The Miami Dolphins Need a Beast at Tight End

The Miami Dolphins have never drafted a tight end in the first round of the NFL draft.

Mad Dog, Jim Mandich came in the second round almost 50 years ago. Since then, Miami has flopped with names like Loaird McCreary, Chuck Bradley or Andre Tillman in the second round. Tillman sounds familiar if one can recollect anything from 1974. Way back to the early 80’s Miami had some luck in the later rounds with Joe Rose, Bruce Hardy and Dan Johnson.

Perhaps the most accomplished tight end in Miami history is Keith Jackson who came as a free agent in 1992. There are a few semi-recent names, Ferrell Edmunds, Randy McMichael and Donald Lee that do not inspire much. Charles Clay 6th round in 2011 and Dion Simms 4th round in 2013 were obviously not worth the price and the Dolphins allowed them to walk as free agents.

From the last four drafts, no TE has started a single game. Miami hasn't had a TE finish in the top 20 in catches at the position since Charles Clay in 2014.

The West Coast offensive revolution may have minimized the position, but for the Dolphins, it was never a priority. Defenses adapted to the West Coast scheme as the game evolved, and the tight end has made a resurgence.

The following stats are defensive and will be used in the future to discuss Miami’s second most urgent need. The fact that the TE has evolved as a weapon should be obvious.

The six teams that allowed the most yards against tight ends (Raiders, Dolphins, Broncos, Redskins, Giants, and Texans) went a combined 31-65 and all missed the playoffs.

The three teams that gave up the fewest yards to tight ends (Saints, Panthers, and Vikings) went a combined 35-13.

The nine teams that allowed the most catches to tight ends, excluding Buffalo, all had losing records.

The Dolphins allowed 94 catches by tight ends, the most in the league.

Only Oakland allowed more tight end receiving yards (1034 to 1038) than Miami.

Tight ends scored 10 touchdowns against the Dolphins, tied with Cleveland for second-most and behind only the Giants (13).

Okay, those are defensive stats I was able to cull from various sources (thank you whomever).

By analyzing the defense we can see where we lack in offense. Julius Thomas caught 4 TD passes for Miami and that’s it. The Eagles? 14… The Patriots, 10. Of the TEs with the most TD receptions, 4 of the top 5 were on playoff teams and 2 are in the Super Bowl. Ertz and Gonkowski both have 8 just behind Jimmy Graham who finished with 10.

Clearly we see the evolution or rebirth of the tight end in the NFL. Using the stats above it’s plain to see how hard it is for teams to match up against these players and yet Miami has ignored the position.

The Dolphins obviously thought DeVante Parker could be the big body mismatch the team is desperately lacking but heading into his 4th season, it’s not happening. His body doesn’t hold up like these bigger tight ends and he doesn’t play well when he’s nicked up.

How hard are these guys to find?

Miami spent a 2015 first round pick on Parker, TEs picked in that draft were, Devin Funchess (2nd), Maxx Williams (2nd), Clive Walford (3rd), Tyler Kroft (3rd), Jeff Heuerman (3rd), and an assortment of other no-names. Miami acquired AJ Derby (6th) who has caught 2 TDs in his career. Only Funchess surpassed that total with 17 TDs from that entire class.

When Belichick sees Gronkowski, Miami sees Parker.

The point is, these guys are hard to find, but they are vital to modern offenses, the Eagles have three TEs, Ertz, Burton & Celek that are better than any TE on the Miami roster. How do the Eagles end up with three, while Miami has Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano, two players well past their prime?

The reason is simple, Miami has made no priority to upgrade the position in 4 years and very little throughout its entire history. The Dolphins are more concerned solving how to stop them, instead of how to acquire them.

Successful teams in today’s NFL landscape have either ushered in the TE evolution (NE) or have followed close behind. The Dolphins, constantly playing in the shadow of the Patriots, have never been able to create an identity. Miami and all the other AFC East teams have looked at stopping the beast instead of becoming the beast.

Free Agency is not the answer to this TE dilemma, it is obvious with the failure of Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano. Please say no to Jimmy Graham, while he led the NFL in tight end TDs, there’s a reason the Seahawks will let him walk in FA. Miami would get swindled again trying to fix a problem they should be evaluating and drafting.

A beast at the tight end position would make the Dolphins a different team. DeVante Parker is not that player.

Imagine Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills with Rob Gronkowski?

Let that sink in…

Get a tight end beast and take over the East!

Fins Up!

