With the Miami Dolphins heading to Tampa for joint practices with Buccaneers, the depth of the cornerbacks room in Miami is going to be tested
The Miami Dolphins are heading north for a Sunshine State showdown. Miami will be practicing and playing a preseason game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa brings the challenge of an elite passing game for the Dolphins to compete against. However, being just the first preseason game, those are not the names to be focused on. Miami will be without Byron Jones for this game and will likely only give Xavien Howard limited playing time.
This week can give the Dolphins a great look into where their cornerback depth stands thanks to Tampa’s excellent receiver depth.
The Dolphins Cornerbacks are thin on the back end
With Byron Jones not practicing, the Dolphins have been able to get a glimpse of what life would look like if one of Jones or Howard were to go down. Seemingly every receiver on the roster has been able to get open downfield and make a big play in camp. Without Jevon Holland on the back end, it may be even worse.
The Dolphins will have an opportunity to get a look at players like Noah Igbinoghene, Nik Needham, Trill Williams, and many others. Right now, it is a great opportunity for any of them to earn more playing time as the third or fourth cornerback.
However, it is also an opportunity for the coaching staff to decide whether or not to consider working out veteran corners to add some depth to the room.
Great challenge ahead of the Dolphins Cornerbacks
The Buccaneers have one of the best wide receiver rooms in the NFL, both in terms of top talent and depth. The receiver room in Tampa outside of their starters features Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Darden, and the newly-acquired Russell Gage.
The three practices, as well as the game, serve as a great challenge for the young Miami cornerbacks. There is a combination of players with legitimate NFL experience, as well as promising young players. If Tampa is able to throw the ball with ease throughout the week, the Dolphins may need to start weighing options and potentially looking for upgrades in the middle of their cornerbacks depth chart.
The Miami Dolphins have an incredibly expensive cornerbacks corps with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. However, both have had some injury issues in the NFL. Depth at cornerback is extremely important with the ever-changing league. More sets with three or four receivers have led to an increase in cornerback value.
If Miami does not like what they see this week, they can pursue some veteran depth options. Names such as Chris Harris or Xavier Rhodes make the most sense.
Kareem Hunt has been rumored to be traded, and a trade to the Miami Dolphins could potentially be a possibility.
The Miami Dolphins have made several moves at the running back position this offseason, agreeing to terms with free agents Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel. However, more backs appear to be available, with Kareem Hunt topping the list of backs available to the Miami Dolphins.
Hunt’s trade rumors have begun to circulate following the Browns’ recent backfield moves. After already signing Nick Chubb to an extension last year, they drafted Jerome Ford in the fifth round and gave D’Ernest Johnson (who impressed last year) an extension of his own.
This leaves Hunt, who only has one year left on his deal, as the potential odd man out. While Hunt and Chubb have certainly been a dynamic duo, Cleveland clearly wants to utilize their young pieces. This may leave the former Chiefs star wanting more touches, and thus, being moved. On top of this, Hunt has been “holding in” at practice. Rumors say that he either wants a raise or to be traded.
The Miami Dolphins, who have had a talent deficiency at running back over the last two seasons, were naturally connected to Hunt, and for good reason. His ability to make plays out of the backfield is among the best in the league, and provides a dynamic skillset the team has lacked.
Is it Practical?
However, I mentioned earlier, the Dolphins have already made several moves at their running back position. These signings clearly have them leaning towards a running back by committee, similar to Mike McDaniel’s San Francisco scheme. This makes little sense for Hunt, however, who is already coming from a similar situation. While Hunt would be the most talented back, he would still have to split touches with at least three others. That likely wouldn’t work for Hunt, who would seek an increased workload and more money if he was to be moved. Miami likely has already allocated too many assets to other backs to put money and picks into a Hunt trade.
The Bottom Line on Kareem Hunt and the Miami Dolphins
However, the timing is at it’s worst for Miami. Hunt is extremely talented, and likely will see high production wherever he goes, it’s just unlikely to be with Miami. Their room is simply too crowded for someone who will demand the touches that Hunt does. They have the capital to make the deal, but already have allocated so many assets to the position.
