The preseason gets underway for the Dolphins and the Bucs in Miami on Thursday night. Both franchises took a step back in 2017 and both are eager to get a fresh start, albeit with an August game that doesn’t count.
So, we decided to look at three things to keep an eye on as everything unfolds at Hard Rock Stadium.
Ryan Tannehill returns
There is no bigger story line that the Fins QB coming off of missing the entire 2017 season with an ACL knee injury and surgery. Miami coach Adam Gase has made it no secret that injury layoff or not, it’s Tannehill’s job. And by all accounts, he has looked solid and most importantly, the knee seems fine for him to go under live fire for the first time since originally injuring it in December of 2016.
We likely will only see a series or two from Tannehill. And, he does have new teammates like veteran RB Frank Gore, WR Danny Amendola, and rookie TE Mike Gesicki to help him in the comeback.
New look Bucs defensive line
It’s no secret that the Buccaneers had to improve their D-line and pass rush, and GM Jason Licht and his staff stocked it full in the off season. DE Vinny Curry and DT Beau Allen were signed from the champion Eagles, Jason Pierre-Paul was acquired via trade from the Giants and the Bucs spent their first round pick on University of Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.
While Vea won’t play, as he nurses a calf strain from early in training camp, these improvements to go along with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy have to have Bucs fans excited.
Tonight, again in preseason, they will get to see those players out there together against an opponent.
For a unit that was last in the NFL in sacks in 2017, they have to be better this season.
And, Young Players making their debuts
As with any preseason, the Fins and the Bucs and their fans, want to see want they youngsters, particularly this high draft picks can do in a real game setting.
So, for Miami it’s rookie DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, as well as Gesicki at TE. And, they also will start LB Raekwon McMillian, who’s essentially a rookie, because he was lost for the season to a knee injury in the first preseason game last year.
For Tampa Bay, without Vea tonight, the Bucs still have explosive RB Ronald Jones and DB’s M.J. Stewart, who’s had an impressive camp so far, and Carlton Davis. All of them were all taken in the second round last April and are being counted on to help, and should see some significant playing time at Hard Rock Stadium Thursday night.
Report- Dolphins give coach Brian Flores vote of confidence
Despite the horrific first six weeks of the season, it appears that coach Brian Flores will not be held accountable for it at least for 2019.
A report Tuesday afternoon from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says that he’s been told by a high-ranking source close to the Dolphins and the situation that the first year coach is safe at least for now:
NEW: Dolphins notes from ongoing NFL owners meetings, including clarity on Flores, rebuilding timetable. And Dolphins management on why this season won't damage team brand, popularity: https://t.co/zwZs3cGIrQ
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) October 15, 2019
Jackson didn’t elaborate much other than the source at the league owners meeting basically said Flores will not be held responsible, even if the Dolphins were to complete the third 0-16 season in modern NFL history later this year.
Miami’s latest defeat on Sunday was a dramatic 17 – 16 loss to the Washington Redskins, where Flores elected to go for two and the win after scoring a touchdown in the final :06 of the game. Veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the fourth quarter comeback, had his pass to Kenyan Drake for the two-point play fall incomplete sealing their fifth consecutive loss to start this campaign.
Despite Miami having been outscored by more than 140 points in just five games, there is still apparently belief within the Dolphins front office that Flores was the right choice to come in and establish Miami as a contender in the near future. Flores has the pedigree having won three different Super Bowls with the Patriots, as a defensive assistant.
And, the team and GM Chris Grier have obviously decided to gut the roster of any veteran players of consequence that were making significant money. Prominent players LT Laremy Tunsil, WR Kenny Stills, LB Kiko Alonso and last year’s first round pick, Minkah Fitzpatrick, were all dealt away in three week period in late August and early September. Thus, gutting the team of veteran contributors.
This essentially tied Flores’ hands on being able to be competitive for this season.
Now, it’s not unheard of that an owner, the Dolphins Stephen Ross in this case, could change his mind and still make a move on Flores after only a year.
But, with the circumstances laid out above, it seems clear that all of three of the key figures are on the same page that Flores isn’t going to pay for an 0-16, 1-15 type season with his job.
Brian Flores demonstrated Monday that Miami has no real QB plan
Say whatever you want about the Dolphins trying to “tank this season,” the actions of the last 24 hours involving their quarterback situation clearly demonstrate that they have no real plan for what they’re doing.
This after first-year coach Brian Flores waffled on his commitment of just five days ago the second-year quarterback Josh Rosen will be the Dolphins quarterback for the foreseeable future, if not the rest of this already lost season.
It turns out that that commitment lasted all of three quarters before Rosen was benched in Sunday’s 17 – 16 loss to the Washington Redskins. That’s when Flores and offensive coordinator, Chad O’ Shea, chose veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and inserted him back into in a role he’s been very familiar with- coming off the bench to try and save the day.
Fitzpatrick did lead Miami to 13 fourth quarter points and had them on the verge of possibly winning the game before his 2-point conversion pass to running back Kenyan Drake fell in complete with six seconds left in the game.
The end Sunday for Rosen came after a second half with a Dolphin’s had punted on three possessions and he threw his second interception on the other one. Fitzpatrick replaced him to begin the fourth quarter and immediately led a nine-play, 55-yard touchdown drive that culminated, when Kalen Ballage scored from a yard out.
But, Fitzpatrick was less than brilliant on either of the next two drives as they picked up one first down, but still punted and then, his third drive resulted in a three-and-out and included a fumbled snap the lost 8 yards.
Fitzpatrick, who had played poorly throughout the Dolphins first two horrific losses to start the year against the Ravens and the Patriots leading to his benching, did rally the team down the stretch. And, he lead the potential game-tying drive in the final two minutes. That’s when Flores elected to go for the win on the two-point play and had it not work out.
So that brings us to Monday’s day after the game news conference. Flores said matter of factly that Rosen “would be expected to start” in this week’s coming match-up at Buffalo:
Dolphins Live: Coach Flores meets with the media. https://t.co/8cO0Bq2mnZ
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) October 14, 2019
But, then, later when answering another question, that his starter would be based on how the two quarterbacks would practice this week.
We wrote after the week to disaster with New England that now 0-5 Miami has nothing to lose by continuing to try to play Rosen and have him develop and get better.
You know what you have in the 36 year old veteran Fitzpatrick, and he is clearly not the future.
And, Rosen may not be that future, either. However, the waffling of when he might play or start and sending him back to the bench only shows one thing: dysfunction.
Dysfunction, because there is apparently no real plan with what to do with Rosen, Fitzpatrick or the last 10 games of the season.
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