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Passing Game: C

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has had flashes where he has looked above average. His long ball has developed very nicely. He can make any throw, and has shown improvement in recent weeks with regards to his pocket presence and awareness. However, he struggles with consistency. He hasn’t been helped by his receivers much, and he took a real beating during the first 5 games due to some horrible offensive line play.

Jarvis Landry has been the only receiver that has been reliable. Kenny Stills, aside from his notorious drop in the Seattle game, has actually been a help to the offense, but disappears for stretches. Devante Parker, for all his talent, has been a huge disappointment. He can’t seem to shake the nagging injuries, and his questionable dedication to maintaining his body is holding him back. He should be dominating, but he’s barely noticeable many times. With Jordan Cameron on IR and Dion Simms still coming back from his concussion, the onus has fallen on little known backups Marqueis Gray and Dominique Jones to carry the load at tight end, and they have performed better than expected, both in the running game and as receivers. Dion Simms’ return should help even more.

Bottom line, this unit was supposed to be the strength of the offense in terms of depth and talent, and so far they have not lived up to the billing, with the exception of Landry, and even he has hurt his case with some bone-headed personal foul penalties.

Running Game: B

If I were only grading the last 3 games, it would be an A, but that’s not what this is. The running game was BAD, BAD, BAD for the first 5 games. It was an afterthought and the coaches clearly had no confidence in it. The poor line play undermined any effort to develop confidence in it. BUT then, the starting offensive line finally got on the field at the same time, and lo and behold an identity was formed. Jay Ajayi started the season in the doghouse after pouting about being second-string to Arian Foster. Now, Foster is retired and Ajayi is the talk of the league after putting up over 500 yards in the past three games. He is running angry. He shows good burst through the hole, is decisive and powerful. He is showing that he deserves to be considered a cornerstone for this offense for years to come, if he can keep this up over the second half of the season and stay healthy. Damien Williams has been decent if not special as a role player. Kenyan Drake has had moments, most notably in the return game this past week as he scored the winning touchdown on a 96 yard kickoff return.

Passing Defense: B

Miami’s pass D is hard to rate. They’ve given up 10 touchdowns over 8 games. That’s not bad at all. They have yet to allow a QB to throw for 300 yards (though Andy Dalton put up 296.) They are among the best in the league on 3rd down. Once they inserted Cam Wake and Andre Branch into the starting lineup, the pass rush became much more consistent. Ndamukong Suh has been very effective. The team has 19 sacks on the season, led by Wake (5) and Suh (4.5). The defense has 5 interceptions so far, led by Isa Abdul-Quddus (2). Interestingly, no starting CB has a pick yet, with the only CB having made an interception so far being Bobby McCain, this past week against the Jets. Yes, that means that DT Jordan Phillips has more picks than any of our starting CBs. That needs to change.

Run Defense: D

This is the bugaboo for Miami’s D. After fine showings against the Bills and Steelers, it seemed like the team had finally figured things out. Then this past week they were gashed by Matt Forte for close to 100 yards. The Dolphins have given up 100 yard days to LaGarrett Blount (week one) and DeMarco Murray (week five), and have surrendered 4.6 yards per carry to opposing backs so far on the year, which is clearly unacceptable. If they are going to be successful in the second half against teams like San Diego, Arizona and Los Angeles, as well as all their division opponents, they must improve this aspect of their game.

Special Teams: B

Matt Darr has had a pro-bowl caliber season. Until Jay Ajayi’s sudden explosion onto the scene, he was probably the team MVP (a sad statement in itself.) Andrew Franks has been fairly reliable, though he has had some kicks blocked. Hopefully he has worked out the problems he had with that. His kickoffs have been consistently deep. As for the return game, Jakeem Grant has shown the speed and open field vision that made him a draft target this past spring. He has already returned one punt for a touchdown, and he and Jarvis Landry both are averaging about 11 yards per return. On kick returns, Grant is averaging 25 yards per return, and has shown a willingness to bring the ball out of the end zone when it might be smarter to just take a knee, but there is no denying his explosiveness. And of course, Kenyan Drake took one to the house this past weekend, so it seems we have speed and explosiveness in the return game that we haven’t had in a long time.

