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.
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.
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:
Tua Tagovailoa measured at 6-0, 217 pounds at the NFL combine today. Left throwing hand at 10”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 24, 2020
In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.
However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.
As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan
He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.
It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.
Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday
Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.
The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:
We'd like to officially introduce you to our new HC, Karl Dorrell.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) February 23, 2020
The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.
Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.
Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.
Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.
Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.
Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.
Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.