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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins fans have to be maddened by Tannehill playoff success

Florida Football Insiders



Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It has to be hard for Dolphins fans on Sunday morning to wake up and realize that their former first round draft pick, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, just let his new team, the Titans, to their second-straight stunning road upset Saturday night to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

Yes, Tannehill, whom the Dolphins gave away to the Titans, including agreeing to continue to pay most of his 2020 salary for his new team this season, it’s not the only reason why Tennessee is rolling.

No, clearly running back Derrick Henry is as big a key, as anything with his power running and wearing down defenses. Also clearly, Tennessee’s second-year coach, Mike Vrabel, has instilled a physical, opportunistic defense that’s playing great football especially in stuffing Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson the last two weeks.

Yet, Fins fans cannot help with watching Tannehill make key throw after key throw, not just in the regular season but now with these games meaning everything, and wonder how in the world did Adam Gase not develop him further? And why, after firing Gase, did GM Chris Grier give up on him, so quickly?

First, here are the facts: Tannehill’s overall stats are not spectacular in either win in these AFC Playoffs. In fact, even though he threw two touchdowns in Saturday’s night 28-12 win in Baltimore, he became only the second quarterback in the last 45+ years of the NFL Playoffs to have at least a touchdown pass but throw for less than 100 yards and his team still win back-to-back playoff games.

Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers was the other one to do it the mid -1970s.

Still, you cannot deny that when Vrabel chose to put former number 1 pick Marcus Mariota on the bench for inconsistent play and turnovers back in week 6, that it didn’t turn the Titans season around.

That’s when Tannehill came out the next week at home against the Chargers and threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in a win. He led them on a run of winning six of seven starts total. And, in every one of those games, Tannehill threw for either at least 300 yards or for at least two touchdowns or a combo of both. His play has been consistent, and at times, very good for Tenneessee.

Further, when you total up his 11 games started, Tannehill now has an 8 – 3 record (including these two playoff wins), and he has only one game, a 30 – 20 loss at Carolina in early November, where he had two interceptions.

One game in 11 starts.

And, since that November Carolina game, Tannehill has thrown only 3 picks total, while throwing 19 TDs. Oh, and Tennessee is now 7 – 2 over those next nine games.

Sure, Miami fans can point to him tearing his ACL at the end of their 2016 season and then, electing not to have surgery, but rather rehab for almost 8 months, only to re-injure the ACL the following August of 2017 in training camp.

That cost him the entire 2017 season, as well, due to surgery.

And, Miami fans can point to his shoulder injury in October 2018 which sidelined him for five games in the middle of that year, sent the Fins into a plunge and they never recovered.

Yes, Dolphins fans can also blame former coach Adam Gase, who obviously had a knack for running off talented players left and right (Jay Ajayi? Jarvis Landry?) over his last couple of years in South Florida. And, it helped get him fired.

And, an argument can be made that under this past year circumstances with first-year coach Brian Flores and as poor as Miami’s offensive line and skill players overall were in 2019, that Tannehill might have only been a similar to the four or five wins Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterbacked in Miami, anyway.

Nevertheless, he is obviously showing leadership and success and making critical throws like one last in the first half:

That 45 yard second quarter laser to Khalif Raymond pushed the lead to 14-0 Saturday night, put the Ravens on their heels further, and set the stage for Tennessee to suffocate them.

Tennessee’s season essentially has been saved with Tannehill’s veteran leadership and the ability to balance their offense of Henry ramming the ball at opponents with those big time throws.

Yes, you don’t accidentally win 9 of 12 starts, including three straight must-win games on the road: week 17 in Houston, last week in Foxboro and Saturday night in Baltimore.

Tannehill, who’s also being paid 80% of his $9 million salary by the Dolphins, just did that for Tennessee.

Oh, and this will be the first of probably several times this week that it will be written or mentioned, he’s now 60 minutes away from an AFC Championship Game win. That would put he and his Tennessee teammates in the Super Bowl at….. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Have another sip of that orange juice on Sunday morning (or whatever you’re drinking) Dolphins fans on that thought, too.

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins coach Flores already dealing with lots of 2020 changes

Florida Football Insiders



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



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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