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Miami Dolphins

Gamenight – Dolphins out to prove they are ready for prime time

Roy Cummings

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

What: Miami Dolphins (5-7) vs. New England Patriots (10-2)

Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens

When: 8:30 p.m.

Latest line/Over-under: Dolphins +11.5/48.5

 

Why you should watch

 Forget about Dan Akroyd Chevy Chase and John Belushi. The real Not Ready for Prime Time Players are the Miami Dolphins. They are 0-3 in the prime time games they’ve played already this year, which begs the question, who ever thought they were worthy of so much prime time exposure in the first place? Sure, the Dolphins made the playoffs last year but only as a wild card team that got knocked out in the first round. It’s apparent that someone envisioned this game being a key battle in the fight for the AFC title, and it might have been had Ryan Tannehill stayed healthy, Hurricane Irma not struck Florida and Lawrence Timmons not gone off the reservation. All that contributed to a horrid start for a Dolphins team that has never recovered, but this game is sort of like their playoff game. This is a chance for the Dolphins to deal a bit of a blow to the Patriots hopes of securing home-field advantage and prove they still have it in them to go toe to toe with one of the league’s heavyweights. Don’t be surprised, though, if like a lot of the sketches you see on Saturday Night Live these days, they fall flat.

 

Key on: Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard.

 NFL types will tell you that takeaways come in bunches and Howard can certainly attest to that. After going 19 games across two seasons without picking off a pass, Howard snared a pair of them against the Broncos last week. If he can keep up the pace against the Patriots tonight it will be a sign Howard may indeed have what it takes to be the No. 1 corner the Dolphins drafted him to be. A second-round pick out of Baylor in 2016, Howard still has a lot of flaws in his game and Tom Brady will expose them if Howard isn’t on so this is a good test for a young player who is starting to show signs of substantial growth. The Dolphins may very well be without fellow corner Cordrea Tankersley tonight and if they are a lot of the responsibility for keeping the Patriots contained will fall to Howard. How he responds will say a lot about whether the Dolphins are on the right track in the secondary.

 

Statistically speaking

The Dolphins would be wise to lean hard on Jarvis Landry in their passing game tonight. For starters, the fact that five of the last 16 passes Dolphins quarterbacks have thrown to DeVante Parker have wound up in their opponent’s hands should be enough to scare them off throwing Parker’s way. But there is also the fact that in the first meeting between these two teams, Landry had a very successful day working from the slot, catching five of six passes passes for 46 yards. Not only that, but Landry currently ranks 14th overall among slot receivers in catch rate (75.4), according to Pro Football Focus. Landry will likely be matched again against cornerback Jonathan Jones, who ranks 12th in passer rating allowed in the slot with an 81.7 mark, but Landry has already proved he can win a matchup between the two and he very well may prove it again.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins new policy threatens to suspend players for anthem protests

Florida Football Insiders

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We already know that the NFL has enacted a new national anthem policy being left up to teams to enforce and it has caused controversy. Well, now the Dolphins have taken that to a new level by threatening to suspend players next season for protesting on the field during the anthem.

The story was broken by the Associated Press late Thursday afternoon, where they obtained the new nine-page policy that the Dolphins have set out for their players.

In a section titled “Proper Anthem Conduct,” there is a sentence dealing with anthem protests under a large list of “conduct detrimental to the club” acts.  All of which, could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension or both. This is according to an anonymous team source familiar, who provided the policy to the AP.

The new NFL policy voted in by the owners in May allows teams to discipline players for anthem protesting, while on the field. The policy does allow for players who are objecting to the anthem to remain in the locker room, if they so choose.

The NFL declined comment, when the Associated Press reached them about the leaking of the Dolphins team policy. Dolphins officials also had no comment to the Associated Press on Thursday afternoon

Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, and former safety Michael Thomas and former tight end Julius Thomas are shown above kneeling during the anthem in a game in November of last season.

Thursday’s leaking of the policy is the latest in the national anthem Saga for Miami, where owner Stephen Ross defended players protesting the anthem, previously.

However, earlier this year, Ross made comments at a New York event where he was being honored, suggesting he wanted the anthem protests to be over with, and even hinted then that there could be punishment down the road.

Ross quickly backpedaled and clarified those comments the next day after a firestorm of controversy that started.

