Miami Dolphins' Future is Now

Where do the Miami Dolphins go from here? Is it a question of talent or heart? Forget about coaches, the coaching carousel has changed enough times to be certain the problem is in the Miami locker room. Questioning players always leads back to one position, the quarterback.

Throw a few names at the wall to begin analyzing these players. DeVante Parker for instance, he has all but disappeared when he was proclaimed to be some kind of freak in the off-season. He is a first round pick and obviously a mistake. It doesn't really even matter whether he performs well the rest of the season; the season is over for all intents and purposes.

Next season will be his fourth and when a first round pick takes four years to make an impact well, it's a mistake. Two interceptions happened Sunday against the Patriots on passes intended for Parker. The effort shown to avoid those picks and make a play was abysmal. The quarterback will get the stat, but it was on Parker to make a play and he did not, even in the endzone. Just say it... Bust.

Ryan Tannehill, okay, we're not supposed to talk about him because he's injured. He's a first round pick. He's 37 and 40 in 77 starts. The only winning season since he's been in Miami was one he couldn't complete. Whether it's fair or not to pass judgment is irrelevant, it will be his seventh season and there's virtually nothing to show for it. The fact is, six seasons and the first round pick has done nothing special...

Mike Pouncey, a first round center. He's supposed to be really good, but the Miami offensive line has never been dominant with Pouncey. We're not supposed to talk about him either because he's always injured and the coaches proclaim him to be great. Well he's not. He's at least playing this year, which has to add some value. The thing is, his future is uncertain, at best, and this article is about the future...

JaWuan James is not too bad for a right tackle. Here's the thing, when intentionally drafting a right tackle in the first round, the player should be dominant. It may not be easy, but right tackles can be found in other rounds. James is injured, James was injured last season. He's not a bad player, but as a first round pick, he's a right tackle and he's not exceptional...

Laremy Tunsil and Charles Harris, as recent first round picks, these guys are a little too fresh to throw completely into the fire. Tunsil is not playing like a dominating left tackle. Harris has flashed a little as a rookie, but it would have been nice to have a real monster show up in Miami, he didn't. The dominant tag cannot be placed on either of these players yet and the word bust would be premature, but the signs all point to nothing special...

Maxwell and Alonso, the big trade a couple years ago from Philly for our eighth pick and their thirteenth. Maxwell is gone. Alonso is marginal against the run and cannot cover anybody, meanwhile Tunsil is in question. Looking at the two teams from a personnel decision-making point of view, Philadelphia is rising like a rocket and Miami is plummeting like the Skylab.

Philly knew one thing, the NFL is completely predicated on quarterback play. There is no other barometer that comes close to determining how good an NFL team will be year in and year out than the player at that one position.

Philadelphia had traded for Sam Bradford and knew he was not the answer. They then gave up four draft picks including a first rounder to swap the first round pick they acquired from Miami to trade with Cleveland for the 2nd pick in the draft. They did this because they knew, without a great QB it didn't matter. They could draft a Parker, or a Pouncey, or a James, or a Tunsil, or a Harris, just keep naming them, and it wouldn't matter.

They had to draft a quarterback because Bradford was not the answer...

Like Ryan Tannehill, he was never going to be a great quarterback...

They knew, a team in the NFL without a great QB, really doesn't matter in the long run.

Miami can have fifty coaches, Miami can have fifty directors of personnel and fifty tackles and centers and wide receivers, it just doesn't matter. Teams will not win consistently in the NFL without a great QB. There is no other quantifiable way for a team to be great over the course of many seasons. A team can win now and then without a great QB, but never consistently.

The argument against this premise is myopic and really just plain denial.

Don Shula knew this emphatically, he drafted Dan Marino the year after going to the Super Bowl with David Woodley. Unfortunately, Miami never won the Super Bowl with Marino, but they certainly were in the hunt every year. They certainly were more exciting to watch than anything in Miami since. They always had a chance because of one player.

So what's the point of this article?

Miami must not sit back and think that losing Ryan Tannehill was the reason for this lost season.

Tannehill has never been great, never in six seasons. Carson Wentz, year two we see greatness, Jared Goff, year two we see potential. We knew it right away with Marino, Brady was leading his team the the Super Bowl by his second season. This is not rocket science. Even Drew Brees is no longer a viable excuse for thinking Tannehill will change his spots.

It is not about liking or not liking Tannehill, he's a nice guy and seems like he could be something, but that's the trap. Projecting after a certain number of seasons becomes a fool's game. The NFL is not a place to project a player at thirty years old. Isn't the injury to Tannehill's knee reason enough to understand that every year he becomes more vulnerable and it will only get worse.

