Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dolphins Winning the Preseason's Most Important Battle

    So far, so good. The preseason is really only crucial in one regard:  staying healthy at key positions.  This has, perhaps, never been more true for the Dolphins than it is this season.  The defense is thin- painfully thin in several crucial areas.  So far, the Dolphins have emerged relatively unscathed, and that is the biggest preseason victory of all.
   The biggest concern for Miami on the injury front is the health of Mike Pouncey.  NFL injuries are usually shrouded in some mystery, and we'll have to wait to see when our All Pro Center returns, and how sound the hip is when that happens.  Thankfully, the injury is not thought to be severe and is not on the same side as his previous hip injury.
    Beyond Pouncey, the Dolphins will be missing Jelani Jenkins as he recovers from a knee scope.  We will anxiously await news as to whether he will start at Seattle, as our linebacking group is very thin.  Otherwise, the Dolphins are in solid shape.  Fede will miss a few weeks with a knee strain and we will await the unveiling of Xavien Howard, who looks recovered.  When Chris Culliver returns in October, corner may be a position of relative depth.
    It may be instructive to compare our circumstances with those of the Bills:

Marcell Dareus (DL)  Suspended for four games.
IK Enemkpali (LB)  Lost for season.
Reggie Ragland (LB)  Lost for season.
Cordy Glenn (Oline)  Lost for 3 weeks.
Karlos Williams (RB) Suspended/CUT.

And the Patriots:

Rob Ninkovich (LB)  Likely to miss 1-3 games.
Dion Lewis (RB)  Likely to miss first 4-5 games.
Sebastian Vollmer (OT) Out for season.
Tom Brady (QB) Suspended 4 games.

    I don't wish injuries on anyone, and I am particularly sad to see promising rookies like Ragland have the start to their careers delayed.  I only wish to point out that, for the first time in a long time, the Dolphins have been less preyed upon than some of our rivals.   As a closing thought, the Jets are also healthy - and in my view very dangerous.

    In any event, as the preseason comes to a close, we have reason to be thankful so far in Miami.

Jay Lopez

Friday, August 26, 2016

Gase to Unleash New Weapon

    If that 22 yards rushing showed us anything last night, it's that Adam Gase has a new weapon at his disposal.  Imagine being a creative offensive mind and watching the likes of Cam Newton tear up the league.  Now imagine that your quarterbacks are Manning and Cutler.  And so you pocket pass, move the chains as you can, and forget about other possibilities...
    Until you arrive in south Florida and meet your new quarterback.  Who used to be a receiver.  Who is powerful, quick, and fast (yes, those are different things.)  And who is a football player first, a quarterback by conversion.
    Designed runs didn't seem to fit the last regime's style.  And Tannehill's ability to simply choose to go seemed heavily inhibited by the staff.  Under Philbin, Tannehill averaged fewer than three carries a game, even though those carries netted more than 5 yards per attempt.  The bottom line was that old Joe and his cronies liked to control every play, to follow a script, and to know that no whipper snappers were going to foul up their regularly scheduled mediocrity.  He planted his corn straight, and waited for rains that were never going to come, old Joe.
    Adam Gase will want his players to surprise him.  To think, to make plays, to create.  And that will mean that when the other team drops those safeties deep, or plays its secondary tight, backs turned to the backfield, Tannehill will have the chance to beat one linebacker in space and put up 8, 12, maybe even 22 yards the old fashioned way.
    Watch out, AFC East.  You haven't seen this version of the Dolphins.  You are going to hate it.

Jay Lopez

Maybe it is time to Boycott the Big O show

     So, all week Orlando Alzugaray wanted to see the defense, create pressure, stop the run, and do a better job tackling, etc.  So, after the Dolphins did exactly that, he decided to pick apart Tannehill who was obviously running and executing this new uptempo offense pretty dadgum good.  Why would we show all of our deep routes?  RT had plenty of time in the pocket.  He could have shown some deep stuff with Stills or Parker, but why would he... it is preseason.  For Orlando to say this offense is more of the same is just a guy who is picking at old scabs, which is exactly who Big O has become.  He is offensive.  His constant beratement of Ryan Tannehill is old and tired.  I remember Orlando saying he would trade Matty Ice straight up for Tannehill  in a second (he is still pissed we took Jake Long instead of Matt Ryan).  How about now?  Would anyone make that trade now?  Not me!

     I believe Tannehill is the best guy for this new offense.  I sincerely believe it was a coaching issue, not a QB issue.  I think the rest of the league will begin to see it as well.   Back to the point.  I am so sick of you Big O.  I love my Dolphins.  I don't want to hear you trash them all the time.   Your opinion means nothing to me anymore.  I'm done with your show.   I Boycott you.

     Another point about the game that was missed by most of the media in general.  The LB play last night was the best I've seen in years.  All six guys...  If that is what is coming, wow.  Misi looks healthy.  When he is, he is pretty darn good, and it shows.

I'm sold. The Dolphins will contend this year.

