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Five Options for the Miami Dolphins at #6

  • Take Florida TE Kyle Pitts. The number one mission in this draft needs to be to surround Tua with help. This does just that, Pitts may be the best TE prospect since Vernon Davis in 2006. In eight games Pitts had 43 catches, 770 yards and 12 TD’s. This includes 7 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown in the SEC championship vs Alabama. There was nothing a Nick Saban led defense could do to stop him. Saban had first round prospect Patrick Surtain Jr on him and frankly it didn’t matter. If Miami can pair Pitts with Mike Gesicki, they will have two dynamic TE’s which for a young QB like Tua that is very helpful in his development. 
  • Take LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase. Chase is the consensus top ranked WR in this class and would be a tremendous addition to Miami. He did opt out of the 2020 season due to covid-19 concerns. That hasn’t affected his draft stock at all as he was the top WR on a historic 2019 LSU offense with Justin Jefferson playing next to him. He had 84 catches, 1780 yards and 21 TD’s just an absolute beast for Joe Burrow and company. He had his best game when it mattered the most, coming in the National Championship game vs Clemson. Clemson put Falcons 2020 first round pick AJ Terrell on him, and it didn’t matter. Chase had 221 yards on 9 catches and 2 TD’s. Chase has some Devante Parker in him, but his traits are better and more consistent. If you can’t get Pitts this is clearly the second-best option for Miami on Thursday.  
  • Take Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle. Waddle comes from Alabama who has been absolutely loaded at WR the last two years. They had Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy drafted in the first-round last year and this year 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and Waddle will likely be first round picks as well. That is an historic level of talent at one position and Waddle may be the best pro out of all of them. Prior to Waddle’s ankle fracture against Tennessee October 24th, he had better stats than eventual Heisman winner DeVonta Smith. Prior to injury Waddle had 25 catches, 557 yards and 4 TD’s. While Smith tallied 477 yards on 38 catches and 4 TD’s. 80 more yards than Smith on 13 less catches shows you how explosive Waddle can be. There are many WR’s who get Tyreek Hill comparisons but this one is legit. Waddle has that elite 4.35 speed along with underrated strength and excellent route tree. Tua’s former teammate would be an excellent addition to Miami’s offense and a deep threat that opposing defenses must prepare for. Waddle can be an elite member of the return game as well as he showed with his 3 returns for TDs in his three years at Alabama. While some may think this is a reach at #6, they must pick who helps Tua the most and this would be an excellent fit.
  • Take Alabama WR DeVonta Smith. DeVonta was the work horse at Alabama last year helping lead them to another National Championship. This was especially the case after Waddle went down with injury in just the 5th game of the season. Over the next eight games Smith averaged 162.5 yards per game. That is with the opposing teams knowing he was the top target on offense every week. Those are numbers you don’t find very often no matter what school they come from. Many will question Smith and how it will translate to the next level as he’s a little small weighing less than 170 lbs. While that is small, he didn’t have any issues getting off the press at the line of scrimmage or dealing with bigger defensive backs. Many of the smaller WR’s to come out recently such as Marquise Brown or Desean Jackson are much more one dimensional than Smith. Typically small WR are mainly speed guys who don’t have a great route tree. Smith is a great all around WR and I think the weight issues are overblown with Smith. Smith would be a great fit for Miami and would make for the best all-around WR on the roster. 

Trade Back and Gain Picks While Getting a WR. In this scenario a team trades up to get either QB Trey Lance from North Dakota State or QB Justin Fields from Ohio State. A team to watch here would be the Denver Broncos who pick at #9 and have been linked to Lance frequently. Miami would be able to pick up another day 2 draft pick or future first rounder while still picking in the top 10. There is a great chance that one of if not both of Waddle and Smith would be available at #9. Miami fans should be rooting for the San Francisco 49ers to take Mac Jones and then they can let teams get in a bidding war to trade up for Lance or Fields. If you can still get a great WR while picking up more draft compensation that is something Miami should absolutely do. This is a team that if they can add offensive talent for Tua to go along with what already is a great defense, they will be ready to make a run in 2021.

Five Takeaways from Chris Grier’s Pre-Draft Press Conference

There are few things more pointless than an NFL general manager’s press conferences eight days before the draft. But that’s not stopping us all from trying to weed through the smoke like Ricky Williams trying to find any hint as to what Dolphins might do in the 2021 NFL draft. So without further ado, here are some of Chris Grier’s most notable comments from his 4/21 press conference..

Warning | All of this was said 8 days before the 2021 NFL Draft. Like EVERYTHING this time of the year, please take it with a grain of pink Himalayan sea salt.

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Grier’s opening speech was phenomenal.

I really don’t believe words can do it justice. So please, take a listen for yourself.

 

Trade up? Trade down? The Miami Dolphins are always open for business.

I will never pretend to know what the Miami Dolphins’ draft plans are, especially now that there’s a new regime in town. But one thing that was clear when the Dolphins traded up with the Philadephia Eagles, at least in my opinion anyway, is that they had their eye on a particular player or players that they believe will be drafted between picks 5-10. Grier reiterated that earlier today when he suggested it was important to get back up into the top-10.

