Tag: Kenny Stills

Episode 109: Kenny SKILLS (with Comedian Kabir Singh)

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This Week:

Chris is away handling football stuff so Sam sits down with his good friend, and fellow Comedian, Kabir “Kabeezy” Singh to discuss all things Miami Dolphins. This interview took place after a recent sold out show and was conducted on stage, immediately after Kabir finished his set. As audience members filed out, Sam and Kabir settled in to get Kabeezy’s thoughts on Ryan Tannehill, The AFC East as a whole and who he thinks is underrated on Miami’s offense.

Oh, and maybe some alcoholic beverages were involved so some butchering of names may or may not have occurred…you have been warned.

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Episode 94: Gase’s Good Graces (WR Review)

gase's good graces

 

 

The votes have been tallied and the Citizens of Perfectville demand that Sam and Chris discuss the wide receiving corps. Jarvis Landry led the league in the receptions, but has publicly made it known that he feels disrespected by Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins during contract negotiations. Can the relationship between the player and the team be repaired? Or are we headed for a scenario where our record setting top receiver continues to set records in another team’s uniform?

Beyond the Landry situation, what answers, if any, does Miami have for the underwhelming season that DeVante Parker put up, again? Is he a victim of circumstance? Or is the former first round pick headed out of town after next season with a bust label tattooed on his forehead?

And the third member of the wide receiving, Kenny Stills, continues to go about his business, catching balls and cashing checks. The “glue guy” of this talented trio got paid last offseason. Did he prove that that payday was justified? Or does he need to do more in 2018 to justify the price tag?

Plus, what receiver came on late to impress? Which members need to fear for their spot next season? And who, if anyone, is a name to look out for for the Miami Dolphins in 2018?

And as we established with this episode, voting is now open on Twitter to let us know what defensive group we should discuss on the next episode of Perfectville!

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Making A Franchise Quarterback

Chapter One: Rock Bottom –

“I don’t see a way that Ryan Tannehill makes it back for Miami. I just don’t. He looks totally punch-drunk. Fatefully, I think it’s over.”

These were the words of highly regarded Dolphins fan, insider and contributor Simon Clancy (@SiClancy) on October 9. The Miami players, losers of four of the season’s first five games, headed for the tunnel of Hard Rock Stadium. Among them, embattled quarterback, Ryan Tannehill.

The shower of boos was an improvement over the in-game chants for Matt Moore, the Dolphins backup quarterback, but the clarity of the message was never minced – the fifth year quarterback’s approval rating had reached its valley.

Despite the paying consumers clamoring for a change at the position, head coach Adam Gase never wavered. Taking the podium and denouncing any possibility that Moore would see the field by way of any occurrence other than an injury, Gase stood by his starting quarterback.

They may not have known it at the time, but that was the moment Adam Gase unequivocally earned the admiration of all Dolphins fans.

A winning mentality in the fourth quarter, the arsenal of pitches in his tool bag, the ability to go off script, creating first downs with his legs – Gase identified all of these skills in less than one year with Tannehill.

Rather than forcing his quarterback to fall on the sword, Gase sent a more drastic message. After surrendering 12 sacks in two games, three mid-round draft picks enduring utter stagnant development were cut.

And Ryan Tannehill’s vast potential was tapped.

Chapter Two: The Calm Before the Storm

2016 wasn’t an anomaly for Tannehill. His entire professional career has been mired by ups and downs. Whether it was a play-by-play, game-by-game, or even a year-by-year proposition, he has existed as the most polarizing figure in franchise history.

Stretches of games with no turnovers, elite fastballs down the seam, touch passes to the boundary – these flourishes got even the harshest critics to buy in at various points.

Consistency was difficult to come by as he would revert back to taking multiple sacks per game and making some head scratching decisions with the football.

Any trusted talent evaluator will tell you that, just as important as the prospect’s talent, is the situation he is thrust into.

In his rookie season, the familiarity with Mike Sherman was supposed to make for a smooth transition into the league. Instead, he was saddled with an antiquated offense that relied on outdated principals that didn’t adhear to the quarterback’s skill set.

But being asked to stay in the pocket at all costs wouldn’t be the worst professional coaching advice Tannehill would receive.

When the team moved onto Bill Lazor, Tannehill was stripped of his ability to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.

You read that right. Like a poorly behaved juvenile, Tannehill had zero freedom to make decisions without approval. So when he identified a double A gap blitz with an empty set, he was forced to stand in there and throw to a slow developing route progression with unblocked rushers in his face.

When that didn’t work, Joe Philbin publicly claimed that he urged the team to draft Derek Carr in the 2014 draft insisting he couldn’t win with the quarterback that was hand-picked by the Philbin regime in his first year as head coach.

And that’s how you tarnish a perfectly built quarterback prospect with the athleticism to play wide receiver whilst he waits his turn to play quarterback. A player with a big arm that is as dangerous on the move as he is from inside the pocket.

Forego his skillset and force him to do things that have worked for differnet quarterbacks on different teams in the past – a foolproof plan in the eyes of the ignorant.

That ignorance might be why all the former Dolphins coaches responsible for ruining a shining prospect are either out of football or have been demoted way down the football ladder.

Tannehill everything PIT Gray

If you can’t figure out how to make it work with a QB with these kind of physical tools, you should probably just go coach the O-line in Indianapolis.

Joe Philbin is an offensive line coach in Indianapolis. Bill Lazor is the quarterbacks coach for the Cincinnati Bengals where he established his prowess by haulting all progress Andy Dalton had built under Hue Jackson. Mike Sherman is coaching high school and his son in-law, whom was brought in through nepotism, is the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Zac Taylor was the least qualified person in the quarterback room each year that he coached Tannehill.

Ryan Tannehill had a big contract, hadn’t lived up to expectations and owner Stephen Ross needed to make a decision that would either end Ryan Tannehill’s tenure in Miami or extend it for years.

So he hired Adam Gase.

Chapter Three: The Rise

At Coach Gase’s media availability in Indianapolis for February’s scouting combine, he made a statement that resonated with me as an amateur football evaluator.

Early in the season, Jordan Cameron wasn’t impacting games in the way Gase anticipated. Rather than moving on, he plugged in Cameron’s 2013 tape (his lone pro-bowl NFL season) and tried to uncover what exactly it was that made the tight end successful.

So it should come as no surprised that he watched every throw Ryan Tannehill made in his NFL career before beginning work with him.

What he uncovered was a vast and diverse tool bag with multiple attributes capable of exploiting NFL defenses.

Gase afforded Tannehill the opportunity to be in charge of his protection calls. He gave him run pass options at the line of scrimmage. He allowed the quarterback to develop into a leadership position that could be an extension of the head coach.

Even more important than that, he played to the strengths of the fifth year quarterback. What are those skills? I’m glad you asked:

The Arm Talent: Often mistaken for the ability to chuck a football deep down the field, arm talent is something completely different. Is accuracy comprised when he’s on the move? Or when he’s forced to throw from an awkward angle? Can he rip the ball in between two zone defenders? Can he float a touch pass over the underneath linebacker and under the over the top safety?

Tannehill has every pitch in his arsenal. Coming out of a five or seven step drop and driving the football to the boundary with the requisite zip to beat the off corner to the receiver.

Tannehill fastball Jones NYJ

Drives this football into a small window to the pylon for a touchdown.

Tannehill fastball 2 Stills NYJ

And driving the ball to the far hash quick enough to give Stills a chance to turn up and reach the sticks – all while getting crushed by the pass rush.

The touch to float the ball over a tightly contested wheel route.

Tannehill touch Williams NYJ

Recognizes the back on a linebacker and just pitches it over the top.

Tannehill touch Landry SD

Push him off his spot, no problem the accuracy and touch gets better on the move.

This one might be the most difficult to describe. It’s a throw that somehow has touch AND zip. To make this throw, the quarterback needs the hand strength to generate torque and spin on the football to get it up the field, but also give it a quick descent into the the window. The GIF will do the describing for me.

Tannehil TD fastball Stills ARI

And in those instances when you need zip and touch, #17 is there.

There’s Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill when it comes to throwing the ball on the move – that’s it. Tannehill is exceptional in this regard. Gase recognized this and adapted his offense from a hurry-up spread it out scheme to more “nasty” splits (tight ends and receivers flexed closer to the offensive tackles) throwing from play action and getting the quarterback on the roll. Tannehill’s ball placement on these throws is exquisite and unmatched by all (sans Rodgers.)

Tannehill accuracy on the move SF Landry

And it’s this skill set that allows Adam Gase to take full advantage of his stout running game by creating misdirection without sacrificing QB competency.

Remember when the deep ball was a concern for Tannehill? It never should have been. It’s a highly volatile stat due to sample size. Aside from that, the only receiver that Tannehill ever struggled to connect deep with was Mike Wallace – who is known for having a miniscule catch radius. Charles Clay, Brian Hartline, Devante Parker, Kenny Stills, none of these guys would have any complaints about Tannehill’s deep ball. He throws it with and arching trajectory that allows the receiver to run under it.

Tannehill Parker bomb SD

Takes a shot across his brow while delivering a dime 40 yards down the field.

Recognition of the rush: This was an area Tannehill really struggled in early in his career. The strides he made in this department are as much a credit to him as it is a testament to Gase for working with him. He adopted Peyton Manning’s choppy feet in the pocket while staying active and keeping his eyes down the field.

He has always been capable of staring down the gun barrel and delivering shots under immense pressure. He did it this past year in San Diego in what was the throw of the NFL season.

Tannehill dime Stills TD SD

These kind of throws don’t grow on trees, boys and girls. Then again, when Ryan Tannehill is your quarterback, they kind of do – sometimes twice in one day.

Pre-snap recognition: The best defensive coordinators mix their coverage and blitz looks so that the quarterback makes an incorrect read pre-snap and immediately has to play off script. Beyond just seeing the play pre-snap, the quarterback needs to apply it post-snap. Here, the 49ers will press the line of scrimmage and play a cover 2 shell that protects the first down markers. This frees up the long ball. Tannehill holds the safety with his eyes and commits him to the underneath route freeing up a 1-on-1 chance for Devante Parker – who he hits perfectly (and what a catch to boot.)

 

Tannehill bomb presnap recog Parker SF

The Niners crowded the LOS with 10 guys all game and Tannehill refused to let them get away with it. Recognizes safeties creeping up and lays it out to a spot beautifully.

Understanding your matchup and getting the player into a winning route is a big part of the quarterback’s job. Pre-snap motion can reveal the defense’s hand. When he recognizes the Chargers trying to cover Damien Williams with a linebacker (just like the Jets did) he took advantage.

Tannehill touch Williams TD SD

Go ahead and keep putting LBs on RBs – #17 will find you, and he will kill you (death by touchdown passes.)

Reading plays pre-snap involves anticipation. Most offensive concepts feature a player clearing out an area for another receiver to free up. Here, Tannehill anticipates the space vacated by the X receiver to free up slot receiver Jarvis Landry. He calmly lets the play develop and floats a perfectly located ball that allows Landry to not only make a big first down, but take it to the house.

Tannehill accuracy Landry TD CLE

Sense pressure, reset, throw your receiver away from the defense.

Late game prowess: Adam Gase intimated how great of a performer Tannehill was late in games. He led go ahead or game tying drives late in the fourth quarter against Seattle, Cleveland (OT), San Diego and Los Angeles.

Tannehill clutch run reel

Toughness is nothing new for Tannehill – he takes more hits than any other quarterback just about ever year.

Leadership: Against the Cardinals, Tannehill was carving up another defense during his stretch of play with a passer rating well over 100 with seven wins in eight games. When Calais Campbell was pushed into his knee, the energy was sucked out and vacuum sealed out of Hard Rock Stadium. Tannehill returned to the sideline and was greeted by his teammates showing their affinity for their teammate and quarterback.

Tannehill team leader injury 1

The Dolphins most prominent locker room figures came to Tannehill’s side after the injury.

Tannehill Rams pocket movement

A leader will overcome the loss of 60% of his starting OL and make plays regardless.

The run reel/going off script: In the NFL, just about every quarterback can play within the confines of their particular offense. It’s the quarterbacks that can make plays when things break down that are truly special. Tannehill has this attribute in spades and he flashed the ability frequently in 2016.

 

There were times that he broke the pocket a little too early in search of making a play, but it resulted in fewer sacks and more big plays.

TAnnehill pocket movement SF Parker bomb

Pressure eliminates his ability to step into the initial read so he breaks the pocket, extends the play and delivers a strike against his body.

The added element to beat teams with his legs is a very real threat. He can beat defensive ends to the edge, get up the field and will lower his shoulder against unsuspecting defensive backs.

Tannehill run reel 3 SF ZR

The threat of this play makes Jay Ajayi even more dangerous.

Pundits like to poke fun at the fact that he played receiver in college. That’s okay with me. That type of athleticism leads to plays like these.

Tannehill run reel 1

Absorb the hit, shake it off, turn the corner and run around tacklers.

Tannehill run reel 2

Starting a backup left tackle? No problem, we can still make plays when he gets whooped.

Tannehill run reel 4 SF FD

Like all good running quarterbacks, he bends the edge and uses speed move the chains.

 

Chapter Four: The Future

2016 merely scratched the surface on this player’s ceiling. The knee injury was unfortunate from the sense that the game was slowing down for the veteran at a rampant pace. It allows the dense national media to regurgitate the idea that he has, “never led his team to the post-season,” despite the fact that he was 8-5 and handed the keys to Matt Moore against two bad football teams in the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.

With the knee injury already cleared for all football activities, he can continue to build on the improvements he made in 2016.

Movement within the pocket, pre-snap rush recognition, quicker decisions opposed to taking sacks, these were attributes used to knock the quarterback in the past.

Although the numbers don’t do his performance in 2016 justice, these areas of growth should make any Dolphins fan excited.

Too often a quarterback is judged on some accrued finite number. What is his passer rating or QBR? While stats certainly have a place in any evaluation, it’s extremely lazy to be so obtuse. To truly grade a quarterback, or any player for that matter, you need to identify all surrounding factors.

Was everyone where they were supposed to be? How did the protection hold up? For instance, in this big play to Devante Parker, Tannehill had Kenny Stills wide open on the deep cross. He had to come off the read due to the pressure. So while Stills is uncovered, Tannehill has to make haste with the next part of his progression. He gets himself into position to throw and heaves a pass, against his body, into a perfect location for Parker to make the play.

Tannehill pocket movement 2 LA

Another Houdini act from Tannehill.

Most of Tannehill’s games, the number of plays where he makes a poor decision, throws a bad ball or does anything to hamper his team’s success can be counted on one hand – usually one or two.

That’s not to say he doesn’t have games where hiccups occur. The game against Baltimore and Cincinnati were not good games by his standards.

