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 Post subject: Season Preview
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2021 3:37 pm 
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Phinfever Draft Guru
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The Miami Dolphins kick off their 2021 season this Sunday against the New England Patriots. It has been a long offseason with intense anticipation to see if the visions of Chris Grier and Brian Flores unfold into a playoff caliber performance from all of the young talent they assembled. Expectations and predictions for the team have been all over the map to say the least. Barring injuries, this group has some serious potential and could open a lot of eyes around the NFL community.

The schedule is not easy by any means but lightens up a bit after mid October. The first five opponents are playoff worthy so Miami could find itself in an early hole if they lack focus. They close the season with an away game against Tennessee (definitely a Super Bowl contender) and hosting a tough Patriots squad. The one silver lining I see is that the Dolphins will have a weather advantage in several matchups. They do not play in any cold weather stadiums (unless Nashville finds a cold front) during December/January and host tough opponents (Bills and Colts) in some potentially brutal Miami heat.

As much as everyone wants to talk about the saga of Tua Tagovailoa, the truth is that this team will live or die in the trenches. Miami's RPO offense requires opponents to fear the run so that the passing game can open up. I have my doubts and will elaborate in a bit. Miami's defense is stacked in the secondary and it would be disappointing if they were not an interception machine this season. But, you can't have interceptions without a solid pass rush and a stout running defense. Again, I have more questions than answers regarding the front seven setting the tone. Let's dig a bit deeper.

I have confidence in both right guard Robert Hunt and center Michael Dieter. Hunt has Pro Bowl talent, and quite frankly might be better at tackle. Dieter clawed his way up from draft bust status and looked good in the preseason. Jesse Davis is a serviceable right tackle who brings leadership value, but we've seen him underwhelm when the chips are down. Solomon Kindley was benched but capitalized when rookie Liam Eichenberg was bitten by the injury bug. As a collective, this group really offers more hope than substance. Then there is Austin Jackson. I'll be blunt, he had perhaps the most disappointing training camp and preseason of any player when factoring in expectations. Now he is on the COVID list and if I'm being truly honest, he could lose his starting role. Eichenberg played well at left tackle for Notre Dame and is more of the power guy Miami needs for the run game. They also acquired former 2nd Rounder Greg Little who supposedly has done well in practice. Flores wasn't afraid to bench Tua last year, and Kindley proved that even afterthoughts can earn a role when the opportunity presents itself. Don't shoot the messenger.

If you watched any of the preseason I don't think you came away saying that the starting offensive line opened up the ground game or kept Tua's jersey clean.

I have more faith in the defense's front seven but they are susceptible to giving up big chunks against opposing running backs. They looked better in rushing the passer this summer so hopefully Miami will not have to lead the league in blitz packages again. I like the depth on the defensive line and would be comfortable with any of them as starters. Raekwon Davis has a chance to make a name for himself this year. Miami avoided splash signings so we best hope that Emmanuel Ogbah repeats last season's performance. Another guy who could break out is Andrew Van Ginkel. The depth at linebacker is concerning and we should pray Elandon Roberts doesn't get injured again. I don't see a replacement I'm comfortable with behind him. And of course there is 1st Round pick Jaelan Phillips. If he lives up to the hype it would be a game changer. He spent a lot of the summer getting healthy so I'm tempering expectations for the early portion of the season.

So what happens if the offensive line is decent? Tua showed us much better QB play this summer. He truly is the perfect point guard for an RPO offense and has the weaponry to give him top 15 QB stats. Everything you wanted to see - accuracy, pocket presence, leadership - was on display throughout the summer. Was he perfect? No, but I'll take top 15 play from a second year QB any day of the week. The weaponry is a perfect blend of size and speed if they can stay healthy, and yes, healthy is the key word. Devante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams should play huge roles in the red zone while both Will Fuller and top pick Jaylen Waddle can either take the top off the defense or open up the middle of the field by pulling defenders to the perimeter. I'm more confident in the receiving abilities and big gains from both Myles Gaskin and Savon Ahmed than I am from them getting tough yards. I'm a bit worried that Miami will find themselves in too many 3rd and long situations. I would have preferred rookie Gerrid Doaks as the power back but maybe Flores does not trust the kid just yet. Regardless of the concerns, this can be an exciting offense capable of 24+ points per game if the blocking holds up.

Miami's secondary should give every opposing coach sleepless nights. I'm not kidding when I say they should be a turnover producing machine. Xavien Howard is back and rookie Jevon Holland was perhaps the talk of training camp. Those guys are going to make plays. While Byron Jones will get hype as the perimeter corner, 3rd year guy Nik Needham might steal the spotlight if continues coming up big in key situations. There is a reason Miami kept 12 defensive backs on the 53 man roster and their contributions hinge on the front seven putting opposing QBs into difficult situations. Just like the offense, it comes down to the trenches.

I won't say much about special teams other than I have no worries. Jason Sanders is among the best kickers in the game and returners Jakeem Grant and Jaylen Waddle offer insane speed. Short and sweet - they'll do well.

