Week number three of National Football League action has already commenced with the Jaguars putting together four impressive quarters and a 20 – 7 win over the Titans Thursday night. Now, the Buccaneers and the Dolphins will take to the field- one at home and the other with a very tall task on the road.
First, the Bucs will play host to the New York Giants. Who, as you probably have heard by now, have benched Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning at 38 years of age in favor of first-round draft pick Daniel Jones. Jones will rely heavily especially early in the game the Giants outstanding running back Saquon Barkley.
That’s why we wrote earlier in the week, that Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians is as much concerned with Barkley’s ability to catch the ball, as running it. And, it will be the biggest key for the Bucs to stop him.
Meanwhile on offense, quarterback Jameis Winston above has a multitude of pass-catching weapons like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate look to do damage against the Giants defense that has been hammered in their first two losses to the Cowboys and the Bills.
Tampa Bay must take advantage of Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium, as after it is done, they will not play a home game there again until November. The only non-road game in the next six weeks is Tampa Bay’s rematch with the Carolina Panthers, which will be in London in October.
As for the Dolphins, they get the very tall task of playing the Cowboys in AT&T Stadium in a game that most everyone believes will be a lopsided blow out. Miami has reversed course and decided to start second-year quarterback, Josh Rosen, after ineffective play of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first two blowout losses to the Ravens and the Patriots.
Rosen (above), the number one pick of the Cardinals a year ago, came over in April trade to Miami and played significantly in the preseason and in “mop-up duty” in the first two games.
Whether it’s he or Fitzpatrick coming Back off the bench Sunday, they will have a tall task in trying to move the ball with what little weapons Miami has other than receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. Miami does not have much in the run game either with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage yet to get on track .
It’s one of the big reasons why the Dolphins have only scored 10 points in the first two games.
And then, there’s the Dolphin defense. Having been humiliated in the first two games 59 – 10 and 43 – 0, Miami will clearly have its work cut out for it. Gone are stars and capable players like Robert Quinn, Cameron Wake, Kiko Alonso and last year’s first-round pick defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was traded Monday to Pittsburgh
The Dolphins must make do with what they have against a red-hot QB, Dak Prescott, as he threw four touchdown passes last week in Washington. And then, there’s a powerful run game for the Cowboys led by one of the stars of the league, Ezekiel Elliott.
Dallas is a 21 point favorite to win easily on Sunday and drop the Dolphins to 0- 3.
Looks like Tua Tagovailoa will work out for teams prior to draft
There will be numerous NFL teams interested, including the Dolphins, on just how healthy injured Alabama star Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is. And, a report on Wednesday says that Tua will likely be ready to throw for teams later in the offseason draft process.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that “NFL quarterback super-agent” Leigh Steinberg and his firm are letting teams know that Tagovailoa’s injured hip should be healed enough for him to be able to throw in early April prior to the NFL Draft at the end of the month:
From our Championship Wednesday coverage on @NFLNetwork: #Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa may throw for NFL teams during a Pro Day in mid-April, thanks to some very positive health news. pic.twitter.com/ooVJCyf0ij
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 15, 2020
This will be especially important for teams like the Dolphins, who will be selecting fifth currently in the upcoming selection process.
Tagovailoa 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.
However, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering the hip injury on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and their recent Citrus Bowl win over Michigan two weeks due to the injury.
Typically, players participate in some kind of individual workout or pro day, but as Rappaport relayed, most teams already know what Tagovailoa can do from his previous two seasons at Alabama. The bigger concern is his health and specifically his mobility, as he progresses through the summer and into the first NFL training camp and preseason of his career.
It is believed the Tagovailoa is the second, or at worst third rated, quarterback behind LSU Heisman Trophy winning National Championship QB Joe Burrow. Burrow is expected to be taken first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in late April.
Who is new Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer?
On Sunday night, the Dolphins finally decided to allow first-year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to leave and take the same position with the New York Giants. And, coach Brian Flores moved quickly to promote a member of his staff, Josh Boyer, to be his defensive play-caller
So exactly who is former New England assistant that will now be in charge Miami’s defensive unit? More on him in a moment.
First, as we wrote, Miami had wavered Saturday night and Sunday on whether to let Graham go to the Giants to be with new head coach, Joe Judge, creating an important void. Graham was only being given a “lateral move” to New York, and Miami could have continued to block him. But, in the end, Flores had someone he could trust already on staff.
That’s Boyer, who has just completed his 14th season in the NFL, all previously in New England and then, obviously, his first with the Fins after coming with Flores last February.
Boyer’s background is as a secondary coach and specifically, working with cornerbacks. He held that job for his last seven seasons in New England 2012 – 18 and was part of three Super Bowl championships under Bill Belichick.
Boyer deserves credit for helping the development of defensive backs like Malcolm Butler, who sealed Super Bowl 49 win over the Seahawks with his famous goal-line interception of Russell Wison in the final half minute of the game. Boyer also worked closely with Pro Bowlers Logan Ryan and more recently, Stephon Gilmore, who iced Super Bowl 53 win last February with a late INT against the Rams.
This past year was obviously a trying one for the Dolphins defensively, as they finished 32nd in scoring and 30th in overall in defense. But Boyer cannot be judged too much, given the cornerbacks he was working with, especially late in the year.
He had his best player, former number one pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, traded away in the first month to the Steelers. Miami also lost veteran Bobby McCain to injury later in the year and had a depleted secondary at the very end of the season.
However, Boyer (shown above with DB Eric Rowe after his week 17 pick six of Tom Brady) obviously impressed Flores and GM Chris Grier with his coaching to get the promotion.
And, he’s following a similar path as Flores, who worked his way up from secondary coach to defensive coordinator with the Pats.
Now, we’ll see if Miami can bolster their defensive backfield this off sesaon.
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