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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes at the opening night event for Super Bowl 54. (Craig Davis for Five Reasons Sports Network)

Goldie’s Week 4 NFL Picks: Lions Surprise, Chiefs Recover

Goldie:

All Time Record: 155-71          

Vs. Spread: 114-109

 

21-22 Season:  29-16                

Vs. Spread: 25-20

 

Week 3 Record : 11-4                 

Vs. Spread: 10-5

 

Guarantee All Time: 10-7       

21-22 Season: 1-2

 

Upset All Time: 11-5              

21-22 Season: 2-1

 

Crazy Uncle Jeff 

All Time: 21-2              

21-22 Season: 5-1       

Week 3: 2-0

 

Goldie’s Guarantee:

Cleveland Browns (2-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-2)

Vegas Picks: CLE -2

Goldie’s Take: Browns Win 34-21

Cleveland is the real deal on both sides of the football this season, but especially on the defensive side. Their fierce pass rush landed 9 sacks last week and held the Bears to a total of 47 yards of offense. Vikings’ shaky O-Line is going to have a long day trying to contain Myles Garrett and the rest of that unit. Brownies win and cover on the road. 

I GUARANTEE IT!

 

Upset of the Week:

Detroit Lions (0-3) @ Chicago Bears (1-2)

Vegas Picks: CHI -2.5

Goldie’s Take: Lions Win 26-24

Although 0-3, this Lions team has almost exceeded expectations in some ways. In all three of their games played so far, they have shown admirable fight against teams that are simply much more talented than they are. On the other hand, Chicago got their head handed to them last week by Cleveland, posting a total of 47 offensive yards. It’s clear that Justin Fields is not ready to start yet, and Andy Dalton doesn’t seem to be the answer either. The Bears don’t have a Quarterback. So yes, give me the Lions to UPSET Chicago in a rare road divisional win for Detroit. 

 

Crazy Uncle Jeff’s Lock of the week: DAL -4.5

Carolina Panthers (3-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

Vegas Picks: DAL -4.5

Goldie’s Take: Cowboys win 33-27

At 21-2 all time against the spread, Jeffy is just getting more and more confident in his pick skills. That’s why this week he’s cooking up a 3 LOCK play! The first being the Cowboys -4.5. Jeffy loves what he’s seen from the ‘Boys this season, and he’s not buying the Panthers hype. He’s betting on the Cowboys to win and cover at home. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years doing picks with my Crazy Uncle Jeff, it’s to NEVER fade the Crazy Uncle. How ‘Bout Them Cowboys!

 

Crazy Uncle Jeff’s Lock of the Week: KC -7

Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

Vegas Picks: KC -7

Goldie’s Take: Chiefs WIn 31-17

The second of Jeffy’s THREE LOCKS this week is the Chiefs at -7. The fact that the Eagles and Chiefs are two teams with the same record, is quite the anomaly. Even with these teams at 1-2, most sportsbooks are still betting on the Chiefs with the best odds to win this year’s Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the Eagles are currently in the midst of a rebuild. Crazy Uncle Jeff and I fully expect Mahomes to shine as KC puts on a show in Philly. 

 

Crazy Uncle Jeff’s Lock of the Week: TB -7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) @ New England Patriots (1-2)

Vegas Picks: TB -7

Goldie’s Take: Bucs Win 33-20

Emotions will be at an all time high in Brady’s return to the stadium that he called home for 20 years. Surely Belichick will be doing everything he can to win this one, but he just doesn’t have the pieces.It’s a statement game for both Brady and Belichick; a battle that is destined to fuel the debate between who is really responsible in New England’s for the notorious past successful legacy. Originally I had a feeling Brady would be so overwhelmed with emotion that it might affect his game, but then I remembered who I was talking about. GOAT takes care of business on an emotional Sunday night in Foxboro. Speaking of GOATs, Uncle Jeff is picking the Bucs too in his THIRD LOCK of this week

 

Tennessee Titans (2-1) @ New York Jets (0-3)

Vegas Picks: TEN -7

Goldie’s Take: Titans Win 23-10

It’s already been a tough season for Jets fans, as their team has posted a total of 20 points through 3 games, and it only looks like it’s going to get tougher. Zach Wilson has not been able to get it going, but what do you expect when you throw a rookie QB onto an offense with limited weapons and an iffy O-Line? Also it’s not like they have the best defense in the world either. The Titans will take care of business in New York as the Jets continue to be knee-deep in this rebuild. 