But that doesn’t mean the team is done trading. Not one bit.

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Opt-Outs Don’t matter to Chris Grier and the Dolphins.

Rumblings were going around that the Miami Dolphins may or may not be interested in players that chose to sit out the 2020 season. That always seemed a bit silly, but Chris Grier himself decided to go Mythbusters when asked the question earlier today.

Sure, maybe this is all smoke and mirrors. But to think that Chris Grier or Brian Flores would pass on Micah Parsons, Penei Sewell, Ja’Marr Chase, or any talented player that may have opted out and fits what the team believes in because they didn’t play collegiately in 2020, is sadly mistaken. Nevertheless, it had to be asked and should give those Ja’Marr Chase stans plenty of hope if the Cincinnati Bengals were to pass on him at No.5.

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KVN is gone, and the youth movement has started

When the Dolphins released Kyle Van Noy, many people wondered why–including Kyle Van Noy himself. Some thought maybe there was more to the story, while others saw it for what it was–an opportunity for players like Andrew Van Ginkel, Vince Biegel, and even Jerome Baker to see more opportunities rushing the passer. Add in newly signed linebacker Brennan Scarlett and the inevitable rookie or two they add in next week’s draft. The position should be more than fine moving forward.

Tua Tagovailoa, No Matter What

Speaking of year two jumps, This saying has been going around Twitter for the better part of two years, and now with the draft eight days away, truer words have not been spoken. To hell with rumors of Deshaun Watson or PFF mock drafts suggesting Justin Fields or Zach Wilson at #3, this is Tua Tagovailoa’s team. And he’s been working hard AF all offseason long.

 

Chris Grier even went as far as admitting he saw some of the thirsty pictures of Tua, despite not really paying attention to social media. Good one, Chris. You and I both know your wallpaper is a photo of Tua Flexing like Big Poppa Pump. AND I’M SURE GRIER SHOWED ALL YOUR FRIENDS the video of Tua catching heavy wands while balancing on a skateboard as if he were Rodney Mullen or Tony Hawk.

 

I don’t remember what the point is anymore. Oh yes, Tua Tagovailoa is the Dolphins starting QB, whether you like it or not.

 

Dolphins Cardinals

Miami’s hopes all rest on Tagovailoa in 2021 and beyond

The Miami Dolphins recorded a solid season in the 2020 campaign, taking a significant stride forward in Brian Flores’ second year at the franchise.

In his first term, Flores overcame a difficult start to end the 2019 season with a 5-11 record. The Dolphins snapped up Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 Draft, with an eye to the future at the quarterback position, despite the presence of Ryan Fitzpatrick. After starting the 2020 season 0-2, Miami won 10 out of their remaining 14 games and narrowly missed out on a place in the playoffs. The franchise now has the opportunity to build behind Tua at quarterback.

And although the former Alabama Crimson Tide man endured struggles in his rookie term after overcoming a hip injury, Flores and company have staked their futures in the left hand of the quarterback to allow the franchise to become a competitive force in the AFC.

However, it will be far from straightforward, given the talent of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East and the potential return to prominence of the New England Patriots after a down year in 2020. The Dolphins are backed at +330 to win the AFC East in the Space Casino betting on football odds, with the Bills considered the leading contenders to retain the crown.

Miami has acquired further capital in the 2021 Draft that will allow them to bolster their roster after trading back from the third spot overall with the Houston Texans. The franchise has notched further first-round picks over the next two years, which will only stand them in good stead to add quality to a team that was stripped back to the screws in Flores’ first season.

The Dolphins are developing strength across their roster. The draft will demand an influx of talent at running back and wide receiver if the right player sits on the board. Will Fuller was signed during free agency to present Tagovailoa with a burner to stretch the field as he enjoyed during his college days. Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson should also return to the fold after missing the 2020 campaign. DeVante Parker is one of the best wideouts in the NFL when healthy, and an off-season of recovery may allow him to return to his peak form in the 2021 campaign.

The tight end room has promising talent led by Mike Gesicki, although a dream scenario could play out for the franchise to snag Florida Gators’ Kyle Pitts with the sixth-overall selection in the 2021 Draft. Pitts is widely regarded as the best player available in the selection process, and Miami could land a steal with a move for the tight end.

Surrounding Tagovailoa with talent has to be the key for the franchise. Miami were solid enough on their offensive line, while their defense under Flores has been stout. The NFL is trending towards powerhouses on the offensive side of the ball, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Bills highlighting the requirement to put 30 points on the board on a regular basis.

There will be a lot of pressure on Tagovailoa to live up to the billing at quarterback. The Dolphins have made sound moves around him and could bolster their roster still with exciting prospects, not only this season but in the years to come, too.

However, it all hinges on the play at the quarterback position. Flores and general manager Chris Grier made the bold move to trade away the third selection, which would have landed them one of the best quarterbacks in the 2021 Draft. They have put their faith in Tagovailoa, and he will need to deliver in the new campaign to drive the franchise into prominence in a tough AFC Conference.

The pressure is on Chris Grier to rebuild the Miami Dolphins through the draft.

