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The 5-8 Miami Dolphins, coming off a tough 31-24 loss at home on Monday Night to the New York Giants, travel to San Diego to take on the 3-10 Chargers, coming off a 10-3 loss on the road to the surging Kansas City Chiefs.  The game is a 4:00 kickoff.

 

At this point, both teams are playing out the season and taking a look at young players and planning for the draft.  Both teams could be looking for new head coaches as well, as interim HC Dan Campbell probably will not be retained, and Chargers HC Mike McCoy has to be on the hot seat with the Chargers at 3-10.

 

In regards to Dan Campbell and his chances for the Dolphins HC position, I do believe he has come in and done a solid job with what has become very apparent over the last few months, a very flawed team with talent voids that have to be addressed.  After a 1-3 start and firing Joe Philbin, the Dolphins have gone 4-5 under Campbell.  Along the way, he fired OC Bill Lazor 2 weeks ago because of a lack of balance on the offensive side of the ball in regards to run-pass ratio.  Miami did a nice job of having a balanced attack in grinding out a 15-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens 2 weeks ago, but reverted back to the pass happy Dolphins against the Giants in the 2nd half in a game that Lamar Miller had 89 yards on only 12 carries, most of that coming in the 1st half.  If Campbell could bring in a rock solid offensive and defensive coordinators, I believe Campbell could be successful.  Whether he is given that chance remains to be seen.

 

Campbell has tried to make this more of a power team, a more physical team.  But it very apparent that pieces are missing.  Miami has been trying to build a solid OL for an extended period of time.  Both offensive guards, Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas have struggled, and both were 3rd round picks for Miami.  The Dolphins once and for all NEED to address BOTH OG spots.  Miami will not be able to TRULY know what they have in QB Ryan Tannehill until they put a compotent offensive line in front of him.  No quarterback has been sacked more than Tannehill since he came into the league.

 

The lack of physicality has REALLY showed for the Dolphins in divisional play, as the Dolphins are 0-5 in the division, 0-2 against the Jets and Bills and 0-1 against the Patriots with the last game of the year coming in Miami against New England.  In those games in the division, the Dolphins have been DOMINATED.  The offensive lin in particular, has been exposed time after time in the games within the division facing teams with very good defensive fronts like the Jets and the Bills have.  New England defensive front is not as good, but they are solid, and the Dolphins could not generate any push or offense against the Patriots earlier this year.

 

Defensively, Miami has some nice pieces in place along the defensive line in Ndamankong Suh, Derrick Shelby, Terrance Fede and Jordan Phillips.  Miami in recent weeks has added DE Quintin Couples and Damontre Moore from the New York Jets and New York Giants respectively.  Both are talented, but both have struggled with their respective teams.  Hopefully a fresh start will help revive their careers, as Couples is only 25 years old and Moore is 23 years old.  DE Olivier Vernon has come on strong after getting off to a slow start, and is a free agent after the year.  The Dolphins will have to make a decision on him.    While I would like to see more consistency out of Vernon, he is an ascending talent and drafted and developed talent, and he is only 25 years old as well.  Vernon is hitting his prime and the Dolphins should look to re-sign Vernon.  I also believe that the Dolphins should look to bring back DE Cameron Wake, who even though he has not played since that New England game, still leads the Dolphins with 7.0 sacks, while Vernon is at 6.5 sacks.  Cameron would have to come back on a restructured, team friendly deal though.  Wake is 33 years old and coming off an torn Achilles Tendon, a tough injury to come back from.  Wake is a work out monster, and I think he can come back and be effective as a spot player, and he would provide a veteran voice on a young defensive line.  I believe DT Earl Mitchell may be released to help create cap space, as will other players.

 

Miami has to address the MLB spot and the cornerback and safety spots on this defense.  MLB Kelvin Sheppard is a journeyman player, who plays hard, but is just not an impact player.  I would not mind adding talent to challenge Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins.  This unit has to be upgraded, as the lack of playmakers at the LB position in my opinion, is more of the problem in regards to the run defense than the DL for Miami.

