News

Recap of Miami Dolphins’ March 26 Madness

Let me just start off with this,

 

Chris Grier my brother your flowers and a round of applause

 

I will be the first to admit that I had been a skeptic of Chris Grier because of picks like Charles Harris and no RB or WR being drafted before the 6th round, but wow did Chris knock it out of the park in trading back with the 49ers…. So, in the in the midst of me praising Chris Grier and writing this article, He decided that he would make another trade this time with the Philadelphia Eagles so let’s recap all the craziness so far.

 

The First Deal:

This bomb shocked everyone as Flores had previously mentioned picking someone “let’s say in the top 10” so a trade with the 49ers came as a surprise as most expected it to be the Carolina Panthers at 8 who would trade up. For the 49ers this move signals that a QB run will start the 2021 NFL Draft. For the Dolphins the move to 12 signaled serious Najee Harris vibes as the first pick but Chris Grier had other plans apparently, as he was not done dealing for the day.

 

 

Trade with Eagles:

If the deal with the 49ers didn’t kick you off your chair, then the one with the Eagles for sure did. This one move here signifies that the Dolphins aren’t just about wheeling and dealing for picks, but they’ll do it for a specific player as well. I really have to wonder which player or players they have identified as being potential choices for the number 6 overall selection.

 

New Draft Order:

Overall looking at the end result of the 2021 NFL Draft and a couple things standout for me.

  1. The 2021 NFL Draft will start with 4 straight QB selections.
  2. The Bengals will have the choice of both Penei and Chase
  3. And the Dolphins might still have the choice of the top 3 WR and Kyle Pitts at 6.
Loading
Loading...

To round it all up, this move was probably the biggest indicator of Chris Grier playing chess not  checkers with the competition. Not only was he able to turn the #3 overall pick into a plethora of riches in the coming years:

But he was also able to put the Dolphins in a position where all the options that should be getting considered at 3, are now slam dunk picks at 6 after all the moves.

 

Chris Grier, you killed this one chief!

Miami Dolphins

Five Takeaways from Flores/Grier Press Conference

Earlier today, Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores met with the media for their end-of-the-season press conference. But despite Miami’s front office doing their best to keep things close to the chest, there were plenty of takeaways from this afternoon’s zoom meeting.

Here are five takeaways from Brian Flores and Chris Grier’s press conference.

Tua Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins starting Quarterback.

This shouldn’t need to be said, but with every national media outlet trying to spin a QB controversy in Miami, it needed to be.

With a normal offseason and an improved arsenal of weapons, 2021 Tua should look a lot more like the guy we fell in love with at Tuscaloosa.

Tua is the franchise quarterback of the Miami Dolphins.

Chan Gailey expected back as offensive coordinator in 2021?

Coach Flores didn’t say much regarding his coaching staff in 2021, but what he did say was that he expected his assistant coaches to be back in 2021. This means 69-year-old Chan Gailey will once again be calling plays for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ offense. This might have been the most disappointing takeaway from today’s presser.

Here’s what Flores had to say when asked if he’d retain his staff for the 2021 season.

“Yeah, we expect everyone back. Hopefully you’re not jinxing me now. Last time I said that, we lost Karl Dorrell, we lost Pat Graham, so thanks. (laughter) Hopefully not, though. We expect everyone back.”

There’s an outside chance Gailey might still retire. But for now, it looks like Gailey will be Miami’s play-caller moving forward.

Brian Flores should be Coach of the Year, in Chris Grier’s opinion.

There are plenty of deserving NFL head coaches that could be nominated for Coach of the Year. However, if you ask GM Chris Grier, he will tell you no one is more deserving than Dolphins’ HC Brian Flores–and I agree. Yes, the Week 17 loss to Buffalo should leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

Flores deserves to be the coach of the year, with or without playoffs.

Dolphins plan to add competition at all positions in the offseason.

Miami has a lot of options via free agency and the draft. For example, the team has 4 top-50 picks, and their ‘available balance’ in FA rivals what we saw last year. So with a large number of running backs and wide receivers hitting the market, Miami’s interest could be key. But As you would expect, Flores and Grier never speak in absolutes, but they did shed some light on the offensive line and receiving corps–two positions the Dolphins could address at No.3 overall.

The best is yet to come

10 wins is a great accomplishment for a team in year two of a rebuild. But make no mistake about it, that loss to Buffalo left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. And what this team does in the offseason to build around the young nucleus in place could be what ultimately decides whether or not the Dolphins take the next step from promising young team to legit-playoff contenders.

Coach Flores promised to leave no stone unturned.

Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker said it best.

Dolphins win Jets

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over the Jets

The Miami Dolphins (7-4) rebounded from a tough loss last week with a resounding defensive effort against the New York Jets (0-11). The Dolphins defense stymied any offensive output from Sam Darnold and Co., romping their way to a 20-3 victory.  The win, coupled with key losses by other teams, propelled the Dolphins back into the AFC playoff picture.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins win over the Jets.

