Examining The Dolphins Thus Far – Offense


Aug 9, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) calls a play in the huddle during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

After watching the first two preseason games for the Miami Dolphins… and then re-watching them… combing through Twitter, the web, and then rewatching both games yet again!  Several observations about the Dolphins struck home.  There are a vast number of competitions going on throughout camp right now, with a number of roster spots up for grabs that total out to about forty-six spots.  While that will not fill an NFL roster (not counting IR, PUP or practice squad), this regime has done what many teams do and “churned” the bottom seven or eight spots on the roster as other teams release players, or as other needs become apparent.

Roster churn will have an effect on many players that come across as “training camp heroes”.  While no one can predict whom other teams will cut or who will be of interest to the Dolphins at that point, it is safe to say that anyone who is the “bottom guy” at a position is not safe.  In the below sections, there will be a breakdown of thoughts and observations around several intriguing camp battles, observations from the games thus far, and what the Dolphins might do based on the play to date.  We’ll examine the offense thus far.
Quarterback

No breakdown would be complete without starting at the quarterback position, where Miami appears to be in good shape this season.  Tannehill has shown growth and a bit more maturity, and both Moore and Devlin are above average players for their prospective seat on the depth chart.

Running Back

This is the first area where it gets to be an oddity on the Dolphins roster.  Lamar Miller will be the starter here for week 1, barring injury, but he only has a handful of NFL plays under his belt.  Daniel Thomas has the most experience by far, but while he is second on the depth chart at the moment he could be the odd man out in a strong but inexperienced stable of running backs – and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ireland explore a possible trade for a low-round pick if not release Daniel Thomas as one of this camps final casualties.  Jonas Gray and Mike Gillislee have been strong in their action thus far, showing a great deal of potential.  Marcus Thigpen will make this roster as an above average returner.  Thomas’s history of concussions may seal his fate.  Even with the inexperience, this is one of the deeper positions on the roster.

Fullback

They already attempted to replace Javorskie Lane once this offseason when V. Leach became available, but I expect him to be on the game day roster.  He made some mistakes as a rookie, but overall was a solid player with a lot of promise for the Dolphins last year and I expect that he will continue to improve in his second season

Tight End

Dustin Keller is a lock to make the roster, and is already developing good chemistry with Tannehill.  Dion Sims has flashed enough talent as a rookie that he will be on the roster for this season, and Charles Clay will most likely get slotted in as a tight end.  The intriguing thing to me is that Michael Egnew – the same Michael Egnew that looked so terrible as a rookie last season – has shown marked improvement in his second training camp.  Not only is he blocking well when called upon, he’s also caught several balls thrown his way through the first two games.  Keep an eye on him as the preseason progresses, but he may be one of the “surprises” to make the final roster.  I definitely think the Kyle Miller experiment in Miami may finally be at an end.

Wide Receiver

The Dolphins will most likely keep five players at this position, and Wallace, Hartline and Gibson should all be considered “locks” at this point.  That leaves two open spots for a bevy of hopeful candidates, and traditionally, the bottom spot here is one of the higher candidates for roster churn.  McNutt looked like an all star through most of training camp, but once the game action started he became an unreliable target.  Chad Bumphis has had an impressive two weeks overall, but if he doesn’t win out the fourth roster spot, he may be a candidate for the practice squad.  Rishard Matthews looked impressive in his limited action towards the end of last season, but he needs to get back healthy and on the field.  The competition for the bottom two spots at the position is wide open, and merits watching further as the preseason develops.

Offensive Line

Many people are down on Jonathan Martin at left tackle, but honestly, he hasn’t done a bad job in the first two games.  The starting offensive line, once John Jerry returns, looks pretty solid across the board, with Martin, Incognito, Pouncey, Jerry and Clabo.  Dallas Thomas had a horrendous first game, and he is NOT a left tackle, but in game two over on the right hand side, he actually did a decent job.  We have to remember, he’s a rookie and will make mistakes.  Samuda stood out previously, but once he was in with the starters it became apparent that he is a quality backup.   Several other players shouldn’t be a surprise to make the roster – Garner, Adams, etc.  Expect this to be another candidate for roster churning in the bottom couple of spots before week one of the regulars season.

Kicker

Enjoy watching Dan Carpenter while he lasts, folks.  Caleb Sturgis is the FAR cheaper option here, and between the booming kickoffs, 58 yard field goal and Carpenters spells of unreliability in previous years…  this shouldn’t be a competition for much longer.

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  • Jcartwright67

    I like your opinions and reasoning here. My thoughts are the same mostly. I don’t think we need a FB per say. I’d like to see us keep one more TE or RB on the 53 versus Lane. I watched last years games again and focused on his play. I’m not too impressed truthfully. I realize people can improve but I don’t think passing the ball out of the backfield into Lane’s hands versus Clay or Miller would benefit us. Short yardage and goal line situations can be handled without a FB. On the O-Line; I completely agree. This group will be settled and performing well come September. I’m in the minority but I think Martin will be a good LT this year and improve as he gains experience.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Hey! Thanks for the insightful feedback, it’s much appreciated. I agree about the fullback position, though I’ll admit I’d love to see Lane succeed this year. He was a first year player last year, so I’m hopeful he can develop into an elite fullback. He has the tools to do so if he can put it all together, but we’ll see if the ‘fins have the time and roster space to wait for that to occur.
      I’m a huge fan of Clay, and if he can get the consistency issues out of the way, I think he can be a nasty weapon on offense for Miami. As for Miller, I really don’t seem him sticking this year as much as the coaching staff seems to be enamored with him. The Dolphins have a pretty full boat between tight end and fullback this season when you factor in Lane, Clay, Rodriguez, Keller, Sims, Egnew (who seems to finally be getting it now) and Miller. At the very least I don’t see Miller or Rodriguez making the roster, and I think Lane would be next on the chopping block. The emergence of Egnew, if it continues, could jeopardize his spot on the roster.
      Provided Jerry or Lance Louis (Who I will humbly apologize that I neglected in this article) are able to come back healthy in time for the season, I think this line could be good. I don’t believe they will be the top offensive line in the league but they won’t be bad, either. I agree that Martin has shown the improvement, and performed well thus far. Last season, I honestly believe he did a better job at LT than RT, and he worked his butt off this offseason to improve further. I know he has gotten beat up in practice early on, but he’s also lining up what is arguably the strongest unit on the team in the D-Line (I’d put the D-Line up against any in the NFL, quite honestly), which will only serve to improve every player on the O-Line come game day.
      Thank you again for the feedback, and keep those comments coming!