Adam Gase has the potential to be a very good NFL coach but he will never attain that in Miami unless he's given the primary tool he needs for success. There's no magic. Belichick - Brady, Shula - Marino, Walsh - Montana, Lombardi - Starr, there's no magic.

Gase desperately needs his own quarterback. Not these inherited quarterbacks. He's confident to a fault and a good general manager and/or personnel director must save him from himself or lose him. Allow him to go out and find the guy he likes and find a way to make it happen. Just like Doug Pederson did in Philly. Pederson played for Shula, remember?

No one can project greatness at the QB position, many have tried and most have failed. If ever there was an imperfect science, this is it, but Gase knows what he wants. Miami knows what it has in Tannehill just like Philly knew what they had in Bradford. The difference is that Philly figured out Bradford was not going to be the guy before spending seven years trying.

Philly did not cut Bradford, but they did extraordinary things to make sure they got a guy they thought could be great. Miami does not need to cut Tannehill. They need to go find their future QB and do extraordinary things to make it happen.

Miami cannot continue to waste first round draft picks on tackles and centers and WRs when none of those players is ever going to make this team great. These players only compliment the one person who can make the Miami Dolphins great again, a quarterback.

This blog is a perfect example of what is happening in Miami. Here I sit writing these little soliloquies to myself because no one is listening or caring any longer.

The only way Miami can win back fans is by going out and finding a great quarterback for Coach Adam Gase. The tackles will suddenly look better, the center will suddenly be great again, the wide receiver will play like he wants to make a catch because they don't want to let that guy down.

It doesn't matter if Miami wins another game this season, it means nothing and therefore it is not worth the NFL's price of a middling draft pick. Yes, I'm saying Miami should lose every game the rest of this reason and set itself up to do the right thing.

Draft Adam Gase a quarterback, or lose him to a team that will when you fire him for not being able to make Tannehill into something he has never been.

It's time Miami... Go and get the player this city has been begging for since Dan Marino retired.

Then maybe, I can stop writing to myself...

Miami Dolphins at Patriots Week 12 Game Chat

Can Miami get back on track? Click here to find a stream to watch the game online.

A Long Day Ahead for the Miami Dolphins

This Miami Dolphin article could be about horrendous officiating, or repugnant play from Jay Cutler, or a defensive letdown after Matt Moore brought Miami back from the dead, but it’s really about the future. Because “at the end of the day,” no one is really sure what the future is for the Miami Dolphins?

Not to offend the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they are not a very good football team, yet they made
Miami look bad. So bad, it is hard to envision this team competing against even a mediocre NFL schedule. Let’s do a little rundown of what the future looks like for the Miami Dolphins' offense. We’ll start from the top and work our way down.

Adam Gase… He’s fiery, easy to like, gives off the air of intelligence. He knows all the buzz phrases, “at the end of the day.” Between Gase and Ndamukong Suh we hear so much about the end of the day that it’s no wonder Miami can’t figure out how to start the day or a play for that matter. It seems obvious as the penalties mount, his players don’t get the idea that, “at the end of the day,” all those penalties committed during the day equal a losing football team.

Gase is stubborn to a gaping fault. At the end of the day, the end of last week, the end of the week before, even a casual fan can see, starting a day with Jay Cutler is a losing proposition. Not Adam Gase, he’s the quarterback whisperer, he can make a 12 year losing QB into something he’s never been, a winner. Sorry Adam, climb down from the Whisperer Platform or “at the end of the day,” you’ll be joining the Jay Cutler Fired Coaches Association.

There are other issues creeping through the new-coach beer goggles, but we’ll stay at the QB position because, “at the end of the day,” the NFL game is really about having a great QB… Or not. Miami is definitely on the NOT side. Cutler clearly is a NOT, but Adam Gase believes the players around him are more at fault for his pathetic play than Cutler himself. This is an issue for a coach who will trade his best running back for disagreeing with him. Because, “at the end of the day,” no other player is going to come forward and suggest Jay Cutler sucks for the sake of his own welfare.

“At the end of the day,” Jay Cutler will not be playing in Miami next season. The Miami Dolphins have injured QB Ryan Tannehill ready to make a full recovery. The QB whisperer can surely turn this 7 year mediocre passer into Tom Brady just look at what he’s done with Jay Cutler… NOT! There’s no magic potion for Tannehill, there’s no epiphany that can change a man from what he is, into what you’d like him to be.

