October 10, 2016

Miami Dolphins place Koa Misi on injured reserve (Update)

The Miami Dolphins have placed linebacker Koa Misi on injured reserve today.

The move makes room on the roster for the Dolphins to add cornerback Bene' Benwikere off the waiver wire. The cornerback was cut Friday by the Carolina Panthers after he struggled to cover Julio Jones the previous Sunday, allowing Jones to have a good portion of his 300-yard day against the Panthers.

The Misi move is a stunner. One NFL source said Misi's neck injury could potentially be career-threatening. Misi has been seen by at least one specialist and is expected to seek the advice of others.

Misi missed the last two games with a neck injury but there was no public indication the injury was serious enough to have him miss the remainder of the season much less threaten his career.

Although Misi is eligible to return to the roster after eight weeks, that seems unlikely. Aside from the injury's seriousness, the Dolphins have at least one other players on injured reserve -- defensive tackle Earl Mitchell -- that they'd like to bring off injured reserve and he is eligibile to return in four weeks.

Misi, 29, finishes the year on injured reserve for the second consecutive year.

Misi has not been able to stay healthy to play 16 games in a season since 2010, his rookie year in the NFL.

The Dolphins have been playing Donald Butler for Misi and that seems the direction that will continue.


Adam Gase explains Tunsil (shower) ankle injury and defends Ryan Tannehill while blaming pass protection

Dolphins coach Adam Gase was driving to Sunday's game with offensive line coach Chris Foerster when the assistant's cell phone rang. And as the conversation was happening, Gase quickly got the drift that something was wrong.

"I'm thinking, who's he talking to?," Gase said. "Then he's like, 'Ok, LT I'll see you at the stadium.' And I asked what just happened?

"I get a little bit of the details of what happened and now it's what's the next step."

The details, according to Gase, are as was reported by Andy Slater of WINZ Sunday evening. Tunsil, in the shower Sunday morning, injured his left ankle.

"So from what I gathered, he slipped in the shower and fell," Gase said. "He jacked his ankle up. I don't know how it actually happened. Sometimes that happens to you, you don't know exactly how you did it. You just know you're in pain."

Tunsil got to the stadium and got X-Rays. Gase said the team is still determining how long Tunsil will be out, "day-to-day or week-to-week," the coach said.

Tunsil, who came to the Dolphins after he dropped in the draft following the social media release of a gasmask bong video, suffered the accident between 8-9 a.m. Gase was asked if he knew if the player was fully sober at the time of the accident and said there were no red flags when Tunsil checked in for the mandatory team breakfast.

I don't assume the Dolphins could know because they didn't conduct any drug test of Tunsil Sunday morning. This much is certain:

Tunsil was crestfallen. Sources say he was upset and tears were welling up in his eyes at times as he talked to teammates because he realized his accident was about to weaken the team.

"I'm sure it's that cross between embarrassment and thinking, 'I'm missing a game because of this?'" Gase said. "He knows that being out there makes us better. And he's a competitor and knows we count on him being healthy and being a part of our offense."

Tunsil was so upset, he left the stadium and didn't stay for the game.

He is not on crutches today.

"He's walking," Gase said.

The Dolphins expect Albert back for the Pittsburgh game Sunday. He told reporters today he expects to practice Wednesday. Tunsil's status is obviously unclear.

The Tunsil loss was not catastrophic but it did absolutely hurt. The Miami offensive line was a disaster on Sunday. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked six times.

Tunsil's injury combined with the loss of Branden Albert, who was out after being ill all last week, forced Dallas Thomas into the starting lineup. It forced Billy Turner, who was going to start at left guard while Tunsil started at left tackle, to start at left tackle.

Gase explained that he didn't "throw" Jermon Bushrod to left tackle, where he's played in the past, because he had no repetitions. Indeed, Bushrod has not played at left tackle for the Dolphins since he's been on the team.

In explaining the struggles of the offensive line, Gase made it clear he blames that unit for the stuggles Tannehill suffered Sunday. Image

"I know when we have 18 dropback passes and he's hit or sacked on nine of them and then the completions we do have, he's got guys in his face," Gase said. "I'm supposed to blame him for that? I get a look at the whole picture. I'm calling the plays and I know what it's supposed to look like and it's not looking like that now as far as what's going on around him.

"When we start cleaning some things up and start giving him a chance to perform at the level I think he's going to perform and he doesn't do it, that's one thing. But I need to see where we get a chance in protection, we're right on a lot of the other things we're supposed to be doing. Is he going to have mistakes? Yeah.

"The last interception. I told him before he went out there, 'You're going to have to fit it in.' He tried to fit it in but gets jacked. I thought he was going to get his rotator cuff blown out and knee blown out and everybody gets pissed at him.

"Everybody wants to blame that position. It's the easy one to do because you can see completion, incompletions, interception. But when you hit your back foot and get sacked, there's not much you can do about it."

Salguero on the run defense, the putrid offense, regression from a year ago, being wrong and Dolphins' Tunsil lie

I was wrong. I wrote last week this Miami Dolphins' season could be salvaged. How foolish I have been. 

There is no saving this season if the Dolphins continue to do what they have done the first five games, namely, they don't score on offense and cannot stop the run on defense.

That is a deadly combination that will kill any season.

And that is where this Dolphins season is headed. That 1-4 hole the team has dug? It's really a grave.

There will be no climbing out of it if the Dolphins cannot score more than one touchdown a game. The Dolphins are 28th in the NFL, averaging 17.8 points per game. They scored 17 points against Tennessee on Sunday. Except one of those touchdowns was on a punt return.

The Miami offense scored one TD against the Titans. The Miami offense scored one TD against Cincinnati the week before. The Miami offense scored one TD against Seattle in the opener.