 

Indianapolis Colts (0-3) @ Miami Dolphins (1-2)

Vegas Picks: MIA -2

Goldie’s Take: Dolphins Win 27-21

Both of these squads are desperate for a win after subpar starts to each of their seasons. Miami lost an overtime heartbreaker in Vegas last week, and the Colts just can’t seem to figure it out. Indy has had a laundry list of significant injuries, and it’s only week 3. Like most Dolphins wins, I expect this game to mostly be controlled by the defense. Also, Brissett looked much more comfortable last week after having a full week of first team reps. Another week of Brissett as QB1 in practice will give their offense some much needed continuity. Expect the Fins to get back on track with a win at home this Sunday. 

 

Washington Football Team (1-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

Vegas Picks: WAS -1.5

Goldie’s Take: Falcons Win 24-21

Atlanta stole a road victory last week against the Giants 17-14. Rare for Atlanta to have such a low scoring win, but it seems their defense definitely improved a bit from last season to now. Also this is a favorable matchup for Atlanta, as the No Names don’t exactly have a high powered offense. Give me Matty Ice and the Dirty Birds to get another defensive win to get back to .500. Venue call!

 

Houston Texans (1-2) @ Buffalo Bills (2-1)

Vegas Picks: BUF -16.5

Goldie’s Take: Bills Win 35-20

Vegas is not sugarcoating this one at all. Almost everyone expects Buffalo to stay hot and run right through the Texans. This should certainly be the case, however I’d advise staying away from betting this one. 16.5 points is just too unpredictable. Josh Allen and the Bills “circle the wagons” once again at home this Sunday to improve to 3-1. 

 

New York Giants (0-3) @ New Orleans Saints (2-1)

Vegas Picks: NO -7.5

Goldie’s Take: Saints Win 30-20

This one was a strong contender for the Guarantee committee, as the Saints play their first game back with a full Superdome in over a year. Not only do I think the Saints are the better team, I would’ve made this pick on atmosphere alone. Daniel Jones isn’t going to be able to hear his own thoughts in the building that the city of New Orleans considers to be its heart and soul. Saints win in the dome!

 

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

Vegas Picks: SAN -3

Goldie’s Take: 49ers Win 28-23

The UPSET of the week committee took a long gander at this one after the Niners loss to the Packers last week. However, after extensive research we’ve concluded that the Seahawks pass defense is going to be the death of them again. Last week Kirk Cousins had a field day with this Seattle defense, largely due to the fact that the ‘Hawks pass rush was nonexistent. They only managed to sack Cousins one time. The Niners have a better O-Line than the Vikings do, so expect Jimmy G to have plenty of time to make decisions back there. Niners win a close divisional matchup at home. 

 

Arizona Cardinals (3-0) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

Vegas Picks: LAR -4.5

Goldie’s Take: Rams Win 35-31

You could legitimately argue that the Rams have both the best offense and the best defense in the NFL. They have playmakers on both sides of the ball, and a great coaching staff to complement them. The Rams are a machine. Kyler will keep the ‘Cards in it, but give me LA to get the divisional win at home and improve to 4-0!

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) @ Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Vegas Picks: GB -6.5

Goldie’s Take: Packers Win 35-13

Guarantee committee took a hard look at this one as well before ultimately settling on the Browns. The Packers seem to be back after that strange week one beatdown they received, and the Steelers don’t have a quarterback. Big Ben’s arm is shot, and they’re still asking him to throw 50+ times a game. This is not a recipe for success. Unless the Steelers get a new quarterback, I don’t see them winning more than 5 games this season. Packers win in a rout!

 

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) @ Denver Broncos (3-0)

Vegas Picks: DEN -1

Goldie’s Take: Ravens Win 32-28

Although undefeated, the Denver Broncos are a bit of fools gold 3-0. Their opponents thus far have a combined record of 0-9 so we can’t really consider the Broncos to be “legit” quite yet. I expect the Broncos to finally be exposed this week. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are a major step up from the competition that the Broncos have faced in the past few weeks. Denver is a solid team with a lot of promise, but they’re not quite contenders yet. Baltimore stays hot with a road win in the Mile High. 

 

Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) @ Los Angeles Chargers (2-1)

Vegas Picks: LAC -3.5

Goldie’s Take: Chargers Win 30-27

Nothing like a good divisional matchup on MNF. Both of these teams have to be thrilled with the way their seasons have started. Raiders are 3-0 for the first time since 2002, and Chargers are coming off a huge upset of the Chiefs. This one is basically a pick ’em’ in my mind, so I’m going with the home team. Chargers in a venue call!