 

CB Brent Grimes is having a ROUGH year and carries a high cap number, and is on the wrong side of 30 at 32 years old.  The only way I see him back in Miami is if he takes a reduced, cap freindly restructured contract.  Opposite of Brent has been FA signing Brice McClain and last week, rookie Bobby McClain was given a chance to start.  Today in the San Diego game, there is a buzz that you will see a lot of rookie CB Tony Lippett, a big CB that has an intriguing upside.  Time to see what you have in Tony and the rest of these young players.  One young player that is running out of chances is CB Jamar Taylor.  Dave Blake, aka Big Dave on the boards made an interesting comment and one I would not mind seeing.  He mentioned the idea of looking at Jamar at safety, and I actually think he could be a solid safety.  He does not mind coming up and tackling, and while he has not been what you wanted as a CB in coverage, he would not match up with wide receivers as much and could match up with tight ends pretty well in my opinion.

 

At Safety, SS Reshad Jones has had a very good year, but the FS spot has been a REAL struggle for Miami, as both Walt Aikens and Michael Thomas have not been good.  Shamiel Gary came in and played against the Giants last week, and Miami will probably take a further look at him and see what eh has to offer.  The FS position has to be addressed.

 

Mark, aka swere has already started looking at the draft and I have started as well.  Just looking at some possible impact players that Miami could look at in the 1st round, Notre Dame OLB Jaylon Smith has the play making, explosive hitter type of abiltiy that Miami would like, and he can and has played ILB for the Fighting Irish as well.  He has very nice size at 6'3, 240 lbs, and would be an immediate upgrade at the MLB position.  Another possible candidate is UCLA LB Myles Jack.  Jack is coming off a knee injury that occured before the season started and has missed the entire 2015 season.  But make no mistakes about it, this kid makes plays.  He also has nice size at 6'1, 245 lbs.  At the cornerback position, Florida State CB Jalen Ramsey is that big, athletic CB that the NFL is trending towards, especially with the bigger wide receivers in the NFL.  We saw how Brandon Marshall OWNED Brent Grimes a few weeks ago, as he basically over powered Grimes.  Ramsey is 6'1, 202 lbs, is a willing hitter and has the hips and speed to be an excellent NFL CB.  He has also played safety, so he has that added versatility as well.  The other premier cornerback is Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves.  Vernon also has excellent size at 5'11, 199 lbs, and is an aggressive, bump and run cornerback.  This group of 4 are impact players, and at this moment, the Dolphins have the 9th pick in the draft, so they could be in position to grab one of these kids.

 

We have a few weeks left in the season, but I will start to look at the draft more becuase of the fact that Miami is out of the playoff race.  Once again, the Dolphins will be on the outside looking in regards to the playoffs.  Miami will also be looking to make a BIG decision in regards to a new HC, a decision which will shape this orginization.  Owner Stephen Ross has to get it right FINALLY.

 

 

WHAT IS REALLY WRONG WITH THIS TEAM.

Phinfever, Big Dave, Miami DolphinsEveryone seems to be picking on every aspect of this team desperately trying to root out what is exactly wrong with our Miami Dolphins. The single biggest problem with this team is the structure of the front office, and that can be put on Ross. Can you imagine what this team would have looked like this year if he had put Philbin's future in the hands of his GM? I think that is Tannenbaum, but we also have Hickey under him ... sort of.  Yes, it's very strange. It's harder to explain than having to explain the meaning of life.

So, what I am saying is that due to the front office structure this team was unable to make the correct decision to fire Joe Philbin at the end of last season ...  and it lands on Ross himself for not firing Philbin and allowing the new coach to clean the staff and bring in credible coordinators.  When Philbin was finally  fired a month into the season the Dolphins had no one on the staff qualified to take over the head coaching job, so, they chose the best one (Coach Campbell). Can you imagine if we had hired John Fox, Rex Ryan, Todd Boyles, or a couple other coaches who were successful with others that were available? Fox would have been a great addition to this team. We missed the ball, my friends ... well, rather Ross missed it and it took us through yet another year of Football Hell.

