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Emmanuel Ogbah

Emmanuel Ogbah channeling the power of #91 for Miami Dolphins

When the Miami Dolphins started handing out numbers for their offseason additions, many fans were skeptical about handing #91 to a former second round pick who never lived up to the draft day hype. After all, that number, in the hearts of Dolphins fans, belongs to the one and only Cameron Wake. Wake’s ability to rush the passer for Miami was unmatched. To give it to someone like Emmanuel Ogbah didn’t feel right. But as the season drags on, Ogbah appears to be channeling the magic once used by Wake.

In just six games, Ogbah is close to matching his career high in sacks for a season. His fifth sack of the year came on 3rd and 4 in the 4th quarter against the New York Jets. Notorious Dolphins killer Joe Flacco, who up until last Sunday was undefeated against Miami with a 7-0 record, snapped the football and found himself running for his life as safety Eric Rowe came on a blitz. Flacco managed to spin away, only to come face to face with a charging Ogbah. There was no escape for the former Ravens starter, and Emmanuel Ogbah dragged him down for a massive 28-yard loss, knocking the Jets out of field goal range and ultimately preserving the shutout.

“I know a couple of plays before I know I had missed him on one.” Ogbah said after the game. “I just knew he wasn’t going to get away from me this time, and I knew Eric Rowe pulled him up and he came back around, and I just saw him clear as day so I just took my shot.”

And the rest of the players on defense were very happy that Ogbah took that shot. The Jets were driving down the field, the Dolphins were running out of gas, and he came up big just when the team needed him most, just like the former wearer of #91.

“We were excited we made the play, we were a little mad it was Ogbah because normally we don’t like him like that.” DT Christian Wilkins joked. “We just kind of deal with him on the team. You know, no, that was definitely a big play. We were real hype about that. Ogbah has been working his butt off all year, making plays for us on defense, so it was good to see when he can make plays like that, and we were all dead tired, too, at that point, so it was nice to get a little bit of a rest on that one.”

Of Ogbah’s five total sacks this season, four of them have come in the last three weeks. His predecessor wearing that number had streaks like that. However, one thing that Ogbah can do that Wake didn’t do very well is set the edge. Per ProFootballFocus, Ogbah was excellent against the run against the Jets, earning an 82.3 grade in run defense. Naturally, when looking at PFF, those numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. But there is one stat that can’t be ignored. On top of leading the team in sacks and QB hits (10), Ogbah is also tied for first in tackles for a loss with linebacker Elandon Roberts.

This surge of production seemingly came out of nowhere. Miami’s pass rush was abysmal in the first few weeks of the season. However, now the defense seems to have figured everything out. They are now tied for third place in the NFL in points per game allowed. Their third-down defense is the absolute best in the league.

“The first game we have to get used to working together, so I think it took us a little time.” Ogbah said. “But I think we’re on the right path now. We just got to keep it going, keep building.”

That steady improvement has been the key to Miami’s success so far. When the season started, in week one the defense gave up over 200 yards rushing to Cam Newton and the New England Patriots. In week two, they dared the Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen to throw the ball instead. They ended up surrendering over 400 yards passing as a result. The new additions to the team, Ogbah included, appeared to have no impact. All that has changed in the recent weeks. Miami’s defense is coming on strong. The pass rush is igniting, and Ogbah is the spark firing them up.

“These guys like playing together, so when other guys make plays, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, you see a lot of excitement, a lot of energy.” Head coach Brian Flores said. “Guys were excited for Ogbah to make a play. Guys were excited about the situation, of getting a stop and getting them out of field goal range, and they were excited about the potential to get a shutout. That’s what I like to see, guys enjoying kind of the process of working through the week, prep and preparing, walk throughs, meeting, practice, and then going out and executing on a Sunday afternoon.”

It should be noted that Miami hasn’t shutout an opponent since 2014. Cameron Wake recorded a sack in that game against the San Diego Chargers. Now Ogbah is making a similar impact as the Dolphins strive towards greatness once again.

Some superstitions persist due to emerging patterns. The curse of the Indian burial ground under Hard Rock Stadium is one. Many fans consider #19 to be cursed since the drafting of Ted Ginn Jr. in 2007. Jakeem Grant is doing his best to break that curse. But, perhaps, there are gifts attached to numbers as well. Emmanuel Ogbah doesn’t have the same pass-rushing prowess as Cameron Wake, but his production is just as impressive so far. In the end, it’s production that matters. Even the production that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.

“I think Ogbah has done a good job.” Flores said on Monday. “He’s played multiple positions, he’s smart, he’s tough. I think for a lot of people, the sacks are the big stat for a lot of people but I think he’s doing a good job in the run game, setting the edge, tackling. When he has to deal with a double-team block, he deals with it and has no problem taking on a double and freeing up another guy. Those are the plays that aren’t flash plays, but they are important plays for any team.”