Coaching: B+

Adam Gase seems to be learning the job of the head coach pretty quickly. He had some pretty awful game plans early on, as did defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. But give credit where it’s due. They adjusted, they grew, they listened to their players and they have improved. Gase has shown strong leadership and a willingness to make tough calls, like benching or cutting underperforming players and adjusting his philosophy on the fly to fit what is actually working well. I like Gase. I am hopeful that he is one of my “building blocks” I wrote about in a previous blog.

Overall:B

The team is 4 and 4, which is not surprising when you look at the rough schedule at the start of the season. But, it’s trending in a good direction, having won three in a row and finding an identity as a bruising, physical running team on offense and an increasingly physical defense, especially in the passing game. My opinion is that this team will go as far as their starting offensive line takes them, especially if they can continue to show progress in their run defense. Going 5 – 3 in the second half of their season is not unrealistic if their offensive line holds up. If they are able to steal a win from either Arizona, San Diego or New England (my projected losses in the second half) then 10 – 6 may even earn them a wild card birth. However, I could just as easily see them losing some winnable games down the stretch to Baltimore, New York, Buffalo… really, anybody. It all depends on how successful Gase has really been in turning the culture around. It will be interesting to see. Go Dolphins!

I Hate The Jets.

There. It's simple as that. I just can't stand them. The old farts retire in Florida, and they come into our state and try to take over our stadium. I hate hearing the J-E-T-S chant. The best way to shut them up is to beat them. Sure, the Bills kept Dan Marino out of the Super Bowl (although that can be laid at a certain defensive coordinator's feet), and the Patriots are irritating, but there is just something about that Gang Green color that makes me want to wretch.

All in all it's been a great rivalry and hopefully we do what all the media experts are predicting us to do and win this game. Jets fans are hoping for a 4th straight win in Miami where they seem to always get back on their feet. ESPN analyst, Rich Cimini, who covers the Jets for ESPN had this to say about the game this morning:

Same old Dolphins? Regardless of the circumstances, the Jets always seem to bring their A game against the Dolphins, especially in South Florida. They've won three straight in the Sunshine State, plus last year's meeting in London. The Jets' last road loss in this series was Jan. 1, 2012, the day of the infamous Santonio Holmes-Wayne Hunter scuffle in the huddle. The Dolphins (3-4), under new coach Adam Gase, are feeling pretty good about themselves. They have a two-game winning streak, coming off a bye, but they usually turn to mush against the Jets. We'll see if they've changed at all.

Bite me, Cimini.

 

How To Beat The Jets.

Jets Loser, Jets Suck, Phinfever, Miami Dolphins, NFLThe Jets are one of the best defensive teams this year to defend the run, but they rank nearly dead last against the pass. Teams are finding the going much easier to pass the ball than to charge through that stingy front four of theirs. And, that secondary has been giving up the deep ball with regularity.

I think we should continue what we have done the past two games and try to dictate the game by running all over them and wearing them out up front. Let's not get too cute. One reason why we cannot run the ball late in games is because we get too pass-happy and the opponent's defense is still fresh in the 4th quarter. We have to convert 3rd downs to keep their defense on the field.

So, it doesn't really start with Ajayi or Tannehill ... it starts with our offensive line. In our last game the Offensive Line dominated a very good Bills defensive line. We have to do it again. Since it is the halfway point of the NFL season, let me share with you PFF's stats with you on our offensive line, and you will see how well our starting 5 have been playing.

