Thursday, July 21, 2016

Not the Same 'ol Dolphins

Let's start on the Defensive side of the ball:
1.   Last year, even the players hated the scheme.  When you have thoroughbreds, why race them as trotters.  The D-Line was supposed to set the tone, and yet we played a 'read and react' type of defense.   It was idiotic.  We should have have played to our strengths, which was (and is) to give the QB and RBs no time to make plays - basically blow up their offensive line every play.
2.   This year's Defensive Coordinator, Vance Joseph, coaches the way these guys want and like to play.  He coaches the way the Seattle Seahawks play.   Had we had him last year, we would have been a playoff team.
3.   With the additions of Alonso, Willams and Maxwell (aggressive players), the team adds playmakers and solid talent.  If Kiko Alonso stays healthy, he will be the first pure (fast) middle linebacker since Zach Thomas.  Sorry Crowder, you just didn't play the middle that well.  Mario Williams was asked to cover in that BS defense Buffalo ran.  How stupid was that?!?   He won't be asked to do that this year.  Frankly, and even though I loved him, Brent Grimes sucked last year.  Maxwell will be physical, which will play to the strengths of the D-Line (giving them an extra second to get to the QB) by forcing receivers to take a little longer getting into their route.  Brent could never do that.   He just played tight coverage.

Special Teams:
One name: Jakeem Grant.  I predict Grant will score at least 4 times on Punts and Kickoffs.

Offense:
1.   The Miami Dolphins upgraded the offense in the draft, but that was not the most important upgrade to this years' offense.  Coach Adam Gase's play-calling and general philosophy is the most important upgrade to the team.  I am so happy about our coaches this year.   It has been 20 years, since we had this kind of talent and quality in coaches.  Foerster and Williams (the line coaches) are exceptional.
2.    As a continuation of the aforementioned upgrade, Ryan Tannehill will finally be able to move to the best play available, every down.  He will be allowed to become a real leader of the offense.   Not being allowed to get out of bad plays has been a detriment to his development.    If Gase is the QB Whisperer we think he is, Tannehill will flourish.  And, Miami's Offense will start putting up 30+ points per game.  Keep in mind, going back 15 years, teams that score 25+ points per game make the playoffs just under 95% of the time.  Only one team  scoring 28+ points per game did not make the plays in the last 15 years (New England).  However, they did win 11 games that year.
3.   Am I concerned about the offensive line?  Well, of course.   Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 46 times a year on average since entering the league (far more than any other QB in that same time).  Imagine how much better he could be if he was sacked 15 or 20 fewer times.  If you add the hurries and other hits to the sacks number, it is amazing Ryan has thrown for over 4000 yards these last two years.  One stat I found interesting, Ryan Tannehill rates at the top of the heap in Play Action Passing, second only to Matty (Ice) Ryan in Atlanta.  I believe Gase can work with that.  It is probably why we signed Arian Foster, a well respected receiver out of the backfield.   Plus, Foster is an excellent blocker (far better than the departed Miller).

Prediction:  I know most of the talking heads have Miami finishing 8-8 or just under that, especially since we have such a rough West Coast road schedule.  However, Miami plays well on the road - better than most teams in fact.  I always see the glass as half-full.  If you have read my articles over the last three years, you know I predict winning records.  This year is no different.  I see Miami winning 11+ games with this new staff.   Heck, I even think Miami will be 3-1 after the first 4 games this season.  Most people believe we will be 1-3.  Yes, Miami will make the playoffs with an 11+ win regular season.

I love the new Stadium upgrade.  Mr. Ross, you rock!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

No more mediocre expectations!