Will Emmanuel Ogbah replace Cameron Wake in the hearts of Dolphins fans? No, he won’t. #91 will always belong to Cameron Wake when all is said and done. Ogbah came in and signed a 2-year, $15 million dollar contract with Miami to try and revive his career. If he can even come close to living up to Wake’s legacy, Ogbah should have a long, productive career as a member of the Dolphins. Remember, he’s only 26 years old. There’s still plenty of football ahead of him, as long as he can keep channeling that same Wake magic.

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

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

Dolphins 49ers

5 Keys to Dolphins vs 49ers

The Miami Dolphins (1-3) travel to the West Coast for a key Week 5 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers (2-2). Miami looks to rebound after a tough but winnable game last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Meanwhile, the 49ers want to win after a disappointing 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

The Dolphins enter the game as a nine-point underdog and they’ve recently placed their starting left tackle on the injured reserve. San Francisco should see the return of their starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who hasn’t played since Week 2. Working in Miami’s favor? The 49ers are 0-2 at home this season.

Here’s a look at five keys for the Dolphins Week 5 matchup against the 49ers.

Dolphins-49ers Key: Continue to Stop the Run

Although the defense has not played up to expectations thus far in 2020, one of the areas where they’ve improved from last season is against the run. Miami’s run defense allowed 136.4 rushing yards per game last season. In 2020, after surrendering 217 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 versus the Patriots, they’ve responded since. In Weeks 2-4, Miami allowed just 94 rushing yards per game and four rushing touchdowns total.

They’ll need a similar effort in Week 5 against the 49ers. San Francisco averages 128.5 rushing yards per game in 2020, and they’ve scored seven touchdowns on the ground. Jerick McKinnon leads the team with 193 yards, and the team expects Raheem Mostert to return for Week 5.

The Dolphins will need to improve upon their current mark of 4.6 yards-allowed-per-carry, which is almost equal to San Francisco’s 4.7 yards-per-attempt average.

Blitz a Hobbled Jimmy Garoppolo

The 49ers expect to welcome back Garoppolo for this one. While Garoppolo sat with an ankle injury, Nick Mullens took the reins and did very little, eventually being pulled for third stringer C.J. Beathard.

The Dolphins pass defense has been one of the worst in the league, and that’s surprising considering the secondary was viewed as a strength coming into the season. Byron Jones’ injury certainly did not help matters. Xavien Howard is still rounding into form after last year’s knee injury though he does have an interception in each of the last two weeks. His 14 career INTs are tied for for the second most in the NFL since 2017.

A key for Miami will be to make sure Garoppolo is uncomfortable in the pocket. With a potentially gimpy ankle limiting his mobility, the Dolphins should look to attack with the blitz. San Francisco has surrendered 13 sacks this season, sixth-most in the NFL, despite solid play from their tackles. Miami blitzes 32.6 percent of the time and will need to generate the pressure up the middle.

Dolphins-49ers Key: Limit George Kittle

The key weapon in the 49ers’ offensive machine might be tight end George Kittle. After missing Weeks 2 and 3, Kittle returned the lineup with a monster 15-catch, 183-yard one-touchdown performance last week. He even had an additional carry for eight yards. Kittle caught all 15 targets in Week 4, making him just the fourth receiver or tight end since 2009 to be targeted at least 12 times and catch each pass.

Miami could use Eric Rowe or one of the other defensive backs in coverage against Kittle, but they’ll need to prevent the elite tight end from taking over this contest. They’ll need to use an array of coverages and should throw different defenders at him when possible.

”I don’t think you stop him, I think you just try to limit him,” head coach Brian Flores said of Kittle. ”You try to give him different looks — play zone, play some man. I think when you’ve got a player like this, you’ve got to think about doubling a guy like this; but again, he’s as physical as they get.”

Be Sure Tacklers

The Dolphins secondary surrenders 285 passing-yards-per-game thus far in 2020, fifth-most in the NFL. They’ve allowed six passing touchdowns, but have registered five interceptions, including a pivotal one in the endzone last week by Howard.

In Week 5, the secondary lines up against a number of big play threats on the outside in Deebo Samuel and rookie wideout Brandon Aiyuk. If and when those players make a catch, the Dolphins D will need to bring them down. Last season, Samuel was second among all receivers in yards-after-catch per reception, and Aiyuk has already scored on a pair of 30-plus yard runs this season. And Kittle has been one of the best in the game at it with the most yards after the catch among all tight ends and receivers since he entered the league in 2017.

The 49ers also like to run the ball outside as well. Last year, the 49ers ran 60 carries outside for 363 yards, three touchdowns and 17 first downs. On those runs, 255 yards were gained after contact.

Dolphins-49ers Key: Score Touchdowns

Last week, the Dolphins offense moved the ball well against the Seattle defense, but stalled in scoring territory. Jason Sanders kicked five field goals and the Phins didn’t get their first touchdown until late, on a Ryan Fitzpatrick run. He threw for 315 yards but had no TD passes and was intercepted twice.

