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Inter Miami CF’s Playoff Chances

As it stands, Inter Miami CF currently hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining. After beating Orlando City Saturday and a Chicago Fire draw later that night, the Herons will go into their next match holding the conference’s final playoff spot.

Due to the shortened season, MLS decided to alter the playoffs and award four extra teams in the Eastern Conference and two extra teams in the Western Conference a playoff berth. So, instead of the normal six teams from years prior, ten Eastern Conference teams will compete in the MLS Playoffs. Inter Miami’s negative record of 6-3-11 (W-D-L) has given them a total of 21 points over 20 games. That is NOT a great record, but in a year like 2020, it’s still enough to end a week in a playoff position.

The 10th spot

Inter Miami is only in the 10th position due to a tiebreaker over Chicago. As Chicago (21 pts) only has 5 wins, and Inter Miami has 6, the Herons are above in the standings. One thing Miami lacks right now over Chicago is a game in hand. While Miami has played 20 total matches, Chicago has only played 19. As much as a fan would like for Inter Miami’s fate to be in the team’s own hands, they still need to hope for results around the league.

Both teams play away games Wednesday night against respectable opponents. Miami will travel to Texas as they take on FC Dallas, while Chicago will travel to Subaru Park to take on the Philadelphia Union. The Union right now are in a crazy run of form. They’ve only dropped points in one of their last five games, and beating Toronto FC Saturday by a score of 5-0 was more than enough to let Philadelphia overtake the Canadian side for first place in the East. FC Dallas, however, has only won one of their last seven games but is now in a very tight playoff race out West. They surely won’t be looking to drop any points at home; therefore, Inter will have to be on their game.

These games will prove to be critical at the season’s conclusion. Inter Miami nor Chicago will be favored in their matchups, but a betting man might tell you that Inter Miami holds the edge. If things work out in Inter Miami’s favor (a win for IMCF, a loss for CFFC), Chicago will still have a game in hand but will be down three points and two numbers in the win column, which would be massive for Inter going into the final two weeks.

Moving up?

Another game other than Chicago-Philadelphia that is important for Inter Miami is the Tuesday night matchup between Montreal and Nashville. Montreal (23 pts) currently sits in 9th place with a two-point lead over Inter Miami. Miami missed their first opportunity to overtake Montreal in the standings when they lost 2-1 to the Impact last week. Had Miami won, they’d feel a lot more comfortable with their playoff hopes. Depending on Tuesday’s result, Miami would have another chance to overtake Montreal in the standings. A loss or a tie for Montreal would put them on 24 points or 23 points, with a -9 or worse goal differential, and just seven wins. If Miami can capitalize on a Montreal loss or tie with a win over FC Dallas the next day, they’ll head into their following match sitting in the East’s 9th place.

Going much further than 9th to finish the season is A LOT to ask for. Though still possible, the teams ahead will have to do a lot of losing. Nashville SC sits in 8th with 25 points, New York Red Bulls are in 7th with 26 points, and beyond that, it is not really worth trying to come up with scenarios for.

The best outcome for Inter Miami maybe a tie in Tuesday’s match between Nashville and Montreal, but it’s probably in the team’s best interest to end up with a Nashville victory so they can overtake Montreal in the table solely on points.

Past the Midweek Games

If Inter Miami does win Wednesday and both Montreal and Chicago lose in their respective midweek matchups, the team’s fate will then mathematically lay in their own hands. Montreal would be down on points, and if Miami wins out, they cannot be caught by any other team from that point on. Winning is the key here, though. Remember, this is an expansion team whose only been able to draw up 6 wins over 20 games thus far. Not only that, but there’s only been one time the entire season where Inter Miami has won just TWO games in a row. While looking at the chances, it must be taken into account that the team is being asked to win their final three games in a row after winning the game prior.

Past the Dallas game, Miami plays Toronto FC away and then are home vs. FC Cincinnati to finish the season. For Montreal, other than Nashville, their last two opponents are Orlando City and D.C. United. And for Chicago, they’ll round out the season against Nashville, Minnesota, and NYCFC.

In these last couple of weeks, Inter Miami could really use all possible points. A tie in any remaining game would mean Montreal or Chicago would need to drop points in another game outside of the midweek games coming up. It’d be a lot to ask for.

If Miami could make it three wins from their last three and find a final run of form, they are likely in. If not, get ready for fans to cheer ever so hard against Montreal and Chicago.

Could Le’Veon Bell end up in Miami? Flores won’t say no.

Today is the day free agent running back Le’Veon Bell will be wined and dined (from a distance) by potential NFL teams.

Could the Miami Dolphins be interested in Bell’s services? That I can’t say for sure.

However, I will make a case as to why I think he would be a welcomed addition.

But first, a word from our good friend Adam. #FreeRapoport

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Miami Dolphins were at least in talks about the playmaking RB before his release.

No one truly knows how deep these talks were between the Dolphins and Jets. But after listening to the video, I get the feeling New York may have been a bit desperate?

But I don’t care. Let the speculation commence!

Flores won’t say ‘no.’ 

