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Brian Flores

Brian Flores definitively puts Dolphins QB controversy to rest

Brian Flores is many things, but there is at least one thing he is not. He is not particularly fond of repeating himself. Undoubtedly, that’s a trait he shares with the majority of the world. Who wants to say the same thing over and over as if no one heard you the first time? But it seems that the Miami Dolphins head coach has been dealing with this for the past two weeks, as rumors swirl about the status of QB Tua Tagovailoa.

To be clear, Brian Flores has been saying the same thing all through the offseason. Apparently, in his mind only, Flores has been abundantly clear. All of the outside noise, it doesn’t matter. All of those rumors regarding acquiring Texans star QB Deshaun Watson, more noise. But ever since Yahoo Sports’s Charles Robinson reignited the firestorm with his report of Miami discussing a trade with Houston, it’s been hard to ignore. Flores directly addressed this issue on Tuesday.

“I think there’s always rumors. There’s always speculation.” He said Tuesday. “There’s always some form of distractions and I think as a team we’ve got to block that stuff out and play. I thought they did that yesterday and I think that’s something that all players deal with in the National Football League. There’s always something going on. There’s always something that – some form of speculation or controversy and we just block it out, ignore it and move on.”

But the speculation continued, and it even reached a point where Flores felt compelled to make a statement to the entire team.

A statement that Flores would prefer remains in-house.

“You guys know this, I don’t really get into conversations I have with the team, players.” Flores said on Wednesday. “Those conversations are private. Like I’ve said before, I think it’s just common courtesy to keep those conversations between myself and the player or the team. I will say that Tua is our quarterback, I think he’s had a good training camp, I think he’s made a lot of progress. I think he’s made a lot of improvement and we’re pleased with where he is. He’s going through his preparations for New England the way he should be, and that’s where we are as a team.”

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Now that should have been enough. He said Tua Tagovailoa is the starting quarterback. But speculation continued, because Flores still hadn’t outright said that Miami was not interested in Deshaun Watson. So again the question was asked. Is Tua Tagovailoa the starter? And again, Flores repeated himself. This time though, the frustration came through.

“I don’t know if I can be more clear. I don’t know how many times – I don’t know how much more clear I can be here.” Flores said. “Tua is the starter. Do I need to say it again? I will.”

Later that same day, Tua Tagovailoa added his own comments. He made it clear he appreciated his coach coming up to bat for him.

“I think it means a lot with it coming from the head coach. The support that I have from him and from the team, it means a lot. But for me, I’m just focused literally on trying to get our guys ready for next week.”

Even if Brian Flores doesn’t say the specific words everyone’s looking for, the message is clear. Not to mention the message has been consistent all offseason long. The answer is always the same. Tua Tagovailoa is the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. Maybe there is some truth to the rumors that owner Stephen Ross wants Deshaun Watson.

On the other hand, several reports came out that Ross won’t force football decisions and has faith in Tagovailoa. That should be the end of the discussion. Brian Flores is as clear as he can possibly be. He isn’t going to make an official statement about Deshaun Watson, no matter how much anyone pries. He’s been consistent about that ever since he arrived in 2019, and he reiterated that philosophy last Sunday after the Bengals game.

“Reports (and) speculation are not things we really get into. Look, I understand the question; but as I’ve said in the past, any conversations we have or don’t have with other clubs are going to be internal. I’ve been pretty steadfast about that – with our players, with other clubs – and that will remain the case.”

Will this satisfy the skeptics who still insist the Miami Dolphins aren’t happy with Tua Tagovailoa? Probably not. But Brian Flores isn’t going to change his personal philosophy just to appease the media or the fan base. However, there is a counterargument. Why would Brian Flores be so evasive about Deshaun Watson, and yet so definitive about Xavien Howard when rumors swirled around him?

Everyone will remember last month when Brian Flores went on record to tell the media to write down they didn’t want to trade Xavien Howard. He couldn’t have been more clear. So why not do the same now for Tua Tagovailoa and Deshaun Watson?

The simple answer: He’s been clear about Tagovailoa. But Watson is not on the team. Therefore, Flores is not commenting. Is it the best strategy? That’s up for debate. Nevertheless, that’s who Brian Flores is, and everyone just needs to accept that.

The easy way to make this all go away, obviously, is for Tagovailoa to become the player he was in college. All preseason signs point to that being the case this season. If Miami wins games, if the offense looks good, the Watson talk will vanish into the ether. If he struggles, however, Flores has a lot of repeating himself to look forward to. He’s put down the rumors every which way, but there’s only one thing that will kill them.

As the old saying goes: Winning cures all.

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

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Deshaun Watson

Should the Dolphins Trade for Deshaun Watson?

The Deshaun Watson trade rumors began to heat up again Saturday when multiple reports came out saying that the Miami Dolphins were considered to be  “frontrunners” to land the 25-year-old star quarterback.

