News

Dolphins Chris Grier

Pressure Point: Up to Chris Grier to build on Brian Flores’ good work

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores just made the job of general manager Chris Grier a whole lot tougher.

So be it.

How can you care at all about the Dolphins and not find delight in the stunning 27-24 upset they pulled off Sunday in Flores’ finale as a rookie head coach in his first visit to New England, where he worked for 15 years in the Belichick regime?

Especially when it mucks up Patriots playoff plans, denying them a first-round bye.

Also considering Miami hadn’t won at Foxborough since September 2008.

I know. I know. By winning five of their last nine to finish 5-11, the Dolphins strayed far from the tanking playbook — which Flores always claimed he wasn’t in on anyway. And there is no choice but to believe him now.

Win didn’t hurt draft standing

Sunday didn’t alter their standing in the draft order anyway.

Trying to win by losing has always been a cockamamie concept. Of greater importance, the win at New England was the latest in a growing stack of evidence that the Dolphins finally have a coach they can win with.

It was remarkable, really, coming to New England as 17-point underdogs and considering the 43-0 debacle in Miami in Week 2.

Sure, now Flores must show he can win more meaningful games when given the tools to work with. But he achieved far more with less than Adam Gase did in taking the 2016 Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season.

But he has a locker room full of believers, and likely much of the fan base.

Now that this most confusing of Dolphins seasons is over, speculation can shift from what they may or may not be trying to achieve on the field to what they must accomplish in the NFL draft.

Now it’s all about what Grier will do with those three first-round and assorted extra draft picks (14 total in 2020).

Finding the quarterback of the future remains the general manager’s mandate despite the team’s competitive gains behind the inspired play of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dolphins give Patriots a taste of their own medicine

Tua tough call as first-round pick

The Dolphins have the No. 5 pick next April and may have a chance to select Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (provided he enters the draft), who must come back from a significant hip injury.

Maybe Tua will fare better than Bo Jackson, whose mercurial career was halted by a hip injury. Considering the injuries to both ankles that have also sidelined Tagovailoa, his durability is an issue.

Grier will spend more time poring over Tua’s medical reports than his game film. It will take conviction to make that choice or another available quarterback.

Regardless of whichever quarterback Grier chooses, bringing back Fitzpatrick would buy time in the development process.

Fitz reached folk hero status with what he accomplished leading an offense devoid of any reliable running game. That was cemented Sunday by outplaying Tom Brady and orchestrating the winning touchdown drive capped by the payoff pass to Mike Gesicki.

That doesn’t change that Grier must come away from the draft with a quarterback, but it’s just the top of a laundry list of needs.

Numerous needs on offense, defense

On offense, the challenge is to upgrade the line and add a featured running back, through draft picks and signings.

The receiving corps is respectable, with DeVante Parker having a breakout year and Gesicki making major strides in his second season. But pass protection and blocking for the running game needs to improve.

On defense, pass rushers are top priority, on the line and at linebacker. An ever-changing cast in the defensive backfield held its own against Tom Brady on Sunday, highlighted by former Patriot Eric Rowe’s pick-six. But Grier will be looking for another cornerback and likely a safety, especially if Reshad Jones isn’t brought back.

Grier is on the clock and on the spot for 2020.

As for 2019, which began with getting outscored 163-26 in the first four games, Sunday’s stunner made it almost sad to see time expire.

One thing for sure, the time for hoping for losses is thankfully over.

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

Tom Brady needs to feel heat from Dolphins pass rush

The Dolphins need to bring defensive pressure to the New England Patriots in the passing game.

It’s no secret that the Miami Dolphins have a tough task this weekend with the New England Patriots coming to town. After all, New England demolished the Pittsburgh Steelers by a 33-3 score. With a stout defense and Tom Brady at the helm, they did whatever they wanted last Sunday. Oh by the way, Antonio Brown should join the team in Miami just in time for the game. It is safe to say the Dolphins will have their hands full.

This may seem like an obvious statement, but the Dolphins need to get pressure on Brady. Last weekend, Lamar Jackson was pretty much free to do whatever he wanted. He burned the Dolphins for 378 passing yards and four touchdowns. Tom Brady will do the same if the Dolphins do not get to him quickly. A receiver like Josh Gordon can beat you with pure speed, while a receiver like Julian Edelman is great at improvising routes and getting an initial first step on his defender. The running backs are huge part of the passing game as well. They can catch screens, wheel routes, and even line up as receivers. They are extremely versatile and add another wrinkle for the defense to look out for.

Sam Eguavoen  and Jonathan Ledbetter each recorded a half sack last week. With one sack in total, the Miami defensive line did not get to the quarterback enough. If the Dolphins have any chance of beating the Patriots, they need to create a consistent pass rush. If you give Tom Brady time to throw, he will make you pay. Even at 42 years old, he can still throw the football extremely well. it’s fascinating to see quite frankly. However, he always seems to struggle in Miami. Whether it be the heat or the crowd noise, a New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins game in Miami is always a good one.

New England Patriots need to feel the heat

Bringing pressure up the middle often makes Tom Brady think a little bit in the pocket. I used to see it a ton with the New York Jets defenses in the early part of this decade. They would bring pressure up the middle, and also bring a little bit of pressure off the edge. They constantly stumped Brady and rushed him into making throws he didn’t like.

Those New York Jets defenses were very good. I’m not asking for the 2019 Miami Dolphins defense to play like those just defenses. The formula of getting pressure up the middle and making Brady think is something that they can do on Sunday. I like to see a little bit more out of Christian Wilkins in this game. He can do a little bit of everything. He can clog up running lanes, but he can also rush the passer. I would love to see him be able to get pressure on Brady. Getting pressure on the quarterbacks was something he did at Clemson, and his skill set should translate well to the National Football League.

Playing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is not going to be easy. The odds are certainly stacked against the Dolphins, but they can at least make life for Brady in the new England patriots difficult.  Getting pressure on Brady would be a nice step toward keeping this game close. keeping this game close and general would certainly be a moral victory for Miami.

Tom Brady annoys people again

It’s April’s Fools Day, if you weren’t aware, people play practical jokes on this day.

And no one is a bigger joker than Tom Brady.

So today, the typically reclusive New England Patriots quarterback — and Miami Dolphins tormentor, except in Miami Gardens — sent out his first tweet.

And it was a super funny one.

This thing had nearly 100,000 likes as of this post.

Apparently, some didn’t find it that amusing, even those very calm people in the Boston area.

No, the Tuck Rule call was a bad joke.

So, sorry, Dolphins fans.

You’re getting more Brady this season, with all his hilarity.

(Photo by our Tony Capobianco)