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2015 Dolphins Draft Picks
At the end of this past NFL season, Dolphins fans were left with seemingly more questions than answers. Could coach Flores assemble an NFL level offensive coaching staff to turn things around? How much of the offensive line’s poor play was because of talent and how much was more related to scheme and coaching? Is Tua the answer at QB or do we need to go back to the drawing board there as well? Was there fire behind all of the Deshaun Watson smoke we kept choking on? The questions appeared to have a 2:1 time of possession advantage over the answers.
Then, one of those questions became moot as Flores was fired. Shortly after, the news hit our timelines that he was filing suit against the NFL and specifically against the Dolphins (in a bizarrely unrelated set of charges). Our questions now included whether or not Steve Ross was going to be allowed to remain the owner of the Dolphins.
It was in the midst of this storm of chaos and controversy that our coaching search began. Everyone had their short list of favored candidates. In the end though, the man chosen to right the Dolphins’ ship was a person most of us had never heard of before. Mike McDaniel was announced and thus began a flurry of reports and video clips as we all scrambled to find out who this guy is and what makes him tick. We saw his humor, his intelligence and his passion for football put on display in the form of an endless supply of video links.
So what have we learned? What do these first impressions lead us to believe we can expect from the new coach of the Miami Dolphins? Based on what we’ve seen and heard so far, here are a few characteristics I think we can look to be a part of the culture that McDaniel is establishing in south Florida.
1. Transparency. Gone are the days of the cloak and dagger “Patriot Way” information hoarding. McDaniel (and even GM Chris Grier) have been refreshingly candid and loquacious when answering questions of the media. This may not be a game changer on Sundays, but it sure does make it more fun for the fans (and reporters.) Pressers are now fun, quick-witted and informational.
2. Aggressiveness. We all bemoaned the stubborn reluctance to address what seemed like painfully obvious glaring needs in the past couple of offseasons, especially on offense. While we stocked up on cornerbacks like rolls of toilet paper during quarantine, the offensive line and running back rooms failed to receive the attention we all felt they needed. This year, the aggressive approach in building the roster focused on the areas that were woefully underperforming, the result being that arguably our greatest weakness on the entire team (the left side of the offensive line) now boasts a perennial all pro in Terron Armstead and a solid, upper-echelon proven vet in Connor Williams. We have new running backs in Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds who bring speed, athleticism and pass catching ability and represent good scheme fits in McDaniel’s offensive system, a reliable ascending talent at WR in Cedrick Wilson, and a major upgrade at backup QB in Teddy Bridgewater. Finally, as if to underline the aggressive change in our approach, Grier swung a trade for one of the most talented, electric playmaking receivers in football, Tyreek Hill. All of this while retaining nearly all of the team’s own free agents, including important starters Mike Gesicki and Emmanuel Ogbah and working out an Xtension for Xavien Howard. It’s hard to imagine the previous regime ever signing off on some of these moves. Time will tell if this aggressive approach will be reflected in X’s and O’s on the football field, but every indication would seem to suggest that.
3. Bringing the “R” back to the RPO. McDaniel’s system relies on a strong running game, and that has been a trademark of the offenses he’s been a part of everywhere he has been. From the improvement of the offensive line and running backs and the signing of talented fullback Alec Ingold, it is very evident that the running game is and will continue to be a point of emphasis. This can only help our young QB as the play-action game, quick screens and slants which he excels in should thrive in this system.
4. Collaboration and delegation. Every coach says it, but many don’t follow through. The early stages of his time in Miami have given us some glimpses as to how McDaniel approaches his responsibilities. He seems to have communicated the kind of players and skill sets he wants on the team and then let Grier go and make it happen without him having to control every step along the way. He also clearly took that approach with the defense, retaining Josh Boyer and then bringing back nearly all the significant players that were free agents. He seems to be focused on team identity (and clearly fixing our offensive woes) and letting the professionals that he has hired to coach do their jobs. Will it work? That depends on whether or not the coaches are up to the task, which the last set clearly were not. Certainly their resumes would indicate that at the very least we should see significant improvement in our offense. Will any of this translate to a playoff appearance? Maybe. Lots of things have to happen for that to take place, including continued development of our young players (yes, including Tua,) the offensive line gelling early and the new system settling in sooner than later, as well as some good luck in the injury department. But so far, you can call me cautiously optimistic. I do believe good things are coming. Fins up!
