Saturday, May 03, 2014

Miami Dolphins Confidential Issue 4 TE


The offseason goal of every team in the NFL is to improve their team.  The primary wave of free agency has passed. Next up will be the NFL draft followed by the bargain shopping in the free agency after the draft. GM’s and fans alike tend to focus on the new additions to the team when trying to get a feel for how much improvement the team will show.  However, a very important aspect of the success of all teams will hinge on how the players remaining on their rosters from the prior season improve or decline.  We at Bitchin Dave’s thought it would add some intrigue to the offseason lull to have a discussion on where we feel the team is at and where they are headed.
The prognosticators will be Carl “The Ref” Leone , Chad “ The Baumhower” Ronnebaum and some Richard ”Macho” Machado“. We will be having a position by position debate on where the Dolphins ranked in 2013 as well as where we see them ranking at the end of 2014.  We are going to start with our pre-draft rankings and then will update this post draft and probably once or twice prior to the start of season as the final free agent signings and injuries shape the team during training camp and the preseason.

Scale: We are using a 10 point scale to rank where we felt the positions ranked against the rest of league in 2013 as well as where we predict they will rank in 2014.  5 out of 10 for example would mean we rank the unit as about the 15-16th best unit in the league.  10 out of 10 would basically feature pro bowl players at the top of the league and 0 out of 10 would be dead last or the worst unit in the league. Issue Four will review the tight end position.

                                                                                      Tight Ends

                                                               Chad’s Take                                 Carl’s Take                 Richard’s Take

2013 Position Rank
3 out 10                                   6 out of 10               3 out of 10
2014 Prediction
Pending                                   7.5 out of 10            4 out of 10

 

Predicted Depth Chart
2014 Improvement/Decline Prediction
Charles Clay
+1                                                       +1                          +.5
Unknown Additions
0                                                         +.5                         +.5

 

Carl: I love the Dolphin's cheerleaders I have been looking forward to this issue!
 
Chad: No Carl wrong Tight Ends SMH
 
Carl: Oh that is easy it starts and ends with Charles Clay! 

Chad: Carl you must have had too much of Grandpa’s cough syrup when watching the last two games of the year. I know Charles Clay had a breakout year. However, in the NFL you need to be able to run two TE formations. In particular in the 4th quarter when you have a lead or in games where the weather conditions are poor.  Miami lost BOTH games to Buffalo because they had no ability to run a two TE set. In both games they were forced to stay in a 3 WR set for most of the time and Buffalo’s D-Line controlled both games. 

Carl: We played pretty good in Pittsburgh in the 4th quarter, but you are correct Chad. We can‘t depend on being able to throw the ball in a mess and especially late in a game or late in the year. 

Chad: For sure Carl and “Go Go” Sherman loved to throw on 3 and short. Charles Clay is a hybrid “H Back” type player. He does not have the size to be an effective blocker.  On the bright side he is very difficult for linebackers to cover which is a nice advantage because you don’t want to commit a safety to him with Wallace on the field.  Clay does have a unique skill set for Bill Lazor to work with and I think he will get Clay into favorable matchups.  I give Clay a +1 to improve on his excellent 2013.

Carl: Lazor will have Clay’s numbers above the 69 catches for 759 yards which ranked him 7th in the league last year. He could hit 85-90 catches easily. I think he does and so I give him a +1 too.

Chad: I am not going to even rank the rest of the TEs. 

Carl: Do I sense dismay in the total unit?

Chad: Dion Sims is a blocking TE that was not that great at blocking. He does have potential to get better but I would be stunned if Miami’s plan was to go into 2014 with Sims and Clay as their starters.  Michael Agnew only made the team because Dustin Keller was hurt in the preseason so it was too late for Miami to have much for alternatives.  If he makes the team this year the position will be bleak at best.

Carl: I know neither Sims nor Agnew are studs but they will make the roster and I think they will improve enough to add a half point to the unit’s total score.  

Chad: Carl! Lay off the cough syrup, Agnew could not block my grandmother or beat her if she used press coverage on him. If Eric Ebron falls to number 19, I think there is a very likely chance Miami will draft him.  A double TE formation to use that featured Clay and Ebron would be a massive upgrade.

Carl: I don’t think we are drafting a Tight End unless we trade down and get 2-3 extra picks so we could spend one in the late rounds.  Lazor could always use another O-Lineman to run block late in the game.

