I’d say we had what most of us here at FU believe was a very successful draft, and for those of you have been here a long time, which is most of you, to get any kind of consensus on our drafts is normally impossible. Despite that fact, along with the return of our starting QB, Las Vegas oddsmakers have us winning only 6 games. In Tannehill’s worst season we were 6-10, not coincidentally, that was Joe Philbin’s last year as Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins. I’m sure there are 3 major factors as to why they have us so low, and I believe first and foremost it’s the health of our QB Ryan Tannehill, and how long he’s been away from the game, 19 games to be exact. When we cut Suh, we lost one of our best defensive players. When we chose not to pay Jarvis Landry $15M + per season, we lost one of our most productive offensive players.
We know the losses, but I feel like they don’t consider the gains we’ve made strongly enough. I think we finally got the back end help we’ve been missing here in Miami, and I’m pretty confident that Minkah Fitzpatrick will be playing a lot, right from the start. He will instantly prove he’s better than anyone else we have as a deep safety, or even a LOS cover man on a TE, or bigger slot WR. He will have a ton of opportunities, and will make the best of them. I think Ryan Tannehill is healthy and ready to go, and although there is so much worry his wretched knee can’t hold up, look at Frank Gore who shredded his knees in college at U of Miami, and is still playing in the NFL 14 years later. There was nothing special or unusual about Tannehill’s injury, and I say once again, it wasn’t two separate injuries, he had a slight tear that he tried to rehab without surgery, and then it finally tore later on. Not devastating, it’s like a button on your jacket that’s loose, and then one day it just FALLS OFF! It’s still just one button, and yes it was disheartening when Tannehill went down, it was a run of the mill knee injury,
In addition to Fitzpatrick and Tannehill, we finally drafted that receiving TE that gives all NFL DC’s nightmares. We’ve been terrorized for years by them, but now we have one of our very own. Mike Gesicki will make a difference here from day one. I know they say TE’s historically start slow in the NFL, but if you watch the NY Giants, you’d know that Evan Engram, a smaller version of Gesicki had 64 receptions and 722 yards and 6 TD’s last season. I think Gesicki can easily duplicate that or better that. He will additionally open the offense for everyone else. Once he’s out there tearing up the middle of the field, he will garner more attention, which in turn will open things up for the run game, and our perimeter receivers, Parker and Stills, and also for short passes and screens to Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant.
We have had lots of problems covering TE’s, and RB’s and we’ve seen LB Kiko Alonso burnt far too often. The addition of Fitzpatrick and also LB Jerome Baker gives us flexibility. I think we’re going to try and figure out who our primary LOS cover guys will be in both nickel and dime formations. It might change a lot, but they have to identify which guys can get it done. Fitzpatrick, Baker, McDonald will all get the chance to be on the field more, since in today’s NFL, offenses operate with 3, 4 and 5 receiver sets so often that teams are in the nickel and dime more than ever. We know what the issue is, and they drafted talent to combat it, in addition to signing T.J. McDonald last year. You could even throw LB Stephone Anthony in the mix, big, fast LB who can cover.
We didn’t replace the huge hole in the DL after releasing Ndamukong Suh. The fact is, even if we took Vita Vea or Da’Ron Payne, we still wouldn’t have filled that hole. Suh was a beast, he played a ridiculous amount of snaps throughout his entire career, and easily led the Dolphins in that category. The philosophy has changed, and we’re going to rotate fresh players in more often from now on. At the moment, that’s Jordan Phillips, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Gabe Wright and also DE/DT William Hayes. Also keep in mind the cap money we get after June 1st, and I won’t be surprised in the least if we pick up a DT in FA at that point. After the draft, veterans are often cut, so we’ll have some choices to bolster the DL.
I love the Kalen Ballage pick. I know I’ve said it a bunch of times, but watch the kid play, and he’s a lot like Arizona’s David Johnson. He’s a very reliable receiver, he has some giddyup running a 4.46 40 at 6’2 228. He’s a tough short yardage back, but also one who has the breakaway speed to take it the distance. Ditto on the pick of Durham Smythe, TE. He’s the blocking TE to replace Anthony Fasano, and he’s a decent receiver as well. When we’re running the ball, Smythe will be the in line blocking TE, and I’m sure there will be formations with both Smythe and Gesicki, with Gesicki split out. You can run or pass from that formation, and also keep in mind that although Gesicki wasn’t asked to block much at Penn State, he will block here in the NFL. He won’t be Durham Smythe, but he will block.
We also bolstered special teams in the draft with the selections of LB Jerome Baker, Cornell Armstrong, Quentin Poling, and K Jason Sanders. In addition, I think we also got some help on the offensive line. Acquiring Josh Sitton, one of the best pass blocking OG’s in the NFL, we definitely improved. We got an OC we can count on being there the whole season, and who will be able to practice with his linemates when we traded for Daniel Kilgore. LT Laremy Tunsil will be a better player having LG Josh Sitton next to him, teaching him his responsibilities and of course, having better play next to him. If Ja’Wuan James is healthy, he will be a good player playing for his next contract, a good spot for us to be in. Hopefully we both benefit by that, and we re-sign James after a great season. Right guard is a question mark, but we have promise in up and comer Jesse Davis and veteran Ted Larsen. Between those 2, they should be able to hold down that spot. Also, maybe last year’s draftee OG Isaac Asiata enters the mix and surprises.
6 wins? FU Las Vegas!