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Miami Dolphins

3 Things to watch as Dolphins start training camp

Josh Ciganek

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(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Year two under head coach Adam Gase has officially begun in Miami, and the Dolphins look for back to back playoff appearances for the first time since the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Going 10-6 in your first year with a playoff appearance is great, but everyone knows that adaptation must occur in this league in order to stay at the top.

The Dolphins will look to keep improving but questions still remain. How is Ryan Tannehill and the knee doing? How will the new additions, especially on defense, blend with the old? And just who will emerge as the backup running back?

Tannehill was arguably having the best year of his career before going down with a knee injury ending his season. He threw for 2,995 yards and 19 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He also had a career best 67.1 percent completion percentage and QBR of 93.5. The question is how ready is the rehabbed knee? Gase has warned the media not to ask  Tannehill how his knee is feeling. He’s throwing and running just fine, and Tannehill has said much of the same. Time will tell everything and the fans and media will be eager to see just how well he plays against live competition in the preseason.

The Dolphins continued their swim to adaptation by adding a couple of rookies and a few veterans to the defense. Rookie Charles Harris will look to learn from veteran linemen like Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, while Raekwon McMillan will learn from former Steeler Lawrence Timmons. McMillan will probably have a better opportunity to make an immediate impact thanks to the injury and departure of Koa Misi.

Back to Harris. He showed flashes of being a great pass-rusher in the spring. But how will he look as the Florida temperatures begin to rise, the practices get more physical by day, and the tempers begin to flare and egos collide? Also, newly signed corner Alterraun Verner will look to carve out a role for himself and may be Miami’s starting slot corner, when the season starts. Let’s not forget he is a former Pro Bowler. Verner has all the capabilities of beating out his competition but at the same time could also be cut when all is said and done

The Jay train was in full effect last season with Jay Ajayi running for 1,272 and 8 touchdowns in break out season. The Dolphins will want to see him take on some more carries and in turn become a little more consistent. With that being said just who will emerge to back up the work horse to be?

Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake were both on the team last season and both made some impacts. Drake is very quick and a great pass catcher, while Williams was great in the red zone. Of the two it looks like Drake may have the first crack at being the next man up. Don’t forget about rookie free agent De’Veon Smith, who begins camp on the PUP list. Though, a solid camp from Smith could leave him as the 4th back on the 53 man.

Gase and company will look to build on their 2017 playoff appearance and it all starts now. The more questions you can answer and holes you can fill in July and August lead to more important games being played in December and January.

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins coach Flores already dealing with lots of 2020 changes

Florida Football Insiders

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

For almost every NFL team not named the 49ers and the Chiefs, the draft evaluation process is now well underway, and most all teams are represented now in Mobile, Alabama for this weekend’s Senior Bowl. That includes, the Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and his staff (some of them brand new), who are taking it all in.

And on Monday night, Flores met with the Dolphins assembled media and beat writers about the changes that have already taken place within his coaching staff and how it will shape this offseason.

First, Flores took the drastic action of firing first-year offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, whom he had brought with him from the Patriots this past season. Part of that decision was based on Miami’s poor play offensively, but a bigger part is the person that Flores could bring in to run his offense.

That’s former Cowboys and bills head coach and longtime NFL offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.

As we wrote when these moves were made earlier this month, Gailey has a long-standing relationship with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Gailey was his head coach in Buffalo and also his offensive coordinator with the Jets, photo above,. It also further signals the Fitzpatrick apparently will be heavily involved in the 2020 offensive plans.

Speaking to the media and with the quotes being relayed via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Flores emphasized that Gailey’s in-game adjustments and his ability to teach is what appealed to hiring him,

“He does a really good job of adjustments in-game,” Flores said. “If you’re playing cover one, he’s got cover-one beaters, if you’re playing zone, he’s got zone-beaters. If you’re diamond front he’s got his diamond runs. He’s a good coach that way. I think he’s seen a lot of football.”

