Miami Dolphins: Linebacker Shuffling

The Super Bowl is in the rearview.

One season over another just begun.

Teams have started making cuts and positioning themselves for free agency which officially begins March 9th.

This is the time of year that teams suddenly look quite a bit different. Good teams try to shore up their problem areas before the NFL Draft comes around to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to welcome young college players.

The Miami Dolphins have already started by cutting Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell. They are also exploring the possibility of trading tackle Brandon Albert to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The major problem area for this Dolphins roster is at linebacker. First year middle linebacker Kiko Alonso was a pleasant surprise.  The rest of the linebacking corps struggled through injury and inexperience. Veterans Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins remain big question marks of whether they will be even on the team come training camp. There is a strong possibility that the team will add two(if not more) new linebackers through free agency and the draft.

That makes very good sense.

What does not make sense is the notion of replacing Alonso in the middle and moving him to outside linebacker.

Yes there is the chance that you find a gem in the middle and Kiko slides outside with no issues whatsoever. Only problem is-

Zach Thomas is not walking through that door.

Moves like this rarely go off like clockwork.

Do I need to remind you of the attempt to move Koa Misi to middle linebacker a few years ago?

Not only did the move not solve the middle linebacker issues but it also significantly weakened the play on the outside.

Alonso is solid in the middle. In his first year with the team. He may be even better in year two.

Spend your time(and money) finding players to play on the outside. Which is much easier than finding a great mike linebacker.

If it works do not fix it.


Miami Dolphins: Clean It Up

Five games.

Five wins.

The year was 2008 last time the Miami Dolphins won five straight games. That was also the last time the Dolphins reached the playoffs.

Will they find a way to return to the postseason this year?

Not so fast. There is still a lot of work to do. So many things to clean up. Penalties, defensive breakdowns…all the little things.

While the win last Sunday in Los Angeles was great it was also frustrating. The Rams defense held our offense in check for fifty-five minutes, while our defense just barely contained Todd Hurley and rookie quarterback Jared Goff. The most frustrating play could have broken the game open much earlier.

After Kiko Alonso force and the recovered a fumble(Kiko continues to impress) the offense tried to strike quickly. Going for a deep passing touchdown after a turnover is what you always hope for. It is an aggressive move which pays great dividends when successful.

When Successful…

It was not. Ryan Tannehill launch a beautiful deep ball towards Devante Parker in the left front corner of the end zone just like it was drawn up.  All Parker needed to do was time his jump and put his 6’3 frame to work. Touchdown right? Wrong. Parker jumped a step or two early and the ball flew just out of reach to be intercepted by Rams safety Maurice Alexander.

The timing was off by just this much…

My first reaction to the play was: “Seriously!?”.  A combination of frustration and disbelief. It was born not of anger because of the turn over but of shock. I had seen this movie before. We all had.

A nearly identical play Tannehill to Parker for a missed touchdown turned interception…that is how the week two game against the New England Patriots ended. Thankfully this time the Dolphins managed to recover to claim victory from the jaws of defeat. Even so this is something that needs to be cleaned up.

A play like that can be such a weapon if they can just get it right. Timing takes time. And repetition. And more repetition.

Get it right and the offense can be explosive. You have a threat to score at any time. It makes the entire offense better. More room for Jay Ajayi to run(as if he does not create enough on his own), more opportunities for Jarvis Landry to exert his will on the defense. It can build confidence on both sides of the ball. It opens up so many possibilities.

So clean it up…and see what transpires.



Miami Dolphins: A New Dawn

There is a thought that as every dawn rises it washes away the day before. Gives us a fresh start. Resigns our history to where it belongs in the past.

We currently reside in that dead period in the NFL offseason. Smack dab between the NFL Draft and the start of summer OTAs, training camps and eventually preseason. Very little actual news comes out.

All we have is speculation and reflection.

That is difficult for a team like the Miami Dolphins. Hiring a new coach, a first time coach leaves many more questions than answers when trying to predict the future of the team.

As far as reflection. All that gives you are the reasons why a new coach, a new regime was needed.

Adam Gase was not here last season, neither was Vance Joseph or Clyde Christensen. In case you are wondering those are the names of the new head coach of the Dolphins along with the defensive and offensive coordinators. Many players are new. Besides the draft picks; Kiko Alonso, Jason Jones, Byron Maxwell and Isa Abdul-Quddus are all entering their first year with the team(and that is just on the defensive side). These men should not have to pay for the sins of the past.

Just because players struggled here in the past does not mean they will struggle again. These are new coaches, new schemes. It is a new day. As fans we often forget these players are the top 1% of the top 1% of American football players on the planet. That is all that makes it to the NFL level. There is a reason they are here.

I watched tape on the offenses that Adam Gase and Clyde Christensen have run. I have watched tape on the defense Vance Joseph came from. What they have said they want to run seems to match up with what I saw on tape.

Vance Joseph said recently he wants to run an attacking defense and I believe him. I know we have all heard that before. However the players that have been brought in seem to fit that more than whatever you want to call the dumpster fire that was run in Miami for the last season and a half. It gives me hope.

Gase has said he likes what he has seen up close out of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the various weapons available in this offense. And we have no reason not to believe him.

I do not suggest blind faith. As with any new coach there is a learning curve. Just give them that time.

As a writer I have had the mantra:

Show, Don’t Tell

drilled into me from day one.

Time to open our eyes and see what the dawn shows us.