 

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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

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Dolphins win Patriots

Bullish or Bearish? Miami Dolphins Preseason Week 1

Welcome to the first installment of Bullish or Bearish! I am not one to touch stonks nor give financial advice, but I do love some crypto and these are two terms, we in the community use to identify whether a project is trending up or inverse to that, trending down. This year I will be bringing you a Bullish or Bearish report once a week to help you identify who’s improving and who’s regressing on the 2021 Miami Dolphins. We start Week 1 of the Pre-Season schedule for your Miami Dolphins with a  final score of 13-20 in favor of the Bears and left us with some questions answered while also leaving us with some concerns. Let’s dive in.

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Bullish

Mike Gesicki:

A bold take on the way, health permitting, we may be on the verge of a breakout season by Mike Gesicki. A breakout into possibly 1100+ yards and 10+ TDs territory. I know it’s early and many of Tua’s other weapons are out but that also lets me know that he will be reliable when those same WRs aren’t available (I expect that to be often) and most importantly is that he might be the biggest benefactor of the attention needed to guard Will Fuller and Jaylan Waddle leaving him isolated one on one like he was against the Bears and Alec Ogletree. Look out because Gesicki looks ready to make the Dolphins pay for not having paid him yet.

Salvon Ahmed:

We talked all offseason about a needed 2nd-year jump for many guys but the one we all seem to have left out is Salvon Ahmed. All afternoon Ahmed looked faster, stronger, quicker, and overall, more comfortable. Salvon was able to not just only show the burst which led to the Dolphins’ first 100-yard rushing performance by a player in nearly 2 seasons, Ahmed also showed tremendous improvement in the passing game as evident by TD to end the half from Jacoby. Coach Flores already has hinted at this being a RBBC but I wouldn’t be shocked if at some point this season Ahmed claims the job as his. 

Lynn Bowden Jr:

 Someone who desperately needed a good showing after a curiously quiet camp was Lynn Bowden Jr. Lynn was able to show everything that has me excited and expecting a substantial jump in performance. Altogether he had 4 catches for 47 yards, 2 first downs, and 1 kick return (more on that later). If Lynn can build off this performance and put together a good week of practice vs the Falcons, he could guarantee not only his roster spot but also a role as a specialists/WR.

Bearish

Jakeem Grant

Some may see Jakeem’s name on the bearish side and will yell out how he had the most explosive punt return of the game when it went for 34 yards. I urge you to realize what is going on with the KR and PR positions. On KR we saw both Noah Igbinoghene and Lynn Bowden Jr get chances to show what they can do. On PR we saw a total of 7 punt returns with Jakeem getting 3, Malcolm Perry getting 3, and Waddle getting only 1. It is starting to feel like if anyone steps up and makes the returner jobs theirs, Jakeem’s time in Miami may be coming to an end.

Malcolm Brown

Another year, another power back who can’t seem to find space to operate. After some good initial runs by Brown, where he showed a nice ability to finish forward, he and the OL did their best to give us Jordan Howard PTSD. In total Malcolm had 9 carries go for a total of 8 yards with a long of 6. Think about that, he had 8 carries go for 2 yards. Outside of the pedestrian performance, the emergence of Salvon Ahmed could force Malcolm to be a key reserve or not even make the team at all. This is a situation that will require further research to see how this ends up working out.

Austin Jackson

As nicely as I can put it, that was an abysmal performance by Austin Jackson. When you stop and consider Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Robert Quinn each played less than 9 snaps while Austin had 44 total snaps, it’s extremely concerning to see him struggle as he did, against backups and third-stringers. The toughest part of watching Austin vs the Bears? He got beat in a plethora of ways, from stunts, speed rushes, and bullrushes. There weren’t many things that the defense tried, that didn’t work. Per PFF in 22 pass-blocking opportunities, Austin gave up a holding penalty to stall a drive, 1 QB hit, 4 QB hurries, and 5 QB pressures. Not the start many envisioned for the 2020 18th overall selection.

 

 

Overall, the first preseason game was just that, the first preseason game and while it did give us some things to start to focus on more (the oline) there is still time to improve and work on the things that did work. This week-to-week report could in theory having Austin Jackson as bearish but if he comes out next week and responds to the criticism he may find himself on the bullish side of things. Until next time, Fins Up!

 

 

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The 4 Most Pressing Questions for the Miami Dolphins heading into Chicago

Having gone through 2 full weeks of camp, we can start to identify some of the paramount questions that need answers. Yes, you can get a lot of information from training camp especially when the pads came on, but it is nothing compared to facing another team. Starting Wednesday, the Dolphins will be in Chicago practicing and scrimmaging vs the Bears until Friday and then playing them for the Dolphins’ first preseason game on Saturday at 1 p.m. This will be the first test for many players and even coaches, let’s dive into the 4 most pressing questions that need answering.

Can the OL gel and show growth?