Fitzpatrick has thrown four touchdown passes this season, but the 49ers enter with only three passing touchdowns allowed, which is tops in the NFL. Fitzpatrick will need to limit mistakes (like the two interceptions last week) and could focus again on DeVante Parker, who caught a career-high 10 passes 110 yards last week. The 49ers will be without Richard Sherman, so that should help.

The key to scoring those touchdowns might be getting the running game going. In Miami’s lone win this season, they picked up 138 rushing yards against Jacksonville. They’ve only eclipsed 100 yards one other time, last week (103 yards), and are averaging just 96.3 yards-per-game on the ground in their three losses. The 49ers defense, meanwhile, allows 110.8 rushing-yards-per-game.

Miami’s offensive line will likely need to buy Fitzpatrick extra time, considering the 49ers blitz at the ninth-highest rate in the NFL (34.2 percent blitz rate) this season. Although they’re without Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead leads the defense with 18 quarterback pressures. San Francisco has the third-highest pressure rate at 30.3 percent, but they rank only 18th in sacks (8).

Dolphins Seahawks

5 Keys to Dolphins vs Seahawks

The Miami Dolphins (1-2) enter their Week 4 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks (3-0) coming off a dominant 31-13 victory last Thursday night over the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2). The Dolphins played well in Jacksonville, putting together solid stretches in all three phases of the game.

While the 2020 season has been anything but normal, Miami’s uneven performances have frustrated fans and players alike. And if the Dolphins are going to even their record at 2-2 this week, they’ll need focus and execution against one of the league’s most dynamic talents, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Here’s a look at five keys to the Dolphins vs Seahawks matchup.

Limit Russell Wilson, if possible

Wilson leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes, most after three games in NFL history. He’s on pace for a 75 touchdowns this season. The Seahawks offense has scored 111 points. This potent attack has spurred championship dreams in Seattle, but Chris Carson’s injury could force the Seahawks to lean even more on their MVP-candidate.

The Dolphins defense limited Gardner Minshew in Week 3. They tallied 10 quarterback hits and four sacks. Minshew, though, is not the dual threat posed by Wilson. The Dolphins struggled with similar dual threats in Weeks 1 and 2, considering what Cam Newton and Josh Allen were able to do.

The Dolphins will need to generate pressure, but Wilson is good at extending plays and making decisions on the run. The Seahawks have one of the better offensive line units, particularly in pass-protection. Wilson’s thrown only one interception so far this season, and the Dolphins secondary is allowing 7.7 yards-per-attempt.

Dolphins vs Seahawks: Protect Fitzpatrick

The Dolphins offensive line, which starts a pair of rookies, has been one of the unexpected bright spots this season. After a few years of subpar (at best) line play, the Dolphins may have found a unit to build upon moving forward. Austin Jackson and Solomon Kindley have played extremely well through their first three weeks in the NFL and that will need to continue against the Seahawks.

Seattle’s defensive line hasn’t been able to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks this season. Their edge rushers have 10 pressures and two sacks on the year. This has led the Seahawks to blitz on nearly 40 percent of passing plays, but they’ll be without one of their main blitzers on Sunday with the absence of safety Jamal Adams. The former New York Jets standout averages nine pass rushes a game, so Seattle will need to look elsewhere for pressure.

The Seahawks defense can be scored upon. Seattle allows 28.7 points-per-game thus far in 2020, so if the Dolphins can keep Ryan Fitzpatrick upright, there will be opportunities to score on this defense.

More Production from the Running Back Position

The Dolphins seem to have stumbled upon a lead back that not very many people thought would take hold of the role. Myles Gaskin, a seventh-round pick last season, has been the surprise go-to running back so far this year. It’s particularly surprising given Miami’s addition of Matt Breida and Jordan Howard this offseason.

Gaskin leads the team with 152 yards rushing and 15 receptions, and he’s averaging 4.6 yards-per-touch. This after a rookie season that saw him tally just 133 yards and seven receptions in seven games played in 2019.

But the combination of Gaskin, Breida and Howard will need to more than just the 3.8 yards-per-carry average they’ve compiled so far in 2020. The Dolphins are 20th in the NFL in rushing-yards-per-game (108.0) and have four rushing touchdowns through three games.

The Seahawks allow the second-fewest rushing-yards-per-game (66.7) but that’s largely because their opponents have been playing from behind most of the time. If the Dolphins can use the run to set up the pass, they’ll be in business.

Dolphins vs Seahawks: Attack Seattle’s Secondary

While Seattle may have one of the best run defenses (statistically), their pass defense has been porous. Seattle’s defense ranks 32nd in yards-per-game (497.3) and passing-yards (430.7), 31st in yards-per-completion (8.5) and 31st in yards-per-play (6.6) and 29th in third-down defense (51.2 percent). Although their offense has been one of the league’s best, their defense has largely forced Wilson and company to put up points.