Why the Dolphins should trade for Deshaun Watson:

Miami’s front office has constructed one of the best overall rosters that the Dolphins have had in decades. They arguably have one of the best defenses in the league, demonstrated last season by leading the league in defensive takeaways. They’ve also done a good job of bolstering their offense by adding speedy receivers Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. In addition to that, it seems that they have finally found the right coach in Brian Flores.

For years, the biggest question mark in Miami has been the quarterback. Tagovailoa looked shaky in the nine games he appeared in last season as a rookie. A superstar quarterback like Deshaun Watson could be just what the Dolphins need to take them to the next level. Watson already has good chemistry with Will Fuller from their days in Houston. If the Dolphins feel this team is a quarterback away from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders, then it might be time to get aggressive and go all-in on Deshaun Watson. 

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Why the Dolphins should not trade for Deshaun Watson:

There’s no denying Watson is a greater talent than Tagovailoa. However, there are many possible cons to bringing a guy like Watson in. The number one concern with Watson is his legal issues. There are currently 22 ongoing civil lawsuits against Watson from massage therapists claiming Watson engaged in some form of sexual misconduct with them. The Dolphins could be making a colossal mistake bringing in a guy who might have to go to jail midseason.

Also, the Texans are currently asking for a King’s ransom in return for Watson. The current asking price is three first round picks and two second round picks. Also, isn’t it a little late to be trading for a starting quarterback? Tagovailoa has been running this offense for the entire preseason and training camp. Bringing in Watson this close to the season could result in early season struggles for Miami while Watson gets adjusted to the Dolphins scheme. 

Goldman’s Opinion:

Before all of the legal allegations surfaced, I was the number one supporter of a trade involving the Miami Dolphins and Deshaun Waston. I believe in the way this roster is constructed. And I think a quarterback like Watson would put the Dolphins in the same category as the Bills, Chiefs, Bucs, and Packers. The Dolphins have a history of “almost” landing big name quarterbacks. First with Drew Brees not passing his physical, then failing to land Peyton Manning in 2011.

Missing out on Watson would have the Dolphins going for the hat trick. Also the Dolphins have the best assets to make a deal with the Texans. Tua Tagovailoa would most likely be used as a bargaining chip in this deal. In addition to Tua, the Fins would probably have to give up at least one first round pick. That isn’t that big of a deal for Miami because they stocked up on draft picks by moving back in this offseason’s draft. On paper this seems like a no-brainer for Miami. However these legal allegations do raise a high level of concern.

Grier needs to do his homework on this one. If there is any part of his mind that thinks these legal allegations could become a big problem then he should not make the trade. He needs to be 100% sure, but if Grier and the rest of the Dolphins front office can get 100% sure about this then I would absolutely advise them to pull the trigger on Watson. Generational QB talents like Watson don’t become available all too often.

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Will Fuller

Dolphins WR Will Fuller making long-awaited return

It’s been a long time coming. Not since Thanksgiving of last year has veteran wide receiver Will Fuller officially touched an NFL football field. Finally, on Monday, Fuller dressed fully and participated with his new Miami Dolphins teammates in practice.

“I haven’t played a game in a long time – since I guess Thanksgiving.” Fuller said on Monday. “That’s just something I have to work out through practice and shake that rust off. I feel pretty good, though. I’m out here running routes today and I feel pretty good.”

As of now, Fuller is the only wide receiver who hasn’t had much of a chance to work with QB Tua Tagovailoa. They did spend some time together in the offseason, running basic routes and building timing. But all of that was done on their own time. Now, everyone will get a chance to see what Fuller brings to the offense designed specifically for Tagovailoa. The very same offense that already boasts the likes of Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and electrifying rookie Jaylen Waddle, among others.

“This is probably one of the deepest and talented receiving corps that I’ve been a part of, just as far as all of the guys.” Fuller said. “We all can get it done and of course the tight ends as well and the running backs. It’s been fun to watch these guys. I’m excited to get out there with them and put my best out there.”

Now with two consecutive days of practice under his belt, signs point to Fuller finally being healthy. Injuries have been the story of his career so far. His talent is undeniable, and his speed is deadly. Unfortunately, it’s his health that’s the biggest question mark. Since being drafted in the first round by the Houston Texans in 2016, Fuller has missed 27 games in five seasons thanks to nagging injuries.

“Those guys are working hard to get back.” Head coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say there’s any worry, it’s more they’re working to get back. They’ll be out there today. From that standpoint I know they are doing everything they can and that’s really all we can ask of them. That’s kind of the approach I take. Injuries happen … All that we can ask is that they do everything they can to get back as quickly as they can. All the guys who are dealing with nicks and bruises are doing what they can to get back.”

