Saturday, June 24, 2017

How I Became A Miami Dolphin Fan

Since the Dolphins are asking fans to tell their stories about how they became a Dolfan, here is my story:

It was Christmas Day 1971 and my Mom's side of the family was rolling into New Jersey from Pennsylvania for Christmas dinner.

Our holiday plans were the same as most football fans across the country: Watch the Kansas City Chiefs host the Dolphins in the NFL playoffs. Then eat dinner.

My Dad hailed the Redskins, my brother rooted for the Raiders and my Uncle and cousins were all Eagles fans. At 13, I watched a lot of football but hadn't picked out a team yet.

Since the Chiefs were loaded and had won the Super Bowl two seasons earlier, my family decided to root for them figuring they should easily handle these upstart Dolphins.

So just to be antagonistic, I cheered for the Dolphins. That's how it all started. The youngest boy sitting on the floor since there was no room on a couch or chair, taking on the rest of his family.

Throughout the game there were plenty of big plays and lots of ball busting and banter going back and forth between my brother, my cousins and myself.

Well the game went into overtime. My Mom is yelling from the kitchen " Dinner is ready!" We are yelling back "Hang on they are kicking a field goal. Oh no he missed."

Back and forth, wasted drives, missed field goals,  plenty of bantering and yells from the kitchen.

The Dolphins finally won in double overtime. The longest game in NFL history left the entire country sitting down to some good old fashioned dried out turkey.

As everyone else struggled to chew, I had the biggest turkey eating grin on my face and the love affair began.

I was so lucky. For the first 107 weeks as a Dolfan, we went to 3 Super Bowls, won two and finished my first full season at 17-0!

It was and still is, the best Christmas gift I ever got!!!

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

For Two Month Stretch, Dolphins Likely Underdog Each Week

   (A bit of a different read to break up the sweaty OTA interviews... )

   My wife recently asked me when would be a good week to travel with her sister next fall.  We have two little ones, and whomever is home alone is in for little relief until the merciful sound of keys-in-door.
    My answer was any time between 10/15 and 12/11- really, any time.  During that span, the Dolphins will be predicted to win one game.  And half of the lines will likely be 4+ against us.  Have you looked at next year's schedule?  I mean, really looked at it?  on 10/15 we are in ATL.  On 10/22 we get a reprieve, home against the Jets.  Then we travel to Baltimore, something of a house of horrors for us.  Then home to Oakland, the team that might have had the one seed in the AFC last year but for an untimely injury.  After that we travel to Carolina, take a Bye, go to New England in the gathering cold, are home to Denver, and then home to New England.
    Don't get me wrong; I am excited to see how we stack against the best in the business.  I believe we will be a good football team.  I also believe that Denver and Baltimore may be in serious decline, and that any game against the Patriots is winnable.  However, I still look at that stretch in the season and recognize why Vegas thinks the Dolphins stand a good chance of being sub .500 this season.
    Put another way, we open H TAM, @ LAC (does anyone else think Clippers), @NYJ, NO (neutral), H TEN.  We had better plan on taking all five if we want to be alive in late December.  And our last three games are hardly a favor, with trips to BUF and KC in the snow likely in the offing.
    So buckle up, Dolphins fans.  The NFL has done us no favors.  But I like our team, and I glad to get the chance to watch us play a playoff schedule.  I just may earn some husband points somewhere in the middle.

Jay Lopez

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Espn' Bill Barnwell is educated on the Dolphins

   My question is how do you, as professional analyst completely​ rip a pro team, without fully studying and understanding what is going on, and without having all the facts straight.

Half the things he says about the Dolphins are pure guessing and speculation. It's impossible to have great opinions if you don't have your homework done on a team.

It seems to me that he just read a couple of articles about the Dolphins and did not care enough about his work or reputation to go into    studying and making sure he got it right.

And so Barnwell, Dolphins fans are calling you out!🌋

Monday, May 15, 2017

I had a Dan Marino Encounter Yesterday.

I was out of town for a wedding this weekend. Last night I came back to UT, but I had a three-hour layover in Charlotte, NC, so I decided to go find some craft beer. I found the Carolina Beer Company, which happened to be right next to my gate anyway.

So I'm talking to the bartender and he's an Eagles fan. I apologize and say I know his pain...I'm a Dolphins fan. We talk more about sports and I start to also engage in conversation with others sitting at the bar as well as order a brisket sandwich.

Right after I finish my meal and order my 3rd beer, a tall older guy with curly blonde hair, glasses, and REALLY blue eyes comes in, sits down three bar stools away from me, and orders an IPA on draft. I'm 95% positive his name is Dan Marino.

Now I have no idea what kind of person he is out in public. Maybe he doesn't like attention. Maybe he just wants to drink his beer in piece. Plus I'm not totally sure it's him yet. But if it's not it's his damn evil twin or something. A bit later, another guy steps up next to Mr. Marino and orders a bud light. Dan turns to him and says "Man you can't order that, this bar serves REAL beer." The guy clearly has no clue who he is and doesn't laugh at the joke. "I'm just messing with you man," Marino says, then looks at the bartender. "He didn't even smile." We all laughed. I've seen Dan Marino on TV enough to know his voice. 98% positive it's him.

I text my wife and tell her. "Shut up....Pictures or it didn't happen," she texts back. I don't want to be obvious though. I look over and he's just answered his phone and is talking really low, clearly not wanting everyone to hear his conversation. I snap of picture of him in the bar mirror. It's not a great picture but I can tell it's him.

This is where the story gets cool. I decide to start talking sports with the bartender again and making sure my voice carries to see if I can get a reaction out of the guy. We talk about the other sports and how the NFL compares and I say "Yeah I like the NFL best because it's 16 games, so every game matters."

Dan Marino's eye brows raise and he glances over at me and nods.

A few minutes later the bartender says "man I just hope the cowboys were a fluke, I hate them." I say "yeah well you have to hate your division rivals, just like how I hate the Pats, Jets, and Bills.

Dan Marino turns and looks over at me over his glasses grinning. I look back for a second, raise my glass, and nod. He raises his and nods back. I play it cool but in my head I'm screaming "OH MY F***ING GOD AHHH!"

100% positive it's him and he knows that I know.

As I'm signing my check, I look over and notice he pays with cash and leaves. My gate is right next to him and he's headed to Ft. Lauderdale. He boards first class. I run back to the bar to ask to bartender if it was really him. He confirms it, says it's not the first time he's served him, and apologizes for not telling me but that he's not allowed to.

I didn't get a picture with him or an autograph, but I think my non-verbal exchange with him was 100 times cooler anyway.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dolphins Draft Reveals Win Later Attitude

