News

Miami Dolphins Good Fortunes Last all of one day

The Miami Dolphins earned their first victory of the 2019 season Sunday and all was well in South Florida sports.

 

For roughly 24 hours if that.

First news broke that wide receiver Preston Williams was being shut down for the season with a knee injury.

 

Williams finishes a breakout rookie season with 32 receptions for 428 yards and three touchdowns, two of those scores came in his final game Sunday against New York.

Adding company to the misery, at least for Dolphins’ fans stateside, it was also announced Miami would again be playing overseas next year.

 

Season ticket holders will again be losing a home game in Miami Gardens but there is good news, they’ll save about 12% on the cost of tickets!

Those same season ticket holders can forgo the International Series and enjoy just seven games against what would be likely a last place schedule.

But wait, there’s more…

On a busy news day, you might as well keep the hits coming.

 

Walton will be suspended for the next four games as a result of his three arrests in the offseason.

 

Walton was the new lead back after the departure of Kenyan Drake to Arizona. Kallen Ballage will now assume that role, look for more roster moves in the running back room as the week goes on.

After a resounding win against Adam Gase and the Jets, thankfully the 2019 Miami Dolphins have quickly returned to form we all know and love.

 

 

Miami Dolphins lose Preston Williams for rest of 2019 season

The Miami Dolphins suffered a major injury loss on Monday.

The Miami Dolphins wide receiving unit has suffered a huge loss. Monday, an MRI revealed a season-ending knee injury for Preston Williams per multiple media reports. He is done for the season.

The rookie from Colorado State was really impressing over the course of the season. In what has been an up-and-down campaign for the Miami Dolphins, Williams has played well. Signing as an undrafted rookie, the Colorado state product made a good first impression in his opening season. He caught 32 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns. His best game of the season came on Sunday against the Jets. He caught five passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Averaging 14.4 yards per reception, a 26-yard grab was his longest of the afternoon.

Williams was a player that made an impact from the get-go. In the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, he caught three passes for 24 yards and a touchdown. In a season that has been all about rebuilding, he has been a bright spot.

Williams a key component of Miami Dolphins future

The next goal for Williams is to make sure that he gets healthy for the 2020 season. In a season where Miami is sending players packing in an effort to gain capital and rebuild, Williams looks to be a part of this organization for a long time. He has the potential to become a top target for the future. Hopefully, everything goes well during the rehab process so he can get back on the field as soon as possible.

The Miami Dolphins are going to need big contributions from two players specifically the rest of the way. Tight end Mike Gesicki is one of them, and wide receiver Devante Parker is the other.

Gesicki heads into Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts looking to build off his successful performance from last week. He had his best game of the season, catching six passes for 95 yards.  Parker had a great game as well, catching four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. Those two will look to spearhead the Miami Dolphins passing offense for the foreseeable future.

This is certainly unfortunate news for the Miami Dolphins. Hopefully, Williams can come back even stronger in 2020. He is certainly a promising young player with a ton of talent. Here’s to hoping his recovery efforts go according to plan.

Dolphins

Dolphins coaches reevaluating their methods

The Miami Dolphins are 0-4 heading into the bye week. They have been outscored 81-0 in the second half through all four games. Players are growing frustrated with the team’s inability to execute. Now, the entire coaching staff finds themselves questioning how they’re handling things.

“We’re going to go and closely evaluate what we do in all areas of the second half – the approach, the scheme we use, defensively study what they’ve done (against) us in the second half.” Offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea said on Tuesday. “I think it’s a combination of factors that we’re really going to look closely at and determine what’s best for us moving forward.”

In all fairness, there are many rookies on this Dolphins coaching staff. Both O’Shea and head coach Brian Flores are first-timers at their respective roles. If Patriots head coach Bill Belichick were in the business of passing on his skills to his subordinates, more of his coaching tree would find success upon leaving New England. Additionally, the talent level on the roster is severely lacking in several areas. The offensive line in particular. When coaches have to add new players through the regular season, success is hard to come by.

“I would say we made a lot of changes to the roster,” Brian Flores said on Monday. “(We were) kind of building the team on the fly in a lot of ways. But we’re not going to make excuses about that. We try to put the guys in the best positions to play well, but at the same time trying to build a team and build some camaraderie and build some communication and build some rapport. I think that’s been a big part of these first four weeks.”

With this in mind, it’s not surprising to see the coaching staff looking to make some changes. Considering their desire to emphasize basics and fundamentals, the lack of execution is troublesome. The number of wide receiver drops is especially alarming. Miami ranks second in the league with eight drops. Only the Philadelphia Eagles have suffered from more with ten. So even how the coaches teach players how to catch is not immune to scrutiny.