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier Addresses 2021 NFL Draft, Chauvin Verdict 

In the windup to the 2021 NFL Draft, Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier took time to address the media. A conversation that many expected to be exclusively about draft picks and free agency started off, however, with Grier’s prepared statement about the verdict in the (in)famous trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes.

“For me, as an African-American, there was a sense of relief and sadness,” Grier, who is one of only five Black GMs in the NFL, said. “It’s 2021 and yet people of color are still asking for equality and justice… The justice system worked for people of color yesterday. However, we cannot forget that a life was lost.”

He went on to note the work that the Miami Dolphins organization has done in the South Florida community, specifically mentioning owner Stephen Ross, head coach Brian Flores (who is also Black), Dolphins CEO and President Tom Garfinkel, and Dolphins’ players as a whole. 

“We have the opportunity to make things better for everyone in our country,” Grier said. “It’s encouraging to hear the number of white people in big companies willing to be uncomfortable and speak out against systematic racism. There are a lot of good law enforcement officials who want change for the better…. We need to support them as well.”

Grier also mentioned the recent attacks against Asia-Americans and Pacific Islanders in his speech, before the talk moved to the draft.

The GM didn’t hand out many interesting tidbits but did say that the ‘Fins would be willing to move out of the No. 6 spot if an “aggressive pitch” was offered to them. The Dolphins originally owned the No. 3 pick in the draft but dropped three places after two blockbuster deals with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles that garnered them significant draft capital for years to come. Grier expressed “zero regret” about these trades, seemingly sure that whoever the Dolphins want at three will still be available at six.

“We’re not afraid to make picks,” he said. “We have great confidence that this coaching staff has shown that they can develop players and get the best out of them.”

He also added that the team will not be holding opt-outs against those college players who chose not to play in the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns.  

Most analysts and fans seem to agree that Grier and co. will be using their No. 6 pick on Alabama receiver Devonta Smith, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, or LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase, any of whom would provide sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with a much-needed offensive weapon. Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell has also been connected with the Dolphins.

The 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland will be televised on ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network beginning with the first round on Thursday, April 29th at 8pm. 

How a Hacker Changed the Dolphins’ Future

In the 2016 NFL Draft, a video of projected top ten pick, Laremy Tunsil changed the future of the Miami Dolphins. At the time, Laremy Tunsil was projected to be picked as early as the number 1 overall pick in the Draft.

The Draft was about to begin when a video of Ole Miss Offensive Tackle, Laremy Tunsil smoking marijuana through a gas mask was released. Nobody could have guessed when this was released, but the hacker who leaked this video made that draft the best the Miami Dolphins have had in a while.

The sports world was crazed when they saw this video, and teams instantly started losing faith in the number one talent.

By some miracle, Laremy Tunsil dropped all the way to the 13th pick where the Miami Dolphins snagged him.

In 2019, the Dolphins traded Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans and received a 2020 and 2021 first round draft pick, and a 2021 second round draft pick.

The 2020 draft picked turned into Cornerback, Noah Igbinoghene, who has not proven to be too good yet, but may be able to show his worth in the upcoming season. The 2021 first round draft pick ended up being the third overall pick. This is where Chris Grier started his magic.

The Dolphins were a part of two blockbuster trades on Friday, March 26, between both the Eagles and 49ers.

First, the Miami Dolphins and the San Fransisco 49ers made a trade. The Dolphins gave away the number 3 overall pick to receive the number 12 overall pick, two first round picks, and a third round pick. The Dolphins then traded with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Dolphins gave up the number 12 pick, a first round pick, and a fourth round pick to get the number 6 pick and a fifth round pick.

In the end. The Dolphins traded Laremy Tunsil for four first round picks, two second round picks, and a third round pick. Laremy Tunsil can now be seen as a hero for the Dolphin’s future, and he even acknowledged it by posting this story’s featured photo on Instagram.

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.
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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.

Tua Tagovailoa had reason to celebrate as the Dolphins won in his first NFL start against the Rams.

Martin’s Best Week 16 NFL Bets: Dolphins and More

Previous Week’s Record:  1-2
Overall Season Record:  24-17 

 

We have arrived in the last week of 2020 for the NFL, the penultimate one of the season. And you know what? Good riddance to the worst year ever. The one that made us play with fear and uncertainty, the one that infected players and coaches from coast to coast, the one that kept fans away from cheering on the teams they love!  

 

No matter what happens the rest of this year, the best bet you should make is that 2021 will be better for everyone.   

 

Now let’s take a look at what Week 16 has in store for us. One thing is for sure, I am not putting any money on the Pittsburgh Steelers. They couldn’t even beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football to give us a winning slate last time around. For shame. 

 

You can find every game’s odds here on the Yahoo! Sports website. We took the ones as of Thursday morning. 

 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (7-7) vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS (9-5)  

 

Two teams heading in opposite directions.  

 

The Raiders are 1-4 in their last five games, just a push away from being eliminated from playoff contention and from their 17th season with eight or fewer wins in their last 18 tries dating to 2003. Their defense has allowed 36.0 points per game since they were 6-3.   

