There’s humiliating and then, there’s being down 45 – 3 in the first half of your first ever game as a head coach. And, for new Dolphins Boss Brian Flores, it was as humbling a debut on a hot Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock stadium in Miami Gardens, as you could possibly imagine.
From a defense that couldn’t stay in front of or tackle any guy in purple, to an offense that did nothing to assist until it was way too late, a nightmare unfolded in half #1.
Look. It’s not as if the fan base hasn’t been prepared for the last few weeks by the media and observers everywhere, including us at F.F.I., that when you rid yourself of all of your veteran, experienced talent, you’re asking for big trouble.
And the Dolphins not only asked for big trouble, they got married to it against the Ravens and their star quarterback, Lamar Jackson.
By the time the first quarter was over it was already 21-3 on its way to becoming 42 – 3 before half-time. The former Heisman winning first round pick a year ago, Jackson (above), had roasted Flores’ his defense, or what remains of it, for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone.
If this had been a boxing match, the towel would have been thrown in to stop it. Unfortunately, it’s the NFL, and there were still 30 more minutes of anguish to play, as the Ravens continued to pound Miami into submission in one of their worst home defeats ever, 59 – 10.
Flores was left trying to explain things early Sunday evening, but it’s almost like a trial, where the overwhelming evidence has convicted the defendant in less than hour of jury deliberation. What can the defense lawyer (Flores, in this case) really say except, “we’re guilty.”
Coach Flores meets with the media. https://t.co/YvFwAhV0KA
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 8, 2019
“We talked about playing penalty free, having a clean operation, alignments, assignments…Trying to play turnover free. We didn’t accomplish anything. We talked about starting fast. We didn’t accomplish that.”
When asked later on what he told the team at halftime of the meltdown loss? “There’s a lot we could’ve done better in the first half. My message was, ‘let’s play better. Let’s not have as many penalties, let’s get aligned, let’s tackle, let’s not turn the ball over’….I just wanted us to stick together, play together and fight.”
Little consolation. And it’s predictably what the former Patriots defensive play was left with trying to explain about a 49 point opening day beating.
So, that’s the situation right now in Miami, they’re guilty.
Guilty of not having enough experienced talent to give any fan hope that this will be anything other than what it has appeared to be for the last few months: a “lose at all costs” scenario to have better draft position and massive free agency dollars to spend next off-season.
Guilty of having an inexperienced head coach and staff trying to prepare them, too.
Oh, and did we mention that next week that Flores’ former employer, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, who won 33-3 on opening night over Pittsburgh, will be coming to town?
Talk about another “easy conviction” that appears to be heading their way.
Looks like Tua Tagovailoa will work out for teams prior to draft
There will be numerous NFL teams interested, including the Dolphins, on just how healthy injured Alabama star Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is. And, a report on Wednesday says that Tua will likely be ready to throw for teams later in the offseason draft process.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that “NFL quarterback super-agent” Leigh Steinberg and his firm are letting teams know that Tagovailoa’s injured hip should be healed enough for him to be able to throw in early April prior to the NFL Draft at the end of the month:
From our Championship Wednesday coverage on @NFLNetwork: #Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa may throw for NFL teams during a Pro Day in mid-April, thanks to some very positive health news. pic.twitter.com/ooVJCyf0ij
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 15, 2020
This will be especially important for teams like the Dolphins, who will be selecting fifth currently in the upcoming selection process.
Tagovailoa 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.
However, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering the hip injury on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and their recent Citrus Bowl win over Michigan two weeks due to the injury.
Typically, players participate in some kind of individual workout or pro day, but as Rappaport relayed, most teams already know what Tagovailoa can do from his previous two seasons at Alabama. The bigger concern is his health and specifically his mobility, as he progresses through the summer and into the first NFL training camp and preseason of his career.
It is believed the Tagovailoa is the second, or at worst third rated, quarterback behind LSU Heisman Trophy winning National Championship QB Joe Burrow. Burrow is expected to be taken first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in late April.
Who is new Dolphins defensive coordinator Josh Boyer?
On Sunday night, the Dolphins finally decided to allow first-year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to leave and take the same position with the New York Giants. And, coach Brian Flores moved quickly to promote a member of his staff, Josh Boyer, to be his defensive play-caller
So exactly who is former New England assistant that will now be in charge Miami’s defensive unit? More on him in a moment.
First, as we wrote, Miami had wavered Saturday night and Sunday on whether to let Graham go to the Giants to be with new head coach, Joe Judge, creating an important void. Graham was only being given a “lateral move” to New York, and Miami could have continued to block him. But, in the end, Flores had someone he could trust already on staff.
That’s Boyer, who has just completed his 14th season in the NFL, all previously in New England and then, obviously, his first with the Fins after coming with Flores last February.
Boyer’s background is as a secondary coach and specifically, working with cornerbacks. He held that job for his last seven seasons in New England 2012 – 18 and was part of three Super Bowl championships under Bill Belichick.
Boyer deserves credit for helping the development of defensive backs like Malcolm Butler, who sealed Super Bowl 49 win over the Seahawks with his famous goal-line interception of Russell Wison in the final half minute of the game. Boyer also worked closely with Pro Bowlers Logan Ryan and more recently, Stephon Gilmore, who iced Super Bowl 53 win last February with a late INT against the Rams.
This past year was obviously a trying one for the Dolphins defensively, as they finished 32nd in scoring and 30th in overall in defense. But Boyer cannot be judged too much, given the cornerbacks he was working with, especially late in the year.
He had his best player, former number one pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, traded away in the first month to the Steelers. Miami also lost veteran Bobby McCain to injury later in the year and had a depleted secondary at the very end of the season.
However, Boyer (shown above with DB Eric Rowe after his week 17 pick six of Tom Brady) obviously impressed Flores and GM Chris Grier with his coaching to get the promotion.
And, he’s following a similar path as Flores, who worked his way up from secondary coach to defensive coordinator with the Pats.
Now, we’ll see if Miami can bolster their defensive backfield this off sesaon.
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