We’ve been here before with this guy. Just when the fans get excited about his career trajectory, something goes awry.

For the first time in his career he has continuity. With Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Devante Parker, Jay Ajayi and two quality offensive tackles returning, he’s familiar with the personnel.

The offensive staff has made no changes and can build upon his success from 2016. For the first time in his career he has a sturdy foundation.

This is the quarterback Dolphins fans have been waiting for since 1999.

 

@travis_writes

Episode 62: Free Agency Feeding Frenzy

feedingfrenzy

Sam and Chris return to Perfectville to discuss the new league year and the #NewMiami that has occurred. From re-signing their own free agents like Kenny Stills, extending contracts of current stars such as Reshad Jones, and even solidifying their defensive front seven with Lawrence Timmons and a trade for William Hayes, the Dolphins are on a mission to continue changing their image, and the culture within.

So what was the best transaction in our opinion? Are there any that we question? Plus, Chris spins the Wheel Of Whatever!

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Episode 60: The PHINZEES! (part deux)

phinzee

The Second part of our three part awards show, The Phinzees, is here! Sam, Kevin, Chris and Travis (along with his pants-less cat), return to present four more HUGE Phinzee awards to their respective winners! Categories include The You Look Phinsational Phinzee (Best Uniform Combination), The Phinjury Report (Most Impactful Injury), The Adam Sandler “You Blew It!” Phinzee (Worst Play Of The Year), and The Hooray! You Did It! Phinzee (Best Play Of The Year).

Find out who wins each prestigious Phinzee, and who goes home as terrible losers who were only nominated but didn’t win!

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Episode 57: ‘Fins Free Agency

finsfreeagency

The Miami Dolphins have some decisions to make this off season. Starting with their own free agents, the front office is going to have to figure out if it makes financial sense to sign players like Kenny Stills, Andre Branch, Kiko Alonso and others to big contracts, or let them go and look to replace them with free agents from other teams, as well as the draft.

Sam and Chris take you through all 21 free agents to be (including restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents, as well as unrestricted free agents), and tell you who Miami should sign, and for how much. Virtually every position group has at least one member to discuss, so we very well could see a vastly different looking team heading into the new year, depending on how this all shakes out.

Enjoy!

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2016 Exit Interivews: Who Figures into the Dolphins 2017 Plans?

The 2016 Dolphins were many things. Between the heart-thumping finishes, exceeded expectations, and setting a new organizational precedence, if nothing else, this team was a sheer pleasure to watch. With an impressive resolve, the Dolphins overcame a multitude of adverse situations to win double digit games and secure a post-season berth for the first time since George W. was in office. Season ending injuries to key players, others missing multiple games and a brand new scheme for both sides of the ball – none of this deterred Miami from taking a massive step forward.

The players have cleared their lockers and begun making their off-season arrangements. Before they go, each of them needs to be held accountable for the 18-week effort put forth for future evaluation.

In this piece, I will review each player’s performance and where they figure into this team’s future plans. Continuity is my theme as I’m buying into the idea that it is critical to develop a program and stick to it the way Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin and Mike McCarthy have done en route to leading their teams to the conference title games.

Up first, the quarterbacks:

tannehill-moore

With Tannehill and Moore in the fold, the Miami’s quarterback situation is in good hands

 

Ryan Tannehill – After re-re-reviewing the film, there’s no question that Ryan Tannehill not only earned his jump in pay, but he’s bordering on the precipice of elite quarterback play. Often times, the raw numbers are extracted from a season and used to project the following season. But once Tannehill became acclimated in this offense, that big time play making ability that flashed at Texas A&M and sporadically throughout his first four years jumped off the tape this year. I’m telling you guys, this quarterback is going to be a superstar in this offense.

2017 Status: Unquestioned starter / franchise quarterback

Matt Moore – After a terrific relief performance, Matt Moore has earned a pay raise as well. If Tannehill were to require surgery and isn’t available for the beginning of the season, or if he misses time later in the year, there is no question that Matt Moore is an extremely valuable asset.

2017 status: Backup QB and vital piece to the quarterback room

Running Backs:

Jay Ajayi – This seems like a useless exercise at this point but the team MVP had a monster season. Breaking more tackles, running for more yards after contact than anybody and gaining more than 1,200 yards despite being a limited player in the first five games of the season, Ajayi broke out. Full-fledged superstardom is the next step.

2017 status: Bell cow back

Kenyan Drake – I don’t think he got nearly as much work as he, or I for that matter, would’ve hoped for. Preserving Ajayi’s legs will be a key to the 2017 season so expect an expanded role for the dynamic runner in 2017. He was the best return man for the Dolphins and sprung that big play in the Buffalo win.

2017 status: Spell back

Damien Williams – Third on the team in touchdowns, a mismatch option on the perimeter and a quality pass protector and pass catching option, Damien Williams is a multi-faceted weapon for this team. He excels on special teams and does everything pretty well. He is a little too hesitant of a runner for my tastes so I’d prefer to see him be the third option in the ground game.

2017 status: Entrenched specialist / 3rd down back

Wide Receivers:

Jarvis Landry – Despite being a huge fan, I was pretty hard on Jarvis in his first two seasons. The force-fed offense inflating his reception numbers is nice for record keeping but it did little to help win football games. In 2016, Landry became one of the most productive receivers in the game chewing up 8.7 yards per target (better than Antonio Brown) and establishing himself as a team leader and fiery player. His work in the blocking game and intensity for 60 minutes is unmatched across the league.

2017 status: Pay that man his money / Focal point of the passing game

Kenny Stills – The big play threat of the offense, a reliable third down target, and a selfless route runner that sets up the rest of the offense, Kenny Stills was the catalyst for the Dolphins offense in 2016. He’s a touchdown maker and a savvy technician when it comes to setting up defenders.

2017 status: PAY THAT MAN HIS MONEY! / Irreplaceable second or third option

Devante Parker – Despite a stretch of dominance, I felt like Parker underachieved this season. His west coast swing in Los Angeles and San Diego was just scratching the surface on what he is capable. The reports of him learning to be a professional and struggling with it early on were troubling, but he certainly responded to Adam Gase’s demands as the season progressed.

2017 status: Entrenched starter, potential breakout year

010316 spt fins pats 08

Like quarterback, Miami is set up nicely at the skill position spots as well.

 

Leonte Carroo – Things did not go as well for the rookie receiver. He saw limited time (12% of the offensive snaps) and was deactivate late in the year in favor of an undrafted rookie. Not a good look for a mid-round rookie.

2017 status: Needs to earn a roster spot

Jakeem Grant – Nobody was more disappointing on offense this season. Seemingly every other kick was a muff in the second half of the season and he never made an impact on offense.

2017 status: Uphill climb to make the team

Rashawn Scott – He was active a couple of times but nowhere near enough playing time to make an assessment.

2017 status: Unclear

Tight Ends:

Dion Sims – He makes his money as an inline blocker but he increased his productivity in the passing game. He became a more sure handed red zone threat and operates really well from heavy set formations. He is a free agent but I imagine retaining him is a priority.

2017 status: Starting tight end, high rep count in a WR and RB featured offense

Marqueis Gray: His contract extension made it very clear what the Dolphins think of him. A quality backup tight end that can give the team 20 or so snaps per game as a terrific run blocker and occasional pass catcher.

2017 status: Sub-package player

Dominque Jones – When called upon, I found Jones to be a reliable option off the bench and another fit to the heavy personnel running scheme. The Dolphins haven’t made any public indication that they intend to keep the former arena league star.

2017 status: Potential third tight end, uphill battle

Thomas Duarte – Frankly, I don’t see it. This is a long term project type of player that is supposed to be a seam buster much like Jordan Cameron was supposed to be.

2017 status: Third tight end or practice squad again

Offensive Line:

Branden Albert – The more I go back and look at the tape, the more I noticed #76 struggling. He was abused by Melvin Ingram in San Diego, James Harrison in Pittsburgh and Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones against Arizona. He’s getting slower off the ball, doesn’t offer much in the run game and has the injury history that would make any doctor cringe.

2017 status: I’m only inviting him back on a reduced salary AND kicking him inside to guard.

Laremy Tunsil – Learning a new position, allowing just one sack all year and springing plenty of long Ajayi runs off the left side, Tunsil was the best lineman the Dolphins had in 2016. His quick feet, improving punch and leverage figure to make him a star left tackle. I really hope they start him at left tackle from the first practice in May.

2017 status: Starting left tackle

Mike Pouncey – Pouncey was as dominant as ever in the five games he played, but therein lies the issue – his availability. A recurring hip issue forced him to miss 11 games and he averages missing nearly four games a year since 2013. He’s perfect for this offense, but I think he may be on his last leg here if he can’t put together a healthy season.

2017 status: Starting center

Jermon Bushrod – I talked a lot of crap about Bushrod’s performance, but he battled through a shoulder injury all season and gave the team 16 games. He was contemplating retirement before the year but has been re-energized playing for coach Gase. There are scenarios where I’d take him back and ones where I would send him packing.

2017 status: Sixth man off the bench

Ja’Wuan James – The most improved player within the 2016 season was Ja’Wuan James. After an early season benching due to poor play, James was rarely mentioned late in the year – a good distinction for an offensive lineman.

2017 status: Starting right tackle

offensive-line

Pouncey’s return and sculpting the offensive line could give Miami a top 10 offense

 

Sam Young – He acquitted himself much better than I expected in relief of the oft-injured Miami offensive linemen and got himself a new contract to show for it.

2017 status: Swing tackle

Kraig Urbik – Another quality veteran depth player, Urbik did enough to earn his keep as Mike Pouncey’s primary backup. He struggled with bigger bodied players and isn’t terrific in either the run or pass game.

2017 status: Quality interior backup

Anthony Steen – He was serviceable as a backup, but he needs more seasoning and further developing. He earned himself an opportunity to compete in 2017, but he had his share of poor games as a rookie.

2017 status: Competing for a backup job

Defensive Line:

Cameron Wake – What can I say? 11.5 sacks, highly productive pass rusher and all at the age of 34. His run defense continues to suffer but make no mistake about Wake’s value as an elite edge rusher. Right tackles with slow feet really stand no chance in pass protection on obvious passing downs.

2017 status: Pass rush specialist, probably still the starting left defensive end

Ndamukong Suh – Playing 87% of the snaps in the trenches, disrupting the inside running game and collapsing the interior pocket for quarterback, Ndamukong Suh may have had his best year yet. He is giving the Dolphins everything they paid for and will continue to do so throughout the duration of his contract.

2017 status: Starting 3 technique

Jordan Phillips – Flashes of dominance are often clouded by long periods of disappearance, but Phillips has improved immensely over 32 games in his career. As a part time player on the inside, he’d capable of beating any guard or center he might match-up with but too often he was rolled out of the play all together. This is going to be a key player development for the Dolphins moving forward.

2017 status: Starting nose with potential for increased snap count

Andre Branch – Probably the most pleasant surprise for new acquisitions, Branch was a disruptive force during the six game winning streak. He really cooled off after that and is in line for a much bigger contract than I would be willing to give him. But good for him, he has earned it.

2017 status: Signs big deal elsewhere

Earl Mitchell – He had some nice flashes after returning from injury, but he’s too inconsistent and has too large of a contract. The Dolphins can free up a lot of cap space by letting him go.

2017 status: Cut

Mario Williams – He was awful.

2017 status: Cut

Terrance Fede – He hasn’t developed any traits that pop out, the defensive line rotation takes a serious loss when he comes in for Cam Wake. It’s probably time to move on from this project.

2017 status: Cut

Nick Williams – Much like Fede, the rotation took a step backwards when the replacements came on to the field. He’s on the part of the roster that you’re always looking to upgrade so his staying power is a toss-up at this point.

2017 status: Could walk, could be back as a rotational guy

Linebackers:

Jelani Jenkins – He dealt with a lower body injury, was in a cast for a decent portion of the season and the same problems persist with this guy. He’s often out position, late to react and over pursues plays. That string of impressive games in 2014 seems like it was decades ago.

2017 status: Walking papers

Kiko Alonso – I was against him playing inside from day one but he played better than anticipated. He’s undersized and struggles in coverage but he’s a quick decision maker that will make big plays when he’s correct on his keys. The problem is that he often has false keys, wastes a lot of steps and gets washed out of the play altogether. I think he has a place in this defense, but not inside.

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Moving Kiko Alonso to Weakside backer could pay huge dividends

 

2017 status: Moved to weak side linebacker

Donald Butler – For a street free agent mid-season, he performed admirably, but that’s not going to cut it for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Butler earned the right to be quality depth for the Dolphins or possibly a starter on a lesser team.

2017 status: Walking papers

Mike Hull – Another guy that provides high level special teams performance but has a ways to go as a linebacker. He has the size and the closing speed you like, but he could play faster both physical and mentally.

2017 status: Linebacker depth and special teams standout

Neville Hewitt – His run defending has improved a lot in two years, he still struggles in coverage as he simply gets outmatched against better tight ends. The passion is there and the instincts are raw, but I would like to see him further developed under this staff.

2017 status: Linebacker depth

Spencer Paysinger – There are cheap options already in house that can do what Paysinger does best, play special teams. He’s far too ineffective on defense to garner any snaps in 2017.

2017 status: Walking papers

Trevor Reilly – The sample size was miniscule, I really have no opinion either way. He’s going to have to beat some guys out to stick on the roster.

2017 status: Compete for a back end of the roster spot

Defensive Backs:

Byron Maxwell – Maxwell played like a top 15 corner after he was benched early in the season. He’s handsy, plays physical and contained some big name receivers this year. You take the penalties as part of his game but he rarely surrendered big plays and the secondary sorely missed his presence late in the season.

2017 status: Starting perimeter corner

Xavien Howard – A lot of blame might fall on the rookie’s plate for some big plays cashed in by Buffalo, New England and Pittsburgh in the final three games, but I find myself assigning most of that blame to safety play. Howard is a physical corner that tackles extremely well and covers in tight quarters. I think he has a bright future with the Dolphins.

2017 status: Starting perimeter corner

Bobby McCain – McCain is a try-hard guy that had some difficulties covering deep areas of the field and got beat by some quicker twitch slot receivers. Playing nickel corner is the toughest job in football and I thought he acquitted himself nicely. He’s a nosy tackler and played very well when he wasn’t asked to keep into trail technique.

2017 status: Starting nickel that will likely face inferior camp competition

Reshad Jones – My favorite Dolphins player to write about, expect Reshad to return to all-pro form next year and get this defense going in the right direction. He stuck around the team and provided a veteran leadership from the sidelines and in game preparation.

jones-flip

The biggest addition in 2017 will be Reshad Jones’ return

 

2017 status: All-pro safety

Isa Abdul-Quddus – Another fantastic acquisition, Abdul-Quddus played a fine center field and kept a bandaged defensive backfield together prior to getting hurt himself. He’s rangy and very instinctive. He took over the quarterback role of this defense when Jones went out.

