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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
There is no doubt in anyone’s head where the Seattle Seahawks are as a football team. They’re expected by almost everyone to compete for the superbowl. They are that good. They are lead by a bunch of veterans on defense and have the best starting safety tandem in the league, bar none. They also have shutdown corner Richard Sherman. They are a formidable group to say the least and at home, they carry a little bit more for the visiting team than usual. This will be a supreme test of Gase’s new offense. Fair or not, it is like going toe to toe with the defending champ your first time in the ring. Seattle’s a 10.5 point favorite and it stems from the above ingredients: rookie headcoach with a new offense going against the best of the best in the NFL.
Matchups the Dolphins have to win:
Ndomakong Suh has to be licking his chops. Seattles first round pick is going to miss the game and in his place will be a rookie Rees Odhiambo. I’m sure Seattle has a plan for Suh but they can’t run their style of offense if they need to give the rookie help on every play. This bears watching because it should free up the other playmakers on Miami’s DL to make a few plays.
Scheme: You can bet Seattles safeties will be in the box on Sunday especially on early downs. Miami has to throw on early downs and challenge the safeties over the middle. They have the perfect lineup of WRs to do just that. They need to somehow figure out a way to do something they haven’t been able to do in quite some time: make the safeties pay for cheating up.
Running game: Another area Miami has struggled with is the running game. Defensively Seattle is smallish along the line and they rely on quickness and their hammer, Kam Chancellor, at Safety. He is a beast against the run. There is no way any cute stuff to the outside is going to work on this unit. Miami has to win the battles up front and run straight at Seattle. If they mix that in with some misdirection plays and Miami could eke out some success on Sunday. Study Dallas in game 3 of the preseason. Any attempt outside that wasn’t accompanied by a hold was held to a loss. They had success up the middle.
Pressure on Wilson and containing him:
Let’s be honest. Miami isn’t going to stop Wilson. My hope is they’ll pressure him into a few mistakes. He has had some games where he forces throws. Miami’s secondary, although not great, has had its share of turnover success in the preseason. Sort of a bend but don’t break style of defense that is around the ball all the time. They need a few things to go their way here but 2-3 ints would definitely keep them in the game.
Stopping the run: Miami’s Achilles last year was giving up huge chunks of real estate on the ground. It took a lot of pressure off of opposing offenses with short 2nd and 3rd down opportunities. This one area will be a huge factor in this game. Do well here and the game will be close. Don’t and it could get ugly really quick.
So what went wrong? Plenty, but quite a few things went right as well. Tony Lippett will end up on the waiver wire. He is the Dallas Thomas of the defense. I don’t think he got one single pass defense the entire game and his run support was equally as bad. On one play he blitzed, over running the RB who then promptly gained 30 yards. A brilliant call by the DC but it ended up as a big play by the Cowboys because Lippett ran straight to the QB even though there wasn’t even a carried out playfake. Then there was that 3 step late hit on the QB. It was a stupid play and it was made worse because it nullified a beautiful INT that could’ve turned things around. Again, this week looked a lot like last week with Vance Joseph calling a scheme that put them in position to make plays and the players screwing it up. As bad as that sounds it is encouraging. Vance Joseph’s Defense appears like it will perform better as the season progresses. His system seems sound.
On offense it wasn’t as clear. The OL did a decent job of pass protection outside of a couple of plays. With that said they couldn’t open any running lanes against the Cowboys. Ryan Tannehill had a brilliant first half despite guys dropping balls all over the place and no running game to speak of. His chemistry with Kenny Stills is something to keep watching as the season progresses. Stills had a coming out party with 2 first half TDs and some brilliant work between the 20s. The other bright spot was Pead getting a shot late in the first half with the first team and he didn’t disappoint. He grabbed a swing pass and ran it 20yds down inside the 5. He is quick, shifty and runs to daylight. On other positive notes, LG play wasn’t a Dallas Highlight Reel. Tunsil kept the spot manned most of the first half. The only pressure I saw came from Brandon Alberts missing a block and the lone sack was on the initial series where RT just held the ball too long and didn’t see the wide open guy in the flat or the curl. It was a good half of football for the starting offense even despite their struggles to run the ball.