Hey everyone, long time no talk. Unfortunately, we had a death in the family that kept me away from a lot of things the last couple of weeks. All is good now and I had a chance to digest all of the moves Chris Grier and company made these last couple of weeks.
I really like what Miami has done so far. I am not sure how it all plays out when September rolls around, but on paper, they should easily be contending for a playoff spot. They are still thin in a few areas but I don't see an Achilles heel that will prohibit them from having a chance in every game.
We can get into whether Tua Tagovailoa will emerge in a million other threads, but we know his game will not improve without a good OL and better run game. The signings of Terron Armstead and Connor Williams were A+ moves, but Mike McDaniel better have a Plan B at left tackle. The price for Armstead was far less than I anticipated so I thought the deal was great. We won't know where Williams ends up until we see what McDaniel wants to do with Robert Hunt. If Hunt stays at right guard then Williams replaces Austin Jackson at left guard. If Hunt kicks over to right tackle (a move I endorse), then maybe Williams shifts to right guard while Liam Eichenberg settles in at left guard. I suppose the biggest question for the offensive line is whether the coaches like Eichenberg or Jackson are better? Is it possible one of them can be trained as a center to replace Michael Dieter? The staff certainly has to like their young linemen because they traded away picks in what was a rather loaded first and second round for o-line talent. At the very least Tua should have much more time in the pocket this year.
As for the running backs, I came away underwhelmed. Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert are nice players and will rack up some stats. But are you comfortable with either handling a major workload? And again with the draft picks, Miami isn't really in a position to get one of the premier running backs in the draft. There are definitely some good options in the 3rd and 4th round, but those guys won't be relied upon to be a bell cow. Miami still needs a thumper who can power his way for tough yards. Maybe that is Brian Robinson or Jerome Ford in the 3rd Round. But would they be BPA? I think that is more to unfold here.
Okay, now we can talk about the Tyreke Hill trade. I'll be blunt - I see Mike Wallace 2.0 here. I don't think Hill will have the diva attitude and throw his QB under the bus repeatedly. Nor do I believe he will publicly shame his coaches for not designing every play to be for him. As I watch his highlight film I see a guy who really benefits from broken plays and a rocket-armed QB. That just isn't going to happen with Tua. It does not mean he cannot be deployed as the NFL's greatest decoy though. My guess is Jaylen Waddle, who I think will be a superstar #1 wide receiver, and Mike Gesicki are finally going to put up big-time stats. So it will be beneficial for the team and I am okay with the deal. The trade price was amazing and I'm not worried about the huge contract because right now Miami can easily afford it. If Miami keeps Devante Parker, and they should, they'll have on of the better receiving units in the NFL when you factor in the great signing of Cedrick Wilson. Oh, and for the people saying Hill will be McDaniel's new Deebo Samuel - there is about a 3-4 inch height difference and 30-40 lbs of size you may want to consider.
Real quick on the tight ends. I was shocked that Miami kept both Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe. Both had a very good rapport with Tua last year, but neither is an award-winning blocker. The Smythe signing has me worried about a botched evaluation of Hunter Long. He should have been ready for a big role in year 2. I tend to think Gesicki is going to be a fun piece for McDaniel to work with and a contract extension this summer should not be ruled out.
Even quicker thought on the QB situation. Teddy Bridgewater is a nice upgrade on Jacoby Brissett but I hope he never takes a snap for Miami. If he does I have confidence he is good enough to beat a mediocre opponent.
On the defensive side of the ball, I am confident Miami will once again take care of business. Re-signing Emmanuel Ogbah was huge, and Jaelen Phillips is going to be a nightmare for opposing offenses. I imagine Xavien Howard gets his deal redone. The secondary should once again be awesome, and I am very excited to see what Jevon Holland can do. I'm a little disappointed that Miami didn't make a stronger move to fortify the linebacker unit. Again, without their 1st or 2nd Round picks it will be hard to find an early contributor. This was a very good draft for linebackers too. I would also like to see them get an additional nose tackle to assist Raekwon Davis. There is a kid at Arkansas who I've read good things about.
I believe this should be an exciting season for us fans. I am very impressed with Mike McDaniel and the vision he seems to be implementing for Miami. They added some very quality veterans and we will finally be able to see Tua get some support at both the coaching and player levels. As of right now, Miami has about $14 million in cap space so I wouldn't anticipate any other big signings (unless they unload a big contract). A surprising draft weekend trade should never be discounted when it comes to Chris Grier. Sit back and enjoy the ride!