The Miami Dolphins wrapped up a week of work in Philadelphia by suffering a 38-31 loss to the Eagles on Thursday night.
This was supposed to have been the Dolphins dress rehearsal for their Sept. 10 season opener against the Buccaneers but it wound up looking a lot more like a first read through on both sides of the ball.
The outcome strongly suggests the Dolphins have a lot of work to do before they can declare themselves ready for the start of the regular season and with that in mind here’s three quick observations off the loss.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase did the smart thing Thursday night, pulling quarterback Jay Cutler after only a quarter of play. It’s apparent, after all, that Cutler is about as ready for the start of the season as any quarterback can be after coming out of retirement and spending all of about two weeks with his new team. Cutler looked very poised and displayed a lot of the veteran savvy the Dolphins are counting on getting from him while completing 5-of-8 passes for 105 yards. His best play, in fact, may have been the incompletion he was rewarded with after he had the wherewithal to throw the ball away while being taken down for a potential sack. As far as the passes he actually threw at his receivers, none was better than the one he sailed to DeVante Parker for what proved to be a 72-yard gain. Just as he did in his debut, Cutler looked sharp throwing the ball, distributed it across a wide number of targets and made sound decisions. As it stands now, the Dolphins quarterback play, which was once one of the team’s biggest worries, suddenly looks like it could be one of their strengths.
Not a lot has been said about the fact the Dolphins are making a transition on defense from the scheme they ran under Vance Joseph a year ago to the one they’re running now under Matt Burke. Not much has been said because the schemes are very similar. Unfortunately, so are the results. They were in this game at least. The Dolphins ranked 29th overall in the league last year and there was little in this game that suggests they’re going to be better than that this year. The defensive line created some pressure at times, but the first-team defense struggled to keep the Eagles out of the end zone even after the Eagles took out their starter and turned the game over to their second teamers. The biggest concern appears to be in the secondary, where Gase said cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Reshad Jones had a “misexecution’’ on the first touchdown of the game and never seemed to get on the same page. Eagles receivers had little trouble finding open space in this one, and the fact the Eagles converted 10 of 17 third downs makes it rather apparent that improvements have to be made here and fast.
The Dolphins have more to worry about up front on offense than the gaping hole they’re trying to fill at left guard. Tackles Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James both had tough nights and it may be a sign of things to come. Tunsil, who has had some major lapses in pass protection in training camp workouts, had another one tonight on the fifth play from scrimmage when he was beaten cleanly off the snap by Vinny Curry, who took down Cutler for a sack-fumble. James had a similar gaffe, but maybe that can be excused. After all, James, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury and is not yet 100-percent healed, was playing for the first time this preseason. The concern is that James may not get much better, which means this could be the start of an ongoing trend. It’s likely that Cutler was pulled at least in part in an effort to keep him from getting hurt, but Gase won’t be able to do that once the games start to count. It’s likely then that some adjustment will have to be made up front. If not, the Dolphins will be counting on Cutler to make even greater use of his veteran savvy than they originally thought he’d have to.
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.