Yesterday, Flores didn’t really speak on the 28-year-old RB. Except he did, when he snuck this little nugget into his discussion on the Jets running back room without their Pro Bowl RB.

Look, Le’Veon Bell is a great player. I think we all know that. He’s had a lot of production in this league – run, pass and just a dynamic player.

Today, when asked what he thought about Bell and a potential new home in Miami, Flores dropped another nice little quote.

Where does Bell fit into the offense?

No disrespect to Myles Gaskin, who is proving to be an NFL RB and a key piece to Miami’s backfield, but Bell is a different breed of running back. And while the Jordan Howard experience may have failed or the team continues to struggle to get Matt Breida involved, the Dolphins could use something a little bit more.

Enter 28-year-old Le’ Veon Bell, hungry AF to prove to the doubters wrong. Most importantly, to prove Adam Gase wrong.

Bell had success in a similar offense in the past. And despite his recent woes in New York (and even his later years in Pittsburgh), I’m not convinced the book is closed. His patient running style would be effective behind Miami’s newly revamped offensive line and adding a weapon like him to an offense already averaging 27.2 points per game–watch out.

The Final Yard

I won’t lose sleep if the Dolphins miss out on Le’Veon Bell. But, rarely, a player that has eclipsed over 6,139 yards and 38 touchdowns falls from the sky. And while he’s proven to be an exceptional runner, it’s his ability to line up in the slot and split out wide that admittedly intrigues me most.

How would a defense stop DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Preston Williams, Jakeem Grant/Isaiah Ford, and Le’Veon Bell when all split out wide? Then, think of the different packages, whether it be (Gaskin/Bell, Bell/Breida, Gaskin/Breida, Bell/Howard, etc..) or even Lynn Bowden-Malcolm Perry.

I need a cigarette.

Miami’s offense is already scary. But adding a player like Bell would turn the Dolphins offense into a Megazord. An unstoppable force. And for a team already averaging 27.2 PPG, that’s scary.

He might not sign in Miami, but Le’Veon Bell would be a great signing for the Miami Dolphins.

Best of all, we could go around and tell anyone who listens, Gase swapped Bell for Ballage

Stock up, Stock down vs San Francisco 49ers

Welcome back to another installment of Stock Up Stock Down. In Week 5 of the NFL season, your Miami Dolphins came out on top against the San Francisco 49ers in a surprisingly dominant fashion with only a few things to nitpick at. We took control of the game from the first drive and did not let up throughout the game. With so much to dissect, let’s dive right in

Stock Up

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan must have a couple of burner Twitter accounts and saw all the calls for Tua to start because he came out on fire from the very first play. All last year we praised Fitz for his ability to give his receivers a chance to make plays on the ball by throwing the 50/50 balls, which he has done this year but only to Gesicki and DVP, and it was apparent starting the game with a deep shot to Preston for 47 yards and culminating with a 3 yard TD pass to Adam Shaheen.

Ryan led an efficient offense all afternoon long, finishing with not just the stats (22/28 350 yards 3 TD) but also scoring on 9 of the 12 drives the offense was on the field (1 was the final drive to kill time and in the game). Overall, because of his play, I doubt we hear anything else about Tua starting until we after we play the Jets at home in Week 6.

Preston Williams

All season long, Fitzpatrick has shown a level of confidence in DVP and Gesicki, but this week it appears the level of trust extended to Preston and showed what it could result in. Preston, from the first play, took the extra trust and earned more with a 47-yard deep catch to start the game, and he did not let up the rest of the game leading to the first 100-yard game of his young career. He finished the afternoon with 4 catches for 106 yards and a TD in what I would call the most complete game of his career. The key here is going to continue to see this effort and attention to detail from the Unicorn because if we do, the sky is the limit for him.

Jason Sanders

Last week I placed Jason Sanders in the stock up as a slight to Flores’s inability or unwillingness to make tough decisions, but the start to the year that Jason has had is truly something to marvel at. Jason has started the year 14/14 on field goals and another 10/10 on extra points. It is a piece of mind to know that your kicker is perfect on every kick each time you send him out there.

Defense

This must be what it feels like to have a defensive-minded Head Coach because the D was flying around all afternoon long. Throughout the game, we saw players like Jerome Baker, Eric Rowe, Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, and even Andrew Van Ginkel. Jerome finished with 8 tackles and a huge sack at the end to ice it. Rowe shut down Kittle to a tune of 4 catches for 44 yards. Xavien got an interception, which is his third game straight with an interception. Byron Jones seemed to be the missing piece that solidified the rest of the defense as Noah was not tasked with an impossible task. Lastly, one of my personal gems through my analysis of his tape, AVG. AVG was a wrecking ball off the edge all afternoon long, totaling 6 tackles 1 sack, 1 FF, and 1.5 TFL. For more in-depth on AVG.

Coaching Staff

The Coaching Staff all should get some credit for the game plan and adjustments made throughout the game by getting an early lead after a 4th down stop. After that momentum swing, it was all downhill for the 49ers. On the defensive side, the coaching staff placed their players in positions to succeed by eliminating the 49ers offense from ever getting in rhythm through the air. We realized early on that their secondary was extremely small, with the lone exception was Brian Allen, who was just activated this week. All game long we attacked a beat up and weak secondary. Preston being single teamed all game led to us hitting him early and getting him his 100-yard game as well as getting another huge game from Mike Gesicki.

