[04/26/13] -- Dolphins Surprise Everyone - Grab DE Dion Jordan
The Miami Dolphins surprised everyone in the first round of the NFL draft yesterday, trading up from the Number 12 position to the Number 3 spot and taking Oregon DE Dion Jordan with that pick. To trade up to #3, the Dolphins gave up their first round pick and the first of their second round picks (#42 overall). Jordan was universally regarded as one of the top defensive ends in the draft, but his unusual physique (6'7" and 240 pounds) have raised some questions about his ability to be an every-down player.
The main upside to Dion Jordan is his athleticism. He's both fast in a straight line (4.6 40 at the combine) and quick off the line, has good body control and is athletic enough to cover tight ends and running backs. At Oregon, he lined up on both ends of the defensive line and was effective rushing from both the 4-point stance and the standing position.
He is also very versatile, playing every position on the defensive line and even, on occasion, covering opponent's wide receivers for Oregon last season.
On the downside, Jordan is not heavy enough or strong enough to bull rush offensive tackles on the NFL level. If a tackle can get his hands on Jordan and tie him up, Jordan has a hard time breaking away. He will be limited as a rookie to edge rushing and speed moves and the Dolphins will probably not use him as an every-down player right away. He's going to be a pass-rushing specialist for his first year or two in the league.
Curt's Comments: Everyone was flabbergasted by this pick, especially the announcers on television. It's always fun for me to see the "experts" reduced to babbling incoherently in front of the entire world and proving what most of us already know - that their guesses are no better than anyone else's.
As far as the pick itself is concerned, I am pleased that the Dolphins are making aggressive moves to improve the team. The Dolphins have lacked a lot of individual difference-makers on the roster recently and Jeff Ireland has made a lot of moves to fix that problem for Miami this season. I have not been a big Jeff Ireland fan in the past, but his decisions this spring will seal his fate with Miami - one way or the other - for good. And that is a good thing.
I don't have any strong feelings about Jordan yet. As I point out at this time every year, I don't pay much attention to college football, so I don't know much about the draft prospects. I am encouraged by the enthusiasm of the Dolphins' coaching staff for Jordan, but am also a little concerned about his relatively modest production in college for a high first round draft pick. For a highly-rated pass rusher, he only had 12.5 sacks over the last 2 years.
Miami still needs to address needs at cornerback and on the offensive line, but they still have 9 picks left, with 3 in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and should be able to find some good players in those rounds. Overall, I'm pleased with Miami's start to this year's draft.
[03/29/13] -- Dolphins Spend Big in Free Agency
With plenty of cap room for the 2013 season, the Dolphins wasted no time in going out and spending a lot of money on a series of free agents that the team hopes will propel them to the next level of competition. Starting on the first day of free agency with WR Mike Wallace and following with 7 other free agents - most of whom will start - the Dolphins have left the rest of the league behind in both spending and roster turnover this spring. But, as Phins.com columnist Chris Shashaty tells us in this week's column, we shouldn't pass judgement on all these signings now, but rather we should Judge March In December.
Curt's Comments: As Chris says, we have no idea yet how the Dolphins' new free agents will turn out. There is a general consensus around the league that buying a lot of expensive free agents does not help a team win. Historically, this has been true, but every case is different and the Dolphins have addressed their most glaring needs with upgrades at wide receiver, tight end and - with the addition of Brent Grimes - cornerback. Personally, I approve of most of the Dolphins' moves and am very happy that they have made such a big splash. If it works, the Dolphins are back on top. If it doesn't, the Dolphins will get rid of General Manager Jeff Ireland. Either way, the Dolphins win.
[01/01/13] -- Dolphins Close Out 4th Losing Season in a Row
The last time the Miami Dolphins had 4 losing seasons in a row was from 1966-1969 - the first 4 years they were in existence. By finishing 7-9 this season, the Dolphins have now tied their longest seasonal losing streak since the dawn of the team. With that in mind, Phins.com's Chris Shashaty asks the question 2012 A Failure, Will 2013 Be Better?.
[12/31/12] -- Dolphins Shut Out by New England
The Dolphins ended their season on a disappointing note, losing 28-0 to the Patriots in New England. The biggest reason for this loss was the inept play of both the offensive and defensive lines of Miami. The Dolphins' offensive line gave up 7 sacks and the Dolphins' running attack only managed 47 total yards at 3.1 ypc. On the other side of the ball, Miami's defensive line only managed 1 sack and gave up 167 yards rushing at 4.4 ypc. Even without Tom Brady under center, the Patriots could have beaten Miami with those kinds of stats.
Curt's Comments: While this was a disappointing loss, the Dolphins had a decent rebuilding season. The rookie head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator did a pretty good job creating a team in their first season and Ryan Tannehill - while hardly a candidate for rookie of the year - did show consistency, presence in the pocket, leadership and all the physical skills necessary to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. If he can continue to improve and learn, he will eventually become a genuince franchise quarterback for Miami.
Miami has a lot of holes to fill this off-season, but fortunately they also have a lot of money with which to sign free agents and some extra draft picks to help fill the many holes they have on the team. Some of those holes are obvious - wide receiver and cornerback top the list - but some are not so obvious. The Dolphins' offensive line was a study in inconsistency this season and the question of what to do with Jake Long has to top the list of questions the Dolphins' brain trust must answer.