Chad: If Miami does not draft a TE in the early rounds, then I think their fall back plan will be to roll dice on Finley or possibly even Keller again.  That is not appealing to me due to their injury risks but it would still upgrade a dismal position.

Carl: Good point Chad. I forgot about Keller. But he ain’t blocking no one anyway. Let’s face it, Sims and Egnew are gonna have to find a roll or they will eventually get cut.

Richard: I do not really envision that much of a change in the TE position. I think it will pretty much stay the same and we will have a below average TE group, barring any big time additions through the draft. I see Clay making a little bit of an improvement but I am not expecting dramatic differences. I think he will be more involved and average around 4 catches a game, and he will have that one eye opening catch or play every so often.

Chad: Richard don’t drink things Carl hands you. The plan was to use Keller and Clay last year.  Even with line upgrades you have to have a dual TE formation that can threaten run or pass in the league. Philbin knows this and has already made it clear to Hickey to get him a TE. Could you imagine if Clay gets hurt right away like Keller and all we had was Agnew and Sims. My gut feeling is the Dolphins have a TE targeted in the draft and if the chips don’t fall right they are going to roll the dice on Finley on a one year deal.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Miami Dolphins Confidential Issue 3 "Wide Receivers"


The offseason goal of every team in the NFL is to improve their team.  The primary wave of free agency has passed. Next up will be the NFL draft followed by the bargain shopping in the free agency after the draft. GM’s and fans alike tend to focus on the new additions to the team when trying to get a feel for how much improvement the team will show.  However, a very important aspect of the success of all teams will hinge on how the players remaining on their rosters from the prior season improve or decline.  We at Bitchin Dave’s thought it would add some intrigue to the offseason lull to have a discussion on where we feel the team is at and where they are headed.
The prognosticators will be Carl “The Ref” Leone and Chad “ The Baumhower” Ronnebaum. We will be having a position by position debate on where the Dolphins ranked in 2013 as well as where we see them ranking at the end of 2014.  We are going to start with our pre-draft rankings and then will update this post draft and probably once or twice prior to the start of season as the final free agent signings and injuries shape the team during training camp and the preseason.
Scale: We are using a 10 point scale to rank where we felt the positions ranked against the rest of league in 2013 as well as where we predict they will rank in 2014.  5 out of 10 for example would mean we rank the unit as about the 15-16th best unit in the league.  10 out of 10 would basically feature pro bowl players at the top of the league and 0 out of 10 would be dead last or the worst unit in the league. Issue Two We will review the wide receiver position in Issue 3.

                                                                    Wide Receiver

                                                                                               Chad’s Take                Carl’s Take

2013 Position Rank
7 out of 10              6.5 out of 10
2014 Prediction
8 out of 10              8 out of 10

 

Predicted Depth Chart
2014 Improvement/Decline Prediction
Mike Wallace
+4                            +1.5
Brian Hartline
0                                0
Brandon Gibson
-2                               0
Binns/Matthews/Williams
-1                  (Cuts)  0 to +1 

 

Comments:

Chad: Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, and Brandon Gibson presented a formidable challenge for defenses when Miami ran their commonly used 3 WR set. This group was the primary contributor to the team’s 3-0 start on the offensive side of the ball.  Brian Hartline is an exceptional route runner and one of the best in the game at using the side line to allow Tannehill to throw passes that are only catchable by the WR. I find the talk of the team cutting him laughable. 

Carl: That would be like this recurring nightmare I have been having about Ireland returning. No way Hickey cuts him loose.

Chad: There would be a long line for his services with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning at the front of it to get him. I know he injured his knee at the end of the year but it was not an ACL tear and he should make a full recovery without loss of ability.

Carl: I think your right.

Chad: I do not expect Hartline to improve drastically from his current high level of play so I will give him 0 for change to 2014. 

Carl: There is some room for improvement with Hartline but that is all on Tannehill. Hartline has two of the best hands in the league and finds a way to make some tough catches. That toe drag for a TD at Pittsburgh was the play of the game. I know Clay got all the attention for his incredible run for a TD after the catch but that was more Pitts’ D-Backs missing tackles. Hartline’s catch was a thing of beauty and brought back fond memories of Fryar and McDuffie.

