Dolphins Report: Unity Starts With Everyone in the Same Cold Tub

Building a new offense, and coming closer as a team following last season’s Incognito-Martin imbroglio

dolphins-storyimage-800
Alan Diaz/AP

I’m in Davie, Fla., at the Dolphins’ training facility, just off the campus of Nova Southeastern University. There’s a first here for a Joe Philbin team: music. As so many teams are doing (I credit Pete Carroll for it), the Dolphins have added tunes to the 8 a.m. workout. Tunes of all sorts, from salsa to rap to “Baba O’Riley.” (How nice! Playing music for me!) It’s one of Philbin’s nods to being more communicative and player-responsive. The heat is toasty but not oppressive here on Friday morning: 83, with heavy humidity. Welcome to south Florida in August.

One vivid memory from watching practice

Two players this offense needs dearly—center Mike Pouncey, the best offensive lineman of a totally new group; and wily running back Knowshon Moreno, coming off the first 1,000-yard season of his career—ran in the end zone with a trainer during practice. Pouncey is out till October, at least, recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Moreno walks around with ice packs attached to both aching knees. They alternated in a drill, tethered to a resistance band around their waist that the trainer held behind them. The Pouncey loss hurts more. Without him for maybe half the season, a Miami offense screaming for continuity will have different starters at each of the five positions from last year. (It’s no wonder they just re-signed seven-year veteran center Samson Satele, a second-round pick of the Dolphins in 2007 who spent the past five years in Oakland and Indianapolis.) And Miami ranked 26th in the league in rushing last year. Who knows when they’ll have Moreno, and how much he’ll play?

How this team can go 12–4

Well, one thing is for sure: the Dolphins can’t get swept by Buffalo, which happened last year. But two things have to happen. First, third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill has to adjust to a new offense orchestrated by rookie coordinator Bill Lazor, and he has to do it behind a new offensive line. Second, so much depends on the health and welfare of four key players—the aforementioned Pouncey (especially) and Moreno on offense, and safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Cortland Finnegan on defense. Delmas broke down consistently for Detroit, which is why he’s no longer there. If Pouncey can play the last nine or 10 games at his usual high level, and if Tannehill catches on quickly, and if the defensive question marks can stay upright, Miami will contend in December. Lots of ifs there, folks.

How this team can go 4–12

Tannehill, for most of 2013, seemed to be on the upswing; at least he was until a dismal two-game finish (Bills/Jets 39, Dolphins 7, an incredible blot on the Incognito/Martin season, and Tannehill completed 45% of his throws with three picks in those games). Now, he’s going to have to excel in this new offense needing more time from his line because the Lazor offense emphasizes more downfield throws than the offense of the fired Mike Sherman did. So if the offense suffers a total breakdown, the win-loss record could too.

Now, from fantasyland …

1. Because of Knowshon Moreno’s balky knees, Lamar Miller might get more chances than the 200-ish he would have had with a healthy Moreno in the house. So Miller jumps from a job-share to something more. I’m guessing 250 carries.

More Dolphins
2. “Watch Charles Clay,’’ GM Dennis Hickey told me. During practice, I did. And Tannehill, despite marching orders to look downfield, looked for Clay a lot. That’s one practice now. But Tannehill won’t forget the sure-handed Clay.

3. Mike Wallace and a deeper passing game. What’s not to like in fantasy football? Regardless of the record, Wallace should have a 10-touchdown season.

The starters

How I project the lineup, with competitive spots in bold:

  OFFENSE   DEFENSE
WR Brian Hartline LE Cameron Wake
LT Branden Albert DT Randy Starks / Earl Mitchell
LG Dallas Thomas DT Jared Odrick
C Mike Pouncey / Billy Turner / Samson Satele
RE Olivier Vernon
RG Shelley Smith OLB Dannell Ellerbe
RT Ju’Wuan James MLB Koa Misi
TE Charles Clay OLB Philip Wheeler
WR
Mike Wallace CB Brent Grimes
3rd WR
Brandon Gibson / Jarvis Landry CB Cortland Finnegan
QB Ryan Tannehill Nickel Jamar Taylor / Will Davis
RB Lamar Miller / Knowshon Moreno SS Reshad Jones
FB Daniel Thomas FS Louis Delmas
K Caleb Sturgis P Brandon Fields
 
Follow @TheMMQB and #TheMMQBtour on Instagram as Peter King makes his way across the country.
Follow @TheMMQB and #TheMMQBtour on Instagram as Peter King (here with Ryan Tannehill) makes his way across the country.
 

Best new player in camp

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry. After a couple of practices, backup quarterback Matt Moore approached GM Dennis Hickey and told him: “This guy’s got the best hands I’ve seen.” Landry, from LSU, is challenging touchdown-maker Brandon Gibson for playing time in the slot, but he can also play outside. Look for offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to find a role for Landry both inside and outside. Great note in the Miami Herald on Landry the other day—after the July 27 practice, he stayed afterward in the heat and humidity to catch balls fired out of the JUGS machine. Sixty balls, sixty catches. Not revolutionary, just interesting.