The biggest question mark that needs answering in my opinion is of the entire offensive line. From Austin Jackson at LT, Liam at LG, and Dieter at C, these are all guys that have managed to not lose their jobs instead of outright winning their jobs. Will they be able to handle the Dline of the Bears that includes Akiem Hicks, Mario Edwards Jr, Robert Quinn, and Khalil Mack? 3 days of intense practice vs those names should bring clarity as to if the Dolphins have enough in terms of talent and depth, or if they need to start making some aggressive calls to other teams.

WR health and is there enough depth?

I think we all anticipated that at multiple times this season we would get hit with the injury bug with so many WRs prone to injury, but no one could have expected that during the first 2 weeks of camp we would be without Will Fuller for all but one practice, Devante would be wearing red non-contact jerseys, Preston being on PUP and Albert on “maintenance management”. Even while missing all those names, Tua hasn’t missed a beat against our own DBs, and now it’s time to see what Tua can do against another team’s DBs with the weapons available to him. Will having so many injury-prone WRs end up stalling Tua’s development? We start to find out this week.

Do we have a dominant Defensive Line?

We have two separate questions when it comes to the Oline and Dline. Is our Dline that dominant that they have forced the Oline to struggle in camp or is the Oline so putrid that they have made our Dline look like the Purple People Eaters? I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle because our Dline outside of our DBs is the deepest and will be the most relied upon position group. From Wilkins, Raekwon, Sieler, John Jenkins, Adam Butler and others, we have the potential to make a huge jump in rush Defense and pass Defense if these names can take the next step and find some chemistry to play together.

Can the 1st and 2nd-year players develop?

Lastly, seeing as the bulk of this team is 1st and 2nd-year players, it should go without saying that they are the ones who will make this team a contender or a pretender. You obviously must talk about Tua and the jump that’s expected of him but that could be said for multiple players like Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt, Jaylen Waddle, Lynn Bowden Jr, Salvon Ahmed, Raekwon Davis, Noah Igbinoghene, Brandon Jones, Jaelan Phillips, and Jevon Holland. If some of these guys can step up and not only become big contributors but also dominant players, the sky is the limit for our 2021 Miami Dolphins. The first real obstacle in their way is the Chicago Bears, let’s see who is up for the challenge.

 

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Miami Dolphins Camp Notes Day 3 (Defensive Day, Brissett, Grant, more)

A muggy friday, moved slowly, as the team was heavy into Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams install. Then some fireworks, and a dominant performance from one side of the ball.

Tua Tagovailoa. This was a decent encore to what was a great day on Thursday. Tua Tagovailoa continues to show great command of the offense, and is still showing an aggressiveness that has only grown the past few days. His best throws of the day came early in some 6v8 where he hit Jaylen Waddle on a deep crosser for a nice gain, and then followed that up with a go route that Jakeem Grant pulled down for a big gainer. His Red Zone work was pretty strong to start, till the defense came on late in practice. Later on in 11v11, Tua began to feel some pressure and the offense sputtered inside the 20 yard line.

Jacoby Brissett. This was not a good day for the backup QB and his unit. At one point, he had gone 6 consecutive pass plays without a completion, gave up several sacks, had some throwaways, and then sailed a couple more into harms way. Jacoby Brissett was by no means “good” on this day, but I believe the defense also deserves credit. It has been a strong camp to start for Brissett, this was just a bad patch. I look forward to seeing how he adjusts.

Nik Needham. Always on the spot. Playing every cornerback position, Nik Needham got his hands on several footballs. While he did not post a turnover, he was noticeable in coverage, and the versatility he showed, displays the depth this secondary has. This team (even with Xavien Howard out) has a strength in this secondary. By a crude count, I had Nik Needham targeted 5 times, allowing one reception of less than 10 yards.

Brandon Jones. Seems to have an expanded role. While he has racked up snaps on defense, Brandon Jones also shows up on several special teams units, and really logged the mileage in this practice. While the Miami Dolphins/NFL don’t want the media to reveal specifics on how players are being used, I can assure you, he is seeing expanded action since last year.

Jakeem Grant. This was a big day for Jakeem. Grant hauled in a go route early in practice, then showed up once again on a toe tapping TD in the back of the end zone. After a couple of days, where he was essentially invisible, Jakeem Grant took full advantage of the reps afforded to him today. The most impressive route run, was a rep where he got good depth on a skinny post, on what was a RPO, and managed to make the grab in traffic for a nice gain. Jakeem showed great concentration on this day, logging no drops, and several big plays.

Practice MVP: Jakeem Grant/Defensive Secondary
Struggled: Jacoby Brissett

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

Miami Dolphins Camp Notes Day 2 (Tua stars, Griffin, X, more)

Day 3 of camp, and the intrigue has just begun. Xavien Howard stretches,then leaves the field. Then returns. Then is seen all smiles with Jason McCourty. Then watches practice. Does a little coaching. Then it is revealed he has a “minor” injury. Exhausting. Moving On!