Chad: Mike Wallace was very high profile coming to the team. I was very disappointed to see how unpolished of a WR he was.  Early on in the year he was not using crisp routes and not coming back to the ball. That hurt the team because our line was so bad Tannehill had to often release the ball faster than the route tree would allow.  By the end of the season Wallace was starting to look much better in his routes and made some big time plays for the team against the Colts and Patriots.

Carl: That’s probably why Pitt let him go.

Chad: Wallace is extremely talented and a matchup nightmare for teams. Despite him not having big stats he consistently cleared out the field for players like Charles Clay to make plays.  Wallace and Tannehill now have a full season under their belts and will be working all offseason together. I expect them to hit on a lot more deep balls this year and look for Lazor to use Wallace very creatively.  I give the potential for his improvement a +4 because you have a ton of talent that was trending toward improvement as the season progressed. 

Carl: I think Wallace will have a big year too, Chad and graded him accordingly. The deep ball is the key though. I just cannot imagine us having as many blown opportunitiesas last season. I think Tannehill and Wallace are going to hook up quite a bit this year.

Chad: Brandon Gibson looked very good to me before he was hurt. He had good chemistry with Tannehill and made some big plays primarily out of the slot.  It was extremely disappointing when he was hurt. I think the team would have made the playoffs if he would have been around the whole season. 

Carl: You are so right. I loved the way Gibson was contributing, especially in the red zone.

Chad: Unfortunately, he had a much more severe injury and it really is unknown if he will return as his former self.  Because of the injury I think his chances of improving take a hit. I am going to give him a -2 because he is recovering from a serious knee injury at a position that requires extreme speed and quickness.

Carl: My jury is still out on Gibson until I see him play some in camp. Call me the Doubting Thomas but until I see for myself I don’t want to downgrade him just yet.

 Chad: Rishard Matthews had some highlights and lowlights in 2013. He dropped a critical wide open pass against the Jets in the final which still stings. That one play could have changed the whole outcome of the game.  However, he did step in do a decent job when Gibson went down. Keep in mind he was battling to be the #4 in camp and then was pushed into the #3. He also has decent size which is something the team needs however he also seems a touch slow to me as well. He kind of reminds me of Oronde Gadsden. 

Carl: Wow. Gadsden! He made Fiedler look good. Did you know he is in the Hall of Fame? They have two pictures of him making one handed catches against the Jets and in the playoffs against the Raiders. I have pictures of me in the Hall too. I actually took pictures of myself when I was in the Hall. Ok, wasn’t funny.

Chad: No, it wasn’t keep your day job Carl. I just don’t think Matthews has the upside to take over the #3 slot He will be competing against Damian Williams and Armon Binns in 2014. I personally think Binns would have beaten him for the #4 spot last season before the injury.   Binns is also recovering from a very serious injury so I see his chances of improving slim as well.  One other thing to note is Miami is bringing in a lot of wide receiver draft prospects. This is not because they are planning to get rid of Wallace of Hartline rather this tells me they are uneasy about Brandon Gibson’s recovery and the other WR’s competing for the 4 and 5th WR slots. 

Carl: I think we may draft a WR as early as the first round if no O-Tackles fall to us. So I can see heads rolling in this unit.

Chad: I am going to give the current group behind Gibson a -1. This could change a lot if they decide to draft a high ranking prospect in the draft. 

Carl: Other than Hartline and Wallace, who disappeared at times last season, who do we really have that we can rely on if Gibson doesn’t come back. Hartline and Wallace ranked 21st and 23rd in the league for receiving yards and only Chicago and Denver had two starters ranked higher than our two. So from a starting pair aspect we are pretty strong compared with the rest of the league’s starting pairs. However, I think our total WR unit is at the top of the middle of the pack in the NFL. We just aren’t that deep. We are drafting a WR and if it’s a first round stud then I grade us up to a 9. But if we get one later, like a Brandon Coleman from Rutgers, then I’d grade us at an 8. This unit will get upgraded at some point in the draft.

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Miami Dolphins Confidential Issue 2 "Running Backs"


The offseason goal of every team in the NFL is to improve their team.  The primary wave of free agency has passed. Next up will be the NFL draft followed by the bargain shopping in the free agency after the draft. GM’s and fans alike tend to focus on the new additions to the team when trying to get a feel for how much improvement the team will show.  However, a very important aspect of the success of all teams will hinge on how the players remaining on their rosters from the prior season improve or decline.  We at Bitchin Dave’s thought it would add some intrigue to the offseason lull to have a discussion on where we feel the team is at and where they are headed.