 

The Dolphins are 8-2 in their last 10 and 5-2 with Tua as their promising starting quarterback that doesn’t seem to make the same mistake twice. He takes care of the ball and the defense forces opposing turnovers while allowing 21 points or less in five of their past six contests. 

 

I don’t really care whether Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota start at quarterback for the Raiders. I’m going with the Dolphins, and the Raiders don’t even cover at home. 

 

My pick: Raiders 20-27 Dolphins (-3) 

 

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (6-8) vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-9) 

 

The NFC East is such a shitshow that it is currently being led by a team whose owner currently believes he is the victim of a extortion while their backup quarterback is fined for “pulling a Harden” (AKA breaking COVID-19 protocols for stupid reasons). 

 

An organization in such a state of disarray shouldn’t be just two wins away from a division title and the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs, and yet that is exactly where the Ron Rivera Riverboaters find themselves.  

 

Christian McCaffrey looks to be MIA for the Panthers for the sixth straight game, and why wouldn’t he be? All his presence can do is increase his risk of aggravating his quad injury and putting Carolina’s top five draft pick in jeopardy. 

 

The Panthers have allowed seven sacks combined in their past two games against the Broncos (11th in the league in that category) and the Packers (10th). Now they will face a hellacious Washington front four led by rookie sensation Chase Young that’s tied for fourth in the league in sacks. 

 

My pick: Washington (-2) 20-17 Panthers  

 

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PICK 

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-8) vs. BUFFALO BILLS (11-3) 

 

As if 2020 wasn’t bizarre enough, we end it with the division-leading Buffalo Bills that boasts a quarterback that is also an MVP candidate facing a Patriots team with nothing to play for and serious questions under center for this game and for the future. It’s like the Freaky Friday of football. 

 

The Pats were a Cam Newton fumble away from at least forcing overtime in Buffalo back in Week 8, but they ended up losing 24-21 instead during what would be the beginning of the end for them. 

 

The Bills’ offense has averaged 34.8 points per game since then, and they are a Kyler Murray Hail Mary in Arizona away from being 8-0 since Week 7. 

 

Their firepower and motivation to secure the second seed in the AFC will be too much for Belichick and his players to overcome. 

 

My pick: Bills (-7) 31-23 Patriots   

Dolphins win Patriots

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over Patriots

The Miami Dolphins (9-5) continued to prove doubters wrong with their comeback win over the New England Patriots (6-8) on Sunday. Miami’s 22-12 victory demonstrated the team’s resilience and drive, proving once again this franchise has the right coach and young quarterback.

With the win, the Dolphins kept pace in the AFC playoff race, holding their spot as the 7-seed. Gaining their ninth victory meant Miami secured its first winning season since 2016 and just their second since 2008.

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

Dolphins Run All Over Patriots in Win

One of the consistent struggles this season has been Miami’s inability to gain traction on the ground. The Dolphins have cycled through seven different running backs this season hoping to find the answer, but the team remained among the worst in the league in rushing yards-per-game and yards-per-carry.

But Sunday, the Dolphins found a ground game. Miami ran up a season-high 250 rushing yards against the Patriots and limited New England to 117 yards on the ground, 100 yards fewer than they allowed in their first matchup between these two.

This unexpected turn resulted in a total control of the ball game. The Dolphins rushed 42 times for a 6.0 yards-per-carry average. They punched in three rushing touchdowns and kept the ball away from New England. Miami topped the Pats in total plays (70 to 52) and time of possession (37:26 to 22:34).

Hogging the ball from New England forced the Patriots to rely on Cam Newton’s arm, which has not been a strength this season.

Ahmed Lays Claim to RB1 Spot

The Dolphins running back carrousel has spun for a few seasons now. This year, seven different backs have carried the ball.  In 2019, the team’s leading rusher was a 37-year-old quarterback, despite seven different RBs getting carries throughout the season.

And while the churn continues, there have been a couple of players who’ve flashed in their opportunities. The latest: Salvon Ahmed.

Ahmed became Miami’s first 100-yard rusher since Kalen Ballage put up 123 yards in Week 15 of the 2018 season. His 122 rushing yards are the most in franchise history by an undrafted player in his rookie season and the eighth-most by any Dolphins rookie.

Ahmed’s gained 288 yards on 63 carries this season, both numbers good for second-most on the team despite playing in only four games. His 4.6 yards-per-carry average tops Dolphins RBs with at least 15 carries. He averages 72 yards-per-game, which leads the team, and 17 of his 63 carries (26.9 percent) have gone for first downs.

Breida at His Best

The Dolphins finally saw a productive Matt Breida in the lineup on Sunday, too. Breida recorded a season-high 86 yards on 12 carries. His speed and shiftiness seemed like a solid addition for Miami this season, but inconsistent play and opportunity has limited the fourth-year pro.

Against the Patriots, Breida provided a lift Miami had yet to see from him this season. His 7.2 yards-per-carry led the team and may have earned him further opportunity, even if Myles Gaskin returns next week.

Breida sports great speed on the outside and good hands out of the backfield. Although he wasn’t involved in the passing game on Sunday, Breida’s caught 9-of-10 targets tossed his way this season for 96 yards.