Dolphins Defense Dominant in Win Over Jets

The Dolphins defense returned to its dominant ways Sunday. Miami limited the Jets to just three points, 10 first downs and 260 total yards. In 25 possessions this season, the Dolphins held New York to just 0.12 points-per-possession.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the three total points allowed is the fewest by an NFL team in two meetings against the same opponent since 2009. The three points allowed is the second-fewest by the Dolphins against an AFC East opponent in one season. Miami shutout the Baltimore Colts in both games played against them in 1972.

Miami extended its takeaway-streak to 17 straight games, the NFL’s longest active streak. The Dolphins’ 19 takeaways this season are third-most in the league.

Miami improved its scoring defense to just 18.6 points-per-game this season, which is second-lowest in the NFL. And the Dolphins have the best third-down defense in the NFL after limiting the Jets to just 3-of-13 on third downs. Miami’s 32.8 third-down percentage allowed leads the league, and the Jets’ 10 first downs were tied for the second-fewest in a single game this season.

No QB Controversy

Much of the discourse leading up to this game surrounded which quarterback gave Miami the best opportunity to win. Tua Tagovailoa was coming off of his worst professional outing, but he’s yet to turn the ball over through four games played. Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, coughs up the ball at an average of once per game.

A thumb injury shelved Tagovailoa against the Jets, robbing the rookie of a bounce-back performance. Instead, Fitzpatrick helmed the offense. And although some argue for the veteran to replace the youngster, there was no Fitzmagic Sunday.

Sure, Fitzpatrick piled up yards (257), but he provided just two touchdowns against the league’s worst defense. He flashed his chemistry with DeVante Parker, who finished with eight catches and 119 yards, but little else. In the absence of Tagovailoa, the Dolphins offense did little to indicate the rookie was the problem.

After the game, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores voiced his support of Tagovailoa going forward.

“If he’s healthy, he’s the guy,” Flores said.

Flores couched the statement by saying: “We’ll see how he does in practice over the course of the week. He’s a tough kid. It was very close to him being able to go, but we have to make good decisions for him as well. We’ll see how he does over the course of this week in practice.”

If he can go, Tagovailoa will face a Bengals defense that allows 26.3 points-per-game and 253.7 passing yards-per-game.

Dolphins Rushing Attack Leaves Much to be Desired in Win Over Jets

While the Dolphins defense continued to shine, the offense’s lackluster rushing attack reared its ugly head as well. Miami’s ground game lacked rhythm and was largely absent in the second quarter. While some of that falls on offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, as well as the offensive line, what’s clear is Miami doesn’t have a difference-making running back.

The Dolphins split 22 carries among three running backs and watched the trio gain 94 yards but cough up two fumbles. Matt Breida and Patrick Laird both saw their chances limited after the third quarter miscues.

DeAndre Washington submitted the best performance of the three, gaining 49 yards on 13 carries. He also caught two passes for 11 yards. He may have earned himself a few more snaps moving forward, even with the eventual returns of both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.

What’s become abundantly clear is that Miami needs a difference-maker in the backfield and that player is not currently on the roster. It’s particularly important to add one, considering one of Tagovailoa’s strengths is RPO. The “run” needs to be an option.

Xavien Howard, NFL’s Best Cornerback

Xavien Howard continued his All-Pro play, too. He nabbed his league-leading seventh interception, picking off Darnold in the fourth quarter. Howard matched his career-high with seven INTs and has five games to go. He became just the second cornerback in team history with multiple 7-plus interception seasons, joining Sam Madison (1998-1999).

Howard’s 19 interceptions since 2017 also pace the NFL. What’s incredible about Howard’s ball-hawking prowess is that he missed 16 games over that span. His career 0.37 interceptions-per-game is fourth-highest among players who made their debut in the Super Bowl era, per Elias Sports.

It’s not just interceptions, either. Howard broke up three other pass attempts, giving him 50 pass breakups for his career. He has 15 passes defensed this season, tied for second-most in the league and one behind the league leader.

Darnold was 3-for-10 for 37 yards and an interception when throwing at Howard. Opposing quarterbacks have just a 50.3 passer rating when testing Howard this season.

Dolphins Win Over the Jets Propels Team Back into AFC Playoff Picture

The Dolphins dominated the Jets to the tune of 44-3 this season. Those wins helped the Dolphins keep pace in the AFC. After Week 12, Miami remains just one game behind the Bills in the AFC East. With the win Sunday, coupled with keys losses by Indianapolis and Las Vegas, the Dolphins vaulted to the 6-seed in the conference.

Miami’s move up the standings comes thanks to a superior conference record (4-3) than both the Colts (3-4) and Ravens (4-4). But with five games to go, the Dolphins have a difficult task ahead.

The Dolphins will need to secure another win next week against the floundering Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1). Minus Joe Burrow, this matchup has been robbed of its potential headline, but it remains as a must-win for Miami.  The final four games lack any easy opponents for the ‘Phins.

A win versus Cincy would put the Dolphins at 8-4 for the home stretch. Then comes the team’s stiffest test yet, a date with the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Kansas City Chiefs (10-1). After that, the Dolphins host New England (5-6), who could be playing for their playoff lives at that point.

What follows is another must-win: a road matchup with the Raiders (6-4). This could be a postseason play-in game. The regular season finale comes in Buffalo (8-3), and, considering the Bills have a stiff remaining schedule as well, it might very well be for the AFC East title.