“At the end of the day,” Miami does not have a great QB on this roster, not injured, not Doughty, not Moore. There is none, but there’s some new-coach beer goggles that disagrees and this is a huge problem. It means there’s no future hope, “at the end of the day,” all Miami fans can have to look forward to is, more mediocre football. Tannehill is not the answer and if Miami does not address this in the next draft, this article will show up again about the same time next year.

Now let’s be realistic about this offensive line, it’s sucked about as long as it’s leader, Mike Pouncey has been at center. “At the end of the day,” we have to take a long look at why all those first down runs up the middle get stuffed, time after time, after time. If Mike Pouncey is your proclaimed best offensive lineman than obviously something is really wrong here. Every other position on the line has been like watching a carousel go round and round when perhaps the problem is the one you haven’t fixed.

Coach, us laypeople don’t know how NFL locker rooms work or how the NFL drug testing works, “but at the end of the day,” we’ve been around this block long enough to know what a stoner looks like. In this politically correct world, no one can say what they really think, but we all know what it looks like. When there’s a coach sending videos of himself sniffing white stuff and there are players with glassy eyes and stupid grins, we know what it looks like.

When an offensive line jumps off-sides time, after time, after time… We know what it looks like.

Aside from DeVante Parker being perpetually injured, the wide receivers are solid. The running backs are dependent largely on the offensive line play and are easy to acquire so there’s no issue at those positions, but tight end? It seems as though the position has been an afterthought and will probably continue to be so for the foreseeable future. “At the end of the day,” Miami has too many other issues to address the tight end any time soon.

“At the end of the day,” how about the kind people on this blog discussing these offensive thoughts before delving into the other side of the ball. The unspoken issue in Miami is a coach who has strapped his immediate future to a losing QB and has placed his team’s long-term future in the hands of mediocrity. “At the end of the day,” as long as the quarterback and center positions remain the same, so will the fortunes of the Miami Dolphins.

It’s looking like a long, long day ahead…

Miami Dolphins vs Bucs Week 11 Game Chat

Can Miami turn it around? Click here to find an online stream of the game.

Miami Dolphins Need a Minute to Assess Roster

I'm going to disagree with some fans (Polly) for a minute about trashing the coaching staff...

There's an identity issue with these Dolphins and it goes back to the constant churn of coaches, styles and philosophies. The identity rears it's ugly head when players from former regimes don't match the system and/or style of the present staff.

It's not an easy situation to solve because there are not very many personnel changes a team can make from one season to the next. The draft is a very imperfect science. Only about 20% of all draft picks become consistent starters and only about 50% actually make or remain on the team that drafted them after a couple seasons.

Players are still just people and we all know that individually we respond to different types of motivation. Some players require a disciplined approach, while others are very self motivated. Some players are built to play power football while others are better at motion and deception. Tony Sparano wanted a power football team and he wanted players in that mold. Philbin was passive and no one was sure what he wanted. Gase is demanding and wants attention to detail.

These are all different types of personalities that don't necessarily mesh well together and form an identity. Hence, we see the problem with these Dolphins. There is a mismatch of talent, it doesn't mean the team is lacking talent, it means the team is lacking chemistry between the different talents. If an offensive lineman (James - Pouncey) is a talented pass blocker and he is asked to anchor a power running game (Ajayi) we start to see what is happening in Miami.

And this issue is all over the Dolphins... Timmons and Maulaluga are good run stuffers but no longer good cover guys. I'm beginning to wonder what skills Kiko Alonso is good at, but coverage is not one of them. When you have a defensive scheme that only employs three linebackers, they must be able to cover because DL cannot reasonably be expected to help in coverage.

Miami began the season having fixed last year's inability to stop the run by adding run stuffing LBs. But these other coaches are smart and they saw that, while Miami could stop the run, the LBs could not cover short passes over the middle of the defense and in the flats. Once it was exposed, Miami reacted by dropping the run stuffing LBs deeper in coverage, thus opening the running lanes.

Again, it's not necessarily the coaching staff. It is more about the talent not matching the scheme. We heard these coaches say, we will use the strengths of the players. That's great, except the other team is going to exploit the weaknesses of your players. In the case of our LBs, none of them can cover. There's no strength to coach but there's a definite weakness to exploit.

On the surface trading a player like Ajayi looks like a poor decision, but using him forces the team further away from where they would like to get schematically.

We, as fans and media, have to be able to accept and understand that it is going to take up to five years to morph this roster into a group that can have sustainable success. I know we've been through this issue with multiple staffs, but there's going to have to come a time when we stop the coaching churn and begin churning out the players that do not fit.

