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Miami Dolphins

Both Dolphins and Jay Ajayi suddenly very relevant

Christopher Fischer

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Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

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.

A native Floridian who graduated from Clearwater High School and the University of Florida, Chris Fischer has spent nearly 15 years in Sports Televison, including the last five as Sports Reporter and Anchor with the CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay-WTSP. He is a multi time AP Sports and Local Emmy award winner and will be seen this season as a sideline reporter on CBS-TV’s network coverage of the NFL.Chris brings enthusiasm and passion (particularly when it comes to his Gators) to College and NFL coverage to F.F.I.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins DE Quinn was one of few bright spots Friday night

Florida Football Insiders

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It was largely a lackluster and at times, poor performance in preseason game #2 for the Dolphins Friday night 27-20 loss in Charlotte.

However, one of the bright spots is a guy that they are counting on for veteran presence and quarterback pressure in Pro Bowl veteran DE Robert Quinn.

Quinn made a couple of impact plays right away and introduced himself to the Panthers Cam Newton here:

It’s no secret in Matt Burke’s defense that they need Quinn and fellow Pro Bowl vet Cam Wake to get pressure of the ends. And while it was only a preseason game, it still had to be good feeling for all involved to see it.

Quinn spoke to the media post game about his potential impact and Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post was there:

“Just trying to do my job,” Quinn said. “That’s always been my motto. Just trying to do my job. Add my piece to the puzzle. Today was just a stepping stone. Trying to get back and make sure I can be a productive player to help this team win.”

Quinn said he feels a responsibility to stay healthy and perform at a high level for the Dolphins, particularly because they traded for him.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “Getting older. But, I feel pretty good. Been working out. A little more stretching. Especially coming off the injury years. I’m not trying to set myself back. And also the commitment this team made to me I’m not trying to shoot them in the foot, also. Trying to do whatever I can to stay on the field.”

The Fins acquired Quinn in March from the Rams, and it’s no secret that the 28 year old felt betrayed.

He had 8.5 sacks a year ago under new first defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, as the Rams won the NFC West in 2017. However, the Rams made a series of acquisitions trading for DBs Marcus Peters from the Chiefs for draft picks and the same with Aqib Talib from Denver. They also signed former Dolphin Ndamukong Suh to a large one year contract.

Yet, Quinn did not fit into their plans or under the L.A. salary cap.

He does in both cases for Miami and they hope they see a lot more of what they saw Friday night.

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Miami Dolphins

Three things to watch as Dolphins battle Panthers Friday night

Florida Football Insiders

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Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins have traveled north to Charlotte to take on the Panthers in their second preseason game of 2018.

Here are three things we will be watching on Friday night:

Progress of Ryan Tannehill/the offense with him

We only saw a small dose of Tannehill (one possession) last week and there were some positives in his first game action in 18 months. Tannehill ran the Fins no huddle early completing 4-6 passes for 32 yards. He mixed some throws to Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola and Miami moved into field goal range before rookie Jason Sanders misfired from 53 yards out.

Now, it’s expected that Tannehill will play at least the whole first quarter, as he works his way back from his ACL surgery.

Kenyan Drake got the start in the backfield last week, and veteran Frank Gore was inactive for the game. The 35 year old Gore is expected to see his first action against what is a stout Carolina front seven on defense. The Dolphins attempting to establish some kind of ground attack will be key not just Friday night, but moving forward.

It’s a good test of the progress that Tanehill, the offense as a whole and new coordinator Dowell Loggains have made.

Handling Christian McCaffery

The Panthers have made no secret that they want to get second year RB and former first round pick, Christian McCaffery, many more touches this season. And McCaffery may be a better receiver out of the backfield than runner, especially between the tackles. McCaffery debuted (above) with four carries for 11 yards and two catches for 29 yards in Buffalo last week.

We suspect that he will play much, if not all of, the first half against the likes Cam Wake, Kiko Alonso, Davon Godchaux and Raewkon McMillian.

It will be a great test for Miami, which had trouble stopping the Bucs’ Peyton Barber in the first half last week, to try to handle the small but explosive McCaffery.

Dolphins focus and attention to detail

Dating back to their “dress rehearsal” practice at Hard Rock Stadium before preseason game one, the Fins had trouble keeping their poise, not committing silly unforced penalties.

How sharp will they look tonight? Are there false starts? Will there be dropped balls, missed assignments, blown coverages, etc.?

It is, after all the second preseason game and there should be some improvement in these areas.

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Miami Dolphins

“Ludicrous Speed?”

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

You need to have some levity to get through rigors of training camp, and Tuesday coach Adam Gase provided some in the form of 1980’s “B Comedies” and his team’s no-huddle offense.

The Dolphins showed part of that up tempo offense on the first series of their preseason opening game with the Bucs last Thursday night. And, QB Ryan Tannehill was effective running it on that opening drive.

However, we haven’t seen the fastest version of the Fins hurry up….it’s known in their lingo as “Ludicrous Speed.”

Now, unless you are a huge fan of the Sci-fi “spoof” movie from 1987, “Spaceballs,” that reference is likely lost on you. The movie stars Mel Brooks, Rick Moranis, John Candy, Bill Pullman and Daphne Zuniga, and is primarily mocking the the ultra popular “Star Wars” series of the late 70’s and early 80’s.

The reference to “Ludicrous Speed” comes from this scene, where Moranis, as the faux Darth Vader, is ordering his ship to chase after the “good guys.” Whether you’ve seen it or haven’t here goes:

It’s one of several memorable silly slapstick humorous scenes in the flick.

And that brings us to more humor with head coach Adam Gase being asked about “Ludicrous Speed” at his Tuesday post practice press conference.

Gase, laughed and knew that QB Ryan Tannehill had described that version to the media of the no huddle, where the team races to the line to run the same play, and try to catch the defense off guard or substituting, etc.

He was then, asked if it actually came from the movie?

“You know it? (Gase to a reporter)…. Yeah. There’s a lot of 80’s terms. You gotta remember, when we started this thing, who the quarterback was. The only problem was no one else knew what we were talking about. So it was good between me and him, but nobody else.”

The “who the quarterback was” is reference to soon to be Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, and the terms from when they were together in Denver a few years ago.

Manning, a child of the mid-late 80’s, obviously would use some of these terms or references as code words in the terminology for teams.

Our colleague, Chris Fischer of NBC-TV in Miami, put together his little feature involving Tannehill’s comments, the movie clips and Dolphins “speed, and posted it.

We say, Bravo to that.

And, Bravo to keeping guys and gals like Moranis, Pullman, Zuniga, and of course the late John Candy relevant a little longer.

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