I am sick and tired of reading the predictions that Ryan Tannehill will have a mediocre season. The predicted stat line typically reads 25-28 touchdowns, 14-18 interceptions and 4,000- 4,300 passing yards. If Adam Gase is indeed the “quarterback whisperer” that everyone believes that he is, and if the offensive line is as good as it appears on paper, then these numbers are ridiculously low. Even just fixing the woeful play of the offensive line will lead to exponential growth in the development curve for Tannehill. I believe in Adam Gase. I believe that in Ryan Tannehill.  I believe that the Dolphins are headed to the playoffs. I sometimes hear Tannehill compared to Rich Gannon, with hopes that he too can have a magnificent breakout season with offensive guru Adam Gase calling the plays. Gannon put together one fantastic year. Statistically, with the exception of the 2002 year (Jon Gruden), based on completion percentage, yards, and yards per catch, Gannon has never been nearly as accurate, as good, as consistent, as Ryan Tannehill. As a matter of fact, it is not even remotely close and the statistics support that statement. Even including that season, Gannon cannot match the accuracy or production that Tannehill has averaged in his short career. Tannehill must continue to progress and I agree that this is a no excuse year. Tannehill must get better on third downs, in the red zone, and in the fourth quarter.  I am convinced that these issues are tied to offensive line play. As the field gets smaller (red zone) and throwing windows get tighter (fourth quarter and on third down) it takes receivers slightly longer to get open and the offensive line has not been good enough to give the offense that extra time. Coupled with opposing defensive coordinators knowing that they can get great pressure without bringing the blitz, it is a recipe for disaster. Quality offensive line play along with Tannehill understanding the need to improve and get the ball out quicker will ameliorate this disturbing trend.  Better weapons and more diverse and quality receiving options will play a positive role as well. Tannehill will throw for at least 34 touchdowns and over 4,500 yards and be considered a top ten quarterback by the end of the year.  I believe that Ryan Tannehill’s star is rising and that under the tutelage of Adam Gase, he will become the franchise quarterback that the Dolphins have not had since Dan Marino. I am looking forward to the Dolphins making the playoffs and being a feared contender in those playoffs. I am willing to say what I believe many are thinking.

New Miami Stadium

A fan asked to write an entry about the stadium. Attribution appears at the end. 

new miami stadium


When fans for the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes cheer their teams this fall, they will probably pay more attention to the structure they are in than the teams because the New Miami Stadium will be an incredible change from the old facility.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is spending about $450 million for renovations to the stadium that will truly make it a world-class sports facility. Early reports had that amount at $300. You can tell he is going all in on this bet.

Details of New Miami Stadium facelift

Here are some of the major improvements taking place at the 27-year old facility:

Enormous 14-acre canopy. If you ever sat in the sun in Dolphin stadium in September or even October under a sizzling Florida sun, this feature alone will be worth its weight in cool air. The Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said the canopy will place 92% of all seats in the shade. The center will be still be open (remember the old Dallas Cowboys stadium?) to keep the real turf green. For diehard fan in the bleachers in the upper levels, that canopy will be a welcome new experience for them and a great incentive to fill those sparsely filled seats.

The sound will be intense. There's another benefit to that 672,000 sq. ft. canopy – it will push all the noise from the crowds back down onto the field. This year, Patriots Tom Brady won't even be able to hear himself think, let alone bark commands. This is a new development in stadium construction and NFL competitiveness– the design of the Seattle Seahawks stadium is famous for this.

Rain shelter. For those afternoon deluges of rain from all that heat, now's there's cover as well. Except for the players on the field, naturally.

Every seat will be changed. Dolphin personnel say they have replaced EVERY seat in the stadium for spectators. The old orange seating is out, the new seating is Dolphin teal blue. Some of the seats are padded and widened. Every seat is different – that's incredible.

Closer to the field. Not only will the seats be wider, but sideline seats will now be 24 feet closer to the field. (That was always one of the drawbacks of the stadium as it was built for both football and baseball which made an odd configuration.)

Four enormous high-def video screens in each corner. This is a must for any mega-stadium and the New Miami Stadium will certainly deliver. These screens are 1,472 in size – now that's a big screen TV. The biggest for any stadium in the AFC East by the way.

Plenty of new bars – 300 of them.

New LED lighting system.

New audio system.

Reduction in the number of seats from 76,000 to 65,000. That's something you never see in stadium renovations. But it will enhance the experience for those fans who do make it to the games.

"Steve Ross has made a commitment to ensuring that the stadium is going to be best-in-class, global entertainment destination, that the Dolphins will be here for a long time and that Dolphins fans will have as good an experience as anybody else in the NFL in terms of the venue that they go to," said Dolphins president and CEO Tom Garfinkel.