An offense that scores one touchdown per game is putrid.

The Miami defense? It has more holes than a dam constructed of random twigs by a beaver. The Dolphins have the worst run defense in the NFL. (Actually that is an assumption. The Dolphins had the 29th rated run defense entering Sunday's game and then allowed 235 rushing yards. So I'm assuming no other defense was as inept against the run as Miami's was Sunday and that will sink them to last.)

Anyway, the Dolphins are supposed to have this great defensive front. Yeah, not so much. A couple of linebackers -- Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins -- are often hurt as they were Sunday thus unavailable for duty. There are gaps up the middle that Ndamukong Suh, getting double-teamed most of the day, cannot fill. There is a problem setting the edge. There are a couple of players, with Byron Maxwell being one, that are either atrocious or unwilling tacklers.

And the result is ...

Big plays in the running game. The running game!

The Titans had runs of -- ready for this? -- 22 yards, 27 yards, 11 yards, 19 yards, 14 yards, 13 yards, and 12 yards. That's not a ground game, that's a paper shredder with the Miami defense playing the role of the paper.

Cannot win like that in the NFL. Impossible.

I wrote my column today about Adam Gase saying Ryan Tannehill is the quarterback the remainder of the season and what that means and why he said it. Please check it out.

But, honestly, 27-year-old Dan Marino could do nothing about a defense that gives up 235 rushing yards. Indeed, he had that kind of defense when he played and that's why he often went home with an L after playing Buffalo back in the day.

As to the offense scoring only one TD a game, well, Marino could do something about that. But unfortunately a 27-year-old Dan Marino isn't walking through those doors.

And so this season is irredeemable. Thinking otherwise makes me a hopeful but unthinking loon.

One more thing: The 2015 Dolphins were 1-3 and went to Tennessee after a bye and beat the Titans by 28 points.

The 2016 Dolphins were 1-3 and hosted Tennessee after a mini-bye and got beat, 30-17.

In Cuba, where I was born, there is a word for such things ...


One final thing: The Dolphins announced 90 minutes prior to kickoff Sunday that starting left guard/tackle Laremy Tunsil injured himself while preparing for the game.

That was a lie.

WINZ's Andy Slater first reported Tunsil injured his ankle in the shower of the team hotel before he ever got to Hard Rock Stadium Sunday afternoon.

He wasn't preparing for the game. He was showering. And apparently he fell.

And the Dolphins, recognizing how odd that seems, obviously tried to cover for their rookie first round draft pick by concocting some "preparing for the game" narrative. That was pregame. After the game, coach Adam Gase was more sophisticated in the manner he avoided explaining what happened.

“He was getting ready for the game," Gase said. "I’m still kind of sorting everything out right now. We’re trying to get ready for (the game) and all of a sudden he lets you know that he’s not going to be able to go so we had to make some quick adjustments."

Yeah, that's parsing words. When a coach tells you a player was "getting ready for the game," no one expects that to mean the player was showering before heading over to the stadium. You expect that will have something to do with warming up or doing something of an athletic nature.

It's really disappointing the Dolphins decided to turn what was an unfortunate accident into a mini cover-up.

For what? Why? In hopes of sparing Tunsil, who was drafted after appearing in an infamous gasmask bong video, some minor embarrassment?

I saw this team play on Sunday. The Dolphins have bigger embarrassments they should be more eager to cover up instead. 

October 09, 2016

Ryan Tannehill is Dolphins QB remainder of the year

It was a day hundreds if not thousands of fans at Hard Rock Stadium chanted, "We want Moore, we want Moore," signaling to anyone with ears they want Matt Moore as the Dolphins quarterback.

It was kind of understandable.

Tannehill, the Miami Dolphins starter since 2012, is not having a good season so far this year and didn't have a good day in a 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Not good is defined as 12 of 18 for 191 yards with two interceptions and a 62.3 quarterback rating. Tannehill this year has six touchdown passes and seven interceptions and his 83.6 rating is the lowest he's had since 2013, his second season in the NFL.

But that doesn't matter ...

Coach Adam Gase was asked if he thought of benching Tannehill.

"No. He's not coming out," Gase said. "You can ask me 100 times, he's going to be in there the rest of the season."

Consider Tannehill appreciative.

"I know coach has confidence in me -- I have confidence in myself -- and I think the guys on offense have confidence in me," Tannehill said. "We're going to go out and play. I'm going to push myself in practice, do everything I can do to get better and expect to play better."


Titans beat Dolphins: Most discouraging win in long time

I have just witnessed the most discouraging and depressing Miami Dolphins loss in a long time.

The Tennessee Titans, a team that was so awful last year it had the first overall pick of the draft in April, came into Hard Rock Stadium and kicked the Dolphins' collective butts.

The 30-17 score was not indicative of how awful the Dolphins looked and played.

They showed no fight on defense.

They had no answers or apparent plan on offense.

And they combined this with a lack of discipline and poise the likes of which have not been seen around here in a while.

The Titans steamrolled Miami's defense with 235 rushing yards. DeMarco Murray gained 121 yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and reserve tailback Derrick Henry added over 114 yards more.

Mariota, by the way, looked like Steve Young today. He threw three touchdown passes without an interception. He came into the game with four touchdowns and five interceptions.

Yes, the Dolphins defense was terrible.

But the offense tried not to be outdone. The Dolphins scored one TD on offense. One.

They scored one last week against Cincinnati. They scored one against Seattle in the opener.

One touchdown per game is horrible, my friends. I don't have to tell you that. Something is broken here and doesn't seen to be getting better right now.