Should the Miami Dolphins Re-sign Jarvis Landry

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The Jarvis Landry saga has reached critical mass. These negotiations were destined to become contentious when Miami failed to sign him prior to the 2017 season.

There are reasonable expectations and points to ponder on both sides, but just the mere fact that Landry has not already signed is a clear indication, he is swinging for the fence. And why not, these players are lucky to get one shot at a big payday and they should go for the bank when the opportunity arrives.

From Landry's side, there's a lot to be happy with. He owns the NFL record for the most catches in his first 4 seasons and will own the record for 5 shortly into the 2018 season. While players like his buddy OBJ or Antonio Brown have spent multiple games on injured reserve, Landry has been on the field proving his longevity and toughness.

When things are going well, we hear how Juice Landry is the spark that ignites the Miami offense. His enthusiasm rubs off on the entire team and generates jolts of energy leading to big plays.

There's one other item of significance that should not be overlooked when thinking about whether Miami should pay Jarvis Landry...

In four years, Landry has made a grand total of $3,474,911.

Miami has had the NFL's leading receiver in his first 4 seasons at a paltry $875,000 per season.

The Dolphins certainly don't want to make that number public even though it's very easy to find. Landry has been grossly underpaid regardless of what the Dolphins want the public to believe.

On the negative side...

Landry's agent has played some media cards recently suggesting Landry has put up these catch numbers while playing with inferior talent at the QB position. This is a terrible negotiating tactic. Throwing other players under the bus is what Miko Grimes is good for, not a professional agent even if he believes it's true.

Damarius Bilbo basically let the cat out of the bag with this one single statement. If Landry did not believe this was true, he would never have put this thought prominently in the mind of his agent. They may now reverse course and say it was taken out of context or it is fake news, but it's too late. We know now what Jarvis thinks and why these negotiations have taken so long.

We had this romantic idea that Jarvis Landry was the yin to OBJ's yang. We thought all along we got the more humble version of the Beckham side show. What we got was a player who desperately wants out of Beckham's shadow, for his own moment in the spotlight.

Show me the money!

All Damarius Bilbo had to say was, "my guy has been playing at a Pro Bowl level for the Miami Dolphins at bottom basement prices." Period, plain and simple, but he threw out some dirty laundry and started a dumpster fire.

From the Dolphin's perspective, that's exactly what they've been dealing with. A player who should keep his head in difficult situations, but instead loses his cool and costs his team numerous foolish penalties that lead to losing games. The player obviously doesn't recognize his own faults or these poor emotional decisions would have been corrected.

The same player that doesn't study well, doesn't always run proper routes, has now allowed a locker room leadership issue to bubble to the surface thanks to his own agent. When the team says there are locker room leadership issues and the agent says, "he has not had the greatest QBs throwing to him." A tiny crack appears and we get to see inside the locker room fraternity for a brief moment.

$875,000 a year for 4 years is chump-change in comparison to Landry's performance on the field. Even if the Dolphins pay Landry $15 million for the next 4 years, it only averages out to about $8 million a year over 8 seasons including his first 4.

Why the contention from Bilbo? Why the mud slinging when all he has to say is, "Jarvis Landry is well worth $8 million a season, even as a slot receiver."

The only thing that makes sense is, Landry is unhappy with his QB situation. Hence, he is unhappy with the coaches and management backing and paying a mediocre QB room...

QB - Coaches - Management... Perhaps Jarvis is right, they all suck and he should move on.

Otherwise, he should fire his foolish agent. Admit there are things he needs to work on and negotiate with numbers, not dumpster fires...

Miami Dolphins are Playing the Wrong Defense

After a hopeful 10-6, 2016 season, the Miami Dolphins regressed to 6-10 in 2017. The Vegas lines actually predicted such an outcome. The Dolphins won 12 consecutive games by 7 or less points, a feat that is impossible to sustainable over time.

This team needed to make significant strides in 2017, with more convincing victories, or the statistics would eventually even out against them. Miami endured a mountain of well-documented adversity, including losing their starting QB, which meant getting better in 2017, would be an uphill climb.

The Jay Cutler experiment was made out of desperation and the Miami Dolphins should not be ostracized for making this move. Matt Moore may have made it through a whole season, but his injury history did not indicate this being a serious option. Cutler clearly told Adam Gase he would only return from retirement if he was the starting QB.

Gase and the Dolphins threw the dice, seeing this move as perhaps the only real option to salvage the Miami offense for the 2017 season…

The Dolphins thought they could rely on their defense to make up for the uncertainty on offense, but they were wrong. The problems on offense were expected with the hurry up preparation of Jay Cutler. The holes in the defense came as a surprise and ruined Miami’s season.