Dolphins Defense Dominates in Win over Patriots

Miami extended its league-long takeaway streak to 20 games when Xavien Howard forced a fumble in the third quarter. The fumble stood as the Dolphins’ 26th takeaway this season, most in the league by day’s end. (Pittsburgh has 25 takeaways and is scheduled to play on Monday night.)

Howard’s third quarter play helped flip the momentum of this game and resulted his first forced fumble of the season. He’s now been involved in 10 takeaways for Miami this year (nine interceptions) and is well positioned for a Defensive Player of the Year push.

The Dolphins defense limited New England to just 12 points today, all field goals. It was the third time the Dolphins haven’t allowed a touchdown this season, making Miami just the second defense to accomplish the feat this season.

Miami allows 18.4 points-per-game, just two tenths of a point behind the Steelers for the league lead. The Dolphins rank first in third-down defense (32.5 percent) and are tied for tenth in sacks (37).

Dolphins Youth Movement in Full Effect

Thanks in part to injuries, Miami rolled out a starting lineup that included eight rookies, six on offensive. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time a team started six rookies on offense since December of 2018 when Arizona did so. And although Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sported a 20-5 record against rookie quarterbacks, the Dolphins didn’t seem to mind.

The offense started well and drove the ball into the Red Zone before a critical mistake by Tua Tagovailoa resulted in an interception. From there, the offense remained dormant throughout the first half.

But after being held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season, the Dolphins came to life offensively. Tagovailoa led the team on a nine-play, 72-yard drive, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Ahmed. Much of the ball movement on that drive came on the ground, behind an offensive line sporting three rookies: Robert Hunt, Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley.

In the fourth quarter, Miami took the lead for good on a 14-play, 90-yard drive that ended on a three-yard TD run by Tagovailoa. The Dolphins began the drive down 9-7 and added a thrilling two-point conversion to make the score 16-9. Tagovailoa completed 4-of-5 passes for 19 yards in addition to the go-ahead touchdown. It was the second game-winning drive and fourth-quarter comeback of his career.

Tagovailoa rushed for two touchdowns, becoming the fifth quarterback in Dolphins history to have two rushing touchdowns in the same game, the first since Cleo Lemon on October 14, 2007 at Cleveland.

Rookies led the way for Miami against Belichick’s vaunted defense, particularly Tagovailoa at quarterback and Ahmed in the backfield. Rookie receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. led the team with six catches. The future is bright for this franchise.

Dolphins Patriots

5 Keys to Dolphins-Patriots in Week 15

The Miami Dolphins (8-5) enter Week 15 with a pivotal matchup with the New England Patriots (6-7). The Dolphins currently hold the final playoff spot in the AFC and may need to win their final three games this season to get into the postseason.

The game stands a rematch of the Week 1 contest between these division rivals. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 21-11 in the season opener and that stands as Miami’s worst loss of the season. But in Week 15, the Dolphins are a different team.

Here’s a look at five keys to the Dolphins-Patriots matchup in Week 15.

Dolphins-Patriots: Keep Up the Solid Run Defense

The Dolphins sport one of the top defensive units in the NFL, but if there’s a clear weakness with that group, it’s the run defense. Miami allows 120.2 rushing yards-per-game (22nd) and 4.6 yards-per-carry (25th). In Week 14 against the Chiefs, though, the run D played well.

Kansas City managed just 94 yards on 24 rushes, good for 3.9 yards-per-carry. The Dolphins limited explosive rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire to 32 yards on 16 carries (2.0 yards-per-carry) and 12 of those came on one run.

Miami will need a similar performance in Week 15 against the Patriots, a team that ran all over them in the season opener. In Week 1, New England carried the ball 42 times for 217 yards and three touchdowns, good for a 5.2 yards-per-carry average. Those numbers are similar to the 189 yards and 5.7 YPC average put up by the Broncos in Week 11.

But the Dolphins run defense has improved since those losses. They haven’t allowed a team to rush over 100 yards or get over 4.0 yards-per-carry over the last three weeks.

Put Up Points Early

The strength of the Patriots offense is the ground game. New England leads the league in rushing attempts, and they use that attack to control the pace of play. In Week 1, New England hogged the ball, and the Dolphins only had four second half possessions. But the Patriots have a limited passing attack, coming in at 29th in passing (185.4 yards-per-game) and have thrown a total of eight touchdown passes in 2020.

If the Dolphins can get an early lead, it may force New England to abandon their strength to get back into the game. Cam Newton, who was benched in Week 14 after a horrible showing against the Rams, has thrown just five touchdowns this season. He’s thrown twice as many interceptions.

The Dolphins lead the league in first quarter scoring (7.5 points-per-game) and are seventh in first half scoring (15.5). The Patriots, meanwhile, are last in scoring in the first quarter (2.2) and 27th in first half scoring (9.2). And early lead could lead to Miami’s defense turning up the heat on Cam.