Stock Down

Jordan Howard

I find it hard to imagine seeing Jordan Howard in a Dolphins uniform for very much longer. A random and surprise coaching decision to not dress Jordan for the game led to more of Breida and Myles taking over goal-line duties. I still am of the opinion that if Howard was given the same role and opportunity as Myles, he would more than show the skills that have made him a 1,000-yard RB in the league.

Rushing Attack

It seems counterintuitive that we would sit a talented RB while still averaging only 2.8 yards per carry before the game. That is unacceptable and by looking at the tape Myles is only getting whatever the offensive line is getting for him. I don’t see any explosive moves or ability to make a man miss and take it to the house and while Coach Flores has bromance for Myles, but we need to start getting the ball to Breida and even Jordan Howard. Think about this, Myles had a 21-yard run (his longest on the year) and had a total of 57 yards rushing on 16 carries. My math is funny sometimes but 15 carries for 36 yards equals 2.4 yards a carry. Unacceptable.

Jesse Davis at Right Tackle

It’s becoming harder to see a world where Jesse Davis comes back to have his job on as the Right Tackle once Austin Jackson comes back from IR. Seeing both Solomon Kindley and Robert Hunt move bodies around all game long really showed that we have a solid foundation to build on and one which needs as much playing time as possible, even if it comes at the cost of veterans who are mere stopgaps for the future. By all indications our investments this past draft have been fruitful and eventually we will have an OL with 3 rookies playing and based off the early results, we have no need to feel nervous about saying that.

Rush Defense

I really have a tough time understanding how a team that finished with 26 less points than us still manages to average 6.8 yards per carry totaling 131 for the day and 1 TD. Somehow while being up the entirety of the game, we still allowed San Francisco the ability to run the ball when they wanted to even though they had to throw it all game to try and get back into it. If this had been a closer game or even a game that San Francisco got a lead in, are we talking 200+ yards rushing being given up? It does little to play the what if games, but this is a trend that still has not been broken and with the potential loss of Davon Godchaux we lose one of our most experienced run defenders to an already porous rush defense.

Overall this team pulled off a great win which should show guys that these types of results are possible when everyone is playing together, mistake free and discipline brand of football. Coach Flores constantly preaches about each player starring in their role and if everyone can buy in to that we may be able to go on a little win streak here with the lowly but still rival New York Jets coming into town.

 

 

 

Five things to watch: Miami Dolphins vs San Francisco 49ers

Coming off a terrible loss that we had a chance to win, your Miami Dolphins travel cross country to play the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers and Kyle Shanahan have been dealing with a shocking amount of injuries early on in the year, which will very likely force the 49ers to not have either their starting QB or RB. Can your Miami Dolphins take advantage of an opponent who is struggling to even field a healthy team by all indications? Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Offensive Line

Coming off a game where they only allowed 1 sack, the offensive will once again be asked to slow an effective pass rush down. The injury report has not been kind to the offensive line so far as Solomon Kindley started limited in the week but is now a full participant. Unfortunately, our other rookie Austin Jackson began the week with 2 did not practice designations. Without at least a limited practice before the game, we will most likely be going with a backup LT. Not really the best recipe if you wanted to possibly get your rookie QB some snaps.

Slowing down Shanahan’s Run Game

For us to have any chance in this game, we need to limit what Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers do best, which is run the ball. Like last week and slowing Russell, it is going to a lot easier said than done. They could be down their 2 best RB with both Mostert and Tevin Colman dealing with injuries meaning If we can stop 3rd and 4th string RB from running wild on us, we would be making them one dimensional on offense, which is the opposite of what they want with Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard out there.

Establishing the Run Game

It cannot be stated more what a disappointment our running attack has been. I mean to strictly leave it on the RBs inability to make explosive plays and the coaching staff’s inability to try different players in different roles. This is a sort of revenge game for ex-49ers RB Matt Breida, meaning there would be no better game to get him or even Jordan Howard more than the 4.5 carries they have been averaging over the first four games.

A quarter of the season is gone, and as much as Coach Flores loves Myles for what he represents, he is not a starting RB in the NFL. We need to start exploring all our options because this patriots style of RB use is great when you have talented RBs that can excel in their roles, but when you force Jordan Howard to only be a goal-line back and get 4.5 carries a game when he has shown to be a multiple 1000 yard rusher it becomes increasingly more frustrating as each game passes.

Miami Traveling

Last week I spoke about the Seattle Seahawks and the historical struggles of west coast teams traveling to the east coast and essentially playing a 10am. Well, we can go ahead and reverse the roles because east coast teams traveling to the west have also historically struggled to execute. In what will be a quick trip as the Dolphins are traveling their Saturday due to COVID regulations, can we as a team go in their focus, locked and loaded to get our second W of the year, or will we be flying home Sunday night knowing we just earned our 4th loss of the year?