However, there is a more telling story with Will Fuller. When DeAndre Hopkins was in Houston, Fuller had to share the glory. Hopkins always had the spotlight as a perennial All-Pro wide receiver. Once Hopkins left to Arizona, however, everything changed. Quarterback Deshaun Watson now relied on Fuller to be his top target, and he took advantage of that chance. 2020 was Fuller’s best statistical year yet, as he logged 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, is that Fuller only played in 11 games last season. Which means he put those numbers up while still missing five games.

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If Fuller had played the whole season, who knows what he could have done? Now, it’s Tua Tagovailoa who will get the chance to benefit from Fuller’s presence, and he spoke about how happy he was to have the veteran back in practice at last on Wednesday.

“It’s good to have all of our guys back out here, to be able to work some timing and to be able to get some work in with them.” Tagovailoa said. “I think just them being able to get back into the huddle, hear calls, get out, know where they’re lining up at and then executing with them, I think that’s very important.”

The Miami Dolphins offense already looks vastly improved even without Will Fuller on the field. It’s hard to imagine how much better it can look with Fuller added to the equation. Perhaps, if he can stay healthy, Miami may feel compelled to offer him a big extension. Fuller signed a 1-year, almost fully guaranteed $10,625,011 contract with the Dolphins, both cashing in and betting on himself simultaneously.

Will Fuller is betting he can stay healthy. He’s betting that Tua Tagovailoa is ready to make a huge jump in his career and make him look good. If he wins those bets, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Fuller will be a very rich man in 2022 and beyond.

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

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

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Dolphins display dominance on both sides vs Falcons

A laser sharp Tua Tagovailoa, combined with an opportunistic Dolphins defense, shut down the Atlanta Falcons 37-17 on Saturday. With a redacted preseason now at three games, the middle contest served as the dress rehearsal for the Miami Dolphins.

Tua’s Starring Role

As in the opener against the Chicago Bears, Tagovailoa once again came out of the gate poised and effective.

After a full offseason to strengthen his body and mind, Tagovailoa looks like the quarterback many predicted to be the top pick before his hip injury ended his college career.

In two preseason contests and playing roughly a full game total, Tagovailoa is 24-of-34 with 282 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Even then, statistics don’t tell the full story. On film, Tagovailoa looks much more comfortable in the pocket, despite an uneven offensive line performance once again.

The game plan was to get the ball out quickly and it was an effective strategy. Miami’s offensive line was inconsistent in pass protection but was much more effective in run blocking this time around.

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Also, Malcolm Brown was featured more in this game and had a team high 10 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed were quiet on the ground, but both made an impact as receivers. Gaskin finished tied for the team lead with four receptions, while Ahmed chipped in two catches for 19 yards.

Not everything was wonderful, however. An early injury scare to rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle gave the home crowd at Hard Rock Stadium reason to pause.

Thankfully, Waddle seemed to recover and shortly returned to action, finishing with three receptions for 21 yards.

Sam Eguavoen Electric in Return

The unquestioned star of the evening was linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who returned to action from the reserve/COVID-19 list just in time. Eguavoen was a one-man wrecking crew, finishing with 11 tackles and a remarkable four sacks.

His final sack of the evening also resulted in a safety on Falcons QB Felipe Franks in the third quarter. That put the Dolphins up 23-3 and kept the excitement high. The rest of the Miami reserves were also much better in this game compared to last week against Chicago.

All in all, it was a very complete performance for the Dolphins and the team played hard for a full 60 minutes. They were disciplined and committed just two penalties for 19 yards, while not turning the ball over once.

Up next the Dolphins will close out the preseason with a trip to face the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Miami Dolphins

Preseason Week 2 – Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons: 5 players to watch

After the first preseason game ended in a disappointing loss against the Chicago Bears, the Miami Dolphins will look to bounce back against their second training camp partner, the Atlanta Falcons. To be fair to Miami, the starting players looked impressive. QB Tua Tagovailoa looks vastly improved, even if the one interception in the endzone ruins his stats. As for the defense, even without Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, they stifled Andy Dalton and Justin Fields. The Bears didn’t get their first 1st down of the game until just a few seconds left before the end of the first half.

It wasn’t until the 3rd and 4th string players entered the game that things went awry. So when Justin Fields says the game was slow to him, remember who he was facing. He may live to regret that comment. The only true concern the entire game was the offensive line. They could not run block at all. The Miami Dolphins hope to change that against the Falcons. Alex Donno did his show, “Donno Daily,” and the five starting offensive linemen were the immediate choices for five players to watch during the live stream.

Now while that comment was made mostly as a joke, it is still valid. The offensive line needs to perform better than last week. So with that said, let’s take a look at the other top five players to watch during the second preseason game.

1. Tua Tagovailoa – QB

Let’s not beat around the bush this time. Obviously, everyone will want to see what Tagovailoa does in his second preseason outing. Will he continue to find holes in the defense? Can he navigate the pressure in the pocket? Will he make better decisions with the football in the red zone? Again, Tagovailoa looked masterful against the Bears. Except for that one bad decision that resulted in an interception in the end zone.