The prognosticators will be Carl “The Ref” Leone and Chad “ The Baumhower” Ronnebaum. We will be having a position by position debate on where the Dolphins ranked in 2013 as well as where we see them ranking at the end of 2014.  We are going to start with our pre-draft rankings and then will update this post draft and probably once or twice prior to the start of season as the final free agent signings and injuries shape the team during training camp and the preseason.

Scale: We are using a 10 point scale to rank where we felt the positions ranked against the rest of league in 2013 as well as where we predict they will rank in 2014.  5 out of 10 for example would mean we rank the unit as about the 15-16th best unit in the league.  10 out of 10 would basically feature pro bowl players at the top of the league and 0 out of 10 would be dead last or the worst unit in the league. Issue Two  will review the running back position.

 
-Running Back-
                                                                                       Chad’s Take                                 Carl’s Take
2013 Position Rank
3 out 10                                      1.25 out of 10
2014 Prediction
5 out of 10                                  4 out of 10    
 
Predicted Depth Chart
 
Knowshon Moreno
+2                                                            +3
Lamar Miller
+1                                                            +0
Daniel Thomas
-1                                                            CUT
Mike Gillislee
+0                                                             +0
 
Comments:
Chad: The acquisition of Knowshon Moreno is going to have an impact. He blocks better, runs harder, and catches out of the backfield better than Daniel Thomas or Lamar Miller.   He will provide an immediate upgrade to the position.
Carl: He certainly will, Chad.  Just his ability to block in the passing game is a huge upgrade as neither Thomas nor Miller were very good at picking up blitzes.  Let’s face it, when our number 1 running back rushes for only 709 yards, which averages to only 44.3 yards per game, we have issues.
Chad: Lamar Miller is hard to judge. He had to run behind a horrible O-Line. With that being said my take was that he was not willing to lower his shoulder for YAC yards and for a guy with his speed I was surprised to see him get run down from behind (and fumble) by a defensive lineman in the Bengals game.
Carl: He ran for the sideline a lot, Chad. If anything bottled up, instead of just trying to pick up a yard from where he was, he would spin out trying to make a big play and wound losing more yardage. If you have to run east-west in the NFL, you are in big trouble.
Chad: I think you are going to see Moreno on the field for 75% of the plays this year with Miller serving as faster change of pace back. Miller is very young and I think he certainly has the upside to improve at this stage of career.
Carl: I agree Chad. Miller will spell Moreno. Since we only have Knowshon under contract for one year, why not run him to death with 400 carries!!!
Chad: Daniel Thomas will be no more than an insurance policy in case Miller or Moreno gets hurt. I suspect Miami have some running backs they are going to be watching in the rounds 2-4 this year in the draft since Moreno is on a one year deal. If a talented back does fall to Miami in the later rounds, I look for Daniel Thomas to either be traded or cut. All the other backs he will be competing against will be younger and on longer term deals. I think we have seen what Daniel Thomas brings to the table and I doubt we see any great personal improvement.
Carl: Drop him like a hot potato!
Chad: Gillislee will be given the chance to improve as well but I think he is just too slow for his size to be a starting caliber back.  Miller and Thomas did not get it done last year so I have to give the addition of Moreno as a +2 and with Miller’s age I think there is a good chance he will have a better year in the change of pace roll so I give him a +1 to improve.  Daniel Thomas has had continuous problems staying healthy and runs too upright to use his size to his advantage so I can’t give him any points to improve. I think with his history of injuries and concussions I think he is actually more likely to decline in 2014 so I give him a -1. Gillislee’s best chance is to contribute on special teams and I don’t see him improving the running back position this season.
Carl: Wouldn’t surprise me to see us draft a running back, probably in the 4th or 5th round. There are some good backs to be had in the middle rounds. I personally like Charles Sims out of West Virginia. Sort of built and plays like Matt Forte of the Bears. But that’s for another post. All in all, I think our running game was tied to, statistically, the worst O-Line in the league and other than Knowshon, none of them are starters. So with even an average line, we should rush for 1800 yards as a team which would rank us around 20th in the league. I think we will do that at the very least.