That investment has already paid off – New Miami Stadium will host the LIV Super Bowl in 2020. That's an enormous economic payoff, not only for the Dolphins, but all of South Florida as well.

Garfinkel says the stadium also hopes to attract college football championship bowl games, plus festivals and concerts. There's also soccer and the ultimate prize – the World Cup, which is on their radar.

new miami stadium construction
Busy cranes at New Miami Stadium as crews work around the clock to finish before 2016 season.

This is the era of super-stadiums – the Dallas Cowboys built one. Atlanta Falcons and the Minneapolis Vikings are building billion-dollar stadiums. The St. Louis Rams recently left town to build a mega-stadium in Los Angeles.

Considering the billion-dollar price tags on these new facilities, Ross' investment in a makeover instead of a building a new stadium seems pretty smart.

By the way, there's some buzz out there that the new stadium won't be done in time for the start of the 2016 football season. Who cares? This new facility is a whopper and absolutely worth the wait.

A first-rate facility in any town will attract other events and regional tournaments and playoffs.

Ross and the Dolphins obviously see the value in creating an incredible fan experience. 

----
This article is by Robert Caston, a writer for The Park and Facilities Catalog

Monday, July 18, 2016

Welcome to Miami, Arian Foster!

So, in a move I thought was necessary, MY Miami Dolphins bring in a proven, veteran running back, and sign Arian Foster to a one year deal.

Apparently Foster is healthy and ready to play. Miami brings him back in, and makes sure he doesn't leave without a signed contract! Great move Miami!

There is no denying that when he is healthy, he is a game changer! He has the skillset to be the do-it-all, 3 down back Gase has repeatedly said he wants from theRB position. He runs with speed, power, and elusiveness, and he's a good blocker from the RB position. He also brings the hands and route running ability to make him a dangerous threat coming out of the backfield!

His injury history is, and should be a concern for the Dolphins. But he will not be asked to carry the entire load for the Phins. He will bring his tremendous skillset with him, and it will be on full display, however, his athleticism, running, and receiving abilities are not the only reasons he was brought in. He is also here to provide leadership and experience to backfield devoid of both. He will get his share of carries, if not the majority, but he will not be a "bell-cow" for Gase. He will share carries with Ajayi, and even surrender a few to Drake as well. This will limit his opportunities for injury, keep him fresh, and also help get Ajayi another year of experience, working behind and learning from, a 4-time Pro-Bowler, and the 2010 NFL Rushing Leader.

If he can avoid injury, and hasn't been slowed to much by his Achilles tear, he is exactly what Gase and the Miami Dolphins want from a RB, at a position that was very much a need!

I haven't seen the contract details yet, but on a one year deal, I don't care if they had to overpay him to keep him from heading off to Detroit. This was a move that had to be made, and My Miami Dolphin locked him up for 2016!

Whatever happens, for as long as he can stay on the field, it's going to be exciting!

PHINS UP!

  
Top 10 Rushing Seasons By A 30+ RB
PLAYERYR.AGETEAMYDS.
Tiki Barber'0530NYG1,860
Curtis Martin'0431NYJ1,697
Walter Payton'8430CHI1,684
Tiki Barber'0631NYG1,662
Corey Dillon'0430NWE1,635
Walter Payton'8531CHI1,551
Barry Sanders'9830DET1,491
Priest Holmes'0330KAN1,420
Warrick Dunn'0530ATL1,416
Thomas Jones'0931NYJ1,402
Source: Pro Football Reference
 Can Foster come close to one of these seasons?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A New Season, A New Hope.

A New Season, A New Hope.

   Every new Miami Dolphins season comes with the realization that the glory years of Dolphins past slip farther and farther away. The search for a legitimate NFL starting QB has been as elusive as playoff appearances. With my Aqua and Coral glasses firmly in place I will make a case for hope.

   Ryan Tannehill is not witout strengths. RT is a great guy, extremely intelligent. The kid is as tough as nails. His athleticism flashes big plays with his legs. His weaknesses are well documented. Poor pocket presence. Accuracy in general long ball accuracy in particular. Finally, in big moments of the game he seems to come up short.