Some have said it’s a result of Tagovailoa’s lack of arm strength. True, he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm like Justin Herbert. His success is based on timing and reading the defense. Which, for those who paid attention to how Tagovailoa played at Alabama, has been his game from the very beginning. Watching the throw on replay, the main issue was when he decided to throw it, not how fast the ball got there. Even for a super strong arm, the throw was risky.

These are the kinds of things that happen with young quarterbacks, particularly ones that don’t have immense physical capabilities. Tagovailoa is learning how to dissect defenses and find the openings in them. His arm isn’t “weak,” it’s merely average. Sadly, average has become the new weak in the eyes of many. QBs like Tagovailoa take a little longer to develop. But history has shown that some of the QBs in NFL history were not known for their cannon arms.

They did, however, have an innate knack for knowing where to go with the ball and when. That is what to expect from Tua Tagovailoa. Watch to see if he displays more of that trait tonight.

2. Salvon Ahmed – RB

It’s no secret that the Miami Dolphins want to use a running back committee approach. There is no set “starter” per say, it’s all about the matchups. Basically, every time anyone asks head coach Brian Flores about the starter at running back, he gives a similar answer.

“We like all our backs.” He said on Thursday. “They’re all a little bit different. They all have the ability to play multiple downs. We are going to try to use them all. From Malcolm (Brown) to Myles (Gaskin) to Salvon (Ahmed). Patrick Laird has gone in there and done some good things. (Jordan) Scarlett has gone in there, he had a couple good runs last week. (Gerrid) Doaks has gone in there and had some good runs. We try to use them all.”

Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop specific players from standing out above the rest. Only one RB actually managed to shine against the Bears, and that was Salvon Ahmed.

Both Ahmed and Myles Gaskin hail from Washington. They were teammates there and between the two of them, Gaskin was the starter while Ahmed was the change of pace back. That dynamic seems to be repeating itself, as Gaskin tends to get the heavier carry load. However, if the pattern continues where Ahmed gets production with his superior speed, the Miami Dolphins may need to reanalyze that.

The Atlanta Falcons run defense isn’t exactly top-tier. Unless there’s a complete meltdown in blocking, Ahmed or one of the other backs should be able to gain some yards on the ground. Keep a close eye on Ahmed and see if he looks better than the others.

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3. Austin Jackson – OT

At least one offensive lineman still had to make this list, in spite of the discussion with Alex Donno. Without doubt, Austin Jackson has taken a beating over this past week. Reporters, fans, coaches, they’ve all been pushing him in hopes that he’ll rebound after his terrible performance against the Bears in his first ever preseason game. True, they are being patient with him. On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins obviously want to see some improvement from him as time passes. This will be an opportunity to do so.

Jackson was a high ceiling prospect coming out of USC. That’s why the team felt compelled to draft him 18th overall. He has all the physical tools, it’s just a matter of putting them all together. That’s partly coaching, but it’s also on him to do his part. He’s working hard, trying to make the most of his reps. Even Tua Tagovailoa is doing his part to help Jackson get back on his feet.

The Atlanta Falcons pass rush isn’t known for being dangerous. In fact, most Falcons fans have lamented their complete inability to get to the quarterback and create any sort of pressure. That changed during the joint practices with the Dolphins. According to numerous reports, Tagovailoa was harassed in the pocket all week long, which isn’t a good sign for Miami. The struggle is so real that the Dolphins even decided to give up a 7th round draft pick to take a flyer on former Panthers OT Greg Little.

Austin Jackson is the man to watch simply because his struggle was the most obvious last week. Any sort of improvement this week will be welcome.

4. Jaelen Phillips – LB

The Miami Dolphins kept Jaelen Phillips out of the first preseason game in spite of the fact he participated in practice against the Bears. The plan, according to Brian Flores, was to bring him along slowly. Now Phillips has gotten in a full week with no setbacks. It’s more likely that this time, the former Miami Hurricanes star will get a chance to see real game action for the first time in his career.

But that isn’t guaranteed.

Phillips has the potential to become the modern-age Jason Taylor if he reaches his full potential. In many ways, he’s what Dion Jordan could have been if he hadn’t essentially thrown his career way with off-the-field issues. The only thing stopping Phillips from getting there is his own health. His ceiling is staggering, but he won’t reach it if he doesn’t play. The first thing to watch against the Falcons is if Flores allows him to play.

If the answer to that is yes, then watch to see how Phillips does rushing the passer, dropping back into coverage, and being an overall menace to the Falcons offense. If he happens to start, then that will say even more about what the Miami Dolphins think of him.

5. Jakeem Grant – WR

Depending on who you ask, Grant is either a lock to make the Miami Dolphins roster, or his days are numbered and it’s only a matter of time before he’s cut. The split opinion of the Texas Tech standout is truly remarkable. He is undeniably a dynamic playmaker once the ball is in his hands. But that in and of itself is the problem. It’s not always a guarantee that the ball will get into his hands.