“I think that one of the things on catching the football is it’s something that we have as part of our everyday drills.” O’Shea said. “We think that throwing, catching, blocking, tackling are things that we try to work every day, and we’re going to continue to do those, but we’re going to – as a coaching staff – again, we’re evaluating all aspects of our program right now. One of the things we’re evaluating is the teaching progression and what we do on the field and the drills that we have and those things.”

It’s not ideal to hear that the Dolphins coaching staff already feels the need to change how they do things. However, the previous regime displayed the other side of the spectrum. Adam Gase – now with the New York Jets – refuses to change. As a result, his team has also failed to win a game so far.

It’s been said numerous times that 2019 is all about evaluation for the future. Perhaps, it bodes well that the coaches are willing to take an honest look at themselves in the mirror. If they can find a method that works by 2020, then perhaps the rebuild won’t take nearly as long as projected.

“You’re always in the process of self-evaluating and trying to improve.” Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “I ask the players to get better every day. I make it a point on myself to get better every day. If I’m never thinking about how I can improve for the next week or the next day, then I think you get complacent, and then when complacency sets in, in this league, you’re not going to be here very long. That’s how I approach it. There’s a bunch of stuff – I don’t feel the need to get into exactly all of the stuff that I know that I need to improve upon, but I’m constantly evaluating myself and trying to figure out how I can become a better coach, a better husband, a better brother, a better son. That’s just how I’m built.”

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

Kalen Ballage

Kalen Ballage rushing full speed towards Dolphins starting RB job

Kalen Ballage is getting a rare opportunity with Kenyan Drake down with an injury. The Dolphins are going to need a running back, so he’s responding to the call by making play after play. His speed and acceleration caught the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off guard both days they held joint practices, resulting in several touchdowns. That level of production does not go unnoticed, and it’s clear head coach Brian Flores is enjoying noticing them.

“Oh, I saw them.” He said during his Wednesday press conference.

It makes sense that Ballage is pushing himself with Drake out. At the start of training camp, he was the one who worked with the starters, only to eventually be overtaken by the Alabama speedster as the days went on. It appeared that Drake was ready to lock down the starting job, at least until these joint practices with Tampa. All of a sudden, he, QB Josh Rosen and WR Preston Williams are getting chances to work with the starters after being stuck under the veterans.

“I think young guys have to be able to come out here and make plays.” Ballage said Wednesday. “This (isn’t) college anymore. It’s not high school. In my opinion, age doesn’t really matter. I think you just come out here and if you can ball, you can ball. I think that’s a big part of it.”

He’s doing a good job of impressing the coaches, and those touchdown runs included good execution across the board. That’s precisely what coach Flores is looking for in his players.

“They all work together. It’s 11 guys.” He said. “If you put 11 guys in and they execute their responsibility, you’ll get a good play. Kalen did a good job of making a guy miss, and that’s how you get long runs, receivers blocking corners and secondary players, and that’s how you get long runs. It takes everybody.”

At this point, it’s impressive that Kalen Ballage is able to do as much as he’s doing. The Dolphins offensive line is an absolute mess, so these touchdown runs are a testament to the home run capability Ballage has in him. It also acts as a demonstration for what the offense itself is capable of.

“It’s something that I’ve always known.” Ballage said. “I think that it gets the best athletes and the best talents in space, gets them the ball and kind of puts the rest on us to make plays. I think that that’s something that’s real important.”

Ballage’s opportunity to showcase himself stands to last a while, especially since Kenyan Drake has to wear a walking boot for an undisclosed amount of time. While coach Flores isn’t really concerned, indicating Drake will be ready for week one of the regular season at the latest, it doesn’t bode well for Drake with Ballage running full speed towards the starting job.

Kalen Ballage has had his struggles, but they appear to be past him. Back in college, he felt extremely underused. In his rookie season, he sat behind Drake and veteran Frank Gore. He appears ready to take charge, and he has a chance to prove it on Friday.

Preston Williams header

Why did teams pass on Dolphins’ Preston Williams?

He goes by the unicorn.

But there isn’t just a solitary reason why a player of Preston Williams’ talent was available to the Miami Dolphins after the draft.

Our Chris Kouffman (@CKParrot) called this when the Dolphins signed Preston Williams, gushing over his tape. And even as Williams flashed on the Davie field, day after day, other media types compared him to former Dolphins camp mirages at the receiver position.

He’s not.

He’s real.

Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade (93.0) on the entire team in the preseason opener against Atlanta. And it’s clear he’s not just making the team, but could eventually emerge as a starter.

So how the heck did the Dolphins get a crack at him, without picking him in any of the seven rounds.

Kouffman’s thread today is instructive.

Click below and read it all.

Kouffman will be credentialed for Five Reasons Sports in Tampa for the Dolphins’ joint practices against the Buccaneers this week.