    This blog's other writers seem very high on our draft, and I respect the hard work they put into their excellent columns last week.  I am, however, not feeling as giddy- which may be a good thing.        This organization seems to finally understand that a win now attitude can translate to win never.  That is, that panic drafting/buying to catch the Patriots, who are in the last few years of what may be the NFL's last true dynasty, can be a mistake.  The organization made a concerted effort to establish a realistic timeline for long-term success.  This will be frustrating this year, and bear fruit thereafter.
    Consider linebacker.  The Dolphins need an OLB as they have picked up a one-to-two year lease on a run stuffing tough guy from Pittsburgh- a signing I love.  Win now would say draft Cunningham from Vandy- strangely, we picked a run-stuffing tough guy from the midwest.  Our DC was left to muse that perhaps this year no linebacker would have a "natural" position but they would be shuffled week to week, depending on match-ups.  This sounds to me like a good organization man making lemonade.
     What that draft move meant is "we are willing to develop a long-term solution behind our rental." McMillan will be the man for a while, if we are lucky.  The vet will teach him.  And the Dolphins will mature without being bad in the short term.  A philosophy emerges?
     Consider DE.  Wake can give us a season or two more of excellence, we hope.  Branch is serviceable and solid.  Did we need rotational depth?  You bet.  Did we need it in round one?  Not if we want to compete for a super bowl now.  But perhaps, if we want to be well positioned in three year's time.  Wake will be gone by then.  His time to win is now- but perhaps the franchise realizes that its time to win won't coincide with Cam's?  That's possibly good thinking, probably good leadership. Draft the kid- who will be a one trick pony for now, but who can develop.  A rotational player for a 10-6 playoff team with glaring needs in round one?  Makes sense, if you know that 10-6 was a mild overreach and you are trying to one day be better than 10-6.
      Consider safety.  Yes, I know, we didn't.  Which means we are trusting an 8 game suspension, our stable of never-was, and a journeyman from Oakland to hold down the fort opposite our best defensive player.  All this, when we struggle to cover and can't stuff the run?  All this when the best safety in the draft was falling like a stone due to a minor injury?  Win now says trade up and grab Malik Hooker.  Have the best safety tandem in the NFL immediately.  Win later says hang on to depth, keep that pick to draft a roster builder, and let the steal of the draft fall to another squad (in this way, I think Caroo last year cost us Hooker, but that's another story.)
      In round three, elite safeties still abounded; we went corner.  I like the pick- long term.  This allows us to cut Maxwell and return to cap sanity.  Long term, this was the right thing to do.
       The Asiata pick was a concession to now- and a smart one.  Which completes the picture.  This organization wants to be decent now, and be excellent tomorrow.  We can have a far worse philosophy.  It just might be a bit frustrating for the coming year- and not being aggressive where Hooker was concerned, may haunt us for a decade.  This was the year of the safety, which is a position that will become more and more valuable as teams adopt a New England style approach to offense.  I think we missed, but we missed the way responsible grown-ups do, not the way we used to.

Jay Lopez

Jim Kiick

Last week, there was a story of Nick Buoniconti suffering from CTE.  Today, there's a story circulating about Jim Kiick.

I never had the chance to interview nick, but did meet him a time or two - and got bumped from first class on a flight one so he could ride there...

but Jim I did have on once a few years ago.  I enjoyed talking to him, and you can hear it here:

Monday, May 01, 2017

Draft Pick Expectations

After mock drafting for 2 months, you get a good feel for the draft and where players usually get picked. Granted some GMs place different values on different players. And in some years, the prospects are deeper at some positions than other positions.

Last year we focused our draft on the offensive side of the ball for two reasons: 1) The draft favored offensive players and 2) Our head coach, a former OC, knew what he needed to get his offense off the ground.

This year, the draft was very deep with NFL caliber players at DE, CB and DT. And we knew that last year.

So how will our picks fair this year?

I like the Harris pick. I don't believe he will start. At least not until he proves he can set an edge against the run. Let's face it, opponents had a field day running against our right end. Hopefully, Hayes will help stop that shit.

 Harris will be a situational player coming in on passing situations and spelling the starters here and there.

I see Harris making an impact late in the half during the opponents 2 minute offense. Take the Seattle game last year. Before the half, they drove 70+ yards taking over with just under 2 minutes and kicked a FG. Then with 4 minutes left in the game, down by 4, they drove 75 yards and scored a TD with 30 seconds left. They also converted two 4th downs on that drive.

We could use Harris there. We gave up 9 points late in the halves. Lost 12-10 and yes Stills should've caught the ball and I still believe Gase should've took the FG on the road early rather than get stuffed on 4-1. But a Harris with fresh legs could get a drive killing sack or at least hurry some throws. That's the value in Harris.

Could we have traded down and still got him? I don't know the trade offers but I thought 22 was a bit early.

Can he replace Wake? That's some big shoes plus Harris works the right side and Wake the left. So he will have to work on that.

Speaking of 4-1s, if Asiata doesn't earn a starting position, he certainly will come in as a 6th lineman and help move the pile. He does have a chance to start but he will have to beat out a couple vets for either spot.

You have to love Asiata's attitude and toughness. I think he was a great value late in the 5th round.

I think Tankersley will play at some point this season. You never have enough good CBs in this league. At the end of last year we had so many injuries, that having quality depth is essential. Plus some teams go 5 wide to take advantage of that lack of depth. Tankersley may help out more than any other pick. He is a tremendous value in the 3rd round.

McMillan is interesting. We need to stop the run. I doubt we are going to a 3-4, so somebody has to play outside with Timmons at ILB. But what if McMillan beats out Timmons. Or Timmons, who is long in the tooth gets banged up. Then of course we need McMillan.

I believe the board dictated the pick and so we got the young run stuffing ILB we lacked and will actually have for at least 4 years at street value. Timmons is a stop gap solution.

Godchaux and Taylor are confusing to me. Neither has a reputation for being proficient against the run, which we needed to address. Now I am not saying they cannot make a tackle against the run. They will have to learn their roles in the defensive scheme but I see the former on the bench for a couple years and Taylor getting some looks on ST.

Ford may earn the 5th WR spot or on the practice squad. But he will be in the building. He had good numbers for two years so he can obviously play.

I think we will be looking for a vet OLB and DT who gets cut later.

Did we miss out on drafting any other players? Yes. That will occur every year.

Did we whiff on any? Time will tell.

Let us keep some perspective in that you shouldn't expect starters when you draft 22nd. You should hope for quality depth with solid players so if someone gets hurt, we don't miss too much of a beat.

As the draft unfolded, I was not happy until we picked Asiata. Then I looked at our 4 picks and was happy.

For me, that's enough.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Why I Believe it Was Our Best Draft (and FA) in Years.

First I'm going to rant about some of our fan base. If you don't want to read it, skip down below. But I think MOST on here will agree with me, especially if you follow the Dolphins on social media.

I have seen a lot of complaining from Dolphins fans on social media because they passed over Rueben Foster, Forest Lamp, and Zach Cunningham. I'm going to get into why I'm glad they passed on Foster most of all in a minute, but first I'd like to say that it doesn't matter who we draft. There are just some Dolphins fans who don't even watch the games, don't keep up with college, and if we drafted Hercules, these fans would just say "well....he's only a HALF god so....that's a stupid pick." I even saw some fans complaining that we didn't draft enough offensive players and saying we needed receivers. I'm going to say that again in case you mistook it for a typo. THEY THOUGHT WE SHOULD HAVE DRAFTED MORE RECEIVERS.

To fans like this, I ask: Did you watch a single Mizzou, OSU, Did you watch any Dolphins games last year? Do I REALLY need to explain why we didn't need to go offensive (other than guard) in the draft?

I swear, I hate the "casual football" culture. Yes, you have a right to your opinion, but we ACTUAL football fans have a right to blast you for your opinion when it's a stupid one.

                                                                   *Sigh of relief*

                                                      END USELESS RANT HERE
The Dolphins are known for making a big splash and winning "offseason championships" pretty much since Dan Marino retired, but very rarely has it ever paid off. Then they make a splash in the draft...and that doesn't pay off either. The Dolphins have had a terrible habit of overlooking character flaws and injury history and only looking at on-field talent. That has resulted in a lot of players getting paid A LOT of money to sit on the bench, or worse, at home. They are one of those teams who just never learned how to adjust to a league with a salary cap.

Well, it appears Miami has finally learned how to manage a roster in the salary cap era. It appears Miami has finally learned how to evaluate draft prospects with a "whole person" approach. You know who else does this? The Green Bay Packers.

The Packers have always been about building their team in the draft, and you really can't argue with the results. Lets look at the similarities between the off-season approach of both teams.

-Both teams were relatively quiet in the FA leading up to the draft, with the Packers' signing of Martellus Bennett being, arguably, the biggest splash between the two teams.
-Both teams passed on a very talented player in a position of need due character flaws and/or injuries. For Miami, it was Rueben Foster. For Green Bay, Joe Mixon.
-Both teams drafted players based on a mix of talent, character, toughness, positional need, and how well they fit the team.
-Both teams picked players who are passionate about the game, not overly flashy, and just happy to get the opportunity.
-Both teams stayed patient, let the board come to them, and had minimal trades.
-Both teams addressed nearly every need and received high draft grades from most media sources, yet neither team is making headlines.