As a kick and punt returner, it’s hard to find better options on the roster than Jakeem Grant. The only one who even comes close is rookie Jaylen Waddle, and he’s expected to contribute much more as a wide receiver. It might not be in Miami’s best interest to put Waddle out there to be targeted. As a wide receiver, Grant has a checkered past marred by multiple drops. These drops have caused the fan base to largely turn on Grant, but apparently the coaching staff still sees value in him.

It’s still not a guarantee that Grant will make the roster. He has to show he’s reliable as a receiver as well as a return man. Thankfully, he and Tua Tagovailoa seem to have a strong rapport building in training camp. He’s been the target of a number of Tagovailoa’s practice touchdowns, which shows they can make it work even against Miami’s starting defense, as well as Chicago and Atlanta’s.

Love him or hate him, Jakeem Grant brings electricity to the roster. As it’s unlikely most of the projected starters at wide receiver will play against the Falcons, Grant will have ample opportunity to showcase his skills. He needs to make the most of it to keep the leg up he has on some of the other fringe players.

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

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

Thrive Fantasy takes away the hours of research required to make the most out of your fantasy sports experience. Thrive’s featured $100K guaranteed contest is only $20 to enter, and the first-place winner takes $20K.

Go to https://www.thrivefantasy.com/?promo=5Fins and use the promo code “5Fins” to match up to $100 on your first deposit when you sign up, and you can also take advantage of your Dolphins knowledge with their special Dolphins-based contest by using the promo code “dolphins” to get started.

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa doing his part to help develop Dolphins OL

An offensive line needs to work together as a team in order to properly protect their quarterback. Coming from Alabama, no one knows that better than Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa. Alabama offensives lines are notorious for being some of the best in college football on a regular basis. In college, Tagovailoa was well protected and could properly showcase his ability. Unfortunately, things are different in Miami.

It’s no secret that the Dolphins have struggled to build a solid offensive line over the past decade or so. Sometimes the front office doesn’t invest enough resources. Other times the players acquired simply don’t live up to lofty expectations. Regardless of the why, Miami’s offensive line has not seen stability in a long time. Even now, 1st round pick Austin Jackson is fighting to prove he was worth picking 18th overall in the 2020 draft.

For now, the Miami Dolphins are being patient with Jackson. He is extremely young and his ceiling is high, but he is also in need of coaching to reach that ceiling. Jackson’s performance against the Chicago Bears in the preseason can only be described as abysmal. While reports indicate he’s doing marginally better against the Atlanta Falcons in joint practices, there was also a report that Tua Tagovailoa pulled Jackson aside and had to have a talk with him about something.

Later that same day, Tagovailoa spoke to the media and was asked about the nature of this discussion. His answer was straightforward, but revealed something that should not be overlooked.

“It’s just communicating.” Tagovailoa said. “Just, ‘hey, how are you feeling in the back there.’ For me, just kind of talking to those guys about what I’m feeling and what I’m seeing as far as pressure and just communicating that to them. They don’t see everything. All they see is the guy they’re blocking.”

That right there says a lot about Tua Tagovailoa. He’s not only taking command of his own level of play, he’s doing his part to elevate the others around him. It is important for leaders to lead by example, which he’s doing. But there’s also the verbal aspect of it, which Tagovailoa was limited with during his rookie season. When Ryan Fitzpatrick was with the Dolphins, Tagovailoa took a step back. Now this is his football team, and he’s treating it as such.

“He’s doing a great job, he’s doing a great job leadership-wise.” Austin Jackson said on Thursday. “He’s going into his second year. Him also like myself, having a whole year under your belt and then getting an offseason to prepare, you can anticipate more things. That’s really what football comes down to. We all can line up and play but you have to anticipate stuff. I think he’s definitely gotten a lot better with that … He’s our quarterback … being a quarterback is a lot of responsibility at the end of the day. He can’t run our routes, he can’t call all of our protections, so I think that’s kind of where the 11 people working as one thing comes together. He’s definitely a leader of the offense.”

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For Jackson to still speak so highly of Tua Tagovailoa just one day after being pulled to the side by him, that speaks volumes about the level of respect Tagovailoa has built inside that locker room. Fans can fondly look back on the memories created by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s two-year tenure with the Miami Dolphins, but this is Tagovailoa’s team now. The only real weak spot left is the offensive line, and Tagovailoa is not letting the chips fall where they may.

The young QB out of Alabama is taking a very active role in developing the offense, even on the offensive line. Already, they’re showing signs of improvement as practices continue. Give credit to what he’s doing. Not every QB has the charisma or the courage to do what Tua Tagovailoa is doing.

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

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

Thrive Fantasy takes away the hours of research required to make the most out of your fantasy sports experience. Thrive’s featured $100K guaranteed contest is only $20 to enter, and the first-place winner takes $20K.

