(Our Chris Fischer is working the sideline for CBS-TV coverage again this week of Dolphins-Steelers with Spero Dedes and Solomon Wilcots)
Where do the Dolphins go from here?
They were bad last week against the Titans. I mean really bad.
It was such a deplorable effort by the offensive line that yesterday coach Adam Gase took a torch to it, cutting Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas. Both were forced in to playing positions they were rather unfamiliar with on the left side (Normally they play on the right). That’s no excuse, but neither is the fact that QB Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 11 times in two games. One thing that seemed disturbing for “Fins Fans” is when Gase told me exiting the locker room at half “we’re already max protecting, we’ve got to do a better job of keeping pressure off our quarterback.”
According to Pro Football Focus “Tannehill has faced pressure on 43.4% of drop backs so far, most in the NFL.” And yet, fans in the stands are calling for back up quarterback Matt Moore.
“I know when we have 18 drop back passes and he is hit or sacked on 9 of them and the completions we do have, he has guys in his face,” said Gase. “I’m supposed to blame (Tannehill) for that.”
Gase has been preaching accountability to the locker room. He threatened to cut guys for doing a poor job and he delivered on that promise.
Prior to Sunday’s game we learned Left Guard/Tackle Laremy Tunsil was placed on the inactive list, for slipping in the shower and injuring his ankle. “It’s one on thousand, one in a million type deals,” said Gase. “It’s a bad deal, talk about unexpected, that’s an unexpected thing to happen.”
I noticed on the sideline that Tunsil wasn’t there alongside Branden Albert, who was also on the inactive list. Tunsil took X-Rays on Sunday, and Gase said yesterday he’s walking around without crutches.
Conspiracy theorists now have something work with in regards to the Tunsil injury.
No Wake zone, Defensive line doesn’t make a splash.
They were there, I promise. I saw the Dolphins defensive line playing football on Sunday. However, Tennessee went in with the number one offensive line according to Pro Football Focus and the Dolphins couldn’t do anything against them. That’s head scratching with a unit that features Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams.
Cameron Wake was moved to an off the edge linebacker threat on passing downs. No matter what Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph dialed up, the defense couldn’t get to Marcus Mariota. The Titans utilized a lot of play action roll outs to get Mariota out of the pocket.
This week the defensive line will get a more stable pocket passer in Ben Roehtlisberger, but expect the Steelers’ game plan to deviate.
This week’s Match-up
Black and Yellow will take over the empty aqua seats at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
Pittsburgh will put their fifth ranked offense up against the 29th ranked Miami defense. And while the Steelers come in with the 26th ranked defense, it’s rather misleading. Pittsburgh has given up more than 17 points just once this season.
For the Dolphins the game plan must be simple. Keep the pressure off of Tannehill and use double coverage on Antonio Brown. But, even that might not be enough to help.
“I just think we have a rough start to the quarter of the season, it will get better,” said Albert.
With an offensive line and secondary in shambles, Miami will need to figure out a way to win the Time of Possession battle. Which means they’ll have to try something new, bucking their 31st ranking in third down conversions.
The line is already 8 points in favor of Pittsburgh, but Sunday could prove to be another line in the sand game for the Dolphins locker room.
Dolphins “limbo game” with QB Josh Rosen remains
The Dolphins continue to do their diligence on the possible drafting of a franchise type quarterback that they may be able to get their hands on in the upcoming in April. However, there remains a looming question with what to do with the former first-round pick QB that they acquired last April.
Josh Rosen remains, for now, part of the Dolphins plans, yet, even his biggest supporters have to concede ,that Rosen is likely “the odd man out” should Miami take one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.
That’s because GM Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores are obviously committed to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. We know this because Fitzpatrick not only rallied the team for several wins down the stretch of the season, but that Miami has also gone and hired Fitzpatrick’s former offensive coordinator and head coach at two of his other stops, Chan Gailey for this season.
That’s not something that the Dolphins brass did lightly, and it foreshadows that Fitzpatrick will likely be the quarterback that they begin the regular season with, just as they did in 2019.