I'm not necessarily saying this is just about athletic or schematic fit, it can also be an attitude or personality fit as well. Ajayi obviously has talent and any good coach can work with talent, even if it doesn't quite fit, but when the fit is wrong and the attitude is wrong, I think the correct answer is to move on.

I'm going to stand behind coach Gase for a minute...

It's going to be a long seven weeks, but there has to be a time when we get behind a coach that we think can get this done given the time and players.

Okay coach, you have your minute with this fan... Make it happen!

The Miami Dolphin Psyche in Trouble

The Miami Dolphins were trashed again in front of a national audience in a game that highlighted the team’s fragile psyche. Emotion and passion can disguise many warts, but as the season wears on, holes in the Dolphin roster open like the running lanes in Carolina on Monday night. Down 10-7 with 47 seconds left in the half, Jay Cutler fluttered an ill-advised pass toward Julius Thomas that was intercepted by wonder boy Luke Kuechly. The play led to a humiliating Carolina touchdown, exposing the difference between Miami and teams that will be playing in January.

The only word that can accurately describe the Miami Dolphin linebackers is, horrendous. The film on Kiko Alonso must be brutal to watch. His coverage deficiencies are so glaring, team’s relish getting to third down to exploit it. Rookie Christian McCaffrey left Alonso searching for his jockstrap twice, including a touchdown run. Timmons was out of position the entire night, caught in traps, over pursuing and missing tackles. Not to mention, he can’t cover anybody. The only sighting of Rey Maualuga came as a lead blocker on offense, and he can’t cover anybody.

The Miami defensive line will be called out for lacking pressure, but this hideous defense is not on the line or the secondary. The entire night was spent trying to figure out how to protect the middle of the field. A territory where linebackers should roam, but in Miami, they’re missing tackles, trailing receivers or getting caught out of position. After three quarters, the Panthers were 9-for-14 on third downs, throwing dinky passes to wide open receivers with linebackers trailing two yards behind.

The Cutler interception seemed to open the flood gates in a very fragile Miami psyche. Following the half, Carolina pranced for four consecutive touchdowns on the first four drives. Cam Newton humiliated the Miami defense and coordinator Matt Burke with antics that disgust opposing fans, but presumably excite the home crowd. The Dolphin defense was gashed for 214 rushing yards after three quarters for a whopping of 8.6 yard average! While desperately attempting to hide coverage deficiencies, Miami forgot about the running game.

On offense, Jay Cutler had that jittery look. He could not settle his feet and his throws sailed off target or were rushed when there really wasn’t a rush. On one third down play Cutler flushed from the pocket, had a clear path to run for the first down but chose to throw to a wide open Jarvis Landry. The pass was so poorly thrown it landed nowhere in the vicinity of Landry and was nearly intercepted.

Julius Thomas is nothing like the tight end who played for the Denver Broncos, those days are long gone. His plodding routes down the field are like watching paint dry. Cutler actually threw a nice pass down the sideline that a receiver with any form of body control could have caught for a long gain. Thomas could not get his body around and stumbled out of bounds, looking tired and old.

The Miami running game is a curious thing to watch, if it’s first down, Miami runs up the middle. First down, Miami runs up the middle. First down, Miami runs up the middle. It seemed Miami kept the backs in most other downs to protect Cutler after losing right tackle Ja’Wuan James to a season ending hamstring injury. The short passes to the backs were taken away by Luke Kuechly who showed the Dolphin brass how a great middle linebacker can make a defense. Cutler was in “Smoking Jay” form and the passing offense was anemic. With a nonexistent running game, the contest quickly turned into a 45-21 blowout that was not close in the 2nd half.

This was a season defining game for the Miami Dolphins. If Miami was going to make a run, it was going to start against Carolina and clearly this Miami team is not complete. It is hard to fathom the season being over with seven games remaining, but the holes at linebacker will not allow Miami to compete for a playoff spot in the NFL. Even getting there would be an exercise in futility as this team is not ready for prime time.

The big picture problem for Miami is difficult to manage. No team in the NFL can rightfully expect to compete for a title with all the adversity the team has suffered through this season. At the same time, humiliating defeats injure that delicate psyche, many times beyond repair.

It was once said, “winning begets winning, begets winning, but there’s a dark side… Losing begets losing, begets losing. Miami is a flawed team, extremely weak at the linebacker position, jittery at QB, perpetually injured on the offensive line and without a decent tight end.

The coaching staff, the fans and the
players remaining when this torturous season is over must somehow keep the faith. Do not lose the winning attitude and passion that brought the Dolphins this far on such a shaky platform. Look forward to fixing the platform, not losing the passion.

Losing grabs ahold and tries to pull that fragile psyche down the black hole of defeat.

