The injury bug finally has bitten the Miami Dolphins. Starting Left Guard Josh Sitton was lost for the season with a torn rotator cuff. Sitton inured the shoulder in the Tennessee Titans game and now it will be the only game he will play for the Miami Dolphins in 2018. He will be replaced by Ted Larsen who started the last 8 games for Miami in 2017 when Kenyan Drake led the league in rushing. But still the loss of Sitton is a huge setback as he was considered the best run blocker on a unit that was vastly improved over last season.
The Miami Dolphins overcame a most bizarre start to the 2018 season to defeat the Tennessee Titans at home 27-20. Perhaps this is how it is now for the Dolphins. Maybe every year needs some form of chaos. There was the Hurricane last year and the inexplicable behavior of Lawrence Timmons. We had the cocaine sniffing offensive lineman and the whole bully gate thing. So it seems it is only fitting that we start with two lengthy lightning delays this year. Those two delays stretched the game into a seven hour affair which, in the end, the Miami Dolphins found some big plays and just enough defense to win. So that is what really matters right? But just weird and frustrating for fans who have been waiting the whole offseason for some NFL action.
When they did finally get down to playing the game Miami rode a balanced attack of run and pass to two offensive touchdowns and then got a real boost on a 101 yard kickoff return by Jakeem Grant. Ryan Tannehill for the most part looked solid in his return and connected on a beautifully thrown 75 yard TD bomb to Kenny Stills. However, he did also throw two interceptions, both which were confusingly off the mark. The game had a mixed bag of ups and downs. The much anticipated pass rush from the Dolphins never was a factor which was disappointing, however the big concern about the run defense didn't show up either as the Dolphins front seven kept the highly regarded Titans run game in check. It was just that kind of day and game. The player of the game? Easily Reshad Jones. His two interceptions were game changers. They came when the Dolphins needed them and the last one was not only a tremendously athletic catch, but his return put the Dolphins in position to kick the field goal to put them up two scores and seal the game.
In the end there were many things to feel good about, and many things to still show concern. But despite the ups and downs, the bizarre weather twists, and turnovers, the Miami Dolphins found a way to win. And that my friends, is a good start.
TALK ABOUT THE GAME IN THE
OFFENSIVE GURU? QUARTERBACK WHISPERER? MAYBE NOT
The book on Adam Gase when he was hired was that he was a highly coveted young offensive guru. He had been the man working with Peyton Manning in Denver, and under his guidance Jay Cutler had his best season as a Chicago Bear quarterback. The reputation was supported by other coaches and NFL front offices who know way more about football than I do. Right? But as the team moves into year three of the Adam Gase era there is a growing unrest in Dolphin Nation that perhaps the Quarterback Whisperer may be a false profit. The Miami Dolphins offense, particularly the play calling, has been vanilla and ineffective. In fact, if you take out Jay Ajayi's monster season in 2016 it leaves you wondering if this offense is any better at all. What is happening on the field simply does not match up with what fans were lead to believe they were getting when Coach Gase was hired. There really is little difference between his results, and the results of Joe Philbin, and the results of Cam Cameron. In fact, despite changing all the players and the coaches out many times over, the Miami Dolphins look, talk, and play like exactly the same team for the past 20 years. How is that even possible? But I digress. Back to Coach Gase.
Adam Gase's biggest accomplishment prior to joining the Miami Dolphins was being the quarterback coach for Peyton Manning. Isn't that a little like being workout coach for Arnold Schwarzenegger? It is a little bit of a "gimme". After that he was Chicago's Offensive Coordinator for one year. And in that year Jay Cutler went from sucking to being decent. So we hired him as Head Coach. "The Man" to run all football operations, even though he only had one year of coordinator experience. In his first year, he did manage to repeat his Chicago success and was able to elevate Ryan Tannehill from "meh" to decent before Tannehill was inured. So is there something there? I don't know. It all seems a little underwhelming for a guy many feel was one of the great young offensive minds in the league. And it is not just the losing, it is how the team plays. It seems to this writer that the area that has fans expressing the most concern is the play calling. How many times will we see a bubble screen to the wide receiver in one game? And it rarely works out. How many three yard passes a game? Where is the use of the tight end? Where is the up tempo offense we have been hearing about for two years? How may third down plays are going to be run three yards short of the markers and then to no surprise we end up being the worst third down team in the league.And there is more. Missed blocks. Missed assignments. Players seem confused. And then there are the penalties. For years the Miami Dolphins were the least penalized team in the league. Now we are one of the most. This smacks of a lack of discipline and accountability. And the penalties make those third downs longer. It is one thing to be a players coach, but players have to do their jobs and be held accountable when they don't.
2018 will be the most important year for Adam Gase as the Dolphins head man. He made big moves to get rid of the team's top talent in the name of culture and to get commitment to his system and way of doing things. And this year the talent on offense is better with more depth and speed at wide receiver. Depth and veteran leadership at running back with Frank Gore. A huge talent at tight end with Mike Gesicki. And for the first time in years, the offensive line is solid. Ryan Tannehill comes back and may pick up where he left off in 2016. But is also under the microscope. After seven years the Dolphins fans are willing to give him one more year, but that is it. If he does not elevate his game in 2018 the outcry from Dolphin Nation will be loud and large.
Many of the "experts" have the Miami Dolphins finishing at the bottom of the division. Some say no more than six wins. That won't fly with the Miami Dolphin fans who are just flat tired of looking up at the Patriots for what seems like an eternity. This is the year the Adam Gase plan has to mature. It has to start coming together now. The promise of dynamic playoff caliber offense has to be fulfilled. If not the Miami Dolphins could be looking for a new Head Coach and a new quarterback in 2019. And Miami Dolphin fans will be left wondering when things will ever get better.
TALK ABOUT THIS AND OTHER TEAM TOPICS IN THE
This past Sunday Phinzone had the opportunity to take in the Miami Dolphins training camp in Davie. The last time I attended training camp was years ago. And I remember sitting on the bleachers in burning sun and wondering if I would be able to stay there the entire practice without passing out.
Like many fans, I had heard and was aware they had revised the facilities and provided cover. But that really doesn’t do it justice. Training camp is truly worthy of a visit and is family friendly too.
When you enter there are several tents and kiosks setup to promote the team and sponsors, provide some contests, etc. Think game day at the stadium outside Gate G, but smaller. Plenty of friendly nice staff around to point you in the right direction. As you go to the stands on your right is the team shop with the latest jerseys, hats and other Dolphins merchandise, and on the left a concession stand to get something to eat and drink and cool down if needed. The stands are completely covered and very comfortable as they use a collection of air fans strategically placed to move air and keep the temperatures mild. There are great views from every spot, and the people who come are enthusiastic and really into this team. They respond with luster to every catch, tackle and run that gives us all hope that this year may be better than last. During the practice, TD the Dolphin mascot roamed the stands as did the giant bobble had Marino and Shula characters. This made for great photos and fun for the kids who may not be into the nuances of 7 on 7 drills. Practice moves quickly as the players go through various drills, and then you get the scrimmage portion which is almost game type action. There the aficionados of the game get to debate match-ups, who has quicker hips and who will win starting jobs. When it is all said and done, a number of the players go to the fence and will sign autographs and they give special attention to the kids, like we all would expect.
This year’s Training Camp is over. But next offseason you should take at least one day and go out and enjoy the Training Camp experience and see how the team has made this part of the season accessible and enjoyable.
Running back Sinorce Perry had a strong showing in Thursday night's preseason opener.
Potential was on full display during the Dolphins first preseason game. There was Minkah Fitzpatrick seemingly all over the field and making plays. So was linebacker Jerome Baker. On offense Albert Wilson made plays. RB Sinorce Perry was impressive and Kelan Bellage showed flashes. So there was SOME things to hang your hat on to make you feel that this year's draft and Free Agents may have been solid moves. And the team's vets looked respectable. Tannehill was solid and moved well. Kenny Stills was good.
Now that bad news is first that the Dolphins lost the game 26-24. But its preseason and scores and winning is not really relevant so no big deal. You do have to love the way the team clawed back and took the lead late, only to see it ripped away. But what was discouraging was that the first two units just seemed flat. And the heralded defensive line was pushed all over the field, both first and second units. The absence of Suh in the middle was on full display as the Bucs continually gouged the center of the Dolphin defense with large runs and an easy TD. And there was no pass rush. Also the first team offensive line struggled to open holes. The darling of camp DB Xavian Howard was beat several times by WR Mike Evans. The Bucs first two offensive units literally had their way. That was not expected. So the team will take some positives and negatives out of this. What I take out of it is that Minkah Fitzpatrikc was as advertised, and David Fales is undoubtedly the choice for back up. As for the rest? We will have to see how Coach Gase shapes the team from here.
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The 2018 Miami Dolphin season officially gets underway tonight as Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Hard Rock stadium. Expectations are low for both teams this year from everyone but the fans. And speaking of fans, Dolphins fans will be tuning in to see how #1 draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, and rookie TE Mike Gesiki perform and get a look at the rebuilt offensive line to see if they can give Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore some running room.
Football is back and you can talk about it all year long in the Phinzone Forums where Miami Dolphins fans just like you talk about all aspects of the team. Come join us by clicking here:
THE PHINZONE FORUMS
Time to march into the Jets house and represent! A great Dolphins fan event that raises money for a good cause. This year’s Dolfans NYC MetLife take over is scheduled!Read More