2017 status: Starting free safety

Tony Lippett – Lippett might’ve had the most polarizing tape of and Dolphin in 2016. There were games where he was terrific and others where he struggled. He is in his second year at the position (a converted wide receiver) who will grow and learn how to be more aggressive. He has terrific ball skills, as you’d expect, and will have to beat out two pretty good corner ahead of him.

2017 status: Fantastic perimeter depth

Bacarri Rambo – Rambo had moments where he looked like a competent starter, but he wore down as the season went out. He allowed tons of big plays in his coverage area in December.

2017 status: Third safety

Michael Thomas – Thomas is a pro-bowl level special teamer but when he sees the field on defense, its trouble. He’s lacking in too many areas, closing speed in particular, to be relied upon in relief duty.

2017 status: Special teams only

Walt Aikens – He never saw time on defense despite a multitude of injuries. But like many on this list before him, he is one of the main reasons Miami has one of the best special teams groups in football.

2017 status: Special teams only

Jordan Lucas, Lafayette Pitts and A.J. Hendy will all battle for depth on this roster.

Matt Darr had a rough year and he should face some competition this off-season.

I think Andrew Franks saved his job with the big kicks in Buffalo and making two more in Pittsburgh.

The best part about this piece is you realize how few holes the Dolphins have to plug. Does this team have a ways to go before they are ready to contend with the elite? Sure, most teams are. But at this time one year ago we were considering if this team had talent to play its way out of a top 10 draft choice.

Green Bay Packers v Miami Dolphins

Happy times ahead in Miami.

 

The improvements made across the board and player development in year one of Adam Gase are supremely impressive. Another good draft class, a couple of quality free agent signings and further developing players like Kenyan Drake, Laremy Tunsil, Jordan Phillips, Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain can put the Dolphins atop the AFC East as soon as next year.

It’s going to be a fun 2017 – Phins up.

@travis_writes

Episode 54: The One Percenters (Wildcard Weekend Preview @ Pittsburgh)

wildcardweekend

The Miami Dolphins, AKA “The One Percenters” swim into Pittsburgh on Sunday to take on the AFC North Champion Steelers. A team they pulverized in week 6, 30-15, which included an injury to their star QB, Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have since righted the ship and rattled off an impressive win streak of their own.

So impressive, in fact, that Miami is close to a double digit underdog in this game, and major sports outlets are giving them 1% to make it to The Super Bowl. Does the disrespect form the national media work in Miami’s favor? Or will this young team play undisciplined, thinking they have something to prove and become erratic? And now that we know that Ryan Tannehill has been ruled OUT, does this change our game plan with Matt Moore under center?

Sam and Chris discuss how the teams stack up against each other, and where Miami has a decided advantage, as well as what needs to improve on defense, in order to slow down the Three B’s (hint: it rhymes with TACKLING). The boys make their actual predictions for Miami’s first playoff game in eight years, before going completely off the rails for their Ridiculous Predictions.

Plus, The Phinjury Report is out for this game, and as always, we spend A Second On The AFC East.

Follow us on Twitter:

Perfectville @ PerfectvillePod

Sam @ Tigerclawmedy

Chris @ ChrisC561

Travis @ Travis_Writes

Will @ PhinjuryReport

Kevin: @ KevinMD4

E-mail us: perfectvillepodcast@gmail.com

Subscribe to us on:

Itunes and Stitcher Radio (keyword: Perfectville) and RATE AND REVIEW THE SHOW!

Make sure to check out The Phinalysis Podcast, as well.

 

 

Kenny Stills: The Key Component of Adam Gase’s Brilliant Offense

Just one quarter into the 2016 season, Kenny Stills instantly became the most vilified Dolphins player for the brand new season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill took the shot gun snap on an unusually sun-drenched day at Century Link Field in Seattle. As Earl Thomas broke on what he believed to be a sit down route, Stills turned on the jets and found himself five yards behind the last Seattle defender with a descending football perfectly en route the number 10 on his jersey.

The ball caromed off his hands sending the obnoxious twelfth man into an uproar while the minority Dolphins fans stood with their palms pressed against both temples on their foreheads.

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As evident by my reaction (white Tannehill jersey) Kenny Stills’ drop in Seattle was quite the head scratcher

 

Going back to his time at Oklahoma, Kenny Stills has been an elite level vertical threat from the beginning of his football career. Immaturity and character concerns away from the field caused the former two-time All-Big 12 receiver to fall to the fifth round of the 2013 draft.

In New Orleans, he carved out a niche as a big play threat and a game-breaker that had earned the trust of all-pro quarterback, Drew Brees. With five touchdowns and 20 yards per reception as a rookie, Stills became a focal point in one of the NFL’s most prolific passing attacks. He caught 63 passes on just 85 targets for nearly 1,000 yards in his second NFL season.

I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that, for just a third round draft choice, the Dolphins acquired a 23 year old receiver that could do everything, and more, than Mike Wallace could for a fraction of the price.

Stills’ first year in Miami left plenty to be desired, but that could’ve been said about the entire operation. Miscast in an offense that was more horizontally focused without any real rhyme or reason to the route concepts, Stills hauled in just 27 passes for 440 yards on 63 targets. His 6.98 yards per target was a dramatic drop off from the 10.95 figure he posted in his sophomore season with the Saints.

Insert Adam Gase.

The rookie head coach of the Miami Dolphins implemented a route tree that is heavily dependent on setting up your teammates for success. It’s an offense that requires selfless receivers willing to sell routes all game with little to no chance of that route ever seeing a target.

For reward of his efforts, the built in shot plays within this offense began to take hold for the diminutive Stills. After the Emerald City Emasculation (that’s what I’m dubbing it), Stills has made a habit out of scoring touchdowns from lengthy distances.

Of Stills’ seven touchdown receptions in 2016, zero of them have come from inside 24 yards. Three of them came from over 50 yards and that’s the first time a Dolphins receiver has accomplished that feat since Mark Duper – not bad company.

In his second season with the Dolphins, Stills is nearing his peak New Orleans form averaging 9.48 yards per target and inching closer to Miami’s first playoff berth since 2008.

His effectiveness on the field can be measured in stats, but it’s the work that shows up on the coach’s film that is earning the 24 year old a big pay day. Stills caught just one pass for 11 yards in a November 6 meeting with the New York Jets. He only played 15 snaps before he came off the field with a stomach virus and didn’t return to the game.

Indianapolis Colts v Miami Dolphins

A free agent in March, Stills will be a priority re-sign for the Dolphins this off-season

 

Scoring 14 offensive points while he was available, the Dolphins needed to house a kickoff return and kick a field goal following a Jordan Phillips interception that set them up inside the 20 just to get to 27 points on the afternoon. Without Stills the offense possessed the ball six times and was responsible for just three points.

The aforementioned clear-out routes are a dirty job that only work when the receiver sells each route like he’s the primary target.

In a July press-conference, Adam Gase profusely praised Kenny Stills for his veteran presence and understanding of the offense. Gase has dropped nuggets through the entire season that Stills is a player that he admires and it was made apparent in the pre-season when Stills was the focal point of the offense.

Things cooled down to the start the year but, eventually, the offense found its footing. When it did you could either find the tatted up #10 celebrating another deep touchdown reception or attracting coverage to open things up for Devante Parker, Jarvis Landry, Dion Sims, anyone in the Dolphins passing game.

Shall we peak some screen grabs?

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The above imagine is an empty set against man coverage with a single high safety. Stills needs to clear the space for Leonte Carroo’s out route.

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The fade is sold well enough to get the 49ers corner to flip his hips and remove himself from the play. Carroo would catch it and go in for six.

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This image above is a credit to the offense as a whole. Dion Sims is supposed to come back against his motion and have a clear path to the end-zone after the completion.

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Landry executes the legal pick, Stills gets his man to turn his back, and the Dolphins get a walk-in touchdown. This is what I mean when I talk about manufacturing touchdowns.

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Here is a deep crossing route from Landry. Stills needs to get off press and get downfield before Landry makes his in cut.

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The timing is in perfect sync as Stills has turned the defender and opened the area of the field that Ryan Tannehill throws the ball into. On opposite side of the formation, Devante Parker is bracketed in cover-2 and his go route occupies the deep safety.

As you read the narrative behind this writing, you might think this is more of a credit to Adam Gase and his system. And it can be. It functions as a praise to the coach and to a player that is executing his scheme and doing whatever he can do to help the team win.

Jarvis Landry is every bit as selfless and deserving of the praise that Stills gets in this write-up. But Dolphins fans already know about the man they call, “Juice.” Just remember to share some of the love to our other 24 year old stud receiver.

Episode 45: Week 12 REVIEW vs. San Francisco 49ers

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The Miami Dolphins won their sixth straight game and are now the sixth seed in the AFC Playoff standings! It wasn’t easy, however, as Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers put up a valiant effort before succumbing to defeat, two yards short of the game tying touchdown by Kaepernick.

Who stepped up to thwart San Fran’s last drive? What player on offense emerged to make a splash into the end zone? And do we have ourselves a controversy at the kick returner spot?

Plus, the Dallas Thomas Award for Worst Player Ever returns and a Second On The AFC East takes a look at an injury prone player.

Follow us on Twitter:

Perfectville @ PerfectvillePod

Sam @ Tigerclawmedy

Chris @ ChrisC561

Travis @ Travis_Writes

Will @ PhinjuryReport

Kevin: @ KevinMD4

E-mail us:

perfectvillepodcast@gmail.com

Subscribe to us on:

Itunes and Stitcher Radio (keyword: Perfectville) and RATE AND REVIEW THE SHOW!

Make sure to check out The Phinalysis Podcast, as well.

 

 

Episode 43: Week 11 Review @ Los Angeles

week11review

Another week, another Miami Dolphins win. Five in a row now for the boys from South Beach, and this one was an ugly, wet mess until about five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker stepped up (finally!) and sent the West Coast Dol-Fans who braved the Los Angeles rain (yes RAIN) to flood the stadium in a sea of aqua and coral, home happy.

Our very own Host, Sam Marcoux, was in attendance at the Memorial Coliseum and gives his thoughts on what wasn’t showed on the television production, as Chris offers his insight from the comforts of his Dolphins Man Cave (where it wasn’t raining) on what he saw, as well. Which players stepped up on defense? What could Ryan Tannehill have done more of? And has DeVante Parker forced defenses to take him seriously as a threat, alongside Jarvis Landry? Or is this two game stretch of dominance from him just fool’s gold?

Plus, the boys give out their Dallas Thomas Awards for the Worst Players Ever, we spend a second talking about the AFC East and much, much more. Check it out and FINS UP!

Follow us on Twitter:

Perfectville @ PerfectvillePod

Sam @ Tigerclawmedy

Chris @ ChrisC561

Travis @ Travis_Writes

Will @ PhinjuryReport

Kevin: @ KevinMD4

E-mail us:

perfectvillepodcast@gmail.com

Subscribe to us on:

Itunes and Stitcher Radio (keyword: Perfectville) and RATE AND REVIEW THE SHOW!

Make sure to check out The Phinalysis Podcast, as well.

 

 

 

The Key to a Dolphins Playoff Run: Devante Parker

When Sam asked me to head up the blog portion of Perfectville, he didn’t do it with the expectation that I would give you generic takes that could be covered by anyone with access to a highlight reel. Regardless, I still find it necessary to get the obvious out of the way.

The primary keys for the Dolphins making a push to January football are:

  1. Keep the key guys healthy (Tannehill, the OL, Ajayi, Suh, Wake)
  2. Continue to run the football successfully
  3. Continue to rush the passer successfully

Sam said it, Chris said it, Kevin said it and I said it – the Perfectville and Phinalysis Podcast were in agreement that this passing game needed to evolve into something greater for this team to really take off.

It happened on Sunday in San Diego.

Ryan Tannehill played the best game of his Dolphins career not just in the box score (his 136.4 passer rating is the second highest single game mark of his career) but on the film. He delivered two crucial passes with pressure in his face a third that was a perfect dime for a touchdown and a clutch 18 yard scamper on 3rd and 11.

Devante Parker was the primary culprit of the expanded passing game. His 103 yards (with 40 more yards nullified on a bad holding call) were essentially the difference between a game manager title that Tannehill has been saddled with and a true difference maker.

devante-parker

Devante Parker had his best game of 2016 on Sunday in San Diego

 

Parker averaged nearly 20 yards per catch in his rookie season and was down to just 12.1 yards per catch so far this season. Going for 103 yards on five receptions, opening up the top end of the defense opposite Kenny Stills played a major role in the Dolphins fourth straight win.

Upon watching Devante Parker’s performance closely on film, you begin to realize some real strengths but an equal amount of weaknesses. There are routes Parker simply doesn’t run well. Anything that requires him to throttle down and make a 90 degree cut isn’t going to look sharp. He’s slow out of those breaks and doesn’t have the choppy feet to sell defenders otherwise.

He does, however, have an extremely smooth stride that allows him to chew up yards quickly once the ball is in his hands. We’ve been spoiled with Jarvis Landry and his start-stop ability, but Parker is capable of getting north and south quickly.

Parker competes best with smaller corners that he can beat physically at the point of the press. He won a slant route early in the game vs. San Diego and finished by selling a terrific stutter and go to the defensive back that was squatting on the stick and dig routes Parker ran all game.

His downfield element and red zone presence can expand this offense and will prevent teams from crowding the box and taking Jay Ajayi out of games.

The last thing you’ll see in the screen grabs below is the opportunities Parker affords this offense close to the goal line. We saw the Dolphins commit two fouls in the end zone on Sunday and, in a flag happy league, why not test a smaller defensive back’s ability to defend a pass without contacting our 6 foot 3 sophomore receiver? Parker’s ability to catch the ball in traffic in a one-on-one fade route means you can score or get a cheap first and goal at the one yard line.

In the image below, Parker absorbs the press by extending his arms and taking the DB where he wants to go.

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And here he has completely won the route by putting the DB in trail position before Tannehill delivers a strike for 14 yards.

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Below, Parker is faced with press coverage again. This time he doesn’t get his arms on the defender.

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Tannehill has already decided Parker is not open because it took him too long to get around the press and the cover 2 boxes Parker in. This is a tough spot, but this lack of separation is common with Parker.

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On a route more suited for Parker, he catches this drag route in space with room to operate. Note that he receives the ball at the 38 yard line.

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He turned it up so quickly that the defender standing on the “4” in 40 and the defender coming down the 45 yard line have barely moved by the time Parker is two yards up field.

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He is finally tripped up and brought down at the 47 for a first down – 10 yards from where he caught the pass.