Don’t miss your chance at the latest Dolphins tees over at FiveReasonsSports.com! Click Here to Shop Now!

Dolphins Loss Broncos

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Loss to Broncos

The Miami Dolphins (6-4) suffered a disappointing 20-13 loss in Denver (4-6). The game itself featured an offensive failure that led to rookie Tua Tagovailoa being benched.

This loss also pushed Miami from the postseason picture. The Dolphins are on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff bracket. They currently hold the No. 9 seed, losing tie breakers to both Baltimore and Las Vegas, the other 6-4 teams.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins loss to the Broncos.

Offensive Line Failure in Dolphins Loss to Broncos

One of the big questions heading into the quarterback switch from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa focused on the ineffectiveness of the offensive line. National pundits panned the move at the time, saying Miami’s line lacked the ability to properly protect their young QB. But local media pointed out that analysis as lazy, and it was.

The Dolphins offensive line had protected Tagovailoa well in his previous three starts. They’d handled pressure and kept Tagovailoa’s pocket relatively clean. Sunday, though, was a different story.

The Dolphins o-line surrendered a season-high six sacks, double the previous high. Beyond just the sacks, the line regularly allowed pressures and failed to open consistent holes for the running game.

The loss of rookie right guard Solomon Kindley in the second quarter hurt. And Tagovailoa also didn’t help his cause by holding the ball for too long.

Rushing Woes Continue

The Dolphins hoped they had something in rookie Salvon Ahmed. After a solid performance against the Chargers, Ahmed’s emergence led, in part, to the release of veteran Jordan Howard. The return of Matt Breida from recent injury also had Miami’s running game trending up. What’s more, they were facing a Denver rushing defense in the lower third of the league.

But against the Broncos, Miami’s ground game remained absent. The team totaled just 56 yards. Ahmed led the way with 43 yards on 12 carries. Breida picked up just four yards on two carries.

This lack of a consistent rushing attack shifted the offensive onus to Tagovailoa. It also allowed Denver to dial up the pressure on a rookie quarterback making just his second career road start. The result? Another anemic performance.

The solution to this issue remains unclear. A return by Myles Gaskin may help, but an ineffective ground game has plagued Miami for two seasons, through two different offensive coordinators. Opening up the playbook to allow the pass to set up the run may be the only way forward at this point.

No Fitzmagic in Dolphins Loss to Broncos

When Dolphins head coach Brian Flores pulled Tagovailoa from the game in the fourth, some speculated injury. Tagovailoa had just suffered a sixth sack, one that wrenched his lower right leg. The rookie had been on Miami’s injury report in the leadup to this game. Flores, though, dismissed that idea.

“Tua wasn’t injured. We just felt like it was the best move at that point of the game,” he said.

Fitzpatrick entered and immediately led Miami’s offense on a scoring drive. The veteran QB marched Miami down the field twice and flashed a chemistry with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki that Tagovailoa seemed to lack.

But all for naught.

Fitzpatrick maneuvered Miami into scoring position with a chance to tie the game. However, instead of connecting with Parker for a touchdown, Fitzpatrick failed to look off Broncos safety Justin Simmons and threw a game-sealing interception. Simmons secured the pick in the closing moments, though the Broncos had the chance to intercept two previous passes by Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick finished 12-of-18 passing for 117 yards and the interception.

Seemingly Still Tua’s Team

Despite the late quarterback change, the Dolphins seemingly remain Tagovailoa’s squad. Miami made the switch from Fitzpatrick to the rookie after a 3-3 start with Flores citing Tagovailoa’s readiness to assume the role. The Dolphins kept rolling. But on Sunday, the rookie showed his youth.

What’s interesting here, though, is the move to Fitzpatrick implies Tagovailoa isn’t a ready as Miami made it seem.

“We had to get in two-minute mode, and we felt like [Fitzpatrick] gave us the best chance to win the game, and we had an opportunity at the end to tie it,” Flores said.

Tagovailoa went 11-of-20 for 83 yards and a touchdown, but showed little effectiveness moving the ball. The offensive playcalling didn’t help.

“When I was in, we couldn’t really get things going,” Tagovailoa admitted. “I couldn’t get the ball in the hands of our playmakers and our guys consistently to get a rhythm going.”

Sure, offensive line issues submarined Tagovailoa’s efforts, but so too did his ineffectiveness. He needs to develop a stronger chemistry with his receivers and find a rhythm for this offense to take the next step.

That said, Fitzpatrick admitted after the game that the Dolphins were still “Tua’s team.”

He said: “Tua is going to continue to get better and grow. There’s no controversy. This is his team. He’s going to lead this team and continue to lead the team.”

To his credit, Tagovailoa wants to learn from this. He remained engaged in the contest and picked Fitzpatrick’s brain on the sideline.

“For me, it was a great learning experience,” Tagovailoa said. “I felt like I was holding the ball a little too long. Just got to get completions and get the ball in the hands of our guys to make plays for us.”

Dolphins D Didn’t Do Enough in Loss to Broncos

Miami’s defense buoyed the team’s five-game win streak. Over that span, the Dolphins defense ranked first points-per-game allowed (17.2) and second in quarterback pressures (86) and completion percentage allowed (57.0 percent). They put up 10 takeaways, too.