 

 

Phinfever, Pro Football Focus, Offensive Line

 

Bushrod is our weakest link on our OL at the RG position, but with Pouncey beside him and Ja'Wuan James stepping up his game at RT, Bushrod had his two best games of the season the last two weeks. People want to always find a reason to trade Pouncey, but get it in your heads that he is the leader of our offensive line. He sets the tone, and his attitude is contageous. There is a big reason why our offense has all-of-a-sudden "Clicked" the past two weeks. The offensive line is balling which means that we are winning the time of possession and we are keeping our defense fresh (and our secondary off the field - thank you!).

 

Tanne-thrill?

Tannehill, Phinfever, Touchdown, NFL, Miami DolphinsLet's hope that the Tanne-thrill version of TANNEHILL TANNEHILLshows up, because there is a big chance that Coach Gase will be looking to call his number on special plays that they've worked on during the bye week. With the Jets focused on stopping the run, they should leave themselves wide open in the secondary. No one is even talking "Revis Island" anymore but about his retirement.

 

The Step-It-Up Team.

One thing you have to like is the motivation strategies of Coach Gase and Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph. They are actually honest and intelligent, and they are pushing the right buttons. Players that do not step up are given a warning face-to-face, given a warning in the press, and then are benched in favor of the backup. The crazy thing is that it is working and those that are benched do not have anything bad to say to those coaches. If they start to step it up in practice then they will get more snaps in games. That shows a good relationship between coaches and players which is something that Coach Philben did not have. He did not have a clue how to deal with players.

Anyways, the following players need to step up their game, because they will be hitting the road next year if improvements are not made. Bushrod is all ready showing improvement, but he was just a one year free agent band-aid. The other players ... well, Tannenbaum is feeling the heat for another playoff-less season.

 

Brandon Marshall.

What I hated about Philben was his refusal to deal with problem players. We will face one of those players this week in Jets WR Brandon Marshall. I was in the camp that we should have kept him. Sure, he had his childish moments, but he was working on his problems for the first time in his career before Philben was hired. He actually came out and admitted to his problems and said that he was dealing with them with doctors.  So, think of Phiben when you see Brandon Marshall catch a couple deep touchdown passes. With his feud with Bryon Maxwell, let's hope that Maxwell again keeps him in check as he did last year when he was with the Eagles.

 

What a Name: Bacarri Rambo.

The Dolphins signed safety Bacarri Rambo last week in the hopes of helping out at the safety position due to the loss of Reshad Jones. You can't replace Rambo, Phinfever, Miami Dolphinsgreatness, and that is exactly what Reshad Jones is. If you have to replace Reshad Jones then why not replace him with a guy named Rambo. Rambo has the ability to intercept the ball, force fumbles, and sack quarterbacks. Unfortunately, he is undisciplined and makes an incredible amount of mistakes. We are rolling the dice with him on every play. That is why the former 6th round pick was watching the games just as we were a couple weeks ago: on the couch at home.

I am excited about the addition as I feel there is untapped potential with Rambo. He was 2nd/3rd round talent that fell in the 2013 draft to the 6th round due to two failed drug tests at the University of Georgia (incidentally, he took over for Reshad Jones once Jones went Pro). The Redskins named him their starter as a rookie but quickly benched him. Now, listen to this: one year ago he had the best game of his NFL career against the Jets. Let's hope for a repeat.

On November 12, 2015, Rambo contributed significantly during a Thursday night win against the New York Jets. Rambo forced two fumbles, one of which was returned by Duke Williams for a touchdown, the other recovered by Rambo himself. Rambo also had the game-sealing interception off of Ryan Fitzpatrick with less than a minute remaining in the 22-17 win.As a result of his performance in Week 10, Rambo was named AFC defensive player of the week. (link)

 

New iPhone/iPad Wallpaper.

I was thinking this week that I needed a new wallpaper for my iPhone/iPad. What better way to honor the the fourth running back in NFL history to record back-to-back 200 yard rushing games than to create a wallaper of him. Enjoy!

iPhone iPad Wallpaper, Jay Ajayi, Phinfever, NFL, Miami Dolphins

 

 

Go Fins!

Big Dave

 

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