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Here’s another example of his inability to separate on an out route. You see Tannehill is releasing the ball at the top of the route as Parker makes his break.

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He’s open, and this is a ball that should be completed. But because Parker is slow out of his break, he can’t extend for the catch. Before you blame Tannehill, the location on this pass is exactly where it needs to be.

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This is the jump ball that was negated on a penalty. Parker has boxed out his man as the ball falls from the heavens.

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He high points it and brings it in with a huge catch in traffic. These are the situations where he can be an elite level player.

parker-11

And after dogging on him for a lack of acceleration out of breaks, this stutter and go is a thing of beauty. As Parker throttles down, the defensive back is driving on the route he thinks is going underneath.

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I highlighted Tannehill in yellow here because I want to brag about his anticipation. The ball is already out and Parker has just now beaten his man. Parker’s acceleration in a straight line is impressive as he outruns the DB en route to a big play.

parker-13

Below is the fade where Parker was mugged by the defensive back. That size advantage means the defensive back needs to get handsy. And he did. And he got away with it.

parker-15

I have no questions that Adam Gase will identify these things and center Devante Parker’s routes away his strengths just as he has with every other player on the team. It’s difficult to imagine the Dolphins to lose many games when Parker can go over the century mark with the way this defense and running game are clicking.

Follow me on Twitter @Travis_writes or,

Contact me via email at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

Fins up!

Jay Ajayi – The NFL’s Next Superstar

Most Englishmen that go into sport choose football. But it wasn’t until he came across the pond that Jay Ajayi found himself immersed in America’s rendition of the game.

Before stealing national headlines by joining the company of O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams as the only players to rush for 200 yards in back to back NFL games, Ajayi took an unusual path to South Beach. Born in London to Nigerian parents, Ajayi moved to Maryland at age seven and found his love for the gridiron when he moved again, this time to the football capital of the world, Texas.

ricky-2

Ricky Williams back to back 200 yard games came late in the 2002 season.

 

Rushing for 2,240 yards and 35 touchdowns as a high school senior, Ajayi was the 41st ranked high school running back in the country. Continuing his pilgrimage across the globe, Ajayi signed to play at Boise State University in Idaho.

The production didn’t slow down for the lad with the unique English accent and a pinch of southern drawl as he accumulated 3,796 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns on the smurf turf at BSU. 1,823 of those yards and 28 of the touchdowns coming in his final year as a junior.

The numbers jumped off the page and caught the eye of NFL scouts. But a rumor of degenerative knees caused his draft stock to plummet. A number of teams removed him from their draft boards after medical evaluations revealed he would need micro facture surgery in the near future.

One scout went as far as to call Ajayi a “ticking time bomb” and the two-time All Mountain West running back slid to the fifth round where the Miami Dolphins selected him with the 149th pick in the 2015 draft.

Depending on whose word you take, the end result was all that mattered as Ajayi started his rookie season on injured reserve. He made his NFL debut on November 8, 2015 with an explosive, galvanizing type of impact on the game. His bruising running style was on display early, lending questions as to why this guy wasn’t active for the first seven games.

Joe Philbin was just as notorious for benching rookies as he was for rostering, and starting, low-quality football players.

After the team parted ways with local product, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi was given the reigns to the backfield for the 2016 season. The position featured Ajayi, a career third down back in Damien Williams, a never-was in Daniel Thomas, a rookie third round pick in Kenyan Drake, and former second round pick looking to make the most of his last shot in the league in Isaiah Pead.

The job was said to have been handed to Ajayi prior to the acquisition of a well-known veteran superstar, Arian Foster.

A disappointing pre-season, and more faith in the veteran presence offered by Foster, Coach Adam Gase announced it would be Foster, not Ajayi, that would start the season opener in Seattle on September 11.

Ajayi didn’t take the news well. Reports indicated that his mood and attitude got the best of him. One player was quoted as saying Ajayi was, “sulking” the week of practice leading up to the game.

In an unprecedented move, Gase left the second year running back at home in Miami when the team traveled west making Ajayi a healthy inactive for the first game of the year.

Sports Day

Ajayi shows off his quick feet at Frisco High School in Liberty, Texas

 

Ajayi would suit up for the team’s week two game in Foxboro against the Patriots. But when Foster left the game with an injury in the first quarter, it was rookie Kenyan Drake that saw first action in his place, not Ajayi.

Finally getting an opportunity, Ajayi’s first four carries netted 14 yards. But on his fifth carry, he fumbled and ended a promising drive and led to a New England touchdown to stretch the Patriots lead to 28 points. He wouldn’t see the field for the rest of the game and his time in Miami appeared to be running short.

Now planted firmly in the coach’s doghouse, questions about his fit in the Dolphins scheme arose. A power, downhill runner that is best at getting the wheels turning before he secures the hand-off, picking his spots in a zone-scheme was the equivalent of fitting a square peg into a round hole.

Beat writers, fans, message boards and all outlets speculated if the former college star might be better served to move to another team for a fresh start.

True to his word about adapting the scheme to fit his players, Adam Gase gave Ajayi a chance to earn his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff. Sitting at 0-2 with a game everyone was picking Miami to win against the Browns, Ajayi’s production still left a lot to be desired as his first six carries netted only 17 yards.

Although already in range to kick the winning field goal in over-time, Gase called a sweep off the weak-side of the formation and Ajayi scampered 11 yards to pay dirt for the game winning score.

Hindsight offers perspective in many forms. One month after the game winning run against the Browns, it’s clear now that Ajayi’s turning point and redemption tour began that day. The staff begun to put more faith in the dreadlocked ball carrier giving him 19 carries over the next two weeks. Although he only gained 77 yards on those runs, he was carving his niche as the team’s top workhorse.

Then the Dolphins welcomed the Pittsburgh Steelers to town.

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are the league’s top aerial attraction while the Steelers running back, Le’Veon Bell, is highly regarded as the best back in football.

But much like a lot of good rock concerts, it wasn’t the headliner that stole the show.

Ajayi gashed the Steelers for 204 yards on 24 carries, two rushing touchdowns and the nail in the coffin on a 62 yard touchdown dash that saw the Arsenal Football Club fan out race every Steelers defender into the end-zone.

ajayi-steelers

The Jay train began it’s ride with a dominating performance against Pittsburgh.

 

A one-hit wonder, Ajayi was not.

He followed up his breakout performance with an even more impressive showing accounting for 214 rushing yards, another score, and a crucial blitz pick-up on the game clinching, 60 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills.

Todd Gurley shot to the top of fantasy draft boards this summer after his impressive rookie campaign. In that 2015 season, Gurley rushed for 722 yards on his first 133 carries.

To date, in his career, Jay Ajayi has 133 carries for 722 yards.

So what is it that makes the former England, Maryland, Texas, Idaho and current Miami resident so special?

Donning a million dollar smile, an enchanting English accent and a humble persona, Ajayi would tell you all the credit goes to his coaches and offensive line. And, while they’re certainly responsible for a big chunk, Ajayi is deserving of some serious accolades.

He leads the NFL with an average of 4.4 yards after contact, accumulating 124 yards after shaking a defender in the win over Buffalo.

The numbers speak volumes about what he’s meant to this team the last two weeks. But the game film does the numbers justice as you see the quick feet, decisive vision, his acceleration into the hole and ability to get skinny and maintain that speed. He’s difficult for defenders to square up because he’s so powerful yet jittery. His balance and ability to drop his pad level is giving him all of these yards after contact.

Let’s look at some screen grabs from the end-zone angle in the Buffalo game to demonstrate some of his excellence during this historic two game stretch.

On this particular run, it’s hard to demonstrate by a screen grab, but Ajayi has a defender draped across his waist, and another Buffalo Bill lunges for his feet.

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The ability to keep his speed, leap over the defender with another on his back and have the balance to land on his feet is an exceptional display of athleticism.

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You see here, it gives him an extra five yards.

On this run, he gets buried in traffic off right tackle.

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He has pushed the pile three yards and is still on his feet.

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And he’s broken free from the trash and gains another seven yards.

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This next image gives you an idea how good the blocking was all day as Ajayi has a couple of holes to choose from.

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He makes a jump cut and heads for the gap created by Laremy Tunsil and Branden Albert

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And he has the speed to accelerate through it and he’s off to the races for another 10+ yard run.

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On this run, he is engulfed by 95 and 53 of the Bills.

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But that doesn’t matter, he’s powered through them and onto the next level. It’s only an additional four yards, but that’s the difference between a passing down and opening the playbook.

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Here’s a play where he’s corralled around the waist with two more defenders closing in. So not only does he need to make a move, he needs to do it with a 250 pound man hanging from his belt.

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A little spin shakes off the first tackle, but slows his momentum moving forward.

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Even with the momentum stopped, he still falls forward from the 30 to the 34 – an additional four yards.

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Here’s a goal to go situation where the run blocking failed and allowed penetration.

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230 pound backs aren’t supposed to be this nimble. He makes a jump cut that completely sells the DB to the inside and gives him an outside lane.

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And the space created is apparent here.

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From this screenshot, there’s no way he’s scoring a touchdown, right? He’s completely engulfed with two backside pursuers (95 and 26) ready to take him down.

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No problem, he just powers through and stretches the ball across the goal line to get the Dolphins back into the game.

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Now let’s take a look at the 53 yard run that changed this game. Jermon Bushrod’s stellar block is on display here, but you see the cut back lane that Ajayi has to get through.

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And he does. And once he does, he delivers a devastating stiff arm, absorbs the hit to his hip from the other side, and is off to the races down to the Buffalo 46 yard line.

screenshot-25

This is one of those sports accomplishments where we don’t fully appreciate its greatness until plenty of time has passed. Back to back 200 yard rushing performances is one of the biggest rarities in the NFL and Jay Ajayi is making a significant portion of that yardage on his own.

The Dolphins running scheme has completely evolved to suit this powerful runner that some are comparing to Ricky Williams or Marshawn Lynch. I don’t quite see the exact comparisons, but I do see the quick feet he developed from being a young soccer player. I see the bruising power that wears defenses down and I see the desire to inflict his will on the opposing defense on every run.

The Dolphins have uncovered a new identity, and they call it the Jay-Train.

You can get more analysis like this on the Phinalysis Podcast debuting this week on Perfectville.

You can listen to Sam and Chris discuss this team’s hot winning streak as well as plenty of other content on the Welcome to Perfectville Podcast.

You can follow me for live game tweets @Travis_Writes and

You can contact me via email at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

Fins up! Jay-Train down!

Episode 28: Week 2 @ New England

week2

 

The boys are back and licking their wounds after a painful week one loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Find out what Sam and Chris thought about the last minute collapse by the defense, what specific plays changed the outcome of the game and of course, who the worst players ever are.

We also say hello to Donald Butler and Chris Jones, while saying goodbye to Earl Mitchell and Brandon Doughty, as the Dolphins churn players to fit their needs, due to injury. Speaking of which, we give you the latest information for both Miami AND New England on who is practicing and more importantly, who isn’t.

And finally, we tackle the big rivalry game in week two, as Miami travels to New England to take on The Tom Brady-less Patriots. Can Jimmy Garoppolo lead New England to another win in their own home opener? Or will Miami overcome being road dogs this time and make a statement inside the AFC East? We give you our official predictions on this matchup, as well as our RIDICULOUS PREDICTIONS. Plus, a second on the AFC East and the results of the Name The Perfectville Mascot Poll.

And for even MORE coverage of our week two showdown with The Pats, make sure to read Travis’s preview: Finally Winning In Foxboro.

 

Follow us on Twitter:

Perfectville @ PerfectvillePod

Sam @ Tigerclawmedy

Chris @ ChrisC561

Travis @ Travis_Writes

Will @ PhinjuryReport

E-mail us:

perfectvillepodcast@gmail.com

Subscribe to us on:

Itunes and Stitcher Radio (keyword: Perfectville) and RATE AND REVIEW THE SHOW!

 

2016 Miami Dolphins Preview

phins tunnel

Ryan Tannehill figures to be at the center of the Dolphins 2016 season.

The number one thing to take away from the pre-season is that you shouldn’t take anything away from the pre-season. These glorified scrimmages can prove who is worthy of the bubble spots on the roster and who is capable of flashing ability in one-on-one situations.

The pre-season has had its bright spots sprinkled in over a mirage of doom and gloom for the Dolphins. It has further confirmed my original line of thinking in that this team is going to play some shoot outs, and it’s going to compile a lot of yardage – some of which may be garbage time glory for fantasy owners.

Adam Gase is said to want to run the football, but we also hear that he’s willing to adapt to his game plan to suit the roster he has to work with. This roster has a good pass protecting offensive line, game breakers at wide receiver, a good quarterback and a backfield stable that leaves plenty to be desired.

With that said, I’m assigning 1,100 plays to the offense with a heavy emphasis on the passing game. 615 pass attempts, 425 rushing attempts and 30 sacks to bring us to the grand total. This is an increase of over two plays per game from 2015. The combination of quicker pace and higher third down efficiency will result in more snaps from this offense.

In this piece I will cover expectations from each position group, break down the schedule from the eyes of Vegas bookmakers, give you projected offensive stats that have been formulated off percentages and scheme fits and, lastly, I will predict the Dolphins 2016 record.

Quarterback Report:

I’ve made no secret that I think Adam Gase is just what Ryan Tannehill needed to take the next step in his career. The majority of the videos I’ve seen from Dolphins camp in terms of quarterback drills are working on improving on dealing with a collapsing pocket. If he improves this portion of his game, and the returns on giving him more freedom – I see no reason his numbers won’t dramatically improve. Tannehill has always been a guy that makes good decisions and takes care of the ball. He’s been a 2% interception rate and 4% touchdown rate type of guy for the last couple of years. The best in the league are at 1% INTs and 7% TDs, so I’m projecting some jumps.

Tannehill’s Projected Stats: 390/615 (64% comp) 4,740 yards (7.7 YPA), 33 TDs (5.5%), 10 INTs (1.7%)

ajayi

Will Jay Ajayi pick up the slack left behind by Lamar Miller?

 

Running Backs Report:

I learned a valuable lesson in my brief sporting career and it’s that who starts the game isn’t what’s important, but rather who finishes. Arian Foster earned the starting gig with his performance in the Atlanta game while Jay Ajayi continues to look miscast in this offense. Foster has experience in a zone scheme and understands leverage, pressing a hole and identifying cutback lanes – I don’t see any of those traits in the Boise State product. Isaiah Pead and Kenyan Drake should provide special teams and third down duties.