You know who IS making headlines. The Bears....and not for the reasons you would want. Boy did they make a splash or what?

So, both the Packers and Dolphins had quiet, successful off-seasons. I'd say the Dolphins are in good company.

For more evidence that this way of thinking works, just look at some of our top players:

Cam Wake. Undrafted. Came from the CFL. If you judge him by the "whole person" concept, best DE in the league in my opinion.
Jay Ajayi. 5th round pick. Supposedly injury-prone? Doesn't seem like it. So far, so good.
Jarvis Landry. 2nd round pick. Totally over-shadowed by OBJ, but Landry has been more consistent than OBJ.

Why I like EVERY pick this year:

1. Charles Harris, Edge-rusher, Mizzou - He continues to be listed as an OLB, but he's a true DE. Anyway... I love this pick. I honestly never even considered him because I didn't think he'd be available. I thought Rueben Foster was a more realistic option because I thought he'd slip. Well, thank you very much, foolish, desperate, QB-needy teams. They were both available. But Foster has injury concerns and I'm sick of seeing talented players assuming the role of "cheerleader" for the Dolphins because they spend half the season or more on the bench. Charles Harris is tough. He will actually play. He's fast as hell. He's a true edge rusher. Best of all, he's win-win. He could possibly be tried out at OLB, but if that doesn't work out, he's still in line to be Cam Wake's successor, and I can't think of ANYONE better to be Harris' mentor. He's going to be a beast. Maybe right away, maybe not. But he'll be nasty. To people that are mad because he doesn't stop the run well, that's not what he's there for. Wake isn't there to stop the run. He's there to give the opposing QB nightmares. But Harris is young and can still get better at run defense. AND he's not injury-prone. Possible future star.

2. Raekwon McMillan, ILB, OSU - Another player I did not think would be on the board when Miami's 2nd round pick came up. To be fair, I didn't think Cunningham would be either. Cunningham is more athletic and I would've been thrilled to have him too, however, McMillan is a much better tackler...and I mean MUCH better. The last thing we need is another LB who misses tackles. That's been an issue for Cunningham, but not for McMillan. McMillan will be able to stuff the gaps and set the edge. He doesn't cover well, but that's something he can improve on. Right now, our top concern needs to be stopping the run. You can't fix everything in one offseason. McMillan is a better fit for us than Cunningham. He could be our stud MLB after Timmons leaves the team. AND he's not injury-prone. Possible future star.

That's two players who should become future stars at their natural positions on DE and ILB, respectively, but in the meantime, it's TWO possible solutions to our OLB problems.

3. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson - In a division where your biggest rival loves to dink and dunk you to death, you can't have too many press CBs. Guys who can sitck to opposing receivers. Tankersley is one of those CBs. For now, he'll be good insurance for Howard and Maxwell and could see a lot of time in the nickel. He could also develop into a starter in a couple of years. Can't ask for much more at the end of the 3rd round. Possible future starter.

4. Isaac Asiata, G/C, UT - I live in SLC, so I watched him play...and he is one mean, tough, nasty mauler. The first thing they need to do in training is put him head to head with Suh...over....and over....and over. He can start immediately at G and I think he will. He can also be a good insurance policy for Pouncey. He's not injury-prone. He just had one ankle injury at the wrong time (or right time?) but it's not a pattern. He is humble and just ecstatic to be playing for Miami. If you haven't seen it, go to the Dolphins' FB page and watch the video of his reaction to getting the phone call. This guy has a ton of heart. He should've gone before our 3rd round pick even came up, and we got him at the 20th pick of the 5th?? That's value. That was well worth the trade up. Possible future star.

5. Davon Dochaux, DT, LSU - Very sold pick for the 5th round. I think he could have gone early in the 4th in your average draft, but in such a deep defensive draft, defense-needy teams got a lot of late-round value. He also does have some character issues, but I think they are minimal and Miami was careful about that this year. He was worth the risk late in the 5th round. He could push Jordan Phillips. Maybe it lights a fire under Phillips' ass and he becomes a good, consistent starter. Maybe he straight up beats Phillips out and becomes an upgrade at DT... mentored by Suh. Win-win. Possible future starter.

6. Vincent Taylor, DT, OK State - This was a 6th round pick, so we should curb our expectations. However, we need quality backups on the D-line. Also, he has a very good shot at making the 53-man roster as a ST player, as he blocked a lot of kicks during his college career. Solid ST player and future backup.

7. Isaiah Ford, WR, VT - Not too shabby for our version of "Mr. Irrelevant." He had a great college career for two 1,000 yard seasons. He has a great vertical. He could potentially beat out Jakeem Grant for a roster spot if Grant can't stop muffing punts. Otherwise, he may be the only draft pick that doesn't make the team. Even if that happens, I bet he'll be on the practice squad. Possible future backup.

So out of 7 draftees, that's 3 possible stars in the making, 2 solid potential starters, and 2 solid potential backups/ST players. I'll admit that last season, I didn't expect Grant, Duarte, or Doughty to stay on the team for long, if they even made the team at all. But this year is the first time I can remember that I truly believe every draftee will be on the 53-man roster when the regular season kicks off. And at least 3 of them (Harris, McMillan, and Asiata) will be contributing to wins for a long time.

The whole culture from top to bottom has changed in Miami and I couldn't be happier about it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 season much tougher tha 2016

   I know or at least think that the the Dolphins will improve from last season to this season, not just because the players they added or resigned, not just because it's year two for Gase as head coach, not just because T_hill will take a step forward in his second year with this system but it's a combination of all those things.
Now, the interesting question here is will they improve enough to be a play-off team when you consider the schedule with all the traveling and all the winning teams we got to play against this season and only 7 home games because the England game counts as home, though ​it's not and no by following that game.
Smoke and mirrors won't cut it this season, they need to be and stay healthy and really step it up a notch to make the playoffs.
This year if the Dolphins make the post season is because they are true contenders not pretenders. On a different note good luck with the draft to the power trio with the draft tomorrow evening.

T'was The Night Before The Draft

It's Christmas time for the NFL. All the draft picks are wrapped tightly so no one knows exactly what may be inside. There is plenty of excitement in anticipating what new presents each team will be receiving. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy the following:

'Twas The Night Before The Draft

                                         By Carl Leone

‘Twas the night before the draft and all through the league,
Not a GM had rested, all feeling fatigue.
Their draft boards assembled, each scout had his say,
From highest to lowest,  “Oh, that one can play”.

The prospects were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of great riches danced in their heads.
Since end of last season, teams knew were they’d pick,
From the worst to the first, their spot was affixed.

To trade up or trade down or snag that one guy,
Decisions, decisions, which one do they try.
From Kiper and Davis and even Mayock,
All threw in their two cents with many a mock.

They run a spread offense and defense, a zone.
Make sure he fits in or this choice they’d've blown.
When free agents sign, when picks they are traded,
Each mock is redone ‘fore they’d even faded.

We’ve seen and we’ve heard from all who attest,
They love this one player, now that one is best.
Agents are bragging, their client’s a stud,
But rumors can circle, now he’s just a dud. 

They pimp them, now primp them so all are impressed,
From Armani to Brioni, to the T’s they are dressed.                           
Come ‘morrow at night, the invitees will shine,
For GMs and coaches, their jobs on the line.

They’ll wait in the green room, some are brought to tear.
To fall like Brady Quinn, is their greatest fear.
The NFL Network and SportsCenter tell
All of their stories ‘tween hugs from Goodell.

The owners get checks out and practice with smile,
“He’s who we wanted. Look! He’s on my speed dial.”
Some fans will be happy, some fans will be sick,
As the winning contestant announces a pick.

