Much like all of the teams coming out of the NFL draft process, the Dolphins projected that they were thrilled to be able to grab Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick on night one.
It’s not uncommon or surprising that afterwards, the truth (in part or whole) begins to come out not only in Miami, but elsewhere, about how teams really felt. And also importantly, what they were trying to do in and around the draft time for their team.
So, that brings us to a report in the Boston Globe Sunday, that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was not on board with picking Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick.
Respected NFL writer, Ben Volin of the Globe, had a blurb in a lengthy item on the NFL draft:
ICYMI, NFL Notes on what teams told us with the draft, Bad week for the NFL with legal/off-field issues, Dolphins draft room drama, and morehttps://t.co/vqcAnQKXP5
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) May 7, 2018
It’s important to note, Volin’s report that an owner might be unsure of taking a player in the position where the team is about to take him, is hardly new or uncommon. In fact, it may have gone on a dozen to 20 times over the course of Thursday night and Friday night for the 32 teams in the first three rounds.
Owners spend hundreds of millions of dollars to own a team, and they want to have input, as to what the team is doing, when and why.
It’s also important to point out that Ross was advocating, once Miami was not able to trade up and get one of the star young quarterbacks, he believed the better strategy was to trade down and get more picks. Again, that’s something numerous teams did over the course of the first two nights at the draft, too.
It’s a fascinating add-on to a story that we wrote about right after the draft, when a source familiar with the Dolphins discussions in their War Room revealed they were absolutely trying to swing a trade to move up and grab one of the four prominent quarterbacks. However, they could not pull it off, when the Bills, who had an extra first and two extra second round picks this year, made a deal with the Bucs at #7. They took Wyoming QB Josh Allen.
And also, the Cardinals traded right in front of Miami at the 10 spot with Oakland, only giving up only a third round and a later pick to do so. And, they did so to take UCLA QB Josh Rosen.
Both players that Miami was interested in having.
So you put all of that in context, and put the Dolphins on the clock next at number 11, and you can understand why there was some anxiety and frustration for Ross.
Further, Fitzpatrick may end up helping the Dolphins secondary and turn out to be a good if not great NFL player, but it’s not one of the quarterbacks or an electrifying player. Certainly, it’s not going to help the Dolphins market anything or sell additional tickets in the short-term.
Again, that’s the kind of pick an owner is looking for especially on night one near the top of the draft. And, it would make him shrug his shoulders, if they aren’t getting one.
Ultimately, Ross let VP of football Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier do their thing and pick Fitzpatrick.
He still believes in what they are doing.
However, that can change soon, too.
Jon Gruden’s returns to Florida already in coaching turmoil
It may be premature to say that the “second honeymoon” for Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders is already over, but another defeat Sunday, and it likely is.
The Raiders are clearly struggling after dropping their second straight game last week in heartbreaking fashion against the Broncos in Denver. Oakland controlled most of the game and Derek Carr was outstanding, completing 23 of his first 24 passes on the day.
However, in the end Case Keenum rallied the Broncos and when Brandon McManus’ last-second field goal went through, the smirking critics of “Chucky” were already “sticking their chests out” about his NFL return.
Without question, some of this is self-inflicted, as Gruden clearly did not want to pay and therefore keep, linebacker Khalil Mack for the Raiders. And yes, they got a bounty of draft picks in return, but Mack has been nothing short of sensational as a pass rusher in two games in Chicago, and the Raiders defense is again mediocre-at-best.
So, that brings us to Sunday. And even though Gruden has been living in the Tampa Bay area while doing Monday Night Football for ESPN, this is the first time that he’s back coaching a game in the state since the final regular-season game of 2008. That day, ironically his Buccaneers lost to the Raiders completing a four-game losing collapse and costing his team a playoff spot-ultimately Gruden his job with the Bucs.
Now, the Raiders have come all the way East to Miami to play the 2 – 0 Dolphins. And while Gruden is in absolutely no jeopardy of losing his job, at least not until year 3 or 4 if it’s not working, owner Mark Davis didn’t make this shockwave multimillion-dollar hire to have the Raiders be one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Clearly, there was going to be some learning curve for Gruden with his new staff and new players. However, with a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback like Carr the belief was the Raiders would be solid, if not a wild card playoff contender.
