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Week 4: Dolphins at Raiders
The first cut down day to 75 is approaching, 3 days after our Aug 23rd pre-season "dress rehersal" on the 26th, and 4 days after that the final cut down to 53, for every team this is the time to make some Tough Decisions. In recent years for the Dolphins this has been a time where the team tried to figure out which marginal players do we keep, and can we get some talent from other teams cast offs, and there is still some of that going on.
Tight end, Obviosly Clay is a keeper, and then there's...(crickets chirping), yes, TE behind Clay is a little suspect, I think Dion Sims has shown enough as a blocker that we keep him, after that it's a crap shoot. I am thinking that Lynch will be kept because of draft status if nothing else, and as a direct back up to Sims, but I also think we will keep a 4th TE, Brett Brackett I think is probably ahead of Egnew, but I do think they will keep one of these guys as a direct back up to Clay. Two blocking TEs and two pass recievers, considering the lack of obvious talent here I would be all for keeping only 3 so we can keep an extra WR, a position that seems to have a lot more talent.
Offensive tackle and guard, to say we have a lack of depth here is quite the understatement, since we have a lack of starters here, at least at guard. Dallas Thomas has been bad on his good days, the tackles are set at starter but not much behind that. The Dolphins front office will more than likely be scouring the waiver wire for upgrades, but they won't need to look for a center, when Pouncey comes back we will have one of the best back up centers in the league with Samson Satele, and if Pouncey returns to form also one of the premiere centers in the league, we are set at C.
Linebacker, can I just skip this part, or can we just cut Wheeler and throw Dion Jordan in his spot, he can't be worse. The truth is there is a lot of unknown in this squad, every starter is being moved, none of whom were anything to write home about last year. Back ups are all young players who we don't know much about exept for Jason Trusnick, who is a stand out special teamer and an OK back up. The other players have some potential, but remain unknown quantities at this time. LB remains our Achillies heel on the defense.
Kicker, Caleb Sturgis was a very high draft pick for a kicker, in a time when most teams are grabbing late rounders, undrafted free agents, or just grabbing someone off the waiver wire, the Fins spent a 5th round pick on Sturgis, but he was shaky at best, with a 76% completion rate, that gets you fired on most teams. What was a bit baffling to me was the fact that they had no competition for him until he got injured, again, that groin muscle. Now I know it's a tender area, er ah subject, but his seems to be moreso than most, since he's been having reaccuring problems there since last pre-season. John Potter nailed his only two attempts vs the Bucs, both were long kicks of 48 and 51 yards. Either way I'm not to comfortable with our kicking situation.
These are the most worrying positions in my mind, hopefully they can shore these positions up in the final days of pre-season, on to the no brainers.
Quaterback, Tannehill and Moore, I think these are the only two QBs we keep on the 53 man roster, Seth Lobato will most likely be a candidate for the practice squad, but with Tannehill and Moore we are in very good shape at this position.
Punter, Brandon the Big Bang Fields is an elite punter, sometimes I fell sorry for the ball...
*Long snapper, normally I would just say that John Denny is a no brainer, and perhaps he still is, the reason for the asterisk is because they have been trying out Jordan Tripp as a long snapper. The promising young rookie held that duty in college, and perhaps the Fins intend to go "old school" and use a position player to fill that spot so that they could keep an extra player at another position. Denny is 35, so maybe they're just grooming Tripp, but this could be an idea to make one extra spot on the team for some talent rich positions I will get to later.
Thats it for the no brainers, on to the comfortable positions.
Cornerback and safety, these position seem to be fairly set with good starters and decent backups, at least when Reshad Jones comes back from PED suspension.
OK, that category moved right along, now moving on to the real reason for the title, Tough Decisions, and the asterisk next to Denny.
Wide reciever, this will be a tough group to finalize, unless of course they only plan on keeping five, then they would go into the no brainers section, as there seems to be five locks at the position, Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews and rookie second round pick Jarvis Landry. The guys vying for a sixth or even seventh spot, if there will be, will be Damian Williams, Kevin Cone, Matt Hazel and Marcus Thigpen. Hazel would seem to be the odd man out, he hasn't done much, Williams and Cone have made some nice catches and show some good promise. The wildcard of this bunch is Thigpen, has the tools to become a dynamic slot reciever, can also be used as a scat back and is a returner. I could see the Dolphins keeping 6 WRs and 3 RBs with Thigpen as a back up for both positions as well as being the primary returner, especially on kickoffs. Cone, Williams and Thigpen all seem to have a lot of promise, it would be a shame to see them all go.
Defensive tackle, 3 locks right off the top, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick and Earl Mitchell, but some really promising guys behind them and we can't keep them all. AJ Francis, Isaako Aaitui and Anthony Johnson are all vying for one spot, very unlikely they keep 5, but not out of the relm of posibility considering the talent here. In my mind I think Aaitui has the inside track, being the primary back up for Mitchell, the space eater DT, we have two very good penetrating DTs in Starks and Odrick, but A Johnson has been really good, keep in mind also that defensive ends Terrence Fede and Derrick Shelby can also be plugged in at that spot and we have a wealth of penetrating DTs. Did you see Shelby rupture a double team for a sack in the middle against the Bucs... called back by a defensive holding in the secondary, but still, it was VERY impressive. A lot of talent here.