Who knows whats the answer, no future is clear,
Will they bring them Lombardi or even a cheer?
There’s no proven science nor certain gimmick,
Just all fervent prayers to Dear Ole Saint Pick!

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan Since 12/25/1971

Monday, April 24, 2017

7 Round Miami Dolphins Mock Draft George Costanza Edition

George Costanza: Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable, I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but...I was perceptive. I always know when someone's uncomfortable at a party. It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I've ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every part of life, be something to wear, something to eat...its all been wrong....

Jerry Sienfeld: If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would be right.

George Costanza: Yes, I will do the opposite.

Yes indeed. We all know what Miami needs. But what if the opposite were true??? In this edition, I am going against all conventional wisdom and not trading back at all. I am utilizing a computer app to pick for all the other 31 teams. Lets see how Constanza would do with the Dolphins instead of the New York Yankees.

Round 1 Pick 22:  All the conjecture has been about Miami drafting a guard or DE or LB in the first round. But solving the OL issue doesn't necessarily mean we draft Forest Lamp while moving Tunsil to LT. Oh no. We do the opposite. We draft Cam Robinson the LT out of Alabama and leave Tunsil at LG. Robinson, 6'6", 322 LBS is a 3 year starter at left tackle against some of the best defenders in the country. He is a road grader and needs some work on his balance in pass protection so he could slip to us.

Round 2 Pick 22:  Instead of an OLB how about an ILB we can move to OLB like Jarrad Davis out of Florida. He is a thumper and can cover a lot of ground which makes him a good fit as a 4-3 OLB. The best part about Davis is he has great personal character and will be a safe pick for us.

Round 3 Pick 22:  Most teams want to play it safe in the early rounds. But we are doing the opposite so lets gamble on Sidney Jones, CB out of Washington, who tore his Achilles tendon at his pro day. Jones was the top rated CB prior to his unfortunate injury and no one knows for certain if he will come back as the same player. However, Wake came back from the same injury and I believe we feel confident about Jones' ability to fully recover.

Round 5 Pick 22:  We just traded for Julius Thomas and added dear ole Anthony Fasano to go along with MarQuies Gray and Chris Pantele. So what do we need another TE for? Because Bucky Hodges out of Virginai Tech fell to us. When you are 6'6", 257 LBS and run a 4.57 40, we will find a spot for you. Hodges has plenty of work to do with his route running but he will have 2 quality veterans to learn from. He also needs some work on catching but again this guy is an athlete that can grow into a matchup nightmare.

Round 5 Pick 34 (Comp):  We just picked up Nate Allen and TJ McDonald. The later will be a stud for us at FS during the last 8 games of the season when we play both the Pats and Bills twice, plus the Raiders, Panthers, Broncos and Chiefs. So we should be all set for that part of the season on the back end of our defense. And we have serviceable players to go along side of Pro Bowl SS Reshad Jones in Walt Aikens and Michael Thomas. And that's exactly why we will grab Rayshawn Jenkins out of Miami. He is a 6'1", 214 LBS and runs a 4.51 40. He may have to work his way up the totem pole to get playing time at Safety but he would be a steal in the 5th round.

Round 5 Pick 40 (Comp):  Depth on the OL is a concern and a 5th round pick for a big conference guy we can develop to play guard in the future wouldn't hurt. Looking for guys with big time experience to handle the pressures of blocking real mean men out there on the field is the ticket. But we are doing the opposite and grabbing Collin Buchanan, out of Miami, Ohio. He played RT in the MAC and at 6'5", 316 LBS he has quick enough hands to move inside. He is a 2-3 year project to develop as a starter.

Round 7 Pick 5: You gotta love Ryan Tannehill. His stats have proven him to be a top 10 QB. He  actually has the highest completion percentage of passes over 20 yards. Haha to all those RT haters. We also have the loveable Matt Moore and of course the amiable Brandon Doughty. We are all set at QB. That's why we are grabbing another QB and another one with limited experience against big time talent. Sounds a bit like RT. Our last selection was 3rd in the ACC for completions beyond 20 yards, behind Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. He is only a Junior and many believe he is making a mistake coming out early with only 1 year under center but Jerod Evans, out of Virginia Tech, prefers to learn and gain experience from Adam Gase. Evans is pretty burly at 6'3", 232 LBS. He could eventually become a Ben Roethlisberger type of QB who is just a beast to bring down. He needs a lot of work but he should at the very least push Doughty. 

There is our opposite draft and Thursday Night will prove who was right.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

7 Rounds Miami Dolphins Mock Draft 3rd Edition with Trades

In our last mock draft, I accepted trade offers and fell back in the first round while still getting Lamp, Cunningham and others that can add depth to our roster.  Lets face it, we will be lucky if we grab 2 starters for 2017.  For the most part, we will wind up with cheaper guys who can grow into starters in a year or two, become permanent backups or get released.

Our organization looks like everyone is reading off the same page, from Tannenbaum to Grier to Gase.  And that is exactly were we need to be if we want to continue to grow into a championship franchise.

So in this version, I want to try to fall back again and pick up a couple additional picks along the way.  As everyone on the planet knows, we need OL, LB, CB, DE, DT and TE depth with a preference to find a starting LG and OLB if possible.

I will be utilizing an app to pick for the other 31 teams so here we go:

Round 1 Pick 22:  We have a choice to pick either OG Lamp, FS Baker, SS Adams, DE/OLBs Harris or McKinley or Watt, TE Njoku and CBs King, Humphrey or White. There is still some talented guys sitting there even if I fall back and risk losing Lamp.  We are offered 4 trades. I accept the one from Cleveland offering their 2 second round picks 1 (33) and 19 (51).

Round 2 Pick 1 (33) from Cleveland:  Everyone mentioned above is gone except Lamp and Watt.  Lamp is now a Dolphin and starting at LG!!

Round 2 Pick 19 (51) from Cleveland:  We need to focus on defense now and we can grab DE/OLBs Rivers, Williams or Basham, OLBs Riley or Bowser, CBs Jackson, Wilson, Jones or Tabor, FS Sanders-Williams or SS Jones. Lots of talent for the pickings.  I like DE/OLB Tim Williams from Alabama here a lot as a pass rush specialist who can learn from Wake and take over on the left side at DE.  However, we have one trade offer from Oakland offering 2nd round 24 (56), 4th round 23 (130) and 5th Round 24 (168).   Since we pick again 3 picks from now at our 22 lets take the trade and see if Williams is still hanging around. If not, we grab another guy and pick up 2 picks, one of which gets us back into the 4th round.

Round 2 Pick 22 (54):  Haha, Williams is still there. Well, not anymore as he is now a Dolphin!!

Round 2 Pick 24 (56) from Oakland:  We get 4 trade offers but eventually you have to pick guys and if you keep trading you wind up with 19 fifth through seventh round players.  I want to grab an OLB here since the talent level at OLB drops off significantly after the 2nd round in this years draft.
So lets welcome to the team Tyus Bowser from Houston. At 6'3", 247 LBS he ran a 4.65 40 and benched 21 reps. He is an athletic specimen having played both hoops and football at Houston for his frosh and sophomore years. Lets hope the Heat don't find out about him coming to the Dolphins.

Round 3 Pick 33 (97) Comp:  The pickings are slim for starters now. So its all about depth and finding someone who can step in and play without hurting you too if the starter goes down. I haven't looked this next guy's way in any draft because he is only 5'10" as a CB. I prefer taller guys but Michigan's Jourdan Lewis is no slouch. He has been starting since 3 games into his sophomore year and is projected to be a good slot corner since he doesn't shy away from the LOS and plays the run well. Welcome to the Dolphins, Mr. Lewis!