Go to https://www.thrivefantasy.com/?promo=5Fins and use the promo code “dolphins” to match up to $100 on your first deposit when you sign up, and take advantage of your Dolphins knowledge with their special Dolphins-based contest to get started.

Austin Jackson

Dolphins practicing patience with OT Austin Jackson

Looking back on the Miami Dolphins first preseason game of the 2021 season, it’s safe to say that the offensive line is going to be a concern. To make matters worse, one player stood out above the rest with his struggles against the Chicago Bears. That’s offensive tackle Austin Jackson. According to ProFootballFocus, Jackson gave up five pressures in 18 pass blocking chances. His run blocking was only marginally better.

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By every available metric, Jackson struggled in his first ever preseason game. It’s no secret that numbers sometimes lie in sports. However, in this case, the film seems to support the numbers.

Austin Jackson is a 1st round draft pick. He is expected to perform as such. If Jackson doesn’t figure things out quickly, then Tua Tagovailoa could find himself hitting the ground a lot more than what is necessary. Granted, there is still time, and Jackson is only 22 years old. He showed what he’s capable of during his rookie season, having plenty of ups to go with his downs. As a result, the Dolphins seem to be taking the same approach they’re taking with Noah Igbinoghene.

Patience.

“I thought he did some good things. I thought he competed well.” Head coach Brian Flores said on Sunday. “We were playing against a good front, some good players over there. I thought he competed well, I thought he did some good things in the running game, did some good things in pass protection. I thought he did a lot of good things. Obviously there were some instances where his techniques and fundamentals weren’t as good and we’re making those corrections right now. But I was pleased with how he played.”

It’s no surprise to see Flores defending his players. He’s never been one to throw any one player under the bus. As for Jackson himself, he’s focusing on trying to get up to speed, and declines to comment on where the OL is versus where they want to be.

“That’s a tough question to ask, especially with all of the moving pieces going in.” He said after the game. “We’re putting in the offense right now, so we’re all learning; but I know one thing we do do is we come in and compete every day. The effort part, if you’re not lacking the effort part – which is a struggle for a lot of people and teams – then you can go great places. We’re staying on that track and just keep building until we get a brick wall.”

While Austin Jackson struggled against the Bears, not all hope is lost. The offensive line was not able to do anything while run blocking, but their pass protection was better than given credit for. QB Tua Tagovailoa even went out of his way to credit them after the game was over.

“I think the line did a tremendous job today.” Tagovailoa said after the game. “They kept the pocket clean, gave me a lot of time to step up into the pocket and make that throw. And it wasn’t just that play. There were numerous occasions throughout the first quarter and second quarter where they’ve really shown up and given me a clean pocket.”

Watching the film, the pass protection actually was better than it seemed. Tagovailoa’s best throws of the day came with no one around him. The real glaring weak spot was Austin Jackson. Fortunately for the Miami Dolphins, there’s still time to bring him back up to speed.

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

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

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Dolphins win Patriots

Bullish or Bearish? Miami Dolphins Preseason Week 1

Welcome to the first installment of Bullish or Bearish! I am not one to touch stonks nor give financial advice, but I do love some crypto and these are two terms, we in the community use to identify whether a project is trending up or inverse to that, trending down. This year I will be bringing you a Bullish or Bearish report once a week to help you identify who’s improving and who’s regressing on the 2021 Miami Dolphins. We start Week 1 of the Pre-Season schedule for your Miami Dolphins with a  final score of 13-20 in favor of the Bears and left us with some questions answered while also leaving us with some concerns. Let’s dive in.

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Bullish

Mike Gesicki:

A bold take on the way, health permitting, we may be on the verge of a breakout season by Mike Gesicki. A breakout into possibly 1100+ yards and 10+ TDs territory. I know it’s early and many of Tua’s other weapons are out but that also lets me know that he will be reliable when those same WRs aren’t available (I expect that to be often) and most importantly is that he might be the biggest benefactor of the attention needed to guard Will Fuller and Jaylan Waddle leaving him isolated one on one like he was against the Bears and Alec Ogletree. Look out because Gesicki looks ready to make the Dolphins pay for not having paid him yet.

Salvon Ahmed:

We talked all offseason about a needed 2nd-year jump for many guys but the one we all seem to have left out is Salvon Ahmed. All afternoon Ahmed looked faster, stronger, quicker, and overall, more comfortable. Salvon was able to not just only show the burst which led to the Dolphins’ first 100-yard rushing performance by a player in nearly 2 seasons, Ahmed also showed tremendous improvement in the passing game as evident by TD to end the half from Jacoby. Coach Flores already has hinted at this being a RBBC but I wouldn’t be shocked if at some point this season Ahmed claims the job as his. 