 

ROSS BEING IN MIAMI ISN'T THE PROBLEM

phinfever, ross, big dave, miami dolphinsThe latest and greatest reason for the Dolphins struggles is saying that Ross needs to move to Miami or sell the team. Come on. Does he really have to be here? He owns the team, and he freely opens his wallet up to spend on anything that he is advised to spend on. Ross has some quirks that frustrates the traditional fan, but let's get it straight: he entrusts people to build this team and he will spend whatever it takes to make the team better and get fans in the stands. Ross has also nearly doubled the team's value from $1 billion to $1.8 billion.

He has someone he now trusts to run the team and that is Tannenbaum. We are hoping that Tannenbaum has matured since his Jets days. Currently the jury is out but I am not sure if this was a great decision. One year will not give us that answer.

Ross can stay in New York and pay his football gurus to fix the team. It will not make a bit of difference if he lives in Miami or not.

 

ARE WE ALL READY IN CAP HELL?

There are times I think it as we have strapped ourselves to rich contract to Suh and Tannehill, but I did like those moves. Who would have thought that if you add the best defensive tackle in the NFL to your roster that your run defense would get worst? Why didn't others around him play better as he swallows up double and triple teams every single play? That is for the next coach to figure out.

So, while on the outside it looks like we are financially strapped, Pro Football Focus (and our cap guy, Rich Rodriguez) says that we can make some moves to free up a lot of cap in order to resign free agents Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller.

In order to become cap compliant, Miami will most likely have to either cut or restructure the following contracts:

TE Jordan Cameron: PFF’s 45th-ranked tight end can save the team $7.5 million next season.

CB Brent Grimes: PFF’s 72nd-ranked cornerback can save the team $13.5 million over the next two seasons, including $6.5 in 2016.

WR Greg Jennings: PFF’s 115th-ranked receiver can save the team $4 million next season.

OLB Koa Misi: PFF’s 17th-ranked linebacker can save the team $8 million over the next two seasons, including $3.7 in 2016.

DT Earl Mitchell: PFF’s 98th-ranked defensive tackle can save the team $6.5 million over the next two seasons, including $2.5 in 2016.

That’s approximately $24 million dollars in cap savings from just these five players—four of which have underperformed so far this season.

By the way, the Dolphins can also save $8.4 million if they decide to move on from OLB Cameron Wake, whose contract is set to expire after next season. Wake will turn 34 in 2016, and will be coming off an ACL injury.

Let's not forget that the Dolphins can cut Dion Jordan and free up another $3 million. There are also a couple of other moves they can make to free up millions of dollars, so, let's not panic about the cap. Dawn Aponte knows her cap business.

 

WHICH FREE AGENTS ARE A "MUST" 

RB Lamar Miller and DE Olivier Vernon must be resigned. Lamar Miller wants to stay in Miami, but he is seriously underutilized in Miami. I imagine he will want a bigger role in 2016 and will wait and see who our next head coach is. I know that is what I would do. The Dolphins have told his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, that they want him back. So, how much is he worth? Everyone knows that Drew isn't cheap and he does a good job getting the best contract for his clients.

The Dolphins may have to choose between CamWake and Olivier Vernon. Hopefully CamWake will take a bit of a pay cut and stick around. Vernon has played "lights out" lately. Is it for a new contract or is this what we can expect from Vernon from here on out? It's hard to say, but he is finally healthy. While he is getting the sacks now, you really cannot rate sacks in evaluating defensive ends. Sacks are important, but if you watch Vernon, when he isn't getting sacks he is being disruptive in the passing game. He is also good against the run.

You want to keep your own free agents.

 

WHAT IS WRONG WITH TE JORDAN CAMERON?

Did he all of a sudden forget that he was once a Pro Bowl tight end? Of course not, but he is dropping passes that he normally catches. His problem is two-fold: familiarity with his quarterback and the play calling.