What’s going to help the Dolphins against the Seahawks on Sunday will be the fact that Seattle will be without starting safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Quinton Dunbar. In addition, backup safety Lano Hill, who has matched up versus opposing tight ends this season, could also miss the game.

A major weapon for the Dolphins should be Mike Gesicki. The Fitzpatrick-Gesicki connection has resulted in seven touchdowns in Gesicki’s past nine games. That figure is tied for most among NFL tight ends during that span. Over the past 16 games, Gesicki has 57 catches for 694 yards. Without Adams to check Gesicki, Fitzpatrick will likely target his big tight end early and often.

Dolphins Secondary Needs to Make Plays

The Seahawks sport a potent passing offense this season. Wilson piles up 289.7 passing-yards-per-game (5th in the NFL). He’s thrown a league-high 14 touchdowns and averages 9.0 yards-per-completion (3rd). The Seahawks offense ranks 25th(37.9 percent) in third-down conversions, but the Dolphins defense ranks 43.3 percent stopping opposing offenses on third down.

Wilson has spread the ball around, but in Week 3 he connected with Tyler Lockett nine times for 100 yards and three touchdowns. DK Metcalf has also been a productive weapon for Wilson. He’s leading the league with 24.8 yards per reception (min. 15 targets) and has scored a touchdown in each game this season.

Miami’s secondary has allowed 19 catches of 16 or more yards. The Dolphins secondary, which was viewed as a strength entering the year, remains battered with injury. Byron Jones continues to struggle with his groin injury, but he did return to practice on Thursday. Xavien Howard has been limited by a knee injury as well, but he’s limited quarterbacks to 54.5 percent completions against him this year. Rookie Noah Igbinoghene will continue to see playing time and will need to play well.

NFLPA announces suspension of multiple-player workouts

Following news that two Tampa Bay Buccaneers players tested positive for COVID-19, the NFLPA put out a statement on Saturday,  stating no players should be practicing together in private workouts.

In a statement by Dr. Thom Mayor, it is noted that the league is working on the best “mitigation procedures at team facilities for both training camps and the upcoming season.”

Suspension of Multi-Player Workouts

The sports world and some of its most prominent figures have been hit by COVID-19 in the past couple of days. In addition to the Buccaneers, the Philadelphia Phillies had eight positive tests among players and personnel. All MLB spring training camps have been temporarily closed as a result of these tests.

In the hockey world, the Tampa Bay Lightning also had three players and staffers tested positive for coronavirus. Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews also tested positive.

One has to wonder how many more positive tests we will see in the coming days. As workouts resume, we are seeing  more positive tests across all leagues and all sports.

College football is not exempt from this either. 28 Clemson student athletes and staff have tested positive for COVID 19 as well.

It will be interesting to see what each league does as a result of these positive tests. It’s looking more and more like these positive tests will be a recurring theme throughout the next couple of weeks. Now, the question is, what sports will return ,if any? This is certainly an a different set of circumstances than anything we have ever experienced before.

As far as the NFL is concerned, it will be interesting to see what the league does procedurally and in terms of workouts. Football by nature is a game where there is close contact with individuals and multiple players touching a football.

If the NFL wants to have a season in 2020, they will certainly have to think outside the box.

How to Play Daily Fantasy Football

While the 2020 NFL season is still  at risk and everyone is waiting for further announcements, the NFL DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) will pave the way for bettors to gamble for the upcoming NFL games online. The NFL DFS is a creative way of playing the NFL games online while earning through the betting games you can wager on. 

In some trusted sportsbooks, there are options to play fantasy football, and most of these are for rookies or beginners. Below is the step by step process on how you can play and gamble for a daily fantasy football. 

Create A Roster And Scoring Settings 

The first step you have to do before playing the NFL DFS is to create a team and scoring board. Do know that each bookie sets a salary range that you can use for the team you build. It is also the basis of how much you can wager. In creating a DFS team, the rules are the same, which consists of  1 Quarterback, 2 Running Back, 3 Wide Receivers, 1 Tight End, 1 Flex, and 1 Defensive End.

These nine players must divide the given salary depending on the value at stake for their assigned position. As for the scoring, you can refer to the real NFL rules and scoring guidelines as it follows the same process per position. 

Do know that the defense and offense players have different scoring methods, and you must know this before playing. Familiarize yourself with the difference in every position and what would be the varying score methods for each.

Know The DFS Basics 

Although the DFS rules work the same as the real NFL games, you still need to know the basics since you are playing this game virtually. So, before you create a roster and scoring board, here are the DFS basics you must first comprehend. 

Player’s Latest Updates 

The players competing in DFS are the same as the NFL. You need to ensure that you get updated with the player’s latest information, especially if they get injured, which can affect your picking and betting games.