Dolphins-Patriots: Limit Newton’s Legs

As stated earlier, the Patriots lead the league in rushing attempts. Damien Harris paces the team with 137 attempts, good for 691 yards and two touchdowns. But second on the team in carries is Newton. His 113 attempts are third-most among quarterbacks.

In Week 1, the Dolphins allowed Newton 75 yards on 15 carries. He scored two rushing touchdowns. On the season, Newton’s piled up 451 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Miami has historically struggled against mobile quarterbacks like Newton and Arizona’s Kyler Murray. If the Dolphins are to win this game and keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ll need to keep Newton in the pocket.

Miami’s defense must find a way to limit positive gains on first down, forcing the Patriots into second- and third-and-long situations. Miami sports the top third-down defense in the league, allowing opponents to convert just 33.1 percent of the time on third-down. The long down-and-distance will allow the Dolphins to attack Newton. The Patriots surrender 2.2 sacks-per-game (Miami gets 2.6 per). And in Week 14, New England allowed four sacks in their loss to. The Rams.

Snag More Takeaways

This one goes without saying, but we’ll say it here anyway. The Dolphins are tied with Pittsburgh for the most takeaways this season (25). Miami’s streak of at least one takeaway in 19 consecutive games is the longest in the NFL.

And the Dolphins defense was particularly impressive last week, despite the loss to Kansas City. They intercepted Patrick Mahomes three times and forced a fumble. Mahomes had entered the Week 14 contest with just two interceptions all season.

Newton’s 10 interceptions this season are eighth-most in the league. The Patriots 14 total interceptions thrown are fourth-most. New England has lost four fumbles this season, so their 18 total turnovers are middle-of-the-pack. But in their seven losses this season, the Patriots are minus-six in turnover differential.

Xavien Howard will look to extend his personal interception streak to sixth game and push his league lead in the INT department. The Patriots throw 1.1 interceptions-per-game (fourth-most), so he’ll have his opportunities. If Howard snags his 10th INT, it will match the single-season franchise record.

The Dolphins defense has feasted on turnovers this year. They’ve returned a pair of fumbles for touchdowns and consistently set up their offense with a short field. Doing that would certainly help their rookie quarterback.

Dolphins-Patriots: Get Tagovailoa Settled In

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a long history of dominating rookie quarterbacks. And Week 15’s matchup marks the first time Tua Tagovailoa will face a Belichick defense. Belichick sports a 5-20 record against rookie QBs and most recently put the clamps on Chargers rookie Justin Herbert.

Working in Miami’s favor is the fact that it’s a home game. All five of Belichick’s losses to rookie QBs have come on the road.

Tagovailoa has settled into the offense well over the last several weeks. He’s demonstrated positive chemistry with Mike Gesicki, who could play despite a shoulder injury, DeVante Parker and Lynn Bowden Jr. Tagovailoa spreads the ball around in the passing game and has taken well to the up-tempo, no-huddle attack.

Tagovailoa may need to focus on the short passing game to simulate what would come on the ground. But he’s been good in that range thus far, connecting on 76-of-95 passes for 617 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions on throws under 10 yards through the air.

New England tends to flood the field with defensive backs and doesn’t blitz at an alarming rate (just 24 percent of the time, ninth-lowest). Tagovailoa will need to be patient and take with the Patriots give him.

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Voices

Will fuller

Five Takeaways from the Dolphins first week of free agency

The first week of free agency is officially in the books, and the Miami Dolphins have made several key acquisitions to improve in 2021 and beyond.

Here are five things we learned about the Dolphins after the first week of free agency!

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“You can’t always get what you want.”

Maybe we should’ve listened to coach Brian Flores when he openly warned fans and the media that the team would more-than-likely miss out on a few key free agents. He even went as far as to reference the Rolling Stones’ song. And yet, we still failed to heed his warning.

Here were Flores’ exact words during his March 11th press conference:

“This is a very unique year, a very unique year. We do have some money form a cap standpoint that we can spend; but again, it’s an interesting year. I think I’m going to be playing the song ‘you can’t always get what you want,’ on Day 1 in free agency, to be honest with you, because we may get priced out on some guys we’re looking at that we’d like to have. They may just want to go elsewhere. So I think we’re going to try to do the best we can. We’ve had multiple meeting about this; and again, I would say just getting the cap number yesterday kind of sets the stage for us to at least say ‘we’re going to have this; we can do this, this, this and this,’ and kind of forecast and predict said player, we expect him to get this, which I’d say wipes out this amount or whatever percentage of cash we have to spend. I don’t know if that answers your question. You can’t always get what you want. I try to tell my kids that too. (laughter)”

The truth is, most of us will never know what Miami’s plan was in free agency. I’m not even sure some of those within the organization could honestly tell you. But while fans sat and wondered what was happening 48 hours into the legal-tampering period, Flores and general manager Chris Grier remained cool as a cucumber. They had a plan to improve the roster while continuing to use their resources (and money) wisely. CHECK!

Stone Cold Flores is going to continue to do what he wants when he wants. The sooner we all come to that realization, the better.