Coaching Staff

After a quarter of the year, most teams begin an introspective process to assess what went right and what went wrong during the first 25 percent of the year. The entire coaching staff’s performance has to be top on the list of what went wrong.  The entire staff needs to hold themselves accountable as they would a player missing a block, assignment, or tackle.

Decisions are coming on the horizon that could very well affect the next decade of this franchise when it comes to Tua Tagovailoa. Already this week, we have had to “announce” who our starting QB is with Flores coming out and saying that not only is Fitz our starter this week but also that Tua is not ready and that if he was Tua’s father, he would not want him to play yet, but he’s already a snap away from being in the game as the backup QB, so why those comments?

Ultimately, it will take an entire team effort for 60 minutes to steal this game away as we enter 9-point underdogs. Can Fitzpatrick hold off Tua for another week? Will Jerome Baker finally show up after 16 tackles total in the 3 games after his 16-tackle game? How much of a difference will a healthy Byron bring to a defense that has been getting torched all year? All questions of great importance for not just the rest of this year but also next year. Till next time guys, Fins Up!

Stock up, Stock down vs Seattle Seahawks

Welcome back, guys, to another installment of Stock Up Stock Down. In Week 4 of the 2020 NFL season, your Miami Dolphins hosted the Seattle Seahawks and came up short in the end with a score to 31-23. In a hard-fought loss to a heavily favored team, let us dive in and see what happened in Week 4.

Stock Up

Solomon Kindley

A quarter of the season is over and Solomon Kindley has catapulted himself as the best pick of the past draft for us. Solomon has shown that his strengths in college (run blocking, double teaming, pulling) are strengths in the pros. Most importantly, his weaknesses (pass blocking and mobility) are areas he has attacked to get better with the results being apparent. Pro Football Focus graded Solomon as the highest-graded rookie OL in Week 4 of the whole league after allowing 0 pressures on 54 pass-blocking snaps while working through a foot injury he had before and during the game.

Devante Parker

Devante Parker has completely shed the soft label he had early on in his career. Anyone who closely follows and watches tape on DVP sees that the explosion from last year is not there at present. He looks a step slower, which can be the difference between a completion and an interception. Making no excuses and with an obviously not 100% hamstring, Devante took advantage of a plus matchup like an elite WR does.

Early on, the effort was to get DVP going with 2 catches, but he had to make some plays off during the middle of the first quarter because of a new and separate ankle injury. Devante came back and went to work from the second quarter on. DVP all game got open on slants, posts, and dig routes to the tune of 10 catches on 12 targets netting 110 yards with a long of 21. In a season that shows more and more the lack of explosive threats in this offense, it is a relief to see how consistent Devante has become while fighting through an injury that early in his career would keep him out.

Jason Sanders

Giving only praise and not harping on the negative, let’s give some credit to Jason for converting on all 5 of his attempts, yes, 5 attempts (more on that later). He was Coach Flores’ security blanket all afternoon long and would have been the only player to score without the final drive and Fitzpatrick late 10-yard run.

Ogbah & Lawson

For the first time this season, this pair of free agents popped all afternoon and showed exactly the reasons we brought them in for. Shaq had only 2 tackles, but they were a TFL and a Sack to show his versatility in stopping the run and being strong enough to wrestle Russell Wilson down. Ogbah was more impactful with 5 total tackles. Of those 5, 1 was a sack, 2 were TFL, and additionally had 2 QB hits, which led to Russell early struggles in the game as he was forced to leave the pocket consistently where we were unable to slow down Russell’s scrambles with him throwing on the run at an elite level.

Texans 1st and 2nd Round Picks

The Laremy Tunsil Trade is looking more and more like we committed highway robbery for all of those picks. After a 0-4 start to the season, the Texans have announced that Coach/GM Bill O’Brien has been relieved of his duties effective immediately. With our own struggles plus the ones the Texans are continuing to add, we can be sitting with potentially 2 top 10 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s paramount that we add players at skill positions early and often to properly give Tua the weapons needed to thrive.

Stock Down

RedZone Offense

5 field goals, 1 touchdown, which came on the game’s final drive for the Dolphins. That is just unacceptable in any NFL game, let alone one where we are playing and trying to limit the leading MVP candidate for this year. 5 different times Flores decided to go for a field goal instead of going for it on 4th down. 5 different times.

They score ended up being 23-31, meaning 8 points short, which could have come in any of the 5 instances we thought best to go for field goals. Ultimately if we want to have a chance to compete and beat teams that very clearly overmatch us, we need to be out of the ordinary and be aggressive when the opportunities present themselves.

Rushing Attack

After last year where Ryan Fitzpatrick led us in rushing yards, and we decided to invest heavily in the OL and RBs, I could not fathom a single game where Fitz would lead us in rushing, and yet here we are again. As much as I love Myles Gaskins, it’s clear he is doing everything to the best of his ability, which still only leaves us with a 4.0 average rushing, longs of 15 yards rushing receiving, and finally 0 touchdowns.

