A six-pack of Dolphins, NFL TV and Marlins notes:
### In considering the Dolphins dumping of Mike Wallace and signing of Greg Jennings, it’s notable that their numbers last season were very similar in average per catch and average YAC (yards after catch).
Wallace averaged 12.9 yards per catch, Jennings 12.6.
Jennings averaged more yards after the catch (3.5) than Wallace or Brian Hartline, who were both at 3.3.
Wallace was thrown 20 more passes than Jennings but had only eight more receptions and 102 more yards.
Wallace caught four more touchdowns (10 to 6). Jennings had one more drop (five to four), according to Pro Football Focus.
Is it a step down from in-his-prime Wallace to the slightly past-his-prime Jennings, who at 31 is three years older? Absolutely.
But on this team, it’s not a monumental one (IF Jennings' skills don't erode next season) because you must take into account Ryan Tannehill’s inability to maximize Wallace’s greatest strength (the deep ball). And the Dolphins believe chemistry will improve without Wallace complaining about not getting more targets.
Colleague Adam Beasley framed it this way: Miami essentially traded Wallace and a seventh-rounder for Jennings, a fifth-rounder and cap space.
We compared Jennings and Wallace as two marquee, accomplished veterans who essentially traded teams, one from Miami to Minnesota, the other in reverse. Of course, you could also look at this as Kenny Stills replacing Wallace and Jennings replacing Hartline.
How ever way you look at it, a lot will depend on whether Stills proves reliable and continues to develop after a promising first two seasons in New Orleans, and if Jennings doesn't lose his speed in his early 30s. Those are the variables impossible to predict.
### By adding veterans who have started some or a lot at receiver (Jennings), guard (Jeffrey Linkenbach), linebacker (Spencer Paysinger) and cornerback (Zack Bowman), the Dolphins have put themselves in a good spot where they don’t desperately need to draft a particular position at No. 14 next week.
They’ve also put themselves in position to feel more at ease about trading back in the first round in order to replace the third round pick that the Dolphins dealt for Kenny Stills, should the player they love not be there at 14.
The signing of Jennings naturally will raise speculation about the Dolphins and Georgia running back Todd Gurley.
As we’ve reported, the Dolphins have called people close to Gurley to find out more about him (including his high school coach), spent time with him outside South Florida and have thoroughly researched his medicals.
Jeff Nixon, the Dolphins’ running back coach, told Gurley's high school coach how much he likes Gurley, though he was speaking more for himself that the organization.
It’s also noteworthy that while the Dolphins have scrambled to add veterans at receiver, guard, linebacker and cornerback the past three weeks, they have not yet done so at running back.
Though the Dolphins brought in Stevan Ridley for a visit, the understanding was that Miami was not looking to sign him until after the draft, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions. Ridley’s finalists were thus the Jets and Redskins and he signed with New York.
If the Dolphins had signed Ridley and drafted Gurley (or Melvin Gordon, who visited today) to share carries with Lamar Miller, then they might have regretted adding Ridley.
Whether Gurley falls to Miami’s range is another story. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported today that Gurley’s range is “supposedly now” between picks 6 and 10. Todd McShay has him going sixth in his new mock draft.
Gurley, who sustained a torn ACL last November, received a favorable review from the NFL scouting medical recheck. And NFL Network reports that teams believe he has an excellent chance to play in the first week of the season.
The best player at 14 could end up being Gurley or Gordon; a receiver (Breshad Perriman or Nelson Agholor if the top three are gone), a guard (La'El Collins or Brandon Scherff if he surprisingly falls), a cornerback (Trae Waynes, Jalen Collins, Kevin Johnson, Marcus Peters), a defensive tackle (Danny Shelton, who hasn't visited but is a very good player) or 4-3 defensive ends Vic Beasley or Arik Armstead (if either is there at 14, particularly IF Miami trades Dion Jordan and wants to develop an eventual successor to Cam Wake). If 3-4 outside linebacker Randy Gregory falls to 14 and a team covets him, Miami could always trade down.
### The Dolphins’ kicking battle seems likely to come down to Caleb Sturgis and former Redskins draft pick Zach Hocker.
But Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi has still been flying around conducting pre-draft auditions with kickers and other special teamers, including one in New York today with RPI kicker Andrew Franks, who hit only 37 of 56 field goals in his career but is excellent on kickoffs.
### In addition to the linebackers who visited (please see the last post for that), the Dolphins also have shown interest --- through private workouts, dinners or multiple phone calls --- in Clemson’s Stephone Anthony, Utah State’s Zach Vigil, Marshall’s Neville Hewitt, BYU’s Alani Fua, San Diego State’s Derek Largent and Tennessee-Chatanooga’s Davis Tull.
### A few TV tidbits from the NFL schedule: The opening week prime-time games: Steelers-Patriots (NBC Thursday), Giants-Cowboys (NBC Sunday), and Eagles-Falcons, Vikings-49ers as the opening MNF double-header on ESPN… Thanksgiving games: Eagles-Lions, Panthers-Cowboys, Bears-Packers…
Once again, the NFL is giving a few NFC games to CBS (including the Cowboys on Thanksgiving) and a few AFC games to Fox to balance the schedule. For example, on Week 3, a CBS double-header week, Bills-at-Dolphins is the only AFC game at 4:25 p.m.
But instead of showing that to most of the nation, CBS was given a Bears-Seahawks game from Fox, which likely will be seen in much if not most of the country during that late window….
There are two Saturday night games: Jets-Cowboys Dec. 19, Redskins-Eagles Dec. 26…. Dolphins-New England in Week 8 will be one of eight Thursday night games aired on both CBS and NFL Network. CBS will air the games in Weeks 2 through 8, as well as an early December Thursday game (Lions-Packers).
### The Marlins won 6-1 in Philadelphia tonight to snap a five-game skid and raise their record to 4-11. If the Marlins make a managerial change, figure on them looking at candidates with big-league managerial experience.
So who’s available?
Besides 71-year-old Charlie Manuel (who stepped aside from the Phillies after 2013), we would point to Dusty Baker and Ron Gardenhire, who both have winning career records, as probably having the best resumes of those realistically available if you do not include some of the great retired managers such as Tigers special assistant Jim Leyland or Diamondbacks executive Tony LaRussa, neither of whom has publicly indicated any inclination to manage again. Jeffrey Loria always has been fascinated by Bobby Valentine.
Jack McKeon, at 84, presumably is not walking through that door.
Among others available: Eric Wedge, Manny Acta, Kirk Gibson and Jim Tracy.