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4 posts from July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014

Jarvis Landry excites the Dolphins early

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross shook the hand of one player coming off the field on Friday: Rookie Jarvis Landry.

Later, Ross mentioned Landry unsolicited, suggesting the owner is excited about Miami's second round pick before the kid catches even one pass in a game. Maybe he knows something.

"I think Jarvis Landry is somebody I think everybody is really excited about, speaking to the coaches. I think he’s really going to be somebody that’s going to surprise a lot of people and really bring some excitement to this team,” Ross said.

Well, if the coaches are telling him to keep an eye on Landry, maybe we should also.

What does Landry think of his first day of practice?

Check the video:


Quickie observations from first Dolphins practice

The Dolphins first practice of 2014 is in the books.

Some quickie observations:

Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace have a long way to go on their deep ball connections. Still. The duo combined for one completion deep down the left sideline midway through practice during seven on seven drills. But there were two other instances when Tannehill underthrew on deep passes -- one to Wallace who was wide open behind Will Davis and once when Damien Williams was open deep.

The starting offensive line today was RT Ja'Wuan James, RG Dallas Thomas, C Shelley Smith, LG Daryn Colledge and LT Branden Albert. James gave up multiple sacks in both one-on-one drills and in team drills. But ... Remember the pads were not fully on, he was matched against Cam Wake, and the kid is a rookie.

Colledge had a fine moment in one-on-one drills against Earl Mitchell. Stoned him at the line of scrimmage.

It must be said that the quarterback-center exchanges need cleaning up. There were two fumbled exchanges between Tannehill and Smith. Second-team center Sam Brenner ground-balled one shotgun snap, and Tannehill bobbled another exchange.

Mike Pouncey, the starting center once he returns from his hip surgery, said he "ahead of schedule" on his rehabilitation. But, as you know, he will miss the start of the season and he may miss up to seven games, as I've reported.

Speaking to the media today, general manager Dennis Hickey said every player passed his conditioning test. Derrick Shelby was limited in practice after having arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason. A source said he'll be fine. Coach Joe Pilbin told me earlier this week the Dolphins had 99.1 percent attendance in their voluntary offseason programs and OTAs. So that obviously paid dividends.

Brandon Gibson, who missed much of last year after tearing a patellar tendon, practiced today. He didn't seem limited but, again, the club was not in pads. It may be that once the pads go on the Dolphins don't throw Gibson into contact drills immediately.

Interesting scene after practice: The one player owner Stephen Ross made a point of meeting and talking to was Jarvis Landry. And then Ross mentioned Landry as a big addition during his press conference. Perhaps the owner has been told by coaches to keep an eye on the rookie.

What did I see from Bill Lazor's offense today? Lots of screens, especially bubble screens to receivers, lot of passes in the flat to the TE (Michael Egnew caught two and dropped one) and lots of quick throws. I saw the read option, including using Tannehill on the keeper.

I did not hear Go and Go-Go at practice today.

Dion Jordan, who will be suspended four games in the regular season, got some first-team snaps in practice today. No, he's not the starter. That's Wake and Olivier Vernon. But Vernon got a break here and there and Jordan got the reps. Vernon, by the way, had at least one sack today.

Second-year CB Jamar Taylor, who was beaten on the deep completion from Ryan Tannehill to Mike Wallace, recovered nicely later in practice. He had a nice pass defensed and near interception on a Matt Moore pass.

The Dolphins are working Nate Garner as their backup LT. Obviously, if Albert goes down, the Dolphins may shift rookie Ja'Wuan James to LT and play Garner at RT. But ... if there is any point this season Garner has to play LT in a game, that is bad news. Garner is a fine swing player. He is a solid G and a serviceable RT. He is not, repeat, not a LT.

Speaking to the media today, owner Stephen Ross said plans for the upgrade to Sun Life Stadium are being drawn up and construction on the facility will begin after the season. He said by the 2015 season there will be new seating (a new bowl) at the facility. The new scoreboards and the roof will go in for the 2016 season. Ross said Sun Life "will be tantamount to a new stadium" when construction is complete.