Ryan Tannehill was sacked six times and that was bad. But it was worse than expected knowing the Dolphins would be coming into the game with a backup left guard and left tackle.  Three of those sacks came when it became obvious the Dolphins were simply going to throw to try to make a comeback. The Titans teed off on Tannehill.

Tannehill also threw two interceptions.

So what now? I have no idea. This season is a trainwreck already.


Dolphins answer surprise Tunsil-Albert inactives with a surprise decision

So the starting left side of the Miami Dolphins offensive line today will be Billy Turner at left tackle and Dallas Thomas at left guard.

Think about that.

The Dolphins were dealt a tough situation this morning when starting left guard Laremy Tunsil and starting left tackle Branden Albert were unable to play. The Dolphins expected both players to start as late as this morning.

But Albert never turned the corner on an illness that was bothering him and kept him out of practice most of the week. So in the heat, he would have been incapable of staying on the field. His inactive status, I'm told, had nothing to do with his ankle injury.

Tunsil, meanwhile, hurt his ankle while preparing for the game this morning.

And when that surprise situation became apparent, the Dolphins had a decision to make.

They opted to put Turner at left tackle even though he has not started an NFL game at left tackle in his career.

The coaching staff, I'm told, decided that Turner was a better option than moving Jermon Bushrod, who has started at left tackle all his career until this season. Bushrod would have moved right guard to left tackle. The team also decided not to move Ja'Wuan James from right tackle to left tackle even though that is exactly what he did in 2014 when Albert was lost for the season with a knee injury.

The thinking, I'm told, is that Turner started 30 games at left tackle in college at North Dakota State and putting him there would be better than disrupting the right side of the offensive line.

Turner will be responsible for blocking Brian Orakpo much of the day. He will get help from tight ends and backs.

We'll see how the logic the coaching staff used to cover two surprise inactives this morning works out.

Arian Foster, Laremy Tunsil, Branden Albert not playing versus Titans

Huge surprise here: Dolphins rookie Laremy Tunsil is inactive for today's game against the Tennessee Titans.

That's not only surprising because Tunsil was not on the injury report this week but because Branden Albert is also inactive and going to miss his second consecutive game. Albert was on the injury report with an ankle and illness issues during the week of preparation.

The Dolphins say Tunsil hurt himself preparing for the game. The team says the injury is an ankle.

The Dolphins will start Billy Turner at left tackle and Dallas Thomas at left guard against the Titans.

This should come as no surprise but it is also notable: Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster, doubtful for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans, is not playing.

Foster will be inactive for the third consecutive week with a hamstring injury.

He last played Sept. 18 at New England. Foster tweaked a groin in that game and left the game in the first half.

But the reason he's not played the past three weeks is the hamstring injury. Foster also had a hamstring injury in the preseason.

The Dolphins are expected to start Jay Ajayi against the Titans today.

Count that as one of the changes the Dolphins are promising in Sunday's game against the Titans. Please read the column.

The interesting question will come next week if Ajayi plays well today and Foster is ready to come back. Who starts then? What's the plan then?

Foster has gained 47 yards on 16 carries this season, a 2.9 yard per rush average. Ajayi is the team's leading rusher with 75 yards on 18 carries for a 4.2 yard per rush average.

The full list of inactives for Miami:

25       Xavien Howard                CB

29       Arian Foster                    RB

53       Jelani Jenkins                  LB

55       Koa Misi                         LB

67       Laremy Tunsil                  G/T

76       Branden Albert                T

84       Jordan Cameron             TE

Interesting that both Jenkins and Misi are down today. I expect to see Cameron Wake at linebacker at some point although Donald Butler and Neville Hewitt are listed as the starters.

October 08, 2016

Why the Dolphins third down offense is so terrible

I know some pundits that include former coaches and players would have you believe football is a complex sport. And, yes, it has it's own language and culture. But when it comes down to it, the NFL is about matchups and your playmakers beating their playmakers.

The team that exploit matchups typically win.

The team that gets the most plays from its playmakers typically win.

And that is why the Dolphins are 1-3 today. (They'll be 2-3 tomorrow evening, but that's for another post). As I wrote in my column today, the Dolphins are not getting enough plays from their playmakers. Indeed, I'm starting to wonder how many playmakers this team really has.

DeVante Parker is not making enough plays.

Kenny Stills is not making enough plays -- indeed he makes one extra play this year, the Dolphins beat Seattle and they're 2-2.

I list the so-called playmakers that aren't producing enough plays for the Dolphins. And, yes, Ryan Tannehill is among the list of guys not making enough plays for the Dolphins. It is just true.

Think about this:

The New England Patriots have not seen Tom Brady on the field four games into the season. They've played with backup Jimmy Garoppolo and third-stringer Jacoby Brissett. And yet the Patriots have not thrown an interception this year.

The Dallas Cowboys have not seen Tony Romo on the field four games into the season. They've played with backup rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. And yet the Cowboys have not thrown an interception this year.

The Vikings lost their starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in practice before the regular-season began. They started backup Shaun Hill and then traded for Sam Bradford who took three minutes to learn the offense before he got rolling. And yet the Vikings have not thrown an interception this year.

The Eagles traded Bradford. They're starting rookie Carson Wentz, who missed much of the preseason with an fractured rib. And the Eagles have not thrown an interception this year.

The Dolphins? With Tannehill? He's thrown more interceptions than Cleveland Browns quarterbacks.

This is not sustainable. He must be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. He must be a playmaker for the Dolphins.

And this isn't just a Tannehill issue. This isn't a running game or passing game issue. It's an everybody issue.

Miami is 31st in the NFL in running first downs. Miami is 26th in the NFL in passing first downs.

It's also not a offense-only issue. The defense needs to make more impact plays.

Turnover margin is one measure of impact plays.