Vegas Odds

This factor is an essential one that you must learn when playing DFS football. These are odds set before the game will start. You can refer to the moneyline bets, points spread, and prop bets that a usual NFL game is holding as DFS does the same thing. Although you have the sole decision to decide what to bet, if you get updated with Vegas DFS odds daily, you might end up winning the whole game.  

Schedule

You also need to check each team’s schedule along with their opponents. This fact will help you in preparing for the right roster of matches and DFS betting effectively. Thus, knowing the schedule increases your winning chances.

Understand That DFS Overtakes Real NFL Games 

In real NFL games, match-ups are essential because it is how you decide your bets. If a bookie identifies the favorites over the dog, then you can start researching which entry you can successfully wager. In fact, real NFL games are harder to contemplate compared to DFS. 

Daily Fantasy football betting does not rely upon the match-up but the player’s stats. It means that if the player like the wide receiver generates a strong start, the team who got this player can win most likely the fantasy game. 

Get Updated With The Weekly Player Value 

As stated above, the player’s value is a crucial factor you must take note of before playing DFS. Each player, whether performing an offense or defense task, has a different value depending on their current statistics. Also, the prize associated with DFS depends on the amount set by the oddsmaker. 

Here are the current NFL players who dominated DFS football along with their fantasy points that you can consider in betting. 

  • Patrick Mahomes (QB) – 23.55 fantasy points 
  • Lamar Jackson (QB) – 22.75 fantasy points
  • Russell Wilson (QB) – 19.89 fantasy points 
  • Dak Prescott (QB) – 19.46 fantasy points
  • Deshaun Watson (QB) – 18.88 fantasy points 

Takeaway 

Daily fantasy football is an excellent way of earning a considerable amount of money if you mix obvious reasoning and thinking outside the box. Also, if you are new to the world of NFL, keep up with the latest news regarding this event, especially with the rules of the game. Therefore, if you want to leverage a new alternative way of fast earning, playing daily fantasy football is the right answer. Make sure to mind the process outlined above to get you guided in playing this betting game.

Running game should be better for Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins were historically bad when it came to running the football during the 2019 NFL season. The Dolphins were last in the NFL in rushing with just 1,156 yards gained on the ground.

Six NFL players – Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans, Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns, Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers, Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys, Chris Carson of the Seattle Seahawks and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens – gained more yards running the football last season than the entire Dolphins team.

Here’s a great trivia question to stump NFL fans – name the two quarterbacks to lead their team in rushing during the 2019 campaign. Jackson, who set a new NFL single-season rushing mark for QBs, was one of them. But if you got Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as the other answer, you win a cookie.

In his 15th NFL season, Fitzpatrick, 37, rambled for 243 yards.

That total was enough to lead the Dolphins, and that stat is truly embarrassing. Miami needs to run the football significantly better this season in order for people in Florida to bet on the Dolphins as a legitimate AFC East playoff threat.

Beefing Up the Backfield

The Dolphins signed RB Jordan Howard as a free agent. Photo by: YouTube.com screenshot.

During the offseason, the Dolphins set out to address their needs in the backfield. Matt Breida was acquired in a trade with the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. Jordan Howard, who’s had stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears, was signed as a free agent.

Among NFL running backs from 2016-18, only Elliott and Todd Gurley churned up more yards on the ground than Howard, 25, who gained 3,370 yards over that span. A shoulder injury limited him to 525 yards last season. Howard has also suited up for playoff teams each of the past two seasons.

Breida averaged 5.1 yards per carry for the NFC West champion 49ers last season. He rambled for 623 yards on 123 carries and scored one touchdown. Equipped with explosive speed, he broke 18 runs of 10 yards or more. On average, that means he made a big play 14.6 percent of the times when he ran the football.

A Net Gain

Historically, when the Dolphins run the football well, things tend to go well for them. Miami’s most recent playoff appearance came in 2016. That season, Jay Ajayi rambled for 1,222 yards on the ground. Miami was ninth in the NFL in rushing that season with 1,824 yards gained.

A half-dozen of Miami’s 23 postseason squads have featured a 1,000-yard rusher. The legendary unbeaten Super Bowl champion 1972 Dolphins featured a pair of grand runners. Larry Csonka ran for 1,117 yards, while Mercury Morris contributed an even 1,000.

There were 17 Dolphins playoff clubs that included a running back with 800 or more yards on the ground. Of those that didn’t, several teams – especially the Miami clubs of the early-to-mid-1980s – were prominently led in the ground game by a backfield by committee formula.

Miami’s 1984 Super Bowl team that lost to the 49ers included Woody Bennett (606 yards), Tony Nathan (558) and Joe Carter (495) in the backfield behind rookie quarterback Dan Marino. The following season, four runners went over 250 yards on the ground, led by Nathan’s 667 yards.

Running Still Matters

The NFL might no longer be the run-dominated league that it was in the early 1970s when Miami ruled as kings of the hill. Sharing the workload between Csonka, Morris and Jim Kiick, those Dolphins teams could continually punish and simply wear out a defense.

