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Miami Dolphins

Criticism of Gase for playing McMillan on special teams unwarranted

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The Dolphins are still feeling effects of injuries so far in training camp, including losing rookie Raekwon McMillan for the season Thursday in their first preseason game. It’s now confirmed that the former Ohio State tackling machine is lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Well, after the Dolphins resumed practice on Saturday head coach Adam Gase was questioned about why a rookie they were counting on to see significant playing time at middle linebacker this season would be on punt coverage?

To his credit, Gase gave an insightful answer that speaks to the challenge every NFL team faces with roster sizes and having to field special teams units throughout games all year long.

Gase responded to the question about why McMiilan was risking injury on special teams,  “Cause he was gonna play them in the season…..we only have 46 guys…. You’re a rookie and you have to experience these things. You have to do it.” Gase continued, “Cause, we throw him in a real game….and he’s never done it before, it’s not gonna be a good result…You feel bad for him, especially for a guy that’s never been injured before in his career.”

So, there’s the quandry. With young players, even guys you are counting on to play significantly either on offense or defense, you still will have to them on some or most of them one of your special teams units. You simply cannot field kickoff, kickoff return, punt coverage, punt return, etc. and not play first or second year guys.

And that brings back to McMillan being out there on punt team. There are obviously certain star Dolphins who you are going to protect. However, if you are on the active roster, you are very likely going take a physical risk and play one of the special teams units. He’s a linebacker, an instinctive tackler and suited to run down the field and make plays.

Further, Gase shouldn’t face an abundance of criticism for something he and all NFL coaches are forced to address, consider and then take risks with.

Remember, a few seasons ago (2012) when the Patriots lost the best tight end in the game, Rob Gronkowski, for the season, because he suffered a broken forearm while on extra point protection? Yes, the greatest coach in the game, Bill Belichick had him out there not only for that game, but basically throughout his career as a blocker on special teams.

And disaster struck.

From Pete Carroll in Seattle to Sean Payton in New Orleans, you take risks who you put out on special teams and they occasionally burn you.

It burned the Dolphins. Badly. McMillan is lost for the year.

But, that doesn’t mean Gase wasn’t trying to do the right thing with getting a player experience on something he was going to be asked to do come September 10th.  It means get ready to use star young players on special teams out of roster size and necessity.

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Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:

In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.

However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.

As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan

He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.

Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.

In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.

As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.

Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.

It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.

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Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.

The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:

The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.

Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.

Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.

Colorado’s athletic director Rick George said in a statement Sunday night,

“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.” 

The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.

Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.

Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.

Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.

Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.

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