How can Jordan Howard and Matt Breida be combined for only 36 carries when Myles has 48! Matt and Jordan are both proven backs who have shown they can perform at high levels in this league, and yet they have less than half the carries individually that Myles has? The coaching staff will have to take a hard look in the mirror because if Fitzpatrick cannot survive without a running game, I don’t want to even chance what Tua would look like with this rushing attack.

Fitzpatrick

It’s becoming tougher and tougher to swallow the product being fed to us by Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is an elite backup QB that can come in for a pinch and bring energy to a team but being relied on as a starter for 16 games is becoming more lunacy than unrealistic. Ultimately, this year’s goal is to get Tua comfortable enough that after the next draft where we add him some weapons, he can take the next step in his development, but without actually giving him playtime, how can he really get ready?

To clarify, I am not saying that Fitzpatrick was the problem in the loss versus the Seahawks because we severely lack talent at the skill positions. Outside of DVP and Gesicki, we don’t have anyone that consistently threatened defenses but having said that, Fitzpatrick is also not the solution. I wouldn’t want Tua to have to struggle with these skill position players, but there were plenty of times during the game where Fitz did not look past his first read, which from a veteran is unforgivable, but from a rookie would be understandable growing pains.

Jerome Baker

I really have had to start asking myself if maybe Jerome is hurt or something undisclosed behind the scenes is going on. After a monster first game where he totaled 16 tackles and played 95.3% of the snaps, Baker has totaled 16 tackles the next 3 games(!). And with each game, his snap percentage is going down. In week 2, he dropped to 93.4%, Week 3 to 89.4%, and finally, an alarming 69.8% of the snaps last week. As a player, we all thought would take the next step and be Coach Flores’s ultimate chess piece has really fallen flat this year and maybe in the doghouse similar to what Raekwon McMillan last year, and we see how that ended up.

Coaching Staff

Many questionable decisions could be dissected in-depth, but when do we start asking ourselves, is Coach Flores really a defensive genius? Every game at multiple instances, I ask myself, why is the defense struggling so much? Why can we not consistently rush the passer, stop the run, miss tackles, or just use or pieces more effectively? Noah Igbinoghene is going to be a great player one day, let’s hope, but why is he every game matched up against one on one and getting picked on all game? Why do we have such an inability to adjust to what the opponent is doing to us?

Every half time besides last week, it always feels like the other team comes out with a plan with what to attack in the second half while we are just continuing on doing what we did from the first half. Lastly, for Chan Gailey and the offensive side of the ball, we need more explosive plays, and Preston and Myles have shown to be unable to do either. We need to see more of Jakeem, more Lynn Bowden, more of Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. And can we gather up the courage one time to play like its 2020 and try and go for at least 1 of the 5-field goal attempts we just “couldn’t” pass up? Almost all analytics say to try and convert some of them, and that is what ultimately killed us more than anything.

Overall, this team desperately needs a jolt of energy and a coaching staff who can adjust. We can fix one of those issues by possibly seeing what Tua can do, but when can we hope for Flores and the rest of the staff to hold themselves as accountable as they hold players. Till next time, Fins Up!

 

 

 

The Extra Yard: Five things to watch Dolphins vs Jaguars

After a close and hard-fought loss to the Buffalo Bills, your Miami Dolphins get a quick turnaround with a short drive north to have a matchup against an in-state rival in the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football.

Let’s dive right in to see what five things I will be keeping a close eye on.

Response from Team:

One of the first things I am keeping an eye on from kickoff is how the team will respond to not only a severe loss but such a quick turnaround. Will we be active and energized to move past last week’s embarrassing defeat to a division rival? Or can we expect another lackluster effort filled with a stubborn coaching staff unwilling to adjust game plans?

Coaching Staff:

Which leads to my next point in that the coaching staff for two straight weeks has shown either an inability or unwillingness to alter the game plan once it becomes apparent it is not working out. Suppose the defensive game plan is not getting the job (I highlight the defense because our head coach was a defensive coordinator before this), then we need to pivot and try other things with different players. Enough hitting our head against the wall, hoping that it will breakthrough. We spent a lot of money and a lot of draft capital not to be making any improvements and be regressing in most areas.

Jerome Baker:

One of the more specific disappointments of this past weekend was the disappearance of Jerome Baker. A week after being everywhere on the field making impactful plays, he was virtually nonexistent, totaling a measly five tackles. A player that for us to become a good defense, we need to start putting it all together on a consistent weekly basis. Coach Flores must also take some accountability and use Jerome in better spots as we have seen him be able to not only play the run but also pass defend and rush the passer.

Mike Gesicki:

The biggest positive coming out of Week 2 was the career day for Mike and what that ultimately means for his development moving forward. 8 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown more than solidify Gesicki as a top 12 tight end with room to get higher up with more performances like this one. Having said that, though, Mike instantly becomes the second clear option for defenses to game plan for after DVP. How he responds to all the extra attention he will undoubtedly be receiving is the key to how great Gesicki can become.