The Dolphins will leave no stone unturned in finding talent

Acorns may have been Jeff Ireland’s thing, but what we see from the NEW Miami Dolphins since Brian Flores’ arrival has been impressive, to say the least. Sure, the team traded for Isaiah Wilson, a swing-and-a-miss, but do you fault the Dolphins for trying? I don’t. And I don’t blame them for trying to get the most out of Josh Rosen, Mark Walton, Antonio Callaway, or insert player’s name here.

Those are only the misses. We don’t even talk about some of the guys they’ve been able to get the most out of. Players like Zach Sieler, Salvon Ahmed, Mack Hollins, the list goes on and on.

My point? Things are different in Miami. And good football teams will stop at no cost to acquire talent. For years we watched as the Evil Empire in New England followed this mantra. But now, Flores and his staff are starting to forge their own path. This is the way, and the future in Miami is much brighter because of it.

I love Zach Sieler.

Miami’s game-changing running back is in the 2021 NFL Draft

It became clear once Aaron Jones re-signed with the Green Bay Packers that the Miami Dolphins would not be overpaying for a free-agent back this offseason. Instead, the Dolphins chose to sign former LA Rams’ running back Malcolm Brown to a one-year deal. The 27-year-old RB combined for ten touchdowns over the last two seasons and should fill the void left behind by Jordan Howard. I kid, i kid. But Brown does bring the thunder in a way the Dolphins believed Howard could when they inked him last March.

Translation: He is mean AF, and it will be hard for any defensive lineman to stop in short-yard situations. 

Personally, I never wanted the Dolphins to go after Aaron Jones.

Especially when you consider what his contract will cost in comparison to one of this year’s top rookies. Sure, it would’ve filled a void on the roster and allowed the team to use those top draft picks elsewhere. And yes, Jones would’ve been the best RB the Dolphins have had since Ricky Williams himself. But when you think of adding a young talent like Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, or Javonte Williams to Miami’s current stable of running backs. Well, that to me always seemed like the Dolphins’ best, and most likely, option.

May I interest you in a soon-to-be 21-year old Javonte Williams?

Will Fuller is the wide receiver the Dolphins needed

Heading into free agency, three wide receivers were being talked about most among NFL fanbases. It wasn’t until after Curtis Samuel signed with the Washington Football Team that people started to remember Will Fuller V was still available. Some joked that maybe Fuller would reunite with Deshaun Watson, but never for a second did a source or expert mention Fuller as a target–despite his skill-set being everything the Dolphins needed at wide receiver.

Maybe I was blinded by my long-lasting admiration for Curtis Samuel. I don’t know. Whatever the reason may be, Fuller has all the tools to not only take the top off a defense but take Miami’s offense to another stratosphere. Best of all, Fuller has sure hands and has shown the ability to go up and high-point the football. When you slowly start to peel away the layers, it becomes much more clear; William Fuller is everything the Dolphins needed at wide receiver.

The biggest question mark surrounding Fuller and the Dolphins’ wide receivers now, is whether they can stay healthy for a full 17-game season.

In Tua Tagovailoa, We Trust

I can’t sit here and tell you if the Dolphins tiptoed into free agency with one eye focused on a certain Houston quarterback. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But what we can agree on is that right now, Watson is too toxic to touch. And whether the plan was “Tua Tagovailoa, no matter what!” or “tUa TAgOvAilOa NO mAtTer WhAt,” the Left Arm of God is the Miami Dolphins franchise quarterback NOW and for the immediate future.

Obviously, things can change at the drop of a hat. But what we’re seeing is a Dolphins team-building around their 23-year-old signal-caller, as they should. They brought in Matt Skura to slightly upgrade the offensive line. And as we discussed previously, they added a playmaking wide receiver that does everything the team needed in 2020. Last year, we all knew Ryan Fitzpatrick would start and eventually hand the reigns over to Tagovailoa.

This year it is Tagovailoa’s team. And with a full offseason to get bigger, faster, and stronger, you can bet your ass we’re going to see the same Tagovailoa we all fell in love with at Tuscaloosa.

This article was written by me, Josh Houtz. Follow me on Twitter

Dolphins Broncos

Dolphins: The Cheesecake Factory of NFL Backfields

By Michael Christian

 

POTENTIAL HOT TAKE: The Cheesecake factory is one of the most overrated restaurants!

Their menu has what seems like hundreds of entrée options and none of them really blow you away. Instead of specializing their entrée’s and creating some signature dishes, they decided it would be best to have a bunch of options to make give everyone a choice, but they all are mediocre at best.

The Miami Dolphins running game has sort of become the Cheesecake Factory of NFL backfields.

The backfield currently consists of five running backs with very similar skill sets and body types. The problem is that none of them truly excels. At least that is what it seems like 11 games into the season.

Let’s look at their stats:

 

Anybody stand out to you? No? Didn’t think so.

There is no consensus on which of these running backs is best. Throughout the season each running back has had moments where you got excited and want to see more but then they fumble, allow a sack, or drop a crucial pass.

The Dolphins, under Flores and Grier decided that a Cheesecake Factory like approach to their backfield was their best bet. Instead of investing heavily in one running back, the Dolphins decided to spread the wealth and hope that one of them was the answer.