[12/28/12] -- Dolphins End Season in New England
The Dolphins will end their season Sunday with a trip to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots. Having been eliminated from the playoffs when the Bengals won last Sunday, the Dolphins only have pride and the opportunity to be a spoiler to play for this weekend against a Patriots' team that has much more on the line. That, however, does not mean that the Dolphins will lie down for New England - they will put up a good fight and this should be a tough game.
Unfortunately for Miami, the Dolphins will be facing a team that is much better than they are - at least on paper. The Patriots are ranked first in the league in offense in both points scored and yards gained and their defensive strength is in stopping the run with defensive linemen like Vince Wilfork and linebackers like Jerod Mayo. Miami, on the other hand, is 25th in the NFL in points scored and 26th in yards gained, while their defense ranks 25th against the pass, which is New England's strength.
This doesn't mean that the Dolphins have no hope, however. The Patriots were beaten by the 49ers two weeks ago and barely squeaked by the Jaguars last Sunday, while the Dolphins have won their last two games. Miami also played the Patriots very closely the last time they faced each other and while Miami appears to be on the upswing at the end of the season, it looks like the Patriots are struggling right now.
For Miami to win this game, they will have to do what they've been doing the last two weeks - feed the ball to Reggie Bush, stuff the Patriots' running game, put pressure on Tom Brady and not turn the ball over. If Miami can do all of these things, they can beat the Patriots on Sunday. And while the weather could be an issue (it's supposed to be clear and cold with a stiff breeze), it may be more of a help to Miami than New England. The wind will make it more difficult to throw the ball, which benefits the Dolphins more than the Patriots.
Curt's Comments: The Dolphins are not likely to beat the Patriots this Sunday, as the Patriots are clearly the better team, so I think the best we can hope for is a close game with Miami in it up until the end. However, there is a wild card that could have a huge effect on the potential outcome: The Patriots may rest their starters if their playoff seed is not in play (see the first question in How should Pats approach Dolphins? ). I don't think they will, but if they do, the Dolphins' chances of winning go up dramatically.
But the bottom line of this game for me is if the Dolphins play well, don't make too many mistakes and play hard, it will be a good game for them, even if they lose. If they don't play well, turn the ball over and/or make too many other mistakes, it will not be a good ending to Joe Philbin's first season.
[12/21/12] -- Bills Visit the Dolphins
The Buffalo Bills will visit the Miami Dolphins this Sunday for the penultimate game of the 2012 regular season. The Bills, at 5-9 are out of the playoff hunt and while the Dolphins are still mathematically alive, the odds that they will make the playoffs are very slim indeed. On paper, this is a game the Dolphins should win, given their stronger defense and home field advantage, but the uncertain factors of injuries and division rivalry will probably make it a very close contest.
For their part, the Dolphins will need to rely more on their running game than usual, as their two best receivers - Davone Bess and Brian Hartline - did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and are listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Fortunately, the Bills are ranked 30th in run defense in the NFL and Miami's Reggie Bush has been bouncing back the past few weeks, so Miami should be able to move the ball on the ground against the Bills.
The Bills also rely heavily on the running game, but they face a much more difficult problem in trying to run against Miami, who have the 8th best run defense in the league. And while the Bills have more offensive weapons than the Dolphins, their poor defense and inconsistent play make them a 4.5 point underdog on Sunday.
Ultimately, however, the outcome of this game will be decided by Miami's mistakes. The Dolphins have played pretty consistent football most of the season, but have made too many mistakes in crucial situations to put together a winning record. If the Dolphins can avoid turnovers and crucial mistakes in key situations, they will beat the Bills this Sunday.
[11/27/12] -- Dolphins Bounce Back, Stage Comeback Win against Seattle
The Dolphins staged a late game comeback win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, winning the game 24-21 on a last second field goal by Dan Carpenter after Ryan Tannehill engineered a 65 yard drive to put Miami in field goal range in the final 2 minutes of the game. Most of the problems the Dolphins have had over the past few weeks were corrected against the Seahawks as Miami resurrected their running game and their run defense contained Marshawn Lynch. Miami's running game generated 189 yards at 6.8 yards per carry, while holding the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch to just 46 yards on 19 carries. Ryan Tannehill did throw one pick (and had a second negated by a penalty), but also had two fourth quarter drives for 80+ yards that resulted in the two scores that gave Miami the victory.
[11/19/12] -- Dolphins Continue Slide; Lose to Bills 19-14
The Dolphins went into Buffalo last Thursday night, hoping to rebound from their terrible loss to the Titans, but instead continued to play at a mediocre level, generating very little offense on their way to a 19-14 loss to the Bills. In the first half, the Dolphins generated nothing on offense, getting their only points on a kickoff return for a touchdown by Marcus Thigpen. Meanwhile, special teams gave up a touchdown on a punt return and the defense allowed 4 field goals, which was all the Bills would need to win this game. The offense did generate a late touchdown to make it close, but two turnovers by the Dolphins in the final five minutes made sure that they would not win this game.
Curt's Comments: It's easy to see that the Dolphins are playing much worse than they did in the first seven games of the year, but figuring out why is much tougher. In my opinion, it's a combination of factors, including Ryan Tannehill's inexperience at the pro level, a lack of talent at key positions and a new coaching staff still learning the ropes. Unfortunately, none of those issues are fixable in the short term. At this point, I think the best thing the team can do is to acknowledge that they are not a playoff caliber team and work on just executing better each week.