Offensive Line:

Sticking to positives to close out this piece, the continued development of the offensive line with specific attention to the rookies will be the last thing I keep a close eye on. Austin Jackson continues to improve and is practically penciled in as the LT for the next four years. Kindley and Hunt are the two I am most interested in seeing. They both seem like the same type of physical, tough, nasty player that Coach Flores is looking for. We saw Hunt go in on goal line and not only move people but drive them into the ground until well beyond the whistle. Kindley seemed to feed off that energy or vice versa because multiple times, I saw Kindley pulling to destroy his blocker with no better example than the touchdown from Jordan Howard at the 1.

 

Ultimately having a Thursday Night Game allows us to wash our mouths of the nasty taste left behind by the Week 2 loss to the Bills. Let’s hope for a better outcome than this past week, or we may be discussing a ten-day prep to get Tua ready to play against the Seattle Seahawks at home.

Dolphins stock up, stock down vs Bills

Welcome back to another installment of Stock Up Stock Down. In Week 2 of the NFL season, your Miami Dolphins lost a nail bitter to the Buffalo Bills 28-31 in a game where we had a lightning delay and truly felt like we were down more than we were. Let’s dive into what went well and not so well this week.

Stock Up

Solomon Kindley:

It’s hard to put into words how to quantify Solomon having a hell of a game due to us not cracking 100 yards rushing, but man, was he flashing all game. Him and Hunt is showing the tenacity to want to finish blocks consistently, which is a sight for sore eyes. Did you see him pulling on that Jordan Howard touchdownrun? I sure did.

Mike Gesicki:

A promising sign that a player is beginning to take the next step in his development is seeing them take advantage of favorable matchups. Going into this game, the Bills had ruled out their top 2 LB meaning Gesicki was going to be getting covered by 3rd and 4th string players consistently, and man did he take advantage. Gesicki was all over the field running crossers, digs, and even coming down with one hand catches. Gesicki finished his afternoon scoring a touchdown to bring it to within 3 points and totaling eight catches for 130 yards and the touchdown.

Isaiah Ford:

One of the position groups that I have been challenging the most to see more is the WR room. Sticking to the positive (that Preston drop on 4 th down was brutal) Isaiah took full advantage of the opportunities given to him and ended the day with seven catches for 76 yards. More importantly, than the stats was Isaiah being Fitz security blanket; anytime a 3rd down was needed to keep the game close, it was to either Mike Gesicki or Isaiah Ford.

Ryan Fitzpatrick:

After a dreadful Week 1 for Fitz, this was an excellent rebound game. In yet another week where we cannot crack 100 yards rushing, Fitzpatrick had to manufacture everything with a defense that had little to no respect (and rightfully so) for the run game. Fitz kept it close all game and willed us to within 3 points and onside kick from making this game go into potentially overtime. Fitzpatrick completed the afternoon with 328 yards throwing, two touchdowns with a 65% completion percentage. I threw all those numbers out to show that Fitz was not the problem , and Tua would make little to no change. It is frustrating to see the other rookies in Burrow and Herbert already playing, but Fitz has earned himself some breathing room this week.

Stock Down

Jerome Baker:

Coming off a 16 tackle and impactful game, I was highly disappointed to feel Jerome becomes a ghost today. From 16 tackles to only five today, I am interested in the All 22 coming in to see if he was game planned to be taken away or if he didn’t bring the same intensity as Week 1. Overall a lackluster effort from the defense.

High Priced Free Agents:

I am really hoping the early indications are off, but man has every single high- priced free agent been a colossal waste of money. Byron will be excluded due to getting hurt early on in the game but everyone else has been terrible. KVN has missed multiple sacks in multiple games. Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Elandon Roberts were all signed to shore up the run defense and they have made no difference. Overall the defense has looked worse than the one that finished the year last season. Seems odd to come to that conclusion after all the money and draft capital that has been allocated to the defense.

Coaching Staff:

A disturbing pattern in my Stock Up and Stock Down report has already shown itself in this young season, and that is the coaching staff making terrible decisions. Coming into the game, the coaching staff decided that Josh Allen was not going to beat us with his legs and made him a passer in the pocket. Josh took the challenge and torched the defense for a career-high 417 yards passing and four touchdowns.

The defense never adjusted to Josh throwing it all over the field until Stephon Diggs accumulated eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. After the game Xavien Howard was asked why Noah Igbinoghene was exclusively on Diggs getting torched for five catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Xavien responded that the game plan called for Byron to shadow Diggs all game, and when he went down, they went next man up. The plan going into the game was not working, and just like the last game, there was no adjustment by the coaching staff. Eventually, the coaching staff is going to have to take responsibility for not only a terrible game plan but also not being willing to trash the plan and adjust to what is going on during the game.

This article was written by Juan Cardona. Follow him on Twitter at @exclusvty

Marlins Bats Wake up in 8-0 Win

Sixto Sanchez (2-1, 1.80) and Kyle Wright (0-4, 8.05) took the mound in the second game of a 3-game series in Atlanta between the Marlins and the Braves. The more Sixto pitches, the more comparisons he draws to “the future of Marlins’ baseball.” Tonight was no different, as the Sixto dominated in an 8-0 Marlins’ victory.