Josh Rosen risks

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores wants Josh Rosen to curb risk taking

One major difference between Miami’s current quarterbacks and the one that departed in the offseason is their willingness to take chances. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen are aggressive in their decision-making, a trait put on full display during the Dolphins win against the Falcons. They attempted plays that can only be described as incredible. Some of them worked, while some of them did not.

That willingness to be aggressive is part of what makes Rosen such an intriguing prospect. However, it can also lead to mistakes that Miami can’t afford to make. One such mistake was when Rosen attempted a pass in the middle of the field to WR Isaiah Ford, only to be intercepted by linebacker Jermaine Grace. The three-year veteran stepped right in front of the route and Rosen could do nothing but watch as his team chased the defender down.

Rosen is taking chances, but head coach Brian Flores wants him to tone it down a bit.

“Yeah. A couple times there I thought, maybe, those are a little dicey.” Flores said after the game. “And at some point as a quarterback you’ve got to take the sack. That’s the best play. But the guy’s got a little bit of a gunslinger mentality and wants to let it rip and obviously got the nice one out to Preston, but I think we want to play smarter than that I would say in that situation, not just let the ball go like he did.”

Once again, Flores functions on the premise of basics and fundamentals. Even if risky plays end in favorable results, that doesn’t mean Flores condones the decision. He wants smart, calculated football. That means taking advantage of what the defense gives, not forcing something when things get dangerous.

“I felt some guys at my ankles.” Rosen said. “I knew Preston kind of had a stop coming back to me, I saw he was a bit inside of him. So I knew if I just put it up he would kind of have the break on it. It might have been a little bit too dicey; but I don’t know. A couple fall in your favor, a couple don’t. I probably should be a little smarter with that, even though this one worked out.”

Not having consistent protection can easily lead to more of these mistakes. Josh Rosen had to spend the majority of his playing time dodging defenders before he could make a throw. In reality, it’s a testament to Rosen’s improvement that he was able to accomplish what he did against Atlanta. Rosen completed 13 out of 20 attempts for 191 yards, and of course his interception. That averages out to a 75.2 passer rating, which does not reflect his overall performance. Rosen grew more comfortable as the game continued, and soon those risky plays started looking routine.

“I feel substantially better now than I did two weeks ago.”Rosen said. “But like I said, I’ve got a long ways to go. The way ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) in our meeting room can break down a defense and how quickly he can make comments on where everyone is, where the ball should go, is pretty impressive and I think if I can kind of hedge that gunslinger attitude a little bit and put a little bit more thought into it, I think I could develop pretty nicely.”

It’s encouraging that Rosen recognizes the flaws in himself. He even goes as far as to admit he’s struggled with taking unnecessary risks throughout his entire football career. He’s learning when the best move is to give up on a play and try again on the next down, and when it’s okay to throw up a prayer. It’s something he’s been dealing with all through the offseason and training camp already.

Josh Rosen isn’t making excuses for himself, though he easily could have on Thursday. With the offensive line unable to protect for him, he didn’t have much time to think about what he was doing. But that’s moot. He made a mistake, and he knows it. He isn’t about to whine about something he feels has no bearing on his ability to make wise choices.

“I threw the pick in a completely clean pocket. So football is football.” He said. “You’re never going to have a completely clean pocket all of the time. When you get it, you’ve got to take advantage of it and when you don’t, you can’t make stupid mistakes by trying to play hero ball. I did kind of a little bit of everything, so I’ve got a lot of film to watch. Just because like good plays gained yards doesn’t mean that the way we got that was like a sustainable way to do that in the future. So I think that like I said at the beginning, there’s good, bad and everything in between.”

If Rosen can eliminate some of the bad, then he can easily take the starting job away from Ryan Fitzpatrick. If he eliminates the everything in between and keeps only the good, then Miami will finally have their franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen. The sooner he learns those lessons, the better off everyone will be.

“I think that’s what this time is for, that’s what training camp is for.” Flores said. “It’s to develop these guys, help develop them, help work on their techniques, fundamentals, consistency. That’s what training camp is for. That’s why I got into coaching, that’s what I love about coaching. We want to win, there’s no doubt about that. But we’re going to try to develop these players as best we can and try to win at the same time. And I think development of players is something that’s ongoing.”

Robert Nkemdiche signing

Dolphins sign DL Robert Nkemdiche to 1-year contract

The Miami Dolphins are adding another player to their ranks. Just hours before their first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, former Arizona Cardinals first round pick Robert Nkemdiche is signing a 1-year contract. This comes after he was released by the Cardinals in late July for failing a physical, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports the deal is worth $1.16 million.

Nkemdiche, 24, never lived up to his potential in Arizona. Even before he was drafted, teams were concerned about Nkemdiche’s work ethic and character. He was suspended for the Sugar Bowl in college after being arrested with marijuana charges. Now, this year, Nkemdiche was arrested twice within a week for traffic-related incidents, one of which saw him with a white powdery substance in the center console of his car.

