Welcome to Ask Mike – Week 35




From Wyoming


Q – With the current state of the OL

Do you think we get more out of the running game this week?

Or are we going to have to drop back and chuck it ( and hope Tanny doesn’t get killed )?


It looks like Pouncey is not going to be playing again, and let’s face it, Nate Garner is not the ideal choice for  a starting C.  I do give him credit for playing a solid game, but in general, swingmen like Garner will show their weaknesses if asked to do too much.  It must also be noted that SD does not have the talent  on the d-line that Carolina has.


The Panthers D-line features DT’s Star Lotuleilei and Dwan Edwards, and LE Charles Johnson (QUE – knee), and RE Greg Hardy.  The 2 DT’s, Lotuleilei and Edwards have 2 sacks each, while the DE’s combine for 14.5 sacks,  Hardy (RE) with 6, and Johnson (LE) with 8.5 sacks.  That’s a tough task for RT Tyson Clabo if Johnson plays, and I’d bet he does.


I’d say we run the ball, much like we did last week, and it’s a must that we’re successful, and even if we aren’t, we have to stick with it.  Too much talent on that D-line to put the whole game on Tanny’s shoulders.  We have to run the ball.  DT looked tough out there last week, let’s hope he can keep up that type of play.  I’d expect to see more of DT this week.  MLB Luke Kuechly will run everything down, so I think a between the tackles bruising running game is our best bet against this defense.  Miller will get touches, but I’d expect DT to be the feature back Sunday.




From Joe Momma


Q – So, we have about $28 mill in cap space in 2014, *after* we sign our new rooks. We have Soliai, Grimes, Starks, Clemons, and even Devlin as guys to possibly consider to re-sign. Assuming Grimes is a priority (he should be) and his contract is a hypothetical 3 year deal at $9 mill per (which would be good for us), or even the franchise # of a little over $10 mill, how in the heck are we going to address this O line? We know how this staff treats rookies. Even assuming Dallas Thomas becomes a competent starter (which is a HUGE assumption given a guy off the street just leap-frogged him to start), that means we need 3, count ’em, THREE starting O line! 


So, 2 Q’s: How in the world can we expect to get better if we lose 2 guys who are somewhere between very good to studs, like Soliai and Starks? Further, if we end up signing one of them plus Grimes, how can we address O line beyond, yet another stop-gap, McKinney-like solution? We’re doomed, doooooooooooooooomed I tells ya’! Seriously though, how can we expect to get better next year if our rooks aren’t likely to step up and play? Next year *should* be another step in the right direction in growth and improvement, but I don’t see how we can get better based on our current situation (sorry for the dearth of this). Damned Ireland.


Gat damn!  That wasn’t a question, it was a saga!


I’ll start with Soliai and Starks.  We don’t have to sign both of them, we really don’t.  It would be nice, but we’re far from dominant with both of them, so someone’s gotta go. I’d bet they keep Soliai.  We knew coming into this season with all the 1 YR “show-me” contracts that some would pan out, and then we’d either have to pay to keep them, or if they didn’t work out, kiss ‘em goodbye.


I’ll tell you this, if we can see WTF we have with Taylor and Davis, while it would be nice to sign Grimes because he’s a very good player, it wouldn’t make it an essential move to keep him if we knew that both Jamar Taylor and Will Davis were competent starters.  That being the case, we may end up overpaying for Grimes, either with a franchise tag , or a multi year contract.  I say overpay, because if we signed him to a 3 YR deal before this season, it would be for substantially less than it will be now.


I don’t think we need to sweat Joe Devlin, or Matt Moore,  because Tannehill is the starter, and we can find backups anywhere.  I’d rather invest in better players elsewhere than our backup QB.  Risky, but we’ve seen backup QB’s beat us a few times, and we’re not talking all of them being high draft picks either. (Thad Lewis undrafted)


As far as the O-line, I wouldn’t be shocked if we re-sign LT Bryant McKinnie to a 2 year contract, just to make sure we have a fairly competent player there, and we have a C, as long as Pouncey is healthy with his gall bladder issues.  I can’t expect us  to fill every O-line spot with an all-pro, so Dallas Thomas will be in the mix for either the RT spot, or possibly either LG or even RG.  That leaves 2 spots, which can be addressed by the draft and/or free agency.   We don’t need to go crazy salary wise on an interior lineman, or a RT.  If we don’t re-sign McKinnie, expect our 1st pick to be a T, most likely a LT.  Our 1st RD pick can play RT for a year, or if he’s so great, we can play him at LT immediately, and keep McKinnie on the bench as depth.


Chris Clemons is an OK player, not an impact player, or playmaker.  He also doesn’t get toasted often, so he’s not a bad player.  We could lose Clemons, I think he’s replaceable.


