Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Miami Dolphins Watch List

            As a long time MIAMI Dolphins fan I was happy to see a stadium deal worked out.  It has been a topic I have not been very vocal about because I do not live in Florida so the pros and cons of the tax dollars on the proposed deal don’t really impact me. I just wanted to see something get done so we did not have to worry about the team becoming the LA Dolphins.  With Ross putting 350 million into the stadium it practically guarantee’s the Dolphins will be in Miami now for many seasons to come. It is a big day for the fans. 

Now back to the field, I am excited to see mini camp arriving.  OTA’s are fun to follow but you really don’t get much of a feel  from them other than who is there and how they look moving around.  Anyone that reads my posts knows I am very critical of players not in peak condition. So I was not thrilled to see Moreno showing up a bit out of shape. I did watch footage and it is not like he is 30 pounds overweight or anything. But he is right where he belongs on third team. Players not in peak shape don’t get reps until they are ready.  I am not overly concerned about it. I am sure he is already getting tired of it being highlighted and he will have himself ready to go for training camp. On top of that this is a not a situation where he is a starter by default  due to lack of talent. He did not replace anyone rather he was added on top of what we had last year. In fact depth is something I have noticed this year.  That is why you are seeing perfect attendance at all the camps. The competition is very high at most positions.   Pre-Season games and scrimmages are going to be intense.  Here is my Top 10 List to watch during the pre-season.  What is your prediction for the outcomes?

1.)    Dallas Thomas vs Billy Turner Vs Shelly Smith with two starting guard spot up from grabs, this should be fun to watch.  – Turner seems like a tough SOB to me and Dallas Thomas 2.0 looks upgraded without pads. Smith is the veteran that is relatively untested. Will Starks and Odrick eat them up? – On a related note is it me or does Dallas Thomas have some resemblance to Omar Kelly LOL.

2.)    The #5 Wide Receiver – Barring any injury setbacks I think the top 4 wide outs are going to be  Wallace, Hartline, Gibson, and Landry. You will see all four playing in different sets and situations.  I feel really good about the group.  That is a tough matchup for defenses in 3 and 4 wide out sets.  After that it is going to be a brutal fight with as many as 2-3 wide outs that would be 3rd or 4th on other team’s rosters. There are too many to even list out that are vying for the 5th spot. We are going to have some very capable WR talent on the field in the 3rd and 4th quarters of the preseason games.

3.)    Ju’wuan James at right tackle.  – I love his frame and mobility. However, how will he look trying block a Cam Wake or Mario Williams? We are going to find out a lot more about him in the coming weeks!

4.)    The Running Back Plan. – 2 Months  ago I was feeling like it was going to be a 70/30 Moreno/Miller split. However, now it is up in the air. Also don’t discount Damien Williams from this mix. I still feel like this will play out to be a Moreno/Miller combo but maybe more of a 50/50 split. Also, I don’t see a spot for Marcus Thigpen right now, he has been moved to wide receiver right now and if you read above that is not a good thing for him.

5.)    The Lazor Offense – Will it work or will it be more of a Cam Cameron scheme that does not take hold?  The players seem to be very excited about it. For me it is nice to be installing something ahead of the curve.  We literally had the old Giants offence from the 90’s put in by Parcells/Sporano and it resulted in a low points scoring ground and pound system that could not keep up with teams like the Patriots.  Last year we finally had some talent but Sherman never moved Wallace, did not put Tannehill outside of the pocket very often, and rarely used the  running backs as receivers. It sure felt like a talented offense running a predictable system down to the snap count. Now we have an athletic o-line so we should see lots of screens and movement. It is a points scoring machine when it executes, however, it can be a turnover machine if people blow assignments.  

6.)    TE Depth – Charles Clay emerged last season as a weapon. However, we still don’t really have a dual receiver TE set that can threaten the pass. We also don’t have anything encouraging behind Clay.  Joe Philbin’s press conference on Tuesday was telling on the TE question. He did not really have an answer if Charles Clay gets hurt.  I have to assume the status of Finley and Keller remains in the air since nobody has signed them.  I am hoping we are able to sign a veteran in the coming weeks or somebody develops into at least a serviceable receiving TE.  I will be watching the preseason games to see if someone like Gator Hoskins flashes enough to be a viable option to fill Clay’s shoes as the next man in.

7.)    Linebackers – Koa Misi is being tried in the middle of field.  Our D-Line looks like a pass rushing machine on paper but when you shoot gaps to attack the quarterback you have to have linebackers that can get off blocks and contain the run.  Misi is our best run stuffing linebacker but can he diagnosis plays, make adjustments, and provide adequate pass coverage?  It will be interesting to watch.  Also, will Wheeler hold off Jenkins and Tripp to keep his starting spot? Wheeler can rush the passer but struggled at times in pass coverage.  Look for Jenkins to get some reps with first team defense in the preseason to see how he does. 

8.)    Will Sturgis find his groove? – He has the leg.  Will he become our kicker for the next decade or will he be gone next year?  Hitting some big kicks in the preseason would be a great start.

9.)    Will the 2013 draft class pay off? Last year’s draft was based on potential. Now Dallas Thomas, Jamar Taylor, Dion Jordon and Will Davis are all healthy and will be competing for significant playing time. The future is now for the Dolphins, will they be part of it?

10.)  Coaching – Our coaches work hard and do a good job of developing players and preparing for a game. However, we were frequently out coached in the 2nd half of games and not able to adjust.  The Bills and Jets are not built to score points fast through the air right now.  Last year they were able to beat us by running conservative ball control offense and controlling the line of scrimmage. Our coaches have to put our players in position to score points and make those teams have to throw the football. Our team is built to defend the pass and score points through the air. It is not built to run 7 minutes off the clock in the 4th quarter and shut down a power running attack over and over to defend a 3 point lead all 2nd half.  We have the most talent on offense since the days of Marino.  This is the time of year to install different formations and personal that you can use as chest pieces to adjust with during games.  Will the coaches come through?
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2 comments

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I agree with most of your assesment gofins. There is a lot of unknowns in this years group. One of the things that stands out to me is what you said about turnovers/blown assignments, in my last post I wrote about how Tannehill is really getting on his recievers to know what their routes are supposed to be. I think Tannehill knows exactly what you said, if it is executed, this offense can be fantastic, if everyone is not on the same page it will be a disaster.

Everyone said last year that the Dolphins are going to be a surprise team. I think they were right, just got the year wrong. This year will be the big surprise. Our defense has always been good. Last year, the numbers and rankings didnt justify it but you gotta remember, our offense could not stay on the field for crap. I believed our offense is going to surprise a lot of people this year. Tannehill must have a QBR in the mid 80's for that to happen though.

My prediction for this year:
If we split with the Patriots we win the division and have a record of 10-6.
If we lose both games to the Patriots we will still squeak in the playoffs as a Wild Card & have a record of 9-7

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Good post gofins4sb!

# 1, 3, 6, 8 are big keys to our success

If 1 and 3 work out well then 2, 4, and 5 take care of themselves

If not then 10 is history

On # 8...if Sturgis flounders with FGs he is gone...plus he had issues last season squeaking through some extra points so it will be interesting to see how he does in the preseason when they experiment with moving the LOS back for extra points