Certainly, today’s NFL is first and foremost a passing league but to suggest running the football has become an afterthought would be pure folly. Five of the top six NFL teams in rushing yardage during the 2019 season were all postseason participants. Two of the top three – San Francisco and Tennessee – played in their respective conference championship games. Baltimore, which led the NFL with 3,296 yards on the ground, also posted an NFL-best 14-2 regular-season record.

The Dolphins will need to run the ball to succeed this season, whether it’s with the veteran Fitzpatrick or 2020 first-round draft pick Tua Tagovailoa at the helm of the offense. Sending the rookie Tagovailoa on the field to figure out and adjust to NFL defenses without a capable running game at his disposal would be suicide for the kid.

Finishing 2-2 to close out a 5-11 campaign last season, Miami actually averaged 100.75 yards per game on the ground. It was a big increase over the Dolphins’ season average of 72.25 yards per game.

That’s where Breida and Howard could really make a difference in Miami. Last season, Breida was a dangerous weapon in San Francisco’s three-back system that saw him, Raheem Mostert (722 yards) and Tevin Coleman (544) all run for over 500 yards. They were the first team to suit up three 500-yard rushers in the same season since the 1978 New England Patriots.

Working in combination with two-time 1,000-yard rusher Howard, they could provide a dynamic duo in the backfield for Miami.

 

The 5 Best Dolphins of All-Time? Here’s one list.

Over the years the Miami Dolphins have seen some incredible talents walk through their doors, even if not as many the past decade or so. The latest of those is Tua Tagovailoa, who is just one of several that could have bright NFL futures ahead, but instead of speculating over what lays ahead we’re going to look back at some of the stars from yesteryear.

Here is a list of five of the best to have donned the Dolphins jersey.

 

Number 5. Zach Thomas 

Even allowing for the fact that Thomas was a round five pick, his arrival in Miami was underwhelming to say the least. He had a decent college career at Texas Tech but question marks remained over his size and attitude.

By the time he retired after a 13-year NFL career, those questions had been well and truly answered. Seven Pro-Bowls, five first team All-Pro honours and he was twice named Linebacker of the year.

All bar one of his professional years were spent with the Dolphins – the other being at the end of his career in Dallas – and he called it a day having landed 1,700 tackles. Doubters, what doubters?

And he should be in the Hall of Fame.

 

Number 4. Dwight Stephenson

Stephenson was snapped up in round two of the 1980 draft after he’d been part of the Crimson Tide side that had just won back to back National Championships. He wasn’t the headline maker of the Dolphins but he was a big player and was a vital cog as they made two Super Bowls in three years during the mid-eighties.

Of course, Stevenson might be held in even higher regard had he not been forced to call time on his career after just seven years. Then again, five Pro-Bowls and five All-Pro awards in consecutive seasons along side winning the NFL Man of the Year award and being named in the 100th anniversary side isn’t a shabby legacy.

 

Number 3. Larry Little

For a brief moment it looked like Little had missed his chance to compete at the top when he went undrafted. The San Diego Chargers offered him a chance though and two years later he was jetting into Miami. Little wasn’t keen on the move but he quickly had an impact on the Dolphins. Fast forward five years and he had made three Super Bowls – winning two – and had been honoured with five All-Pro and four Pro-Bowls. From there on out Little was a Dolphin through and through before retiring in 1980.

 

Number 2. Larry Csonka

Csonka was a machine that would not be stopped. He was the Dolphins round one pick in 1968 but a couple of serious blows to his head early on in his pro career left things in the balance. He overcame the odds to return to the field. Thank goodness he did. Four seasons followed with Csonka an ever present in the team.

Of those four years, the final three ended in Super Bowl appearances with the Dolphins triumphant in 1973 and 74. Csonka was named Bowl MVP for his contribution in the latter. He moved on after that but couldn’t stay away and returned in 1979 for one last season, which saw him awarded the comeback award after recording a career high of 12 rushing touchdowns. Who says ‘never go back’?

 

Number 1. Dan Marino

Then there was one – Dan Marino. Who else? We’ve touched on the team that dominated in the early to mid-seventies and it’s fair to say that if Marino played then, he would not have looked out of place.

For 17 years he loyally served the Dolphins as he carried them to 10 play-off appearances but, sadly, just one Super Bowl, which ended in defeat. If anyone deserved the glory of a Super Bowl win then it was Marino too. However, just like a horse who underachieves in the Kentucky Derby odds, Marino never quite made it as far as he deserved.

Over his career he threw more than 61,000 yards with his second season seeing him throw 48 touchdowns and 5,084 yards – records that stood for 20 and 27 years respectively. We could list all his honours but, quite frankly, that would be exhausting instead we leave you with the thought that this is just a snapshot of what Marino achieved – nine Pro-Bowls, five years of leading the league on passing yards, another three where he led on passing touchdowns, a league MVP award and a place in the Hall of Fame.

