Week four mailbag with PhinPhanatics: William Hayes, Kenny Stills, and the running game


The Miami Dolphins have a lot of questions as they move through the 2018 season and so do the fans and readers of PhinPhanatic.com. So we want to answer those for you.

The readers and followers of PhinPhantic ask pressing questions concerning the Miami Dolphins and major NFL news. A handful of contributors address those questions in this mailbag segment.

From the loss of William Hayes to the curious case of Kenny Still’s snap count to target ratio, PhinPhanatic readers want to know the what and why of this week’s news. Staffers Nick Belotto, Brian Murray, and Travis Richardson take time to sit down and answer those questions.

How much will the loss of William Hayes impact the D-Line and is Charles Harris the answer?- Jeff Jensen

Nick Belotto:

Any injury is going to hurt the team, but I think the loss of William Hayes is going to make things hard for the defensive line. Throughout the season so far, Miami has benefited from having a healthy rotation of guys on the D-line. Guys have been able to take plays off on the sidelines and have more energy when they get on the field.

Another issue with Hayes missing is that he functioned as an above average backup who really helped out against the run and was able to put pressure on the quarterback. He already had two sacks on the season, more than Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake and looked like he was disruptive every time he was out there. The loss of Hayes is going to be extremely impactful and the hope is that Miami can find a replacement for his energy and skill somewhere.

To the second part of the question, I think it’s still too early to tell on Harris. His numbers are not great, only notching 4 tackles and no sacks on the young season but that is not a truly fair way to evaluate defensive linemen. He seems to be getting involved in the pass rush and run defense, but I haven’t seen anything yet that justifies his selection in last year’s first round. I don’t think the jury is out, though, and I think that with more reps, Harris will continue to make a growing impact. I do worry, however, that his ceiling isn’t as high as we once thought when he came out of college.

What happened to Miami’s run game?- Matt Salcito


Without access to film, it’s hard to say what exactly happened to the running game on Sunday against the Raiders. Looking at the stats, though, and through watching the game, it was clear that the Oakland Raiders came prepared to stop the run and force Ryan Tannehill to beat them.

Neither Frank Gore (6 attempts for 12 yards) and Kenyan Drake (5 for 3 yards) were able to get going on the day. Miami only ran the ball 4 times during the second half, not including any scrambles by Tannehill. I would also say that the way the game unfolded also impacted the play calling. After the first drive of the second half, Miami was down 17-7. Needing to pick up some yards through the air and change things up, Adam Gase went deeper into his play-book, pulling out shovel passes, which function somewhat as runs, although they are considered “passes.” This, with some trickery, allowed the Dolphins to get into a rhythm throwing the ball and Gase continued to call plays that kept the offense in rhythm.

I expect that Miami will try to establish the run against New England and that last Sunday’s game against the Raiders, where Miami seemed to abandon the run, was more on how the game went as opposed to a lack of trust in Miami’s running backs.

Why do fans… and the players and league analysts act like this roughing the passer i.e. driving into the ground ..body weight etc is a new rule? And “omg how do we play now all of a sudden?” When this rule has been in effect since 1995? It’s driving me insane (see what I did there?)- April N Christian Smith

Brian Murray:

April N Christian thank you for the question. The NFL has added an article to the roughing the passer rule. A portion of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9 states:

“When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.”

The new “all or most of his body weight” is what’s causing the controversy. This has been called on many defenders this season during what use to be a normal sack by being tackled by a defender. It’s extremely difficult for that defender to tackle a QB without landing on the passer in many circumstances. If you’ll remember William Hayes injured his knee and is lost for the season when he sacked Derek Carr. The speculation is that he injured his knee attempting to keep his weight off of the quarterback. There are quite a few defenders in the league that have been penalized by the referees multiple times this season. It seems to be getting more and more difficult to earn a sack these days without some type of penalty charged. It’s frustrating the players, coaches and the fans.

The last time Miami beat the Patriots in Foxboro was in 2008, does this years Dolphins team have a chance to come away with the win? And why?- Paige Ferrin commented

Perry Jarrell:

First in the Division…They are going into this game coming off 3 wins…their confidence will be through the roof. And considering the Pats are “struggling”, they stand a decent shot. That assumes the offense can pull it together and the defense is able to cover midfield better than they did against the Raiders.

I’m not an 49ers fan, but are they in trouble now since their QB is out for the year?- Barry Freckleton

Travis Richardson:

Not a Miami question, but one that the Dolphins can give insight to. When Ryan went down last year, many of the Dolphin’s fans asked the same question. We eventually reached out and grabbed Jay Cutler in hopes of bringing an established starter in. Many thought we wouldn’t be in as much trouble since we brought in a starter caliber player. That wasn’t the case.

The answer is a resounding yes. The 49ers are in trouble and their season is done. Nobody on their roster is Jimmy G caliber and bringing in outside help is not an option considering the learning curve to Kyle’s offense. If you have anyone on San Francisco’s team in your fantasy football team, drop him quicker than Eminem dropped MGK.

Kenny Stills finally break out as a legitimate #1 WR? With Parker out, he played 95% of snaps… will his snap count stay high when he comes back? Even though he played nearly every snap, only had 5 targets.. is he being used to spread out the defense, and hoping to maybe get a look?- Mikel Anderson


Kenny was pegged to have a bigger year with Jarvis gone and Devante, the glass cannon, Parker always on the mend. In the first three weeks we see a massive on-field percentage but only 9 receptions (4 the first game, 2, then 3 last week). Following a massive week 1 with 2 TDs, Stills had a quiet week 2 and followed it with a touchdown in week 3. Adam will continue using Kenny with one purpose, keeping safeties 10 yards deep and shifted.

I imagine Stills is still around 90% of the snaps and will have 3-6 targets a game. He will bust the big reception out and will be considered a boom or bust option as far as production is concerned.

Frankly put, his value to Adam Gase is not on the stat sheet, but in the locker room and the tactic game played vs the defense. He will never be a top 10 receiver at the end of the year, but will dramatically change a game plan if he goes down with an injury.