Defensive end, what a group we have here, in a vacuum we have 4 locks, Cam Wake, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby and Terrence Fede, yes, I left off Dion Jordan in this vacuum, because these 4 players are clearly better than Dion Jordan is right now at DE. Back outside the vacuum we gave up our 12th and 42nd picks of the 2013 draft to pick the wholly unerwhelming Dion Jordan, if he was a mid to late round pick, which he is performing like, he would be cut, but we aren't in a vacuum and they can't just give up on him so quickly. The talent here, and draft staus, says we are going to keep five, in a perfect world we would cut Wheeler and throw Dion in there at LB and just keep 4, but the team says no go, but at least they aren't saying no go-go anymore.
I agree with coach Philbin, this is the best looking roster we've had in a few years, although we may be the weakest we have ever been in the history of this storied franchise at the right guard position, but there seems to be a lot of very good potential at a lot of positions, Tough Decisions for the coaching staff, for a nice refreshing change.
KEVIN COYLE LACKS IMAGINATION.
The quality that separates a good position coach and a coordinator at the NFL level is their ability to adjust their "system" based on the talent that is on the roster. What made The Don great was not only his coaching savvy, the jaw that made his coaches fall in line, his friendships, but also the ability to change his teams based on the talent that he had. He was the first coach to have two 1000 yard backs in the 70s even though he had a future hall of fame quarterback. Then he changed up his conservative approach when Dan Marino came on the scene and started drafting pass blockers. Brilliant.
Two years ago we noticed that Mike Sherman was not using REGGIE BUSH to the best of his ability. Rather than taking advantage of what Reggie could bring to the passing game he ran him constantly betweem the tackles. When the fan and media outcry finally reached his stubborn ears by season's end, he started to try to get him into the passing game. Too little, too late. Then, last year he misused MIKE WALLACE and created many situations which contributed to our high sack total. JOE PHILBEN was forced to fire him after two years of "square pegs in round holes".
Now, I don't doubt that defensive coordinator KEVIN COYLE is a good positional coach, but he is in the same mold as Sherman when it comes to running this defense. Why else would he not use the talented DION JORDAN in more than a pass rushing defensive end? I am a believer that the Dolphins have a lot of good role players on this team which is why I did not mind trading up in last year's draft to get Dion Jordan. What position did he play in college? OLB. He is big, fast, and can cover tight ends. He is developing as a tackler. Move him around. Get him more involved by taking advantage of his skillset.
I see a real problem with Coyle and it just isn't that his defenses are declining every year. Ireland made a very bad move of jettisoning his aging yet talented linebackers for young and what seemed to be up-and-coming linebackers, but that does not mean that you cannot succeed with them. The good defensive coordinators can change their philosophy based on their talent, and he is not doing it.
After watching Coyle for two years, something is seriously missing with him and I feel it is his imagination. He does not have to be Shula or Arnsparger, but he has to be better than what we've seen. I would not be surprised to see Coyle out as the Dolphins DC after this season, but the only way that will happen is if the owner forces it once again.
THE NO FUN LEAGUE STRIKES AGAIN.
What is wrong with this picture? Nothing at all. I don't have a problem with Roger Goodell's handling of problems in the NFL, but this is by far not a problem. I think every player should make an attempt to dunk the football after every play and have the coaches support it. That way the NFL will have to get rid of the rule. The game needs some personality and celebrating a TD without shoving it in the face of the defense is something the NFL needs. Most fans like the dunk and a little celebrating.
Who would pay for it? How about sponsors. They could say, "This quarter's touchdown dunks are sponsored by Dunkin Donuts" or something like that. Where is a petition? I'll sign it.
IS BRADY QUINN OUR #2?
Are you seriously toying with the idea that Brady Quinn will beat out MATT MOORE for Tannehill's backup spot? I think it's pretty cool that we finally got Brady Quinn, but the reason that Cam Cameron did not draft Quinn was far deeper than wanting Ted Ginn, Jr and his family. He said that he could not coach accuracy.
So, we're hearing reports of Brady's inconsistency at Dolphins practices. I guess we'll get our answer in tonight's game on whether Brady-ball will even be on the Dolphins roster in a few weeks. Now, myself, I am hoping for a quick recovery for Matt Moore and that the Dolphins keep only 2 quarterbacks on the roster this year. We need that third quarterback position for depth at one of a number of weak positions on this team (OL, TE). Heck we may have to keep one of our talented wide receivers in case the Dolphins decide to trim down our salary cap after the season. While I like BRANDON GIBSON, we all know that JARVIS LANDRY is the future in the slot. Getting Gibson was one of the positive moves that Ireland made last year.
NEED ANOTHER ZACH THOMAS.
Which team would not need a Zach Thomas, eh? The Dolphins are definitely in dire need at the thinking players position ... the middle linebacker. Last week we watched Koa Misi whiff on several tackles, and that is just something you don't need at the heart of this defense. If Misi, who is a good OLB, wants to hold onto the position at ILB then he had better show a leap in performance this week.
This week the Dolphins had 5th round rookie JORDAN TRIPP get several snaps with the first team. When the Dolphins drafted Tripp many scouts said that they would not be surprised to see Tripp as our future in the middle. While he played OLB at Montana, he has the skill set to play in the middle.
I'd like to get a look at Tripp as well in the middle, but let's keep in mind that he is a 5th round draft pick and he will need time to develop at a position that he didn't play at college ... unless he is ZACH.
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