Sixto is going to be the guy

Since the tragic death of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins have struggled to find an ace with anything even close to his electrifying stuff. Now, enter Sixto Sanchez, who tops out in triple digits, works the plate well, and has a killer changeup. As the culture for Miami continues to positively change, Sixto looks to be a centerpiece in a handful of future postseason runs. Last night, Sixto went 6 innings on 3 hits and 6 strikeouts, allowing no runs. The bullpen pitched a combined 3 innings of no-run baseball in relief to seal the deal. The pitching continues to thrive, and with the bats looking better over the last few days, anything is possible for this team.

Home run barrage

Alright, “home run barrage” is probably a little exaggeratory, but for this Marlins team (or any Marlins team in recent memory), a 3 home run game is pretty out of the blue. Matt Joyce, Jorge Alfaro, and Garrett Cooper all went deep for the Fish, breaking the game open, and eventually leading the Fish to a clean win. The Marlins still sit at the bottom of the league in home runs this year, which is frightening for a playoff hopeful. As the bats continue to wake up, hopefully, the home run ball will continue to fly.

A look at the division + A look at tonight’s game

The Marlins now sit 1 GB of Philadelphia for 2nd in the division and only 2.5 GB of Atlanta. A win tonight combined with a Philadelphia loss would put the Marlins into an extremely advantageous position going into their 7-game series with the Phillies. The marlins look for the sweep on the Braves tonight, as Pablo Lopez (3-3, 3.05 ERA) takes the mound versus Tommy Milone (1-4, 5.30 ERA).

Forgotten Heat in Miami: Bimbo Coles

Only eight players in the 32 years of Miami Heat history have played seven or more seasons with the team. Only one is in the Hall of Fame and has his number retired. Udonis Haslem leads them all with his 17 seasons and counting, followed by the GOAT Dwyane Wade’s 15. Both will join Alonzo Mourning with #40 and #3 in the rafters soon enough. Then you have Keith Askins with nine, Mario Chalmers with eight, and finally Joel Anthony (really?), Grant Long and Bimbo Coles with seven.

“My cousin named me that when I was 5 months old. There was an old country song, ‘Bimbo, Bimbo, where ya gonna go-e-o’ and it stuck,” Coles told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph in 2018.  “I tried to get rid of it, but everybody was like nobody is going to remember you by your real name, Vernell, but people are going to remember Bimbo.”

Ummm…Bimbo? Bad news. It doesn’t matter what we call you. You are the brand-new inductee of the “Forgotten Heat” Class of 2020.

NO DUMB BIMBO

Coles was part of the team’s foundation and played for a Heat that stood (or at least tried to stand) in the way of MJ’s first Bulls dynasty between 1990 and 1996 . However, before we go all Vanilla Ice reminiscing about the 90’s in Miami, we must take a detour in Blacksburg, Virginia. More specifically at Virginia Tech University, where Coles is considered among the best to ever play for that school.

Bimbo was the prototypical high school stud at Greenbrier East High School in West Virginia. A four-sport superstar that was named All-America in football and could have played cornerback in college and got drafted as a shortstop by the Philadelphia Phillies, he chose to play basketball for coach Charles Moir at Virginia Tech after also being recruited by West Virginia and Maryland. That probably was the worst decision of his life.

Virginia Tech Days

Turmoil and scandal embroiled the Hokies basically as soon as Coles arrived. The team went from being 22-9 in the 1985-86 season to its first losing season since 1970 with a 10-18 record despite Coles’ efforts leading the team in assists as a freshman point guard.

Things got even worse from there. You see, VT got put on probation by the NCAA and banned from postseason play until 1990 because Moir’s team was full of sham “student-athletes” who didn’t graduate -not a single one of them- between 1981 and 1986, and got false credits for classes they didn’t take. That tiny detail must have escaped Moir’s mind when he recruited Coles, and it meant that the best point guard in the school’s history would never be able to showcase his talents in the NCAA Tournament.

Bimbo briefly thought of quitting basketball to play football. Who wouldn’t? He must have felt so betrayed.

Moir left with a legacy as the winningest coach of Virginia Tech’s basketball history. Coles’ legacy was going to be in the shadow of scandal and championships that could never be won on the court.

However, he showed maturity beyond his years and persevered. Then he got rewarded as a member of the 1988 USA Olympic Team.

OLYMPIC FRUSTRATION

Coles had made a brutal jump as a sophomore, averaging  24.2 points and 5.9 assists per game and allowing Virginia Tech to bounce back with a 19-10 record under Frankie Allen in the 1987-88 season. That caught USA Basketball coach John Thompson’s attention, and Coles was called upon alongside David Robinson, Dan Majerle and Danny Manning to earn a gold medal in South Korea. He is one of just 10 Olympians in Hokie history.

Coles played in all eight games but struggled to adapt to FIBA rules, averaging just 7.1 points and 0.9 assists in 19.8 minutes per game. That team would go 7-1 but lose in the semifinals to the hated Soviet Union 82-76. Bimbo Coles went 2-for-4 with six points and two assists in 18 minutes in that defeat.