So, where exactly does that leave Rosen, who played very little last year, but has a salary cap friendly contract?
It likely means that he’s only “an insurance policy” that could be dropped at any point for very little salary cap ramifications.
We wrote near the end of last season that it did not make any sense that Miami wasn’t at least giving Rosen game action and some live reps in games last December, if only to see once and for all, if they could develop him into a quarterback for the future?
Obviously, the Dolphins spoke loudly with their actions, and by not even playing Rosen in any of the last seven games, they were indicating he’s expendable.
Dolphins beat writer for the Miami Herald Armando Salguero wrote Wednesday morning about Rosen situation, but shed very little light on what his actual future is. This is primarily because whether it’s Salguero, other media or anyone else not named Flores/Grier, they don’t know for sure what Rosen’s immediate, much less longer range, 2020 future is.
Sure, they could hang on to Rosen through the offseason and have him try to compete for playing time.
But, that seems to be a futile exercise if the Fins have already made up their mind that Fitzpatrick will start the year. And then, you’re drafting a rookie quarterback drafting a rookie quarterback, again to potentially be the future of the franchise.
Then again, Fitzpatrick is 37 years old and could break down physically along the way, well before the start of next season. So, keeping Rosen as that insurance policy along with the rookie Miami likely drafts, isn’t the worst idea.
However, for now, the 23 year old former UCLA star is in limbo.
And, for all we know, he could be cut to begin free agency coming up.
Certainly not giving Rosen a start in any of the last 11 games on an awful team is a clear indication that Grier and Flores didn’t believe in him. This after acquiring him and watching him all offseason, preseason and in the games that he did play.
We now await their next move with Rosen, and certainly, he does, too.
Stafford trade rumor reminder Dolphins better be ready to trade up
On Thursday morning a report surfaced that the Lions, who are currently slated to pick third in April’s NFL Draft, were actively looking to trade former Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Stafford. And, while that report has now been debunked, for teams like the Dolphins sitting in the fifth Spot, this is reminder of their reality of what could happen if someone jumps in front of them, in particular for a QB.
First, the report surfaced late Wednesday night from a local Detroit TV station that their sports reporter/anchor had learned that the Lions were looking for a trade partner for the 11-year veteran Stafford:
Sources: Lions in trade talks to deal Matthew Stafford https://t.co/1lH2yRxGZx
— Local 4 WDIV Detroit (@Local4News) February 13, 2020
That report was quickly squashed by lions GM Bob Quinn and numerous NFL media reporters and salary cap experts pointed out that Stafford’s cap hit would be a massive $32 million dollars, if he is traded or released this season.
So it’s not likely, no matter how bad the situation is with the Lions, the Stafford is going anywhere.
But, that doesn’t mean that the Redskins, who are picking second and the Giants were picking 4th after the Lions and obviously both before the Dolphins at five, aren’t going to also be in the market to listen to trade offers for their picks.
This is, because Washington seems to be committed, for now with a new head coach and Ron Rivera, to last year’s first round quarterback pick, Dwayne Haskins
And likewise, the Giants have obviously made a commitment to their number one pick up last year, Daniel Jones. This after 2 time Super Bowl winning veteran quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement, recently.
So, both NFC East teams appear to be targets, if a team (including the Dolphins) would look to try to increase their draft position.
This is in particular if that team were interested in the second best quarterback available in the draft, which is likely Alabama Tua Tagovailoa.
As was reported earlier this week, Tagovailoa is on schedule to heal from a fractured hip suffered last November in Alabama’s game with Mississippi State. While Tua won workout at the NFL combine later this month, it’s believed that he would likely work out for teams Alabama facility later in March or April.
One final factor in favor of the Dolphins and GM Chris Grier: they have some trade capital, including extra first-round pick this year and next year, with which the potentially move up if they so desire.
It’s all part of the evaluation process and then, the drama of what the teams at the top of the first round will look to do later this Spring.
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