Miami has more than capable backs in Mostert, Edmonds, Michel, Myles Gaskin and Savlon Ahmed, and we can expect to see them divvy up touches come the start of the season.
The Dolphins have clearly gone into “all-in” mode this off-season. It started with a revamp of the coaching staff, spurred by new head coach Mike McDaniel.
McDaniel promises to bring a fresh, new offense to the team. One that should maximize the talents of third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
From a personnel standpoint, the Dolphins “all-in” approach has seen the team add Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, Cedrick Wilson, and Trent Sherfield in free agency to help bolster a struggling offense and implement McDaniel’s system.
In hindsight, all the moves on the offense were going to ring hollow if Howard wasn’t wrapped up long-term. The two sides had their dispute last off-season.
What it means
In exchange for Howard signing a one-year extension, the two sides agreed to come back to the table this off-season and once again attempt to get the young star manning the Dolphins defensive backfield for years to come.
Today, those efforts have come to fruition. This extension with Xavien Howard is the feather in the Miami Dolphins cap that is the 2022 NFL free agency period.
Now, the team – and fans – can fully turn their attention to the NFL Draft. Miami doesn’t have a pick in the first two rounds, but there should be plenty of excitement around the event nonetheless.
A new era has come to South Florida as the team is finally starting to keep their developed talent. Xavien Howard’s contract extension is a step in the right direction.
Miami won for the 4th time in a row, in convincing fashion, and the Dolphins vs Panthers All-22 Film tells an interesting story of the game.
For the fourth week in a row, the Dolphins have found themselves as winners. This time, Miami won in decisive fashion vs the Panthers, with a final score of 33-10.
This game brought hope to Dolphins fans, and for good reason. This game showed the formula many thought they would at the beginning of the season. A combination of stellar defense and opportunistic, ball-control-based offense has gotten Miami wins over the last four games.
When watching the All-22 tape on NFL Gamepass, it was clear that Miami’s plan is starting to work out, and here are five things that stood out when watching the film for Dolphins vs Panthers.
Fantastic Phillip Lindsay
Following being waived by the Houston Texans, running back Phillip Lindsay was claimed by the Miami Dolphins, who were looking for another back to complement young guns Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
Coming off a short week, it was uncertain if Lindsay would play, but, as he explained, he was quick to get into the facility and study the playbook.
It was clear that the hard work, even in minimum snaps, has paid off. The two-time thousand-yard rusher showed, even with a below-average OL, why he was so successful in Denver.
Above all other traits, his burst and awareness have stood out. Other backs, especially Myles Gaskin, seem to wait for holes to develop. This, although valuable with a good OL, becomes an issue when there isn’t time to sit back.
Lindsay, on the other hand, is constantly moving. Even when the hole isn’t there, his feet are always driving forward, raising his floor on yards to gain. Even when he gets tackled early in the play, his forward momentum keeps him from losing yards.
Along with this, his pass blocking is a thing of beauty. On QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 57-yard pass to Jaylen Waddle, Lindsay makes up for OT Liam Eichenberg, who got beat on the play. Coming out of the backfield, he demonstrated textbook blocking, attacking the rusher and providing his quarterback a throwing window.
The Tuscaloosa Connection
Throughout college, Tua Tagovailoa found success in getting the ball out quickly in the RPO game, typically to his track team at wide receiver. The Dolphins, after drafting Tua thought that the best way to maximize the young quarterback was getting his collegiate teammate, Jaylen Waddle.
Through the first few games of the season, it was apparent that Tua and Waddle had chemistry, the level of which was unknown.
Now, however, as the season progresses, we can see that the 2nd year quarterback is significantly more comfortable with Waddle than any other receiver.
Throughout the game vs the Panthers, Tagovailoa targeted Waddle on a variety of looks, including several tightly contested looks, which contradicted notions on Tua coming out of college that he was unwilling to make risky throws.
More impressive, however, was the ability that Tua and Waddle have to know when the ball is coming out, and where. Tua, through repetition and natural chemistry, consistently throws the ball to Waddle before, or as, he’s coming out of his break. A prime example of this is the touchdown between the two.