The Dolphins are minus five. That's 29th in the NFL.

The Miami defense has four take-aways. Buffalo has twice as many. New England has seven.


Miami has nine which is 26th in the NFL. Miami's four lost fumbles in four games is horrible!

I will say this: I note in my column how horrible Miami's offense is on third down efficiency. The defense, interestingly, is pretty good. The Dolphins' D is allowing third down conversions only 31.7 percent of the time and that's second-best in the NFL.

So on the big money down, the Dolphins defense is making plays. That's great.

The problem is the offense stinks.

Example: The Miami D held Cincinnati to 3-of-15 (20 percent) in their last game, versus Cincinnati.

The problem is the Miami O was worse than Cincy's O. The Dolphins converted only 2 of 11 third downs all game, including none in five tries the first half. The 2-of-11 rate is 18 percent. So, awful.

Again, the NFL is about matchups and playmakers making impact plays.

The Dolphins are so far terrible at getting impact plays from their playmakers.

October 07, 2016

Xavien Howard undergoes (another) knee surgery, is week to week

The starting cornerbacks against the Tennessee Titans Sunday for the Miami Dolphins?

Tony Lippett and Byron Maxwell.

Indeed, that will be the starting cornerback tandem for the next few weeks because Xavien Howard is out Sunday and will miss 3-6 weeks after having his meniscus repaired this week. The surgery was to the same knee that required surgery in June and caused Howard to miss all of training camp and the preseason.

Howard injured his knee in practice this week. He will remain on the active roster as the team is calling him "week to week."

Coach Adam Gase confirmed Howard had the surgery. Gase also confirmed Maxwell, who was benched last week at Cincinnati, is back in the starting lineup.

The Dolphins are thus in bad shape at cornerback. Lippett isn't good enough and Maxwell is trying to play to the form the Dolphins thought he'd have when they traded for him in the offseason.

The situation is serious enough that Gase said when Chris Culliver, who is rehabilitating from serious knee reconstruction, is able to come off the physically unable to perform list after the sixth game of the season, "he'll be in the conversation very fast."

The Howard issue might not necessarily be a disaster this weekend. The Titans are the NFL's 27th ranked passing offense, averaging 221 yards per game. But later, when opponents such as Pittsburgh and San Diego come around, that could present a major problem for the Dolphins.

Howard is one of three players the Dolphins officially listed as out for Sunday's game. Tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) will miss his second consecutive start as will linebacker Koa Misi (neck).

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Friday Donald Butler would start in place of Misi.

Running back Arian Foster (hamstring) is listed as doubtful. Don't expect to see him in this game as the Dolphins are likely to be cautious in his return from a hamstring injury. Foster has already missed two of Miami's four games.

By the way, the Carolina Panthers today cut 6-foot cornerback Bene' Benwikere Friday. Benwikere was a Carolina starter until this week when he was cut in the aftermath of allowing Falcons receiver Julio Jones to gain 300 yards on 12 catches in last Sunday's game against the Panthers. Benwikere was assigned to shadow Jones throughout the game.

It obviously didn't go well. No one is confusing Benwikere with Deion Sanders.

But these are desperate times. So why not put in a claim for a 25-year-old player?

Dolphins moving forward toward Sunday at Hard Rock until further notice (updated)

The people who refurbished (rebuilt) Hard Rock Stadium to its current form will inspect the facility today to make sure it suffered no structural damage during Hurricane Matthew. If that inspection shows the facility is undamaged, the football games scheduled for tomorrow and Sunday will be held there as planned.

The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles are scheduled to play at Hard Rock on Saturday night. The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to host the Tennessee Titans at Hard Rock at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

By all outward appearances Hard Rock suffered no damage.

[Update: The stadium has passed inspection. The games are on!]

Matthew did not come ashore in South Florida and northwest Miami-Dade County where Hard Rock sits saw only minimal tropical storm force winds and some rain. The facility is designed and constructed to withstand hurricane force winds.

So the scheduled inspection is considered unlikely to turn up any issues. The Dolphins nonetheless want to be detailed in every facet of this issue.

But this: The Dolphins fully expect to move forward and play the Titans at home on Sunday. They've made plans for this and will continue to implement those plans today unless and until someone (the inspection) says otherwise.

Those plans include a walkthrough practice at 2 p.m. followed by an hour-long or so practice at 3:05 p.m.

Dolphins players were off Thursday but that was planned well ahead of the storm and would have happened even if there was no storm. Coaches were told to stay home Thursday and did exactly that because of the storm. The team has re-gathered at its Davie, Fl., practice facility today.

That facility, by the way, also suffered no ill effects from Matthew.


October 05, 2016

Xavien Howard injured in practice Tuesday, uncertain for Sunday

The Dolphins hoped the extra days they get following a Thursday game last week would give them an opportunity to get healthier. That hasn't necessarily been the case.

Coach Adam Gase announced cornerback Xavien Howard "got tangled up" during practice Tuesday and suffered an injury that has put him under care of doctors. The coach said team doctors have been examining the rookie but others might be looking at him later on.

Gase gave no certainty that Howard is missing the game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday. He also gave no certainty Howard would be available to play.

"We're dealing with both contingencies," Gase said. "That's ball."

The Dolphins planned to give Byron Maxwell, benched last week against Cincinnati, a chance at playing time Sunday. He would be starting if Howard cannot play. It would be Maxwell and Tony Lippett starting.

If Howard can play, which reading between the lines doesn't sound like the most likely possibility, it would be Howard and Lippett with Maxwell working in.

On the bright side of the injury front, Gase said Branden Albert seems likely to go Sunday.

He will be reported as an illness and ankle injury on the injury report but the illness is the reason he has missed practice is the illness.