Round 4 Pick 23 (130) from Oakland:   More depth for the defense, this time at Safety. Can we find a good pass coverage guy who can play center field in this Pass Heavy NFL?? Well, we just did. Welcome from Boston College, 6'0", 208 LBS, John Johnson. He runs the 40 in 4.61 and has starting experience at both CB and Safety. Last year he had 77 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 3 INT and 9 pass break ups.  His Junior year, he had 63 tackles, 1.5 for loss, 3 INT, 3 PBU.  Not bad. Hell in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl against Maryland he had 12 tackles of which 11 were solo. So he isn't afraid to stick his nose in there and can play both CB and Safety. When you can only dress 46 guys from the 53 man roster for each game, being able to kill 2 birds with 1 stone is huge.

Round 5 Pick 22 (166):   Still looking for depth and want to address the DL so lets grab a big ole mountain of a DT in USC Stevie Tu'ikolovatu. Granted not too many equipment managers or media personnel are going to love dealing with that last name but I am sure he will wind up being Stevie Tu.  At 6'1", 331 LBS, its pretty clear what his job is. Stuff the run and tie up blockers so the LBs can be free to pursue the ball. He could be a problem to block with Suh getting doubled only a few feet away.

Round 5 Pick 24 (168) from Oakland:   Lets grab an OT for some depth. So how about UCLA Conor McDermott. My God, this guy is 6'8", 310 LBS. 6'8". He is a project though since he doesn't have enough core strength to play right away but he certainly has a frame to put some muscle on. He started the past 2 years at LT in the PAC-10 so how bad can he be having been voted 2nd team all conference the last 2 seasons. 

Round 5 Pick 34 (178) Comp:   Here comes a special teamer. A kick coverage dude who runs a 4.51 40. Get this, he runs that fast at 6'4", 221 LBS. Yep, he is a wide receiver, Mack Hollins, from North Carolina.  When you are that big and can run that fast, you will make a roster whether we need another WR or not. Then again, he could be just another 5th round cut.

Round 5 Pick 40 (184) Comp:   Here comes another edge type rusher from the OLB position or a special teamer to cover kicks.  From TCU, 6'3", 242 LBS, Josh Carraway earned 2 consecutive All Big-12 First Team selections.  He had 11.5 tackles for loss and 9 sacks followed by 11 TFL and 8 sacks this past season. The guy is an athlete. Pure and simple. Camp will tell us just how tough he is.

Round 7 Pick 5 (223) Comp:    Time for a sentimental journey.  Or what the hell, the acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree or like father, like son or its getting late and I gotta show a house!! So lets grab a name you should all remember, Bryan Cox! That's right, the same nut job who played for us (and well BTW) has a son coming out of Florida and looking to play the DL and create havoc. Too bad he is not as talented as his Dad but he does have the size at 6'3", 265 LBS.  He is big and quick but only 16 reps benching tells me he spent little time in the weight room.

So there we have it.  A couple trades and we wind up with starting LG Lamp, rotation DE Williams, back up/ possible starter OLB Bowser, back up slot CB Lewis and back up FS Johnson plus some special teamers and push other guys to play better picks.

Lets see how it shakes out next week.

Phins Up!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Friday, March 31, 2017

Dion Jordan

Sad but true.

That's what my Dad would say when you hope against all odds that the inevitable ending would somehow turn out different.

Yes it is sad but true.

Sad we had Jeff Ireland making picks.

Sad we over evaluated Dion Jordan.

Sad he never panned out.

Sad we burned an additional draft pick trading up to get him.

Sad the talent never caught up to the promise.

Sad. Just plain sad.

And that's all I got to say about that.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

7 Round Miami Dolphins Mock Draft with Trades 2nd Edition

With my last mock draft, I didn't accept any trade offers and drafted straight up. I wound up selecting Forest Lamp in the first round and unfortunately the way the chips fell, I didn't pick a DE until the 5th round. We are primarily looking for help at OG, DE, OLB and CB with possible help at FS, SS, DT and TE

This draft will include trades as I feel we would be better served to trade down and grab a couple extra picks. I will be utilizing an app to make all the other teams picks and trade offers. Lets see how this shakes out.

Round 1 Pick 22:
The following players are still available at 22: DE/OLB Charles Harris, TE Dave Njoku, OG Forest Lamp, CB Gareon Conley, SS Jamal Adams, DT/DE Malik McDowell, CB Quincy Wilson, OLB/DE Takkarist McKinley, OLB/DE Tim Williams, CB TreDavious White and OLB/ILB Zach Cunningham

I am offered the following two trades:
For our Round 1 # 22 Green Bay offers Round 1 # 29 and Round 2 # 29 (61)
For our Round 1 # 22 and Round 2 # 22 (54)  New Orleans offers their Round 1 # 32, Round 2 # 10 (42), Round 3 # 12 (76) and Round 3 # 39 (103)

Part of me says take Green Bay and see what else hits for # 29 but I like the deal New Orleans offers and I take it.

Still available are Njoku, Lamp, McKinley, White and Cunningham

Round 1 Pick 32:
I receive 5 trade offers as well but with our first pick I take our good old buddy, the OG out of Western Kentucky, Forest Lamp, knowing I have another pick in 10 spots and can help the defense there.

Round 2 Pick 10 (42):
Our next pick has been falling into the 2nd round of a lot of mock drafts of late and, sure enough, there he be. I grab the OLB/ILB out of Vanderbilt, Zach Cunningham. At 6'3", 234 LBS, Cunningham brings a wealth of experience having started since the end of his freshman year. He is very athletic and plays with a downhill tilt. Always looking to draw first blood, Cunningham would be perfect for blitzing and as a 3 down run and chase OLB.

Round 3 Pick 12 (76):
Quite a few good players left in CBs Cameron Sutton and Sidney Jones, DE Trey Hendrickson, FS Marcus Maye, SSs Josh Jones and Justin Evans, Cs Pat Elfein and Tyler Orlosky, TEs Adam Shaheen, Bucky Hodges, Gerald Everett and Jake Butt. I could have accepted any one of 4 trade offers but the earliest pick offer would have been 15 spots down and I didn't want to lose a chance to grab another decent pick. If we could wait a year and gamble that our pick can come back from injury, I would grab Sidney Jones, who tore his Achilles tendon at his pro day. I instead will go with the highest rated player still available. Sorry but I am skipping on Hendrickson because he is more of a right side DE and will never have the quickness replace Wake on the left side. For this reason I am grabbing as insurance for our OL, the highest rated remaining player in the Center out of Ohio State, Pat Elflein. This guy can just flat out play at Center or Guard if needed and frankly who knows how long before Pouncey goes down again. Lets secure our running game and pass protection and lock down the OL for the next 3-4 years.

Round 3 Pick 33 (97):
Well, luck is a lady and shining down on the Dolphins as DE Trey Hendrickson fell 21 picks. Didn't need to wait or consider any trades. I immediately put in his name. He is 6'4", 266 LBS who runs a 4.65 40. We won't ask him to run that far. Hendrickson is a hard working, 2 time All-Confernece USA First Team selection. He has some developing to do but could spell Branch on the right side.

Round 3 Pick 39 (103):
Now I am looking for guys who fell and can help us as much as possible. No trade offers so I grab a run stuffer from Alabama, DT Dalvin Tomlinson. At 6'3", 310 LBS, he is built in the mold of most Alabama DTs, ready and willing to stuff the run and also stay on the field for passing downs. Now get this about Tomlinson: 3 time high school heavyweight state wrestling champ AND played goalie on the varsity soccer team. He is big, strong and athletic. Should've gone sooner but we grab him here.

Round 5 Pick 22 (166):
Lets add some depth at the CB position and welcome Shaquill Griffin out of Central Florida. At 6'0", 194 LBS, he offers good size with a 4.39 time in the 40. He has very good ball skills but will need attention to detail on his technique. You can teach technique but you cannot teach size and speed.

Round 5 Pick 34 (178):
KC offers me their Round 5 Pick 36 and their Round 6 Pick 36. There is no one here I am in love with so I accept.

