TRAINING CAMP- IT GETS SERIOUS TOMORROW

Jarvis landry is in “one of the battles”

Training Camp starts tomorrow and it is truly going to be a battlefield on our team with none any tougher than the receiving corps. Many experts acknowledge that the Dolphins have the deepest unit in our division and I am not going to dispute that. One of the really great battles is going to be for that “third receiver” spot. Injuries really hurt Brandon Gibson last season and this camp he is going to have to compete with Jarvis Landry for playing time. I expect our #2 draft pick to prove himself and be on the field versus New England. If you have not seen his one hand catch vs. Arkansas, google it and enjoy because it’s one of the best catches I have seen.

The other really interesting battle will be at Cornerback where we would need a rejuvenated Cortland Finnegan who actually had a bad season last year, but must still have something left in the tank for us to have signed him. He will have to take on Jamar Taylor and Will Davis to earn the spot and I am going with Finnegan and his experience.

Our LB unit has a new coach I featured in yesterday’s article and I believe Coach Dufner will be looking to replace Phillip Wheeler at the strong-side LB position. Pro Football Focus had Wheeler rated very low on the LB list from last season and I see Jelani Jenkins replacing Wheeler as the starter and Jordan Tripp getting good playing time.

On the much publicized OL story, where I like to see this head is a more “aggressive” approach moving Shelly Smith to Center and seeing if Billy Turner can win the Right Guard position rather than compete against Dallas Turner for the LG spot. If we are really going to play the best players, this is where I would like to see it shaking out. I would like to see LT- Albert, LG- Thomas, C- Smith, RG Turner, and RT- James. I feel very strongly about this since the latest news on Pouncey’s return may possibly be the end of October.

At the RB positions I believe we have to go with a healthy Moreno’s running and catching abilities and Miller as his running mate. If the learning curve can be shortened by the OL, I believe each will thrive in the new offense. I am still waiting for UFA Damien Williams to make his mark because of his great raw ability and quickness which will fit well into Lazor’s scheme. MarkeyH gave us a great preview on both sides of the ball in his articles and I really cannot wait to see who is on the field at home vs. New England. Yours Truly, saysMikey.


Is Dufner the right Medicine for our LB Group?

Misi will QB our defensive calls

As a unit outside of our OL, the LB group last year easily was the weak link for the Dolphins on either side of the ball. Earlier this year Mark Duffner was brought in as our LB coach when former coach George Edwards took the DC job with the Vikings. Dufner worked with Philbin in Green Bay but more importantly he was on the same staff with DC Kevin Coyle at Holly Cross and also with The Bengals. Ironically, Duffner was actually Coyle’s DC in Cincinnati in 2001-2 when Coyle was the cornerbacks coach. So there is a familiarity and mutual respect among the coaches and it remains to be seen what the results will be.

Duffner spent the last eight seasons as the LB coach at Jacksonville and Paul Posluszny and Gus Bradley became the first LB duo to record over 200 tackles for The Jaguars. He has over 38 years of coaching experience at the college and professional level and was also 80-40-1 as Head Coach at Holly Cross earning two coach of the year awards. So Duffner brings a wealth of experience to our staff and is inheriting basically the same talent as last year along with the addition of rookie Jordan Tripp.

As one of his first moves that made headlines was putting Koa Misi at MLB where he will be making the defensive calls. Phillip Wheeler will be on the strong side and Dannell Ellerbe will man the weak side. That will leave Jeloni Jenkins and Tripp to earn playing time and add depth. So what kind of magic can we expect? I believe the players will be better coached this year and start earning the money they were paid last season.

There is a lot that needs to come together for the team as a whole this camp and preseason for us to be in the playoffs this year. The way things are trending it seems we are getting the players we need and that management and the coaching staff are headed in the right direction. I can’t help but see the similarity in the position that Philbin and Tannehill both find themselves this season- both have been given the tools they need to succeed now it is up to them to prove themselves. Yours Truly, saysMikey.


2014 Training Camp Battles: the DE’s

Fede, Terrence
Jordan, Dion
Mims, Tevin
Shelby, Derrick
Vernon, Olivier
Wake, Cameron

Another position that has depth and talent and a lot of thanks goes to Olivier Vernon who came on last year his second season early in training camp and with a slow start during the regular season he ended up being the leading sacker last season as Cameron Wake had injury issues and as always is double teamed as Offenses game plan against him. Last year Jeff Ireland made a big splash and moved up to the 3rd pick in the 2013 Draft and stole Dion Jordan from under the Eagles noses and even as resent as this off-season rumors were swirling that the Eagles still was looking to make a deal for Jordan so make no mistake about it Ireland knew when to pull the trigger. Unfortunately for both Jeff and Dion he has not paid off as of yet as his rookie season was riddled with injuries and rules that prevented him from making OTA’s as well as reduced his time on the field. As was noted Kevin Coyle recently divulged that the Dolphins were seriously thinking on putting Dion on IR last year.