Foster’s Projected Stats: 160 carries, 640 yards (4.0 YPC), 5 rushing TDs

Ajayi’s Projected Stats: 99 carries, 346 yards (3.5 YPC), 3 rushing TDs

Pead’s Projected Stats: 48 carries, 245 yards (5.1 YPC), 2 TDs

Drake’s Projected Stats: 32 carries, 150 yards (4.7 YPC) 1 rushing TD

Tannehill’s Projected Stats: 48 carries, 293 yards (6.1 YPC) 1 rushing TD

Landry’s Projected Stats: 22 carries, 139 yards (6.8 YPC) 1 rushing TD

Others Projected Stats: 16 carries, 43 yards (3.1 YPC) 0 rushing TDs

Team Projected Stats: 425 carries, 1,856 yards (4.3 YPC/116 YPG) 13 rushing TDs

Wide Receiver and Tight End Report:

This young group is oozing with potential but it needs to show up on Sundays. We know what we’re getting with Landry, but Devante Parker, Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant are pretty much mysteries. Parker averaged 21.5 yards per catch last year in games where he actually saw multiple targets. Kenny Stills was miscast in Bill Lazor’s scheme but Adam Gase has made it no secret that he has admiration for the burner and even mentioned how he wanted to acquire Stills while he was the OC in Chicago. Originally, I had Parker as the breakout star but now I’m more partial to Stills – he and Tannehill are showing real chemistry. Jakeem Grant is forcing his way onto the field and will be the bigger contributor of the two rookies while Carroo gets a bit of a red shirt season. Jordan Cameron is a waste of a roster spot and likely won’t be back next year. He’s injury prone, an unwilling blocker that runs sloppy routes and has had drop issues in the pre-season.

Landry’s Projected Stats: 131 targets, 101 catches, 1121 yards (11.1 YPC), 7 TDs

Parker’s Projected Stats: 98 targets, 54 catches, 897 yards (16.6 YPC) 8 TDs

Stills’ Projected Stats: 106 targets, 63 catches, 1020 yards (16.2 YPC) 6 TDs

Grant’s Projected Stat: 48 targets, 28 catches, 543 yards, (19.4 YPC) 2 TDs

Carroo’s Projected Stats: 23 targets, 13 catches, 126 yards (9.7 YPC) 3 TDs

Tailbacks’ Projected Stats: 108 targets, 79 catches, 644 yards (8.2 YPC) 3 TDs

Cameron’s Projected Stats: 48 targets, 22 catches, 163 yards (7.4 YPC) 1 TD

Sims’ Projected Stats: 32 targets, 18 catches, 127 yards (7.1 YPC) 2 TDs

Others’ Projected Stats: 21 targets, 12 catches, 99 yards (8.3 YPC) 1 TDs

33 passing touchdowns, 13 rushing touchdowns, 2 defensive touchdowns, 1 special teams touchdowns, 20 field goals made = 403 points = 25.2 PPG.

tanny stills landry

This trio (Stills, Tannehill, Landry) is poised for a monster 2016.

 

Offensive Line Report:

Laremy Tunsil is this team’s best offensive lineman and has played like it in August. Branden Albert is fully healthy for the first time in quite a while and Ja’Wuan James is simply steady. Mike Pouncey is an alarming injury risk and Jermon Bushrod’s pass blocking prowess earned him the job over Billy Turner. This team is elite in terms of pass protection but will struggle to create lanes for the backs. The depth is atrocious and will slow the offense when the inevitable injuries to Albert and Pouncey strike.

Albert Projected Stats: 900 snaps, 4 sacks, 30 pressures, 3.3% pressures allowed rate

Tunsil Projected Stats: 1070 snaps, 2 sacks, 40 pressures, 3.7% pressures allowed rate

Pouncey Projected Stats: 800 snaps, 3 sacks, 25 pressures, 3.1% pressures allowed rate

Bushrod Projected Stats: 900 snaps, 4 sacks, 50 pressures, 5.5% pressures allowed rate

James Projected Stats: 1070 snaps, 5 sacks, 40 pressures, 3.7% pressures allowed rate

Thomas Projected Stats: 240 snaps, 4 sacks, 30 pressures, 12.5% pressures allowed rate

Turner Projected Stats: 300 snaps, 1 sack, 15 pressures, 5.0% pressures allowed rate

Steen Projected Stats: 270 snaps, 1 sack, 20 pressures, 7.4% pressures allowed rate

TEs and QB Responsibility Projected Stats: 6 sacks

Team Pass Blocking Projected Stats: 30 sacks, 225 yards lost, 250 total pressures, 23% under duress rate, 5,350 snaps, 4.6 team pressure allowed rate

 

Defensive Line Report:

Ndamukong Suh is a legitimate challenger for the title of “best defensive lineman not named J.J. Watt.” He requires double teams throughout the game, he can create pressure from the interior and plays with a mean streak that opposing players hate competing against. Cameron Wake is set for a huge year as a situational rusher while Jason Jones figures into the mix on running downs. Newly acquired Mario Williams had a lack luster pre-season which is concerning after his effort was questioned last year in Buffalo. Julius Warmsley was the surprise earning his way onto the 53 man roster as Suh’s primary backup. This is the Dolphins strongest and deepest position group.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

This paid, Suh and Wake, is the lynchpin of the Miami defense.

Linebackers Report:

This is the backbone of the group. At press time, the two snap eaters appear to be Kiko Alonso and Koa Misi. Alonso has been a missed tackles machine for the Dolphins while he and Misi both struggle to stay healthy. Speaking of health, the Phins will be without Jelani Jenkins for the first part of the season after his play has slowly tailed off following an impressive first half of the 2014 season. Rounding out the bunch are second year undrafted Marshall grad Neville Hewitt, career special teams ace Spencer Paysinger, and Mike Hull.

Defensive Backs Report:

Xavien Howard is being regarded as the savior of a bad cornerback group. He has only seen limited action in the pre-season finale but the Dolphins loved him in the draft process and were thrilled with him making it to their pick in the second round. Byron Maxwell isn’t exceptional but he’s a formidable starter on the other side. Bobby McCain has the brightest future of the corners but that is primarily as an interior slot corner. Tony Lippett needs another year to refine his technique while a host of others vie for playing time on special teams. Despite an underwhelming pre-season, Jordan Lucas won the ninth defensive back role and needs to contribute on special teams to ward off practice squad members, Lafayette Pitts and AJ Hendy.

Reshad Jones is one of the elite players in this league and pairs better with Isa Abdul-Quddus than he did Walt Aikens a year ago. Aikens put on some weight and could contribute in sub-packages closer to the line of scrimmage while Michael Thomas continues to earn his money on special teams.

jones flip

Reshad Jones had an all-pro worthy 2015, but he needs to be even better in 2016.

 

Schedule Breakdown:

It really drives me crazy when people circle wins and losses on a schedule based on who has a better pre-season roster. It’s not about who you play, but when you play them. For instance, Miami drew the one game Tony Romo was healthy for last season and it was the difference between a win and a loss. I will take a Vegas gambler’s look at the schedule here and tell you what to look for in all 16 games.

Week 1 September 11 @ Seattle – Century Link Field

First, I invite anyone that can make it to this game to join Sam from the Podcast and myself for a tailgate before the game. Look for the Perfectville banner. As for the game, there isn’t a better time to catch, arguably, the best team in the NFL. The Seahawks have started 2-4 and 2-2 the previous two seasons and the offense always takes a while to get cranking. This, along with the worst offensive line in the league up against our stout D-line give me hope. That said, Miami is 0-3 in games I attend and the Seahawks are pretty damn good. I have low expectations.

Dolphins 14 – Seahawks 27 (0-1)

Week 2 September 18 @ New England – Gillette Stadium

The Patriots backfield is worse than ours and Jimmy Garappolo is a below average quarterback. That’s a dramatic fall off from Tom Brady and Dion Lewis. On top of that, they will be down Sebastian Volmer and Rob Ninkovich with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman both getting nicked in the pre-season. The Dolphins match-up well here and if they can’t win this game, it could be a long season.

Dolphins 20 – Patriots 17 (1-1)      

Week 3 September 25 vs. Cleveland – Hard Rock Stadium

This is where the offense starts to heat up. The first two contests are against tough defenses and the Browns, frankly, probably couldn’t stop Clemson from scoring 30. The opening of the Rock has the fans and the defense fired up as they continually pressure Bob Griffin and get the ball back to an in rhythm offense.

Dolphins 44 – Browns 24 (2-1)

Week 4 September 29 @ Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium

This is one of those instances where an inferior team consistently proves to be a pest against its superior, Tannehill is 2-0 against the Bengals. However, any team that gets such good push in the trenches and has the caliber of tailbacks that the Bengals do will give the Dolphins all they can handle. Going on the road for the Thursday game has always proved challenging for the visitor. The Bengals may not have Tyler Eifert yet and could be looking at a trap game after playing the defending champions just four days prior, but this is one of the best teams in the conference.

Dolphins 23 – Bengals 27 (2-2)

Week 5 October 9 vs. Tennessee – Hard Rock Stadium

The only thing keeping me from giving the Titans a big record jump is the presence of Mike Mularky – he is 2016’s Joe Philbin. The Titans have a more than formidable ground game and have beefed up a pedestrian group of receivers with some serious size in the interior of its defense. If the Dolphins can get out to an early lead and negate the power run game they’ll be in good shape. Unfortunately, this is where the heat plays into the road team’s advantage as Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry prove too much for Miami to handle with an overtime win.

Dolphins 23 – Titans 26 OT (2-3)

Week 6 October 16 vs. Pittsburgh – Hard Rock Stadium

The Steelers should not be looked at lightly in any sense. But with vital home games against Buffalo and New York on the horizon, motivation could be a struggle in this game. Even more compelling of an argument, the Steelers vaunted passing attack will give a bleak Dolphins back seven all it can handle with the first real aerial raid shoot out the newly christened Hard Rock Stadium. Byron Maxwell will be having nightmares starring Antonio Brown all week leading up to this contest.

Dolphins 35 – Steelers 44 (2-4)

Week 7 October 23 vs. Buffalo – Hard Rock Stadium

Predicting games this far down the line is a presumptuous task but I’ve been charged with worse. I think Rex Ryan will be fired by this point and there’s a decent chance Tyrod Taylor has missed a few games. With the bye week looming and the defense salty about the beating Pittsburgh put on it, Miami sends the 2016 Bills campaign to an early grave as the fellas from Western New York fall to 1-5.

Dolphins 28 – Bills 16 (3-4)

Week 8 – BYE WEEK

Week 9 November 6 vs. New York Jets – Hard Rock Stadium

Four consecutive home games with a week off is good for the players rest and recovery. The former two coming against direct divisional and playoff competitors is a true scheduling advantage a year after Miami lost this home game to London. The Jets first half schedule is brutal and the second year of Brandon Marshall anywhere is typically a precarious venture. Without Chris Ivory, the running game won’t be as bruising and the Dolphins hit their stride with back to back divisional wins and a perfect 3-0 on the season in the AFC East.

Dolphins 29 – Jets 26 (4-4)

Week 10 November 13 @ San Diego – Qualcomm Stadium

The Chargers get the Titans before Miami and a BYE following the game. With these two teams fighting for the same playoff position, this game has an early January feel to it. Any time Phillip Rivers is in a pressure situation, I like his odds. A cross-country trip where the team will be displaced for two weeks is a difficult adjustment for a Dolphins team that just won two massively important games.

Dolphins 22 – Chargers 30 (4-5)

Week 11 November 20 @ Los Angeles – L.A. Coliseum

This game will test the Dolphins interior line with Aaron Donald basically doing whatever he pleases from his tackle position. Rushing Tannehill up the middle will slow the Dolphins offense but it’s the defense the carries the way in this one. Jared Goff has taken over at this point and the turnover machine results in a defensive touchdown the puts it away. This is the game that gets Jeff Fisher canned as the first season back in L.A. proves to be disastrous.

Dolphins 16 – Rams 6 (5-5)

Week 12 November 27 vs. San Francisco – Hard Rock Stadium

I have the Niners finishing with the first pick in next year’s draft. Chip Kelly’s wildly unsuccessful offense gives the Dolphins an extra two possessions and wears down the Frisco defense in the Miami sun. The route begins early and the Dolphins salt it away with the team’s first 200 yard rushing performance of the season.

Dolphins 36 – 49ers 16 (6-5)

Miami Dolphins mini camp

Adam Gase has the team thinking playoffs with a 6-5 mark heading into December

Week 13 December 4 @ Baltimore – M&T Bank Stadium

At this point, the Dolphins would need three wins from five to secure a playoff spot and the Ravens will be in a similar situation. Head coaching prowess, experience and homefield advantage have me leaning towards Baltimore in that scenario. The Ravens offensive line is its strength and Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh are proven winners in these conditions while a young Dolphins team still has to learn to execute in the cold, under pressure when playoffs are on the line.

Dolphins 19- Ravens 29 (6-6)

Week 14 December 11 vs. Arizona – Hard Rock Stadium

Tyrann Mathieu is back running at full strength and the Cardinals are hitting their late season stride heading into the playoffs. A crop of weaker opponents has Bruce Arians and the Cards in one game at a time mode as they spread out the Dolphins suspect secondary and put on a passing clinic before David Johnson twists the knife in Miami’s playoff hopes as he continues an MVP worthy season.

Dolphins 28 – Cardinals 39 (6-7)

Week 15 December 17 @ New York Jets – Met Life Stadium (Saturday Primetime)

Another season where Dolphins fans look back to two or three games that cost them January football. Certainly the Tennessee, San Diego and Baltimore games will be the culprits if this prophecy is fulfilled. After a disheartening two week stint, not even a primetime match-up with the club’s most hated rival is enough to rally the lads to a victory. Brandon Marshall goes off on his former team while Todd Bowles improves to 3-1 against his former employer and the Dolphins season is officially sunk before Christmas, yet again.

Dolphins 20 – Jets 31 (6-8)

Week 16 December 24 @ Buffalo – New Era Field

The new era at the former Ralph Wilson Stadium did not go as planned as the Bills are filling the Christmas list with draft prospects and free agent hopefuls. The Dolphins travel up north after having accepted its fate for an eight straight season without the playoffs and put together a resounding, fearless performance. Dolphins’ fans are treated to a white Christmas Eve victory that, in the end, only affects draft position.

Dolphins 33- Bills 23 (7-8)

Week 17 January 1 vs. New England – Hard Rock Stadium

The Patriots have clinched the division at this point despite having a down year and the Dolphins put it back into coast mode after the win in Buffalo. Bill Belichick forgets nothing, especially the beating his offense took in this exact game one year prior. Miami has an opportunity to sweep the Patriots for the first time in nearly two decades and lets it fall by the wayside as the Patriots cruise.

Dolphins 13 – Patriots 26 (7-9)

That brings the record to 7-9. A one game improvement from a year ago but a much better feeling going into the off-season. The 6-10 2015 Dolphins had multiple games where the result was out of reach very early, the team gave less than a stellar effort, and the direction of the club was pointing straight down.