Miami’s defense is a different story. They’ve yet to field a good defense against the opposing teams starting offense. This is a major concern because it was the defense that struggled out of the gate last year and put tremendous pressure on an offense whom were unable to keep up. Getting in a hole early prevents an offense from doing what it wants to do and forces them to take risks. I can’t blame Vance Joseph for this because he seems to be calling solid games. Players just aren’t making plays. Its early, but the veterans Miami signed in the off-season may not be that good. Kiko Alonso had 2 solid years before injury, but isn’t big enough to stuff the middle run game. He is decent in pursuit and okay in pass coverage but when he met the fullback in the hole against the Cowboys, he only made the hole slightly smaller but still left plenty of room for a 5 yard run. Mario Williams is going through the motions. Let’s hope that is him in preseason mode. Lippett is lost and should be benched. He is that bad. Miami’s DT’s outside of Suh need a lot of work. If they’re not committing penalties they’re getting pushed off the ball. DE’s have yet to produce any pressure. I’ve seen two blitzes that were the perfect call, yet Lippett over ran the runner in the first game and repeated the offense in game 2. There is a ton of work to do here and the practice time is getting shorter.
Tonight we should get a better idea about where the team is at; however, as Bill Belichick said earlier this week, “Preseason isn’t in the same universe with the regular season”. It will still be good test for Miami as they host the Atlanta Falcons. For whatever reason, the Falcons always play the Dolphins tough no matter the record.
Afterall, it is the beginning of a new year of football in South Florida. To add to the excitement, Miami has a new headcoach going into the season. That makes him the 10th headcoach since Don Shula retired. That count is only superseded by the number of QB’s since Dan Marino’s retirement. That is astounding and pretty much summarizes the last 12 years for Miami. Adam Gase is young, hungry and a high energy guy and he is definitely differs from Campbell in that he has a solid grasp of the X’s and O’s. Campbell was a pure motivator but a solid position coach, but even his players sensed the gameplans were ineffective. It still remains to be seen whether Gates can right the ship. It is a monumental task because the previous regimes left some gaping holes.
Let’s start with optimism. Gase has rolled the dice with quite a few boom or bust players. Players like Kiko Alonso who would be the steal of the off season if he regains his pre injury form. Byron Maxwell is another guy who could have a great impact if he remains healthy. Arian Foster, a late pickup, needs no introduction. When healthy, he is a premium NFL quality back who does it all. So there is potential if these guys work out and stay healthy. WR corps are deep and talented. Ryan Tannehill is entering his prime. It is now or never for him. He has been the most sacked QB in the NFL during his tenure, a stat that Gase must get corrected. DL is deep and talented but was arguably better last year and got off to a slow start. LB with Jenkins, Misi (another guy who needs to stay healthy) and Alonso should be formidable. Safety is manned by Jones and a guy I like, Michael Thomas. Thomas was undersized but shows up all over the field. I haven't paid close attention this year but if he's added some good weight, he could be legit. While the above is all good and can lead to a 10-11 win season, let’s focus on the reasons that might not happen.
OL, OL, OL and yes OL. I’m speaking of the guard position in particular. Larry (Laremy) Tunsil was a tackle in college and a good one. Good enough to be drafted by Miami in the first round. He’s now Dallas Thomas’s backup at LG. Yep, the one and same Dallas Thomas who was the play toy of anyone that played across from him. All pros would simply steamroll him on the way to pan caking Tannehill. Average players would beat him all day as well. He was an embarrassment the last few years, yet here we are. 3 coaching staffs later…all former OC’s and Thomas is again starting. It is mind boggling to those who have watched Miami’s OL struggle each year. Guys like Thomas were the source of that struggle. Look on the other side and you have the marginally better Billy Turner. Turner is a couple years younger and has less experience so there’s hope there. The question that will nag me all season if Thomas struggles will be why. Why stay with a player proven not to work? My only guess is each former OC comes in with the hope that their system will fix the issues with the line. A line of thinking that has cost many of them their jobs. Here’s hoping Dallas has a banner year and I’m forced to print this article out and eat it. I’ll do just that and youtube it if he has a great season.
CB – Miami has had 100% turnover here and it is showing. Their rookie is nursing a hamstring while Lippett is losing snaps to little known Chimdi Chekwa. Yes I googled that. Fresh off the rumor mill is Miami is set to sign former Redskins Chris Culliver. This alone tells me Gase is not happy with his current crop of CBs and again shows his quick read of that situation and dealing with it in an aggressive way. I like his style.
Finally, the game is won in the trenches. Miami’s season will hinge on both defensive and offensive lines. All the great skill positions in the NFL wouldn’t matter if RT is being sacked on key drop backs in the game. If teams can neutralize Suh because the rest of the DL is stinking up the field, then the defense will mirror last year’s version. The key will be a fast start for both units something Miami has struggled to do over the last decade. I'm guarded to my opinion or prediction this year. There are just too many new faces in some areas and not enough in others to jump on the 10-6 bus. We have all seen how the appropriate coach and scheme can make a huge difference and if I have optimism, it lies with Adam Gase being the guy.