Lynn Bowden Jr:

 Someone who desperately needed a good showing after a curiously quiet camp was Lynn Bowden Jr. Lynn was able to show everything that has me excited and expecting a substantial jump in performance. Altogether he had 4 catches for 47 yards, 2 first downs, and 1 kick return (more on that later). If Lynn can build off this performance and put together a good week of practice vs the Falcons, he could guarantee not only his roster spot but also a role as a specialists/WR.

Bearish

Jakeem Grant

Some may see Jakeem’s name on the bearish side and will yell out how he had the most explosive punt return of the game when it went for 34 yards. I urge you to realize what is going on with the KR and PR positions. On KR we saw both Noah Igbinoghene and Lynn Bowden Jr get chances to show what they can do. On PR we saw a total of 7 punt returns with Jakeem getting 3, Malcolm Perry getting 3, and Waddle getting only 1. It is starting to feel like if anyone steps up and makes the returner jobs theirs, Jakeem’s time in Miami may be coming to an end.

Malcolm Brown

Another year, another power back who can’t seem to find space to operate. After some good initial runs by Brown, where he showed a nice ability to finish forward, he and the OL did their best to give us Jordan Howard PTSD. In total Malcolm had 9 carries go for a total of 8 yards with a long of 6. Think about that, he had 8 carries go for 2 yards. Outside of the pedestrian performance, the emergence of Salvon Ahmed could force Malcolm to be a key reserve or not even make the team at all. This is a situation that will require further research to see how this ends up working out.

Austin Jackson

As nicely as I can put it, that was an abysmal performance by Austin Jackson. When you stop and consider Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Robert Quinn each played less than 9 snaps while Austin had 44 total snaps, it’s extremely concerning to see him struggle as he did, against backups and third-stringers. The toughest part of watching Austin vs the Bears? He got beat in a plethora of ways, from stunts, speed rushes, and bullrushes. There weren’t many things that the defense tried, that didn’t work. Per PFF in 22 pass-blocking opportunities, Austin gave up a holding penalty to stall a drive, 1 QB hit, 4 QB hurries, and 5 QB pressures. Not the start many envisioned for the 2020 18th overall selection.

 

 

Overall, the first preseason game was just that, the first preseason game and while it did give us some things to start to focus on more (the oline) there is still time to improve and work on the things that did work. This week-to-week report could in theory having Austin Jackson as bearish but if he comes out next week and responds to the criticism he may find himself on the bullish side of things. Until next time, Fins Up!

 

 

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Miami Dolphins

Preseason Week 1 – Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears: 5 players to watch

As the Miami Dolphins prepare to face off against the Chicago Bears for their first real game action of the year, there are plenty of players to keep an eye on. But considering the circumstances, there are a few players who deserve more attention than others. Here are five of those players.

1. Larnel Coleman – OT

Larnel Coleman is intriguing for a few reasons. First and foremost, the Miami Dolphins offensive line is – once again – in flux. Liam Eichenberg did not immediately take to right tackle like so many hoped. His left guard ambitions did not go much better. However, in limited snaps in practice, Coleman has shown a certain level of promise. Against the Chicago Bears, Coleman will have a big test ahead of him.

As a 7th round pick, Coleman is undoubtedly a project. But he has talent and he’s already shown he can hold his own against his teammates. Raw speed seems to be a weakness of his, as evidenced by Vince Biegel figuring him out in practice last week. If Coleman develops quickly, Miami may dodge a bullet if Eichenberg doesn’t catch on first. All due respect to veteran Jesse Davis, a long term starter he is not. Miami needs an upgrade.

2. Noah Igbinoghene – CB

To say that Noah Igbinoghene has been disappointing so far in practice would be an understatement. Even the coaching staff briefly demoted him to third string due to his struggles in practice. In one practice he was beaten not once, but twice on deep passes to Isaiah Ford. That is not a ringing endorsement for the 1st round pick out of Auburn. However, once again, patience is required for Igbinoghene.

He’s a physical freak, a one of a kind athlete. But his experience at corner is so limited compared to other players in his draft class, it’s no surprise he’s a step or two behind. Will Miami get to reap the benefits of his drafting? That remains to be seen. Fortunately, the Dolphins worked things out with Xavien Howard, so Igbinoghene’s bought at least one more season to train as an NFL cornerback.

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3. Brennan Scarlett – LB

When Jaelen Phillips went down with an injury, the first player to make an instant impact was none other than Brennan Scarlett. The veteran linebacker went undrafted in 2016 and signed with the Houston Texans, only to land on injured reserve over and over again with various injuries. It’s clear that his career has been derailed by these injuries. Ever since training camp opened, Scarlett has made plays against the first team offense and is a regular contributor on the special teams unit.

So why look at Scarlett instead of rookie Jaelen Phillips? Well, if Phillips plays, then by all means, watch him too. After all, he returned to practice during the joint sessions with the Bears and was immediately placed with the first team. But Scarlett has been given more time to stand out than Phillips, and he’s taken advantage of that time. If Scarlett performs, that could give Phillips more time to heal and develop. No need to rush things along if someone can provide an instant impact already.