There you have it, five legendary Dolphins. Over to you, class of 2020, just some small shoes to fill.

 

Tua’s Here! Get Your New Shirts!

It started with one.

The classic Tua 2020 concept, with the #Tankovailoa hashtag, to honor the Miami Dolphins’ apparent backwards pursuit of the elite University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

(Is that how you spell it?)

That’s been the biggest seller on our site, by far.

The trendsetter.

And you can still get it HERE, same price as always. 

Even comes in a tank….

But now we know you need more.

It’s a party in South Florida, so why not play off a favorite drinking establishment, the one with the slushy drinks that make you feel a little loopy.

So we have two shirts based on that bar, which is based on the New Orleans tradition.

You get the first HERE, in ORANGE:

Need something a little more elaborate and, shall we say, risque?

To make a request of the new Dolphins quarterback….

The Show Me Your TD’s shirt can be found HERE:

And we added another, loosely based a slogan you may have heard somewhere.

We don’t want to exclude the female fans of the Dolphins, or the network.

But, for one shirt? Sure.

You can get that one HERE:

You can find a variety of Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and Five Reasons Sports Network shirts and other apparel here on our site.

Continue to look for new designs from Adam Smoot on this MERCHANDISE page.

Also ask how to become a brand ambassador.

2020 NFL Draft Live Coverage: Day 2

The 2020 NFL Draft started just how we wanted it, right? Tua is finally a Miami Dolphin!

Tonight, you get to share Day 2 of the NFL Draft with US again:

Five Reasons Sports Network NFL Draft Live Coverage Day 2:

 

Rewatch our NFL Draft Day 1 Coverage here: 

 

Our new TUA shirt! Get it here!

 

Catch up with our stories:

The official Three Yards Per Carry video draft guide (Alfredo Arteaga, Simon Clancy)

The final Three Yards Per Carry/Extra Yard mock draft (Alfredo Arteaga)

Tua, no matter what (Josh Houtz) 

Pressure point: is Tua the plan? (Craig Davis)

Hey Dolphins, be the Heat (Ethan Skolnick)

The most important Dolphins draft ever (Ramon Lo)

The South Florida draft prospects (Larry Blustein)

The Miami Hurricanes draftees (Paul Austria)

 

Thanks to our sponsors:

Andre Law (AndreLaw.com)

Keystone Chiropractic (Office here)

Luis Peters, State Farm (LuisPeters.com)

Greenlight Tek (GreenlightTek.com)

Lloyd Heilbrunn law (Palm Beach firm)

Greenview Construction (MACAINC.net)

Seltzer Mayberg law firm (North Miami firm)

 

 

Check our live coverage here:

Voices

5 Reasons Contributors on Dolphins-Jets “clash”

The Miami Dolphins are favored for the first time in forever against unintentionally-tanking former coach Adam Gase and the hapless New York Jets.

We asked some of our Five Reasons Sports contributors to assess the matchup.

*****

 

Though matchups between divisional opponents—especially when a head coach is going up against his former team—are supposed to be interesting, this one probably won’t be. The Jets are a dumpster fire this year led by Adam Gase, who should be on the hot seat after starting off this season 0-5 and finishing last year with a 7-9 record and whatever bag of chips you’re rewarded for being 3rd in the AFC East. 

 

Not to mention that the Jets somehow managed to waive Le’Veon Bell, arguably one of the best runningbacks in the league and almost certainly their best player, instead of trading him and getting at least something for him. Bell walks away with a cool $28 mil and the Jets walk away with… another bag of chips? Don’t ask Adam Gase about Bell though; those questions are “irrelevant.”

 

Without Bell and QB Sam Darnold, who is still nursing a shoulder injury, New York will have to hope veteran backup Joe Flacco can put something together. Flacco was 18 of 33 for 195 yards and a single touchdown in last week’s embarrassing 30-10 loss to Arizona.

 

The Dolphins, meanwhile, have started to show some grit with a big 43-17 win over last year’s Super Bowl contenders, the San Francisco 49ers, last week. Though the 9ers were decimated by injuries, the Fins showed some true potential on both sides of the ball, totaling five sacks and two interceptions on defense and 444 total yards of offense led by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s best performance of the season (including a QBR of 99.1, the highest of any quarterback this year). 

 

The only way this game could get interesting is if Bell signs with Miami, considered as of now to be one of his top three landing spots. There’s nothing better than a revenge game, right?

— Kylie Wang

*****

 

The Miami Dolphins are preparing to take on a division rival in the New York Jets this Sunday, bringing back an old face in Adam Gase. And with Sam Darnold out,  Joe Flacco, an old Dolphins nemesis, will be under center for the Jets once again this week. 

Flacco has been very successful against the Dolphins with a total of 7 wins and 0 losses. — six wins in the regular season and one in the postseason.