For some reason former OC Bill Lazor did not have his tight ends running up the seam but catching short drops. Cameron is a seam catching nightmare for linebackers, so, it makes no sense to not use him in this way. Yep, let's try to cram a square peg into a round hole as our coordinators have done for years. What made The Don so great was his ablity to know his talent and have his coordinators adjust their schemes to take advantage of it. It's a novel idea.

Unfortunately, Tannehill isn't familiar with Cameron, so, the big passes seem to go to our other pass-dropping tight end. Tannehill needs to force himself to throw it more to Cameron.

 

I LIKE TANNENHILL

Choosing the next head coach will be the most important decision entering the 2016 season. I would like to see a defensive-minded coach chosen and someone with head coaching experience. That is the only way we'll see balance. Perhaps OC Mike Shula would be a good choice as well. We'll talk about this on another blog.

So, whoever is our next head coach will have a quarterback to build off of.

I think it takes little brain cells to place the blame of this team on Ryan Tannehill. Those people are looking for a QB that is Dan Marino. Tannehill is not Dan Marino.

Could he use better pocket presence? Yes, but how bad is he when he gets very little time to step back in the pocket to read the defense? He has two of the worst guards in the NFL and that is not an exaggeration. And let's not even talk about RT Fox ... ugh.

The main weakness is at guard, as both LG Dallas Thomas (81st) and RG Billy Turner (75th) rank in the bottom eight for PFF.

I love Tannehill's toughness. How many quarterbacks get hit as hard and as often as he does and gets back up as if it didn't happen for the next play? He had a period of time this year when he regressed and started showing a lack of confidence. Last week he showed us what he is capable of. He is throwing a nicer deep pass, and he's more decisive in running the ball .... something he did more of last year but hasn't done much of this year. The biggest addition is that he is now able to audible, and that created two touchdowns in the last two games.

What would I like to see him to improve on? I want him to more consistent with his accuracy. There are times he throws behind his receivers. I would like for him to start trusting his other receivers more. He threw the ball 18 times to Jarvis Landry last week. He has to spread it around more. And I would like to see him able to finish off games. Keep in mind that it isn't all his fault as in those situations the Dolphins have abandoned the run and defense are focused on stopping the pass. With Miami's tight ends having to stay in and block, that limits his receivers on the field. The receivers also need to get open. Let's not forget this one things: Tannehilll is the best quarterback that we've had since Dan the Man.

 

Here's what happens when Tannehill is allowed to audible:

https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/2F4DD0270A1288388885344321536_43e5934a241.5.0.1945212015165200248.mp4

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

I am a Christian, so, I'm not going to wish you "Happy Holidays" or "Happy Kwanza". I want to wish the best for you  and that is through the birth of our saviour. I want to share a story with you if you will let me:

American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey once told a modern parable about a religious skeptic who worked as a farmer. One raw winter night the man heard an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door. He went to a window and watched as tiny, shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass. Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn door for the struggling birds. He turned on the lights and tossed some hay in a corner. But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, hid in the darkness, afraid. The man tried various tactics to get them into the barn. He laid down a trail of Saltine cracker crumbs to direct them. He tried circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn. Nothing worked. He, a huge, alien creature, had terrified them - the birds couldn’t comprehend that he actually desired to help. The farmer withdrew to his house and watched the doomed sparrows through a window. As he stared, a thought hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky: if only I could become a bird – one of them – just for a short while, then I wouldn't frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety. At that same moment, another thought dawned on him: he had grasped the reason Jesus was born.

 

The true message of Christmas is not the presents we give to one another - the true meaning is the gift that God gave to us that first Christmas morning, His Son Jesus Christ. Immanuel – God with us! This is the greatest gift you will ever receive, but like all gifts you must open it first. If you do, you will experience the merriest Christmas of all. May everyone be blessed with a joyful Christmas season and new year.

 

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

 

Merry Christmas to you all!

Dave

Your Phinfever Poohbah

 

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