Stuck toward the back of the pack at the first quarter pole of the season, the Dolphins have managed to find their stride thanks to the legs of Jay Ajayi at the halfway point. A run that appeared destined for an eighth consecutive season without a winning record, could end with Miami’s first playoff birth since 2008.
While a 4-4 record may not indicate a playoff caliber team, keep this in mind; only ONE of the final eight games of the season comes against a team with a winning record. For a team that has found their niche running the ball, there is no reason to think they can’t pound their way to the postseason.
“I’m definitely proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Ajayi. “But at the same time we’re not sitting on any of that stuff, we’re just trying to keep pushing forward.”
Over this three game winning streak, Ajayi has accounted for 529 of the Dolphins 615 rushing yards.
“I reminded our guys again today, don’t let me go away from Jay,” said coach Adam Gase. “What makes Jay so affective is, he’s a guy who runs very angry and when you can do that for four quarters, eventually the other team is going to break.”
Ajayi’s running style, along with the aggression shown by the offensive line blocking has led to an epiphany that Miami may actually be a playoff team.
Sunday’s win over the Jets wasn’t pretty by any means. But it was an all around team victory: two interceptions, a special teams go-ahead score and a commitment to winning the time of possession battle all bolds well.
While the rushing attack is seeing a surge the past few weeks, it’s taken plays away from the passing game. In particular, WR Jarvis Landry has seen his chances to make plays go down.
Gase on Monday said he needs to do a better job of getting the ball in to Landry’s hands.
Landry hauled in only 3 catches on Sunday, and has seen his targets drop over the winning streak. Back in Week 5, Landry was tied for the NFL lead in receptions, but has since dropped to eighth with 49 receptions.
“I need to figure out a way to get him the ball, where he can catch it and go and make some plays which he did.” said Gase. “When we put the ball in his hands, he makes something happen and what did he have three catches? That’s just unacceptable and that’s all on me.”
I’m an advocate of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it;” with the Dolphins rattling off three straight victories by feeding Ajayi the ball, then let him feast. The last thing they want is to deviate from success and hit another early season famine.
What to watch Thursday Dolphins-Jags third preseason game
Week three of the preseason is already here as the Jags and the Dolphins get set for their in-state clash tonight at Hard Rock Stadium.
Week three is known to be the “most important” preseason game as the starters will usually play a half of football. And, for the Jags, this will be the first time they will play most of the first-team offense, meanwhile, the Fins have another chance for Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick to step up.
Those are just a few of the things we want to watch:
Nick Foles– Of course, Foles is what to watch for tonight. The Jags will be letting the QB out of the cage tonight for the first time. The $88 million-dollar man will look to start his Jaguars career on a positive note. It will be interesting to see how he fares in his first live-action of the season.
Dolphins QBs- Josh Rosen hasn’t done anything to win the job so far in the preseason. He also though has not done anything to lose it either. So, Ryan Fitzpatrick very well could be the starter week 1. While some will argue there is no point in playing the journeyman over the 2nd year guy, Fitpatrick won games last year in Tampa Bay.
The Dolphins though, will play the guy they feel has the best chance to win them games to start this season, and want Rosen to become that guy, eventually. Tonight should show us who that guy will for the Dolphins opener.
Jackonville O-Line and Leonard Fournette– We think this will be the first appearance for the starting running back, as well on the preseason. We know he can be a punishing downhill runner, but new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo wants Fournette more involved in the passing game.
Will they show a little bit of what they have in store for him tonight though is the question? Also, on the O-Line Cam Robinson is back how much will the Jags push him tonight though a few plays, a few series, a quarter or risk his first contact being regular season week one?
Dophins giving up sacks- Last week the Bucs accounted for five sacks (three on Rosen) against the Dolphins in Tampa. This week the Dolphins will face a better unit for a longer time and will need to help keep the QBs on their feet.
Coach Brian Flores even said after the game last week he would like to see Rosen take fewer sacks. If he wants to win the job tonight, he will need help from his O-Line and his own decision making.
Players out- The Jags have announced that nine players won’t be seeing the field tonight among those are WR Marqise Lee and three different tight ends. That means we could see a lot of James O’Shaughnessy at tight end. For the wideouts that means more opportunity for some of the guys like D.J. Chark, Chris Conley and company.
Mistakes- Last week Miami had some drops and a lot of flags thrown on them. Look out for the Dolphins to play a cleaner game tonight. With the starters playing more coach Flores is expecting fewer penalties after getting hit with 13 calls for a loss of 122 yards last week.
Report- Dolphins extending contract of WR Jakeem Grant
The Miami Dolphins have apparently made a move tonight and have locked in return specialist/receiver Jakeem Grant.
NEWS: Source indicates that the Dolphins and Jakeem Grant are close to a 4-year contract extension that keeps him in Miami through 2023. pic.twitter.com/DFhVktm2lD
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 21, 2019
The deal is rumored to be a 4-year extension to lock him down in South Beach through the 2023 season.
With a new coaching staff in place in Miami, they have made locking up the 2016 class a priority.
Grant was set to make just $720,000 in the final year of his rookie deal. Beasley did not have terms on the deal, but it’s safe to assume he will be getting a hefty raise. This deal could show the Fins are ready to give Grant a more prominent role in the offense, as well.
Previously, Miami GM Chris Grier has locked up 2016 draft pick Xavien Howard to 5 year, $73 million extension in May. The Dolphins will also look to extend left tackle Laremy Tunsil, as well, and he will likely command in the neighborhood of $12+ million per season to do so.
Grant has been a mainstay as a special team’s player so far in his career. As a return specialist Grant was an all-pro last season. The 16.3 yards-per-return across 14 punt returns in 2018 is a superb mark, as was his 29.7 yards-per return average on kickoffs.
Grant was a sub 4.4 40-yard dash guy coming out of Texas Tech and has made his limited touches count in the NFL. Grant has 34 catches in three NFL seasons, scoring four touchdowns, and averaging 13.9 yards per reception. He and fellow speedy undersized receiver Albert Wilson made a 1-2 “big play punch” early last season, as Miami jumped out to a 3-0 record.
However, Wilson was lost in October for the season with a hip injury. Then, Grant ended up suffering a torn calf muscle and missing the final six games of last year.
Grant has also been on the sidelines so far this preseason with a nagging hamstring injury.
But, he returned to practice Monday, and the Dolphins apparently believe he is back to full health.