If Miami stays reasonably healthy they should be right in the thick of a wild card fight. 10 or 11 wins seems within reach when you consider they get the Jets x 2, Falcons, Texans, Jaguars, Brees-less Saints and a young Panthers team. Challenging Buffalo for the division seems lofty but on paper I don't see how the Patriots or Jets are better than the Dolphins. Should be an exciting season with far more big plays than we witnessed over the last two years.

GO FINS!


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2021 5:48 pm 
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Good write up, thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2021 6:46 pm 
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jammer wrote:
I won't say much about special teams other than I have no worries. Jason Sanders is among the best kickers in the game and returners Jakeem Grant and Jaylen Waddle offer insane speed. Short and sweet - they'll do well.


As much shhh as the position gets, it’s a unique feeling of relief to have a genuinely solid kicker waiting to bail the offense out a little bit on the opposing side of the field. Great insight as always.

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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 8:07 am 
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Good write up, Dan!

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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 1:59 pm 
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13-4


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 4:10 pm 
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FINesse wrote:
13-4


9-8 is more like it….


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2021 8:28 pm 
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Not to pat myself on the back, but I'm now seeing some media guys saying Liam Eichenberg should start at LT.

Austin Jackson has a place on the line, just might not be at LT.


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2021 10:16 pm 
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jammer wrote:
Not to pat myself on the back, but I'm now seeing some media guys saying Liam Eichenberg should start at LT.

Austin Jackson has a place on the line, just might not be at LT.


I think Austin is destined for a career outside of football….or maybe in Canada….


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:50 am 
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jammer wrote:
Miami's secondary should give every opposing coach sleepless nights. I'm not kidding when I say they should be a turnover producing machine. Xavien Howard is back and rookie Jevon Holland was perhaps the talk of training camp. Those guys are going to make plays. While Byron Jones will get hype as the perimeter corner, 3rd year guy Nik Needham might steal the spotlight if continues coming up big in key situations. There is a reason Miami kept 12 defensive backs on the 53 man roster and their contributions hinge on the front seven putting opposing QBs into difficult situations. Just like the offense, it comes down to the trenches.


I'm excited to see our secondary give Mac Jones a "welcome to the NFL" heartbreaker today. If I were a fly on the wall of the Dolphins defensive meeting this week, my guess is that priority one is to stop the run and force Mac Jones to pass it.

Let's just see what all that free agency money bought the Patriots today.

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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2021 11:17 pm 
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Big Dave wrote:
jammer wrote:
Miami's secondary should give every opposing coach sleepless nights. I'm not kidding when I say they should be a turnover producing machine. Xavien Howard is back and rookie Jevon Holland was perhaps the talk of training camp. Those guys are going to make plays. While Byron Jones will get hype as the perimeter corner, 3rd year guy Nik Needham might steal the spotlight if continues coming up big in key situations. There is a reason Miami kept 12 defensive backs on the 53 man roster and their contributions hinge on the front seven putting opposing QBs into difficult situations. Just like the offense, it comes down to the trenches.


I'm excited to see our secondary give Mac Jones a "welcome to the NFL" heartbreaker today. If I were a fly on the wall of the Dolphins defensive meeting this week, my guess is that priority one is to stop the run and force Mac Jones to pass it.

Let's just see what all that free agency money bought the Patriots today.


Well….blitzing Mac Jones with pressure in his face ain’t the answer, he stood in there, took some big shots and delivered.


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:06 am 
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jammer wrote:
Again, I have more questions than answers regarding the front seven setting the tone.


So far there wasn't much improvement there as they gave up 4.2 ypc vs the Patriots compared to their 4.5 ypc last year. Of course, losing Raekwan Davis after 5 plays affected the run defense, but they weren't doing well while he was in.

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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 11:25 am 
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I know it doesn't work this way, but if after the initial 35 yard run by Harris to start the game, for the rest of the game New England actually averaged 3.1 yards per carry, if my math is right. So, the long run did skew the perception of the remainder of the game a bit. I do think that's significant in offering some perspective.


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 12:26 pm 
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I am thinking 11-6. Slightly better than last year.


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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:02 pm 
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k-dash wrote:
I know it doesn't work this way, but if after the initial 35 yard run by Harris to start the game, for the rest of the game New England actually averaged 3.1 yards per carry, if my math is right. So, the long run did skew the perception of the remainder of the game a bit. I do think that's significant in offering some perspective.


Stats are more often deceiving in my opinion.

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 Post subject: Re: Season Preview
PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2021 7:56 am 
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Big Dave wrote:
jammer wrote:
Again, I have more questions than answers regarding the front seven setting the tone.


So far there wasn't much improvement there as they gave up 4.2 ypc vs the Patriots compared to their 4.5 ypc last year. Of course, losing Raekwan Davis after 5 plays affected the run defense, but they weren't doing well while he was in.


New Miami Herald's beat writer Daniel O (It took me a while to be able to spell 'Mando's last name correctly ... thank, Herald) had these observations in the Patriots game. While the mistakes are correctable, we've been seeing this problem for many years.

Daniel Oyefusi (Miami Herald) wrote:
I saw a lot of things that are correctable: outside linebackers not setting the edge, defensive linemen getting pushed out their gaps and inside linebackers misdiagnosing the play, leading to big gains. Coaches and players will tell you those things can be fixed. Time will tell if the decision to part ways with McKinney was a mistake.


Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nfl/ ... rylink=cpy

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