Gase addressed the Arian Foster situation and repeated the philosophy I reported on the matter a couple of hours ago.

Arian Foster, Jordan Cameron unlikely to play Sunday

Arian Foster continues to rehabilitate the groin/hamstring injury that has forced him to miss two games so far this season and right now the team is moving forward with the thinking he is not likely to play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Foster practiced at least on a limited basis Wednesday after missing practice Tuesday. Those two are the primary preparation days for the team this week prior to playing the Titans. The club will not practice Thursday at all and players won't even be at the Dolphins training facility due to the threat from Hurricane Matthew.

Foster could conceivably practice again Friday and still play Sunday but the Dolphins have so far been extremely cautious about putting valuable players back on the field with only limited practice when they're returning from injuries.

Coach Adam Gase doesn't like risking players re-aggravating injuries and missing more time than if they sat out a bit longer. So the more likely scenario is Foster is held back for the Pittsburgh game Oct. 16.

Interestingly, the injury that's keeping Foster out of games is not the same one that knocked him out of the New England game Sept. 13. Foster left that game with a left groin injury.

He has missed the past two games because of a left hamstring injury. Foster dealt with a hamstring injury during training camp.

Foster has historically suffered soft tissue injuries throughout his career.

Foster this season has 16 carries for 47 yards. That's a 2.9 yard per carry average. He's caught three passes for 62 yards. He has not scored.

Left tackle Branden Albert, tight end Jordan Cameron and linebacker Jelani Jenkins missed practice Wednesday.

The Dolphins are moving forward with the expectation that Cameron will miss Sunday's game due to the concussion he suffered against Cleveland Sept. 25.

Branden Albert missed practice Sunday with an illness and ankle injury. He missed last week's game at Cincinnati because of the same ankle injury. The Dolphins are hopeful Albert will be back against Tennessee on Sunday.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins also did not practice on Wednesday. He missed last week's game with a groin injury. It is unclear what his status is for Sunday.



Dolphins craft answer to Hurricane Matthew

The Miami Dolphins have already been impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

The team has decided to close its offices on Thursday in advance of the storm that is threatening parts of Florida, including parts of South Florida.

Players were supposed to be off on Thursday anyway, so there is no change there. They practiced on Tuesday, which is typically an off day.

Coaches, however, were expected to work Thursday. Now they also will be off and not expected to turn up at the team's Davie, Fla, training facility.

The team expects to be up and running on Friday.

The tarps used to cover fan areas and other outside tie-downs have been taken down by the Dolphins.

There has been discussions about what to do with Sunday's scheduled game in the event this storm hits the general area -- affecting power and roads. The Dolphins continue to monitor that but I'm told the team has no desire to play this game at Tennessee.


October 01, 2016

Would Jay Cutler be a serious possibility for the Dolphins?

The answer is no.



"Never happening," is what I've been told by folks familiar with the Miami Dolphins thinking. "Has never come up. Never happening."

And so if you are thinking the Dolphins are about to dump Ryan Tannehill by the November 1 trade deadline or after this season to replace him with Jay Cutler ... no. Just no.

Why is this a topic?

Well, my friend Mike Florio asked me about it on his highly entertaining (at least when I'm on) PFT Live radio show on NBC Sports Radio. Then he wrote about on ProFootballTalk.com and then radio shows elsewhere picked it up. And then it got onto some social media circles.

And now it's a thing because Tannehill didn't play great in a 22-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night.

Except it is not a thing with the Dolphins.

They haven't discussed it. The salary cap ramifications are moot because it is not being considered. The Dolphins, at least, aren't planning for it. They are not going to do it, based on what I've been told.


PFF Week Four grades: Reshad Jones a stud again; CBs terrible; Tannehill terrible; Pass Pro except for Urbik terrible

The Dolphins' grades coming out of Thursday night's loss to the Bengals', courtesy my friends at ProFootballFocus.com, have come in about where you'd expect. The defense, which held Cincinnati to one touchdown, was mostly good although there is room for improvement. The offense, which had one first quarter touchdown and nothing else, was not good.

To wit:

The Dolphins' defense was once again led by safety Reshad Jones, who posted the best grade on the unit with a 84.5. He graded out well in run defense once again, posting six tackles and three stops on the night. For the season, Jones leads his respective position in both tackles on running plays (17) and stops (10).

By the way...stops are what PFF judges to be tackles that prevent an offensive success, defined as gaining 40 percent of required yardage on first down, 60 percent on second down, and the entire required yardage on third or fourth downs.

Jones, by the way, turned in the highest grade of any Dolphins player for this game. He is also rated the No. 5 safety in the NFL by PFF according to their grades.

DT Nkdamukong Suh and DE Mario Williams shut down the left side of the line on run plays, as their six combined tackles were all run stops. Andre Branch joined the stop party as well, posting three of his own on runs to the right side of the defensive line.

Suh had an inconsistent game, grading out well in run defense and adding three more tackles and stops giving him a total of 17 tackles and 14 stops in run defense for the year. That is tops for all nose tackles and defensive tackles in the league. However, he had three penalties on the night and recorded just one QB hurry on 31 pass rushing snaps.   

CBs Tony Lippett and Xavien Howard were targeted a total of eight times when covering Bengals WR A.J. Green, and it went about as you'd expect. That is to say, poorly. Against the two young players, Green posted seven catches for 142 yards and the lone TD of the night for the Bengals off a missed tackle by Lippett. 

Howard, a rookie second round pick, was picked on for most of the first half, allowing four catches on five targets for 78 yards, highlighted by a 51 yard catch by AJ Green. He has now recorded 22 tackles in pass coverage which is the most in the league and has just two in run defense.

