Laremy Tunsil moved inside to guard as a rookie. Fans feared the transition would impede Tunsil’s growth, all for the sake of Branden Albert staying at left tackle.

Thankfully, Tunsil’s development was not hindered. Not only that, he became good enough to warrant a massive trade to the Houston Texans for a king’s ransom of draft picks. Granted, he was packaged along with WR Kenny Stills, but Tunsil was the real highlight of that trade.

Now the Dolphins are doing the same with Liam Eichenberg. Since the opening of training camp, Eichenberg has played at both right tackle and left guard. Early reports indicated he was struggling in practice, but he’s been slowly improving throughout the process, which is promising.

“He did some good things.” Head coach Brian Flores said last Sunday. “There are some things he can improve on. He’s moved around, he played a few positions – last night he was at tackle. I thought he did well, but there are definitely a lot of scenarios where he can get better. They are watching the film right now. I know ‘Lem’ (Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre) is making the corrections with him. He’s a hard-working kid, so he’ll work hard to make the corrections and hopefully get another opportunity to improve this week during practice and we’ll see what next week looks like.”

Hardworking was one of the key factors for his draft status. At Notre Dame he had the chance to learn under the likes of Quenton Nelson and the very tail end of Ronnie Stanley’s college career. In college he earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top lineman in the conference. So it’s obvious Eichenberg is worth investing time into. The only question is where. If Eichenberg continues training at left guard, that unseats Solomon Kindley, who also is working on his technique. If he plays at right tackle, he competes with veteran Jesse Davis, who is the projected starter.

The ideal scenario, obviously, is Liam Eichenberg taking Davis’s spot at right tackle. Davis has greater worth as a versatile reserve than as a starter. More recent reports indicate the Dolphins are spending more time with Eichenberg at right tackle now. Does this mean the team has made their decision?

According to co-offensive coordinator George Godsey, the answer seems to be no.

“It’s the same thing with the amount of guys on a roster on game day.” Godsey said on Monday. “He’s going to have to play multiple and learn multiple spots and based on the dynamics in that room, whoever is active come the first week of the season, which we’ve got some time, there needs to be some flexibility to be able to play inside and outside. We know that that’s a hard role and as each week goes on – going against another opponent this past week playing another spot – it’s going to help him grow and we want that to be fast as possible.”

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If the goal is to develop a player as fast as possible, the Dolphins should seriously consider deciding definitely where they want Liam Eichenberg to focus. On Thursday, Brian Flores announced that many of the team’s starters would sit, including Jesse Davis.

So naturally, the assumption is that the start will go to Liam Eichenberg. That’s where he should be playing. His college career defines him as a talented tackle, not as a guard. Naturally the Dolphins want the best five players on the line, but maybe it’s time to stop thinking so hard about it. Sometimes the answer is much simpler than anyone can imagine.

The most recent reports indicate Eichenberg is responding well to right tackle. That’s all the proof the Dolphins should need to make up their minds.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

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Miami Heat Giving Bam Adebayo Much Awaited Front-Court Flexibility

In the NBA, it’s always about finding ways to maximize your team’s young and talented centerpiece. For the Miami Heat, that is Bam Adebayo, and they may have finally found a way to build a specific front-court that enhances his skills.

It should be mentioned that there’s a reason long-term front-court fits are discussed whenever there’s trade possibilities in the off-season. One of the main ways to give Adebayo additional comfort is to give him consistency at the power forward or center position.

But since there weren’t any on the market, they went in another direction, which may be even more fitting in a short term sense.

There’s a certain theme with the guys that have lined up next to Adebayo over the years, and it’s not just about him playing the 4 or the 5. A year ago, he had major success next to a drop big in Meyers Leonard, before transitioning back to the 5 with Jae Crowder slotting into the starting lineup for playoff time.

Fast forward a year to this past season, there was a short period of time with a Moe Harkless trial, leading to the Kelly Olynyk insertion with some sprinkled in starts for Andre Iguodala, before eventually acquiring Trevor Ariza at the deadline.

The point that has been made in the past about Adebayo just needing to be put at the 4 for the team to have success isn’t really a fair statement. It’s not about his position, it’s just consistency.

And looking at that 2 year stretch of players lined up next to him, it’s obvious there was nothing consistent about that. Heading into the 2021-2022 season, none of those guys are on the roster, meaning it’s adjustment time for Adebayo once again.

But this time, in a good way.

PJ Tucker will most likely get the start to begin the year, and although he’s 36 years old, he’s been pretty available over the course of his career. Markieff Morris fits the build of players that fit well next to Adebayo as well, being a floor spacer in the corner who can also occupy space above the break, while bringing true defensive physicality.

Looking down the roster a bit more with two back-up bigs I touched on in my last piece, Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven aren’t just Adebayo fillers. It took coach Erik Spoelstra quite some time to reach a certain confidence level with Dedmon-Adebayo minutes, and they weren’t half bad for stretches in that playoff series.

The key element there is that the other three players on the court must be deep threats, meaning no Jimmy Butler in those minutes. Other than that combination, there won’t be shooting questions in the front-court like the past.

Iguodala may have been great down the stretch in many games, and came up big in the bubble, but offensive production always seemed to plummet whenever he shared the floor with Adebayo especially. In the places Adebayo likes to operate, the defender in the corner guarding Iguodala would just help down, basically daring him to kick it out.

It’s just not ideal to manipulate certain lineups when role players don’t fit with the stars.

Omer Yurtseven, on the other hand, will get his shot at some point, and spacing issues won’t be in question. He can screen well, be utilized as a roller/popper, and is versatile enough to be plugged in different spots.

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That is four different players that can be combined with Adebayo in a positive fashion, which is just as good as gaining a young and reliable four. Much like Spoelstra, Adebayo needs fitting weapons around him so there isn’t a constant adjustment period.

And although I highlighted four possible pairings next to him, there’s still one more: Jimmy Butler.

We won’t ever see him playing the four in a regular season game, but if the match-up is right in the post-season, I believe we could see it frequently. It just depends on the health of Victor Oladipo.

When Spo wants to throw all of his weapons on the table in that environment, a lineup of Lowry-Dipo-Robinson-Butler-Adebayo will definitely be a possibility. And although that’s a non-shooting front-court, we already know the effectiveness of those two on the floor together.

The Heat built around Butler in a sense to add his good friend and win-now guys with championship experience, but don’t let that distract you from what they’re opening up for Adebayo.

The flexibility has officially been found, and once he gets enough reps with them in the regular season, we won’t be seeing certain combinations for the first time in a playoff series down 0-3. It’ll already be tested out much sooner, and a rhythm will be formed.

And Adebayo in a rhythm can be a scary sight.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882