With Adam Gase’s energy, offensive ingenuity, and the improvements on that side of the ball, this team is going to be ready to compete very soon. Perhaps two off-seasons away from fixing the running game, tight ends, line backers and secondary, if the Dolphins can attend to two of these areas, this is a playoff team.

Offensive Output: 403 points (25.2 per game) 9th in the NFL

Defensive Output 417 points (26.1 per game) 27th in the NFL

The offense will make yet another jump in 2017 as the young players get even more comfortable in coach Gase’s system. A few pieces added to the back seven and an influx of young pass rushers moves the defense into the middle of the pack making this a formidable playoff team in 2017.

Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots

The future looks bright with this young offense

The timing could not work out better as the young coach and the young roster should be ready to take the division crown as soon as 2017. By 2018, with Tom Brady on the wrong side of age 40 and the Dolphins three years into the system, that’s when the takeover happens – for good.

Mondays will be the game review as we go over the tape and talk about the studs and duds of Sunday.

Thursdays I will break down the upcoming opponent, how we attack them and what to expect.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast with Chris and Sam and almost doctor Will Merring with the Phinjury report.

We will see you in Seattle.

NFL_Crystal_Ball

Predicting the 2016 NFL season.

 

Post-script:

We all know how much Sam hates talking about other teams as well as Chris’ insistence with spending a second on the AFC East. Well I have done pre-season predictions since my pre-pubescent days. I have twice nailed the two Super Bowl teams in the last decade (2010 with Green Bay over Pittsburgh and 2004 with New England over Philadelphia.)

I think this holds me accountable and gives me credibility. So, with that, here are the 2016 NFL predictions.

AFC East W-L
New England 11-5
Miami 7-9
New York Jets 7-9
Buffalo 5-11

 

AFC North W-L
Cincinnati 12-4
Pittsburgh* 10-6
Baltimore 8-8
Cleveland 2-14

 

AFC South W-L
Houston 9-7
Jacksonville 8-8
Tennessee 6-10
Indianapolis 5-11

 

AFC West W-L
Kansas City 11-5
San Diego* 9-7
Denver 8-8
Oakland 7-9

 

NFC East W-L
Dallas 10-6
Washington 8-8
Philadelphia 7-9
New York Giants 6-10

 

NFC North W-L
Green Bay 14-2
Minnesota 9-7
Detroit 5-11
Chicago 4-12

 

NFC South W-L
Tampa Bay 11-5
Carolina* 11-5
Atlanta 6-10
New Orleans 6-10

 

NFC West W-L
Seattle 13-3
Arizona* 12-4
Los Angeles 5-11
San Francisco 1-15
rodgers sacked

Rodgers may get another ring and an MVP trophy, but we, like, totally sacked him back in 2014.

 

 

Conference Championship Games

Cincinnati over Kansas City

Green Bay over Seattle

Super Bowl Champions: Green Bay Packers

 

MVP: Aaron Rodgers

Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown

Defensive Player of the Year: Luke Kuechley

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Tyler Boyd

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Myles Jack

Phins up!

You can find me on Twitter @Travis_Writes

You can contact me via email at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

2016 Miami Dolphins Depth Chart

Adam Gase provided a depth chart that not even Dallas Thomas’ mom thought to be true throughout the entire pre-season. Listing the embattled offensive lineman as the first team left guard was very “Belichickian” of the rookie head coach.

With the Seahawks only six days away, and the team beginning early preparations, an accurate depth chart has been produced on the 2016 version of Labor Day.

Offense

Position Starter (sans WR) Backup (sans WR) 3rd (sans WR)
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill Matt Moore Brandon Doughty
Running back Arian Foster Jay Ajayi Damien Williams
Starting WRs Jarvis Landry Devante Parker Kenny Stills
Backup WRs Jakeem Grant Leonte Carroo Justin Hunter
Tight End Jordan Cameron Dion Sims MarQueis Gray
Left Tackle Branden Albert    
Left Guard Laremy Tunsil Dallas Thomas  
Center Mike Pouncey Anthony Steen Kraig Urbik
Right Guard Jermon Bushrod Billy Turner  
Right Tackle Ja’Wuan James    

 

I prefer listing the receivers as such. Having Jakeem Grant listed as “Jarvis Landry’s backup” simply isn’t an accurate depiction. It’s Landry, Parker, Stills, Grant, Carroo and Hunter in that order. Kenyan Drake and Isaiah Pead aren’t listed on the depth chart and figure to be inactive this Sunday.

Defense

Position Starter Backup 3rd
Nine Technique Cameron Wake Andre Branch Terrance Fede
Three Technique Ndamukong Suh Julius Warmsley  
One Technique Earl Mitchell Jordan Phillips  
Five/Seven Tech Mario Williams Jason Jones  
Will LB Jelani Jenkins Nevile Hewitt  
Mike LB Kiko Alonso Mike Hull  
Sam LB Koa Misi Spencer Paysinger  
Cornerback Byron Maxwell Bobby McCain (slot)  
Cornerback Xavien Howard Tony Lippett Jordan Lucas
Safety Reshad Jones Walt Aikens  
Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus Michael Thomas  
phins tunnel

Although Lamar Miller, Richie Incognito, Jordan Kovacs, Nate Garner and Dion Jordan won’t be there this Sunday, the focus still remains on #17, Ryan Tannehill.

And just like with the receivers, the cornerback position listing is odd. Bobby McCain will see ¾ of the snaps as the slot corner while Koa Misi probably only sees half the snaps as a two down linebacker. Speaking of the linebackers, Jelani Jenkins is slated to miss the opener and Spencer Paysinger will fill his role.

Earl Mitchell’s return precariously earns him a starting role and rookie Xavien Howard needed just one week to reclaim his starting role.

Devante Parker and Mike Pouncey both didn’t practice today. Those spots certainly bear monitoring as the week progresses.

Lastly, Jarvis Landry will handle the punts while Jakeem Grant takes the kickoff return duties. Matt Darr is the punter, Andrew Franks the kicker and John Denney continues his run as longest tenured Dolphin as the long snapper.

It’s a busy week for Perfectville as tomorrow will feature the Write Travis Write season preview. The podcast fellas will get you ready for the game with this week’s episode and Travis is back on Thursday with a film study breakdown and preview of the week one game in Seattle.

These is your 2016 Miami Dolphins. Phins up!

Hello Justin Hunter, Goodbye Griff Whalen

In an attempt to bolster the wide receiving corps that is lacking size, and at the same time, ridding themselves of players whose name sound like bad porno names, The Miami Dolphins have sighunterned former Tennessee Titan, Justin Hunter (6’4″, 200 lbs) and released Griff Whalen (Cable Guy/Pizza Delivery Boy in adult movies).

The move seems to indicate that perhaps DeVante Parker and possibly Kenny Stills’ recent injuries are lingering more than previously thought. Either way, the churning of the bottom of the roster continues.

Hunter, a former 2nd round pick, has appeared in 35 NFL games, caught 68 passes for 1,116 yards (16.4 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns.

Griff, despite being in the league a year longer, has appeared in just 33 games and caught 45 passes for 487 yards (10.8 yards per catch) and three career touchdowns.

Hello from Perfectville to Justin Hunter.

Goodbye from Perfectville to Griff Whalen.

 

 

 

 

Cut Down Day (with Snarky Commentary)

The following players were cut today to get the roster to 53. Imagine if you are a football player and aren’t good enough to make a team like the Miami Dolphins…ouch:

Players in bold, commentary in (parenthesis)

CUTS:

OL Sam Young (Great first name, bad player)

CB Chimdi Chekwa (ChekWHY was this a surprise to anyone?)

DT  Chris Jones (The Dolphins have an article on their front page talking about Chris’ plans this weekend…uhm…)

LB Rashaan Melvin (Well…bye)

TE Dominique Jones (Well…bye #2)

S Shamiel Gary (had some big hits, but got burned against actual NFLers last year)

DT DeAndre Coleman (Seems like a guy the Falcons would pick up. Very Falconish name)

DE Cleyon Laing (First Rocky beats up his brother, and now THIS)

RB Daniel Thomas (HOORAY!)

DE Jordan Williams ( I feel like this is the stapler guy from Office Space. We forgot to fire him months ago, so he just kept showing up)

LB Tyler Gray (I really should have watched the 4th quarter of these preseason games. WHO IS THIS!?!?!)

OL Jamil Douglas (1/3 of the unholy triad on the offensive line is finally jettisoned)

WR Rashawn Scott (Seems like a Bengals type of player. Probably comes back and murders us dead for them in week 4)

DE Cedric Reed (More like DEAD-ric Reed, amirite?)

OL Ulrick John (Good. I kept calling him John Ulrick on the podcast, anyway)

TE Thomas Duarte (Farewell, Asian guy with Mexican name)

CB Lafayette Pitts (Best name on the team. Well, FORMERLY on the team…)

QB Zac Dysert (He tried to throw an idea out on why he should stay, but it was intercepted)

LB James Burgess (You know you are bad when you can’t make THIS linebacking corps)

LB James Michael-Johnson (See above)

CB A.J. Hendy (Along with Pitts, the tip drill combo from week one in preseason is gone)

Here at Perfectville, we wish all of these players the best in their future endeavors. Unless they sign with The Patriots…then fuck ’em.

Predicting the 53 Man Roster

I have been extremely dismissive of this final pre-season game tonight. Before we get into this piece, let’s touch on three things I want to look for:

1.) Xavien Howard – He’s been anointed the defacto starter week one in Seattle and I find the message to be a bit mixed. Here you’ve made Laremy Tunsil beat out the far inferior Dallas Thomas, and the first sign of Howard practicing earns him the job over Tony Lippett? He must be something special.

howard

This team needs Xavien Howard to justify that second round selection immediately.

2.) Kenyan Drake – I liked the idea of starting him on boomerang IR (designated to return) but apparently that’s not an option – let’s see what he can do against some fourth stringers.

3.) Hard Rock Stadium – It’s rather anti-climactic opening the newly renovated building with Zac Dysert as your starting quarterback, but it’ll be some much needed eye candy, nonetheless.

the rock

The newly renovated Hard Rock Stadium formerly known as (enter any name here.)

If you’ve followed the blog throughout the pre-season, you’re used to lengthy posts detailing nearly every snap of the games. That process will continue as the games become real but first, this roster needs to have the fat trimmed.

I could’ve waited for the game to conclude tonight but I find very little useful about this game and I’m betting most jobs have been decided already.

Cut down day is Saturday and 22 men will be given the worst news they have received as a professional. Here is the Write Travis Write 53 man roster prediction:

Offense (24)

Quarterback (3): Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Zac Dysert

Running Back (4): Arian Foster, Jay Ajayi, Isaiah Pead, Kenyan Drake

Receiver (6): Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Devante Parker, Jakeem Grant, Leonte Carroo, Griff Whalen

Offensive Line (8): Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey, Jermon Bushrod, Ja’Wuan James,

Billy Turner, Anthony Steen, Dallas Thomas

Tight End (3): Jordan Cameron, Dion Sims, Dominique Jones

Defense (26)

Defensive End (5): Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Jason Jones, Andre Branch, Terrance Fede

Defensive Tackle (5): Ndamukong Suh, Earl Mitchell, Jordan Phillips, Julius Warmsley, Chris Jones

Linebacker (6): Koa Misi, Kiko Alonso, Jelani Jenkins, Spencer Paysinger, Neville Hewitt, Mike Hull

Cornerback (5): Byron Maxwell, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, Tony Lippett, Chris Culliver

Safety (5): Reshad Jones, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens, A.J Hendy

Specialists (3): Andrew Franks, Matt Darr, John Denney

Practice Squad (8): QB Brandon Doughty, WR Rashawn Scott, TE Thomas Duarte, DT DeAndre Coleman, LB James Burgess, LB Tyler Gray, CB Lafayette Pitts, CB Jordan Lucas

I do wonder what the plan with Dion Jordan will be or if I even believe of the ailments he’s reporting at this point. Terrance Fede could be a candidate for boomerang IR but the Chris McCain trade must mean he’s ready for an earlier return. Chris Culliver will be one of the eight that doesn’t dress until he’s healthy.

dion jordan

Earning the reputation as biggest bust in Dolphins history is difficult, but Dion Jordan won’t stop until he’s accomplished that feat.

This group is a little different than what I expected it to look like. Of course, there could be an addition or two coming over from other teams across the league. Geoff Schwartz was released from the Lions earlier this week and would be a no-brainer swap out for Dallas Thomas. Mike Hull’s job might be in jeopardy depending on what the linebacker market looks like come cut day.

This is Adam Gase’s first NFL roster. He has his fingerprints on it, but there should be even more dramatic changes made by this time next year.

On Monday, I will be posting a comprehensive team preview of the 2016 Miami Dolphins. It will cover a positional breakdown, statistical projections for every player, and a breakdown of the schedule. Its manifesto length will give you everything you need to know about the upcoming season as well as a final record prediction.

Buckle those chin-straps, Dolphins fans. Football is back.

You can catch me on Twitter @Travis_Writes

You can contact me via e-mail at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

Don’t forget to stop by the Phinjury Report and check out the podcast.

Have a safe Labor Day, everyone.

Episode 26: Predicting the 53 Man Roster

53man

Sam and Chris review the game against the Atlanta Falcons and hand out their “Worst Players Ever” awards in addition to breaking down every roster spot available and predicting the final 53 man roster for opening day. Who do Sam and Chris see staying? Who gets cut? And can Dallas Thomas survive yet ANOTHER bad training camp to continue on with the Miami Dolphins in 2016? Plus, find out where the OFFICIAL Perfectville Tailgate party for Week One in Seattle, is being held and where to watch the games in Orlando with Chris in weeks three and four.

Follow us on Twitter:

Perfectville @ PerfectvillePod

Sam @ Tigerclawmedy

Chris @ ChrisC561

Travis @ Travis_Writes

Will @ PhinjuryReport

E-mail us:

perfectvillepodcast@gmail.com

Subscribe to us on:

Itunes and Stitcher Radio (keyword: Perfectville) and RATE AND REVIEW THE SHOW!

 

 

Game Review: Pre-Season Week 3 vs. Atlanta

Falcons 6

Dolphins 17

foster

Arian Foster showed the moves that made him a superstar back on Thursday

Although not outstanding by any measure, that performance gave me a much better feeling heading into the season. The best news of all, assuming Ndamukong Suh’s ankle injury is as minor as we’re told, the Dolphins get out of this game without any serious injuries and appear poised (knock on wood) to go to Seattle with an almost perfectly healthy squad.

The defense’s effort was much better in this game, the first team offense moved the ball successfully and the special teams were okay minus one big lapse on kick return. Some of the units we had concerns with (running back and linebacker played much better) while others (tight end and corner) raised more cause for concern.