Round 5 Pick 36 (180): 
There are a couple decent wide receivers starring at me but I grab a good back up ILB in Ben Gedeon out of Michigan. Nothing flashy at 6'2", 244 LBS, runs the 40 in 4.75 and benches 27 reps. He will play special teams and fill in as needed at ILB. He will never be a full time starter since he lacks short area quickness and speed to cover TE or RB but he will get you through a game if need be.

Round 5 Pick 40 (184):
We got some trade offers but I like this kid in the last draft and may have reached a bit here but there really wasn't much more that I liked so I grabbed the SS out of Clemson in Jadar Johnson. Size, speed, ball skills, all there. Run support, not there. So we keep in out of the box and he plays in passing situations or we move him to FS and special teams.

Round 6 Pick 34 (218):
I like the TEs we got but one could always use a Matchup Nightmare so with no trade offers I grabbed Darrell Daniels out of Washington. At 6'3", 247 LBS, he is a converted WR who runs a 4.55 40 and has 34.5" arm length with 10.5" hands. He catches everything thrown his way but he won't give you much in the way of inline blocking. With his speed and catching ability he could cause havoc running up the seam for opposing defenses.

Round 7 Pick 5 (223):
Of course in the 7th round, its special teamer time so here comes another kid whose ceiling is low for a starter but can possibly make the team on special teams. Welcome FS out of Oklahoma State, Jordan Sterns. Nothing special at 5'11", 196 LBS. He has adequate size and average speed but he does have a knack for making plays and that certainly counts for something. He is also a good character guy who you would want in the locker room and on the sideline. The type of guy who knows his place and won't cause any problems

So we wind up with 10 picks and look at our first 3 rounds with me trading back. We wind up with OG Forest Lamp, OLB Zach Cunningham, C Pat Elflein, DE Trey Hendrickson and DT Dalvin Tomlinson.  Not a bad start to building depth and filling a couple big holes. I feel very good about this draft.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

7 Round Miami Dolphins Mock Draft 1st Edition

The purpose of this mock draft is to get a feel for whom may be available when we pick. I am utilizing a computer app to draft for the other teams. I will not utilize any trades in this edition.

We should be looking to draft a OLB, DE, OG, CB and possibly an ILB, FS, TE and QB. The first four positions are a priority to address, however sometimes the best player available will prevail over a glaring need.

As of today, we have the following 7 picks:
Round 1 Pick 22
Round 2 Pick 22
Round 3 Pick 33 (compensatory)
Round 5 Pick 22
Round 5 Pick 34 (compensatory)
Round 5 Pick 40 (compensatory)
Round 7 Pick 5

Round 1 Pick 22: We have 4 trade opportunities but as mentioned above, this edition will be straight up. The following players are still available DE/OLB Carl Lawson, DE/OLB Charles Harris, TE David Njoko, OG/OT Forrest Lamp, CB Gareon Conley, DT/DE Malik McDowell, DE/OLB Taco Charlton, OLB/DE Takkarist McKinley, CBs Teez Tabor and TreDavious White.  This draft is very deep in DE and CBs so I will pass on any of them with this first pick.  That leaves OLB and OG as our best bet and still get a good DE and CB later.  Charlton and McKinley would be better served on the edge or a 3-4 OLB not a 4-3 OLB. I like Charlton a lot to play on the edge and if I was accepting trades, I would move back 4-5 picks still possibly get him as well as pick up an additional Second Round pick. OGs are deeper in the second and third rounds with only Lamp showing 1st Round potential.
I could still grab a good CB in the Third Round so I won't draft one here. Since I am not accepting a trade, this pick has to produce a starter and of all the guys mentioned above, my pick can and will start immediately and also has some flexibility as to positioning. He doesn't grade out as high as most of the above but he can play 2 different positions.  The safe pick for an immediate starter is Forrest Lamp out of Western Kentucky who can start at LG. Lamp played LT in all but his first three games as a redshirt freshman when he played guard in 2013. He was an all conference (USA) selection the past two seasons and a third team AP All American in 2016. His tape against Alabama's defensive front has many sold that he can play well in the NFL as an interior lineman for a decade. He reminds many of Dallas' Zack Martin. Lamp has a good frame and moves well but he has short arms which will move him to LG in the NFL. Guess what??? That's exactly what we need. Problem solved.

Round 2 Pick 22:  4 more trade opportunities, how about that? So we need either a DE or a OLB here. All the top DEs are gone leaving DeMarcus Walker and Ryan Anderson who would be reaches at this point. At OLB, we can choose between Tyrus Bowser, Vince Biegel and Derek Rivers. Biegel is under sized and will be a special teamer. Rivers would be a good edge rusher on passing downs. Bowser can play in the NFL and had I accepted a trade in Round 1, we could've solved both needs in Round 2.  I love FSs Budda Baker and Marcus Williams, who would be great choices here. But as it is, the best DE or LB still available is our pick. He played ILB in college and loves to thump but due to his athleticism, he will be better served to play OLB in the NFL.  Grading just a bit higher than the FSs is LB Jared Davis out of Florida. This kid is simply a very good football player who has absolutely no character issues. He can start at OLB if he can simply be trained to avoid blockers rather than attempting to run threw everyone while on his way to crushing the ball carrier. LBs are getting lighter and quicker and this kid fits the mold for a good OLB in a 4-3 system that keeps blockers off the LBs.

Round 3 Pick 33:  The phones are ringing again, 4 times. I feel like the only kid with money for the ice cream truck. Of course the computer doesn't recognize that you cannot trade compensatory picks. We have a choice, a tough choice here between CB Ahkello Witherspoon, CB Kevin King and DE Trey Hendrickson. Witherspoon is the better choice for CB. Both are 6-3 but Witherspoon has quicker feet from his younger days playing soccer so he can adjust better with any change of direction than King.  Hendrickson would be good against the run as a 4-3 DE but his sacks come more as a second effort rushing and not from any stellar quickness. Imagine if you would, that Tony Lippet had 4 years of experience playing CB in college and then brought his ball skills and size to our defense. That's what Witherspoon brings. He is the 2018 version of Lippet. I know we are pretty deep at CB. I know we need a DE to get ready to replace Wake but Hendrickson will never be quick enough to rush from the left side, he will never be able to replace Wake. He could give Branch some breathers so if I am drafting a DE, he has to have potential to replace Wake in another year or two. You guessed it, I like Witherspoon here. Had I traded down in Round 1, I would absolutely love Witherspoon here near the end of the 3rd Round after grabbing a DE, OLB and OG. He is not known for his tackling. Its not great but he is a pass defense specialist with his gangly frame of all arms and legs. He possesses a rare combination of speed and size for a CB. He is one of 3 Colorado DBs to be named to the 2nd Team All-Pac-12.  He tied teammate Tedric Thompsn with a nation leading 23 passes defensed.  So he has been well coached.

Round 5 Pick 22: Slim pickings are left for a DE. So we might as well grab a guy who has experience in a tough league and has produced. I grabbed Garrett Sickels out of Penn St who lead the Big10 in QB hurries while collecting 6 sacks. He played his absolute best against Ohio State's talented OL with 2.5 sacks. He plays with the same intensity throughout the game. Typical for a fellow guy from Jersey.

Round 5 Pick 34: When in doubt double down. If you cannot find a good DE, maybe we can grab a quicker OLB who has a frame to put on some muscle and grow into a DE on the practice squad. Enter South Carolina's Darius English. At 6'6" and only 245 LBS he has some room and time to muscle up a bit and train under Cam Wake.  Can he put on 30 LBS and learn to be a DE? Worth a shot.

Round 5 Pick 40: Time for some depth at the back end of our Defense so enter Jadar Johnson of Clemson. As an All-ACC Safety, he led national champs with 5 INTs. At 6'0", 206 LBS, he possesses explosive speed and terrific ball skills. Why did he fall so far? Not that great in run support so keep him out of the box and let him play some FS on passing downs while we work on his tackling.