Strong opinion that I may regret by November

Brent Grimes will follow one terrific season with a second, and he will get All-Pro votes. That’s All-Pro, not Pro Bowl, meaning some will think he was one of the best two corners in the league in 2014. His cover ability, plus his nasty streak and his don’t-back-down attitude, serve him well.

Something I’ve never seen before

The biggest cold tub in NFL history. The Dolphins installed it this offseason to assist in post-practice player recovery. It’s 40 feet long by 22 feet wide, and four feet deep. How many can it fit comfortably? I don’t know. A team?

What I thought when I walked out of camp

There are weapons on offense that I like a lot at receiver and tight end. There is a top five pass rusher in Cameron Wake. There’s a good secondary. There’s a promising quarterback. But I thought: I wouldn’t want to be counting on getting off to a fast start with New England, Kansas City and Green Bay on the slate in the first five games, especially with an offense adjusting to five new starters on the offensive line and a new offense that will need to keep Ryan Tannehill upright longer than last year. I can’t see Miami passing the Patriots this year. I can see them being in a dogfight with the Jets and Bills for second in the AFC East, which all three of those teams have been doing for about 342 years now.

 

mmqb-end-slug-square

More from The MMQB
19 comments
alan.fournier49
alan.fournier49

How would you like to come out of the shower and have dozens of men and women staring at your junk. This is what management and media do to male pro-sport athletes. They have effectively silenced male athletes on this. They face fines and discipline by the leagues and vilification in the media. Look up an article by Shuana Richer in the Globe and Mail last year. It was the of the most disgusting, vulgar and voyeristic pieces of shaming thrash I have ever seen. You would never, ever see women being put into situations of forced nudity, ever, let alone a man writing an article like that about women. I stopped supporting pro team sports long ago because of this. These men are owned like livestock, and are treated as such. I don't care how big, rich or tough they may seem.There are some things that shouldn't have a price. Human dignity being one of them. 


Tell me one other reputable organization that forces people to do their jobs naked in front of an audience, very often against their will. Nor do I think pro-sport an appropriate role model for boys. It tells them that their role models have no right to boundaries. In this day and age that's the last message that young men should be getting. On so many levels this is wrong. Donald Serling is far from alone in showing contempt for these men. Management and the media have reduced one of the highest forms of human endeavour to something cheap, tawdry and vulgar. For those who don't like what I'm saying, don't shot the messenger. I dare someone to prove me wrong? That is what we enable when we support pro-sport. I will not pay for any endeavour that treats grown men like this.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=whitlock/050811

6marK6
6marK6

The same coaches that allowed that nonsense from last year to happen are still in charge, but there is a "new" family atmosphere.

eric5244888
eric5244888

I think adding talent equals success.....Dolphins failed to do that in the offseason......

JordanMacGeever
JordanMacGeever

I think this is the line up as we stand

QB - Ryan Tannehill                                      DE - Cameron Wake 


RB1 - Lamar Miller                                        DT - Randy Starks 


RB2 - Knowshon Moreno                              DT - Jared Odrick / Earl Mitchell 

TE1 - Charles Clay 

TE2 - Dion Sims                                           DE - Olivier Vernon

LT - Branden Albert                                       MLB - Koa Misi

LG - Daryn Colledge 

C - Samson Satele (Mike Pouncey)             WLB - Dannell Ellerbe

RG - Shelley Smith/Billy Turner                    

RT - Ja'wuan James                                     SLB - Phillip Wheeler


WR1 - Mike Wallace                                    CB1 - Brent Grimes 

WR2 - Brian Hartline                                    CB2 - Cortland Finnegan

sWR - Jarvis Landry                                    SCB - Jimmy Wilson

K - Caleb Sturgis                                         SS - Reshad Jones 

P - Brandon Fields                                       FS - Louis Delmas

groud
groud

teenage wasteland? you mean baba o'riley?

JordanMacGeever
JordanMacGeever

Wait the projected line up is a horror show! Firstly your missing Reshad Jones secondly Daryn Colledge, have Billy Turner at C? LOL. And Jimmy Wilson is starting safety? He's been the nickel CB 2 straight years and he's very good at it. Also you include KC at home as a really tough game? KC are an extremely average team this year. 

PaulDSmythe
PaulDSmythe

You credit Pete Carroll for music in practices? Teams were doing that long before he joined Seattle.

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

This post was stupid enough the first time you posted it. I think you need therapy.

mystafugee
mystafugee

@6marK6 Agreed, I love how they canned the GM but kept the coach.  

JordanMacGeever
JordanMacGeever

@eric5244888 and then you have a healthy Dion Jordan and Jamar Taylor both top 40 players from the draft previous

eric5244888
eric5244888

@PaulDSmythe it's ok....King is new to football.....he has been to tied up in praising Michael Sam for what he does in his bedroom to pay attention to what happens in practice....

evetsyarsh
evetsyarsh

@eric5244888 @PaulDSmythe why do you have to bring up what sam does in his bedroom. King didn't. You did. why don't you just talk about football. Your love of bigotry is bigger than your love of football. Bigots are the distraction from talking about sports.

Newsletter