As has been the format for these pre-season pieces, we’ll start with the first teamers and essentially make our way down. I promise I will condense these pieces once we get to the regular season and there are half as many players to chart and talk about.

When coach Adam Gase speaks, he commands your focus and attention. The polar opposite of the awkward, waffling Joe Philbin, Gase is direct and asserts his point with confidence.

We’ve heard a lot about Gase’s support for Ryan Tannehill and its evident when he speaks. The strides you’re going to see the 5th year quarterback take playing under someone that is actually familiar with the quarterback position is going to be night and day.

Speaking of night and day, Tannehill just looks like a different guy. He’s in command of the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. His footwork looks much more refined and internal clock seems to be rewired. His mechanics are cleaned up as he’s throwing strong, tight spirals with good accuracy. He’s playing with anticipation and going through his progressions.

tanny in charge

Much like the Somalian pirate in Captain Phillips, Ryan Tannehill is captain now.

I don’t have the coaches tape so it’s difficult to see what the receivers are doing downfield but he came off a lot of reads checking it down to the backs. He made one bad decision on the near Desmond Trufant interception and another ball thrown behind Jay Ajayi but, other than that, he was crisp. He had a deflected pass intercepted and his yards per attempt were low at 5.38, but if Devante Parker holds on to an exceptional pass right in his bread basket he tacks another 35 yards onto his total and that average jumps to 6.5 YPA – not great, but better. If Kenny Stills isn’t impeded late in the first half, it couldn’ve been another 40 yards and a touchdown. That ball was well located as Tannehill panned left and quickly snaps his head to Stills and delivered a catchable ball.

Tannehill is an athlete and these designed runs need to be a thing in the regular season, I’m not too sure about pre-season.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Jarvis Landry but this hasn’t been his best stretch of games. The rapport with Tannehill is evident, but he had another drop and one catch where he had an opportunity to turn a reception late in the first half up field but got horizontal costing the team yardage.

I’ve been confused with the offensive line decisions the staff is making but it is much more clear to me now. I wrote that I wished they would just stick with Billy Turner as the first team right guard and stop moving him around. He played both guard positions and right tackle tonight and I think the plan is clear.

They plan on rolling with Turner as the 6th lineman that can play any position but center. Jermon Bushrod is a slightly better pass protector and Coach Gase knows this is going to be a pass heavy offense, so he’s going that direction. This team could have 70-30 pass to run ratio, so it makes sense that three of their lineman are natural left tackles.

Albert-Tunsil-Pouncey-Bushrod-James: That’s your starting five.

Pass protection was terrific all night. Ja’Wuan James was fantastic in the run game and in pass pro. Laremy Tunsil got beat and freelanced a couple of times, but he had another good night. Branden Albert was in the same boat as Tunsil and Anthony Steen was good in pass protection. He offers very little as a run blocker but, as was mentioned earlier, that’s not the main concern.

Short yardage will be a concern with this team but it’s obvious that coach Gase is holding back scheme wise. He showed a very brief glimpse of his ability to scheme yards in the running game with some misdirection and combination blocks. But just as soon as they showed it, they got away from it – a smart practice.

Similarly, on defense, they rolled back into some more zone coverage. This has been a theme at times this pre-season. They haven’t ran as much press man as I expected and blitzed one notable time this game. We’ll get to the defense later, though.

Kenny Stills looks like the best receiver on the team. He had three catches for 34 yards and what might have been a 39 yard touchdown reception if not for the penalty, and he did it all against an elite cornerback in Trufant. He turned Trufant around on two comeback routes and the timing with Tannehill is on point. Devante Parker might be more of a third, downfield option. He has terrific body control and really shielded the defender off before Ricardo Allen made a great play to separate the ball on the long incompletion on the perfect throw from Tannehill.

I’ve been rough on Jordan Cameron, and he had another drop, but he had a great seal on the Arian Foster touchdown run. I’m almost inclined to start Dominique Jones. At worst, he makes the team as the third tight end but he had an exceptional lead wham block and creates separation in short yardage.

The running back battle seems much more clear after tonight. I was critical of Arian Foster but that criticism was premature. His touchdown run was vintage Foster, and he had another run where he pressed the hole and bounced it outside to gain the edge. He slipped a tackle on a pass reception and picked up 10 yards after contact – he looked smooth.

I’m not sure if Jay Ajayi is long for this offense. He’s often slow to the lane and kind of just plods through lanes. There was a couple of times Tunsil and Albert opened lanes and he basically dove through them.

Isaiah Pead won the third down job in my book. He had a great blitz pick up and turns north and south once he catches the ball.
Damien Williams had a nice night showing better vision and shifty running, but I’m not sure if there’s room for him.

I know it sounds like I’m all over Laremy Tunsil, and as great as he’s been, there are rookie moments still that need cleaning up. He’s not a natural guard and it shows at times – perhaps that damn pot smoke is slowing him down.

Expanding on that, I always find it humorous when major networks or news outlets report on marijuana stories. They annunciate the term ‘mar-uh-wanna’ like it’s some kind of bad word. The kid smoked a little harmless weed in college, who fucking cares?

tunsil bong

Tunsil is the first human to not have his life derailed by marijuana.

Other than that, NBC’s broadcast is so damn good. I want to start winning so we can get more Sunday Night Football games. Collisnworth is awesome, Tirico is great and Al Michaels is a legend.

The Dolphins offense won the first team battle in this game. Tannehill was sharp and showed the ability to extend plays and throw from the pocket and the pass protection was flawless.

Defensively, the first team was even more impressive. Ndamukong Suh played like the all-pro he was. He was stacking up blockers and freeing up linebackers.

Speaking of linebackers, welcome to 2016, Kiko Alonso. He was good in coverage, he played the run downhill and even had an effective blitz. His run fit on the 4th down stuff was textbook middle linebacker play.

Koa Misi had a hell of a game too. He was impossible to move from the second level and played close to the line of scrimmage.

Jelani Jenkins turned around his bad week two performance and played very well. He blew up one screen play sniffing it out and shooting his gun making the play in the backfield. He covered much better too, which is nice to see considering he’s probably one of two nickel package backers.

Back to the defensive line, Jason Jones was in the backfield all night. He was continuously walking his man into the quarterback, specifically on the Reshad Jones interception.

I’m not sure what Cam Wake’s snap count was but he had two quarterback pressures. This role is tailor made for him and he might even make a pro-bowl playing 50% of the Dolphins defensive snaps.

I wanted to wait to talk about the second team after I finished with the starters, but Julius Warmsley played like a starter all pre-season. I watch the game live then go back on tape and watch the plays over and over again to see what happened tallying what occurred on each play.

On one drive I have Warmsley blowing the play up four consecutive snaps. He was in the backfield all night, stacking the line of scrimmage and was chasing plays down on the opposite side of the field with pure effort. He not only made the team, he’s earning playing time. He was the player of the game, hands down.

warmsley

If he keeps playing like this, Julius Warmsley will get game action images on Google.

Chris Jones had some nice plays but more not so nice plays. He deserves a roster spot, but he’s the fifth defensive tackle right now although I’d just prefer we cut Earl Mitchell.

Jordan Phillips had one run defense play where his technique was flawless. He got behind his weight, placed his hands perfectly and shed his blocker. But that was few and far between as he often got pushed off balance. If he puts it together, he’s going to be a stud.

Byron Maxwell played a good game. He was only targeted a few times and had an opportunity on the blitz for a pick six but he dropped it. I think he’s going to play really well in zone when we blitz heavy and when we’re in man press on the boundary.

Tony Lippett had a rough night. He’s not ready for first team action. His technique is, simply put, bad. He gives up an inside release and gets twisted so far back that he’s on his heels and playing catch-up.

Bobby McCain is going to be a pro-bowl quality slot corner but he has no business on the perimeter. Matching him up with Julio Jones was always going to be bad news.

We can finally talk about Reshad Jones. I live tweeted the game and on the play before the interception, I said an accurate Matt Ryan throw would’ve been a pick six. The next play, Jelani Jenkins gets a rub on the receiver and Jones beats him to the route and picks it off in the end-zone. Reshad Jones has a chance to win a defensive player of the year award in his career.

reshad jones

Forget best player on the team, Reshad Jones is one of the best in the NFL.

Isa Abdul-Quddus is better suited playing single high, I think, and that’s where I imagine he’ll be come regular season.

How did the backups do? Not quite as well.

1st and goal from the two and there’s our favorite Dolphin whiffing and allowing the play to get stacked up. I should be fair with Dallas Thomas, though. He had some nice road grading blocks in the run game at right guard including paving the way on the Damien Williams touchdown run. He still has one or two plays a series where he’s just abused, though.

The backup offensive line, as a hole, is atrocious. Ulrick John just chases his guy around the field, Jamil Douglass gets turned regularly, Rueben Carter spends a lot of time at the bottom of the pile and Kraig Urbik is uninspiring in both facets of the game. Sam Young is the next right tackle in a long line of bad right tackles for this team.

Zac Dysert may have made this team with Matt Moore’s concussion and Brandon Doughty’s bad couple of weeks. Dysert coming in before Doughty was very telling.

Griff Whalen has a spot on this team if they keep six as a veteran presence that can step in for an injured player. He can run clear out routes and find soft spots in zone coverage.

Chris McCain’s spin move hasn’t been affective and he whiffed on an interception opportunity when he dropped in coverage – another little teaser from Vance Joseph.

AJ Hendy is an imposing hitter and Shamiel Gary had an up and down night but he flashed at times.

Neville Hewitt had a much better night. He correctly read misdirection and closed on the weak side dump off pass and made a good open field tackle.

Spencer Paysinger and Mike Hull both looked good again in backup roles showing gap integrity and playing downhill.

Jordan Lucas made it into my notes by way of, “Jordan Lucas deserves to be mentioned.” He played late with the reserves but he held his own.

What the hell was up with that Andrew Franks kick? I’m not the biggest Franks fan but it sounds like he is the kicker – so that’s that.

Every team has to get down to 75 played by tomorrow (Saturday.) With 86 players on the roster, Miami has to make 11 cuts. My picks for those cuts are:

Ruben Carter

Brandon Shippen

Daniel Thomas

Cleyon Laing

Rashan Melvin

Ulrick John

AJ Cruz

Lafayette Pitts

Gabe Hughes

Al Louis-Jean

Brandon Harris

We are one step closer to the regular season and this team looks much more prepared for Seattle than it previously did.

Be sure to check back in next week for a 53 man roster prediction thread and the season preview thread. Then it’s time to kick off for real as I will focus on film study of the opposition and get you ready for the Seahawks.

You can catch me on Twitter @Travis_Writes

Contact me via email at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

Don’t forget to check out the podcast with Chris and Sam.

And almost doctor, Will Merring, will keep you posted on the injuries.

Phins up!

Pre-Season Week 3 Preview: vs. Atlanta

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) @ Miami Dolphins (1-1)

Thursday August 25 8:00 EST – Hard Rock Stadium – NBC National Broadcast

phins falcons

Can the Miami front seven finally show up?

 

The third pre-season game is always the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Just as the Dolphins are preparing for their contest possible adding some minimal scheming, I’m going to transition more into a regular season format for this piece. I watched both Falcons pre-season games to get an idea of what they’ve been doing and how Miami can attack and beat Atlanta.

I won’t be doing preview and review pieces for the fourth pre-season game against Tennessee because I find that game mostly irrelevant. Rather, I’ll replace those posts with a final roster prediction piece, and a full blow season preview with statistic projections, schedule breakdown and much more. You can catch those on September 1 (roster prediction) and September 5 (season preview.)

This game is going to test the Dolphins biggest weakness. The Dallas game provided a challenge for the front line getting off blocks and they failed quite miserably. Atlanta offers up one of the game’s elite tailbacks in Devonta Freeman. The poor linebacker play and general missed tackle issue will be magnified in this game as Freeman’s shifty quick twitch, downhill style can make even the best defenses forget its fundamentals. He had a top five elusive rating from a year ago and looks even better this pre-season.

Off those running plays, the Falcons passing game is predicated on short passes from the play action game. I counted four play action crossing routes where they ran either Julio Jones or Mohammed Sanu across the formation, getting them the ball early and letting them make a play. The Atlanta offense also stacked its formations and would throw out quick screens on passing downs so the corners have to tackle too.

This is one of the few teams left in the league that lines up with a true full-back so our linebackers will have to be even better at stacking and shedding in this game.

jelani

Jelani Jenkins went from pro-bowl form in 2014 to on the fringe of the roster in 2016

 

I’m not entirely sure what happened to Matt Ryan, but coming off a down year in 2015, Kyle Shannahan sure is building in safe throws to this offense early in the pre-season and relying on the skill players to make tacklers miss.

If those things don’t challenge a team’s tackling ability, nothing will. This is a terrific measuring stick for the Dolphins defense and, after two bad performances, another one in a full on tune-up game would be cause for concern (although I’m sure a lot of you have already broken the ‘in case of emergency’ glass.)

For the Dolphins offense, the Falcons like to attack the line of scrimmage. Ricardo Allen is a smallish safety that plays down in the box. They align mostly in a 5-2 scheme with the safety playing down and the corners in press-man on the outside. There is room to attack this defense down the field so I look for Kenny Stills to have another strong showing.

The linebackers of the Falcons have some room to grow and the Dolphins should have some openings over the intermediate middle part of the field. Jordan Cameron needs a coming to Jesus moment and has to get things going tonight. The opportunity is there for him although I’m fully expecting Dominique Jones to outperform Cameron for the third consecutive game.

The Atlanta defense is undisciplined and can be had with misdirection and play action. I’m curious to see how much Adam Gase does in terms of showing his real hand or whether he keeps it vanilla.

The ground game must get going in this game as the interior of that Falcons defense gives a lot of ground. Grady Jarret borrowed Andre Branch’s ice skates in the game vs. Cleveland – he’s always blown off the ball.

line

The O-line needs to pick it up

 

Things to watch for tonight in primetime:

1.) Can the linebackers finally make some plays? –

Kiko Alonso needs to turn it around in a hurry, Koa Misi has hardly had a mention and Jelani Jenkins needs to find that early 2014 form again. The three have been dreadful and are dealing with some good interior line play (newly acquired Alex Mack) as well as a bruising full back. They will get tested in coverage as well with the Falcons quick passing attack. I want to see a good rotation of all our guys against the Falcons first team so we can find two or three guys worthy of playing 70% of the defense’s snaps come the regular season.

2.) Get the damn running game going –

I’m all aboard the Isaiah Pead starting tailback express. It’s only been two carries, but I’m already over the Arian Foster experiment, I like Jay Ajayi coming off the bench to split carries and I think there’s something to be said about rewarding the guy that has been head and shoulders above everyone. Pead passed his test with the first team last week, give him a bigger workload and see if he can earn the starting gig for the Seattle game.