   This QB profile reminds me of Rich Gannon. Gannon and Tannehill have many of the same strengths, smart, tough, athletic. Both also struggled with consistency early on. Gannons struggles ended as soon as John Gruden arrived in Oakland. Gruden was a brilliant young offensive mind who allowed Gannon to be involved in formulating the game plan. This involment led to a gameplan that played to Gannons strengths. Gruden called the Plays, Gannon executed the offense. Their relationship grew stronger with each passing sunday. This playcaller QB relationship led to a rebirth of Gannons play, which led to a rebirth of the franchise.

    Adam Gase is strikingly similar to John Gruden. Some folks call him genius. This Gase/Tannehill marriage will lead to a rebirth of the Miami Dolphins franchise. Do I believe this %100. No, but as a Dolphins fan hope is pretty much all I have.

Mo Perkins

Pre-Training Camp Observations

Good Evening Phin Fans!

For my first post, I thought I would talk about the offseason happenings of MY Miami Dolphins.

The hiring of Adam Gase will prove to be a defining moment in the resurgence of my beloved Dolphins! He is primed and ready for this role! He is every bit the leader Philbin was not, and his rapport with his players is obvious. They respect him, and want to play for him. After watching what he did with the Broncos offense, and an aging Peyton Manning, and then the Bears' Jay Cutler, he's got all of the tools and experience needed to turn Tannehill and this offense into something very difficult to defend.

The Offensive Line has been the biggest detriment to Tannehill's career and the Dolphin's offensive performances since his arrival in 2012. In spite of having one of the worst and most inconsistent lines in the league, Tannehill has managed to improve his performance every year, and put up very respectable numbers. The line play, (not to mention the previous coaching staff), has clearly held him back, and he cannot continue to take the amount of sacks he does, without eventually sustaining a significant injury. The inability to overcoming injuries to Albert, Pouncy, and James have caused the most problems. When these three are healthy, and playing together, the line as a whole has performed well enough that they couldn't realistically be blamed for our offensive failures, giving up significantly less sacks and pressures, while also providing for a surprisingly good win percentage. While we have been stung by young, inexperienced, and sub-par Guard play, it has actually been the lack of quality depth after an injury, that has hurt the most. Apparently, after watching the revolving door, that was Jason Fox, and seeing the rendition of musical chairs that was our Offensive Line enough times, someone finally decided it was time to get it fixed. To their credit, they brought in a slew of proven veterans, one with Pro-Bowl honors, to fill in if and when an injury occurs. The additions of LTs Sam Young and Jermon Bushrod, as well as the re-signing John Ulrick, will, (along with another option I'll mention later), solidify the Tackle position with solid options. Billy Turner looks to have given himself an opportunity to be a starter at the RG spot after a solid performance last year, though it will not be just given to him. The other spot seems to be wide open, and to add competition to an already deep group with in-game experience, the Dolphins brought in Craig Urbik, who has flexibility and experience at both Guard and Center.

An Offensive Line consisting of  Pro-Bowlers Mike Pouncy, and Brandon Albert, an up-and-coming James, a maturing Turner, and the winner of a position battle including a former Pro-bowler in Bushrod, and the best O-Line prospect in the draft, Laremy Tunsil, sounds good to me. Clearly the Dolphins don't want a repeat performance of the last several years, and many of these lineman, and/or one or two of our roster carry-overs, will ensure it doesn't happen. If the starters can stay healthy, this line can be a top 10, if not top 5 unit. But if not, we finally have quality players that can step in and play at a high level. I sincerely believe the O-Line issues of the past, are finally fixed!

I liked Brent Grimes and he made a lot of plays for my Dolphins, but he was well past his prime, and clearly not suited to the kind of defense Joseph is implementing. I won't even mention the troll that is his wife! SMH.. Anyway, getting Maxwell in that draft pick trade dulls the pain tremendously. He fits our scheme and is only a year removed from being a difference maker at his position. He had unrealistic expectations placed on him, while they were playing him out of his schematic specialty and skillset.