     I don't want to hear it Armando, Omar, Chris, David, James, Orlando and all you other beat writers (and other media guys) who can't see what is happening.   Kim, Joe, Channing and Andy see it.  This is a contender in the making.   This is a competitive team now.

     Do we have some holes?  Sure.  Every team does.

     However, the biggest hole has finally been filled.  Coaching!   I have the biggest man crush on Head Coach Adam Gase.   We have a coach that is loved and respected by his fellow coaches and most importantly the players.   It is so obvious, Gase will help Quarterback Ryan Tannehill maximize his talents while minimizing his shortcomings.  Andy Cohen, a beloved long time writer covering the Dolphins since 1980 says that it is night and day, the difference Gase makes in the building.  He says he has Don Shula characteristics, approachable and well respected.  When you listen to Peyton Manning, he expresses his respect for Coach Gase's mind as an innovative offense thinker, as keen as there is the league.  This is Owner Ross' best hire by far.

     So, all you negative nannies please stop harshing my buzz.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Dress Rehearsal -3rd Preseason Game

     Who cares!?!  This game is meaningless.  And, after reading Armando Salguero's article about ex-Seattle coach Dan  Quinn, now with Atlanta, it means less to me.

     As Armando intimated, it is important not to show too much.  And because I sincerely believe we have a chance to beat Seattle in week 1, why would we show anything?  Run basic plays, run our uptempo style of course, as everyone knows we will be doing it anyway. Just don't show the route trees to them.  Keep it simple.  Don't show the pulling guard plays; don't show the misdirection plays; don't show the safety and corner blitzes; don't give away line calls or tendancies; don't show jack!   Who cares if we lose?  Hell, let's lose by thirty to provide a false sense of superority, so when Seattle gets popped in the mouth they will begin to doubt.  Doubters in football are losers.

     Miami coaches and players just know you will score early and often.  Never doubt it.  Know you will stop the run.  Know you will penitrate their lines and shut down their receivers. No matter what happens, just KNOW IT.  NEVER DOUBT.

     This is the best coaching staff since the Shula era.  I have no doubt we are on the road to the playoffs.

Bosa Holdout Can Help the Dolphins

    So the Chargers can't sign Joey Bosa.  The Dolphins were in a similar spot with his old man a generation ago, but what concerns me is less apples falling near trees, and more squirrels finding nuts.  Specifically:  This is a huge opportunity for the Dolphins, but not in the manner one might think.
    I'm not advocating that we try to trade for Bosa.  First, the Dolphins don't need another highly paid defensive lineman.  We have too much money invested in the position to brook another signing.  Even if we did want Bosa, he can't move until draft day 2017.
    No, the move here is to capitalize on our being long on DE's.  The Chargers, who are desperate to win the west in the face of stadium/relocation pressures, are now short a major piece.  So it's time for Miami to make a forward-looking deal and trade a DE for picks.
    We are likely to cut either Fede or McCain and certain to cut Dion Jordan (see my earlier piece here.)  Why not see if San Diego will part with a pick in next year's very deep and talented draft?
    We need to turn their desperation into a chance to draft a useful linebacker or corner next year.  It's time to profit off of another team's need before roster cuts force our hand.

Jay Lopez

Dolphins, sign Bryan Stork NOW.

Belichick has been scavenging our cast-offs for years and it almost always works out for him. Even if they aren't good enough to make the team, he gets valuable information from them first. It's time we returned the favor.

With Mike Pouncey injured and his back-up being a guy that we weren't sure would even make the team one week ago, we clearly need depth at center. New England just released 2014 4th round pick, Bryan Stork. He has some attitude issues, which means he might be able to be signed for a relatively low price.

If Miami could sign him on a one-year "show me" deal, it would be a win-win. He could provide awesome depth at center, as well as valuable information about the Patriots game schemes. If they can't fix his behavioral issues, then just cut him or let him walk at the end of the season.

Tannenbaum, if you don't at least TRY to make this happen, I'm applying for your job, because apparently, they'll give it to anyone.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dolphins A Smart Bet Versus Seattle

    I am not a handicapper, nor do I advocate playing for money on Sundays.  On a recent trip to Vegas, however, I was tempted to lay a wager.  The Dolphins are ten point dogs on the road at Seattle in week one.  I'll tell you why I like them.
    Week one is a perfect time to play a superior opponent.  No one is up to speed on week one, which to some extent randomizes results.  Since both teams are reluctant to expose themselves to injury in an extended preseason, week one games are often rough, untidy affairs.  As a result, any team can win.
      Last season, the 49ers beat Minnesota 20-3 in week one.  Meanwhile, the Titans beat the Bucs 42-14. So if the Dolphins have to play Seattle on the road, why not in week one?
     One last result to hold you over for a few weeks:  The Rams also won their opener last year, and somehow scored 34 points- the Rams- 34 points!  It might be worth mentioning the team they beat was the Seahawks...

Jay Lopez