When Tua releases the ball on a curl route, Waddle has yet to turn around and has three defenders near him. The ball was not only thrown early, but also put in a perfect spot for the rookie to make the play. That anticipation was a trait Tua was praised for at Alabama, and it seems Waddle is bringing it out now.
This was not the only instance of this chemistry, however, as the aforementioned 57-yard play showed the duo’s promise as well.
Following the Lindsay block, Tua put the ball right in the middle of the field as Waddle made his break. Knowing his ability to move after the catch, his throw gave Waddle ample room to work, even with a safety coming down.
Tagovailoa and Waddle connected nine times for 137 yards and a touchdown, and this game looked promising for the duo.
However, Dolphins fans and media alike had seemed to forget about the first-round pick, Jaelan Phillips. Coming out of UM, Phillips was regarded as a potentially elite pass rusher with a deep bag of tricks. This left Miami fans excited when he fell to them at the 18th pick.
Despite the hype, however, Phillips had failed to produce by all simple counting stats. While it seemed that he was getting close, he was rarely able to get home. Dolphins fans became frustrated, and it seemed that the optimism for Phillips faded as it grew for Waddle and Holland.
When the Dolphins took on the Panthers, all of it started to come together.
Coming out Party
Against an offensive line ranked among the worst in the league, Phillips was able to tally three sacks, a pass deflection, and a pressure leading to an INT.
The numbers, however, weren’t as impressive as the tape on the plays themselves.
In particular, his work from the inside, with Emmanuel Ogbah on the edge, was spectacular. With Ogbah taking an outside route, Phillips was often left 1-on-1 with a guard. His combination of size and speed left these guards in the dust, and him in the backfield at will. With a skill-set as refined as Phillips’, it will be very difficult to stop him without tackle help.
It’s clear that Miami has something special with Ogbah and Phillips, and I suspect they will use that pairing on the same side more often.
These concerns lingered into the season, as Miami’s offense was dwelling near the bottom of the league. Many were calling for the jobs of Studesville and Godsey, and Miami had lost seven straight.
However, they seemed to have found their stride in the winning streak, both of which continued on Sunday.
Operating out of heavy pistol sets with lots of pre-snap motion, Miami was able to create misdirection. The threat of motion-man Albert Wilson stressed defenses to his side, while Jaylen Waddle and Durham Smythe were able to find soft spots in coverage.
Miami also used these looks to create counters from a play they love to run: the wheel to Albert Wilson.
Against both the Jets and Ravens, Miami teased this formation, running a deep wheel route to Wilson in both games. It was clear Miami wanted defenses to pick up the idea, and I had clamored on Twitter for counters.
Those wishes came to fruition on Sunday, as Miami ran almost their entire offense out of this formation. This base set led to several different runs, short and intermediate passes. With the Panthers expecting the wheel route, Miami was able to catch Carolina off guard and tear them apart underneath.
The offense will still need to improve over the coming weeks, but they are trending up during the most important stretch of their season.
Area Of Improvement
Even in a 23-point win, there were areas of the team that were less than ideal. One that stuck out was the offensive line.
On three separate occasions, Miami’s offensive lineman gave up pressures or bad snaps that ruined potential scoring drives.
On separate drives, Jesse Davis and Liam Eichenberg were beaten badly, leading to crucial sacks on Tua and then punts.
The other drive, before the half, contained one of Austin Reiter’s several bad snaps. After going too low, Tua was unable to recover the snap, and Carolina turned a potential Miami FG into one of their own.
If Miami is to continue their streak, eliminating drive-ending mistakes is crucial, and those start with the OL.
The Bottom Line
The Miami Dolphins are showing signs of life, and are only two games below 500. With games against the Giants and Jets upcoming, Miami has a chance to contend for a playoff spot.
Whether it’s too late is yet to be determined, but Miami has continued to improve over the last month. The tape continues to get better, and Miami looks like the team we envisioned back in August.
The coming weeks will be the most telling, and it will be exciting to see if Miami can complete the miraculous comeback season.
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 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.
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.