Wow, a lot of things happened this weekend. More stunning than the away win in Foxborough to me is the firing of OC Chad O’shea, and then even more stunning is the quick hiring of 68 year old Chan Gailey. Man, I did not have any inkling that might happen. I know the run game was non existent but I also thought all too often running room wasn’t available either. Is that play calling, offensive strategy or just a lack of talent on the O-line? Apparently, Grier and Flores must have agreed it was a combination of all of them. Our best DB Xavien Howard was arrested for domestic battery. Lots of news and I’m not sure if any of it is good. I’ll get back to all this, first I’ll cover the final game of the season, that most satisfying win in New England.
The Dolphins traveled to a proverbial house of horrors for them over the last 20 years. Before the win on Sunday, the Dolphins were 3-16 at Foxborough, and the last win before last Sunday was in 2008. We were 16 + points underdog for a reason yet Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins found a way to beat the Patriots, who by the way, needed that win to give them home field advantage in the playoffs. The defense made some plays and none was larger than the pick 6 against Tom Brady, the same Tom Brady that shreds us every time we travel north to play them. Eric Rowe made the biggest play of his career jumping the pass intended for Julian Edelman and taking that INT to the house for a TD.That gave the Dolphins a shocking 10-0 lead a 1/3 of the way through the 2nd QTR. The Patriots came back to tie it though and I’m sure many of you expected the wheels to fall off after that happened. The first half ended tied at 10.
This team has a lot of fight in them and I think that’s a product of the HC Brian Flores’ mentality. He didn’t take the job to satisfy the medias agenda of losing, he’s a winner, a fighter. The team emulates the coach. Devante Parker had one of the best defensive backs in football on him most of the game, and Stephon Gilmore had no answer for the rising Parker. The New England Patriots had no answer for Ryan Fitzpatrick and his ability to constantly step up and either run away from the pass rush or step up and get rid of the football. It must have driven Belichick crazy. DeVante finished the game with 8 catches for 137 yards for an impressive 17.1 YPC. Our new susperstar finished the season with 72 receptions and 1202 yards along with 9 TD’s at a 16.7 YPC clip. Parker simply attacked the ball this season and played like every pass in his vicinity was his, it was remarkable.
On defense Davon Godchaux silently had a very nice season. There will be no accolades for him but Godchaux finished the season playing a combination of DE and DT with 75 tackles (33 solo) and 2 sacks as well as 4 TFL. Not stunning numbers but just very solid, reliable play. Godchaux had 4 tackles and 2 TFL against the Patriots. Andrew Van Ginkel had 6 unassisted tackles. Jerome Baker had 8 tackles (5 solo) along with a FF. Baker is a bright spot on this defense as well. Hey, did I mention that the Dolphins were down 24-20 with 3:53 to go? I can almost guarantee you that Patriots fans thought they had another in the the bag, the hapless Dolphins gave ’em a good fight, but now it was time to mail it in. UH-UH. Ryan Fitzpatrick led a 13 play 75 yard drive to take the lead on a 2 YD rushing TD by who other than the Dolphins leading rusher, Ryan Fitzpatrick. That was exciting as hell, it really was. That drive was daggers brother, and Belichick must have been bleeding inside watching that transpire. No run game to help him, Ryan Fitzpatrick came out firing to Parker, Ford and Gesicki, all the way down the field and the although Fitz fumbled a snap he managed to fall on top of it to maintain possession. It was just beautiful that long drive with our MVP shredding the vaunted Patriots defense for the TD.
There are going to be so many changes next season I don’t even know where to start. Chan Gailey will be the skipper of the offense. He certainly has experience, but why do I feel so much like Bill Parcells handing over the keys to the offense to Dan Henning? Anyone? It’s a strange one, I just can’t shake it. It might work out, but I don’t feel good about it. Sorry. The draft will be bringing in a lot of new players, both drafted and undrafted. We have so many undrafted guys now that the talent may push some of these unsung players off the roster. You only get 53 spots so only the best survive. What happens with Xavien Howard could deal a serious blow to our defense. It may be nothing or it might be an 8 game suspension or more. It’s not good.
Brian Flores looks all the world to be a keeper. You have to feel confident with what he’s accomplished. With significantly more talent on his roster, better things will come. I don’t know much if any impact Josh Rosen has next season. Not sure if he’s even on the roster. I’d guess he will be because he doesn’t cost much so at worst he’s competing for either the starting job with Fitz or if we draft a QB, fighting to be the #2. We desperately need talent on both the O-line and D-line. We need pass rushers, either at DE, DT or LB or all 3. We may need 2 or more CB’s, and we also need a safety opposite Rowe. We must find a RB and hopefully some big fellas that give said RB some room to run. We seem to have found our receiving TE but I’m not sure Durham Smythe is an NFL TE. He’s a decent blocker but not an impact blocker and he doesn’t have hands. Clive Walford probably won’t be back. At WR I feel great about Parker and Albert Wilson showed some signs of life near the end of the season and Allen Hurns is a solid possession receiver along with Preston Williams who should be back by season’s start. Isaiah Ford looks promising as well so I don’t expect a lot of attention in the draft at WR. I’d say needs in order of importance are OL, DL as 1 and 1A, CB, QB about equal followed closely by RB and S.
Happy New Year!!!