In Denver, though, the Dolphins didn’t make enough stops. Although the defense extended its takeaways streak to 16 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL, it wasn’t a banner day for the D.

Perhaps the biggest failing was the inability to stop Denver’s ground game. The Dolphins allowed a season-high 189 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The 5.7 yards-per-carry average stands as a full yard more than the previous season-high allowed (4.7).

What’s more, the Dolphins couldn’t seem to confuse Denver’s Drew Lock in the same way they did LA’s Justin Herbert a week prior. Lock piled up 270 passing yards, the most Miami’s allowed in more than a month. They also failed to pressure Lock consistently and did not sack him once. It’s the first time this season the Dolphins failed to secure at least one sack.

Don’t Miss Out on Any of the Dolphins Tees Over at FiveReasonsSports.com! Click Here to Shop Now!

Dolphins Win Jets

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over the Jets

The Miami Dolphins dominated the New York Jets on Sunday. The Dolphins 24-0 win stands as the team’s first shutout since 2014. Improving to 3-3 on the year marks the first time in the Brian Flores era that Miami has been at .500. With the Jets floundering to 0-6 under Miami’s former head coach Adam Gase, it becomes more clear with each passing week that the Dolphins have the right leader in Flores.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins win over the Jets.

Dolphins D Dominant in Win Over Jets

The Dolphins haven’t shut out an opponent since they blanked San Diego six seasons ago. They hadn’t shut out the Jets since the 1983 AFC Championship game. The defense’s domination delighted Dolphins fans as they shut down the purported “offensive guru” Gase.

Miami’s defense elevated its play on Sunday, limiting the Jets to 2-of-17 on third down tries. For the season, the Dolphins top the NFL in third-down defense, allowing just 31.3 percent of conversions. Miami stands fourth in scoring defense (18.8 points-per-game) and sixth in sacks (17).

In the win over the Jets, the Dolphins held Flacco to 148 net passing yards. Last week, the Dolphins surrendered just 128 net passing yards to San Francisco, making this effort the first since 2010 Miami has limited opponents to fewer than 150 net passing yards in consecutive games.

The defense kept the Jets to just 93 yards in the first half, allowing just five first downs and forcing six punts. This helped Miami build a 21-0 halftime lead.

Ogbah, a Great Investment

Among the other free agent additions for 2020, Emmanuel Ogbah’s name might have been an afterthought. But he’s become a force for this defense in the pass rush.

Ogbah recorded two sacks in the Dolphins win over the Jets. His effort stands as Miami’s first two-sack performance since Cam Wake and Akeem Spence both had a pair of sacks versus the Jets in November 2018. Ogbah’s now recorded five sacks this season, tied for second-most in the AFC. Sunday also saw him register six QB hurries and two more QB hits.

The Dolphins are getting the most out of their two-year, $15 million investment in Ogbah. He’s registered a sack in three straight games and at least half a sack in five straight. He’s just a half-sack shy of his career high (5.5)

Howard Returned to Form

Xavien Howard registered his fourth interception of the season after he picked off Joe Flacco in the second quarter. Howard has clearly returned to his 2018 ballhawking form after a knee injury limited him to just five games last season.

Sunday marked the fourth straight game with an interception for Howard. His four-game streak is the second-longest in team history, behind safety Dick Westmoreland (five straight games with an INT in 1967). Howard’s four picks this season are tied for most in the NFL and he’s ninth in pass-breakups (6). His 16 interceptions since December 2017 are the most in the NFL in that span. He’s made an interception in 11 of his 46 career games.

Adding Byron Jones aided this secondary and Howard specifically, but Howard has elevated his play in 2020. He’s held opposing quarterbacks to 12-of-26 passing (46.2 percent) with just one touchdown and four interceptions.

Gaskin, a Bell Cow?

Seemingly overlooked this offseason with the additions of Matt Breida and Jordan Howard, Myles Gaskin felt like the forgotten man amid all of the Le’Veon Bell chatter this week. Gaskin posted a video to social media of his highlights, then followed that with his best performance as a pro.

Gaskin gained a career-high 91 rushing yards on 18 carries (5.1 average). He added four receptions for 35 yards as well. His 126 all-purpose yards also set a new career-high for the second-year running back. The last time the Miami saw a running back total at least 126 scrimmage yards was Kenyan Drake’s 193 performance versus New England in December 2017. Gaskin’s 91 rushing yards are the most by a Dolphins RB since Kalen Ballage ran for 123 yards versus Minnesota in December 2018.

Gaskin’s emergence as a legitimate NFL starter belies his seventh-round pedigree. He continues to take a larger share of the running responsibilities, and his ability as a pass-catcher helps keep opposing defenses honest. Gaskin’s play has resulted in back-to-back healthy scratches for Jordan Howard.

Bye Week Comes After Dolphins Win Over Jets

The Miami Dolphins saw their scheduled shuffled by the NFL last week. In the wake of COVID-19 positives for the New England Patriots, the league changed the schedules for eight different teams. For the Dolphins, that meant they faced New York in Week 6 instead of Denver. It also means Week 7 becomes their bye, instead of Week 11.