Well it’s a new year and a chance for Dion to redeem himself right? Well I am sure you are aware of the latest issue involving Dion Jordan. He is suspended for the first 4 games due to illegal substances detected in his system. Before that ton of bricks hit us the reports were he was heavier and ready to go. Jason Taylor was in camp working with him and I was excited to see that as that is exactly what I was hoping for. Well this latest setback is at the very least very frustrating but as was mentioned before we do have sufficient depth at the DE position and will still have both ends covered by one proven veteran and a young surprise that I am sure had he played the way he did last year his rookie season we most likely would have passed on getting Jordan. But you can never have enough pass rushers so as soon as Jordan gets through this latest setback hopefully the light bulb will turn on and we will get what we thought we got from Jordan.

But for now this position seems to be locked on both ends as Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake are more than adequate to keep the pressure up and when Jordan comes back I can see the packages such as the “SPEED” package be utilized more and more as this part of our defense will be one that can put the pressure on opposing QB’s and in exchange our secondary can reap the benefits hopefully with plenty of INT’s to show for it.

How many sacks do you think our Defense can produce by seasons end if our key players remain healthy? I would say both Wake and Vernon can produce double-digit sacks a piece and hopefully even with the loss of 4 games maybe Dion can still come close to double-digit sacks too.
I am confident in the players we have not as much with the coaching but hopefully Kevin Coyle can put these guys in the right position to succeed.


2014 Training Camp Battles: The Safeties

Delmas, Louis
Jones, Reshad
Kovacs, Jordan
Thomas, Michael
Wilson, Jimmy

Last year I expected our young Safety that we signed to a multiyear extension to have a breakout year but that never really came to fruition as Reshad Jones had an average year one that did not live up to what I had expected. He took the money and relaxed. Yes his numbers were good 107 tackles but his INT’s were down and his impact in the games was not what should be expected. His numbers should have been better in fact he slipped if you compare the numbers from the previous year. He was truly a major disappointment in my eyes as he is one of my favorite Dolphin players; I though his game would have progressed even further and not be as pedestrian as it was last season.

This year there is renewed hope that Reshad’s game will go in the right direction as even he is saying he should have done better. He will have a new partner in the backfield as Chris Clemons has moved on to Houston. Clemons never really played at a high level and should not be missed.
Miami brought in Louis Delmas a much more vocal player with huge potential but a history of injury problems. Last year he played a full season and had 2 sacks and 3 INT’s to go along with his 64 combined tackles. He can be an asset to this team that lacked good veteran leadership across the board if you take into account all that went wrong last year. Reports are that Delmas and Finnegan are already making things interesting and building a camaraderie that can benefit our secondary as hopefully with them all getting along and holding each other accountable we will see continued good play from our backfield and in particular the last line of defense the Safety position.

I am surprised that the Dolphins did not have a Safety high on their list in the draft this year as this position could use a young player to come in and develop behind this group of players who have the potential to be special.
I am looking forward to seeing if they live up to expectations and that our secondary which includes our CB and Safeties can be one of the best secondary’s in the league and continue to keep WR’s out of the end zone while increasing the number of INT’s and fumbles you would expect from the secondary and not necessarily a lot of tackles as if that is the case our front line of defense is not doing a good job again….

Do you think Miami’s secondary has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL? Chime in!


2014 Training Camp Battles: The CB’s

Aikens, Walt

Brown, Jalil

Davis, Will

Finnegan, Cortland

Grimes, Brent

Jones, Don

Taylor, Jamar

Clarke, Steven

Fogg, Kevin

Wright, Demetrius

These are the players that are listed on the official Dolphins Roster and they are the ones we have decided to go into training camp as well as the season with. I see the Dolphins keeping between 5-6 CB’s and one for sure has his starting job locked down that being Brent Grimes. Brent is one of the best cover corners in the game he is not the most physical CB’s but his ability to make a play on the ball is just about second to none. The Dolphins rewarded him for his play last year off a one year contract by extending his contract to a 4 year deal worth $32 million including $16 million in guaranteed. Well done Brent I hope unlike a certain Safety who cashed in a year ago that you will continue your pro-bowl play and help secure our secondary and hopefully with the help of some new additions as well as our young pups who need to learn how to bite the CB position will be one of the best in the league and set for years to come.

Here is where it gets interesting: Who will step up and win the side opposite Brent Grimes?

With the departure of Nolan Carroll and Dimitri Patterson it has created room for our young CB’s drafted last year to potentially see more playing time If all goes as planned, the early edge goes to Cortland Finnegan a former Pro Bowl player with an edge and something to prove because he had a poor season with the Rams last year and became available in the free agent market and was picked up by the Dolphins. In listening and reading reports it seems that Finnegan is energized and ready for the competition and our young CB’s from the 2013 Draft Will Davis and Jamar Taylor have a shot at competing for the spot opposite Grimes and I feel they are ready and it is a good thing either way as the level of play will be high as the competition will bring out the best.