Fact is, there is a lot of work to be done.  Our defense has IMO underachieved this year.  Unfortunately, our LB’s have high cap numbers next year, and they aren’t going anywhere.  All we can do is hope these guys get better with time together.  We also have to hope Dion Jordan is the real deal, and is a major factor next season, either at DE or LB.  Who knows, we may be playing a 3-4 defense, or a hybrid 3-4/4-3 next year if coaches heads roll.  I also expect at least 2, almost surely 3 picks to be O-linemen in next years draft.  Yeatman may be in the mix if he can rehab well enough as he will be a RFA in ’14.


The crazy thing is, and I kid you not, we don’t know who our GM, HC and coordinators are, because you can’t discount the fact that with a poor performance by our team record wise, if we finish below .500 may doom everyone, considering the poor off the field performance this team has had this season.  Crazy stuff bro!  I know, it’s all Jonathan Martin’s fault dammit!  🙂




From Dave M.


Q – Mike,

I posted recently that if the Fins averaged 25 pts per game which is a measly 3.7 pts more than they average now, the team would be 7-3 and tied for 1st instead of 5-5 and trailing the Jets for the last wildcard spot in the AFC. The two wins would have been against Buffalo and Tampa if they had scored their average. So, my question to you is, when you take the previous into account is it a disheartening reality of the situation or do you look at it and say, that’s how close this team is from being a division leader.


I never look at stats and say we’re so close to this or that.  For the most part, we just haven’t done the things it takes to score more points.  Too often, we have abandoned the run completely, and we haven’t pass protected well enough for our young, somewhat inexperienced QB.  Ryan Tannehill and the Mike Wallace, together, have underachieved.  These guys are essential to us being an explosive offense, and due to their failure to connect, we aren’t.  We knew we had to add the difference maker, we scored 3 TD’s with our WR’s last season, so Wallace is THAT GUY.  If Tannehill hit Wallace for a deep ball once a game, even if it wasn’t a TD, we’d probably be scoring your 25 points a game.


Our defense has played well, but we never get the dominating performance that you see from other teams that are supposed to have great defenses, like the Seattle Seahawks, or The Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers or SF 49ers.  As good as our defense is supposed to be, they haven’t taken over a game and won it for us, like those teams have.  Those teams I mentioned are allowing less than 17 points a game, so even with what we’ve scored this year, we’d win most games with a defense like that.


Going forward, we need to stay committed to the run game, because we simply don’t pass protect well enough to let Tannehill throw 40-50 times a game, and expect not to turn the ball over and lose.  We need to run, and most importantly, get Tannehill on the same page with Wallace, and we’ll start scoring more points.  Just watch what happens to opposing defenses once Wallace starts visiting the end zone regularly.  If you thought he opened things up for other receivers before, watch how it works when he starts becoming what we hoped he’d be.




From Tim (BULLY)


Q – Hey Mike,


What do you think the Dolphins will have to do to beat a very good Panthers’ team this Sunday?





I’m a little scared to answer dis, cause you might not like my answer, and you might beat me senseless, or tie me to a pier and let snails and fish eat at me!


We gotta run the ball effectively to beat this team, like I said above.  We need to hit Wallace deep.  Make the defense respect and FEAR the deep ball!  We need to move Tannehill around, and make him a hard target for that very tough D-line of CAR.  Charles Johnson is hurt, but we all know he’s playing, so Clabo will have to play his best to neutralize Johnson.  Greg Hardy is no slouch either, and McKinnie will have his hands full.  If Garner starts at C, which seems likely with Pouncey suffering with his gall bladder, he will have to play as well as he did against SD, but this time he’s facing Star Lotuleilei, much stiffer competition.  The RB’s and TE’s are going to have to chip in and block as well.  I wouldn’t mind some double TE sets, with either Clay and Egnew, or Clay and Sims, or Clay as H-back with either of the two guys I just mentioned.


On defense, we need to be all over Newton.  I’m afraid of the pass rush being stopped just enough that he either has time to throw, or a lane to run, and that will doom us.  We always have those containment problems, but we need to stay disciplined, and we need to get to him, and not be stopped.  I also worry about DeAngelo Williams.  Those little quick backs always seem to give us fits, and Williams is one of those guys.  Our LB play has to be better against this team, both with Williams and Newton.  It would also be nice if Grimes could neutralize Steve Smith.  I’m not real worried about Brandon LaFell, but still, Carroll has to play him tough.  He’s a bigger receiver who most likely won’t blow by you, so hopefully Carroll doesn’t give him that big cushion he often does.


I’d love to see a dominating pass rush, force Newton to turn it over, and see Wallace in the end zone twice.  We do that, I’d bet we win!




From Boulder


Q – Hey Mike, 

Do you think we should bring in competition or at least give another player a legitimate shot at starting if Tanny doesn’t win at least 8 games this year? 





