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Miami Dolphins

Why Kenyan Drake may never become Dolphins feature back

Roy Cummings

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kenyan Drake looked every bit the part of a feature back during the Dolphins 35-9 victory over the Broncos last week, running 23 times for 120 yards and a touchdown.

There’s a good chance, though, that as long as Adam Gase is coaching the Dolphins, Drake never settles into that every-down role. Not because he doesn’t suit the role. But because the role doesn’t suit Gase.

It turns out that there’s more behind Gase’s decision to not only dump former feature back Jay Ajayi, but to use Drake and Damien Williams in tandem as Ajayi’s replacement than Gase originally let on.

Gase said initially that he planned to split the carries between Drake and Williams because neither was accustomed to working every down and that he feared fatigue would become an issue if one of them did.

That’s a valid reason and it makes sense, at least in the short term, to use both players evenly, but Gase has another reason for using the duo as he has that far overrides his concern about their fitness.

Put quite simply, Gase just isn’t a feature back kind of guy. Though plenty of other coaches like to use a feature backs and use them rather well, Gase prefers a completely different approach.

“I don’t know if I’m every going to have a feature-back situation,’’ Gase said recently. “I like using multiple guys. I like guys moving in and out and I like having guys that can do multiple things.

 “I like to have guys in there who can really put pressure on the defense to the point where (the defense) can’t focus on just one thing. So, I don’t know, we might be out of that game.’’

 That’s not the only game the Dolphins may be out of. They would appear to be out of the game in terms of looking for a new lead back in free agency or the draft as well.

For many, the trade of Ajayi immediately put running back at or near the top of the Dolphins list of offseason needs. But that need won’t be so great if the Dolphins don’t plan to use that back as a workhorse.

Given what it seems Gase wants in a back, which seeming amounts to yet another third-down, change-of-pace type, the Dolphins could wait until the second phase of free agency or the third day of the draft to find that.

And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The Dolphins may not have a lot of money to play with in free agency anyway this year and if they can wait until late in the draft to add a running back.

That will allow them to use their premium picks on other, obviously more important positions and given the change in emphasis on the run game that would probably be the best approach.

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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    El Rono

    December 9, 2017 at 12:42 am

    Running backs are a dime a dozen. No sense paying a ton of money and eating up cap space with a 12 mil Peterson or an 8 mil DeMarco Murray. Every high dollar RB has to have backups anyway given the frequent injuries. Let’s face it, if you don’t have a Bell or McCoy or Elliot, the offensive line is where you need to invest. How many times have you seen a “great” back sign a big contract in free agency, then look human behind a OL that is not as good as the team he left. I like Gase’s approach. The way the league is right now, you need at least two backs that can catch outbof the backfield and pick up blitzes. After that, he can probably run well enough behind a good OL.

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Miami Dolphins

Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine

Florida Football Insiders

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Miami Dolphins

Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday

Florida Football Insiders

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

Colorado’s athletic director Rick George said in a statement Sunday night,

“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.

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