It’s only rookie mini-camp this weekend in Miami, but even now, the Fins are trying to figure out how to be better defensively, especially with their front four. And, let’s get this out of the way: they aren’t better off without former Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh.
Look. We get what they did, and why they were almost forced to do it in March-releasing Suh with his massive $17 million in salary and cap space. By cutting him, they saved about half of that, and freed that money up for other free agent moves and to sign draft picks.
Still, the five time Pro Bowler Suh, who turned only 31 in January, has arguably has two-three years of solid, if not really good, football left in him. The Rams obviously thought so, and gobbled him up with a one year $14 million deal.
Back to to the Dolphins and what they will try to do to replace him.
First, here were some Saturday comments from defensive coordinator, Matt Burke and some analysis from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
As Jackson wrote: “Suh played 877 snaps last season, seventh most among all NFL defensive tackles, but no longer will the Dolphins rely on one tackle to play nearly that much.
Instead, snaps will be shared fairly evenly among four players – a group that almost assuredly will include Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence and might include Vincent Taylor, as well.”
Then, from Burke:
“I have a lot of history with Suh; it’s always hard to move on from guys,” Burke said Saturday of Suh’s release and subsequent move to the Los Angeles Rams. “That’s part of the business. I’m excited about that room. We’ve got some young players with Jordan and Davon we’re expecting to make leaps. Akeem is a nice piece for us, especially with his history with [new Dolphins and former Lions defensive line coach] Kris Kocurek.
Sure, they are going with depth on the interior and out of the group, Godchaux probably has the most upside on being able to make that “leap” that Burke was talking about yesterday. And Miami recently traded for Spence from the Lions, but he’s never been a guy to play 50+ plays and take a game over. Unlikely, he will be now.
So, if you want veteran Cameron Wake, trade acquisition Robert Quinn from the Rams, and last year’s top pick, Charles Harris to make trouble from the ends, you need push from the middle.
Something the Fins have relied on from Suh greatly for in the past three seasons.
Now, he’s not there, by their choice.
And the off season process has to be as good, or there will be many more questions this fall, as to why he’s not.
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.