Hang in there Miami…

Miami Dolphins at Panthers Week 10 Game Chat

Can Miami get back on track in primetime? Click this link to find a stream to watch the game online.

Dolphins Officially Defeated by the Raiders

The Miami Dolphins are 4-4 at the midpoint of the season and perhaps it’s expected from a mediocre team with stars that don’t shine at critical moments. Aside from Ndamukong Suh, the rest of Miami’s defensive “playmakers” took the night off, particularly on third down. Exasperation mounted on every third-and-long the Raiders made with inexplicable ease.

The joke in Oakland must have been Kiko Alonso in man coverage. According to the Miami Herald’s Adam H. Beasley, Alonso allowed five catches for 82 yards to Jared Cook and gave up a 12-yard pass to Michael Crabtree. Five of the six catches went for a minimum of 10 yards, including four third-and-long conversions.

It took Matt Burke a full quarter to switch from man coverage, to a holier than Swiss cheese zone. The zone was not helped by Cameron Wake who had only one tackle and no QB pressures. The poor defense also featured Rashad Jones trailing badly on third down and TD receptions.

There simply
was no pressure on third down, no pass rush and with LBs and secondary unable to play man coverage, Burke could not blitz. For the second consecutive home game, the sod at Hard Rock Stadium came out of the ground in divots that would make Tiger Woods proud. These games each followed a Miami Hurricane home game the previous night and the next home game will also follow a Hurricane’s home game.

Stay calm Adam Gase, hopefully this is the worst the NFL can throw at a young coach when the officiating crew piles it on. On the surface, the crew for the Raiders game can point to parity in numbers as a justification of fairness. The Dolphins committed 11 penalties for 107 yards Sunday, including five in the fourth quarter. Oakland had 10 penalties for 105 yards, parity right? It was timing of these penalties that destroyed Miami.

Gase said. “We'd start a series out and Damien [Williams] has a huge play and we've got a holding call and we're on the 20. Who knows, maybe if we don't get the holding call he gets tackled at 10 yards, but we'll take, so it's not first-and-12 or whatever.” On a play with 12:46 left in regulation and the Dolphins down four. Williams caught a short pass, got to the right edge and raced down the sidelines. A big-gainer, wiped out because Jarvis Landry held. The Dolphins’ drive stalled immediately thereafter. Three minutes later, on another possession with good field position, Kenyan Drake ran for four yards on first down.Mike Pouncey held turning a second-and-6 into first-and-20, another Dolphins drive squandered.

The defense had two late secondary penalties on Oakland’s game-winning touchdown.
A Xavien Howard pass interference call gave the Raiders a first-and-goal at the 3. It was perhaps the only legitimate penalty in the game. The Raiders got to that position because of a highly questionable flag thrown on the play before. The Raiders converted third-and-6 when Derek Carr connected with Seth Roberts for 29 yards along the right sideline. But the refs tacked on 15 more by saying Reshad Jones illegally hit a defenseless receiver – a debatable call, to say the least. Jones said after the game that there was nothing he could have done differently on the play.

The Dolphins still had a slight chance to make it a game late, but Jermon Bushrod all but ended that by holding on fourth-and-9, wiping out a 14-yard completion to Julius Thomas.

The Dolphins average of 7.5 accepted penalties per game. Many of these flags can be thrown on any play in an NFL game, yet the officials chose to pull the flag every time Miami made a play that would change the momentum of the game. Fans turn away when it appears officials dictate the outcome of games. Why bother playing or watching a game decided by referees?

Pointing fingers at officials inevitably leads to the standard comments about being poor losers, etc. The Dolphins have to figure it out or they will end up like the Miami Hurricanes with yellow flags littered field and officials dictating the outcome. Plays like Drake fumbling at the 18-yard line do not help overcome a flag filled game.

Miami must generate pressure from its defensive line. The DL features the highly paid Suh, Wake and Branch, plus 1st round draft pick Harris. Wake cannot come up empty and leave it on Alonso to cover receivers for 4 to 5 seconds. The defense will only go as far as the DL takes them. Suh played a great game, his diving strip-sack should have won the game if not for the flag happy referees.

If Miami is going to depend on speed rushing ends to generate pressure the playing surface must be built for speed. This surface is hindering Miami from getting the best performance from their best players. The field must be repaired or replaced.

In a season that has moved from one calamity to the next, add the field and the officials to the list of obstacles this Miami Dolphin team must learn to overcome.

Miami Dolphins vs Raiders Week 9 Game Chat

Prime time for the Dolphins. Click here to find a stream to watch the game.