“I know he’s a great teacher,” Flores said. “Just in my conversations with several players and coaches that have spent time with him, and that’s obviously very important. The first thing I should have said is that.”

Flores also is dealing with having lost defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, whom he allowed to take the same job with the New York Giants. Instead of going outside for his replacement hire, Flores instead promoted from in-house with defensive backs coach Josh Boyer getting the promotion and much more responsibility.

As for Boyer, Flores said Monday night from Mobile,

 “He and I see things through the same lenses,” Flores said. “A lot of ways. He coached corners and I coached safeties and we spent a lot of time together. Defensive philosophies and fundamentals and techniques, the things we teach. We’re very much on the same page.”

Defense is obviously Flores’ specialty and Boyer is following his same path from when they were with the Pats. This, as Flores ascended from DB coach to defensive coordinator two seasons ago before getting the Dolphins job.

Miami will obviously have to remake their roster with numerous premium draft picks they acquired for this year and next year, plus, significant money under the salary cap for free agents.

And, all of that evaluation, including with Senior prospects practicing and playing this weekend, is now underway.

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Miami Dolphins

’85 Dolphins were part of dubious AFC playoff history

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are looking to make NFL playoff history and join four other teams as the only ones to ever win three straight road games and make a Super Bowl. That’s when they take on the Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.

And, longtime Dolphins fans will remember that they were on the wrong end of one of those teams who pulled it off for the first time in NFL playoff history 34 years ago.

That’s when a Raymond Berry coached New England Patriots team behind Tony Eason at quarterback and an opportunistic defense stunned the seemingly invincible passing attack of second-year quarterback Dan Marino and Don Shula’s Dolphins in a shocking 31 – 14 upset at the Orange Bowl.

To set the scene, New England had already upset the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in the AFC Wildcard game and then, gone out to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and defeated the Raiders, who were the number one in AFC seed, 27 – 20.

The Dolphins, who were the AFC Champs the previous year behind Marino’s record-setting passing season of 1984, had struggled just to make the Championship Game a year later.

That’s because the Cleveland Browns actually led Miami the previous week 21 – 3 in the third quarter before Marino and the offense kicked it into gear for 21 unanswered points and a comeback 24 – 21 win.

However, on this day, they made simply too many mistakes and New England made them pay, including grinding the clock with over 40 minutes of possession to shorten the game.

Patriots ran for over 250 yards on the withering Dolphins defense and Miami had six turnovers in all including two critical Marino interceptions in the defeat.

New England surprisingly led 17 – 7 at the half, when Miami’s rookie kick returner and former Gator Lorenzo Hampton fumbled, while being tackled. A few plays later New England scored on a 4th and goal touchdown pass from Eason to Robert Weathers with a stunned Orange Bowl looking at a scoreboard that read 24 – 7, Pats.

Marino led the Dolphins down the field and looked like he was going to get them quickly in the end zone and right back in the game. However, he threw a critical bad pass that was picked off by Fred Marion at the New England goal line to keep the Dolphins off the board.

New England worked another four minutes off the clock before missing a few goal, but most of the damage had been done with most of the third period was erased with the Dolphins down by 17.

The Patriots Mosi Tatupu iced the game with a 1 yard  touchdown midway through the final period and New England was on its way to a Super Bowl matchup with the Chicago Bears.

As you probably know by now, the ’85 Bears with their devastating “46 Defense,” Hall of Famer Walter Payton and brash quarterback Jim McMahon destroyed New England in the Super Bowl two weeks later.

Still, 1985 version the Patriots will always be remembered as a team that was able to pull off three straight wins away from home, including the shocker that ended Miami’s bid to capture the World Championship.

If you are wondering, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Green Bay Packers have also all since done this “road trifecta” in the NFL Playoffs. However, in all three of their cases, they finished what the Patriots could not, by also winning the Super Bowl.

The most recent was the Packers and their 2011 postseason run that saw them defeat the Steelers to win the title.

So, on Sunday, it’s former Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry and the Tennessee defense’s turn to try to match what four others have done before them.

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