His regular season numbers over those 6 starts against Miami include completing 71 percent of his passes with 10 TD’s to 3 INT’s and adding 1 rushing touchdown. In his last start in 2017, the Dolphins got embarrassed 40-0 even as Flacco’s outing ended early on the controversial hit by then-Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Fast forward to Sunday’s game, though, and times are different for the former Super Bowl MVP. His best days are behind him and he is currently on the worst team in the NFL.

The Dolphins are favored by eight. Don’t expect Flacco to keep it that close.

— Jaccare Givens 

 

*****

With an annihilation of the 49ers on the road comes some expectations.

We have learned that Miami can win and play good teams tough with “Fitzmagic”.  They have little to no hope with “Fitztragic”.  In this case, Miami has a decided talent advantage, are home, and confidence is riding high.  The last time I said this team had real expectations, was the Thursday night beat down of the Jaguars.  I expect much of the same.  It is required.  No letdowns allowed.

Miami Dolphins 30  NY Jets 16

— Alfredo Arteaga

 

*****

 

Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has shown that with inferior competition he can devise strong game plans. That will continue. I expect the Dolphins to take an early lead behind the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick attacking downfield to DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams. Once the adrenaline starts to fade, an ugly, punt filled late afternoon will take place with whichever team can establish the run coming out on top. I trust Coach Flores to take advantage of the early lead and let his pass rushers like Emmanuel Ogbah, Andrew Van Ginkel, Jerome Baker and maybe the banged-up Kyle Van Noy go to work. Jason Saunders will also extend his consecutive streak of field goals to start the year and in the process break Olindo Mare’s record for overall consecutive field goals of 19 to his 20.

Dolphins 27 Jets 13

— Juan Cardona 

Coronavirus and Sports: Becoming Numb

I was going to write about Inter Miami, I really was. Maybe it would have been an upbeat preview about the “MLS Is Back” schedule reveal (Breakfast with Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire at 9 a.m. on July 14, can you dig it?) or a more serious, ominous look at the league and its protocols as we are only 2 weeks away from the start of the first tournament in the United States after the pandemic.

But then I thought “AFTER the pandemic? We are barely during the pandemic, much less past it” and I discovered I’m sort of…detached? Nah, that’s not the word. I still follow the American sports landscape and want sports to be back. Shocked? That’s not it either, nothing that has happened the past three months has surprised me even a little, and that’s saying something. Numb? Yes, that’s it. I’m numb to the developments in the sports world nowadays, and I’m pretty sure other fans, writers and even players feel similarly.

I’m numb because I saw the news about 16 NBA players (the equivalent of an entire team’s roster, plus one) testing positive for COVID-19 and my reaction isn’t “Oh my, what if they backtrack and the season is cancelled?” It’s more like “I’m fine with whatever happens, I’m just waiting to see everyone freak out when a true superstar tests positive and [insert team here] has to play an entire series without him.”

I’m numb because “43 Division I teams have been eliminated in the last 12 weeks, and more than 130 programs have been cut across all NCAA levels”, and those kids weren’t earning millions of dollars, even as some of their coaches were and certainly their athletic departments are.

LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION

New Zealand is past the pandemic with tens of thousands gathering with joy to watch a rugby match most of them probably don’t remember the final score of. Europe is crowning champions as its cases are mostly going down (hello, Sweden, we see you) and fans celebrate the end of droughts in Liverpool and Naples as the ball keeps rolling with no apparent setbacks week after week.

Liverpool fans celebrate outside Anfield.

Even South America has soccer, but that’s because they don’t really give a shit in Brazil and they are bent on living like there is literally no tomorrow and they had the most new daily cases in the world on Thursday, June 25. Seems healthy.

Meanwhile, the United States of America is looking at itself in the mirror and wonders how it all went so wrong, so quickly after three months of sacrifices that were supposed to pave the way for sports to come back swiftly and smoothly.

We are Rachel and the Coronavirus is Ross asking: “OVER you? When were you UNDER me?” while we beat ourselves up wondering what went wrong and the President compares a deadly virus to the sniffles.

I’m numb because baseball is about to be back for a lightning round of games that promise to be exciting. Why am I not excited? I should be, with every game being three times as important and the potential of a repeat of that frantic 2011 finish of the regular season that gave every baseball fan a collective heart attack.

My heart rate is nowhere near skyrocketing, though. Some experts don’t even think the season will be able to finish.

I should be pumped to witness the start of the Tua era in Miami, but then I see that the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and the Steelers was cancelled and I’m bracing for what August and September might bring.

I’m even numb to the added crowd noise and the “virtual fans” we see at European soccer games. It’s background noise.

Maybe you read this and thought I spent 700 words being dramatic, and that’s ok. Maybe you will feel numb or jaded until 2021, and that’s ok too. Maybe this is just temporary, and everything feels a little alien after 100+ days of uncertainty and I will be all pumped up again in a couple of weeks when sports feel “real” again.

I will be waiting for that moment to come.

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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