Round 7 Pick 5 You gotta love this guy's name for the Dolphins, Kansas Safety Fish Smithson He is a bit undersized at 5'11", 190 LBS but he makes up for it with his instincts and field awareness. He can cover in the slot and loves to stick his nose in and tackle. He would be a decent backup and could play special teams.

All in all, I am not in love with this draft. Grabbing the sure starter at OG in the 1st Round really limited our opportunities later at DE. I believe we will trade back and pick up an additional 2nd Round pick. I would even trade back again. I think we could wind up with 3 solid 2nd Round Picks and 2 Good 3rd Round Picks by trading back twice in the 1st Round. Look for that in my next edition.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dolphins Set to Draft Malik Hooker

      The signing of Nate Allen positions Miami perfectly to draft the best safety in the draft, Malik Hooker.  Although most scouts think Hooker a top ten prospect, he is likely to fall in the draft due to off-season surgery.  Walterfootball reports that Allen will sit for 4-6 months, meaning that any team that takes him must be prepared to be without him at the start of season.  Teams with immediate needs might therefore pass on Hooker in order to get a healthy player on the field, unless, of course, they had just signed a journeyman, stop-gap free agent.
        Enter Allen, who is exactly such a player.  A natural SS, Allen could be asked to cover at FS while Hooker mends, and then leave the starting lineup to back-up Jones at SS.  These moves make sense, and thankfully the Dolphins front office seems to make sensible moves these days.  Hooker might be a once in a decade player.  If Miami can sign him, it would be a coup of similar proportion to what happened with Tunsil.
       Hooker also fits our scheme; he is a classic deep safety, with ball skills and closing speed, which means he can cover for the talented gambler who would start next to him.
        Should the Dolphins miss on Hooker, they might get a shot at Jamal Adams (an excellent fit for Miami) or Obi Melinfonwu, who are both good fits for our scheme (though Melifonwu is more raw and less proven, having played at UCONN.)
         What the Dolphins must not do is draft the overrated Jabril Peppers.  A dumpster fire of a pick for our needs, since he is a 'tweener LB/S with no real coverage skills, Peppers would only remind us of a certain LB/DE "athletic freak" who shall henceforth remain nameless in these pages.
          This is a deep draft at safety- if the players who warrant a first round pick are gone, simply move on to another position of need (linebacker or Defensive Line seems logical) and circle back at a later round.
      But if we get Hooker, man does that Allen signing make sense!

Jay Lopez

Thursday, March 02, 2017

News with a smirk: the combine

Maybe it's just me, but I watched a video of the combine and I simply didn't see the allure...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Free Agency & The Draft

Hello all! 

It's been a while since I have written on here but I have been keeping up with some of the NFL transactions, especially the ones the Phins have been making.

First and foremost, I want to give major props to Jay for calling Julius Thomas to Miami this offseason FIRST on this little ol' fan only blog! Honestly, when I read what you wrote Jay, I loved the idea but didn't see how the hell it would ever come to fruition, I thought it was a pipe dream. In the end we pretty much picked him up for a seventh round pick, we gave up a 2017 Seventh rounder and got a 2018 seventh rounder for Brandon Albert. Think about that, a TE that proved he can be elite in a Gase offense for a seventh rounder? Absolute no brainer for me. So it's like we gave up nothing as did Jacksonville for B.A. The kicker is going to be in the deal Thomas gets, he has agreed to restructure his contract so we shall see what comes of that. The word in Jacksonville is that he couldn't stay healthy and couldn't block for crap which is why they wanted to unload him. The Miami staff will have to work on his blocking if that is true or maybe the scheme change will help? Denver had a decent running game with the offense they ran that Thomas was in so who knows. What gets me excited about Thomas is if we resign Dion Sims. We will have 2 really good TEs. I personally believe Dion Sims is a better receiver than most people give him credit for. Our offense with 2 capable receiving TEs and one that that can mow over MLBs in the run game?! Vicious...

I said it all of last year and I'll say it again one more time! A winning season last year was a great accomplishment. Making the playoffs, win or lose, had me ecstatic! There were games that they could have played better and won but who the hell would have guessed a 10 win season and a playoff berth for a rookie head coach with a rookie DC? Not to mention all the damn holes we HAD on the roster. LBER, which is still somewhat of a hole. CB, which was a hole early on but turned out to be a strength late in the year. Maxwell played great, Xavien Howard has me excited as hell if he can stay healthy and Tony Lippett came straight out of nowhere to be a pretty good CB, that is a huge credit to the coaching staff for developing players. 

We have to resign as many of our own FAs as we can without being stupid as well as extend a few. Kiko and Reshad Jones are deserving of an extension. I would love to resign Stills but if he wants 12 Million per year, I say let him walk. We have to sign Jarvis Landry, if he wants 12 Mill a year, I say we have no choice, sign him. It didn't help that Antonio Brown just got 17 mill a year either. We also have to find at least one free agent guard and draft one. 

As for Tannehill, there are reports that he will have a full offseason program and that his knee is "as healthy as it's gonna get". If he would have had surgery, he would still be rehabbing for most of the offseason and training camp. He has said he will be playing next season with a knee brace as a precaution, not a necessity and that his mobility will be the same as it was without it. That's a win in my book. He was told when he sprained it that the best course of action would be to pretty much let it naturally heal with some sort of strengthening regimen, it seems to have worked out great. He was also told that having surgery would not guarantee he could not tear or sprain it again which I believe had a lot to do with the decision. 

Going into this offseason is a great feeling. We filled a giant hole in TE with Julius Thomas and that move just makes sense but we can go into free agency and the draft with the least amount if holes to fill that I can remember. Most of our needs are on defense and this draft just so happens to be a DEEP defensive draft. And I mean wwwwwaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy freakin' deep! Only 7/32 projected "Top Prospects" are on offense! Which is great news for us because that means defensive talent GALORE!

Phins Up!

Sent from my iPad

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sources Confirm Julius Thomas to Dolphins for Late Round Pick

    In confirmation of a story I wrote here three weeks ago, James Walker just wrote that sources report that the Dolphins will acquire Julius Thomas from the Jacksonville Jaguars.  I had expected Jacksonville to cut the out of favor Thomas, leading to the Dolphins signing him.  However, Jacksonville kept Thomas in order to gain some value for him in the move to Miami.

    This move makes almost too much sense.  Thomas reunites with the coach who made him great.  Gase fills a major hole without having to burn a high draft pick on a developmental player.  And the Dolphins offense picks up another potential probowler, albeit one who has had trouble staying healthy.

    If Thomas can return to something like the form he last experienced under Gase (65, 788, 12) the Dolphins will have significantly upgraded their offense for years to come.  Lets hope our coach knows what he's about- there is no reason to suspect otherwise.

    Finally, the Dolphins front office seems to be making sensible, timely choices that adhere to plain common sense.  And it pleases me to say, you heard it here first.

Jay Lopez

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Clickbait: 8 Offseason Moves and Changes the Dolphins Should Make.

Some shameless fodder for the offseason, brought to you by a football starved correspondent.  Enjoy!

1) Sign Julius Thomas.  See an earlier article to this effect, but Thomas will be cut by the Jaguars and will move into the free agent market this spring. When that happens, a reunion with Adam Gase and an upgrade from Blake Bortles to Ryan Tannehill will resurrect Thomas's career...  And save the Dolphins an early pick at a position of need.

2) Lock up Kenny Stills.  I'm still angry about the drop in Seattle, but I am also fully aware of what Stills does to coverage schemes.  Tannehill's above-average deep ball and scrambling ability make Stills a unique threat on our roster.  We need him to ensure that we don't waste any picks at WR again this season.  Our budget for receiver projects (Caroo, Parker) is already spent.  This must be a defensive draft.

3) Draft linebackers early and often.  We need mobility and toughness in the middle.  Until Atlanta imploded, they showed what a pursuit defense can do to New England and its crew of small but agile skill players.  Draft two or three LB's and get with the speed on defense movement.