The Bye comes at the right time for the Dolphins, as several veterans are hobbled. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy landed among the inactives after groin and foot injuries limited his participation in practice this week. During the game, linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel exited in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He did not return.

Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill hurt his hand in the third quarter. In the fourth, wide receiver DeVante Parker (groin) and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (shoulder) also sustained injuries. The early Bye affords these players a week of healing and rest ahead of an important stretch for the Dolphins.

Miami has a slate of six winnable game ahead of them, and they’ll need a 5-1 or 4-2 stretch to set themselves up for the playoffs. According to Tankathon.com, the Dolphins have the 10th-easiest remaining based on strength of schedule. They’ll need to bank wins here over the next few weeks, as their final four games see Miami play the Chiefs and the Patriots at home, then travel to Las Vegas and Buffalo to finish.

Dolphins Jets

5 Keys to Week 6: Dolphins vs Jets

The Miami Dolphins return home to face their longtime rival, the New York Jets, who are winless and rudderless. Former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase finds himself on the hot seat after another disappointing start to a season and having alienated another star.

Meanwhile, Brian Flores, Miami’s current head coach, continues to foster a positive culture, built around communication and cohesion.

“It’s about having the right people, having the right cohesive group,” said Flores on a conference call on Wednesday. “It’s about communication. I think it’s about having good people who are team-first, selfless and want to do things for the greater good. People who are tough, who are smart, who are competitive, put the team first and people who love to do what they’re doing.”

Flores maintains the Dolphins are still building, but he’s laid a solid foundation. Something Gase never did in Miami.

Here’s a look at five keys to the Dolphins Week 6 matchup against the floundering New York Jets.

Dolphins v Jets: Get Points Early

The Dolphins stand at 2-3 and both of their wins can be characterized in the same way: Offense scored early. In those victories, Miami raced out to early 14-0 leads. Against both Jacksonville and San Francisco, the Dolphins controlled the pace early and forced the opposing offenses to become one dimensional in an effort to play catchup.

“We always talk about playing fast, starting fast. It’s something that we harp on, on a weekly basis,” Flores said earlier this week.

The Jets offense struggles to score. New York sits 32nd in points-per-game (15.0) and total points (75). They’re a minus-86 In point differential this season, which is staggeringly bad. That figure is 36 points greater than the next closest differential.

If the Dolphins can get on the board early and demoralize New York, there’s a good chance the Jets will quit on Gase and roll over. Gase may not leave Miami with his job.

Attack the Quarterback

In Miami’s two wins this season, they’ve tallied eight sacks and 19 quarterback hits. While they’ve struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks, Dolphins defenders have teed off against more stationary targets.

With 35-year-old Joe Flacco making the start for the Jets, the fear of a running quarterback is completely absent. Against San Francisco, the Dolphins brought pressure facing a hobbled Jimmy Garoppolo and his replacement, C.J. Beathard. Miami registered five sacks and eight pressures.

The defense should employ multiple fronts to make identifying the pressure difficult for the Jets’ offensive line. The return of Byron Jones last week saw Miami shift to more man-coverage, and certainly helped Xavien Howard, who picked up an interception in a third-straight game.

Miami needs to attack Flacco, especially considering the Jets have surrendered 15 sacks this season (8th-most).

Get Vertical on Offense

The Dolphins offense opened last week with a 47-yard connection from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Preston Williams. That set the tone for an offensive onslaught that tallied 43 points on the road. And facing a Jets defense that surrenders 265.6 passing-yards-per-game (8th-most), those opportunities should be there as well.

Last week, New York surrendered 380 passing yards to Arizona’s Kyler Murray. For the season, the Jets surrender a 100.2 passer rating and over eight yards-per-attempt. Their secondary allows over 70 percent of passes to be caught.

Last season against New York, Fitzpatrick completed three passes on throws of over 20 yards. Those three completions went for 72 yards and a touchdown. Against the 49ers, Fitzpatrick completed five throws of over 20 yards for 199 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami features big targets on the outside, including Williams, DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki. Those three dominated the Jets at home last season, combining for 15 catches, 224 yards and three touchdowns. Going vertical should open the running lanes for Myles Gaskin, who’s averaging just 3.9 yards-per-carry.

Finally Figure Out Flacco

Flacco remains undefeated in his career against the Dolphins. He sports a career 6-0 record versus Miami. He’s completed 72 percent of his attempts for 1,518 yards and 10 touchdowns. Flacco has thrown only three interceptions versus the Dolphins.

That said, all Flacco’s victories came while he quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens. And this Jets roster is largely devoid of talent at this point.

Against the Cardinals, Flacco made his first start since Week 8 last season. He completed 18-of-33 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown. The Jets offense struggled on third down, where they converted only four of 13 tries. On the season, New York converts 34.7 percent of third down tries, the fifth-worst rate in the league this season. Meanwhile, the Dolphins allow just 38 percent of third down conversions, the seventh-best rate.

Miami’s secondary will need to key on Jamison Crowder, the Jets most dynamic offensive weapon. Crowder is primarily a slot receiver and currently leads the league with 111.7 yards-per-game.