3.) Who is the right guard going to be? –

More than just the backs, this line has an opportunity to win some one-on-one match-ups inside with a questionable Falcons front. Anthony Steen gets the call at center, but it sounds like Mike Pouncey will return from the hip injury for the regular season. I like Billy Turner the most at right guard, but he needs to be better in pass pro to hold off Jermon Bushrod. Coach Gase says Dallas Thomas is still in the mix, but he’ll have plenty of time to dip into all the trail mix and Chex Mix he desires when he’s unemployed in two weeks.

4.) Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker and Jordan Cameron need bounce back games –

Landry had too many drops, Parker had one and was kind of an afterthought and Cameron was, well, bad. Cameron has a big opportunity going up against some not so great competition. The Falcons will challenge the short routes of the Dolphins so it would be nice to see Parker get behind the defense and Juice needs to get back to catching short passes and moving the chains.

5.) Show us it really was the scheme, Mr. Maxwell –

I didn’t think Byron Maxwell was as bad as most did in the Dallas game, but he has a huge test with Julio Jones this week. I want to see him play physical with the best receiver in the NFC and challenge him at the line of scrimmage. Jones is going to get his catches, but Maxwell needs to win a couple of these battles.

6.) Who will earn snaps on Sunday? –

There are a lot of regular season snaps still to be won. Passing down interior rusher, nickel linebacker, dime back, second corner job, the tight end job might be open now, running back carries are there for the taking and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them flirt with the idea of a sixth lineman coming on to the field. Chris McCain, Neville Hewitt, Jelani Jenkins, Tony Lippett, Billy Turner, show us you want to not just make this team, but contribute to it.

phins celebrate

Rejoice, everybody, football season is almost here

 

Frankly, I’m getting sick of these pre-season pieces. I’ve usually hit my patience peak with these fake football games by now and the only thing getting me through is knowing that the starters and main role players will see the bulk of the reps. I will watch the fourth game, but I’m kind of just there so I don’t get fined.

It’s silly to over-react to pre-season football but if the same issues that we’ve seen two weeks in a row persist here, I can understand some cause for concern at that point.

Enjoy the fact that NBC is doing our game because it’s the best broadcast in football and they have ignored the Dolphins like the plague for a half decade now.

Enjoy the fact that we’re only two weeks again from the Carolina @ Denver regular season opener.

Enjoy the fact that your favorite hobby is back no matter how disappointing the Dolphins might be.

I’ll be live tweeting the game with the handle @travis_writes.

You can contact me via email at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

William Merring is on fire with his Phinjury Report pieces. He most recently wrote a great piece about Mike Pouncey’s hip – and it is very unlike Shakira, it does lie.

If you want to hear better jokes than my attempts, listen to the Perfectville Podcast.

Have a great week and Phins Up!

Game Review: Pre-season Week 2 @ Cowboys

Dolphins 14 (1-1)

Cowboys 41 (1-1)

dak prescott

Dak Prescott uses the Dolphins defense as his springboard to stardom.

That was difficult to stomach. That queasy, unwelcomed feeling of watching this team fall helplessly off the rails reared its ugly head once more as Miami were completely undone by the Cowboys. There are inevitable mistakes that will occur in the pre-season. Missed assignments, blown coverages, penalties, substitution issues – these are the things most teams iron out of through the course of August and early September.

Missed tackles, poor communication, whiffed blocks, dropped passes, perhaps these can be chalked up as a bad night but they are concerns that need to be nipped in the bud before the team travels to Seattle on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.

Amidst the chaos of a blowout victory, there were bright spots. Few and far between, but bright spots, nonetheless. It’s often said that this team’s chance at any sort of contention for meaningful December football hinges on the quarterback. And, to that note, Ryan Tannehill played nearly a perfect game in his return to his home state.

We’ll get to the numbers in a moment but this more than just a numbers blog. We review the tape religiously here at Perfectville. After sadistically studying each drop back of the Dolphins quarterback four or five times, I came away thinking this is a different player.

Throughout OTA’s and training camp, Adam Gase has preached the importance of footwork and ability to throw under the face of pressure. Standing in and delivering a strike while taking a shot is nothing new for Tannehill, but the footwork on Friday showed an added element to his game. Absorbing pressure, finding a lane in the pocket, resetting and squaring the shoulders and getting rid of the football is something we haven’t seen before with him.

He seems to take his leadership role more seriously in 2016 as well. While the other starters dressed down, ate sun-flower seeds and laughed it up on the bench, Tannehill stayed in uniform next to Coach Gase and worked alongside him getting the calls into the other quarterbacks. He also sprinted into the frame to get Brandon Doughty’s arm ready when Matt Moore was knocked out of the game.

Cam Newton and Russell Wilson both threw touchdowns at a rate just about 7% of their throws in 2015 (top two in the league.) Tannehill threw touchdowns on 10% of his throws on Friday.

Throwing interceptions on less than 2% of a quarterback’s passes will put him in the top ten in the league in interception efficiency and throwing at more than eight yards a clip also puts a passer in the upper-echelon. Obviously, he didn’t turn it over and he averaged 8.1 yards per throw. Without getting too far into hypotheticals, I’ll just say the Dolphins receivers dropped four balls on Friday, including two in the end-zone.

Miami Dolphins v Dallas Cowboys

Ryan Tannehill may have to play all 22 positions to satisfy Dolphins fans in 2016.

This team is going to have its list of problems this year, but the quarterback is nowhere near the top.

The other big star of the first team is a player that is said to have developed a tremendous level of cohesion and chemistry with Tannehill, Kenny Stills. On the long pass play, Stills timed his break to the flag perfectly with Tannehill’s escape to the right and caught the pass in stride.

Showing his versatility as more than just a burner, the second of two touchdowns displayed an understanding of body positioning and putting himself between the pass and the defender.

Coach Gase went as far as to say he wanted to bring Kenny Stills to Chicago when he was the offensive coordinator in the Windy City. Look out for Stills in your fantasy league drafts in the coming weeks.

Laremy Tunsil was the third standout of the first team offense. I often fall victim to hyperbole and I fear the following statement would fall into that category – but Tunsil is the best lineman on this team. He was pulling, trapping, he hit a perfect wham block, showed a strong anchor in pass pro and executed at a quality starter level. I do worry about the fact that the staff thought Dallas Thomas might be a better option although I’m more inclined to believe it was about setting a precedent by making the rookie earn his stripes – and he has.

The rest of the offense put forth its best effort to overshadow the play of Tannehill and Stills and it did, to a point.

Ja’Wuan James was a disaster in the run game consistently allowing defenders to cross his face and knife into the backfield for a stop.

Mike Pouncey is the most over-rated player on this club. As I write this, we’re getting reports that a hip injury might hold him out of the opener in Seattle but the way he played on Friday might mean that’s not a terrible thing. He was consistently blown off the football and rarely got to the second level.

His replacement is either going to be Anthony Steen or Kraig Urbik. Steen saw most of his action at guard in this game but played a lot of center in the opener. My note for Steen in this game was, “more often than not, when the Dolphins get stuffed in the backfield, you’ll see Steen climbing out from under the pile.”

Urbik was the best of a bad bunch again on Friday. Steen, Ulrick John, Jamil Douglas, Sam Young and Dallas Thomas are a pretty lousy group of linemen. Urbik was the only member of that group that had any semblance of winning football throughout the second half. He should get the first crack on Thursday against the Falcons, as that instantly becomes the position to watch in game three and four of the pre-season.

Jermon Bushrod cannot run block. He and James were atrocious on the right side and then Billy Turner checks in and dominates in the ground game but can’t hold his own in pass pro. He has an aggressive initial punch but gets lazy with poor technique and lets his man get around him. Can we morph Bushrod and Turner into one player?

Jordan Cameron is a potential surprise cut. I’m not sure what he offers to this team. On the dropped touchdown, Tannehill does a terrific job of identifying man coverage with a big size mismatch, puts the ball on the wide open Cameron’s face mask and he drops it. He’s not a willing blocker, he runs sloppy routes and has questionable hands.

Dominque Jones earned some first team reps displaying a good understanding for soft spots underneath the safeties and behind the linebackers.

Jarvis Landry is my favorite Dolphin, but he frustrated me in this game. I know he received a cheap shot from the Dallas defender, and it was nice to see his teammates come to his aid, but it seems like he’s stirring up problems every possession. Just go back to the huddle, Juice. His drops are becoming a concern, too. Two touchdowns dropped and a third drop on a second quarter throw from Tannehill.

ken stills

The first of Stills’ two touchdowns showcases his plethora of skills.

I am, however, a fan of the quick hitters to DeVante Parker or Stills to the side of the formation that Landry is on. He’s an aggressive blocker and can spring those guys for big plays.

Isiah Pead has been the best back on this team so far. His 45 yard rip was the longest run of any player this pre-season across the league and that long pass completion was a terrific play from the quarterback and an impressive run after the catch.

The starting back battle is being won by Jay Ajayi. Arian Foster just looks slow and Ajayi runs more inspired. He does need to learn how to square up and run behind his pads, though.

Then there’s the defense.

Ndamukong Suh is an exceptional player, but his greatness can’t mask weaknesses on this defense. In the running game, the Cowboys schemed away from him and doubled him in the pass game nullifying his presence.

I would like to see Chris Jones get a lot of first team work this week and push Jordan Phillips for time. With Earl Mitchell hurt, I’d prefer to see Jones get running down snaps with Phillips coming in for passing downs. Jones has been the most consistent interior player so far with Julius Warmsley pushing him for that distinction – he put together another quality piece of film.

Andre Branch is my other surprise cut option. He did start heating up his pass rush later in the game, but he is often washed out as a rusher, is a complete liability in the run game and that late hit on Dak Prescott that nullified the interception was an absolute disgrace.

Mario Williams’ effort looked like a veteran in pre-season form. On one instance, the Cowboys schemed a play the leave Williams unblocked asking the back to make him miss. Alfred Morris could not have had an easier time slipping the tackle as Super Mario sort of just lunged at the former Redskin’s ankles.

Chris McCain and Terrance Fede are not unlike the Bushrod and Turner situation at right guard. If we could combine the two into one, that’d be fantastic. Fede’s run game tape and McCain’s pass rush prowess frequently jump off the film.

The linebacker position might be the most problematic unit of any NFL defense. Kiko Alonso has been absolutely dreadful so far in the middle. He’s either misdiagnosing plays, missing tackles or getting buried by a lineman climbing to the second level.

Speaking of that Dallas front, they are something else. They are a tough customer to judge your front seven against, but the Dolphins got a resounding F in that department.

dolphins d sucks

Suh contemplates if all that money is worth allowing 40 points per.

Jelani Jenkins had a rough night. His angles were poor, he got pancaked twice in the run game, and he doesn’t quite seem to understand zone coverage responsibilities. He guards space more often than he finds a man in his area.

Neville Hewitt is on his way to the unemployment line, Koa Misi doesn’t do anything particularly well, Mike Hull often makes tackles but it’s never moving downhill and James Michael-Johnson is just a guy.

The news that Xavien Howard is close to being ready to go couldn’t have come at a better time. Tony Lippett is going to get exposed if he has to go up against high-caliber receivers on the perimeter. His technique needs work and he’s slow to react and to change direction.

Byron Maxwell got roasted on the Dez Bryant touchdown but I’m blaming a lack of scheming in this game for two of his other completions allowed. He got in Bryant’s hip pocket and took away the outside turning Dez into where a safety should’ve been.

Lippett and Isa Abdul-Quddus made a lot of tackles after being in coverage. They were consistently tested and beaten down the field.

Speaking of bad, this officiating crew sure was flag happy and can the CBS Dolphins crew get any worse? It’s more than just Bob Griese slamming 10 Jack and Coke’s in three hours, the camera work was horrendous. They never identify substitutions and miss full plays far too often.

Bobby McCain is going to be a great nickel corner, but has no business kicking outside. He got exposed on a deep post and struggles covering down the field.

A.J. Hendy looks like a player and Walt Aikens played well again when close to the line of scrimmage. My other guy, Lafayette Pitts didn’t make the impression he did last week and Brandon Harris had a couple impressive coverage reps.

The backup quarterback job appears to be open for Brandon Doughty to seize with Matt Moore taking a shot to the head, but the rookie was not good in this game. His reads were late and his accuracy waned.

Thomas Duarte earned his walking papers with that piss poor effort on the blocked punt.

Jakeem Grant found himself on a milk carton in this game.

Dallas Thomas is still the worst football player on the planet.

This was an ugly game in most facets. The list of problems is much longer than the list of positives, but I’m required to bring you each. I’ll group the problems together to cut down on the numbered bullet points.

List of positives:

1.) The quarterback – The narrative will continue that Tannehill needs to be replaced because the team isn’t winning, even when he’s playing well.

2.) Laremy Tunsil – The starting left guard this year and the anchor at left tackle next year when this offensive line is nearly completely remade.

3.) Kenny Stills – He’s a serious downfield threat but his skills don’t stop there. 71 yards on 18 routes run, good for 3.94 yards per route run. Antonio Brown led the league last year at 3.01.

4.) Ndamukong Suh – There’s a presence of intimidation when he’s on the field and he still consistently dominates his match-up.

5.) Pass protection – The first team line kept Tannehill clean, for the most part, and allowed for some chunk plays in the passing game.

6.) Backup defensive tackles – Chris Jones and Julius Warsmley are making the backup linebackers look better than they are.

7.) Dominque Jones – Third down catches go a long way and he looks like the best blocker of the bunch sans Dion Sims.

tunsil draft

Laremy Tunsil celebrates his draft selection and his promotion to the first team.

List of problems:

1.) The linebackers – No need to single anybody out, some were worse than others, but this group is horrifically bad.

2.) The cornerbacks – Perhaps game one was a mirage, perhaps this game is just a pre season game. Either way, the back seven needs a lot of work.

3.) Run blocking – This has been a problem for several years now and the answers aren’t yet apparent. Running backs getting hit in the backfield is the best way to ensure a poor short yardage game, once again.

4.) Brandon Doughty – He looked like a seventh round rookie in this game.

5.) Jarvis Landry – If he had any other name on his jersey, he’d be higher up this list. But I know that’s not the player he is.

6.) Rookie coaching mistakes – Like I said, I’m not sure if the Tunsil decision was done out of motivation or not or what the deal was with Jakeem Grant’s usage, but it’s something we have to question.

The Dolphins play again in three days and they certainly want to get that bad taste out of their mouths just as bad as we, the fans, do.

Check back on Thursday morning for the game preview piece.

I will also be tweeting the games live @travis_writes

You can also contact me via email at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

And don’t forget the Podcast fellas as Chris and Sam will probably gradually increase their on air alcohol consumption if the team continues to play like this.

Phins up!