The defense began to unravel during the 40 – 0 beat down by the Baltimore Ravens…

Baltimore exposed the gaping holes in the wide 9 alignment by rushing for well over 4 yards per carry. The 4-3 depends on the defensive line to hold up against the run and be dominant in rushing the passer. The wide 9 splits the defensive ends outside the offensive tackles. Baltimore was able to exploit this and open huge gaps in the middle of the defense.

Linebackers, Alonso, Timmons and Maualuga combined for 21 tackles in that game. Defensive linemen, Suh, Godchaux, Harris, Hayes, Philips, Fede, Taylor and Wake combined for just 7 tackles without a single sack…

The big money players on the DL were beaten badly, Suh had 3 tackles and Cameron Wake had none. The linebackers were finishing plays, but not before allowing gashing runs into the second level of the defense.

Miami’s offense gave up two pick sixes and a fumble recovery touchdown in this game. The defense did not seem to be an issue at the time, but the Dolphins were blindsided.

The blame was heaped on Matt Moore, starting for an injured Cutler, but the problem was far deeper. The Ravens forced Miami’s DE’s outside and pulled trapping guards into the resulting gaps, opening up huge running lanes.

Miami needed to get this fixed and they knew it. The LBs would have to play closer to the line and tighten up between the tackles, a safety would need to sneak into the box to assist.

The following week against the Raiders, the rushing lanes were somewhat shutdown, even though the Raiders ran for over 4 YPC, but the effort exposed what would be Miami’s Achilles Heel the rest of the season.

Raider TE Jared Cook slashed Miami’s secondary and LBs for 126 yards and a whopping 15.8 Yards Per Reception. The Dolphins were exposed, they had no answer for TEs or personnel to help solve the problem.

The Miami philosophy of playing from the inside out with a dominant defensive line was proving easy to defeat. In this defense, the 4 DL need to apply max pressure without blitzing because the three linebackers are needed to drop into coverage zones and shut down inside runs.

Miami ranked 27th in sacks per game…

To put that into perspective, 7 of the top 8 teams in sacks per game went to the playoffs and only 1 team in the bottom 8 made it to the dance…

Ndamukong Suh, Andre Branch and Cameron Wake accounted for over 26% of Miami’s 2017 salary cap…

Reshad Jones, Kiko Alonso, Lawrence Timmons, T.J. McDonald, Xavien Howard, Stephone Anthony, Reakwon McMillian, Bobby McCain, Cordrea Tankersley, Tony Lippett and Chase Allen accounted for less than 23% of Miami’s 2017 salary cap…

If there is any question about Miami's defensive philosophy, follow the money…

The problem is, Miami is paying for an ancient scheme that is no longer valid in the NFL…

The Patriots had 221 snaps in Dime (6-DB) Personnel this year and an astounding 161 snaps in Prevent (7-DB). Miami had SEVEN total snaps in a Dime defense. (Thank you whomever I stole these numbers from!) The Patriots faced 3rd & 10 or more on 54 snaps this year and yet they played 6 or more DBs on 382 snaps.

The Miami Dolphins used the Dime package only 7 times…

Of course Miami couldn’t cover tight ends, they were depending on low paid LBs and secondary when the rest of the NFL has evolved hybrid players capable of covering and assisting the run. Miami spent over one fourth of its salary cap on a defensive line that ranked 27th in sacks per game.

The Miami defense ranked 16th overall in 2017, 16th against the pass and 14th against the run…

On the surface, the defense looks average but because of the disparity between DL and the rest of the defense, Miami was a disaster at stopping crucial 3rd and long situations. Consider these stats…

3rd and 10 or more yards:

Cmp    Att    Cmp%    Yds    Y/A    Y/C
34       46     73.9      396    8.6    11.6

74% percent of the passes thrown against the Miami defense on 3rd and 10 or more yards were completed for an average of 11.6 YPC. This is atrocious and worse, these plays, that could get the defense off the field, are demoralizing.

On the opposite side, offenses converting these plays are laughing at the Miami defense…

30 total sacks for one of the highest paid position groups in the NFL…

All of this is not pointing out that the Miami DL is bad. It’s showing that the Miami philosophy of paying for a great defensive line is a faulty premise that no longer works in the NFL.

The ball comes out too quickly for DL to get to the passer. If the QB can run (Tyrod Taylor) the DL is not fast enough to contain him. Once the defense has stopped the opponent for 3rd and long, there are not enough good players in the secondary to finish the series.