It hasn’t shaped up that way as of yet.
The good news for Raider fans is: no one is going to outwork Gruden at trying to get it right.
The bad news is: the Raiders may not have enough overall talent to overcome that above-mentioned learning curve and digging themselves an 0-3 hole start 2018.
And the Fins, may be about to deal “Raider Nation” their latest lost Sunday.
Dolphins got contributions everywhere in Sunday win
There were a lot of questions and plenty of reasons to doubt the Dolphins roster makeup, as 2018 was getting underway.
However, two games in, the Fins have been impressive, and earned their way to an unbeaten start. Their latest effort Sunday at The Meadowlands against AFC East rival Jets saw numerous players new and old step up.
Whether it was TJ McDonald’s early interception of New York rookie QB Sam Darnold, or Kenyan Drake weaving through the Jets front seven for the early score a short time later, Miami set the tone.
And then, when Kiko Alonso knocked the ball free from Jets receiver Robby Anderson and Raekwon McMillan recovered it, it was new free agent receiver Albert Wilson capitalizing here:
Can't catch @iThinkIsee12
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 16, 2018
It went for a 29-yard touchdown from QB Ryan Tannehill and Miami had command at that point at 14-0.
Tannehill spread the ball around to seven different receivers, and even found reserve A.J. Derby for a 19 yard touchdown, as the lead ballooned to 20-0 nothing.
Darnold ended with some decent yardage and a couple of second-half touchdowns, but the Dolphins registered four sacks and had three total takeaways to help put this one away.
Even ageless veteran Frank Gore got into the act. This as, the 35 year old moved into fourth place on NFL all-time rushing list trailing only Hall of Famers Barry Sanders Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
And late in the game caught a dump off pass from Tannehill and weaved through the Jet defense to pick up 3rd and 19, move the chains and allow Miami to run the clock out.
So the 2018 Dolphins don’t have Jay Cutler, Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and some of the others from a team that struggled last year.
However, their new faces stepped in and stepped up Sunday on the road.
And Miami is now 2 – 0 for the first time since 2013, and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
Gameday- Dolphins renew rivalry with Jets in New York
Who: Dolphins (1-0) at Jets (1-0)
Where: Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Spread: Jets by 2.5 (Courtesy Vegasinsidercom)
Renewal of the Rivalry
There are no longer names like Shula, Namath and Marino, but the storied rivalry of the Dolphins and the Jets is five decades old. As AFC East Rivals since the early 1970’s, these teams and fan bases are familiar with each other for generations. Yes, grandads, dads and in some cases, great granddads have watched these two play. The Jets hold a 54-50-1 record all time, and that includes a decisive win in the Meadowlands last year. The Fins, however, won the rematch (Cutler at the helm) later in the year at Hard Rock Stadium.
Now, they play right away in 2018 and the winner maintains at least a tie for first in the division.
Tannehill looks to build on week one
It was a bizarre game last Sunday in the opener with Tennessee, as there were two lightning delays that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours. So, it’s tough to judge everything completely. However, QB Ryan Tannehill, off his ACL tear last August, was effective for a lot of the game (despite two picks) finishing 20-28 for 230 yards and two TDs. One was a second half 75 yard bomb to WR Kenny Stills as the Dolphins prevailed 27-20.
Will the Jets 3-4 defense be able to rattle him? Will Tannehill handle the pressure and be accurate. It’s not the only key, but a big one for the Fins.
Finally, will the Jets look like they did Monday night?
In a remarkable win on the road on Monday night, rookie Sam Darnold overcame a pick six TD in the first :20 of his NFL career to play effectively in the blowout win over the Lions. Darnold who was 16-21 with two TDs, will have to be solid in this one for the Jets.
The Dolphins pass rush led by Robert Quinn and Cam Wake will try to fluster him and create those bad throws from the USC rookie.
The Jets defense and special teams came up with big plays also against Detroit, as they pulled away in the second half for a 48-17 win. That included an interception and punt return TD in the second half.
Miami will need to keep the Jets from making the big play Sunday.
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