Now that we’ve got all the roster battles out of the way, this Saturday looms large for some players who either can lose their starting jobs because they don’t show enough to keep them, or for players trying to establish themselves as starters to prove they are worthy of such. The third game of the preseason is the game in which starters get their longest look, some may play at a minimum the first half, and some even continue into the 3rd quarter. It’s the closest thing to REAL game the preseason gives you. That doesn’t mean there will be extensive game planning for the game, that’s not the case, but starters will get plenty of reps to get them ready for the regular season.
There’s so much talk, particularly on this blog as to who the starting RB should be. Some feel it should be long time veteran Frank Gore, and some feel it should be young upstart Kenyan Drake. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really matter. If it makes some people happy that Gore is on the field for the first snaps of our 1st offensive series, so be it. Kenyan Drake is the back that will be receiving the majority of the touches. How much of a majority will depend on the game circumstances. Drake is the explosive big play home run hitter, and he has the potential to do that on any play. He showed that last season, and he will improve. As I’ve pointed out several times, Drake was always the 2nd fiddle to backs like Derrick Henry, and T.J Yeldon. It was partly due to minor injuries that hampered Drake, but also because the other backs were getting it done while Drake was not. Drake is ready folks, and we will use him in a fashion that best suits the team. He’s an excellent pass catcher, and explosive runner. Gore is also an excellent pass catcher, although he doesn’t have the breakaway speed he once had, if there’s a short yardage situation where we need a yard or two, Gore would be my choice for sure.
Ryan Tannehill needs to get this team in the endzone. That delay of game in preseason game II in the redzone is just a drive killer, and unacceptable. Honestly, I saw another series where he had a delay of game, at least according to the play clock they showed on the field, he got an extra 2 seconds somehow, but it wasn’t called anyway (maybe the play clock we saw was incorrect). The Ravens always give us fits, so I’m not expecting too many good things, but a couple of TD’s from the first stringers on offense would be nice. I would also like #86, TE Mike Gesicki to show a pulse in the passing game, and go out there and catch some passes, maybe even a TD.
The defense allowed some big plays last week, so I’d like them to not allow that to occur. I don’t follow any other teams closely, but it seems like a lot of ex-Dolphins are real chippy now that they are elsewhere. Is it just the Dolphins that have ex players so disgruntled and petty? Suh took a shot at the DL after Christian McCaffrey busted through for a 71YD TD run, in which Suh put on Instagram “Right up the gut”. You would think these guys have enough to worry about with the respective teams they currently play for, but . . .
I would say one of the biggest issues on the defensive side of the ball is is a math equation, X + ? = CB. We know Xavien Howard is starting on the right side, but which CB starts opposite him is the key. Right now, former slot and nickel CB Bobby McCain is tops on the depth chart, and he played eh against the Panthers. Cordrea Tankersley took a step backwards, and Tony Lippett is M.I.A. with an ankle injury. So that leaves Torry McTyer, Jalen Davis, Cornell Armstrong and Taveze Calhoun, as well as Tony Lippett if healthy, as the CB’s who have a shot, along with do everything Minkah Fitzpatrick, who may be pressed into action early on. My hope has always been that either Tank elevates his play or Lippett gets healthy, and goes back to his 2016 form and forms a solid CB tandem. At the moment, both seem in jeopardy.
Will Devante Parker ever be and remain fully healthy, and will he ever be the top talent receiver we thought we drafted at #14 in 2015? Probably not, it hasn’t come together yet, and Parker was exercised the 5th year option in April of this year, so odds are, if Parker is going to have a great season, he will do it in ’19 just to torture Dolphins fans as he most likely walks when we don’t pay him $16M per after he catches 80 passes for 1400 yards and 10 TD’s. Besides Parker, we have Kenny Stills who is been a big play WR for us. Stills averaged over 15 YPR every season except last season with Jay Cutler, where averaged just under 15, at 14.6YPR. Danny Amendola will be taking over for Jarvis Landry as far as working the middle and short areas, and I believe Albert Wilson will be doing some of that as well. Wilson may line up more on the outside, but he’s the type of receiver you get the ball with a little bit of separation to, he can turn that into a big play. Jakeem Grant is another such receiver. They want to get the ball into his hands, because Grant is a HR waiting to happen. Wilson will probably get the occasional rushing play too, and Grant will as well. As to which WR, if any, gets the 6th WR spot, my hopes are Frances Owusu makes his case. Ford may have a slight edge, and of course due to investment, you can’t totally count Carroo out, but I think Carroo better show an awful lot if he wants to stay.
The TE situation is kind of muddy at the moment. MarQueis Gray is now atop the depth chart, followed by A.J. Derby and then Gavin Escobar. 1st RD pick Mike Gesicki is now 5th, one spot behind Thomas Duarte, and just in front of Durham Smythe. Message? I think so. If Gesicki goes up against the #3’s, he will probably do some damage there, but preseason depth charts are jumbled anyway, even for the dress rehearsal. One thing is certain, MarQueis Gray is a good blocker, and I expect he will help get the run game going against an always tough Baltimore defense. It seems like Gase wants guys with experience against the Ravens, and I can understand that. John Harbaugh is a top NFL coach, and his teams are always disciplined and tough.
The Ravens have somewhat of a new look offense, with new WR’s Michael Crabtree from the Raiders, Willie Snead from the Saints, and John Brown, the speedster from Arizona, along with a refreshed rushing attack led by Alex Collins who had a very nice season last year with 973 yards rushing, and 6 TD’s, his first year as a starter.
The DL didn’t look bad, and Robert Quinn looked downright fast as he had his way with LT Matt Kalil. The 71 YD run is not all on the DL, they are the 1st line of defense, and then the LB’s, CB’s and safeties. All have to break down in order for that run to happen, and it did. I still think our DL is way underrated, and I expect us to be pleasantly surprised. The addition of Kendall Langford will only help, a nice mix of vets (Phillips, Spence and Langford) and youngins (Godchaux, Taylor and either Pittman or Moten)
All of a sudden, the fanbase turned on McMillan, who looked so slow, and out of position all night. Relax! I think McMillan will be a very good player for us this season, let him get some action, he knows what he’s doing, he needs to get up to NFL game speed. Kiko is fine, definitely a solid player, as long as he’s not covering a mismatch TE or RB, and Baker looks poised to make some noise.
Things we all want to see, are red zone TD’s, no FIST PUMPS! We want to see some player, whoever that may be, solidify the CB spot opposite Xavien Howard, no big plays or really long drives for the Ravens, and if the Dolphins are going to score TD’s, please do it while Ryan Tannehill is in so we can stop talking about that. Most of all, we want all our Dolphins to get healthy, and stay that way!