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Miami Dolphins

It will be a season of “firsts” for Jaguars, Dolphins and Buccaneers

Josh Ciganek

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

The 2017 Season will be a season of firsts for the Jaguars, Buccaneers, and the Dolphins. The Jags will have their first full year under Doug Marrone. The Bucs will be coming off a winning season for the first time since 2010. The Phins will be coming off their first playoff appearance since 2008. But the question is which team needs the better season most?
At first glance, most would say it’s definitely not Jacksonville but it’s important not to judge a book by its cover. The Jags are in desperate need of national relevancy during the season for wins and not just for their off-season splurging. This organization hasn’t had a winning season nor a playoff appearance since 2007 and their only coach with a winning record was Tom Coughlin.

Bringing Coughlin plus Coach Marrone they will look to clean house and change the culture with the goal being to build a consistent winner in Jacksonville. That has already begun with adding the likes of Leonard Fournette, Cam Robinson and DeDe Westbrook in the draft and free agents Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye to help bolster their defense.

While they most likely won’t battle for a playoff spot like their state counterparts the season may still be more important for them to get off to a good start under a new regime to build a foundation for future success.
The Miami Dolphins made their presence known to the football world last year as more than just another team in the Patriots division. While they didn’t knock off the reigning champs they did sneak into a playoff spot and have a winning season for the first time in eight years. They bring back the same core team with a couple of additions like LB Lawrence Timmons, TE Julius Thomas, and first round pick Charles Harris.

Adam Gase made great use of his first season under the helm becoming the 20th coach to take a team to the playoffs in his first year there since 2006. With the Phins returning so much, there is a lot of pressure to make another trip back to the playoffs and maybe even beat the Patriots once or twice. It will be important for Gase and company not to take a step back after taking so many forward in 2016.
Last but certainly not least are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have generated the most buzz of the three this offseason. Dirk Koetter became the Bucs fourth head coach since 2009 and it looks like he may have it locked up for a while. His offenses have been menacing to opposing defenses and his defense is starting to look like it can match it.

Jamies Winston is looking like he will buck the trend of the Bucs not having a franchise signal caller and he has the cast around him to run the league for years to come with WR’s Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and more. The problem that could arise for this young team is the expectations with HBO’s “Hard Knocks” coming to One Buc Place this season it will be important for the young team to stay focused. Koetter needs to keep the ship moving towards the playoffs and not sinking into last or anchoring down into third.
There is no right answer for who needs to have a better season between these State rivals. All three need to have improvements this year for their own unique reasons. While it will be interesting to see who comes out on top week 1 with the Bucs and Phins, that game won’t make or break the season nor will it tell us who the better team is.

At the end of the day, the season will be measured by who improved the most and made the biggest stride to a championship not who won an early season match up.

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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Miami Dolphins

Jon Gruden’s returns to Florida already in coaching turmoil

Florida Football Insiders

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins got contributions everywhere in Sunday win

Florida Football Insiders

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Miami Dolphins

Gameday- Dolphins renew rivalry with Jets in New York

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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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