Gaskin was a seventh-round draft choice, Breida was acquired for a fifth-round pick, Washington was traded for mid-season, and Ahmed and Laird were both undrafted.

None of these options cost much in terms of resources, and it shows in the performance of the run game each week.

At this point in the season the Dolphins are contending for a playoff spot, and no one has a clear picture as to who the lead back is. I’d argue that the Dolphins aren’t even sure as proven by the constant rotations and minimal running in the Jets game.

I would give Washington the most touches as he is a better pass blocker and seems to have a bit more wiggle to his game, but he is currently limited with a hamstring injury. Due to the injury, and just the way Flores likes to run his team, I expect the lead running back will be a fluid situation featuring whichever running back practiced best that given week.

The Cheesecake Factory approach, when it comes to running backs, has not uncovered a gem for the Dolphins so far this season. Now, we just have to hope that one of the five guys will be enough to help keep our offense moving forward, and our quarterback standing up long enough to make it to the playoffs.

Now, Josh Rosen needs to earn it

DAVIE – So it begins. The Josh Rosen era? At this point it’s the onset of the audition.

Coach Brian Flores prefers to view it as a competition.

Though few outsiders believe Rosen won’t be behind center when the Dolphins open the 2019 season, it is in the best interest of the franchise that the second-year quarterback acquired from the Arizona Cardinals must show he merits the job.

That is as it should be. If Rosen really has the makings of a franchise quarterback, it should be no sweat to earn the starting job.

If not, it will become apparent to the coaching staff through the course of offseason work, training camp and the exhibition season.

Flores made that point recently and the process began this week with the first week of offseason organized team activities for veterans and rookies.

Tuesday was the first full session open to the media and the largest turnout in years for OTAs – it’s offseason practice! – assembled to get a glimpse of Rosen in action.

For the record, when they began running plays in 7-on-7 drills, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick was lined up with the starting receiving corps of Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and Mike Gesicki.

There certainly was a message in that, for Rosen as well as for the media to pass along to the fan base.

Remember, it’s a competition – even if it’s really a charade (wink, wink).

Notably, Fitzpatrick was the sharper quarterback through the course of the session.

When it was Rosen’s turn, he fired a strike over the middle on his first pass. His second was picked off by Sam Eguavoen, a former CFL linebackers and returned to the end zone.

Rosen also fumbled a couple of snaps at the beginning of practice.

None of which, of course, is of any consequence. As Flores said, “We’re not making cuts today.”

It’s May, and much of this rebuilding team is still putting names to faces and learning the way to their respective lockers.

“You kind of underestimate from the outside looking in all the logistical issues from having to have to move and uproot your place,” Rosen said after the workout. “I’m walking into the receivers room thinking it’s the bathroom. But when you step on the field you’ve just got let all that go and just play football.”

Rosen’s twitter account featured a photo from Monday’s session of its smiling namesake under center and the message, “Great to be back on the field and just play football.”

 

Rosen’s predecessor, Ryan Tannehill, waited until the beginning of his final season in Miami to try to project some personality via social media, but the effort kind of fizzled out – like his tenure.

It was refreshing that the absence of No. 17 in the quarterback corps isn’t due to injury. (Wide receiver Brice Butler now wears Tannehill’s old number).

It was more than time to try something different and it begins with competition (really, it is) between a 37-year-old journeyman and a top-10 draft pick who has already been discarded by the team that traded up to select him and acquired by the Dolphins for a No. 2 draft pick.

The intrigue of a rebuilding season will be in where that leads under the direction of a rookie head coach and staff, many of them with connections to the Patriots’ extended run of success.

“We’re looking for guys who can consistently move the ball down the field,” Flores said of the quarterback competition.

Flores has said that he welcomes players wanting to know the why of things, which has been portrayed as a criticism of Rosen in Arizona.

“I appreciate it. Our meeting room has been really productive, really good,” Rosen said, noting that he’s already picked up valuable guidance from quarterback coaches Jim Caldwell and Jerry Schuplinski. “It’s always about progress. I just want to keep taking steps forward and I think they’re helping me do that.”

During Tuesday’s 90-minute session, with players in shorts, Rosen showed some zip and the ability to connect with receivers in coverage.

He lobbed a deep ball on the mark that should have gone for a touchdown but it slipped through the hands of Parker. Some things don’t change.

“Obviously, he’s a talented player – big arm. But like everyone else he’s got a long way to go – [on] fundamentals, technique, playbook,” Flores said of Rosen, who did display some pocket presence in dancing away from a rusher and completing a short pass.

This week is about formulating early impressions. Drawing firm conclusions is still months away.

As Flores noted, this stage of the offseason program is still voluntary. Veteran safety Reshad Jones elected not to attend as he did during the first offseason minicamp last month.

But for most of the 91 players on the roster, the audition is underway.

“Everybody is getting evaluated in this building every day. Period,” Flores said. “That’s just what it is.”

When it comes to the quarterback sweepstakes, that’s a good thing, no matter who ends up winning it (wink, wink).

One way or another the Dolphins will find out if he is the player to lead them into the future or whether they’ll need to dip back into the talent pool and find someone else next year.

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

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