Mike Wallace

Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens: Five Things

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

Al Diaz/Miami Herald

When the Miami Dolphins came out to a 10-0 lead against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday I felt pretty good, that feeling did not last. Of course I felt good the defense had stuffed the Ravens offense for three straight drives, the offense seemed to be able to move the ball on Baltimore’s defense as well. All seemed well.

It was not.

The cracks began to show and you saw what followed. The Ravens dominated the rest of the way, outscoring the Dolphins 28-3.

So here are Five Things.

1. The season is not over, it just feels like it is. Mathematically the Dolphins still have a shot at the playoffs, a shot. Most likely they need to win out, which means beating New England in Foxboro.  They will need a lot of help. A lot of teams need to lose at least once in the next three games. I hate depending on other teams. They should have just taken care of business themselves.

2. Defense: Where did the run defense go to? Once upon a time the Dolphins boasted a top-ten run defense, not anymore. Getting pushed off the line of scrimmage, bad angles, missed tackles just plain bad. They have given up over-650 yards in the last three games. That makes things even easier for upper echelon quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, what will it do against Tom Brady.

3. Injuries: These are players that left the field at some point Sunday- Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, Jelani Jenkins, Samson Satele, Charles Clay and Louis Delmas. Add those names to Branden Albert, Knowshon Moreno, Dannelle Ellerbee, Michael Thomas, Will Davis, Jamar Taylor and Courtland Finnegan. The team is looking like a mash unit. The loss of Branden Albert hurt the offensive line badly but the secondary may have been hit the worst.  Delmas may be gone for the season and only Finnegan looks to return anytime soon to help. RJ Stanford was one of our starting corners this week, let that sink in.

4. Mike Wallace. Many fans are upset about the lack of shots deep by the offense. Wallace should be a weapon deep but watching the game it does not look like Ryan Tannehill has the time to even attempt a deep pass let alone complete one. The bigger concern is the occasional lack of effort by Wallace. Commentators claim that Tannehill missed a touchdown pass to Wallace in the second half. That simply did not happen. The ball was right where you want it away from the defender towards the pylon, the receiver has to make that play. If Wallace had tried to get to the ball and could not that would be one thing, he gave up on the play. Gave up. Unacceptable.

5. Coach Joe Philbin has been criticized for a lack of emotion. He is so even-keeled sometimes you wonder if he has a pulse. The problem is when he does not seem to get the team ready to play. Watching the second half I found myself wondering if the team knew how important this game was. That is on the coach. Yes there are three games left and a slim chance to make the playoffs still exists but this game mattered. It would be nice if the coach understood that.

Yes there are other things to complain about. Bad calls from the officials: two questionable ineligible man down field calls and the reversal of a game changing fumble. The team inexplicably giving up on the run in the second half. But that is nitpicking. The team got beat down. We all saw it. Only one question:

What happens next?

On to New England.

Categories: AFC East, Baltimore Ravens, Football, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, NFL, Ryan Tannehill, sports | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Primer: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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Much of the focus the offseason is on Ryan Tannehill. Will the new offensive line protect him? Will he make the next step? Is he this franchise’s “franchise” QB? While those questions are valid, the answers will always depend on other players as well. No matter how good Tannehill plays he will always depend on the men catching his passes.

Today I take a look at those receivers. While Tannehill gets much of the credit and often all of the blame, the receivers are the ones we are watching at the end of the play.

Wide Receivers: This is a solid group. Talented players who just needed a little push to be great last season. Who will still be standing this season for that push?

Brian Hartline: For some reason Hartline is dismissed by many. Somehow there are those that do not believe in him as a top receiver. Good speed, great hands. Two thousand yard seasons. And still he just is not good enough for some. He is the most consistent receiver Miami has had in years. He is Tannehill’s security blanket. I expect him to get his third 1000-yd season this year, securing his place in Miami Dolphin history.

Mike Wallace: Contrary to popular belief Wallace did not have a horrible season last year. 900 yds and 5 touchdowns is not bad. I blame expectations. Many are concerned with the chemistry between Wallace and Tannehill. Tannehill gets a lot of blame for not hooking up on those long passes but I do not agree. Other receivers were more successful on the long passes than Wallace so it does not seem to be only a quarterback issue. What I want from Wallace is for him to fight for the ball more this season. When that ball is in there air it should be the receivers ball until someone takes it away from him. So go get the ball.

Rishard Matthews: Matthews had his coming out party this season. When Brandon Gibson went down he showed that he can play at this level. He may still have a fight on his hands for a roster spot but I believe he can get it done.

Brandon Gibson: Of all the veteran receivers I worry the most about Gibson. It is not a lack of talent or production that concerns me. It is simply the fact that Matthews and rookie Jarvis Landry may be able to do his job. And for less. Add to that his recovering from injury he might end up as a surprise cut.

Jarvis Landry: Wide Receiver was absolutely not a need for this team coming into the draft. The receiving corps was already rock solid. Landry is a luxury. He can be the cherry on top. There are those that believe he can be an Andre Johnson type receiver. A solid playmaker. Lets see what he brings.

The rest: Most of the rest are simply camp bodies. Armon Binns looked good last offseason and Stephen Williams has looked promising during the OTAs outside of them I do not expect much. The best thing that Binns and Williams bring to the table is size. At 6’3″ and 6’5″ respectively they have much more length than the rest of the position.

Tight Ends:

Charles Clay: Clay had a breakout season. He showed the ability to be a big play seam threat. Now do it again. Do it while everyone is watching you.

Michael Egnew: Egnew was expected to be a playmaking tight end when he was drafted. We are still waiting to see that. I believe his best role is as Clay’s primary backup.

Dion Sims: A decent in-line tight end. He flashed once or twice last season but did not seem to be anything special to me. He will be pushed hard by rookie Arthur Lynch. Depending on how many tight ends we keep he may be the odd man out.

Arthur Lynch: My favorite pic of the draft. I watched him catch pass after pass from Aaron Murray at the University of Georgia. While he is not going to stun anyone with his speed, he is very adept at making plays in the passing game. He should eat in the intermediate range that opens up due to Clay’s play down the seam. I expect him to play early and often.

The receivers should do a lot to help Tannehill excel this season. The final cuts may be hard decisions to make. It is a very good place to be.

Categories: Football, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, NFL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swimming with the Fishes

 

Photo Credit: Michael Tennant

Photo Credit: Michael Tennant

Jeff Ireland is on the clock. The Miami Dolphins general manager enters this offseason with a target on his back. It is sink or swim time for Ireland. Either make the moves to give Miami a winning season or he is sunk, he is likely negotiating for his career.

It all started Tuesday at 4pm.

The Dolphins hit the water like Michael Phelps. Signing wide receiver Mike Wallace to a contract for $60 million over five years, later in the afternoon they added linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.

Bold moves and they are just getting started.

There are still moves to be made, holes to be filled. Miami still needs help on the offensive line, tight end and at cornerback. They have the ammunition to make these moves. Even after the moves on Tuesday they have some salary cap room to sign a couple more free agents and after that there is the draft. The Dolphins have nine picks in the draft including five in the first 82 picks.

This offseason has the chance to be a game changer, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is what happens in the regular season. Winning the offseason is nice; winning when it counts is what matters. They finished 7-9 last season, that will not do this season.

Two wins. It is that simple, two wins. That is what Jeff Ireland needs. Get those wins and he may keep his job, without them he is sunk.

Categories: Football, Free Agency, Free Agency, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, NFL, NFL draft | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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