Tua Tagovailoa. This was a good day. A Strike to Gesicki in traffic, a well placed wheel route for Savon Ahmed for a huge play. Another 65 yard touchdown on a deep corner route to Albert Wilson. Tua Tagovailoa was really sharp today. His Red Zone install work was also very good with very few negative plays. He had very good chemistry with Myles Gaskin on option routes, and those two were a terror near the goal line. This was likely his best practice of the last two training camps.

Byron Jones. Tua Tagovailoa tested Jones on a 9 route with Jaylen Waddle,and the ball was on the money. But so was Byron. Pass break up. With McCourty floating around different units, and Xavien Howard being wherever Xavien Howard is, Byron Jones exhibited great leadership on the field on this day. His play was also a standout on a day where the offense seemed to have a step on the defense. How quickly people forget that at the time of signing, most football people thought Byron Jones was a better cornerback than Howard. He might have to prove that once again.

Albert Wilson. Ok, I might have been wrong. Any thoughts/takes about Albert Wilson possibly being cut are quickly evaporating. With the absence of DeVante Parker (PUP, but he was out there today), and whatever physical issue Will Fuller is dealing with, it has been Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns, and rookie Jaylen Waddle to the rescue. Albert Wilson has also started a streak. Wilson has consecutive practices with 65 yard touchdowns on deep routes. Today’s on a deep corner route, that he ran in for a TD and then emphatically spiked the ball. Tua and Albert have a connection early on, and it doesn’t look like it will go away anytime soon. Oh, did I mention, he almost had two 60+ yard TD’s today?

 

Shaquem Griffin. What a breath of fresh air. Huge smile, giddy while answering questions, and will crack a joke or two. His availability with the media was a hit today, but his play is getting notice. He plays fast, fires off the edge like a shot, and has shown an ability to get into his zone in pass coverage with the kind of ease that only Jerome Baker usually displays. He looks the complete football player, they will find a role for. Some good special teams play in the preseason could land him a roster spot, as Griffin has a very useful look to him. Arrow up. Excited to see him in pads come Tuesday.

Mike Gesicki. Enough with Hunter Long already. Maybe Mike Gesicki feels the same way? He sure showed up today, stretching the field deep down the middle, hauling in a tight pass from Tua Tagovailoa for a big gain. He also made a good attempt on another pass where Tua led him too much toward the boundary. Gesicki was looking dangerous today, and reminded all, that he won’t lose his grip on targets anytime soon. Big standout day for Mike. After practice, he also took some extra work on the Juggs machine, as he caught 50 balls from each side (left, right). Welcome to training camp Mike Gesicki.

Practice MVP: Tua Tagovailoa
Struggled: WR Unit (health)

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

5 from Juan: Observations from First Day of Dolphins Practice

Welcome guys and gals to something I’ll try to do once a week but figured it would be a good time to start my observations which will be about the first day of practice. These are going to be my thoughts and opinions sprinkled in with some facts from people that know or were actually at practice. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Tua thoughts:

Tua overall had a decent day as he did score some TDs like the long 60 yarder to Albert Wilson and another on a waggle to Shaheen where he looked off Baker with his eyes to fit it in there, he did have 2 interceptions on the day which people love to bring up. One interception was against AVG in a clear miscommunication with Shaheen where he was either between lobbing it up or coming back to the RB. The other was a pass that was described to me as lazy and batted at the line where Baker got the pick. 

Tua after practice talked at length about the differences between this year and last season with how much time he can spend with guys like eating with them and not having to go back home for a 2-hour zoom meeting like they had to do last year because of covid.When asked about the deep ball he talked about “getting everything down with guys, knowing where guys are going to be, and how they run certain routes..”. 

Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly and others have noted him taking the next step of leadership with bringing in guys to work out during the offseason, being a coach on the field, and even after practice where he mentioned “I got to get everyone together talk to the entire offense and I’ll just talk about our evaluation of the day you know how we started how it looks about the middle of practice and then how we finished on and you know I think overall we did pretty good obviously there’s always going to be things we need to brush up and cleanup.” All in all a good first step for Tua, that will give him things to pat himself in the back for while also giving him things to improve and work on. Remember this was all during install, which as our own Alfredo broke down, is just the Offense running the same play sometimes 3 or 4 times in a row with the Defense knowing exactly what’s coming.