ESPN NFL reporter Jeff Darlington, who is formerly a Dolphins media member, reported Thursday evening that the policy submitted to the league and to be given to the players isn’t a “this for that” definite suspension threat:

However, the Fins clearly have anthem protests spelled out as a punishable offense, according the AP, which has seen it.

The interesting dynamic is that the teams themselves are being left to impose penalties, as they see fit and not the league doing so with a black and white policy that lays out specific punishment.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins cornerstone player for 2018?

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a pivotal year for the Dolphins, their head coach Adam Gase, their front office of Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier, and most importantly, QB Ryan Tannehill.

Miami is certainly taking a risk bringing back Tannehill off of missing all of 2017 with re-injury to his ACL. A risk, because they didn’t elect to make a play for a “quarterback of the future” in this year’s draft. This despite flirting heavily with the likes of Baker Mayfiled, and a player like Lamar Jackson being readily available for them, when they drafted at #11.

And, the Fins dealt away Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry for not much in return, because they didn’t want to pay him huge dollars. And then, with getting rid of fellow Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to save on the salary cap, the clear star or leader remaining is Tannehill.

And Tannenbaum, Grier and Gase are banking that he will be back to his 2016 pre-injury play of 2016 that put the Dolphins in position to make the playoffs.

Gase has made it no secret that they have made their decision and have built around Tannehill. As we wrote about early last month, the third year coach has repeatedly backed his QB, who’s about to play for his sixth season. Gase saying to SI.com’s Albert Breer last month:

“Just being around him (Tannehill), this being my third year, the guy competes as hard as anyone I’ve been around, especially at that position. And it’s a good feeling as a coach when we’ve got him back out there.”

And they hope to have at the level where he was, when he injured the knee in the week 14 home game with Arizona two years ago. Through 13 games, he had his highest completion percentage (67.5%), yards per attempt (7.7) and quarterback rating (93.5).

There are new veteran faces on offense like RB Frank Gore, and WR Danny Amendola, who both have years of winning and post season experience to bring to the huddle.

Still, in most NFL locker rooms, the QB is the “face of the franchise,” the leader and the one most scrutinized.

And Ryan Tannehill will be that for this fall.

He’s the foundation, for at least the start of this year, that Miami will try to build their fortunes.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins moving eventually to new facility near Hard Rock Stadium?

Florida Football Insiders

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not as earth shattering as a huge free agent signing or hosting a playoff game, but the fact that the Dolphins are close to moving locations from their current training complex in Davie to a more convenient one next to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens is a big deal.

The Miami Herald had the  details on Saturday:

From the Herald’s item, there is definitely some competitive interest in luring the Dolphins away:

Miami Gardens might defray the cost of security in and around Hard Rock Stadium to help seal the deal, and Miami-Dade County could amend the existing stadium renovation agreement that pays the Dolphins a bonus for hosting major events.

“Twenty-five years ago, the Dolphins moved their football headquarters from North Dade to Davie, and I’ve wanted them back ever since,” Miami Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan said. “When I heard Mr. Ross was considering a new $50 million practice facility in Broward, I knew we had to have a conversation about bringing this massive private investment to Miami-Dade. To me, it’s a perfect fit for our community and will bring a lot of economic activity to Miami-Dade.”

Added Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert: “From Top Golf to the Super Bowl, Miami Gardens has become a destination for world-class entertainment, and venues that attract visitors on a consistent basis are a critical component of economic development. Between the Miami Open and Miami Dolphins training camp, we can generate $100 million-plus in privately funded construction, hundreds of good-paying jobs, a significant boost to our tax base and new opportunities for residents to live, work and play. It would be great to bring the Miami Dolphins training facility back home to the 305.”

So, clearly there’s some “wooing” going on, and if Fins owner Stephen Ross is going to privately fund the new facility to the tune of at least $50 and maybe as high as, $75 million, then there is ample reason to try to lure them. Ross has already put over $500 million of his own money into a three year renovation of Hard Rock Stadium.

The Dolphins training adjacent to the stadium where they play or in the same complex area, is not uncommon. In the cases of Florida’s other two NFL teams: the Jaguars train adjacent to TIAA Bank Field, and the Bucs complex is across the street from Raymond James Stadium.

And, there are other examples of the Bengals, the Texans, and the Patriots who train either next to or in the same complex as where they play on Sundays.

The reality is that the new facility will not be ready for at least another two seasons, no matter where it’s located. Still, the convenience and new design will also be an asset for the Dolphins to attract players, too.

Now it’s up to the franchise to decide where and how soon, they want to build.

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