What do those numbers suggest? Teams are coming after Howard and forcing him to make plays or, as in this game, to not make plays.

The Bengals, by the way, seemed to chase Howard as if it was in their game plan to go after him moreso than veteran Byron Maxwell. When the Dolphins surprised everyone by benching Maxwell, the Bengals didn't change the plans and still looked to throw to their right more than to their left where not-ready-for-primetime Tony Lippett was playing cornerback.   

Dolphins LB Spencer Paysinger's coverage numbers don't look awful on paper, as he gave up two catches on three targets for 22 yards. However, he missed tackles on both receptions he allowed, and missed a third on a run. All three missed tackles resulted in key first downs for the Bengals. 

One week after being the most productive 4-3 defensive end rushing the passer, Cameron Wake saw little action against the Bengals, playing only 15 total snaps. He recorded one QB hurry which gives him 12 for the season, most at his position. His pass rushing productivity (a formula used to measure QB sacks/hits/hurries relative to pass rushing snaps) of 16.0 is the best for 4-3 defensive ends as well.

These numbers suggest, no, not suggest ... These number scream that Wake is still productive but the Dolphins are not getting enough productivity from him because he's not playing enough on a consistent basis. 

LB Kiko Alonso continued his solid season with the Dolphins, recording six more tackles including four stops and one QB hurry on the night. He was Miami's second highest rated player with a grade of 84.3, and has yet to record a missed tackle in 134 run defense snaps on the season. His biggest weakness so far has been his pass coverage, where he allowed six receptions on six targets for 42 yards against the Bengals.

One nitpick on run defense for Alonso: He's not a downhill player. He's excellent chasing sideline to sideline but he needs to improve slightly in filling holes in the middle of the defense as they happen at the line of scrimmage. Of course, that would turn him into perhaps the best MLB the Dolphins have had since Zach Thomas. He's not there yet, but good so far.

Offensively ... yikes.

After starting the season strong and ranking among the Top 10 quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill struggled Thursday against the Bengals, posting a grade of 45.0. Although he was effective facing no pressure (12-of-15 for 160 yards and one touchdown), under pressure was a different story.

Tannehill was 3-of-10 for 29 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and five sacks taken under pressure.  

First round rookie Laremy Tunsil made his first career start at LT against the Bengals filling in for an injured Branden Albert. It was an uneven debut at the position. In 45 total snaps (31 passing), Tunsil allowed one sack, one hit on Tannehill and one hurry. The sack was significant because Tunsil had allowed none in three games while playing at left guard.

Through four games, Tunsil has allowed the one sack and seven QB hurries in his 230 snaps. He has also graded out better run blocking than pass blocking thus far which is strange because coaches said he'd better as a pass blocker early on. Tunsil figures to be the LT of the future in Miami and he showed potential in his first career game there. Indeed, so far, Laremy Tunsil has played very well considering he's a rookie and is likely going to get even better.  

C Kraig Urbik stepped in and made the start at center with all of the injuries along the Miami offensive line. He was the only player to post a strong grade (79.3) and did not allow a single QB hurry/hit/sack on the night. The rest of the offensive line combined to allow five sacks, two QB hits and seven hurries.

I have no idea how Urbik did communicating the protections, if he did that at all. But for a third-string center, this was a pretty good outing all things considered.  

WR Jarvis Landry was targeted 10 of the 21 total attempts a Miami wide out was targeted against the Bengals, while Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker were each targeted only three times. Landry was able to turn his 10 targets into 7 catches and 61 yards and added to his league leading yards after catch (YAC) with 24 more. He did have one drop, per PFF.

For the season, Landry now ranks 5th for WR in yards per route run at 2.58.  

TE Dion Sims made the start for the injured Jordan Cameron and had a rough night against the Bengals. He was targeted twice and turned in one catch for nine yards while struggling in the blocking game, something he has done a great job of his time in Miami, particularly last week against the Browns. Sims was one of five Dolphins to allow a sack on the night and he wasn't able to help Miami sustain any consistent success on the ground.  

September 29, 2016

Cincinnati Bengals steamroll Miami Dolphins, 22-7 (with Tannehill, Gase reaction)

CINCINNATI -- I'm not ready to call for the benching of Ryan Tannehill. But this was bad, folks. Really bad.

Hey, the Dolphins lost 22-7 and Tannehill had a rough day.

"Not a lot worked," Tannehill said. "We really didn't do anything well. It was one of our worst performances from our offense in a long time. We did some decent things in the run game, we just couldn't get anything going in the passing game. No consistency. No execution. Too many mistakes. It was bad.

"We have too get it fixed soon, and I mean Monday. It's gone on too long. It's got to be important to everyone who steps on that field. We have to get it fixed right now."

Tannehill completed 15 of 25 passes for 189 yards with one interception and one touchdown. A lot of those yards came in garbage time when so many of Tannehill's yards have come this year.

Yeah, it's not one person or group," Tannehill said. "It's everyone, including me. We have to get better. We have to execute. Can't have mental mistakes."

Gase, interestingly, did not absolve Tannehill of his poor performance, either.

"The entire offense struggled," he said. "Obviously, he missed a couple of things early. His missed a third-and-one on a naked and was behind on the throw to Jarvis Landry. When things start going bad, you want him to find that one throw where he can spring us loose. But tonight was one of those nights where he only had two opportunities early that maybe could have sparked us.

"It's hard to play that position. You're trying to make plays, and if you're a quarter of an inch off and the ball is behind, then they're going to play tight defense. And that's what these guys do. There were some good things he did and a couple of times he had some great plays. But not everybody was on the same page. All of the sudden he looks like he doesn't know what he's doing. I know he's going to come back and work and figure out a way to get this thing turned around."