The Cardinals took a chance on Nkemdiche, drafting him 29th overall in 2016. The hope was he would turn into a dominant pass rusher. Unfortunately, however, Nkemdiche’s physical gifts went to waste. In three seasons with Arizona, he appeared in 27 games, starting six of them. He recorded 44 tackles, 4.5 sacks, with two passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery with a touchdown.

It seemed 2018 would be Nkemdiche’s year to get back on track. All 4.5 of his career sacks came during that season. But once again, Nkemdiche was struck down. He ended the 2018 season on injured reserve with a torn ACL he suffered in December. The Cardinals decided not to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract, which would have paid him $8.6 million, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury did not hold back regarding his disappointment in the former top-10 talent.

“Not in shape,” Kingsbury said. “That’s kind of where we’ll leave it … I mean, he’s on (the Physically Unable to Perform list) and he’s working through that. When he is cleared, we’ll work with him.”

Clearly, they had no interest in working with him.

The Dolphins, on the other hand, are not shy about giving players a chance to redeem themselves. Already, they’ve taken flyers on running back Mark Walton and wide receiver Preston Williams. Both players have issues off the field and are trying to get their careers on track. So far, both Walton and Williams are doing a fine job. Now, Miami is extending that same olive branch to Nkemdiche, who will continue his rehab under head coach Brian Flores’s supervision.

Sometimes, players need a change of scenery to get their lives in order. Under the tutelage of Flores, a Bill Belichick disciple, Robert Nkemdiche has a fighting chance to revitalize his career. There won’t be any nonsense with this coaching regime, discipline is crucial. They will work on basics and fundamentals with him, and will help him stay out of trouble. It’s working out well with Walton and Williams, what’s one more lottery ticket?

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

Preston Williams header

Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams drawing high praise

It’s been a long road for Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams. He’s made mistakes off the field that he’s trying to get past, and he’s trying to make up for those mistakes by pushing himself as an undrafted free agent. Now, as Miami’s first preseason game draws ever closer, Williams is starting to impress the fans, his coaches, and even his teammates.

“That guy can be special.” said Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard. “He’s still learning, he’s just a rookie. (There) is so much room for improvement with him but he’s going to be a number one receiver one day.”

Considering Howard’s ever-increasing reputation, that’s extremely high praise. Howard’s job is locking down other teams’ best wide receivers, and in training camp, Howard gives that same treatment to Williams. Howard wins a lot of those matches. But there are moments where Williams makes an impressive play to beat the elite cornerback. That’s a difficult task no matter who it is, as everyone knows.

Back in late May, Ryan Fitzpatrick was asked about the tall, strong receiver, and apparently the praise wasn’t quite as pronounced.

“He’ll make some ‘wow’ plays and he’ll make some plays that remind you that he’s a young guy.” He said. “Consistency is going to be a big thing with him. In terms of some of the physical features and the way that he can go get the ball and those type of things, he’s been very impressive. Again, he’s working his tail off and it shows and you can tell out here, but there’s also a lot of work that still needs to be put in for him to be able to be trusted and be out there.”

But since then, trust has been attained, especially from young QB Josh Rosen. The two are building an impressive rapport, one that just might help Rosen win the starting job.

“Yeah, he’s got a ton of potential.” Rosen said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “He’s an unbelievable athlete. He’s got a great attitude. He works really hard, and I think he’s got a really high ceiling. It’s just about how hard he works, and I’m right there in the boat with him. We’re the same age, so hopefully we can develop together and keep pushing each other.”

To further boost their chances, Rosen and Williams actually have a history together. The two were on the same team at The Opening camp in Oregon in 2014 as recruits in high school. During that time, they made quite a tandem.

“I don’t know how much chemistry after – how long is that, five, six years ago?” Rosen said. “But yeah, it’s good to see him. That’s kind of the crazy thing about the NFL is that you walk in and you see faces that you haven’t seen in years from all over.”

Now, with an old friend throwing him the ball as he fights his way back to his NFL dream, does Preston Williams still have a chip on his shoulder from going undrafted? The answer, apparently, is no.

“That’s over, so I don’t really think about it any more.” Williams said. “I’m here now. I’ve got my foot in the door. I just came in to work. It doesn’t matter where I’m at or where I went.”

True enough, since where he is, is at the forefront of a brewing competition. As a result, he’s in the thick of it with DeVante Parker and Brice Butler for a spot on the final roster. If things stay this close between them, then preseason will have to make the final decision. In the end, Preston Williams isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s real humbling because a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to sit in these chairs.” He said. “So I just come out here every day like it’s my last practice.”