This unit is just about one of Miami’s deepest units and expect a spirited and maybe heated competition between them all and the beneficiary will be the Dolphins Defense as we should have solid play from the CB position.

Who do you think will win the spot opposite Grimes?


THE BALL IS IN TANNEHILL’S COURT

The dolphins were 3-0 to start the season last year, but were unfortunately 5-8 the last thirteen games to finish 8-8. Looking at the last 13 games is a more sobering way to look at it, but I do believe there is good reason to believe in the team this year. On paper even at this stage we are much better and any way you look at it Tannehill is going to be the difference this season.

In recapping last year’s campaign, we won’t mention the sacks again as that number has become infamous. Tannehill was 355 of 588 for 3913 yards hitting on 60.4% of his passes for 24 TD’s and 17 INTs. He also had six fumbles for a QB rating of 81.7.

As Ron Jaworsky recently pointed out, Tannehill was quite effective in the Red Zone scoring 18 TD’S and only suffering 1 INT which may come as a surprise to many of us. I believe this only screams out that we need to get into the Red Zone much more often! The other area of strength noted by Jaworsky was his success on play action fakes and his ability to confuse the defense and make the good passes with his decision making. The other area Jaws liked is Tannehill’s ability to read the field and choose his option without hesitation. Although Jaworsky rated Tannehill only 23rd out of the 32 starting QBs he does feel that our guy has the skills to become an elite QB. Again, we could point to fact that Tannehill seemed to hold on to the ball too long while making his reads in many cases but that was last year.

Even the casual Dolphin fan knows the obvious solutions to last year’s short-comings. The OL, the running game, and the pass protection must be much better- the rest is up to Tannehill. Given better protection and the threat of a solid ground game, Tannehill should thrive in Lazor’s new offense. The up tempo nature of the play making alone should account for a great reduction in the sack numbers and INTs leading to an even better TD/INT ratio.

To reach the lofty 10-6 record I have predicted for this season, there will not be much room for “learning as you play” in the regular season or waiting for so and so to make it back from injury. This must be done in camp and preseason and I believe it is extremely important to make an impression in the preseason and play to win each game. What is plainly obvious to us all at this point is all this leaves it up to one player. Yours Truly, saysMikey.


Summary of Miami’s OTA’s Part 2 (Defense)

As I noted in my RANT (http://dolphinseer.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/tds-rant-calling-out-kevin-coyle/) a few months back it was Miami’s defense that let the team down last year more than its offense as I expected our defense to be a top 10 defense and for them to fall to 21st after slipping to 20th the year before has left me with ZERO confidence in our DC Kevin Coyle he tried to give credit to his defense for allowing fewer points but I contend it was because teams ran at will on Miami last year and that is why the scores were low as teams ate up the T.O.P and that naturally kept the scores lower.

So what about this year? Will we see a better defensive performance? Can our Defense get back in the top 10 ranking? Our defense under Sparano was one of the better defenses in the league and other than some issues at the CB position we were set. The irony of it all is Kevin has produced better results in the secondary but our front line defense and LB’s have digressed under his watch.

What can we gleam from the OTA’s if anything and what are the hopes and true potential of this team.

If talk is worth anything we have some very confident players on the defensive side of the ball and I hope this year they can back it up!

Unfortunately we already have a setback as Dion Jordan was suspended for 4 games due to using banned substances , fortunately we have adequate help at the DE position as both Cam Wake (Healthy) and Olivier Vernon

Early signs are that the additions of Cortland Finnegan and Louis Delmas will be a benefit for the team as their veteran leadership will benefit the defensive unit and especially our young CB’s we drafted last year as they will not only have them to learn from but must compete with them to get playing time and that will make for a very spirited training camp.

With the loss of big Paul I have some concerns about our ability to stop the run and keep in mind we had the same problem last year. Another thing that is of concern is the experimental move to put Koa Misi in the middle. He seemed even in a recent interview to not be comfortable with the move.

Make no mistake about it Miami’s Defense is the key to our success as they go so does this team. Yes our offense is at the stage where they should be able to carry their own load as we have one of the more talented offenses in a while but it still will take some time for them to adjust to the new system and OC, but our defense SHOULD be ready day one!

I will be honest with you I am not a big fan of either Joe Philbin or Kevin Coyle as I see both of them more suited as position coaches more than HC and DC material. I hope this Dolphin team can play up to their potential as I do not see this staff surviving another season where they fail to make the playoffs.

Ask yourself if some of the better HC’s in the league had the players we have on their teams would they be a playoff contender?

Well we are days away from Training camp and I intend to be there to give some eyewitness reports that hopefully will provide our readers with some good news coming from camp.


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