It was depressing.

Tannehill was sacked five times. The offensive line that didn't have any depth a year ago?

It has no depth this year.

That is now proven.

"Some of the plays were not ideal, as far as what we were doing," Gase said. "Some was busted protection. Ryan has to step up on the fumble. It's everybody taking their turn. I don't think it really mattered who was out right now. We couldn't get out of own way."

Laremy Tunsil struggled at left tackle. Billy Turner was terrible at left guard. I mean, Dallas Thomas has been a better left guard. And Ja'Wuan James remains in a funk.

About that play where Tannehill was stripped. I asked him why he didn't step up in the pocket.

"Yeah, I looked at the pictures, there was definitely a pocket there I should have stepped up into," Tannehill said. "I had my eyes downfield and was about to let it go. But the fact is the tackles did a good job of pushing the guys past the depth so I have to step up. That's on me."

The defense continues to disappoint.

Andy Dalton to A.J. Green just went for another first down. Green caught 10 passes for 173 yards and one TD.

The Dolphins are 1-3. Season is not over. But ...



Huge amount of lineup changes forced by injuries and performance.

CINCINNATI -- It's a nightmare, folks.

The inactives tonight include Branden Albert, Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi, Anthony Steen, and Jordan Cameron -- all of them starters.

Arian Foster and Mike Pouncey are also inactive.

Cornerback Byron Maxwell, healthy but not playing up to standards, is also not starting.

So that is six starters on the bench at the start of this game and that doesn't even include Mike Pouncey, who is also not starting.

Laremy Tunsil will move from LG to LT and start for Albert. Spencer Paysinger will start for Misi. Donald Butler will start for Jenkins. Tony Lippett will start for Maxwell. Billy Turner starts for Tunsil at left guard, Kraig Urbik starts at center for Steen and Pouncey and Dion Sims starts at tight end for Jordan Cameron at tight end.

Damien Williams start at RB for Foster this week. Last week, Kenyan Drake started for Foster.


Shocking! Dolphins players with injury histories are injured

CINCINNATI -- The Miami Dolphins injury report this week is a cynic's dream.

The cynic looks at the group of players on Miami's report that includes a third of the team and says, "I told you so."

And you know what? It is hard to dismiss the criticism because so many of the injured Dolphins this week came to the Dolphins or have been with the Dolphins with a history for injuries.

Running back Arian Foster is the most prominent name on Miami's injury list. He is a poster child of injury history. He's missed 19 games in the past five seasons, and tonight will mark his 20th missed game in that span. He missed 12 games last season and has missed two of four this season. He's had hamstring, groin and last year's Achilles' injury.

Who is surprised Foster is hurt? No one.

So the Dolphins have no excuses for relying on him.

Misi is out with a neck injury. And that means he will not play all 16 games this season. That's expected because he has not played all 16 games in a season since his rookie season in 2011.

Misi finished the 2015 season on injured reserve. He finished the 2011 season on injured reserve.

Misi has battled back and abdomen injuries (2015), a serious ankle injury (2014), a knee injury (2013) and a shoulder injury (2011).

Koa Lisiate Foti Analeseanoa Misi has battled almost as many injuries as there are letters in his full name.

Jelani Jenkins is listed as doubtful for this game. He has a groin injury. He had a knee injury in August that required surgery. He has not missed games this year yet, but his history suggests he will because he hasn't played a full season since his rookie year in 2013 when he was only playing on special teams.

Jenkins had recurring ankle issues in 2015 that found him starting games he could not finish because of the injury.

And while that credits the player for being tough and resilient enough to make it to the game despite the injury, it actually hurts the team because coaches make plans and adjust their inactive lists, counting on the player to contribute. Then he goes out and suddenly the plans have to be shredded.

Interestingly, that is exactly the situation the Dolphins find themselves in tonight with Jenkins. Frankly, I'd sit him.

Mike Pouncey is about to miss his fourth game of the season because of a hip injury suffered August 19. And I reported this was likely on Sept. 16. Pouncey's season debut will come on Oct. 9 against Tennessee, barring another setback.

Pouncey has not played a full season since 2012.

Last year Pouncey battled foot, hip and knee issues. The foot injury ended his season prematurely. In 2014, Pouncey needed surgery on his other hip in the offseason and that forced him to miss the first five weeks of the season. in 2013, Pouncey had an issue with food poisoning that forced him to miss time.

The concern now is the hip. He's had surgery on both the left and right hip. And his latest hip injury -- to the left hip again -- now suggests that side is a problem.

Tight end Jordan Cameron will miss this game with a concussion. The Dolphins are hopeful Cameron can return to the lineup by the Oct. 9 home game against Tennessee. But to say that is the plan is not accurate.

No one knows for certain when Cameron will be back because only the neurological tests that players must take and pass to get back on the field will determine that.

And Cameron, a smart, thoughtful guy who has a family to think about, is almost certainly not going to rush the matter. He's not going to tell doctors he feels good if he knows he's not yet 100 percent -- something some players actually do.

The Dolphins signed Cameron in 2015 knowing concussions were an issue with him. Jordan had three concussions in three seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

He suffered a concussion in practice in 2012 and missed two games. He suffered a concussion in Week 15 of 2013 and missed Week 16. He suffered a concussion in Week 8 of 2014 and missed three games.

Cameron has also had shoulder, rib and hamstring issues since 2011. The hamstring issue in '11 forced him to miss eight games. But it is the concussion injuries that shout concern.

Miami gambled and won on the issue in 2015. Cameron played all 16 games. But that was the first time in his NFL career he was able to complete a full season.

Miami's luck, and that seems to be all it was, has apparently run out on that front. 