Dolphins Need to Maintain Focus Against the Jets

The Dolphins enter this game as favorites for the first time in the Flores era. Miami hasn’t been favored in a game since December 2018 (21 games). They’re favored by more than a touchdown for the first time since November of 2016. As a team, the Dolphins haven’t won back-to-back games by double digits since 2015. That said, the Jets have lost each game this season by at least nine points.

This contest has all the making of a trap game. The Dolphins need a win to inject themselves into the playoff race. In addition to that, they’ll need to maintain focus against an opponent that wasn’t originally their scheduled one for this week.

The NFL’s changes seriously altered Miami’s schedule, but the players didn’t seem to care.

“It is what it is, it’s no big deal,” Gesicki said.

Howard voiced a similar sentiment. “It doesn’t matter which team is next. We just have to focus on the game plan.”

With the bye week now upcoming, Miami can’t have a letdown against the Jets. They’ll need to maintain their focus and discipline.

The Dolphins remain one of the league’s least penalized teams, having been flagged just 23 times for 195 yards through five games. The Jets, meanwhile, have committed 38 penalties for 365 yards, a characteristic consistent with Adam Gase teams.

Gase’s culture of alienating stars and blaming players has continued in New York. The Jets now turn to former Miami Hurricane and Dolphins, Frank Gore, who is starting to show his age with just 3.2 yards-per-carry in 2020, and rookie La’Mical Perine in the wake of Le’Veon Bell’s departure.

The Dolphins should handle their business here and win this ballgame. This starts a stretch of seven very winnable games for Miami. If they can emerge from this with a 5-2 of 6-1 record, they’ll be poised for a serious playoff push heading into a very difficult final four games in 2020.

Five Takeaways from Brian Flores (Including Tua Cleared)

Earlier today, Brian Flores spoke with the media about QB Tua Tagovailoa, Covid-19, and the 2020 NFL season.

As players and coaches return to team facilities, one thing is clear. The beginning of the 2020 NFL season is officially upon us.

That’s right, folks.

Football is back.

And in an offseason without preseason, open practices, and other football activities–it’s going to be challenging to get a real grasp of this team and roster. This means we will have to rely heavily on the media and interviews with the players and coaches to dissect what is truly going on with this team.

So, today when Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores met with South Florida media. Many were listening. What would the leader of the Miami Dolphins have to say about the many issues heading into the 2020 season? Covid-19? His rookie quarterback?

Here are five takeaways from Brian Flores press conference 

 

Takeaway #1

What coach said:

What I heard:

Tua is all systems go. Which is what we’ve heard over the last several months from Tua and his representatives. This, now being confirmed by the Dolphins, is enormous. Not only could he technically play IF he had to, but he’s ready to go out there and compete for the starting job. Which is exactly what he’ll do, according to Brian Flores. All that truly matters, however, is that Tagovailoa is ready to go.

Takeaway #2

What coach said:

What I heard: 

As we’ve become accustomed to, no job is truly safe. Flores wants the best players playing. And if a seasoned veteran gets dethroned by a hungry young rookie, the best player will play. That goes for every position, although all eyes will be on quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa will need to get acclimated to the system at a rapid pace, and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be right next to him every step of the way. Miami won’t rush Tua, but if the better talent is expected, it play. It probably won’t be very long before that’s the Hawaiian Prince.

Takeaway #3

What coach said:

 

What I heard:

Football players are just like the rest of us. This means for the 2020 NFL season to start, sacrifices will have to be made. That goes for every coach, player, staff, and employee of the Miami Dolphins. Everyone should be wearing a mask, social distancing, and taking precautions to keep the players and their families safe.

Takeaway #4

What coach said:

What I heard:

This offseason is going to be different. Like I mentioned before, there is no preseason. Hell, the roster was cut to 80 players before teams could even report. It’s a different time. And a lot of these players are going to make the roster based on their reps in practice, drills, etc… Players have to earn their roster spot. It won’t be easy. Only the best will survive.

Takeaway #5

What coach said:

What I heard:

Xavien Howard will not be rushed back and is currently slated to start the season on the PUP list. X is making progress and has been rehabbing all summer, but may not be ready to play. Could this be the reason Miami drafted Noah Igbinoghene? Is Nik Needham the next guy up to play opposite of Byron Jones? Or could the Dolphins bring in Logan Ryan, a player Brian Flores is very familiar with? If Howard isn’t ready to go by week 1, things are going to look much different in Miami’s secondary.

Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins appear as ready as they can be for the 2020 NFL season to kickoff. And with lots of uncertainty surrounding the team, in the middle of a global pandemic, should make for one of the more memorable seasons in recent memory. Now, all we can do is sit back, relax, and get some popcorn ready. Football is here. And before we know it, the Tua Tagovailoa era will be upon us.

Report: Dolphins intend to try rookie OL Robert Hunt at right tackle.

The Miami Dolphins placed a lot of emphasis on shoring up the trenches on both sides of the ball in the 2020 draft. One of the players they drafted is Louisiana offensive lineman Robert Hunt, a physical power blocker who makes a name for himself by utterly dominating defenders coming at him. His style of blocking would indicate that he fits best as a guard in the NFL. But he has plenty of experience as a tackle from his college days.

So the question is, what do the Dolphins plan on doing with Hunt?