Ross was asked if coach Joe Philbin has to make the playoffs this year to keep his job. He demured. "I'm expecting Joe Philbin to be here for a long time," he said, "but every year you want to see improvement."

Dolphins want Tannehill to take steps in three areas

The most significant questions facing the Dolphins in 2014?

Is Joe Phiblin capable of leading a turnaround? Is the offensive line going to be a wall or a stumbling block? And will quarterback Ryan Tannehill be good enough?

As Joe Philbin makes clear in my column, which appears in today's Miami Herald, the Dolphins are looking for steps of progress in three major areas from Tannehill.

They want better decision-making.

They want better accuracy.

They want more playmaking.

“There are really three things that I think about quarterback play," Philbin told me in an exclusive pre-training camp interview. "One is decision-making. I think decision-making ties into play speed. The better decision-maker you are, the quicker you make them and that ties in to the opportunities to make a tight throw or take the guy that’s open sooner to get him the ball in space and let him run a little bit. I think there’s room for development there."

Accuracy is number two. Getting the ball to Mike Wallace in stride rather than overthrowing it. Leading Brian Hartline on a slant rather than forcing him to make an acrobatic catch, which causes him to immediately fall down rather than run for 20 yards.

And the last thing is playmaking ability.

"Can you imagine what our offense would have been without our two-minute offense? We had a pretty good two-minute offense last year," Philbin said. "And [Tannehill} demonstrated in those situations he has a good feel for the game, good clock management. He can communicate effectively without taking a ton of time. He’s got playmaking ability.

"But even there, we’re looking for more. He’s got a great pair of legs on him and we’ve seen some of that. And so when you get a 15-yard run from the quarterback and all of a sudden you’re in pretty good field position even when you don’t have great execution, that’s great. He’s capable of some of that stuff.”

Three things to improve on, Ryan Tannehill.

It begins in training camp today.

Philbin: Settling OL may happen later rather than sooner

It about the offensive line, folks. It's always about the offensive line with the Miami Dolphins. The pendulum of fate has swung in the wrong direction for the Dolphins after all those years enjoying the play of  Larry Little and Jim Langer and Richmond Webb and Dwight Stephenson. As 2014 begins, the offensive line once again is Miami's major issue.

In my column in today's newspaper and website, coach Joe Philbin makes no secret of the fact the offensive line is an a major issue for the Dolphins. Simply, this team is facing not just a big issue but a historically significant issue with regards to the offensive line.

And so with training camp starting today, all eyes will be on the offensive line. And the Dolphins know it. And the scrutiny might just be there a while because we might not get answers for a long time, according to Philbin.

“The preseason is going to be important for the Oline," Philbin told me in an exclusive interview prior to the start of training camp. "Let’s face it, we don’t have five locked and loaded guys right now. I’m not panicking over it, but it’s important we find them. We’ve got to get reps and field evaluations and give them opportunities."

And how long will that take?

"It’s great to settle on a line a little sooner rather than later, but I think it might take a while to figure all that out,” Philbin said.


Obviously the loss of Mike Pouncey for perhaps the first half of the season is problematic. The Dolphins placed Pouncey on the physically unable to perform list on Thursday, along with running back Knowshon Moreno. Pouncey's stay on the list will be long. Moreno's probably won't be, according to what Philbin told me this week.

So much work will have to be done on this OL unit. Much work, folks. 

“We have to figure out the offensive line," Philbin said. "In the OTAs, I loved the offseason program, but we’ve got to get some pads on. We’ve got to get some blitzes coming live or semi-live. We have to put those guys in some pressure situations and turn the crowd noise up and motion across the formation, make an adjustment call and see if those guys can function in real time.

"The walk-thru is great and film study is great and real important. But you have to step back and let them do a little bit and see what we got."