The Dolphins have other players on this week's injury report that raise red flags. That injury report, which included 15 injured players, had names we've seen on injury reports in the past.

DeVante Parker has had hamstring injuries this entire season and dating back into the offseason. That comes after the foot problems he had in college and with the Dolphins last season. He's expected to play tonight despite being questionable with a hamstring injury, but the point is he has a hamstring injury. Again.

Kiko Alonso missed his entire second season in 2014 with a knee injury. He missed time last season with the Eagles because of a knee injury and a concussion. He has so far been healthy with the  Dolphins but he is questionable tonight with a hamstring injury. Yes, he's playing.

But as with all these guys, the injury history is the injury history.

And it should not be overlooked.

September 28, 2016

Dolphins without four starters for Bengals game Thursday nite.

The final injury report of the week for the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals is out and four Miami starters are officially out.

Center Mike Pouncey, running back Arian Foster, linebacker Koa Misi and tight end Jordan Cameron will not play Thursday against the Bengals.

Backup center Anthony Steen, who has started all three games in place of Pouncey this season, is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury that has limited him this week.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins is also listed as doubtful with a groin injury.

That means:

Kraig Urbik will start at center if Steen cannot play or finish the game.

Donald Butler will start at the strongside linebacker spot (SAM) in place of Misi.

Neville Hewitt will play the weak side linebacker spot (WILL) if Jenkins cannot.

The Dolphins will go with the running back-by-committee approach that they used against Cleveland last Sunday when Foster was not able to play because of his groin injury. So some combination of Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams will carry the rushing attack.

At tight end, Dion Sims is the starter and MarQueis Gray will also be active and be used if the Dolphins employ double tight end formations.

The Dolphins today waived wide receiver Justin Hunter. That opens a roster spot to promote an offensive lineman (perhaps Jamil Douglas) or a linebacker from the practice squad to give the team the necessary number of available players at eithe position.

There is good news for the Dolphins. The team expects left tackle Branden Albert to play. He had missed the first two days of what would have been practice time (the Dolphins only did walk-thru work this short week), but Albert was able to participate on a limited basis Wednesday.

That suggests more of the improvement coach Adam Gase hinted Albert made on Tuesday. 

The Dolphins reported in their final injury report that right guard Jermon Bushrod did not practice on Wednesday but it was not injury related. Bushrod was excused for family reasons and did not even fly on the team charter to Cincinnati.

He is scheduled to join his teammates in Cincinnati by Thursday afternoon.

The Bengals are not without their injury issues. Tight end Tyler Eifert, who has not played this season because of an ankle injury, is doubtful. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is also listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury.

Ryan Tannehill seemingly a tale of two quarterbacks so far this season

There's a growing perception that Adam Gase doesn't criticize Ryan Tannehill.

My frienemies at another newspaper (not actually frienemies as I tolerate them well enough) recently wrote a whole post about it. And I've had people in other cities tell me they're wondering when Gase will unload on Tannehill for thus far mediocre play.

Well, I can tell you there are unseen things that happen in a game that never get talked about or complained about and those exonerate Ryan Tannehill from blame. There are moments we don't know about that are simply there. Many such moments came during the Cleveland game when Gase pointed out Tannehill got the team out of bad plays at the line of scrimmage or adjusted the protection at the line of scrimmage to salvage plays.

There were other plays that look bad on tape and seem as if Tannehill is performing poorly when in fact his protection is breaking down and gives him no time to operate. Another time a receiver rounds off his route and so a pass goes incomplete, or there's a dropped pass, or there's an altogether wrong route run.

I'm not saying Tannehill is faultless. But it is a team sport and there are 10 other offensive players on the field.

So he's not the only one messing up.

That's why Gase said this week, "everybody was taking their turn," messing up.

And so in the last seven paragraphs I've made it clear it is not all Ryan Tannehill's fault.

But here come a few paragraphs that does indeed put it on Tannehill ...

He's the quarterback. He is the face of the offense if not the franchise. He has to play better.



He needs to be better than he has been so far in 2016.

And it's not a general thing. He specifically has to play better sooner in the game. What I mean by that is he has been a poor quarterback for the Dolphins in the first half of games this year. He has. It wasn't his offensive linemen. It wasn't the receivers. It wasn't the play-calling.


That first half against Cleveland on Sunday was atrocious. He threw two interceptions. And one of those was on the first pass of the game. No bueno.

Let me get out my No. 2 pencil. Doing some figuring here and Tannehill's first half numbers so far this season are as follows: 30 of 51 (58.8 completion percentage) for 311 yards with one TD and three interceptions.

Sharpening my pencil after doing all that figuring. In the second half of the three games so far this season, Tannehill has completed 48 of 58 passes (70.7 completion percentage) for 531 yards with four touchdown passes and one interception.

Tannehill's averages 6.10 yards per completion in the first half. He averages 9.16 yards per completion in the second half.

His first half quarterback rating is 58.5. His second half quarterback rating is 114.9.

So there you have one -- not all but one -- reason the Dolphins have not started fast in games so far this season. The quarterback.

“We haven’t played well in the first half," Tannehill said when asked specifically why he hasn't played well in the first half. "I think that’s plain to see. It doesn’t take any long division to figure that out. We just have to come out and execute. I think it all just comes down to execution of the total offense – just being on the same page, doing the right things and being in the right spot."

Again, this is a team sport and the Dolphins are trying to install a new offense for everyone. That includes the quarterback and all the other players, plus the offensive coaches. It takes time. I wrote on Aug. 31 this would happen, explained why and told you how long it might take before it gets right.

So no one is surprised.

But the frustration here is that if players can do certain things in the second half of games, they should be able to do it in the first half.

That includes Ryan Tannehill.