“Robert can play right tackle, he can play right guard.” GM Chris Grier said after drafting Hunt 39th overall. “So for us, he’s going to come in and compete for a job. Brian’s talked about it. It’s a competition. That’s one of the things we liked about him – position flexibility to play those things, but the thing we loved about him was his competitiveness. He’s a tough, physical player. He plays with an attitude. He’s got good football intelligence. It’s important to him.

“A lot of those criteria and qualities the coaching staff is looking for, this kid has them so we’re very excited. After we took him, Brian and I got multiple texts from people on other teams saying that was their guy, so we were happy to get him and think he will be a good fit. (We are) looking forward to having him – when he gets here – to work and get on the field and compete for a job.”

The answer is vague as per the norm. In truth, the plan can be anything and can easily change as time goes on. But according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, there is some clue as to where Miami plans on letting Hunt try out first.

“…we’re told the Dolphins at least want to give (Hunt) a chance at right tackle,” wrote Jackson. “The plan – subject to change, obviously – is to allow Hunt and Jesse Davis to compete at right tackle and decide which player is better suited to tackle and which is better suited for guard.”

Trying Robert Hunt out at right tackle makes sense for several reasons. Firstly, putting Hunt at tackle frees up the logjam at guard the Dolphins currently have. Presently, the roster consists of Keaton Sutherland, Shaq Calhoun, Danny Isidora, the aforementioned Jesse Davis, and of course 2019 draft pick Michael Deiter and rookie Solomon Kindley. Naturally, the best case scenario would have Kindley win the job at right guard as another massive, power blocking player. That would leave Hunt at right tackle and Jesse Davis can be the primary backup.

Secondly, and more importantly, Hunt has an entire season to try and develop at right tackle. The entire draft class is predicated on developing potentially elite talent. Hunt isn’t projecting to be elite right away. However, there’s no telling what his ceiling can be at tackle if he fixes his footwork and mobility. That’s the trade off the Dolphins have made. Giving up immediate contributors for a chance to turn high-upside prospects into superstars in a year’s time.

Hunt, for his part, has made it clear he has no preference.

“I definitely can play any position that coach or the o-line coach need me to play.” He said after being drafted by Miami. “I’m a versatile guy. I think that will help me out a lot in this draft, so wherever coach needs me to play, that’s where I’ll stick at. I’m open to playing any position. I’m ready to play any position. Anything, anywhere that I can help the team out, I’ll definitely do it.”

Hearing that is definitely encouraging. Many players say that they’re okay playing anywhere, but not everyone means it. Infamously, Minkah Fitzpatrick initially claimed he enjoyed being a chess piece on the football field. Then a year later he expressed his deep frustration with that philosophy, resulting in a trade to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That trade gave the Dolphins Austin Jackson, but having Fitzpatrick in the defense Miami is building would make it potentially elite. The fact that Hunt seems open to the initial experimentation is a good sign.

Fans should be excited about the potential Robert Hunt brings to the table. Some are bothered by the lack of instant starters in this year’s draft class, but it’s important to keep things in perspective. In 2019, Brian Flores took a ragtag group of undrafted free agents and roster castoffs and dragged them to 5-11 when they had no business winning even one game. If that’s what Flores can do with subpar talent, what can he do with potentially elite talent?

Robert Hunt is eager to find out. He attended the NFL combine but was unable to workout, and that may have hurt his draft stock. But Hunt believes that everything that’s happened to him is for a reason. He’s happy to be in Miami where they’re building something special. And he doesn’t care if that’s at guard or tackle.

“It is what it is. This was going to happen anyways.” He said. “I’m a big believer in God. God puts you in places that He wants you to be. He definitely put me here for a reason. I’m just going to take the opportunity and go forward with it. He doesn’t make mistakes. This is a blessing to me. It doesn’t hurt me or help me. This is my opportunity. I’m super grateful for it.”

The Dolphins' free agent signings fit into coach Brian Flores' scheme. (Tony Capobianco for Five Reasons Sports)

Brian Flores has chance to separate himself from Belichick disciples

There is no doubt that Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is trying to build a culture of winning and success. Just look at the free agency hauls for the organization over the past week or so. Furthermore, Flores is trying to break a trend with Belichick assistants. He is trying to come out on top.

When you look at the list of former Patriots assistant coaches who went on to become head coaches, the resume is not overly impressive in terms of winning.

Eric Mangini had marginal success, coaching the New York Jets from 2006-2008 and Cleveland Browns from 2009-2010. Although he finished with a career head coaching record of 33-48, he did win the Coach of the Year Award in 2006. That year, he was the head man for the New York Jets, compiling a 10-6 record. They lost to the Patriots in the AFC Wild Card Game, ending an otherwise great season. It was a crowning achievement for the coaching career of Mangini. He would never achieve that level of success again.

Looking at the Belichick disciples recently, Flores has a chance to stand out from the pack. Mike Vrabel did a great job with the Tennessee Titans this past year, leading them to the AFC Championship Game. Time will tell exactly how he does the rest of the way, but it seems as though he has a bright future.

