Friday, January 27, 2017

Dolphins Season Recap

The Miami Dolphins finished the 2016 NFL season with a 10-6 record and the team's first playoff berth since 2008. While they failed to win their playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the fact that they made the postseason was a huge accomplishment for the franchise and its first year coach Adam Gase.

Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill Look Like a Worthy Coach/QB Duo

While Gase and Tannehill won't be confused with Shula and Marino anytime soon, they look like they will be in Miami together for a long time. Tannehill had the best quarterback rating of his career in 2016 as well as his highest completion percentage and yards per attempt in his career last season. While Matt Moore filled in admirably in the final three games after Tannehill hurt his knee, the team and its fans saw what they were missing when he wasn't on the field. Gase was brought in as the head coach because of his reputation as a “quarterback whisperer.” Many felt if Gase couldn't get production out of Tannehill, then no coach could.

Jay Ajayi Was a Revelation

Running back Jay Ajayi had three games in which he rushed for more than 200 yards. Overall, he finished fourth in the league in rushing with 1,272 yards in 15 games. Ajayi averaged 4.9 yards per carry while scoring eight touchdowns on the ground, and he was as valuable for fantasy owners as he was for the Dolphins in the second half of the season. Ajayi quickly became the focal point of the Dolphins’ offensive attack and one of the surprising breakout players of the 2016 season.

The Kiko Alonso Trade Worked Out Well

In March 2016, the Dolphins made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles that netted them cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso had been dealing with the aftereffects of an ACL injury that had impacted his effectiveness over the past two seasons. However, in 2016, he had 115 combined tackles to go along with two interceptions. It was his best season since he was a rookie with the Buffalo Bills in 2013.

Mario Williams Was a Dud

Mario Williams had been among the best pass rushers in the league when he was in his prime. Unfortunately, it looks like he is past his prime as he was routinely benched by the Dolphins late in the season. Set to make almost $8.5 million in 2017, he could become a cap casualty at some point before the 2017 season begins.

The Miami Dolphins overcame a 1-4 start to have one of the franchise's best seasons in recent memory. While they may not have enough to compete with New England or other elite AFC teams, they have the building blocks in place to continue to be successful in the future. A playoff appearance sends a message to the fan base that the team is headed in the right direction under Gase and that it is looking to be competitive for the near future.

Monday, January 23, 2017

One followup about Jake Long

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Dolphins took Jake Long #1 overall in 2008.  Matt Ryan went third.  Anyone remember who went second?  That would be Chris Long.  And as it happens, he starts for the Patriots.

I guess the Dolphins did bungle that pick.  Ah well, can't change the past...hopefully they'll get it more right going forward.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

On Quarterbacks.

Over in the NFC, you have what could be one of the great QB matchups of all time: Rodgers vs Ryan. Both have had astounding seasons, and really terrific careers. It could be that the matchup may not be so great, or the game could be weird in some way, but on paper it's exciting.

And of course, both were oh-so-close to being dolphins.

Back in 2005, the 49ers drafted first and took Alex Smith.  Aaron Rodgers was there as the dolphins picked second... but Saban took Ronnie Brown at that spot, and Rodgers sat in the green room as he dropped in the draft, all the way to the 20s. It was embarrassing, and for the dolphins more so because many speculated as he dropped the dolphins might trade up from round two to get him...but ultimately they traded down, and let him go to the packers.  Ronnie was okay, but never great.

Then in 2008, the dolphins drafted first and took Jake Long, letting Ryan go to the falcons at #3. Long is out of the league and Ryan might get the MVP. And for the record, I railed about this decision pretty regularly.  After all, the falcons and dolphins were pretty much in the same "sorry" state that year. Arguably, the falcons have fared better over time...

Now a word about the current dolphins QBs. Or more to the point, what is going on with the medical staff?  First off, the Matt Moore situation in the playoff game was weird.  He gets hit so I hard, I felt it. One friend said "oh shnizzle I think he broke his jaw." He gets tended to and goes to the sideline. The backup comes in, and before he has even take a snap, Moore is back at the coaches side asking to go back in.

How is it even possible to have done a concussion evaluation - an independent one as required, away from the game - in the minute he was on the sideline. Sure, maybe he showed no signs of concussion, and he was "fine" according to his agent, but that's not how concussions work; it's impossible that he didn't have one.  Shame on the dolphins for letting him back in that quickly.  Yeah. It's always about results on the field and perhaps he gave you the "best chance" to win in a game that couldn't be won, but he should never have gotten back in.  And it shows how poor the concussion protocol is.

And then there's tannehill.  He got hit and had a knee injury, of some undetermined nature.  He and the doctors decided against surgery and we were told he might be back for the last week, or the playoffs. Only to find out after the season there was no way he was coming back this season. That may have been some subterfuge to make teams unsure who to prepare for, or it could be that the doctors and coaches handled it somewhat ineptly. I'm leaning to this as the answer because now it appears tannehill probably will need surgery anyway.  And according to a few doctors who do this type of surgery, they suggest that there's a 9 month recovery...which would mean tannehill could miss the first month of the season.

Ummmm, wow, he's just okay as a starter and now he might miss 25% of the season? That doesn't seem like a recipe for success.

We pay our respects to Edwin Pope

Former Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope passed away a few days ago, and I just wanted to pause for a moment and pay my respects.  Throughout high school and college - and beyond - I enjoyed reading his work daily in an actual newspaper.

He frequently wrote about the dolphins, but he had other thought-provoking topics that were always worth a read. I personally think the paper's sports section was not as good after he retired from writing.

And as Shula once said "Edwin was instrumental in me coming down here."  So we can thank him to some degree for the perfect season.  

One fun fact about him: he was one of the reporters who covered all of the first 47 Super Bowls.