4. Gerrid Doaks – RB

If it feels like the choices are a little obscure, there is a reason for that. Remember, preseason is essentially an extended tryout. There’s no question that Myles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed are the favorites to make the roster as the team’s running back stable. But the Miami Dolphins opted to draft Gerrid Doaks with their final draft pick in 2021, so they must have felt he was worth something to not let him test the market.

Doaks hasn’t necessarily stood out. If he had, he would have pushed for more playing time with the starting unit. But the rotation at running back in practice is so fluid that literally everyone has gotten a chance to take handoffs from Tua Tagovailoa at this point. Doaks will likely receive a lot of snaps, since Gaskin is the clear starter. Brown and Ahmed both suffered injuries in practice recently, and are also expected to make the team anyway.

So keeping the reality of preseason in mind, Doaks will receive more of a chance to stand out than anyone else as the game drags on. His main niche is as a power back, and has a reputation for being a good blocker out of the backfield. Everyone knows how much Miami loves running backs that can block. Doaks has a chance to make his presence felt against the Chicago Bears.

5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB

The one that everyone’s been waiting for. The time has come to finally see Tua Tagovailoa throw the football against an NFL team that isn’t his own. So why, with all the hype surrounding him, is he so low on this list? Simply put, he likely won’t be in for very long. This is not the dress rehearsal. There may not even be a dress rehearsal with the way the NFL has changed the structure of preseason. He’ll get in a few drives, maybe even play a quarter. But it’s unlikely he stays any longer than that before Jacoby Brissett and Reid Sinnett take over from there.

Make no mistake, as with any NFL team, the season hinges on the performance of the quarterback. Tagovailoa seems to have taken a huge step forward so far, so if he can follow up his camp performance with an amazing showing in limited time against Chicago, then Miami Dolphins fans everywhere have a massive reason to be excited for the upcoming season.

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

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

The 4 Most Pressing Questions for the Miami Dolphins heading into Chicago

Having gone through 2 full weeks of camp, we can start to identify some of the paramount questions that need answers. Yes, you can get a lot of information from training camp especially when the pads came on, but it is nothing compared to facing another team. Starting Wednesday, the Dolphins will be in Chicago practicing and scrimmaging vs the Bears until Friday and then playing them for the Dolphins’ first preseason game on Saturday at 1 p.m. This will be the first test for many players and even coaches, let’s dive into the 4 most pressing questions that need answering.

Can the OL gel and show growth?

The biggest question mark that needs answering in my opinion is of the entire offensive line. From Austin Jackson at LT, Liam at LG, and Dieter at C, these are all guys that have managed to not lose their jobs instead of outright winning their jobs. Will they be able to handle the Dline of the Bears that includes Akiem Hicks, Mario Edwards Jr, Robert Quinn, and Khalil Mack? 3 days of intense practice vs those names should bring clarity as to if the Dolphins have enough in terms of talent and depth, or if they need to start making some aggressive calls to other teams.

WR health and is there enough depth?

I think we all anticipated that at multiple times this season we would get hit with the injury bug with so many WRs prone to injury, but no one could have expected that during the first 2 weeks of camp we would be without Will Fuller for all but one practice, Devante would be wearing red non-contact jerseys, Preston being on PUP and Albert on “maintenance management”. Even while missing all those names, Tua hasn’t missed a beat against our own DBs, and now it’s time to see what Tua can do against another team’s DBs with the weapons available to him. Will having so many injury-prone WRs end up stalling Tua’s development? We start to find out this week.

Do we have a dominant Defensive Line?

We have two separate questions when it comes to the Oline and Dline. Is our Dline that dominant that they have forced the Oline to struggle in camp or is the Oline so putrid that they have made our Dline look like the Purple People Eaters? I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle because our Dline outside of our DBs is the deepest and will be the most relied upon position group. From Wilkins, Raekwon, Sieler, John Jenkins, Adam Butler and others, we have the potential to make a huge jump in rush Defense and pass Defense if these names can take the next step and find some chemistry to play together.

Can the 1st and 2nd-year players develop?

Lastly, seeing as the bulk of this team is 1st and 2nd-year players, it should go without saying that they are the ones who will make this team a contender or a pretender. You obviously must talk about Tua and the jump that’s expected of him but that could be said for multiple players like Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, Liam Eichenberg, Robert Hunt, Jaylen Waddle, Lynn Bowden Jr, Salvon Ahmed, Raekwon Davis, Noah Igbinoghene, Brandon Jones, Jaelan Phillips, and Jevon Holland. If some of these guys can step up and not only become big contributors but also dominant players, the sky is the limit for our 2021 Miami Dolphins. The first real obstacle in their way is the Chicago Bears, let’s see who is up for the challenge.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882