Navigating your way through the July lull as a football fan is difficult. Launching a blog site in that timeframe is either narcissistic, delusional or some form of masochism. I’ve not yet arrived at an answer but my time served as a Dolphins fan makes me lean towards the latter. With training camp less than a month away, we’re merely two months removed from the roster being trimmed from 89 players down to 53.
This will be a six part series predicting which players will be cut, who will bubble the roster, and which roles those that make the club will fulfill. Doing this without the ability to observe practices or even the pre-season games is the ultimate crystal ball practice, but I digress. I’m working purely on these player’s previous track records and the tendencies of the men running this show (i.e. Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum, etc.)
July 11: Skill Players
July 18: Offensive Line
July 25: Defensive Line
August 1: Linebackers
August 8: Defensive Backs and Specialists
Along with descriptions of the players and their roles on the team, I’m hoping this can serve as a bit of a pre-season program, so to speak, that you can reference while watching the games in August.
Now ‘Phins to the left, ‘Phins to the right, and continue to face palm over the Dolphins Jimmy Buffet touchdown celebration song as we get into the quarterbacks and tight ends.
Starter: #17 Ryan Tannehill –
The debates have waged on since the days of Jay Fiedler. The only thing that changes is the name of the back of the passer’s jersey. Ryan Tannehill is this team’s quarterback – accept it or move on. Most fans want to discuss Tannehill’s fit in this scheme but the reality is that the scheme will be constructed around him. He has tremendous arm talent with exceptional short to intermediate accuracy and has improved his touch on throws down the field. His running ability is a plus on designed runs, but he needs to improve his internal clock and recognition of the blitz. This will be the focal point of camp for Ryan, and the future of his contract hinges on his ability to get it corrected. 51 touchdowns compared to 24 interceptions the last two years – I think a lot of Dolphins fans forget how bad we used to have it at QB.
Backup: #8 Matt Moore –
The surfer bro from Van Nuys, CA has enjoyed quite the stint with the Dolphins. Cashing multi-million dollar pay checks to watch the Bachelor during the summer, hang out in the film room with Tannehill during the fall and winter weekdays, and even be bothered to stand on the Miami sidelines on Sundays. Moore has played a handful of good football games in his career and has parlayed those into a healthy retirement fund. His place on the roster was once to get a young Tannehill ready for game day but now it must be his innate sunflower seed chewing ability that keeps him around. If you’ve watched the second quarter of any of our pre-season games the last two years, you know how bad he is.
Practice Squad Arm: #6 Brandon Doughty –
The hope is that Doughty can grow enough in one season to supplant Moore as the backup next year. Going from paying the backup $5 million a season to a rookie minimum would be a nice coup for the team from a salary cap standpoint. Doughty is a Miami native and lifelong Dolphins fan.
Camp Casualty: #2 Zac Dysert –
Which other .com gives you in depth analysis on the team’s fourth quarterback? This is why you love Perfectville. Shameless promotion and subliminal messaging aside, I actually liked Dysert’s game when he was at Miami of Ohio (when you’re a gambling degenerate, you watch a lot of Tuesday night MAC football.) Dysert was a 7th round pick of the Broncos in 2013 and I give the nod to Doughty simply because he was drafted by this front office.
I really don’t like this group of tight ends the Dolphins have assembled. It’s a battalion of uninspiring pass targets that have a penchant for missing too many games.
Starter: #84 Jordan Cameron –
Cameron was lauded for taking a pay cut to stay with the team, but his 30 receptions and two touchdowns fell a bit short of the production you’d expect from a guy en-route to a nearly $10 million pay day. He had one monster season with the Cleveland Browns and, since then, has done nothing but accumulate more incidents for CTE research.
Two tight personnel: #80 Dion Sims –
Dion’s most popular moment in ’15 was when he laid unconscious in the back of the Redskins end zone after failing to secure a diving catch. It beautifully foreshadowed the lifeless season the Dolphins were about to endure. Sims is a quality in-line blocker and someone I expect to see play more snaps this year as Adam Gase looks to call a heavily increased amount of designed runs (it’d be difficult not to improve on the league’s lowest rushing attempt total.) He’s a middle of the road end zone option with basketball like rebounding ability but isn’t sharp enough in and out of cuts to create separation in close quarters.
On the 53: #48 MarQueis Gray –
Gray spent the end of last season on Buffalo’s injured reserved and signed with the ‘Phins this March. He’s more of an H-back that can do some of the things Charles Clay did at a much lower level. His chances to make the team really depend on his special-teams ability and his fit in specific offensive packages.
Camp Casualty: #86 Jake Stoneburner –
He caught a couple of touchdowns last year and lost his practice squad eligibility by being active for 11 games. His experience and the complete raw potential of Duarte makes him the obvious call when Cameron inevitably gets hurt. He needs to prove his worth on special teams, first and foremost.
Practice Squad: #83 Thomas Duarte –
He’s a receiver in a (small) tight end’s body and a player I think coach Gase looks at as a long term project with high upside. If developed, he could become what Jordan Cameron was supposed to be as a true seam buster and someone that can get on top of linebackers. In the interim, we stash him on the practice squad and call him up if another team threatens to sign him.
Camp Casualty: #85 Dominique Jones –
In his second stint with the Dolphins, Jones was signed to a futures/reserve contract back in January. I can’t begin to lie to you and pretend that I know much about him other than he has been with 12 football teams in the last seven years – two of which were not in the NFL.
Camp Casualty: #89 Gabe Hughes –
Hughes transferred from Western Michigan to Florida Institute of Technology and became the only Panther alumnus to sign a professional football contract. Unfortunately, the college game mix didn’t pick up many F.I.T. games in my region. The 23 year old has an outside shot at landing on the practice squad.
Glossing over the tight ends and quarterbacks, I sort of like one position and have a strong disdain for the former. Ryan Tannehill is the best quarterback this team has seen in a long time and the best is yet to come from the highly skilled signal caller. I could do without the backup quarterback and I think Doughty was a wasted resource as a draft pick. Not because I don’t like the player, but I like adding depth in terms of guys that help on special teams at that point in the draft.
The tight ends are my least favorite group on the team. There’s a real possibility we roll out multiple games with Dion Sims and Jake Stoneburner as the team’s top two choices. At least we’re stacked at wide out.
Speaking of wide outs, we’ll cover those beasts, along with the tailbacks next Monday. ‘Phins up.
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