It’s very apparent Miami needs to change its defensive strategy…

More to come on what changes could be made.

Did Chris Foerster Compromise the Miami Dolphins?

Entering the long off-season it honestly felt like the Miami Dolphins lost their direction in 2017. Leadership in general came into question in early October when the video of Chris Foerster snorting the white stuff surfaced. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but those actions ran so deep, the season was probably done on that fateful day. As it turned out, it was…

We all know the tale, Chris Foerster filmed himself in his Miami Dolphin’s office prior to a team meeting. There’s no sense in rehashing the details, but what is worth writing about is the effect Foerster’s actions had on the Miami Dolphins. Kijuana Njie’s reason for leaking the video coupled perfectly with what NFL players were protesting, racial inequality in America.

Chris Foerster left Adam Gase hanging out to dry…

How does Gase insist on players being entirely focused on football when his assistant head coach has completely compromised his message? This wasn’t some seedy bar or strip joint, this was right in the very facility where players are expected to respect the code. How does Gase tell the players not to protest, or to remain united and stay out of trouble when his assistant head coach was sending videos to his snorting platter “girlfriend” from his office?

Shouldn’t someone in the Miami Dolphin’s organization have known about Foerster’s issue?

Pandora’s Box opens wider when the whole situation seemed to disappear with the disappearance of Kijuana Njie. One is left to wonder how wide Stephen Ross’ wallet opened to make her go away. There was obviously a price for her silence, but there is no price for the integrity of the Miami Dolphins, especially in the eyes of players believing there is racial inequality.

Like Kijuana Njie, Chris Foerster just went away. Money talks and makes bullshit walk…

There are reports that prior to his altercation, Rey Maualuga was regular on the late night party scene. “Why did Adam Gase allow this to go on? Where was the institutional control?” Well that answer is pretty simple, his assistant head coach was sending drug videos from his freaking office desk!

“Rey don’t you go out there and drink!”

Yeah, it all works really well together doesn’t it? Thank you Chris Foerster!

Adam Gase has been tight lipped about Foerster and Boss Ross certainly told him to never mention it again, but Gase must be stewing inside. Foerster was a supposedly a respected NFL coach and if we assume he hid these issues well enough, than this came as a complete blindside. How do you tell Laremy Tunsil to stay off the weed when Foerster is snorting in the other room?

How do you tell players to spend more time in their playbooks when your coach is in Las Vegas making a platter of his “girlfriend” because you’re stuck in LA during a hurricane?

Perhaps this is the problem on a grand-scale. There are distractions and illicit activities in every city in America, but Miami… Mix a few rich football players in with a few South Beach hotties looking for a good time and what does that equal? TROUBLE!

Mix a snorting coach in with the trouble and you got double-trouble…

The leader is leading the party!

Perhaps paying for this to go away is not the right approach to fixing the problem. The Miami Dolphins cannot ignore the issues inherent with where the team resides. This community has a seedy underside and if the Dolphins want players to avoid that side of the street they are going to have choose the players on this football team very wisely.

More importantly, the Miami Dolphins must choose their leaders wisely…

Chris Foerster left Adam Gase hanging out to dry…

Should Gase and his assistants submit to drug testing? Are NFL coaches’ drug tested or is this another example of racial inequality when the players must submit, but the hierarchy is exempt?

The web continues to tangle when Colt’s owner Jim Irsay's mistress, Kimberly Wundrum, overdosed and died in a house that Irsay controversially purchased with money belonging to the Indianapolis Colts. According to Indianapolis Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz, Irsay has an ongoing drug problem…

How does the NFL balance out team doctors giving pain killers to players so they can take the field on Sunday and then ask for a urine sample on Monday? Put all of these instances together and it seems clear the NFL has fostered a culture of drug abuse. It leads to the question, did Chris Foerster’s video get him caught publically for doing what was accepted privately?

Anyone who has ever worked 16 hours a day will tell you there was a lot of coffee involved…

It almost seems like this is a case of what goes on in the locker room stays in the locker room. In the long term, expecting locker room antics to stay contained in our social media connected world is probably foolish. Bad things happen when these antics go public, ask Richie Incognito. Choose wisely Miami, expecting 20 something rich kids to act like they’re responsible 60 somethings is asking a lot.

Oh wait, they're just acting like Chris Foerster and Jim Irsay…

Never mind… Never mind… Never mind…

Anyone have a carpet we can brush this under? We need a carpet over here…