Rookie Update:

We know Jaelan Phillips is playing OLB but a clip came out of him in a coverage drill and man did he look good. Phillips looks like a player ready to take on a huge workload as he looked fluid in pass defense sinking his hips and attacking the ball. Waddle as we’ll talk about next took full advantage of some guys being out and was all over the field and moving fast, like really fast. Holland is a rookie playing a position that usually requires a lot of communication which means he needs to know this defense well enough to not only know where he is lining up but also what the rest of the secondary has to do and how they align. Eichenberg having just been signed before the start of camp will probably has his shot to earn a job. Lastly Hunter Long who as more time passes, more people are standing up and realizing that he has legit talent and could really explode and be a top TE in the league.

Fuller leaves practice early

I can confirm Mando’s report of Fuller leaving practice early. Nobody seems to have seen him go down or even limp off the field, but it is something to monitor because of DVP and Preston starting on PUP. Other guys will have opportunities to impress like LBJ, Perry, Foster, Hollins, Albert, and even Waddle who’s probably the biggest benefactor in that he’s probably taking most of the snaps at WR. Wilson also seemed to take advantage on the 60 yard TD (a duck in some of the eyes of our fans) so these are names that based on the injury history of our top guys, will eventually be needed to not just play but also produce.

X showed up and practiced

After the bomb that X and his team dropped the night before the first practice, many assumed he would be pouting or working with less pep in his step, but I can report that he practiced with energy and showed no lack of professionalism with his on-field play. After the initial news hit It took me a while to get my thoughts together and I have to say that I feel the most for Byron Jones who had to withstand shots being thrown by a guy who’s opposite of him. I can report that X made it a fact to go and dap up Byron Jones before practice in front of the media.

Flores Song Selection

Can’t tell me nothing by Kanye west was the song used to start practice and to end it. The lyrics go like this:

We’ve seen in the past Flo send subliminal messages through his music selection but this one is as direct as can be IMO. Flores has press conferences every other day so look for his next interview on Thursday, July 29th, to be the one where he gets bombarded by Xavien Howard questions. Shocking that 2 days into camp and we already have so much to deal with and go through but this is the result of being a good team, something most fans this century have no experience with.

All in all, a positive first step for your 2021 Miami Dolphins but it’s only one of many that are going to be needed to get this team to where we all believe they should be, the playoffs. Till next time, Fins Up!

 

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Miami Dolphins restructure Benardrick McKinney’s contract

Last week, I told anyone that listened how much I liked the Miami Dolphins trade for linebacker Benardrick Mckinney. I believe I said it was a good deal for both sides, and I thought that he was locked up under contract for a few years was beneficial for the team and could allow them to work on deals with some of the team’s other pending free agents. I was wrong! 

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the contract details were a little more than your typical everyday restructure.

 

Now, the first question I had after reading this is, “where will that fresh $4M worth of cap space go?”

Some might try to spin it as a bigger trade, probably for a certain quarterback to generate clicks and engagement. I won’t do that.

What I will say is that there are three in-house candidates:

All-pro cornerback Xavien Howard is seeking more guaranteed money, though the way he handled himself last night wasn’t the most professional. (It was well-written, I just would’ve preferred it be an email to the team or letter sent by Carrier Pigeon to Chris Grier’s office) Could that money be used to make Howard happy?

Emmanuel Ogbah, on the other hand, wants a new deal and has handled himself the right way. And let’s not forget tight end Mike Gesicki is in line to get paid, as well.

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Additionally, McKinney’s restructure made me wonder whether or not the Dolphins were already targeting a younger, cheaper linebacker via trade.

And let’s not forget, if Benardrick McKinney hits free agency, the Miami Dolphins would be in line for a compensatory pick. Something I reckon Chris Grier and the team knew when they made the trade several months ago. But again, I think what McKinney brings to the defense, WHEN HEALTHY, is deserving of a multi-year deal. However, with a birthday later this year and the age of 30 on the horizon, perhaps McKinney was never a long-term solution at middle linebacker?

As with anything in Miami Gardens, no one truly knows what Chris Grier and the Miami Dolphins are doing. But that won’t stop us all from speculating! I will update this article throughout the day with any important news and information regarding Dolphins linebacker Benardrick.

Enjoy day two of Miami Dolphins training camp!

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5 Stories to Track in Dolphins Training Camp

As we get closer to the start of training camp, I wanted to let you guys and gals know what storylines I’ll be spending my time in training camp observing. There are other question marks on this team outside of Tua that need answering before we can take seriously this playoff or bust attitude most seem to have. 