The loss of Olivier Vernon hurts a lot more. I understand not paying him the ridiculous figure he got from the Giants, but he is entering his prime, he's homegrown talent, and he is definitely still improving. I think it was a mistake to let Vernon play out his final year without locking him up long term. He had a great year, and looked even better when Wake went down. It took him time to adjust to being the guy, but after a slow start, he really embraced the opportunity and played very well. I also believe that the Dolphins, even after his performance, thought they could/would still match whatever offer he received on the open market, and that he would return. But with a huge amount of cap space, the Giants threw a boat load of money at him, and we just couldn't match. Luckily, the Dolphins hedged their bets by signing Mario Williams. If they lost Vernon, they replace him with Williams. If they keep Vernon, they release Wake, (as hard as that is to say). So they sign Mario, keep wake, with a slightly better, salary cap friendly extension, keeping him in Miami for the rest of his career.

We also lost our primary back-up at DE, in Derrick Shelby, but we were able to get a couple veteran options in Free-Agency, in Andre Branch and Jason Jones, both of whom have starting experience. We also have some returning, in-house roster options in Fede, McCain, and possibly Dion Jordan, if he's welcomed back, and he's prepared for competition. All signs point to Wake-Zilla being ready for the season, but if he's not, we've got some veteran options to fill in until he is ready, and a group of solid players as backups.

Is there anyone who thinks we could have done better with our first round pick in the draft? The Phins got 3 starters for the cost of 5 spots in the first round! A proven starter at CB in Maxwell, who is a perfect scheme fit for new Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph. They get a young, fast, and instinctive tackling machine and playmaker at MLB in Alonzo, who is apparently fully recovered and healthy after his knee injury a couple years ago. Added to those two, who they acquired in their trade-down, they also get the consensus best LT prospect in the draft, and sure starter (somewhere on the line), in Laremy Tunsil at pick 13. Getting three starters is the best case scenario for an entire draft class most years, and the Dolphins did it with 1 draft pick! 2 proven starters and a probable third.... Nice job!

The rest of the class is filled with intriguing possibilities: Another possible day 1 starter in their 2nd round draft pick, CB Xavien Howard . In the 3rd round, they get Kenyan Drake, a playmaker/homerun threat at RB who has a very similar skill set to Lamar Miller, but with better hands and route running ability, and WR Leonte Carroo, who some compare to Anquan Boldin. He's sure to contribute this year and is a possible #3 starter next year, should they decide to not re-sign Stills. Skip to the 6th round, and we get another immediate contributor in a Special Teams Punt/Kick Returner with blazing speed, and a situational, match-up nightmare in the slot. Think Welker or Edleman, as a comparison. With their Second Pick in the 6th Round, we get a big, strong, press cover corner who fits our new defensive scheme, who also has the position flexibility to play Safety if needed, Jordan Lucas. He'll have to perform on special teams if he wants a spot on the roster but he'll get every opportunity, and he'll manage to do just that. In the 7th Round, they take the heir apparent to Matt Moore as the back-up QB, Brandon Doughty, and a big college WR, turned Stretch/Receiving TE, Thomas Duarte.

With the exceptions of Doughty and Duarte, I expect every other pick to both make the team and contribute this year in some form, whether as starters, or as situational and special teams contributors. It's too early to know for sure, but I can't remember the last time the team had a draft that made sense from start to finish, with clear direction and purpose in every pick! Again... Very nice job!

My biggest concern heading into training camp is the depth and experience at RB. I don't feel comfortable with a stable of backs consisting of two who can't hold a back-up spot, in Pead and Thomas, a rookie in Drake, Williams, a career 3rd down back and substitute, with an unproven second year player in Ajayi, as the starter. I truly believe the Dolphins will eventually bring in a proven, veteran runner to stabilize the group. If I had to pick one or two right now, I believe they pick up either Arian Foster or Knowshon Moreno.

CB is another position of concern, and for the same reason, and we may very well end up bringing in a veteran there as well, but I feel that's a lot less likely. Lippett is capable, and Howard will be given every opportunity to win the job in camp. But if they both fail to impress early in camp, look for a Pac-Man Jones or Antonio Cromartie signing sooner rather than later.

Well...Congratulations on making it through my first post! lol I'm sure my future offerings will be a little more pointed and not so long winded, but I had a lot to talk about, and no one else will listen!

Phins Up!