In a weird sort of way, the NFL’s decision to postpone the Dolphins season opener against the Buccaneers may prove to have been somewhat aDvantageous to Dolphins coach Adam Gase and his staff.
At the very least, the delay gave Gase and his coaches a chance to think a little longer about who it is they want to open the season with as starters at the positions where they had yet to decide on one.
When last they practiced, the Dolphins were still contemplating who to play at cornerback opposite Xavien Howard and whether Jordan Phillips or Davon Godchaux should start alongside Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle.
There was also a bit of uncertainty over who should start at middle linebacker, where it seems the Dolphins are just waiting for Rey Maualuga to get into shape before naming him the starter over Mike Hull.
The only “open’’ position battle that appeared to be decided ahead of the projected opener, in fact, was the one at left guard, where Gase had named Anthony Steen the starter over Jesse Davis.
We were hoping that the release of the team’s official Week 2 depth chart would offer some clarity but it really doesn’t as it looks exactly like the one the Dolphins put our ahead of their projected opener against the Bucs.
That one had Byron Maxwell at cornerback opposite Howard; Phillips at nose tackle alongside Suh; Hull at middle linebacker with Maualuga listed as the backup and Steen at left guard.
And that may very well be how the Dolphins open the season on Sunday against the Chargers, but we know that there are still a couple of competitions going on and therefore some decisions to be made.
One involves Maxwell and Alterraun Verner, but it’s possible that with all that’s happened and as a result of all the practice time lost, the Dolphins will go with Maxwell, the incumbent, for the sake of continuity.
That might in fact be their best option, because Maxwell should have a slightly better grasp of what it is the Dolphins want to do on defense, where Verner is still adjusting to the scheme.
That one, though, is a battel that could go on for week, and the same may hold true at nose tackle. Phillips may ultimately get the nod for what is now the Dolphins opener Sunday at Los Angeles, but don’t be surprised if Godchaux unseats him at some point.
Of course, no one will be surprised if Maualuga unseats Hull down the road. The Dolphins didn’t pull Maualuga off the street to sit him on the bench and even at his advanced age, he’s probably a slightly better option than Hull anyway.
How these battles shake out will be one of the things to watch most closely as the displaced Dolphins, who have set up shop at a Dallas Cowboys training facility in Oxnard, California after evacuating Miami last week, get back to work today.