You’re probably not going to like my answer Al, at least I’m pretty sure, but NO.  I’ll tell you why.   Think about how QB’s used to be developed, sit on the bench a year, maybe 2, or sometimes, in Aaron Rodgers case, even longer.  Tannehill came here as green as a 1st RD pick can be.  Very rarely are 1st RD QB’s taken who have less than 3 or 4 years starting, and Tannehill had less than 2 full seasons, or 17 games started.  He was drafted for his potential, much more than what he brought to the table immediately.  Of course, his familiarity with Sherman’s offense enabled him to start earlier than anticipated, but you can’t really hold that against him.


Last year, as a rookie, Tannehill threw for 3294 yards, 12 TD’s and 13 INT’s.  Completion % was a fair 58%, even less than average you could say.  This year, Tannehill in 10 games has thrown for 2474 yards, and is on pace for nearly 4000 yards.  He’s projected by what he’s done so far to throw 23 TD’s and 17 INT’s.  Not great, but certainly an improvement over last year. His completion % is now 61%, again an improvement.


I think our best course of action is stay with Tannehill, we made the investment, he’s improving, and that’s what you look for.  Games are not won and lost by the QB alone, it’s a team game, and a few units our team, namely the O-line, the run game, and the defense haven’t played their best.    I think Tannehill can become a top10 QB, he’s still learning.




From SB7


Q – Dear Axe Mike,

  Thanksgiving is next week.  Does your family have any traditions and are any of them football related?  Also, which Dolphin’s victory on Thanksgiving is favorite one?


Thanksgiving was almost always in my Aunt’s house in NJ.  I grew up in Brooklyn, and my Aunt, the pioneer that she is moved to Englishtown NJ back in ’73, when Axe Mike was but a 10 year old snot-nosed kid. She always hosted Thanksgiving, and it was nice to go to the suburbs from the city every holiday (except for the hideous traffic!) My Aunt is now in her 70’s, so we’ve gone to a rotation of sorts.  It’s a 3-way rotation between my Aunt, my sister, who also lives in Jersey, and my family.  This year, it’s our turn.


We always watch football, and we always played some football, usually just a two hand touch game, or even just a catch.  Last year, it was at my sisters, and I was wearing topsider shoes and cargo pants, and and caught a pass, and streaked towards the sidelines, but it had rained the day before, and and when i made my turn to not go out of bounds near the sideline, my shoe hit a mud patch, and (DOWN GOES FRAZIER!) I went right down on my ass!  Would have been a TD!  I can still run, I believe Stanger and Son, and maybe a couple of others would vouch for me, but the damn mud sabotaged my big play.


I expect to play a little football this year in my backyard, and I KNOW we’re going to watch as well.  We’re having a lot of people, (I think it’s a lot).  We’re expecting 22 including me and my family, so everyone will be helping out, and that’s how we’ve gone about it the last few years.  We’re doing the turkey, and a couple of sides, and others are making sides and desserts, a big family effort.


My favorite was the Dallas game, when Leon Lett touched the blocked FG attempt in the end zone, which we recovered to win the game.  Thank you Leon!


Great holiday Daniel, love to see almost my entire family together, and I do value it.  Thanks for the question, and it was a good one too, a nice change-up, so to speak!




From Stanger


Q – You buying into the Jets as a threat?  I see a team ready to slip “loudly” into the night the rest of the way.  And if not them, who do you see as our biggest threats for the 6th AFC WC spot in the charity auction?





I don’t see them as a threat, because they consistently win one lose one.  I checked the schedule, and that means we’re going to sweep them if that pattern continues.  🙂


Seriously, I do see them as a threat, because they have a very good defense, and on occasion, that defense can lead them to victory when their young QB Geno Smith doesn’t kill them.  It’s very reminiscent of the early Sanchez years.  If Sanchez didn’t kill them, they could win most games.


I also see them as a threat, because frankly, we’re not really much better than they are.  I think we’re pretty equal.  I think we have a better offense and QB, and they have a better defense.  I think they also have a better O-line than we do, but our RB’s are a little better, but our WR’s are much better, especially once Wallace cranks it up, and I do believe he will.


I think the Chiefs or the Broncos have one WC tied up, whichever of those teams doesn’t win the division. Then we have the Raiders, Ravens, Titans and Steelers all at 4-6.  All those teams are threats to us despite our 1 game advantage at the moment.  I’d say I fear the Ravens and the Steelers the most, because they’ve been through this, and know it takes to get in.  The Raiders could surprise too, or the Chargers, but I like that we beat the Chargers, so I’m counting them out.




And now for our babe of the week.  A little holiday cheer so to speak!


Happy Holidays to everyone, I don’t expect to have an “Ask Mike” for Thanksgiving, I’m going to very busy!  🙂



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