4) Draft a physical corner who can jam at the line.  Our D line needs cover to earn its (inflated) pay, and physical, big DB's are at a premium in the wide nine system.

5) Anticipate expiring contracts and get extensions for key players (Landry, Jones) done right.  Send a message to the NFL that the new regime in Miami rewards gifted contributors with sound deals.  We need to reverse the perception that we are a tight-fisted, exploitative franchise that would rather bargain shop than protect its own.  I still miss Charles Clay- let's not do that again.

6) Move on from BA and let Tunsil move to guard.  I like Albert- when this line was healthy, we were terrific.  However, we need to get younger and healthier.  It may be time to free up some cap room on the offensive line so we can attract some free agent guards and a higher quality backup center.  Doing so would also allow us to distribute more money to skill positions and the defensive secondary.  The Dolphins have more money caught up in their O-line than most other teams in football.

 7)  Overhaul our scouting department.  We over draft players that can be had in later rounds and whiff too much with high picks.  We need depth; teams with no depth generally can't scout.

8) Maintain draft day discipline.  No more trading up for non-impact players (Caroo.) Lost picks hurt so much in the depth department and lead to a roster stocked with linebackers no one else was willing to draft.  Trade down, not up.  Know your targets and stop chasing the draft.

Share your thoughts- and let's hope some intern somewhere is reading and taking a note here or there.

Jay Lopez

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hard Rock Stadium nominated to become Stadium of the Year

From the site hosting the award...
Miami Dolphins’ reconstructed stadium is one of the candidates from 21 countries to become the next Stadium of the Year. 29 nominees are competing in the world’s largest vote.NFL’s Hard Rock Stadium is one of two American stadiums nominated to become Stadium of the Year 2016, along with U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Having been thoroughly reconstructed, the stadium was considered almost brand new and worthy of being listed among the best modern stadiums around the world, each of which was either opened or reopened in 2016.Now Hard Rock Stadium faces competition from 28 other sports venues from 20 countries, primarily in Europe. Majority of them are soccer-specific, representing some of the biggest teams worldwide, including England’s West Ham United or France’s Olympique Lyonnais. But, with over $500 million spent on redevelopment, Dolphins have one of the most impressive stadiums nominated for the title. So far the world’s largest stadium vote hasn’t been lucky for NFL stadia, MetLife Stadium finished 7th and Levi’s Stadium in distant 27th spot. However, NCAA’s Husky Stadium (3rd) and Kyle Field (5th) showed in previous editions that USA may eventually see its first Stadium of the Year. Maybe in the current, 7th edition?There are two ways of winning Stadium of the Year 2016. One is the Public Vote, in which everyone around the world can cast one vote. This means one vote from one device: mobile, laptop, PC, etc. In this vote victory depends on how excited fans are about their stadium, it’s simply a popularity contest and in the current edition already over 20,000 people have voted and the voting platform is open until March 4.The second way of winning the title is the Jury Vote, with a team of experienced stadium architects grading each nominee. Five specialists from different countries use their expertise to judge the 29 modern stadiums opened in 2016. This year’s Jurors are: Peters Bordas (BORD, Hungary), Przemek Kaczkowski (STOPROCENT Architekci, Poland), Mårten Leringe (C.F. Møller, Sweden), Robert Mankin (NBBJ, USA) and Andy Simons (KSS, England). Each vote will result in a separate Stadium of the Year title. Winners will be announced on March 6 (Jury Vote) and March 7 (Public Vote). Stadium of the Year is a non-commercial competition launched 7 years ago by and, two websites specialized in football stadiums. It grew to become the largest open vote of its kind, in which everyone can take part.Vote here:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Off topic: spending on stadiums vs spending on schools

Every once in a while, I come across something that reminds us that we tax payers are just pawns in the stadium construction game.  We help fund the stadium, and then we turn around and pay to use it.  And often its at the expense of other things - that is, the money could be spent elsewhere. 

Here's an article from a group called FormSwift about the spending of Texas on its sports stadiums versus its spending on schools:

You might say it's a primer of sorts. Something to think about as we continue to support building of stadia. 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Could D'Qwell Jackson Be the Stopgap Miami Needs at Linebacker?

    When the Indianapolis Colts released D'Qwell Jackson today, a potentially viable short-term solution presented itself to one of the Miami Dolphins' most glaring needs.  Jackson is old (34) and has a checkered past, but he is a football player of a very high order of magnitude.  He is a solo tackling machine and brings attitude, toughness, and physicality where he goes.
    He will likely have to settle for an incentive-based, team-friendly contract.  He will also be playing to prove he's not past his prime, which can be an excellent recipe for a one year rental.  Signing him would allow the Dolphins to shore up a position of weakness and enter the draft with fewer gaping holes, which might allow the team to draft an excellent player instead of taking what fills a gap.
    Free Agency is a great way to resolve short-term issues while preserving a draft for talent mentality.  I wonder if the Dolphins will seize an opportunity to improve the squad while incurring almost no risk?

Jay Lopez

Thursday, February 02, 2017

How about 7-11 Hogan

I remember When he was in our training camp and everybody kept talking about how he always got open or was always open.

So then roster cuts come around and he gets cut. I always wondered why if the kid was always open.

Whatever the reason, our coaches let him go rather than coach him up develop the kid who was always open.

Now he's going to the Superbowl with our worst enemy and nemesis the New England Patriots, now he is in position to burn us twice a year just like Welker did.

So thank God we have better coaches now and that's the last of the Philbin nightmares.

Hopefully our coaches can stop him from becoming Welker's second coming and get us over NE hump.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

On Moore and Tannehill

First on Tannehill:
Nearly seven weeks later, the dolphins still don't know about tannehill:

And with a 9 month recovery time, you're looking at the prospect of him missing 6+ weeks just to get back to health; much less not having any preseason, or actual game action until then.  So half the season is not unreasonable....time to draft another QB?

On Moore's concussion:
The NFL has issued this statement:

The NFL and NFLPA have reviewed the application of the Concussion Protocol by the Dolphins’ medical staff in the January 8th Steelers-Dolphins game. 

The Miami Dolphins were notified in a letter co-signed by Dr. Hunt Batjer, Co-Chair of the NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee and Dr. Thom Mayer, Medical Director for the NFLPA, that the NFL-NFLPA review determined that the Protocol was not strictly followed. The letter further advised the Dolphins that they must engage their staff in a full review of the Protocol and conduct additional education, if necessary. The Dolphins were also advised that any future deviation from the Protocol may result in enhanced discipline, including monetary fines assessed against the Club. 

In the second quarter, Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore incurred a hit to the chin and mouth area which drew a roughing the passer penalty. Mr. Moore was attended to by medical staff on the field and on the sideline. The team doctor took appropriate steps to promptly and fully involve the Unaffiliated Neuro-trauma Consultant (UNC) in the medical evaluation of the player and review of the video. They jointly cleared Mr. Moore to return to the game, but did not recognize that Mr. Moore presented a documented symptom, bleeding from the mouth, that required further evaluation in the locker room under the protocol. There is no indication that competitive issues had an impact on the care that Mr. Moore received, nor did Mr. Moore demonstrate any concussion symptoms either during or at any time following the game.

It is important for us to ensure everyone understands and follows the Protocol and that we continue to reinforce its importance. The co-chairmen of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee sent a memo to the medical staffs of the clubs participating in the playoffs reminding them of that point. 

The objective of the Concussion Protocol is to ensure a standardized process composed of best practices is used to identify and manage potential concussions. Concussion diagnosis and management is often a difficult and complex exercise, compounded by hectic game conditions. Accurate diagnosis and management of concussion requires a collaborative approach among experienced physicians on the sideline, each acutely aware of his or her responsibilities and all committed to the strict application of the protocol designed to protect players.