Run Game

One of the biggest storylines the entire offseason has been the “need” to improve the run game by drafting or signing elite talent. Names like Aaron Jones, Najee Harris, and Javonte Williams have all been talked about in insufferable amounts, but Myles Gaskin remains as the “workhorse” back heading into the 2021 season. The only addition to the RB room is Gerrid Doaks and Jordan Scarlett, which leads me to believe they expect (or hope) that the Oline developing is how they’ll be able to improve on a rush offense that finished 22nd in total rush yards with 1688, 29th in ypc with 3.9 and coming dead last for the longest run at 31 yards.

Rush Defense

One of the things Belichick always preached is the ability to stop the run first and then worry about the pass second, making teams one-dimensional. Last year at times it felt like teams could run at will against the Dolphins. In 2020 as a team, they finished 16th in overall rush yards p/game given up at 116.4, 24th in yards per away game with 132, and gave up 4.5 yards per carry which were tied for 16th in the league. The team expects further development from Raekwon Davis who at times showed dominance, as well as the additions of Adam Butler, John Jenkins, and Bernardrick McKinney helping add to Baker, Wilkins, and Ogbah who all played well last season.

Battle at WR

Excluding the top 3 guys in Parker, Fuller, and Waddle, the next 3 maybe 4 jobs are up for grabs for players like Lynn Bowden Jr, Albert Wilson, Preston Williams, Mack Hollins, Robert Foster, Malcolm Perry, and others. Will position flexibility help some stay on the active roster like Perry who can play slot, RB, and special teams, or Mack Hollins who can play WR, special teams, and even TE in a pinch? WR4 will be a crucial position on this team as most of the WRs have injury histories so expecting them to play more with one extra game is imprudent, especially when you consider WR4 will be a starter week 1 due to Fuller’s suspension. All the ingredients on paper, are there for one of, if not the most, explosive WR room in the league. It’s almost time to see if they can all put it together on the field.

Co-Offensive Coordinators

Heading into Flores’ now 3rd season and being on his 3rd and 4th Offensive Coordinator makes it a pivotal factor in how this season can go. From everything being put out, it will be a run game/ pass game coordinator situation with Godsey calling the plays on gameday due to his experience doing it with the Texans while having Studesville give major input throughout the week as well as handle anything needed on the field as Godsey will most likely be in the press box. Whatever way they decide to roll, they need to be quick and decisive in the decision because a certain 2nd year QB is fighting for his NFL life and needs people in his corner who are a help not a another obstacle, also I’m not sure how it will look to be hiring your 5th OC heading into your 4th year as a Head Coach.

Rookies & Second Year players first training camp

You know you can’t have a Dolphins article and not talk about Tua, who yes does need to improve but so many other players must perform, and it all starts in training camp to see if they can handle it. Can Brandon Jones, Jaelan Phillips, and Jevon Holland earn the trust of the staff to play large snap counts for 17 games? How about Lynn Bowden, Jaylen Waddle, Salvon Ahmed, and Gerrid Doaks who may all be integral parts of the offense at different points in the season. How are Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Solomon Kindley, and Robert Hunt going to respond from shaky rookie years and with some staring at potential position switches to have a chance to play. These are all questions that need answering to have a successful season full of progress and development from your first and second year guys.

Ultimately if this team wants to have a playoff or bust attitude, the foundation begins on July 27th as a training camp with games and also 2 scrimmages against other teams, will allow the team the ability to gel and improve in a “normal” atmosphere that some have never even experienced.

 

 

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53-man Projection for Your 2021 Miami Dolphins

53-man Projection for Your 2021 Miami Dolphins

With under 2 weeks left into training camp officially starts on July 27th, 2021, I wanted to invite you into my thinking process as to who ends up emerging and becoming a part of your 2021 Miami Dolphins. Keep in mind that this does not account for trades, potential practice squad players nor transactions that may come after league-wide cuts.

QB (2)

Tua Tagovailoa & Jacoby Brissett 

This is one of the easier ones as it is all on Tua this season with Jacoby there to help him understand what he’s seeing. Jacoby also has experience starting so that if Tua gets dinged up and must miss time like last year, we may not see a drop in QB play.

Not making team: Reid Sinnett

RB (4)

Myles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, Salvon Ahmed & Gerrid Doaks

While some have Jordan Scarlett also making the team, I believe this team will go with Gaskin & Ahmed as the speed backs and Brown & Doaks as the power backs in that order. Keep in mind this will most likely be a running back by committee where the person with the hot hand gets most of the caries that afternoon. Doaks having special teams experience already from college is a big plus and may end up solidifying his spot on the roster. 

Not making team: Jordan Scarlett, Patrick Laird & Carl Tucker

WR (7)

Will Fuller, Devante Parker, Jaylen Waddle, Preston Williams, Lynn Bowden Jr, Robert Foster & Malcolm Perry.