Bill O’ Brien has had an interesting couple of months. The Houston Texans did well for themselves in 2019. They went 10-6 and finished first in the AFC South. Ultimately, they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Game. It wasn’t even the on-field results that were the most interesting part of all this. It’s what happened off the field.

O’Brien traded star receiver DeAndre Hopkins away for essentially a bag of peanuts. In actuality, Houston received running back David Johnson, a 2022nd-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. Although Houston may have not been able to afford Hopkins’ asking price for a new contract, Houston should have been able to receive more than that in a trade.

In the meantime, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is coming off a 3-12-1 season. Good enough for fourth place in the NFC North, he hasn’t exactly been leading the Lions to success right now. Detroit certainly has pieces to be successful. Whether they will be able to reach a level of success with Patricia remains to be seen.

Brian Flores can be ahead of the pack

In any event, this is a chance for Flores to shine. He has a ton of talent at his disposal, and that does not even include the fifth overall pick in next month’s draft. Here is where he can separate himself from the rest of the Belichick disciples. Sustained success is certainly a viable option in 2020. The Dolphins have made several solid moves in free agency, and they still hold the fifth overall pick. That is certainly impressive. Undoubtedly, that should help them accelerate the rebuild.

When you take a look at the type of players the Miami Dolphins want onthier roster, look no further than this latest free agency. The New England Patriots Miami signed  are all gritty players. Ted Karras was a solid depth piece on the line for the Patriots last season. Both Roberts and Van Noy are linebackers that can produce consistently. You know what type of production you’re going to get out of them. they will play hard game in and game out.

This offseason could be a key moment in helping Brian Flores stand out from the rest of the pack. He has a chance to be successful for a long time, something that no other former New England assistant has ever been. There is a blueprint in place. Flores once this team to play physical, smart football, as well as being disciplined to boot. Now, Brian Flores has to take the next step. Execution is critical, and it’s something that has held up the others in their quest for greatness.

Dolphins Chris Grier

Pressure Point: Up to Chris Grier to build on Brian Flores’ good work

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores just made the job of general manager Chris Grier a whole lot tougher.

So be it.

How can you care at all about the Dolphins and not find delight in the stunning 27-24 upset they pulled off Sunday in Flores’ finale as a rookie head coach in his first visit to New England, where he worked for 15 years in the Belichick regime?

Especially when it mucks up Patriots playoff plans, denying them a first-round bye.

Also considering Miami hadn’t won at Foxborough since September 2008.

I know. I know. By winning five of their last nine to finish 5-11, the Dolphins strayed far from the tanking playbook — which Flores always claimed he wasn’t in on anyway. And there is no choice but to believe him now.

Win didn’t hurt draft standing

Sunday didn’t alter their standing in the draft order anyway.

Trying to win by losing has always been a cockamamie concept. Of greater importance, the win at New England was the latest in a growing stack of evidence that the Dolphins finally have a coach they can win with.

It was remarkable, really, coming to New England as 17-point underdogs and considering the 43-0 debacle in Miami in Week 2.

Sure, now Flores must show he can win more meaningful games when given the tools to work with. But he achieved far more with less than Adam Gase did in taking the 2016 Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season.

But he has a locker room full of believers, and likely much of the fan base.

Now that this most confusing of Dolphins seasons is over, speculation can shift from what they may or may not be trying to achieve on the field to what they must accomplish in the NFL draft.

Now it’s all about what Grier will do with those three first-round and assorted extra draft picks (14 total in 2020).

Finding the quarterback of the future remains the general manager’s mandate despite the team’s competitive gains behind the inspired play of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dolphins give Patriots a taste of their own medicine

Tua tough call as first-round pick

The Dolphins have the No. 5 pick next April and may have a chance to select Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (provided he enters the draft), who must come back from a significant hip injury.

Maybe Tua will fare better than Bo Jackson, whose mercurial career was halted by a hip injury. Considering the injuries to both ankles that have also sidelined Tagovailoa, his durability is an issue.

Grier will spend more time poring over Tua’s medical reports than his game film. It will take conviction to make that choice or another available quarterback.

Regardless of whichever quarterback Grier chooses, bringing back Fitzpatrick would buy time in the development process.

Fitz reached folk hero status with what he accomplished leading an offense devoid of any reliable running game. That was cemented Sunday by outplaying Tom Brady and orchestrating the winning touchdown drive capped by the payoff pass to Mike Gesicki.

That doesn’t change that Grier must come away from the draft with a quarterback, but it’s just the top of a laundry list of needs.

Numerous needs on offense, defense

On offense, the challenge is to upgrade the line and add a featured running back, through draft picks and signings.

The receiving corps is respectable, with DeVante Parker having a breakout year and Gesicki making major strides in his second season. But pass protection and blocking for the running game needs to improve.

On defense, pass rushers are top priority, on the line and at linebacker. An ever-changing cast in the defensive backfield held its own against Tom Brady on Sunday, highlighted by former Patriot Eric Rowe’s pick-six. But Grier will be looking for another cornerback and likely a safety, especially if Reshad Jones isn’t brought back.

Grier is on the clock and on the spot for 2020.

As for 2019, which began with getting outscored 163-26 in the first four games, Sunday’s stunner made it almost sad to see time expire.

One thing for sure, the time for hoping for losses is thankfully over.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns