A Miami Dolphins Thanksgiving: What I’m Thankful For

miami dolphins thankful
Credit: The Phinsider

While the 2021 season has not panned out many fans had hoped, the three-game win streak has been a nice breath of fresh air but that does not mean there are not things to be thankful for as a Miami Dolphins fan.

A postseason trip seems unlikely barring an incredible season-ending run, which Miami has found themselves on the end of in previous seasons. With Week 12 upon us, the Miami Dolphins have not left much to be thankful for this season. Except, outside of a few individual performances.

As a 21st-century Dolphins fan (my age is not my fault), success and accomplishment come few and far between. However, there’s plenty to be thankful for as a fan of the orange and teal over the past 20 years. So on this Thanksgiving, let’s take a look at a few things the Miami Dolphins have made me thankful for:

As a Miami Dolphins fan I’m thankful for:

LB Zach Thomas

Let’s kick things off with one of the primary reasons I am a Dolphins fan. I was born and raised in Virginia. However, I personally disagree with the idea that Washington D.C.’s teams are assumed on Virginia citizens. So I have primarily viewed this as a fandom free-agent pass to find whatever team I want to invest emotional energy in. 

Every Sunday, I would go over to my grandfather’s house and watch that Week’s slate from 1 PM through 4 PMs, sometimes even the night game. So one Sunday early on, I had my grandfather list me all the NFL teams. As a ten-year-old does, I latched onto a team with my favorite color, orange, and prominent player sharing my first name, Zach. 

Zach Thomas interestingly comes up again as the five-time first-team All-Pro linebacker was recently named a semifinalist for the NFL Hall of Fame. There are too many discussion points that highlight how his omission from the Hall is absurd at this point. But I am thankful for Thomas’ play spurring his name into households and leading to my Fins fandom. 

WR Greg Camarillo

Let’s go in an opposite direction here: I’m thankful for WR Greg Camarillo for saving Miami from being the Detroit Lions. Before every channel on the TV was broadcast in high definition, yeah, 2007, the Dolphins had quite a rough season. Back in 2007, if you weren’t playing good football, you weren’t getting the HD treatment, but my grandfather had the NFL Sunday Ticket. The Dolphins were on TV, but that doesn’t mean the quality was great. 

I watched every week of the 2007 season, hoping, praying for a win. Then in seemingly the last moment possible, Week 15 rolled around a showdown at Dolphins Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens. Coming into the game 0-13, not many expected a surprise overtime upset. But after Matt Stover missed a 44-yard field goal, Camarillo took a mid-level pass 65-yards to the house to snap the winless streak. Miami finished 1-15 but saved the franchise from the embarrassment of the dread 0-16 season. 

You knew this was coming: The Miami Miracle.

As stated earlier, I’m a 21st-century Dolphins fan, not a lot of success to draw upon. The Adam Gase Era was filled with ups and downs, but despite missing the playoffs and Gase’s inevitable firing in 2018, things somewhat ended nicely? Picture this, Week 14, the postseason looks murkier and murkier. The Tom Brady-led Patriots are 9-3 and primed for another playoff run. What solves the situation? An absolutely bonkers last-second 69-yard touchdown to win the game by one point. 

The only player who touched the ball on that play that is still on the team is WR Devante Parker. The Miracle in Miami will forever live in Miami Dolphins history. Some might scoff at the idea that a regular-season game could mean so much, but sometimes people need something to hold onto. If that means beating your bitter rival in a meaningless game that could hurt draft position, so be it. It was fun, fabulous, and I am thankful for the Miami Dolphins giving me quite a few jaw-dropping fandom moments throughout this journey. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Follow Zachary Knerr on Twitter

Jevon Holland has Arrived for the Miami Dolphins

Jevon Holland
Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are winners of two in a row after beating the Ravens 22-10 on Thursday night, in large part due to stellar defense and the emergence of rookie Jevon Holland.

This Baltimore team wasn’t like the ones of the past, showcasing less of a slashing run game. Instead, they opted for more of a vertical passing attack. This can be partially attributed to the loss of number 1 and 2 running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

Nonetheless, Miami knew Baltimore wanted to run long-developing routes, and they had a plan to stop it.

To give Jackson little time to improvise, Miami showed cover-0 (an all-out blitz look) a staggering 40 times on Thursday night. Thus, guaranteeing shorter passes and free hits on the quarterback, preventing the playmaking Jackson from operating in his comfort zone.

Miami often dropped in-line defenders towards the center of the field to shore up soft spots, while sending safeties and linebackers into the backfield.

Miami drops DT Adam Butler into coverage.

The key to this aggressive defense, however, came from a new face in the DB room, rookie safety Jevon Holland.

Draft Profile

In the 2nd round of the 2020 Draft, Miami made a decision that many questioned. Instead of making a trade for fan-favorite running back Javonte Williams, the Dolphins selected Jevon Holland one pick later.

After having a promising first two seasons at Oregon, Holland sat out in 2020 due to COVID concerns. Thus, much like other players, he lost the ability to show NFL scouts he was a first-round talent.

When the NFL Draft came around, the opinion on Holland was mixed. While most scouts liked his traits and performance, a lack of experience left him in varying places on big boards. It was difficult to tell where safeties such as Holland, Trevon Moehrig, and Richie Grant would land.

Jevon Holland and Trevon Moehrig are the highest-graded rookie safeties.

However, Miami seemed to have an affinity for Holland. His ability to play almost everywhere on the field caught Brian Flores and Chris Grier’s eyes, especially for a defense that uses a myriad of different coverages.

This, as we know, ultimately led to Miami taking Holland, making him the first safety drafted in 2021.

Early Season Spark

Through the beginning of his rookie season, Holland showed flashes. Standout plays such as sacks on Matt Ryan and big hits on Jonnu Smith made waves on social media. Fans and media began to see why Holland was taken so highly, and it seemed he just needed a moment to shine.

Jevon Holland lays the boom on Jonnu Smith.

It seemed that this time had manifested against the Houston Texans. Just after Miami’s defense put together a pretty strong outing against the Bills, they looked to gain some momentum and potentially salvage the season.

With Miami facing a potential 8th straight loss, Holland made a huge play. Coming over from the middle of the field, he was able to intercept a pass in the back corner of the end zone.

Jevon Holland intercepts Tyrod Taylor.

Showcasing his range and playmaking ability that led to nine interceptions in his first two college seasons, it was clear that Miami had uncovered a gem. It was just time to display it to the national media.

Primetime Talent

With the Baltimore Ravens coming to town, it was clear that Miami’s defense had a major test. After failing to stop dual-threat quarterbacks in Brian Flores’ first two years as head coach, this would be one of their toughest challenges to date.

Miami knew that they needed their young players to step up, and under the Thursday night lights, it was the perfect time to set the narrative straight on their careers.

With the lights shining their brightest, it was the rookie Holland who stepped up to the plate.

Applying Pressure

With Miami using more of a blitz-heavy scheme, more responsibility was placed on the safeties. The Dolphins overloaded the box, often giving Brandon Jones and Holland a free rush. The key was getting there quick enough, rushing the ball from Lamar Jackson’s hands.

Holland excelled in that role.

Tallying 6 more of his position leading 14 pressures, Jevon Holland was able to rattle Jackson early and often. His quickness and instinct off the edge were rare for a player of his position, as many coverage players struggle as rushers.

Being a crucial part of Miami’s gameplan, Holland’s pressures caused Lamar’s passes to come out quickly and inaccurately. He was even able to tally a sack against Baltimore’s elusive QB, in which his speed off the edge gave Jackson little time to react.

Jevon Holland sacks Lamar Jackson.

Versatility in Space

Holland’s work in the open field was just as impressive. Tallying 5 tackles, he displayed the range that, in large part, led him to be selected so high.

On several occasions, he was able to move across the field and prevent big plays.

One particular play saw Holland begin on the opposite side of the formation on a jet sweep. After the receiver got to the second level, the young safety was able to get to the second level and make a play on the ball. His hit to force Duvernay out of bounds was extremely important, as he was the last line of defense, giving room for a potential touchdown.

Brett Kollmann reacts to Jevon Holland’s hit on Lamar Jackson.

His ability to threaten the entirety of the field while playing free safety gives the Dolphins much more margin for error, allowing them to run the exotic defenses we’ve seen recently.

The Bottom Line

It’s clear that Jevon Holland has the makings of the elite defensive back for the Dolphins, and his progression through the first 10 weeks has been immense. Miami has used him in a myriad of ways, and I expect that trend to continue.

Holland’s young career has been fun to watch thus far, and I only expect him to grow as it unfolds.

Follow Tyler DeSena on Twitter

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What’s going on with Liam Eichenberg?

Following the Miami Dolphins shocking victory against the Baltimore Ravens, PFF usually comes out with ratings and pressure rates. Liam Eichenberg allowed a team high seven pressures.

On the season, Eichenberg has allowed 44 pressures. How does one of the more technically sound lineman on the roster and in the 2021 NFL draft allow this much pressure?

Notre Dame

Accolades:

  • During his Fighting Irish career Eichenberg started 38 games at Left Tackle
  • Eichenberg went the last 30 games of his career without allowing a sack
  • He allowed just three sacks his first year as a starter in 939 snaps. He would not allow a sack in either of the next two seasons on his way to consensus All-American honors in 2020
  • At 15, Ohio State offered Eichenberg a scholarship

Pre-draft analysis

Eichenberg was regarded as a technically-sound tackle prospect. At Notre Dame he played efficiently out of his stance in pass protection. In run blocking, he excelled at moving down on blocks and finishing at the second level.

There were concerns about Eichenberg’s footwork as he would get caught against faster edge rushers, especially in a Wide-9 stance.

In turn, this style of play limits Eichenberg’s fit in a west coast and RPO style of scheme, he seems better suited in a scheme that will utilize his powerful arms. A scheme that runs a lot of power run plays and play action passes would benefit from his blocking.

Film

Here you can see Eichenberg strike with force on first contact and gain depth into his pass set.

Eichenberg’s powerful lower body shines when he is able to put one hand onto the ground and finish his defender off into the second level. He does this on combo blocks too.

One of his worst traits is his timing, and hand placement. Eichenberg routinely punches rushers off the line and does not change it in different sets, making his contact predictable

Upon further review he reaches for contact instead of patiently waiting for rushers to make a move.

Miami Dolphins

Pre-season

In training camp, it was reported by Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post that Liam Eichenberg was getting reps as the first team left guard.

At first, it made sense to plug Eichenberg as a left guard, as a former left tackle he would understand a bit of the nuances. Furthermore, Eichenberg’s arm length is not on par to an average starter at left tackle. Eichenberg’s arm length is around 32 ⅜”. An average NFL LT’s is 34″ while a guard has an average of 33’ arms. 

That move inside showed that Eichenberg had the ability to start right away. It also shows his versatility as an offensive lineman. Versatility goes a long way in any player’s NFL career. Former Miami Dolphin Laremy Tunsil started his career by playing left guard.

Regular Season

However, Liam Eichenberg was inserted as the starting left tackle Week 1 against the New England Patriots. Austin Jackson, the team’s starting LT was out due to Covid-19 protocol.

“I’m a guy you can plug in and play right now,” Eichenberg said before Notre Dame’s Pro Day in March. “I’m not a guy that needs a lot of development. I’ve been coached well. I use my technique and my fundamentals very well.”

So how is it that a Notre Dame OL prospect, a school known as the OL factory, has given up 44 pressures and leads the league in sacks given up?

Film

The same instances pop up when Liam is struggling, primarily in pass coverage, as a left tackle.

From Lance Zierlen of NFL.com :

“Could struggle gaining early depth with kick slides versus NFL speed.

Timing, hand placement and body control all need work in pass sets.

High hands easily swatted and discarded.

Punch is monotonous and predictable.

Needs to eliminate punch hitch and diversify his attacks on rushers.

Reaches looking for two-hand contact rather than sitting back and ripping it.

Has a tendency to play too far forward when seeking moving targets.

One-pop hitter, allowing rushers secondary opportunities”

Eichenberg himself has said he feels like he is a better RT than LT in the NFL. While Austin Jackson looks to have improved at LG, moving Jackson back to LT may prove costly.

Eichenberg #74 gets pushed back

Another OL change will break the Dolphins continuity, which Flores preaches. Moving Eichenberg to RT may work or may not. If it doesn’t, he can try RG and slide Robert Hunt to RT where he played last season.

Root Cause

The main issue with Eichenberg is that he pushes forward against faster edge rushers which allows defenders to hit that extra gear and get home.

The root cause? His stance.

Notre Dame Stance
Week 1 vs. New England
Week 9 vs. Jaguars
Week 11 vs. Ravens

Throughout the NFL season Eichenberg’s stance has worsened. He’s playing with a higher pad level. In the trenches it’s said, the low man always wins.

In the NFL, there are much more powerful rushers compared to college. I would understand why Eichenberg’s base and stance has been altered to get more drive out of his body. However, this leads to him playing to high. Thus, the result making him lose his one-on-one battles and giving up more pressures.

The Fix

This is not only an Eichenberg issue, it an issue amongst the entire offensive line, especially the younger lineman. It will take some growing pains for Eichenberg to hold down the fort. It has not helped that he has had to play multiple positions on this line for several weeks.

Also, it comes down to coaching. Coach Lemeul Jean-Pierre is a first-time offensive line coach tasked with developing Eichenberg, Jackson, Hunt, and Kindley. It has taken Austin Jackson 21 games to show he’s is not up to par to play left tackle. Recently, Jackson is serviceable as a left guard.

Against the Ravens, the pocket looked a bit cleaner compared to recent weeks. If the offensive line can continue to improve as they did against Baltimore they have some experience to carry over into the remaining schedule.

Conclusion

If Eichenberg continues to show the same struggles at left tackle it might be better to move him to right tackle or as a guard.

After all, his former college coach thinks he would be a fit at right tackle in the NFL.

“Those who are going to draft him are going to get a plug-and-play guy on the right side. He’s probably not a left tackle. If you’re talking about that kind of athleticism, you could make the case that maybe he’s not a left tackle. At the right tackle position, you plug him in and he plays right away in the NFL because of his consistency, because he’s going to be there every single day.”

Brian Kelly on Liam Eichenberg

One positive of Eichenberg play is that he does well when his hand is on the ground and he has to push people around and move up to the second level. Whether it be in the ground game or in passing sets.

He does not get pushed off the line easily when he plays with his hand in the dirt.

While it may be late to change offensive philosophies this late into the season, a change in personnel, technique, and coaching may help Eichenberg’s development and the entirety of the offensive line.

Follow Hussam Patel on Twitter

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Miami Dolphins 2022 Mock Draft: All SEC Edition

Miami Dolphins 2022 Mock Draft

If you’re a Miami Dolphins fan, I’m sorry. This season has been the opposite of fun for many fans forced to watch the Dolphins flounder week after week. The struggles of the offensive line are more apparent than ever. Questions once again surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and whether or not he’s the future at the position. There are holes everywhere on the team. What’s a fan to do? Kick back and have some fun with a Miami Dolphins 2022 mock draft!

It’s November. The college football season is still in full-swing, and the NFL season has barely passed the halfway point. Mock drafts at this point in the season aren’t for accuracy. They’re to have some fun looking to the future, and to introduce fans to some of the prospects they’ll be hearing come next spring. With that in mind, we’re going to have some fun with this Miami Dolphins mock draft.

When I say “fun”, I mean we’re getting a little wacky with it. Many folks consider the SEC the pinnacle of college football, and for good reason. Teams like Georgia and Alabama dominate the college ranks, and send talent to the NFL in droves. So it begs the question: What would a mock draft look like consisting of only SEC selections?

We’re going to answer that question today with a 3-round mock. Now, enough talk, let’s get to the picks! All picks have been made using the Mock Draft Simulator from our friends over at risendraft.com.

2022 Miami Dolphins Mock Draft – 3-Round, All SEC edition

Round 1, Pick 12 – Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M

Right off the bat this mock draft starts off with a ton of tempting options for the Miami Dolphins. With the 12th pick in this simulation, the Dolphins are looking at DT DeMarvin Leal, CB Kaiir Elam, DT Jordan Davis, and WR Treylon Burks as options. Each player has been outstanding this season and would provide the Dolphins with a high-quality player at positions of importance.

However, this pick is about value and need. If we were drafting by a strict “Best SEC player available” strategy, Leal would be the pick. As good as Leal is, the value isn’t there for a defensive tackle at this spot. Especially when there are so many other glaring holes on this Dolphins team. As nice as it would be to add a corner or wide receiver as good as Elam or Burks, the same logic applies.

I know there are going to be some fans who read this and think “Why would we take *another* offensive lineman? We can’t develop them anyway!”. That’s a valid point. The Dolphins have had a terrible run at drafting and developing offensive line talent.

That said, the current offensive line is, well, terrible. It would be malpractice to not at least *try* and address the issue. The team needs to sign a veteran (or two) in free agency, but they also need to draft established, high-quality talent.

Tackle is the bigger issue for the Miami Dolphins offensive line, but the interior needs a complete overhaul as well. Green would be a nice start to that end.

Round 2, Pick 37 – Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

If you thought the Dolphins valuing the interior of the offensive line in the first round was unrealistic, you’re not going to like this pick. If you’ve followed the Miami Dolphins draft habits the past few years, you know they don’t value running back. At all. It was a clear need last year, yet they waited until the sixth round to address the position. With a player who can’t find his way to the field.

It’s still a need, and eventually the team is going to have to address it in a meaningful way. Day 3 guys who fill out the practice squad aren’t going to cut it. Salvon Ahmed and/or Myles Gaskin aren’t cutting it. Neither strategy has worked; it’s time to change things up.

Spillier is one of the most talented running backs in the SEC, if not the entire nation. He’s an explosive playmaker who can be trusted in both the rushing and passing games — a quality you need to be a successful running back in today’s NFL (unless your name is Derrick Henry).

Will the Dolphins take a running back this high when the real 2022 NFL Draft comes along? Almost certainly not. But I told you we were having fun with this Miami Dolphins mock draft. The fans want a running back, and the fans would be getting a running back if it were up to me. There may be better running backs, but Spiller is the top SEC back and was too good to pass up at this spot.

Round 3, Pick 99 – Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama

Here’s where our “SEC only” stipulation gets us in trouble. We round out this 3-round 2022 Miami Dolphins mock draft with what many would call a “luxury” pick. Or, even, a bad one. The Dolphins have glaring needs at offensive tackle and linebacker that have yet to be addressed in this mock draft.

Those positions could be addressed in free agency, but the younger, cheaper, talent the NFL Draft offers is usually preferable. However, with the added complication of taking only players from the SEC, the value simply wasn’t there at this spot. Instead, we’re left beefing up the trenches on defense with Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis.

Mathis is a beast up front. He’s a guy who plays with a high motor and brings an energy to the trenches that Miami could really use. He knows how to read offensive linemen and make them pay when they get sloppy with their technique, and knows how to use his hands well to keep offensive linemen off him and make a play on the ball. 

Mathis would give the Dolphins a nice rotational piece on the defensive line who can be a space eater on the inside. His presence would give the Dolphins some much-needed help defending the rush. However, it’s hard not to come away a bit disappointed with how this Miami Dolphins mock draft plays out at the end. It would have been great to grab a tackle or linebacker, but the fun of this exercise is in the complication!

Miami Dolphins Stun Baltimore Ravens on TNF

Dolphins vs Ravens
Credit: Dolphins Wire

The Miami Dolphins stunned everyone with an upset win vs the Baltimore Ravens. Not only did Miami beat the Ravens, but they dominated most of the game. Even though it was a snooze fest of a game until the fourth quarter, Dolphin fans have a reason to be excited again. Here are some key takeaways from Miami’s stunning win vs the Ravens.

Defense Looks Dominant Again

Last night, the Dolphins defense looked like one of the best in the NFL. Holding one of the NFL’s best and hottest players in Lamar Jackson to just 277 all purpose yards. Not only that, but the Dolphins defense also had one interception, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery that went for a touchdown vs the Ravens.

Xavien Howard got the game going with a forced fumble that he recovered and took it 49 yards for a score. Justin Coleman had the same sealing interception in the end zone with less than a minute left in the game. But this was all thanks to Lamar being uncomfortable all night.

Jaelan Philips, Andrew Van Ginkle, Emmanuel Ogbah, Brandon Jones, and Jevon Holland were in Lamar’s face all game. Lamar was blitzed essentially all game and it turned out to work for Miami.

Tua Fills In and Delivers

For the second straight week Tua Tagovailoa was active even with his finger injury. But for the second straight week Tua was the active back-up. This was until the third quarter when Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury.

On the next drive Brissett tried to go back in and head coach Brian Flores waved him off and called Tua’s number. At first it was evident that his finger is really injured, killing any “benching” speculation.

That being said, as the game went on, Tua did look more comfortable and started to throw better. He had some throws that made you shake your head but it is clear that it was due to his finger. Postgame Tua clarified that his finger “does not feel good”. but he stayed strong and played through it.

Tua’s highlights from last night are his deep throw to Jaylen Waddle and Albert Wilson along with his one yard quarterback sneak to score a touchdown. With the extended week due to playing on Thursday night, hopefully Tua uses this time so he is 100% by the next game against the New York Jets.

Run Game and Offensive Line Leave Question Marks

Even though the Dolphins played their best game of the season vs the Ravens, there was still negatives. The run game still isn’t where it should be. Myles Gaskins was the only rusher with over 10 carries and averaged 2.2 yards per carry. That is including his long of 11 yards. No team in the NFL should be able to win like this consistently, so Miami needs to figure out their run game woes.

The offensive line for Miami also did not play their best. As I said above Tua only got in the game due to Brissett getting hurt. The Ravens only had four saves, but had a total of 13 quarterback hits.

The run game also looked horrendous part due to part of the offensive line. Liam Eichenberg allowed several pressures and was the one who allowed the sack that got Brissett hurt. It will be something to keep an eye on if Miami decides to switch up the offensive line during their long week.

Familiar Faces Return

Albert Wilson and Isaiah Ford were the lead receivers for the Dolphins last night. Both tied with a game high four catches and both led the Dolphins in receiving yards. Wilson had 87 yards compared to Ford’s 84.

The question of “where has Albert Wilson been?” finally got answered as Miami finally used him properly. Miami sent him on a wheel route on an RPO and gained 64 yards on his biggest play of the night. He also ran a number of screens where he flashed his ability to make people miss consistently. It will be interesting if Miami keeps using Wilson throughout the season or if this was a “gameplay” situation.

Ford also came through for Miami as he had a number of catches when Miami was in a hurry up offense. Besides not stepping out of bounds in an obvious situation, Ford was impressive. He showed that he can be Miami’s number three or even two receiver if need be.

Rookies Shine

Rookies Jevon Holland and Jaylen Waddle received public praise from the media and the Ravens players. While Jaelan Phillips had his best game to date. Holland was all over the field and broke up a deep ball that was intended for Marquise Brown early in the game.

In addition to that, Holland stuffed the stat sheet, with five tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, two pass deflections, and a quarterback hit, it seems Chris Grier made have drafted a budding star.

Jaylen Waddle was also a key contributor as he was on the receiving end of Tua’s clutch throw in the fourth quarter. Waddle had four catches for 61 yards and its clear that Miami is making an effort to use him properly. He also drew a ton of attention as the defense always made sure they knew where he was. Waddle as normal was also both Brissett’s and Tua’s security blanket.

Jaelan Phillips impressed fans last week with a great game, but this week he was even better. Even though he only had half a sack and one quarterback hit, he was always around the ball and in Lamar’s face all night. He made sure Lamar didn’t scramble all over Miami and chased him down whenever he tried too.

Looking Ahead

Overall the Dolphins performance vs the Ravens showed how good of a team they can be. Even with the offensive line and run game not being the best they still outplayed the Ravens. The play-calling wasn’t the best but we have defiantly seen worse this year.

Let’s hope Miami is able to carry this momentum through the season and show that they are better than their current record of 3-7 and potentially fight for a playoff spot.