In what is the most competitive room on the entire team, we see the Dolphins go for what it loves most in younger players with untapped talent on cheap contracts. Barring any trades or injuries, the top 3 in Fuller, DVP, and Waddle are all locks. Outside of those 3, it’s a bloodbath to determine who sticks. Preston is firmly on the bubble; I expect another impressive camp that keeps him around, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s cut or traded. I also have the battles between LBJ vs Albert Wilson & Robert Foster vs Mack Hollins, going to Bowden and Foster due to being younger and cheaper in Bowden’s case, and Foster because of familiarity with Tua and special teams play. Malcolm Perry also squeaks in because of the position flexibility to play slot, RB, and special teams.

Not making team: Jakeem Grant, Mack Hollins, Allen Hurns, Kai Locksley, Kirk Merritt & Albert Wilson.

TE (4)

Mike Gesicki, Hunter Long, Adam Shaheen & Cethan Carter

When looking back at the 2020 Miami Dolphin’s roster breakdown it’s almost impossible to gloss over the fact the team only kept 3 TEs when this season it could be a 5 deep position. I have the Dolphins keeping 4 this time around with the “surprise” being Durham Smythe as I expect them to go with the more versatile player in Cethan Carter and Hunter Long taking most of Smythe’s 675 total snaps per PFF.

Not making team: Jibril Blount, Chris Myarick & Durham Smythe.

OL (9)

Austin Jackson, Jessie Davis, Matt Skura, Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt, Michael Dieter, Solomon Kindley, DJ Fluker & Robert Jones

Another position group that I looked back on last year and we kept 9 so I went with the same amount. The battle of backup Center went to Dieter because of the flexibility to also play him at Guard in a pinch. The swing tackle will be Jessie Davis or Fluker who can also play Guard. The developmental OL went to Robert Jones over Larnel Coleman and Adam Pankey.

Not making team: Cameron Tom, Durval Queiroz Neto, Larnel Coleman, Jonathan Hubbard, Adam Pankey & Timon Paris.

DL (6)

Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, Emmanuel Ogbah, Zack Sieler, Adam Butler & John Jenkins

Barring any injuries, this Dline will be comprised of mainly Wilkins, Davis, Ogbah, and Sieler with sprinkles of Adam Butler & John Jenkins. Last season post the Godchaux injury, the Dline rotation was essentially the same top 4 with others lightly contributing. I expect more of the same and will be curious to see if the development of Davis, as well as the additions of Butler and Jenkins, will help improve this rush D which at times, would get gashed on command.

Not making team: Nick Coe, Jonathan Ledbetter, Tyshun Render, Jason Strowbridge, Jerome Johnson & Benito Jones.

 LB (8)

Jerome Baker, Bernardrick McKinney, Andrew Van Ginkel, Jaelan Phillips, Duke Riley, Vince Biegel, Elandon Roberts & Brennan Scarlett

The LB room after the McKinney trade and drafting of Jaelan Phillips is all but locked in. Baker and McKinney on the inside with a rotation led by AVG and Phillips while having plenty of Biegel and Scarlett on the outside to start the year, as the Dolphins like to slowly bring rookies along. Duke Riley is Baker’s backup and fills the role the departure of Grugier-Hill created. Elandon Roberts could be someone I see starting on the PUP and eventually coming back as the backup to McKinney and a key special teams contributor. 

Not making team: Sam Eguavoen, Kylan Johnson & Calvin Munson.

 DB (10)

Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Noah Igbinoghene, Jason McCourty, Justin Coleman, Jevon Holland, Brandon Jones, Eric Rowe, Clayton Fejedelem & Nick Needham

As stated previously, this projection will not include any potential trades so I have the top 2 CBs being Xavien and Byron with Justin Coleman beating out Needham for the slot CB job. I also have Jason McCourty making the team and rotating the starting safety role with Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones. Fejedelem sticks around as a special teamer, but I could see him being released due to salary cap ramifications. Needham ultimately stuck around as my 53rd player but more on that later.

Not making team: Jaytlin Askew, Terrell Bonds, Javaris Davis, Tino Ellis, Jamal Perry, Trill Williams & Nate Holley

 K

Jason Sanders

2020 Fantasy Football’s #1 Kicker in points. Enough said.

 P

Michael Pallardy

Another lefty punter that fits the mold. Hopefully, we don’t see him on the field too much.

 LS

Blake Ferguson

You don’t draft a LS to cut him a year later.

Last 3 in:

The last 3 players that made it to this roster projection were Brennan Scarlett, Malcolm Perry & Nick Needham. Keep these names in mind as they could initially make the roster but if a player or 2 from another team becomes available, I could see these guys being the first to be cut or moved.

 

 

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