The news broke Tuesday night that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was reneging on taking the Colts head coach job, and for the Dolphins and the rest of the AFC East it has definite implications.
First, the details here from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who broke the story:
In the past 48 hours, Patriots owner Robert Kraft began talking with Josh McDaniels and ultimately wound up sweetening his contract, helping to entice him to remain in New England, per sources. Bill Belichick has his OC back.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 7, 2018
This was after the Colts had announced his hiring and scheduled a Wednesday news conference to introduce the 41 year old McDaniels, as the new leader for QB Andrew Luck and the offense in Indy.
Amazingly, ESPN further reports that apparently McDaniels did not sign anything to finalize with Jim Irsay, the Colts owner and GM Chris Ballard. This is despite McDaniels not only agreeing to the deal verbally over a week earlier, but the Colts are now really scrambling, as they hired three assistants that McDaniels wanted already. And, now, they have to start over at getting a head coach and then, to fill out a coaching staff.
And it shouldn’t be overlooked that New England owner Robert Kraft is getting to stick it to a playoff rival, the Colts, who complained about the footballs and the “Deflate Gate” controversy began three years ago.
Back to the headline and the premise for the Dolphins and the Jets and the Bills.
Obviously, this is a “win” for Tom Brady and the Pats offense, which has dominated the East for his entire career. He’s 76-20 in his career against the division and they have won the AFC East an astounding 15 times out of 17 years in his time in New England.
Sure, New England has succeeded before with now, Texans coach Bill O’Brien having been coordinating and calling the plays in Foxboro earlier this decade.
But clearly, in his two stints with Brady and the offense, there is a comfort level with McDaniels and a confidence level from Brady with his play calls that is almost absurd.
Yes, the Dolphins have picked up a win here and there, including in December when they knocked off the Pats in a game that could have cost them home field advantage in the AFC.
But clearly, the continuity is big at this moment.
It’s also unclear on Tuesday night, if the Patriots promised McDaniels that he will be the heir apparent to Belichick, and maybe they are looking to do that soon. Not likely for this fall, but maybe 2019?
One thing is for sure, after his second year meltdown as the Broncos head coach that got him fired, and now completely screwing the Colts after they announced his hire, McDaniels has less of a shot another NFL team hiring him than the Flu.
Still, it’s bad news in Miami and for anyone having to play the Patriots regularly.
So, the bad news isn’t exclusive to Colts fans.
Dolphins beaten up every way possible after latest loss in Green Bay
Make no mistake, the Dolphins season is not officially over at 5 – 5 headed in the bye week.
It just looks and feels that way.
Mostly, it does, because the Dolphins are banged up, not only physically, but also it appears emotionally and psychologically. So, much so, they don’t appear to have a whole lot left for the stretch run.
Let’s start with the actual physical injuries and that began Sunday with the inactives. The Fins starting offensive line was minus Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, which were not unexpected. However, after being able to practice some this week, former number 1 pick defensive end Charles Harris was not able to play against Green Bay today, either.
Then, as the game wore on, it was one Dolphin leaving after another. Whether it was Kenyan Drake with a shoulder injury in the first half or Bobby McCain with a concussion in the third quarter or when receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker both had to leave on the same Drive, it was tough to watch the Dolphins walking wounded.
The biggest fear is for the smaller but explosive Grant, who may have torn his Achilles in the third quarter. Grant was already suffering from Achilles tendonitis and came up hobbling right away on a slant pass and could not put weight on the foot. He was then carted shortly thereafter to the Dolphins locker room.
Coach Adam Gase offered no real update on Grant’s status other than that it’s a wait-and-see. As for Parker, same thing is being hoped, even though, the media reported him walking around in the locker room after the game with his left arm in a sling. You combine those injuries with Kenny Stills being slowed by a groin injury and Albert Wilson already out for the year having hurt his hip a few weeks ago, and the Dolphins may be looking for Mark Duper or Nat Moore to come out of retirement at this point.
Bigger than just the physical injuries, the Dolphins appear spent in the figurative sense as well. The frustration mounted as Aaron Rodgers continued to carve them up throwing darts all over the football field Sunday night in the Lambeau cold. He finished with only 195 yards passing, but did have two TDs. And, they marched on the Dolphins defense, whenever he wanted.
It was almost as if Miami was just helpless to do anything against him, and they are watching their season wind down.
Consider that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler was not able to spark the team for the third consecutive game. So poor is the offensive output, that Miami has not scored a touchdown in their last nine quarters dating back to the Thursday night loss in Houston.
The Dolphins aren’t playing with any confidence, at least from the guys that are replacing the injured players. Remember, with Miami at full strength early in the year they got off to a 3 – 0 start.
So, the bye week comes now and perhaps, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder will be healed enough that he can practice in 10 days and maybe play at Indianapolis. It’s anybody’s guess as to who, out of the names above, will actually be healthy enough to help Tannehill and the Dolphins for the final six games.
Finally, even though Miami would appear by record to be very much in the hunt for an AFC wild-card spot, they don’t look like a playoff team.
No. They’re banged up and look like a team that will be watching the postseason like everybody else.
Gameday- Dolphins travel to chilly Lambeau Field
Who: Dolphins (5-4) at Packers (3-4-1)
When: Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Spread: Packers by 10 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
Here’s what to watch:
Dolphins defensive coordinator Burke under scrutiny
It has been a tough few weeks for the Dolphins all the way around, but specifically on the defensive side of the ball, the struggles are mounting. And when you throw in a player pouting and essentially pulling a mutiny on the sidelines last Sunday, it’s not good for the defensive coordinator.
That’s what happened a week ago when Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones refused to go back in the game on two occasions during the second half of the Dolphins close 13 – 6 win over the Jets. It’s been a big topic in South Florida for the last few days, and it obviously has defensive coordinator Matt Burke having to answer for what’s going on in the defense of meeting rooms, practices, etc.
Dolphins Live: Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke meets with the media. https://t.co/2145Fq3uaU
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 8, 2018
As the press continued to poke at him about the Jones situation, you could tell that Burke is over it, as is coach Adam Gase, and they want to move on for this week. However, Jones didn’t make that any easier, when he basically refused to apologize for not wanting to play.
And, moving past it may also be easier said than done, when the opponent is All-Pro quarterback and former League MVP Aaron Rodgers at his house, Lambeau Field.
Yes, the Dolphins have some pass rushers, and that would include second-year defensive end and former number 1 pick Charles Harris returning to practice this week after a calf injury, and he may be able to play. Veteran Cam Wake came alive pressuring Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold repeatedly, and registering a couple of sacks.
However, the defensive plays have been few and far between, as the Dolphins have lost four of the last five games.
That brings us back to Burke, who was elevated after coaching the linebackers in 2016, when Vance Joseph left Miami to become Denver’s head coach. After spending his entire pro career as a linebackers coach, this is his first opportunity to be the guy in charge of the defense.
So, he and Gase can get aggravated with the questioning of what we’re seeing, but the bottom line is: if the Dolphins defense doesn’t continue to step it up, like they did last week, there is going to be much more scrutiny of him.
The oddsmakers have the Dolphins as double-digit underdogs to Rodgers and the Pack.
Now, let’s see if Burke’s unit will rally together, play solidly and give Miami a chance to win Sunday.
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