The bronze medal was bittersweet, and it gave way to what would become the 1992 Dream Team Coles would only watch on TV four years later.

THE JUMP TO THE PROS FOR BIMBO COLES

Coles endured two more brutal losing seasons at Virginia Tech after that, but he left the school as its all-time leading scorer with 2484 career points, a record that still stands to this day. His number 12 would be retired on March 3, 1990, shortly after he played his last game as a Hokie.

Coles had a choice to make after graduating and sending a message (“Bimbo Coles is not just a basketball player, he is a student as well”, since the California Angels drafted him in the 54th round of the 1990 MLB Draft despite not having played baseball since high school. In fact, he was one of nine future NBA or NFL players drafted that year. Only four of them signed contracts, but Coles wasn’t one of them.

Landing with the Miami Heat

Instead, he would become a second-round draft pick, 40th overall by the Sacramento Kings thar same year and then promptly traded to the Miami Heat in a draft day trade for Rory Sparrow. Maybe he would have been picked higher with the national exposure the NCAA Tournament never gave him.

Sparrow would go on to play a single season for the Kings, while Coles asserted himself in Miami as a backup point guard, never starting more than 65 games but also never playing in less than 68 of them.

The 65-game stretch as a starter came during a perplexing 1994-95 season. Coles averaged 10.0 points and a career-high 6.1 assists during that campaign, but he wasn’t in the game that faithful night in April that Glen Rice scored 56 points against the Orlando Magic.

The Heat were beginning their reset/rebuild and would finish 34-48 that year, 11th in the East. Miami never finished higher than eighth or won more than 42 games in Coles’ first tenure. But they did make the playoffs in 1992 and ’94.

The lack of stability at the head coaching position in Miami didn’t help him much. Ron Rothstein coached him as a rookie, then Kevin Loughery between 1991 and 1995. Finally, Alvin Gentry coached in an interim basis after Loughery’s firing in 1995. The Heat would have just three head coaches (Riley, Van Gundy, Spoelstra) in the 25 years since.

Traded Away from Miami

Coles would eventually be traded to the Golden State Warriors during the 1996 trade deadline fo Tim Hardaway.

He never made it past the first round of the playoffs or averaged more than 10.6 points per game. He does boast being fifth all-time in Miami’s history with 1961 assists, 19 behind LeBron James. Coles also trails Chalmers, Hardaway and Wade in that category. As a matter of fact, Goran Dragic will probably dethrone him from the Top-5 if he remains with the Heat next season.

There aren’t any Miami highlights of him on YouTube. As the old lady in Titanic would say, he only exists in our memory.

Coles would make his basketball career come full circle as a 35-year-old. After playing for the Warriors, Hawks, Celtics and Cavaliers, Bimbo appeared in 22 games for the Heat in 2004. He started once for a young Heat squad that had a rookie Wade, Caron Butler and Lamar Odom.

That team did make it to the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Pacers in six games. Coles watched all of it from the bench as part of the coaching staff. His last NBA game was on February 20, 2004 in a 125-92 Heat win over the Hawks.

With his legacy secure, Coles has settled down in Virginia coaching the Greenbrier high school basketball team. He doesn’t have his signature college mustache anymore, but his love for the game remains.

Home is where the heart is, after all.

Dolphins’ Ryan Fitzpatrick on Tua: “Loved Watching Him”

Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux met with the South Florida media earlier today.

(Note: all quotes are paraphrased. Official quotes will be out later today.)

The two players spoke on multiple topics, but the biggest takeaway from this was that the future is bright in Miami.

First, Godchaux met with the media. And between trying to ride 40 miles on his bike and endless zoom meetings, he’s excited for the 2020 Dolphins.

Here’s what he had to say when asked his thoughts on what the Dolphins did this offseason.

Obviously, all the fans wanted a quarterback. That’s big drafting Tua. He had a great career at Alabama….Miami added depth and continued to get stronger, younger… Coach Flo is going to be consistent and expect great things out of you.

He then spoke on what is most important in football.

Lastly, GODchaux discussed what he believes is the process to building a winning franchise.

Everybody wants to win, but everyone has to take the steps to win. New England didn’t win overnight. It takes time to build the process. It’s always a process. I think it’s our time. Why not the Miami Dolphins? I think we kicked it off with a good draft…Sky is the limit

Focus then shifted to Dolphins’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. And the first thing everyone noticed was his epic facial hair, which has not been groomed since barbershops closed down.

Fitzpatrick’s main talking points were obviously rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa and the addition of offensive coordinator Chan Gailey this offseason.

When asked his thoughts on the Dolphins drafting a QB in round one:

It was expected. Tua happened to be the guy in that spot. They obviously really like him. I plan to be myself. To be an open book…but i’m also going to express my opinions and thoughts. I’m excited for him to be here. I loved watching him play in college.

He wrapped things up with his thoughts on Chan Gailey.

The Dolphins have a lot of new faces on both sides of the football. And players and coaches look forward to getting back into the facilities.

One thing however, is clear, and that is on paper; the Dolphins look much improved.

And for two of Miami’s veteran leaders, the sky is the limit.