Finally! Training camp as arrived. This is where we can get a glimpse of what is going on for the upcoming season. Granted it is early and many position have yet to have a clear starter. But you can still get a bit of feel from the reports and photos from the action so far.
Wide Receivers – WOW! Our wide receiver core is crazy talented. I seriously don’t think it has been at this level since the days of Mark Duper, Mark Clayton and Nat Moore. With Gibson moving around well right now it appears likely he will be fully recovered for the season. Wallace has clearly been putting in a ton of work on his route tree. He is going to be a nightmare for defensive coordinators this year. Hartline is a sideline master and the timing he has down with Tannehill can be practically unstoppable in 1 on 1 match ups. Now you throw in a Landry who catches everything and I mean everything that is in his reach and you have some serious matchup problems for a defense. Sure teams might have a Revis who can nullify a good wide receiver. But how many teams have the depth at corner back to cover 3 of those guys? If teams roll over some safety help then you have to cover Charles Clay with a linebacker. Tannehill is moving around more in the new offense so far. So as those talented wide receivers clear out the field you have to watch out for Tannehill’s speed if he deciedes to take off. I can see some teams trying to blitz because they know they can’t cover these receivers very long. Which means these Bill Lazor screens are going to literally burn some teams up in the Miami heat. Finally, if that was not enough we have some very capable wide receivers behind them fighting for the 5th and maybe 6th spots.
Linebackers -Koa Misi and Ellerbe both looked like they are in better shape this season. It will be very interesting to see how they perform when the hitting gets live.
Defensive Line – Oliver Vernon has become a monster. He was giving Alberts fits. I think Vernon and Wake could start the season tomorrow.
The Offensive Line - As I was predicting Shelly Smith is the center. The reason for this is that Bill Lazor likes to run screens and other plays that require mobile offensive lineman. It means your center has to able to be move well enough to pull and get up field but also be stout enough to block defensive tackles. With the Pouncey injury the most athletic player to be able to do this is Shelly Smith. The BIG question is can the coaching staffing get him ready to play the position before the season gets here. With that move Dallas Thomas moved to right guard and Daryn Colledge moved to left guard. I feel this is because the best 5 Offensive lineman for the Dolphins right now are Alberts, Colledge, Poucey, Smith, James. It would not make sense to keep Dallas Thomas on the left side because when Pouncey returns I suspect the team will return Shelly Smith to right guard and keep Colledge at left guard to maintain as much continuity as possible. I am not trying to be too down on Dallas Thomas however, I still think Billy Turner is going to pass him during the preseason to be the starting right guard until Pouncey returns. Colledge passed him almost immediately. I just don’t see a player that could not even play when the team had the worst O-Line ever being able to make the leap to being a starter. I will say I am also very concerned about our Tackle depth. I was surprised to see Nate Garner as the backup left tackle. That indicates to me Jason Fox is not the 3rd tackle option on the team at least on the left side. I don’t see a realistic option if Alberts gets hurt that can step in without a massive talent drop off. I would be VERY VERY cautious with Brandon Alberts during the preseason. Bottom line right now if Alberts gets hurt Tannehill is going to be getting hit often like last season. The team needs to be looking at the contingency plan for that right now. This unit is certainly improved and is no longer a complete liability. But they also have a long way to go to be considered a good unit relative to the league.
Know”Show” - Lamar Miller is in great shape and looking like the clear #1. Millers speed is better suited to run the Lazor offense. I know Miller is not a complete back in terms of power running and blocking. But he appears to be busting his ass right now to improve in those areas while Know-Show is limited by a knee and out of shape. So far it does not appear Miami will have a complete back. I know Miller can break a screen and is fast enough to get the edge. But I have not seen the answer of who is going to get the rock on 3 and 2 when we are up by 3 points late in the 4th quarter.
Tannehill’s play speed. – I think Ryan is still too conservative. I see he is still underthrowing Wallace on a deep go routes. This is not because of his arm. He is still waiting too long to feel like he is open before he throws it. This is not some complex situation. This is a backyard football pass in which you need to trust that Mike Wallace is going to burn whoever is trying to cover him. If the safety is not rolling back over there just launch it deep, Wallace will get under it or draw an interference call. There simply are not many corners that can keep up with him so it is either an over throw or home run. You are not going to see he has the corner beat until he is too far down the field. You have to trust he will beat the guy when he has the 1 on 1. I don’t expect them to hit on this all the time, it is after all a low % pass. However, Tannehill HAS to stop holding the ball too long and underthrowing those passes.